A graduate of Master in Education. A former academician and a published writer.
In our time, many evangelicals consider the prophetic gifts dreams and visions as a spiritual gift still exist in the present time. Whereas, still certain groups within the evangelical circles, the cessationists, consider the gift of prophecy as a thing of the past. Who is right between these two groups ?
To settle this argument, let us examine closely what the Bible says regarding this. The primary passage in the Scripture that supports that visions and dreams are still for today can be found in the Book of Joel chapter 2:28-29;
I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
Your old men will dream dreams,
Your young men will see visions.
Even on my servants, both men and women,
I will pour out my Spirit in those days."
The major question here lies on the word "days" in this passage. To which era it refers to? Based on Acts 2:16, according to Apostle Peter, it refers to the time of Pentecost, after the resurrection of Christ. This is the time when the church of Christ was born when the Holy Spirit descended upon the first century disciples.
The phrase "those days" in Joel 2: 29 refers to the entire church age, or the dispensation of grace that began during the time of Pentecost up to the day of Harpazo or Rapture. This is the period prior to the Day of the Lord or the Tribulation Period. The Day of the Lord is also known as the Great Tribulation, the last half of the seven-year Tribulation when God's wrath is poured out upon the world.
For those who oppose the argument that prophetic gift is still for today hold onto this passage found in I Corinthians13: 8 - 10. It is written here;
"Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tonques, they will be stilled, where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the completeness comes, what is in part disappears."
Certain evangelical groups particularly the fundamentalists, hold onto this passage referring to the word "completeness" as the Bible. They argue that since the Bible has already been completed, no need for further extra biblical revelation. But that is their interpretation, "completeness" may also refer to the fullness of time or completeness of the church which could refer to the end of the dispensation of grace or end of the church age.
It is written in I Corinthians 13:12;
"For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known."
We will only know everything completely when we are face to face with Christ, and that will take place at the end of the Church age or at the end of Dispensation of Grace, at the time of our departure from the world that will happen during "Harpazo(Rapture)."
The Holy Bible is the infallible and inerrant Word of God. It contains all the revelations God permitted to reveal about Himself, but not everything about God is written here. God revealed in the Bible all the most important truths necessary for our salvation. Someday in Heaven, we will know more.
Sources of Our Dreams
Basically, dreams could come from these three sources.
Dreams can come from ourselves. It can be a product of our subconscious mind. Our secret longings, secret fears, unfulfilled desires, unmet needs are all reflected in our dreams. Based on an article published in Medical News Today written by Hannah Nichols, one of the sources of our dreams are our unconscious desires and wishes ( 2018).
Based on an article written by Dele Oke of The Living Word Library, dreams could also be product of our imaginations. The movies and TV programs we watched are also reflected in our dreams.
(2) Forces of Darkness
According to Dele Oke's article published on The Living Word Library, dreams can come from the demonic world. He contends that even when Christians are walking uprightly, demonic forces can still make an attempt to attack them through dreams.
It is very evident through out the entire Bible, both Old and New Testament that God speaks to people through dreams and visions. He speaks through dreams and visions to both believers and unbelievers. He spoke to Abimelech in a dream giving a warning not to marry Abraham's wife Sarah. He revealed to King Nebuchadnezzar the future empires of the world in a dream. He revealed to Joseph the coming famine in Egypt through a dream. He revealed to Daniel the last days in dreams and visions. He spoke to Peter about the Gentiles in a vision. Cornelius, the Roman centurion received instruction from God in a vision.
Further Instruction Regarding Dreams and Visions
I believe that dreams and visions are still for today since we are still in the Church age or dispensation of grace. But when we experience dreams or visions we should not conclude right away that they are from God, they could come from the evil forces of darkness. At times, we receive dreams from demonic forces to deceive us. That is why when it comes to dreams and visions we should be very cautious. Our dreams should never contradict what is written in the Scripture. The Bible should remain our basis for all these dreams and visions. If our dreams or visions contradict any biblical principle, or doctrine, definitely our dreams or visions are not from God. There must be a biblical basis for every dream and vision. Dreams and visions in our time are given particularly to give exhortation/encouragement to the church or to the believers not much of foretelling the future. The gift of prophecy is also used in strengthening the believers, in convicting sinners, in giving rebuke, in giving confirmations. They are also used to give instructions and guidance to believers as experienced by Paul and Peter.
Although I believe that there are still prophetic gifts today such as visions and dreams, I do believe that the office of a Prophet as performed by the Old Testament prophets may no longer be here. Regarding dreams and visions, we should be very discerning in dealing with them. We should not seek much of it if we cannot discern well its source. We are also admonished by the Bible not to despise prophecies but we have to test them. The real "revelations" are still found in the written Word of God, the Bible.
Here is a test of a true prophet from God if a true prophet still exists today:
A true prophet of God has 100% accuracy of prophecy and has a record of a hundred percent fulfillment of all his prophecies. If he has a record of only 99 percent, still he could not be a considered a true prophet from God for God never lie and has perfect knowledge of the future since the true prophet of God speaks God's message.
How can we have the gifts of the Spirit
Prophetic gifts are just among those spiritual gifts bestowed by God to the church. There are still many great gifts God gave to every true believer of Christ as it written in I Corinthians 12: 4 -11. Spiritual gifts are given for the strengthening of the body and equipping of the believers for good works. These gifts include teaching, pastoring, evangelism, exhortation, administration, service, giving. To receive these spiritual gifts, a person must first be born in the Spirit or must first experience spiritual birth. How can we experience this spiritual birth?
First, a person must first realize his depravity or sinfulness before the Holy God. It is written in Romans 3:10-11
"There is no one righteous, not even one; thers is no one who understands, there is no one who seeks God."
Since birth we live a self-centered life. All we seek are those things that will make us happy and satisfied. All we seek are those things that will bring us glory. We are never concern about the things of God and His Kingdom. We live our lives in vain apart from the will of God. We live our lives thinking that we are the master of our own destiny. Unless we experience God's saving grace, we will remain the same. It is also written in Romans 3:23,
"For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."
Man is born sinner and by himself can never meet God standard of righteousness for God's standard is perfect righteousness.
It is written in Romans 6:23,
"For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."
Our sinful life which is focused on self will lead us to hell which is the second death. As it is written in Revelation 21:8,
"But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars_ they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death."
God, in His mercy, knows that we will never make it to heaven by ourselves, He himself designed a salvation plan for us through His Son Jesus. About two thousand years ago, Jesus lived among us as depicted by one of His apostles, John in his gospel( John 1:14). After three years of His public ministry, he gave his life to die on the cross to serve as the ultimate sacrifice for the remission of our sin.
To receive forgiveness for all our sin, we must put our faith on Christ finished work on the cross as the only sacrifice acceptable to God for our pardon. Christ sacrifice on the cross is perfect, complete and sufficient (Hebrews 9:28). As part of putting our faith in Christ work on Calvary, we have to forsake our sinful and self-centerd lifestyle for Jesus makes it clear in the Gospel of John that those who believe in Him must not remain in darkness. If we truly believe in Christ we will abide in His light.
By putting our faith in Christ we receive the promise of John 1:12;
"Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God."
This is the real spiritual birth, being born into God's family through faith in Christ.