Final Word on Strange Fire

The dust has had time to settle on the Strange Fire Conference. It feels strange in many ways for me to be writing against it as I am from a Reformed background, as is John McArthur. I am sure that on most aspects of the Gospel I would be in complete agreement (although he does espouse a Pre – millenialist position, with which I would also disagree).

In essence, he contends that the supernatural gifts (prophecy and speaking in tongues) ended with the completion of the Scripture. That is a view that many Reformed people take, and I would respect that. However, there is not, it seems to me, any Biblical foundation for that. One has to make certain assumptions based on the fact that Apostles and Prophets were foundational to the church (Ephesians 2:20), therefore prophecy is no longer needed. The Scripture does not tell us that. There is no doubt of the unique role that the Apostles and Prophets played in establishing the church, and I don’t believe that can be replicated. Furthermore, I believe that the Scripture is complete – there is no new revelation to be added. However, Prophecy in the New Testament is not only to do with new revelation – it is also to be used to apply God’s Word as it is in the Bible. Preachers have a prophetic role (not to foretell the future) but to apply it to their congregations. In addition, others can have a more informal role as they speak with people to help them to put God’s Word into practice in their lives.

The other Scripture often used by cessationists it 1 Corinthians 13 v 9 – 10. “For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away.” (ESV) Surely in that context the perfect must refer to the second coming of the Lord when we will see him face to face – prophecy will no longer be necessary then.

I haven’t dealt with tongues here, but the same principles apply.

John Piper has recently issued a very gracious response to John McArthur, here and here. I think he explains things much better than I have. In the meantime, as Christians, Cessationist or continuist, we need to get on with the task of living for God in the world in which he has placed us in Jesus Name by the power of the Holy Spirit.


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