I’m reading Grudem’s The Gift of Prophecy in 1 Corinthians at the moment. His thesis is that prophecy is the NT, at least non-apostolic prophecy, is not authoritative, but is general revelation from God given to build people up. In other words, instead of the actual words being from God, the overall content is from God, but there is human mixture in there. At the moment, I don’t think this is completely right. I don’t see any reason God can’t speak in a way that the Christian can convey exactly. For example, if God speaks to a person audibly and they simply relate what he said.
However, I really appreciated his explanation of the importance of prophecy:
How, then, is prophecy different from other speech activities in the NT church? What made prophecy so valuable that Paul wanted it to be sought above all the other gifts? The answer is found not in the function of prophecy but in the fact that prophecy is based on a divine “revelation” (see Chap. 2). Because of this revelation, the prophet would be able to speak to the specific needs of the moment when the congregation assembled. Whereas the teacher or preacher would only be able to obtain information about the specific concerns of the people from observation or conversation, the prophet would have in addition the ability to know about specific needs through “revelation.” In many cases the things revealed might include the secrets of men’s hearts (cf. 1 Cor. 14.25), their worries or fears (which need appropriate words of comfort and encouragement), or their refusal or hesitancy to do God’s will (which need appropriate words of exhortation)…Prophecy, then, is superior to the other gifts because the revelation on which it depends allows it to be suited to the specific needs of the moment, needs which may only be known to God. (p. 184)
I think that’s exactly right. I’m not prophetic, but I’m passionate about prophecy for the very reasons Grudem states above. We, as humans, don’t know what needs to be said, but God does. Therefore, we need revelation from God.