WHAT IS A PROPHET?
Websterâs definition is: “One who utters divinely inspired revelations; one regarded by a group of followers as the final authoritative revealer of Godâs will; one gifted with more than ordinary spiritual and moral insight; one who foretells future events.â In Deuteronomy 18:8, we find the first reference to a prophet: “I will raise up for them a prophetâ¦ I will put my words in his mouth, and he will tell them everything I command him.â A prophetâs primary role was to communicate the mind/will of God, as he was inspired of God to do so (Heb. 1:1, 2; 2 Peter 1:20, 21). In the Old Testament they mainly spoke to Israelâs moral, religious and political decay, and oftentimes warned of impending dangers if people failed to repent. Incidentally, the foretelling of future events was simply an incidental part of the prophetic office. Like the Old Testament, the office of a prophet, or the gift of prophecy in the New Testament was a temporary one, granted by God for the purpose of laying the foundation of the church (Eph. 2:20), and the proclaiming of Godâs revelation to the churches for edification (I Cor. 14:4). This was mainly for believers (I Cor. 14:22).
Keep in mind that the first century church did not have a completed Bible, hence the need for “mediumsâ or “prophetsâ to communicate Godâs message until the New Testament canon was completed. As a matter of fact, Paul did predict a time when the spiritual gifts, including prophecy, would come to an end (I Cor. 13:8-13), and they have ceased! Moreover, prophets are no longer needed today because the foundation of the church was laid, and Godâs revelation was completed. We now have the completed revelation (i.e. the Bible) which contains everything that leads to life and godliness (II Peter 1:3; II Tim. 3:16,17), and speaks to every facet of society, including moral, social, religious and political.
PREDICTIONS BY FALSE PROPHETS
It is amazing that day after day, week after week, year after year, people read, hear, and see these people who claim to receive special information from God, who claim that God has picked them out of six billion people to reveal unknowing and unverifiable facts about things only God knows. These religious pretenders overplay their hand and say too much. Kenneth Copeland did on December 12, 2001. At a dedication service, Copeland asserted that one billion Muslims would be converted in the next few months. His exact words were, “And there are going to be close to a billion people that have been trapped in that religion, that in the next few months are gonna come into the kingdom of God (cheering). That is gonna happen; you watch and see what Iâm telling youâ (Christian News, 5/24/04; p.2).
Where were all the “prophetsâ before the tsunami? Did Oral Roberts, Benny Hinn or TD Jakes warn us? Where was Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN)? This network broadcasts 24 hours a day, to almost the entire world, and yet we heard not a word of warning. Isnât it interesting that a lot of these self-proclaimed “prophetsâ today mostly emphasize the promising of blessings, prosperity, healing, etc. Not much mention of sin, repentance, confession, or obedience; just one blessing after another. No wonder they have so many followers! They preach just precisely what the people want to hear! Sounds pretty much like what Paul told Timothy in II Tim. 4: 3, 4: “For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.â Donât you think that our religious world should question its “prophets?â We often hear televangelists say that God spoke to them, especially when they need money, and told them to do this or that. But for some reason, none of these “prophetsâ said a word regarding the approaching tsunami. I ask why? Isnât this an obvious indication that there are no modern-day prophets? Doesnât this prove Paulâs I Cor. 18: 8 revelation â “prophecies will fail?â
PREDICTING THE FUTURE
Are there people who can predict the future? Well, one only needs to read Acts 16:16 to see that it is possible for some to predict certain things, if he/she has a spirit of divination! These sorcerers are called “false prophetsâ (Acts 13:6). These people can do amazing things, like Simon in Acts 8:9ff, that people may be inclined to believe that they are the “great power of God.â The Thessalonian Christians were warned not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by some prophecy (II Thess. 2:1,2). Furthermore, Jesus Himself said, “Watch out for false prophets (Matt. 7:15). He later stated in that same chapter that “Many will say to him, âLord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons, and perform many miracles?ââ What did Jesus say regarding these same people? “â¦I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquityâ (verses 22,23). Evidently, these were occult spirit healers, who disguised themselves as followers of Christ, but they were really “wolves in sheepâs clothing!â
These false prophets should be thankful that we are no longer living under the Old Testament where the penalty for being a false prophet was death (Deut. 18:20-22).
Today, we are witnessing an increase in so-called “prophets.â Of course, this should not be surprising, as the Apostle John, as well as Jesus, had predicted would happen as a sign to the end times and the last days. John wrote, “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the worldâ (I John 4:1). Jesus said, “And many false prophets shall arise, and shall deceive manyâ (Matt. 24:11). Peter also wrote, “But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them â bringing swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow their shameful ways and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. In their greed, these teachers will exploit you with stories they have made up. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleepingâ II Peter 2:1-3.
What do we see in Scripture concerning these false prophets? They are clearly in it for the money; they seek self-glorification; introduce heresies, motivated by greed; strengthen the hands of evil doers; deceive many and seduce people to follow them. Sounds familiar?
Mark A Charles