By Eric Wheeler
Many in Christendom today would say that prophets no longer exist – that they are a thing of the past. But according to Scripture, this is simply not true. The New Testament says that God Himself specifically gave to the Church “some apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” (Eph. 4:11-13). The Bible clearly states that God appointed prophets in the Church (I Cor. 12:28).
The Book of Acts says that there were prophets in the Church during the first century (Acts 11:27; Acts 13:1; Acts 15:32), and that Paul and Barnabas were recognized by the Church as being prophets before they were sent out on their first missionary journey (Acts 13:1). In addition, the New Testament clearly commands that two or three prophets should regularly speak to the assembled congregation of the Church when it gathers together (I Cor. 14:29). The Apostle Paul said that all members should be permitted to prophesy (I Cor. 14:31), and that Christians should earnestly desire the gift of prophecy (I Cor. 14:1; 39). Truly, during the beginnings of the Church, prophets and prophesying were an intricate and important part of daily Church life in the first century.
But where are the prophets and where is prophesying in the Church today? Why doesn’t Christendom as a whole recognize the God-given role of a prophet? Why is prophesying strongly discouraged and, in a lot of cases, rejected by most mainstream Christian churches today? And how can you tell a true prophet from a false one? The Bible has a lot to say about this very important subject, and its statements regarding the role of prophets and prophesying in the Church may be surprising – especially to those in Christendom.
In order to understand the role and ministry of the prophets, it is important to look at what the Scriptures have to say regarding this peculiar calling and greatly misunderstood member of the body of Christ.
The Function of the Prophets in the Church Body
Every member of the Church Body is important and necessary to the overall proper functionality of the Church. The Apostle Paul writes:
“For in fact the body is not one member but many. If the foot should say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I am not of the body’, is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear should say, ‘Because I am not an eye, I am not of the body’, is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole [body] were hearing, where would be the smelling? But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased. And if they were all one member [the same], where would the body be? But now indeed there are many members, yet one body. And the eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you’; nor again the head to the feet, ‘I have no need of you.’… Now you are the body of Christ [collectively], and members individually. And God appointed these in the Church: First apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles? Do all have gifts of healings? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret?” (I Cor. 12:14-30).
Obviously, the answer to Paul’s rhetorical question here is “no!” Not every member of the body has the same function, ability or gift. Not everyone in the Church is an apostle, a prophet, or a teacher. Not everybody in the Church is a miracle worker, has the gift of healing, speaks in tongues, or has the ability to interpret tongues, dreams and visions. That is why we all need each other in the Church to properly function as a body. We need every member with their God-given spiritual abilities and gifts to perform their proper function and role within the Church in order for the Church as a whole to properly function and to spiritually thrive. Otherwise, the Body will be spiritually lame, disabled, sick and handicapped. When a body does not use its eyes, it is blind. When a body does not use its ears, it is deaf. When a body does not use its feet, it is lame. The same is true in the spiritual Body of Christ.
According to the Bible, what is the role or “function” of the prophet in the Body of Christ? Surprisingly, the prophets have a number of God-given responsibilities to perform in the Body. Let’s look at some of them.
Prophets are the “eyes” of the Church (Isa. 29:10). They spiritually “see” things that are coming and that are afar off on the spiritual horizon (Psa. 74:9; Acts 2:30-31). They have the ability to spiritually see what others can’t (II Kings 6:16-17) and to see the future (II Kings 3:11-18). God is the One who gives the prophets their spiritual insight and vision (Lam. 2:9).
God speaks directly to His prophets. “If there is a prophet among you, I, the Lord, make Myself known to him in a vision, and I speak to him in a dream.” (Num. 12:6). “Surely the Lord God does nothing unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets” (Amos 3:7).
Prophets are sent to tell others what the will of the Lord is. (II Kings 3:11; II Kings 5:8; II Chron. 28:9-11). “I have also spoken to you by the prophets, and gave them many visions, and told parables through them” (Hos. 12:10). They speak what the Lord tells them to speak (Num. 22:38; Num. 24:13; I Kings 22:14). “And the Lord has sent to you all His servants the prophets, rising early and sending them, but you have not listened nor inclined your ear to hear. They said, ‘Repent now every one of his evil way and his evil doings…’ Yet you have not listened to Me, says the Lord.” (Jer. 25:4-7).
