The True Outpouring (ATP)
There’s a common belief among Christianity today that God no longer speaks through prophets, dreams, or visions because we have the Bible. The assumption is that since He can speak through the Bible there is no longer a need for prophecies, dreams, or visions. In Joel 2:28 it says, “And it shall come to pass afterward That I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions.” When it says “shall pour out My Spirit on all flesh” is that referring to after Christ returns to heaven and the Holy Spirit is sent to earth to live within a person who accepts Jesus as their Savior? If so, then is this verse saying that after a person gets saved, some will be able to prophesy, dream dreams and/or see visions?
To break this down let’s look at the first part, does God still speak through prophets, dreams and visions? People who claim no to this generally deny the outward signs, the gifts of the Spirit, and speaking in tongues. They often claim that these things have “passed away”. The problem with this claim is that it is never found in scripture.
Sometimes they will point to a few obscure scriptures like 1 Corinthians 13:8-10 which reads, “Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.” They claim that the Bible is that which is perfect. The issue I have with this first is that, that which is perfect has not come! Am I saying the Bible is not perfect? Of course not! The Bible is perfect for us to learn but we are certainly not perfected in truth yet. If we were, there would be no need for us to have the Holy Spirit. Have you ever wondered why there are so many Christian denominations? The perfected knowledge of God has not been fulfilled and so neither have the other things listed.
Also read in Ephesians 4:11 about the ministry offices, the apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers and their job assignment in vs 13. Is the church in unity concerning faith or the knowledge of the Son of God? How many Christians are you aware of that match that word there, perfect? I haven’t met a perfected one yet! Now I will refer back to 1 Corinthians 13:9, “For we know in part and we prophesy in part.” Until we are perfected this is exactly what we do, we know and prophesy in part.
As far as the scripture in Joel, I think what was being declared is exactly what Peter declared starting in Act 2:14 and throughout the rest of that sermon. This is a part of the operation of the Holy Spirit. These were the things we were going to see. There will be no need of these things after Christ returns. That’s when perfect will have come. However, until He returns there is great need for prophecy. I would say quite assuredly that the church today has less revelation about God then the early church did and that has been true throughout most of the last 2000+ years, despite having the written Word. If there were ever a need for Spiritual gifts, it would be today, in the last of the last days.
Now of course there are many scriptures I could discuss in support of what I’m saying but I don’t have near enough space here. For a few quick examples, read John chapters 14-16 where there is a great deal concerning what the Holy Ghost will do. Consider Acts 2:39 which says, “For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.” Read I Corinthians 12-14. Notice the love chapter (chapter 13), which no one denies is about us today, is sandwiched between two full chapters about manifestations of the Holy Ghost in the church. There are tons of other scriptures but I think you get the point.
I am not saying that these don’t need to be studied and taught and learned. I also am not saying everyone should go out and start prophesying over people, that’s dangerous. This is why a good, whole Bible teaching church is so important. This is why it’s important to be submitted under people who are proven in these areas, just like the Apostles and disciples were. God gave us the scriptures and His Spirit to learn His will. If we are closed off to something simply because we don’t fully understand it, we will miss what God has for us.
In closing I want to say this, some erroneously claim that if God wants us to have those gifts or abilities, He will just put it on us. Nothing comes to man from God unless man first desires it. Rejection is the opposite of desire and starts when we refuse to learn. First desire to learn, and God will make things manifest as He desires in and around your life. I will assure you though, in all those people or denominations that claim these things have passed away, for them they certainly have. They will never see the power of God. In John 11:40, Jesus said to her, “Did I not say to you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?” He was also implying that without belief in His power, you will not see it. I ask you all, will you see it?