In the Bible class I teach one of the members asked me about so-called, “prophets” today. A friend invited her to a prophetic meeting, and she went but did not feel comfortable with the words the prophet pronounced over her, nor did the rest of her family.
She asked me what I thought, and I told her that I did not believe these so-called “prophets” were true or valid today but that I would get some additional material for her about them.
I did that. Following is a short blog of my comments on The question of prophets today, then a list of links for more information that includes a definition of true prophecy by John McArthur.
The question of “prophets” today
I should clarify that I use the term “prophets” in quotation marks as I do not believe these modern-day people who call themselves by this title qualify as Biblical prophets. I have been teaching through the prophetic books in the Bible and the lives of the true prophets of God in their single-minded focus, their humility, their bravery, the mockery, trials, and for many the horrific deaths suffered, put true prophets in a category far removed from the prosperity-promoting lives of many current individuals who use this label.
To use the same word to describe the vast chasm between the lives of true prophets and the modern wannabes seems both a mockery and tragedy.
A possible reason for the appeal of this movement
As with many other issues, I think the challenges of this movement are answered by Jesus’ words in Matthew 22:29 where He said, “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God.”
I think many people are looking for a word from “prophets” today because they don’t know the Word of God for themselves wherein we can find all we need to guide our lives and give us comfort and hope.
It takes work, hard work to learn God’s Word well, to meditate on it and memorize it, to have it inside us so the Lord can continuously call it to mind and guide us with it and I don’t think many want to go to that work. Getting a ready-made message from a “prophet” is so much easier.
Also, often what God’s Word calls to mind is a challenge to our current behavior and not nearly so much fun to hear as things will be wonderful for us without us having to change our behavior. When we diligently study God’s Word, we may realize that perfect health and wealth aren’t promised in this life and that instead of a focus on naming and claiming what WE want, we need to submit to God’s will for us and humbly serve those around us—again, that realization is often not our first choice.
It is so much easier to go to a “prophet” and have that person speak a word over us, especially if it is a positive one that promises health and wealth or at least an escape from current problems.
No matter how good that sounds, no matter how uplifting the fleeting rush of feeling that God has something special promised to you, might feel chances are that the “prophecy” you are receiving is merely wishful thinking and after the high of the encounter has worn off and the promised blessings don’t take place, disillusionment will flood in.
In contrast, as we grow in our knowledge of God’s Word and in personally practicing what it calls us to do; when we work hard on our growth in holiness and becoming more and more like Jesus instead of disappointment, no matter what the challenges of our lives, we find reality in the description of life we find in Proverbs 4:18 where it talks tells us that “the path of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn, shining ever brighter until the full light of day.”
You don’t need a modern-day prophet to tell you how to live, what to hope for, and how to please God. You have everything you need in your Bible—get to know it well.
List of links for more information about modern-day “prophets” and a definition of true prophecy
The first four links are moderate, well-documents comments from www.gotquestions.org site. From these articles are links to additional, related blogs and topics.
Are there real prophets today? https://www.gotquestions.org/prophet-Bible.html
How can I recognize a false teacher / false prophet? https://www.gotquestions.org/false-teachers.html
Are there prophets in the church today? https://www.gotquestions.org/prophets-today.html
What does it mean that the church was built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets (Ephesians 2:20)? https://www.gotquestions.org/foundation-of-the-apostles-and-prophets.html
Fivefold Ministry Makes a Comeback
An excellent article that puts prophetic speaking into the context of an overall trend in the church and critiques it as part of that. https://www.equip.org/articles/fivefold-ministry-makes-a-comeback/
The following links are from the Grace to You Ministries and though I and the Bible805 ministry do not agree with them in several areas, I respect their opinions in many and think on this topic, their comments are worth considering.
A Word from the Lord? Evaluating the Modern Gift of Prophecy (Nathan Busenitz) https://www.gty.org/library/sermons-library/TM13-8/a-word-from-the-lord-evaluating-the-modern-gift-of-prophecy-nathan-busenitz
Prophecy Redefined by John MacArthur
Following is an excellent summary of all objections to the legitimacy of modern, so-called “prophets”
From Genesis to Revelation, the Bible demonstrates four foundational characteristics of true prophecy. First, true prophecy is always verbal, the very words of God. It’s never an impulse or an impression; it’s never a feeling that needs interpretation. Rather, true prophecy is a precise message.
Second, true prophecy is propositional—it is testable as either true or false. That’s what logicians recognize as the law of the excluded middle—a proposition is either true, or its negation is true. If someone invokes the Holy Spirit as the source of his prophecy, but what he says is false, God commands His people to reject both prophecy and prophet (Deuteronomy 13:1–5; Deuteronomy 18:20–22).
Third, true prophecy is infallible. Whatever God spoke through His prophets was error-free and utterly unaffected by human fallibility.
Fourth, because a true prophecy is verbal, propositional, and inerrant, the only conclusion to draw is that it carries the full weight of divine authority. Ever since the end of the apostolic age and the completion of the canon, only Scripture can legitimately claim that level of authority (2 Timothy 3:16).
The rest of the article goes into detail on the cessationist-continuationist debate, which can get a bit confusing and into the theological weeds, but if you are interested in it, take time to read the rest at: https://www.gty.org/library/blog/B140312
Strange Fire Panel Question and Answer, Session 1
From a conference held by Grace to You Ministries. Another rather heavy critique, rather hard-hitting and again, not agreeable to everyone, but quite informative: https://www.gty.org/library/sermons-library/TM13-11/strange-fire-panel-question-and-answer-session-1