Is Preaching Prophecy

While preaching and prophecy are similar, I find it an exegetical stretch to equate the two. Scripture doesn’t seem to do this. In fact, whenever they are mentioned together, they are clearly separate gifts and functions. The prophet and the preacher, in a sense, speak for God, but not in the same way. Both preaching and prophecy are given with authority and directed by the Holy Spirit, but it could be said that they are the fruit of different trees.

What is preaching? A simple definition could be the faithful exposition of divinely inspired text that has been preserved and handed down through the ages. Preaching examines, interprets, and applies the biblical text, often by referencing the preaching done by generations of predecessors. While the text that informs the act of preaching is inerrant and infallible, the preaching itself is not.

What is prophecy? Prophecy is special revelation directly from God, given through a human agent—a prophet. It is authoritative, inerrant, and infallible. Prophecy is not always foretelling, but is always forthtelling. True prophecy is absolutely, and entirely true.

I know that many gifted and respected preachers claim that preaching is prophecy. I think this stems from a brand of cessationism that, I believe, incorrectly interprets 1 Corinthians 13:8-10. Often called the “love” chapter, the context of chapters 12-14 is actually spiritual gifts. Chapter 13 speaks of the superiority of love over other gifts including tongues, knowledge and prophecy. What follows is telling.

Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part; but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away.” (1 Corinthians 13:8–10, NASB95)

The gifts of tongues, knowledge and prophecy were critical gifts in the infancy of the church. Special knowledge and prophecy molded and directed the formation of the church prior to the completion of the canon of Scripture. Tongues lent credence to message given. A correct view of this passage, I believe, hinges on one’s interpretation of “the perfect”.

If you interpret “the perfect” to be the coming of Christ, or the eternal state, tongues, prophecy, and knowledge have not ceased. So, you must give an account of how those gifts are manifested today. If, however, they have ceased, ”the perfect” must be something that has already come. It should also be noted that the Greek word for perfect is teleion, which can also mean “complete”. From the context, what is, or will be, complete? It must refer to complete knowledge and complete prophecy. I maintain that the best interpretation is, in light of the context, that “the perfect” is the complete canon of Scripture.

To put it another way, every place in the New Testament where teleion or teleios is used, it refers to something becoming, or something that has become complete, mature, full, etc. Here, the immediate context is referring to what will become complete in knowledge and prophecy. When referring to Christ, Paul rarely uses this kind of language—he uses the word, Christos. The perfect in prophecy, tongues, and knowledge is the complete canon of Scripture. The Bible, that we hold in our hands, renders special knowledge and prophecy unnecessary.

It should be noted that verse 12 speaks of a future time, future for Paul at least, when he will see fully and know fully. Many use this to support the notion that Paul is speaking, generally, of the eternal state. However, this falls far short of making a definitive case for a broad definition of knowledge and prophecy.

I should say that this interpretation is not my own. It was first brought to my attention by one of my theology professors. At first, I pushed back on it, but after spending time studying and reading, I became convinced that the majority view of this passage was not the most contextually viable.

The primary reason for my commitment to a narrow definition of prophecy is the preponderance of individuals claiming to have received specific and special revelations directly from God. People who make bold claims to have so special a relationship with God that they continually receive personal messages from Him. This is simply modern-day Gnosticism. We must always exercise discernment when evaluating the words of all those who assume the role of preacher or teacher. As Jesus said:

“Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.” (Matthew 7:15–16, NASB95)

Psalm 84:5-7 God’s strength/Our strength



How blessed is the man whose strength is in You, In whose heart are the highways to Zion! Passing through the valley of Baca they make it a spring; The early rain also covers it with blessings. They go from strength to strength, Every one of them appears before God in Zion,” (Psalm 84:5–7, NASB95).

So much attention is given to our need to find strength within ourselves in order to navigate life’s, often unanticipated, troubles. We are told that we possess all that is necessary to stand against the various crises that life throws at us. Unfortunately, this is a lie. It’s only when we look outside ourselves that we find the strength we need.

This song tells us that the truly blessed are those whose strength is supplied by, and completely rests on, God Himself. They have learned, by life’s realities, that their own strength is entirely inadequate, and fails to sustain them in difficulty and trial. When we look to the Lord to supply us with the strength we need, not only does He fill it, but He also plants in us a deep, abiding affection for Him as our Father. Only when we humble ourselves and look to God to supply our strength, does the path to Him open, and His presence becomes our deepest desire.

