One of the bigger arguments I hear quite often today among many evangelical Christians is that "the miracle gifts are not for today. That gift died in the first century along with the apostles." I still don't understand how that's possible given all the verifiable proofs to the contrary, including the bible's own words that time and again prove that God has always had at least one special man set aside in every age and every century. This includes the prophets.
Take a look at Elijah in the time of Jezebel. He thought he was the last prophet alive in his time and yet God told him, no, I still have 7000 men who serve me faithfully despite all that's happened. (1 Kings 19:18) 7000! That's pretty impressive for someone who claimed to be alone. Or what about the idea I hear regularly that "oh, God only has his man in place at times of need." Yet you can read through Judges and see the progress of how God moves. One dies, and another is already waiting in the wings. There are no gaps. The next person is in line waiting their turn before the previous one goes away.
Yet the church somehow thinks that God did away with something He has been using since the early days of this world because "we have the whole word of God and nothing will ever be added or changed or removed ever, and therefore we don't need prophets." I fully disagree. God ALWAYS has at least one man or woman, quite usually a prophet, standing in the wings waiting for that special moment when they will be needed. I also don't believe the bible is done growing yet. Why do I say that? Well, think about it. How many books are there?
There are 66, right? What is 6? The number of man. What is 7? The number of God. What is the bible? Ah, starting to see the picture here? There are still 11 books missing. Are they in existence today? Absolutely not! I don't believe that any books, other than the 66 we presently have, belong in the bible, and that's by God's design. I believe that during the Millennial reign of Christ another 11 books will be added, including what I will call "Leviticus 2" as the bible indicates that temple sacrifices will be re-instituted during the Millennium, but they will be different than the originals.
The sacrifices and ceremonies in Leviticus were for sin offerings, and as a foreshadowing of the coming Messiah who would take away ALL sins forever. The ones that will be carried out during the Millennium will be a memorial, and thus will have a different meaning. There will also be new laws, a history of the church (sort of a continuation of the book of acts, but covering the 100ad-Rapture period) and a history of the Tribulation saints among the books. Now I'm not saying I know for certain. I'm merely theorizing based on biblical precedent.
Now, take all of what I've shared and chew on it a bit. If the bible isn't complete and will be added onto at a point in the future, what does that say for prophecy? Or how about the idea that God has always had His prophets, sometimes one, sometimes thousands, standing by to do His work at a moment's notice. Also, there's nowhere in the bible that it says prophecy HAS ended. It merely says "WILL" end, but never specifies when. To presume it died at the end of the first century is ludicrous. Prophecy is alive and well today.
The church merely doesn't want to admit it, just like they don't want to admit other things about the bible because it plucks at their sin. The same sin they are comfortable with and will not surrender to God. Oh no, don't you dare touch their sin, but go right ahead and stroke their ego. Enough with that already! God never ended the miracle gifts, and especially not prophecy, at the end of the 1st century. Another great proof of this is in the books of Acts. How many times do you hear of prophets in there? Lots actually. And what about Paul when he talks about the spiritual gifts?
What is the one gift he harps on? Aside from tongues, he speaks of prophecy. In fact, he says that prophecy is preferred above ALL the other spiritual gifts hands down. Now, if that is considered the king of all gifts, why would it be so denigrated? Think about it. What things of God does Satan attack the most? He only goes after the most powerful. He will do anything he can to destroy the miracle gifts or marginalize them in the Christian world to kneecap their power and ability. Also, in days of old, who wore the biggest bullseye on their back? The prophets and the miracle workers. So what does that say about the miracle gifts? Especially prophecy?
I think we've wrongly marginalized them, and inadvertently did Satan's work of handicapping the Holy Spirit by tying His hands to prevent Him from working miraculously in this world in the ways He wants to. Take a look at 1 Thess 5:19. "Quench not the Spirit." By denying that modern day prophecy happens, we're denying the Spirit and thus quenching Him. Also, if you look one verse on, what does Paul say? "Despise not prophesyings." Think about that. By denying that there is modern prophecy, what are we doing? Despising prophesyings. We're doing exactly what Jesus, through Paul, told us, as the church, NOT TO DO.
