Response to Grudem’s arguments.
I believe the core point of Grudem’s whole argument is found in the second part. That is where we will focus our attention the most. First, he stated that Agabus (in Acts 21:10-11) was not entirely correct, thus calling it fallible ‘prophecy’. Let us examine this carefully.
Acts 21:10-11: “And as we tarried there many days, there came down from Judea a certain prophet, named Agabus. And when he was come unto us, he took Paul’s girdle, and bound his own hands and feet, and said, Thus saith the Holy One, So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man that owneth this girdle, and shall deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.”
By reading this we notice some things which need to be said here.
First, an indication of a prophet is that they say the formula (which was used in the OT) ‘thus saith the Holy One’. It is the formula that the true Prophets used to say that ‘this is God speaking’, not man (Exodus 5:1, Acts 5:3-4). This qualifies Agabus as a prophet send by God.
Secondly, when we read Acts 11:27-28 we find that Agabus was part of the group of prophets from Jerusalem who came to Antioch. And in verse 28 we see Luke, particularly points out for the first time Agabus who later played, as we read in Acts 21:10-11, an important role in the Apostle Paul’s ministry. What is interesting it seems to me is that Luke the writer of the book of Acts, then clarifies Agabus identity as being a NT prophet by reporting to us a prophecy he said “Acts 11:28: And there stood up one of them named Agabus, and signified by the Spirit that there should be great dearth throughout all the world: which came to pass in the days of Claudius Caesar.” Luke affirms that these event’s prophesied by Agabus with the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, “came to pass” specifically according to Luke “in the days of Claudius Ceasar”.
This famine prophesied by Agabus historically happened around 45-46 AD when Claudius Ceasar was emperor of Rome. Non-Christian sources such as Josephus, Tacitus and Suetonius affirm that this happened in their writings (Josephus Antiquities XX,ii,5, Tacitus Annals XI.43, Suetonius Claudius 18). Hence, as it is the case, it was right for Agabus to be called a prophet of God.
Part one is proven positive. If we were to judge him according to Deuteronomy 18 he would pass the test. The fact that Agabus spoke like this in a supernatural sense, because only that which is divine can predict accurately the future, affirms that Agapus is in the rank of a prophet who lived in the NT times. Why do I mention this fact? Because this will strengthen the argument that I will prove soon, that Agabus was prophesying infallibly which means that he was chosen by God to become His spokesmen. God’s prophet does not get it wrong sometimes, or sometimes gets it right. Not so. The fact that we read this chapter in Acts, then Acts 21, again Luke will call him a prophet, indicates that not only doctor Luke, but also the people in Judea, in Jerusalem and their leaders, James, Peter and John, knew exactly what a true prophet of God was. Hence they affirmed that Agabus was a prophet, for none denied that. If Luke got the message from them that Agabus was a prophet, then according to them, he is a prophet, like those in the Old Testament. For how else would they judge a true prophet from a false one? According to the standard given to them in the OT (Deuteronomy 18). They trusted in God and in Agabus, that God has given him specifically, the gift of prophecy. Paul was warned by the disciples not to go to the Jerusalem (Acts 21:4). But he refused, he was stubborn because he did not believe their words. But when Agabus warned him, through the Holy Spirit, the disciples believed him, but Paul was stubborn. The disciples it says “through the Spirit” of God, warned Paul (Acts 21:4). Then a double conformation comes from a true prophet in Acts 21:10-11. Agabus prophesies to Paul what will happen.
Now Grundem’s argument is this: if Paul rejected this prophecy, it means that Agabus prophecy was not by God and therefore it is fallible and non authoritarian. But my question is: who made Paul the infallible judge of prophecy? Since when did Paul become the authority to judge whether God’s word is God’s word? Can we say that Paul got it wrong in the way he responded to Agabus prophecy? Yes. For the only evidence that proves this to be so is to compare God’s word against Paul’s word! So, the absurd idea that Grundem said “He never would have done this if this prophecy contained God’s very words” is a false assertion. Because Paul was a fallible human being who struggled with stubbornness. But God is neither wrong nor fallible. His Word and predictions are perfect. The word’s Paul rejected, contained indeed God’s inspired word, period.
(to be continued..)
For more study on this subject, we recommend to visit: http://www.metropolitantabernacle.org/Christian-Article/Cessationism-Proving-Charismatic-Gifts-have-Ceased-Sword-and-Trowel-Magazine