The valley of Baca does not refer to a geographical location, but it’s a place we are all familiar with. It literally means valley of weeping, or valley of tears. It refers to those times when our grief, and sense of powerlessness become so overwhelming that we can hardly stand on our own two feet. But, during life’s darkest moments, God’s very presence can transform them into a well of refreshment that floods our souls with true joy.

The fruit of the Spirit–love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control can be summed up as the strength God supplies in the Holy Spirit. The full armor of God in Ephesians 6, is made available to us in the strength God supplies. Facing our own weaknesses opens our eyes to our dependence on God’s strength, and in our weakness we are the most useful for His purposes.

My hope is built on nothing less that Jesus’ blood and righteousness; I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus’ nameRock of ages, cleft for me; Let me hide myself in Thee.

God Can Do Anything! Can’t He?



Are there things God simply cannot do? This is a question often posed by those attempting to understand the incomprehensible nature of God. To deal with this issue, let’s first be sure that we are getting our theology from Scripture, rather than songs we hear on Spotify. We must always check our perceptions against what God, Himself, has revealed in His word.

God can only do what is within the reality of His divine nature. By saying, “God can do anything He wants to do,” in itself, places a limit on what God can do.  For example, since God is absolutely holy, He cannot possibly want to lie, cheat, steal, or in any way be tempted to do so. To want to sin would be a violation of His nature. In the same way, He could not simply ignore His justness and forgive mankind’s sin without atonement for it being made. To satisfy this, atonement was provided by God Himself in the person, Jesus Christ.

It must be affirmed that one attribute of God does not in any way negate or preclude another divine attribute. In other words, His love does not negate His justice. Nor does His omnipotence make it possible for Him violate His holiness. The question is often asked, usually by a scoffer, “Can God make a rock so heavy that He cannot lift it?” The question itself is incoherent because it places God at odds with Himself.

It is also important to understand that His attributes were not created nor established by Him. As God’s existence is self-evident, His attributes are also self-evident. His attributes make up His eternal divine nature. In other words, God did not create the concept of goodness—He is, in His nature good. He cannot simply choose to be evil, because that would violate His holiness. Evil is not an attribute unto itself. Evil is simply the absence of God’s goodness. The ten commandments, or the moral law, are not simply ten things God decided to impose upon mankind. They are a reflection of the character and nature of God Himself.

Regarding this important issue, one must look at the attributes of God that Scripture reveals. What follows is just a sampling of what Scripture teaches about the nature and character of God:

God is Wise (Romans 11:33; Isaiah 40:28)

That God possesses all wisdom, which includes logic, intelligence, coherence, etc., precludes the notion that God can do what is unwise, illogical, unintelligent, or incoherent.  For example, He cannot create a square triangle, nor make 2+2=5.

Along this same line of thought, God cannot allow Himself to be deceived. To fall under deception would be a violation of His absolute wisdom.

God is Infinite (Psalm 147:5; 2 Chronicles 6:18)

This attribute may be one of the most difficult ones to comprehend. In speaking of God as being infinite, we are not simply referring to His height or breadth. By saying God is infinite we mean that He exists outside and beyond the limitations of time and space. Also, that God is infinite has bearing on all His other attributes. His wisdom is infinite. His holiness is infinite. His knowledge is infinite, etc. Contemplating God’s infinitude is both humbling and overwhelming. As Thomas Watson said in his book, A Body of Divinity, “Oh what a poor nothing is man, when we think of God’s infiniteness! As the stars disappear at the rising of the sun, oh, how does a man shrink into nothing, when infinite majesty shines forth in its glory!”

God is Eternal and Eternally God (1 Tim. 1:17; 1 Tim. 6:16)

Since God is eternal and eternally God, He cannot choose to cease being God, nor in any way diminish His own existence.

God is All-knowing

Since God knows all things and created all things, He has no capacity to learn. He cannot experience surprise or wonder.  This does not mean that He cannot create something new, like a fourth primary color, or a new created being. Such a being, however, could not possibly share in the divine nature of the Godhead for this would violate God’s immutability (that He is unchanging, Hebrews 13:8; Malachi 3:6).

God is Loving

While God’s love is often regarded as universal, this actually goes against what Scripture reveals. God, in His holiness cannot love what is evil, (Proverbs 6:16-19; Malachi 2:3; Romans 9:13).

