Wayne Gruden’s book, The Gift of Prophecy in the New Testament and Today (Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2000), is a comprehensive and biblical review of prophecy in the Scriptures. With balanced hermeneutical methods, he unveils the nature of the Old Testament prophets, the prophetic ministry of the New Testament, and the value and practice of prophecy in the contemporary church. Combining sound deductive reasoning with a relevant didactic approach, he also discusses the issues that have emerged within evangelical Christianity regarding the office of apostle and prophet, clearly rejecting their contemporary usage with solid exegetical evidence. He also tackles those who position themselves on both sides of the spiritual gift spectrum- the “cessationists”, who believe that the prophetic gifts are no longer for today, and those in the charismatic camp who place an overemphasis on prophecy. He strikes a practical balance, encouraging both sides to take a closer look at the biblical data and be receptive to a new approach. With Scriptural safeguards in place, he also encourages those who have never been exposed to the gifts of prophecy to expand their understanding and be open to the experience of the Holy Spirit in their lives.
Beginning in the Old Testament, Grudem states that the prophets functioned as messengers from God who spoke with absolute divine authority. Since the prophets’ words were the very words of God, the messages were beyond challenge and demanded strict obedience. However, in the New Testament, the apostles took over where the Old Testament prophets left off. Citing a number of parallels, Gruden notes how the apostles were divinely appointed, spoke with absolute divine authority, and wrote the inspired books that make up the canon of the New Testament. Though the apostolic ministry ended when the apostles passed away, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost bestowed the gifts of the Spirit upon the church, enabling people to prophesy revealed messages from the Lord. Though the nature of the gift of prophecy is delivered through imperfect human means and requires evaluation by the church, it is for the church’s benefit and is intended to be in operation until the return of Christ.