Now, with that said, do I believe that every one of today's so called prophets is one? *giggle* I'd have to be a loony in a straight jacket to think that. In fact, I'd say that for every 1000 prophets, there's only one real one out there. Just look at Jeremiah. Of the hundreds and hundreds of "prophets" at the time, only he and his three contemporaries Zephaniah, Nahum and Habakkuk, were true prophets of God. And really, only Jeremiah was in the forefront. The other three were sorta the stage play equivalent of understudies. And then as they stepped out of the scene, in comes Daniel and Ezekiel during the Babylonian captivity. When they stepped out, others immediately stepped up and took their place.
Then we supposedly have the 400 silent years. Those years weren't silent as far as the men of God or the prophets. They just weren't recorded, as the prophets still were around and still did their things, but nothing of any real notoriety worth putting down in books. Or if they were recorded, then their books are lost to time. We don't pick back up with any mention of the active office of prophet again until we read the gospels. After the death of Christ, the office of prophet shifts to the church and away from Judaism. It will eventually return to Israel, but not until the rapture occurs. Although the shift may be beginning even now.
The point is, prophecy never died with the first century church, nor the miracle gifts. All the proof points to it being alive and well these past 1900 years, albeit slowly denigrated and demonized by Satan and those in his service in an attempt to destroy a powerful gift that God wants to use in today's church. Also, there's been a long standing, and very HUGE misunderstanding of prophecy that I think is part of what has given it such a bad name in today's world. Prophecy isn't always about the foretelling of the future. Sometimes it's about right where you are at this moment.
For those of you who don't understand, read my prior posts about miracle gifts and the spiritual gifts. Also read my posts about identifying true prophets. 1 Thess 5:21 tells us to prove all things and cling to that which is good. Yet the church so readily wants to dismiss modern prophets out of hand. That's because they the bible as the end all, be all of God's speaking to us. I'm not denigrating the bible by saying that, but merely making you open your eyes. Think about this. You go into your prayer closet or kneel by your bed to pray. Suddenly God speaks to you by putting something into your mind, or a thought into your heart?
Or what about all the times your pastor or elder has said, "Last night God spoke to me...." Isn't that prophecy? Or even exhortation? Isn't God given them information they didn't have before? All true prophecy comes from God, and if God is still speaking to people today, then He HAS NOT gone silent, nor has prophecy ended. Period. People who say, "There are no modern prophets because God doesn't need them anymore because He speaks directly to us." Okay, fine, I can accept that. But look at the bigger picture. God speaks to believers, right? He speaks to us because He's in our hearts.
What about those who aren't believes, whom God is NOT in their hearts? Eh? Ponder that one for a bit. How does God speak to the lost? *big grin* Yeah, through US. God always has used His own to speak to the lost. He's also used His own to speak to His own when His own decided to be thick headed and stubborn and not listen. This is proven time and again throughout the bible. So if God had to do that in the Old Testament, and even the new, why should we think we're exempt from the need for modern day prophets?
Remember, 1 Thess 5:21 says to "prove all things". That's simply another way of saying "test the spirits to see if they're true." Then in verse 22 it says to abstain from all that is evil. How do you know if it's evil or not? By testing and proving all things, and all spirits. I know this from experience. I'm a big eschatology (prophecy related to the end times) and prophecy buff. I have to test the spirits on a daily basis, and while I don't always get it right (I'm human after all) I do get it right quite often, and I can tell you that there are legitimate modern day prophets out there.
Not all men of God are prophets, and certainly not all so called prophets are prophets. It's like the old saying, "Calling yourself a soldier doesn't mean you're a soldier." In the same way calling yourself a prophet, an apostle (this one bugs me silly as nobody I know of has qualified for this title since Paul, as he was the last to see the risen Christ), disciple, etc. Titles mean nothing if your life isn't living up to it. "You shall know them by their fruits." (Matthew 7:16a) The same is true of modern prophets. If you've tested their fruit, you will know if they're real or not.