God is Holy

In His holiness, God cannot allow sin to go unpunished. He cannot simply decide to forgive sin without it being atoned for, (Exodus 34:6-7). This is why Jesus had to die, (Romans 6:23). Christ’s death satisfied God’s wrath, which is a manifestation of His divine justice. Additionally, since God cannot sin it is impossible for God to repent, (Numbers 23:19).

God is Omnipresent (Psalm 139:7-12)

God’s omnipresence precludes that possibility the He can discover anything new. As was stated before, this does not mean that He cannot create something new.

God is Omnipotent (Ephesians 1:19; Daniel 4:35)

I’ve touched on this attribute already. It means that God has absolute power. On this attribute, people often struggle with the existence of evil if God is simultaneously good, omniscient, and omnipotent. This is commonly referred to as theodicy. There are multiple problems with this view, but for the sake of space, I will quote the theologian Carl Henry, “Any conception of omnipotence that requires God to contradict Himself reflects a conjectural and ridiculous notion of absolute power.”

    Much more could be written on this subject, and indeed it has. Still, people struggle with these questions. As we study, it is vitally important to ensure that our view of God is worthy of Him. He has revealed much about Himself in both creation and His Word. But of course, this revelation is in no way exhaustive. God is infinite, and as His people, we will spend eternity learning about Him.

    Psalm 84:1-2 – the House of God

    How lovely are your dwelling places, O Lord God of hosts!
    My soul longed, and even yearned for the courts of the Lord;
    My heart and my flesh sing for joy to the living God
    Psalm 84:1-2, NASB

    To be invited into the courts of the king has always been a huge honor. Especially, if the honor is bestowed upon one who has found his sovereign’s favor. To find the favor of the King of kings brings joy beyond imagination. Is this our mindset when we gather together for worship on Sunday morning? Do we regard the place where we gather as sacred and holy? My fear is that in our zeal to emphasize that the church is not the building but the people in it, we have lost all regard for the place itself.

    It’s true that the church building holds no particular quality that renders it special in God’s economy. However, when Sunday morning comes and God’s people gather for true worship, it is transformed into the throne-room of Almighty God. It has nothing to do with the wood, brick, and mortar, but is entirely due to who is there. In that place, the saints of God are assembled to offer praise and worship to the King. And, it is His presence that makes that place special.

    Followers of Christ have always been transient. We go from place to place wherever God calls us. We don’t have a single place on earth that we regard as sacred. We don’t worship a building. That being said, let’s not lose the idea of God’s house. It’s not the brick, stone, wood, or carpet that make it so. It’s what happens there. Wherever we gather, be it a building, a room in a school, or a clearing in the woods; it’s God’s house because God’s people are gathered there to honor, worship, and praise their sovereign King.

    Thy Clouds which are Fountains

    I think too many of us walk through life like Eeyore. It’s not that we are without joy. It’s just that the hard things in life tend to weigh so heavily on us that they seem to overtake our demeanor to the point that it impacts almost everything. The truth of the matter is that life is hard, and not only did God warn us of this reality, He told us to be happy about it.

    There’s a line in the great hymn, “Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise,” that says, “Thy justice like mountains, high soaring above; Thy clouds which are fountains of goodness and love.” Maybe it’s time for us to recognize the clouds of life for what they are – fountains of God’s love for us – and therefore, let us be grateful. Romans 5:1-5 tells us:

    Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us,” (NASB95).

    God allows and uses, and at times ordains, the trials of life to grow and strengthen us into something useful for His purposes. He uses the hard times to conform us to the image of His Son. Sometimes, He uses these trials to discipline us. To bring us to our knees in contrition and brokenness. After all, we are sinful. Remember David’s words in Psalm 51 – that great prayer of contrition following his sin with Bathsheeba.

    Make me to hear joy and gladness, Let the bones which You have broken rejoice,” (Psalm 51:8, NASB95).

    He doesn’t pray for God to mend his bones. They were a result of the reality of his sin. Rather, he prays for God to help him see his brokenness as cause for rejoicing. Likewise, the clouds of life are real. Let us see them as God’s fountain, showering us with what we need to be the people He intends for us to be. After all, are not His ways higher than our ways? His thoughts higher than our thoughts?

    Immortal, invisible, God only wise
    In light inaccessible, Hid from our eyes
    Most blessed, most glorious, the Ancient of Days
    Almighty, victorious, Thy great name we praise!


