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Question #425

Does Acts 2:17 Teach that people today have the gift of prophecy?

I'm currently involved with a member of the Seventh Day Adventist church who believes that there are people today with the ability to prophesy and she's using Acts 2:17 as the basis for her reasoning.  Can you please provide me with an explanation proving this is a misapplication of the passage?

The Answer:

In Acts 2:17-21 Peter quotes a passage from Joel 2:28-32. Joel’s prophecy foretold the giving of the Spirit to all believers. His words to God’s people followed the ruin of the land by a plague of locusts. Joel called upon the people to repent and to look expectantly for the coming age of the Messiah when the Spirit would be poured out on God’s people. Peter recognized the events Luke described on the day of Pentecost as the fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy. He denied the charge that the conduct of the apostles was the result of early morning drinking and declared of the events that “this is that which hath been spoken through the prophet Joel.”

Among other things, Joel foretold that prophesy by God’s people would be one of the results of the coming of the Messiah’s age. However, Peter’s purpose in his sermon was not to discuss how long prophecy would last. His purpose was single – demonstrate that Messiah’s age had come and that Joel’s prophecy of that which would accompany its arrival was being fulfilled before their eyes. He then proceeded to declare Jesus as the Messiah.

The person with whom you are speaking just stopped too soon. All agree that miracles occurred in Biblical days. The remaining issue is whether miracles, including prophecy, continue to this day. That question has been addressed numerous times. See the answers to Questions 138, 153, 9, and 27. You might also want to read our lessons on “Miracles,” especially “Miracles or Magic.”

God's Plan of Salvation

You must hear the gospel and then understand and recognize that you are lost without Jesus Christ no matter who you are and no matter what your background is. The Bible tells us that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Before you can be saved, you must understand that you are lost and that the only way to be saved is by obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:8) Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12) "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Romans 10:17)

You must believe and have faith in God because “without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6) But neither belief alone nor faith alone is sufficient to save. (James 2:19; James 2:24; Matthew 7:21)

You must repent of your sins. (Acts 3:19) But repentance alone is not enough. The so-called “Sinner’s Prayer” that you hear so much about today from denominational preachers does not appear anywhere in the Bible. Indeed, nowhere in the Bible was anyone ever told to pray the “Sinner’s Prayer” to be saved. By contrast, there are numerous examples showing that prayer alone does not save. Saul, for example, prayed following his meeting with Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:11), but Saul was still in his sins when Ananias met him three days later (Acts 22:16). Cornelius prayed to God always, and yet there was something else he needed to do to be saved (Acts 10:2, 6, 33, 48). If prayer alone did not save Saul or Cornelius, prayer alone will not save you. You must obey the gospel. (2 Thess. 1:8)

You must confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. (Romans 10:9-10) Note that you do NOT need to make Jesus “Lord of your life.” Why? Because Jesus is already Lord of your life whether or not you have obeyed his gospel. Indeed, we obey him, not to make him Lord, but because he already is Lord. (Acts 2:36) Also, no one in the Bible was ever told to just “accept Jesus as your personal savior.” We must confess that Jesus is the Son of God, but, as with faith and repentance, confession alone does not save. (Matthew 7:21)

Having believed, repented, and confessed that Jesus is the Son of God, you must be baptized for the remission of your sins. (Acts 2:38) It is at this point (and not before) that your sins are forgiven. (Acts 22:16) It is impossible to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ without teaching the absolute necessity of baptism for salvation. (Acts 8:35-36; Romans 6:3-4; 1 Peter 3:21) Anyone who responds to the question in Acts 2:37 with an answer that contradicts Acts 2:38 is NOT proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ!

Once you are saved, God adds you to his church and writes your name in the Book of Life. (Acts 2:47; Philippians 4:3) To continue in God’s grace, you must continue to serve God faithfully until death. Unless they remain faithful, those who are in God’s grace will fall from grace, and those whose names are in the Book of Life will have their names blotted out of that book. (Revelation 2:10; Revelation 3:5; Galatians 5:4)