Two that come to mind who I've done extensive research on are David Wilkerson and John Paul Jackson. Both men have made prophecies given to them by God and both men have proven 100% accurate so far. Sure, there are those who say "But they said it'd happen by this date and they were wrong!" Yeah, and what about it? If you look at the ancient prophets, they did the same. Just look at Isaiah. He declared Christ's first and second coming as being back to back. (Isaiah 61:2) His prophecy says nothing about the church. To him the two events looked back to back.
The same can be said of other prophets. Or what about the 1st Century church? They were expecting the rapture to be only a few years or decades after Christ's ascension, not 2 centuries! To be totally honest, that's date setting and every single person from Adam to today has failed at that. So anyone who's set dates and not seen them come to pass is in very, very good company. The wisest of the prophets simply said "It's coming. I don't know when, but it's coming." rather than set a specific date. Think they failed so often because God hates being put in a box, and He's very good at getting out of it. Plus it sets a precedent that says, "You're not God, so stop trying to be Me because you're not!"
So what if Wilkerson said "It'll be this year" or "It'll all unfold by 2012" or whatever? If he said that and he's wrong, then he's in good company with the rest. Why do I say that? Because God never, ever, not even once gives a date when something will happen, save only for a couple of occasions, and none of them are an exact date on the calendar, but are rather instead "starting from the day you see this forward until xx number of days after". Think of Daniel's 70 weeks. No specific calendar date is ever given, but a time frame is.
This many or that many days, years, weeks, etc from this event forward. So anyone who says "by this and this year" without a starting point of reference is not speaking of God, but merely of their own thoughts. Heavens, even I do that. It's like saying, "God said this and this will happen, and based on what information I've been given I'm firmly believing it'll happen by this date." That's an opinion, not a prophecy. Our problem is that the moment someone delivers a prophecy from God, suddenly they've got to be 100% perfect on all points afterwards or they're classified as a fake.
That's the dumbest thing I've ever heard. Just because God gives someone a prophecy doesn't suddenly make them super human. They were flawed and failed before, and they'll continue to be after. That's because the prophecy IS NOT from them. It's from God. Now if they tell a prophecy and it doesn't come to pass, THEN they are a false prophet. But until then they're to be at least considered. The nice part is, God gives us proofs of the person's legitimacy using short term prophecies intermingled with their longer term ones.
The short term ones are to help us know they're actually receiving legitimate prophecies from God. The long terms ones, having been validated, now carry the weight of God's word with men. But again, this all comes back to the people receiving it. Just as the king and his court, in the days of Jeremiah, mocked and rejected the words of Jeremiah, today's church mocks and rejects the word of God's modern prophets because it interferes with their sins, and they'd rather enjoy the lusts of this world, despite claiming to be Christian (remember my comment about people in name only above?), than listening to and obeying God.
Plus, if modern day Christians can marginalize and destroy the credibility of God's modern prophets, then Satan wins because he can then use that to shut up the ears of the unsaved and in turn draw more souls into Hell that might otherwise have been saved had they heard the prophecy and known that it was coming from God through a legitimate prophet of God. So stop just rubber stamping all prophets as liars and fakers, and start testing the spirits. And if it burns against your spirit what the prophet says, then you might need to get your nose in the bible and make sure that you yourself aren't the one the prophet is trying to warn because of your abhorrent, boundless sin.
So with that I'll leave you with one final thought. Jesus is coming soon, despite how much you may mock such an idea. As such, unless you want to be left behind in the hell of the Tribulation, or worse yet, slip into the real fire filled bowels of damnation called Hell, I strongly suggest you check your faith and make sure you are a true, born again, bible believing and reading, sin fleeing Christian, and not a Churchian who is Christian in name only. And once you've checked and assured yourself of what you are and believe, it's then now time to start checking out the prophets of today, and testing their spirits, and if you find them to be true, listen, and listen hard. Your future may depend on it.