    Revelation 2 – Ephesus: A Church’s Love Abandoned

    Recently, my daily bible reading schedule brought me to Revelation 2, where Jesus is speaking to the church in Ephesus. He commends them for their perseverance, intolerance of sin, and their testing of false teachers. Then in verse 4, He tells them what He has against them—that they have “left [their] first love.” I recall, some years ago, a sharp debate over this statement in Sunday school over whether their “first love” was love for Christ, or love for one another. What am I to make of this? The text itself implies that the Ephesian church would plainly know what Christ was referring to.

    Is this an important issue? I believe it is, as it was enough for Christ to hold them accountable.  He tells them that, unless they repent, He will “remove [their] lampstand out of its place.” In other words, the church in Ephesus will cease to exist in Christ’s eyes.

    How do I answer this apparent dilemma? I think I’ll let Scripture speak for itself.  Remember John’s words in the 4th chapter of his first epistle.

    We love, because He first loved us. If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also,” (1 John 4:19–21, NASB95).

    This statement makes my love for God and love for my brothers and sisters in Christ, inseparable. I cannot love God without loving my brother. This leads me to another question. Is love what I do, or is it both what I do and feel. Scripture clearly tells us love is primarily something I choose to do, not always something I feel. In other words, it’s possible to love those I don’t necessarily, at a given time, feel affection for. That being said, my failure to love others demonstrates that my love for God is not real—remember, to love is a choice.

    When asked for the greatest commandment, Jesus responded by quoting Deuteronomy 6:5.

    Jesus answered, “The foremost is, ‘Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is one Lord; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.” (Mark 12:29–30, NASB95)  

    He then followed that up with the 2nd most important, quoting Leviticus 19:18.

    “The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:31, NASB95)  

    How, then, do I love God, whom I have not seen?

    • With my heart – a deep and heart felt affection for God, my Father.
    • With my soul – in response to the testimony of the Holy Spirit on my spirit that I am His child, (Romans 8:16).
    • With my mind – my thoughts, my meditations, my prayers will reflect a regard for God that is worthy of Him.
    • With my strength – the energy I expend, and what I choose to do, will demonstrate my love for God.

    So then, how do I love my neighbor as myself? By applying the same effort in meeting the needs of my neighbor that I apply to meeting my own. In the 10th chapter of Luke’s gospel, Jesus was asked “Who is my neighbor?”.  Jesus responded with the well-known parable of the Good Samaritan. If I strive to love others in the same way as this Samaritan, that love will testify to a deep love for God.

    The unfortunate reality is that all this is easier said than done. Why? The apostle Paul says it best…

    For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want, (Romans 7:18–19, NASB95).

    So, we continue the struggle to be the people we are called to be.  I am encouraged know that Paul, this great man of God also tangled with his own failures.  Here’s his answer to the struggle.

    Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin, (Romans 7:24–25, NASB95).

    He followed that up with this wonderful statement…

    Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death, (Romans 8:1–2, NASB95).

    So, be encouraged. God will finish the work begun!

    Psalm 83 – That they may know…

    “O God, do not remain quiet; Do not be silent and, O God, do not be still. For behold, Your enemies make an uproar, And those who hate You have exalted themselves.”
    ‭‭Psalms‬ ‭83:1-2‬ ‭

    There are few things more frustrating to a follower of Christ than our own inability to silence the critic, the denier, or the scoffer of our Great God and Savior. We wonder why, with God’s power so clearly on display, any sentient being could be so far off in their conclusions about the nature, the majesty, and the sovereign power of God.

    It is even more disheartening when the deniers are those who should know better—those with the benefit of exposure to spiritual blessings and the power of the gospel. However, it should not surprise us. Ever since the fall of man, there have been those who “suppress the truth in unrighteousness,” (Romans 1:18) those for whom the wrath of God awaits.

    We live at a moment in history when those of us who know and follow Christ are met with rabid hostility from a world that grows increasingly more depraved; where immorality and sin is not only approved, but applauded. More than inciting our anger, this should incite our pity. We must recognize that the current displays of depravity serve as reminders that judgment and condemnation await those who stand in opposition to the truth. King Jesus will return, and they must “give an account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead,” (1 Peter 4:5).

    There will be a day of reckoning. The day will come when every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father, (Philippians 2:10-11) For some, this will be the most blessed event imaginable. For many, this reality will come too late. As we await, with anticipation, the coming of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, may our prayer continually be…

    “That they may know that You alone, whose name is the Lord, Are the Most High over all the earth.”
    ‭‭Psalms‬ ‭83:18‬

    From Him, to Him, through Him…

    Proverbs 25:2 (NAS): It is the glory of God to conceal a matter,
    But the glory of kings is to search out a matter.

    The mysteries of the universe lay exposed before God Almighty. There are no new discoveries for Him to find. There are no questions unanswered, no sights unseen, or sounds unheard. He created all that exists and there is nothing that exists outside His vision. God has no need to learn or discover something new. Everything was created by Him and for Him.

    Mankind, created in God’s image, is the only creature made with an insatiable drive to discover the new, answer his questions, and seek out the mysteries. From birth, man continues on a journey of learning.

    Because God is infinite, we who are in Christ, will spend eternity learning about God, from God.

    Definitions and Consequences

    Words have definitions and ideas have consequences. When definitions of words are no longer static and dependable, the consequences to the culture can be unnerving, unfortunate, and detrimental to society.

    Over the past 2 years, at the risk of their own health, doctors, nurses, and other medical personnel have cared for those suffering the effects of a dangerous virus. We don’t know their names, but we call them heroes; and, they are heroes.

    Edward C. Byers is a retired Navy Seal who, at great risk to his own life, saved the life of a civilian hostage in Afghanistan along with several of his own team members. For this, he was awarded the Medal of Honor. Most have never heard his name. He’s called a hero, because he is a hero.

    In India, in the midst of this dangerous pandemic, a Christian man named Sandeep knew of the desperate needs of people living in surrounding villages. Risking his own health, he traveled to a remote village where people hadn’t eaten in three days and provided them with food and other necessities. Sandeep was faithful to love his neighbors, no matter the cost, for the opportunity to meet their needs and tell them about Jesus. Very few among us know his name. Call Sandeep a hero, because he is a hero. 

    Everyday, police, firemen, and EMTs charge straight into dangerous situations to save and protect the rest of us from harm. Rightly, they are called heroes.

    In 1st Century AD, a innocent man suffered the most violent form of execution ever devised by mankind in order to satisfy the wrath of God and keep us from paying for our own wickedness. As we read in Paul’s letter to the church in Corinth, “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him,” (2 Corinthians 5:21, NASB95). Those of us who know Him call Him Lord. He’s our hero.

    A hero is someone who performs acts of tremendous bravery in disregard for their own safety or well-being. Most often their names do not appear in news stories. We don’t fawn over them while their drama unfolds on TV, or listen to talking heads gush over them.

    The big story coming from the Tokyo Olympics this week, is about Simone Biles–perhaps the greatest gymnast in history. She stepped out of competition due to a mental condition called, the “twisties”. Other gymnasts will tell you the condition is very real and very dangerous. Later, she was able to make adjustments and return to competition, winning the bronze medal on the balance beam. We all know her name. People call her a hero. Is she?

    Simone Biles is a world-class athlete competing on the world stage. She’s garnering well-deserved praise from all corners for her accomplishments. Millions have enjoyed watching her do what she does, and she’s arguably better than anyone else in the world at it. She’ll return home to parades in her honor. She’ll go on Oprah telling her story to adoring fans. Is she a hero? Whose life did she save at great risk to her own? When we lower the bar of heroism the word no longer means anything.

    Words have definitions and ideas have consequences.

    2 Corinthians 4:16-18 – The Minor Pains of Life

    “Therefore, we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal,” (2 Corinthians 4:16–18).

    I remember, as a young man, watching TV with my grandmother.  I remember a certain commercial that would upset her whenever it came on. It was advertising a particular pain medication that claimed to relieve the minor pains of arthritis.  She would get so angry at the phrase “minor pains of arthritis.”  I would suggest that the drug likely only affected the arthritis pains that were minor.  She would say, “There’s no such thing!”.

    Life’s afflictions never seem minor when we are in the midst of them.  They absorb our attention, takeover our thoughts, and easily become the only things that matter.  But here, Paul is suggesting that we view our various trials with an eternal perspective.  He is saying that, because God’s grace abounds—what “therefore” is there for—we should not allow our trials, which are temporal, to take us captive to the pain and cause us to lose our joy over the reality of eternal glory in Christ.  Paul is teaching us that the temporary pains of afflictions and trials are actually serving an eternal, divine purpose by producing in us a greater anticipation for this eternal glory.  The greater the pain, the greater the anticipation. 

    Pain and affliction are real, but when we recognize that these various trials are temporary and we place our focus on eternity with Christ, we truly experience what it means to abide in Him and live fruitful lives in the midst of this life’s troubles, (John 15:4). By focusing on eternity we can truly know the fullness of joy in Christ (Psalm 16:11).