Prophets are an example of suffering and patience. “My brethren, take the prophets, who spoke in the name of the Lord, as an example of suffering and patience. Indeed, we count them blessed who endure.” (Jam. 5:10-11).
Prophets are the “watchmen” of the Church. They stand in the “watchtowers” of the Church to see what is coming and to warn the people of God. “Son of Man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel. Therefore hear a word from My mouth, and give them warning from Me.” (Ezek. 3:17). The prophets are charged by God to warn His people and to tell them what He is about to do and what is coming on the horizon. For it is written: “Surely the Lord God does nothing, unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets.” (Amos 3:7). They are responsible to warn the people of God that danger and judgment are coming. They sound the trumpet, so to speak. In addition to warning the people, they are also responsible to proclaim God’s good news. Let’s look at some examples of both of these responsibilities in the Bible.
Warning of impending danger, calamity, and/or judgment
“And the Lord God of their fathers sent warnings to them by His messengers, rising up early and sending them, because He had compassion on His people and on His dwelling place. But they mocked the messengers of God, despised His words, and scoffed at His prophets, until the wrath of the Lord arose against His people, till there was no remedy.” (II Chron. 36:15-16).
“Now the word of the Lord came to me, saying: ‘Son of man, set your face toward the mountains of Israel, and prophesy against them, and say, ‘O mountains of Israel, hear the word of the Lord God! Thus says the Lord God to the mountains, to the hills, to the ravines, and to the valleys: ‘Indeed I, even I, will bring a sword against you, and I will destroy your high places. Then your altars shall be desolate, your incense altars shall be broken, and I will cast down your slain men before your idols. And I will lay the corpses of the children of Israel before their idols, and I will scatter your bones all around your altars. In all your dwelling places the cities shall be laid waste, and the high places shall be desolate, so that your altars may be laid waste and made desolate, your idols may be broken and made to cease, your incense altars may be cut down, and your works may be abolished. The slain shall fall in your midst, and you shall know that I am the Lord.” (Ezek. 6:1-7).
“And in these days prophets came from Jerusalem to Antioch. Then one of them, named Agabus, stood up and showed by the Spirit that there was going to be a great famine throughout all the world, which also happened in the days of Claudius Caesar.” (Acts 11:27-28).
“And as we stayed many days, a certain prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. When he had come to us, he took Paul’s belt, bound his own hands and feet, and said, ‘Thus says the Holy Spirit, ‘So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man who owns this belt, and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles’” (Acts 21:10-11).
Announcing and proclaiming good news
“Now his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Spirit, and prophesied, saying: ‘Blessed is the Lord God of Israel. For He has visited and redeemed His people, and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of His servant David, as He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets who have been since the world began, that we should be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us, to perform the mercy promised to our fathers and to remember His holy covenant, the oath which He swore to our father Abraham.’” (Luke 1:67-73).
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn, to console those who mourn in Zion; to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.” (Isa. 61:1-3).
“But those things which God foretold by the mouth of all His prophets, that the Christ would suffer, He has thus fulfilled. Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that He may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before, whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began…Yes, and all the prophets, from Samuel and those who follow, as many as have spoken, have also foretold these days. You are sons of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying to Abraham, ‘And in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed.’ To you first, God, having raised up His servant Jesus, sent Him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from your iniquities.” (Acts 3:18-26).
“Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated to the gospel of God which He promised before through His prophets in the Holy Scriptures, concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh, and declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead, through whom we have received grace and apostleship for obedience to the faith among all nations for His name, among whom you also are called of Jesus Christ.” (Rom. 1:1-6).
Because the prophets speak the words of truth as given to them by God, the Bible says that they speak “edification, exhortation, and comfort to men” (I Cor. 14:3). However, if a person is not right with God, and is sinning, these words from God may instead seem to be words of judgment, evil, and calamity. Such was the case with King Ahab of Israel. When King Ahab asked Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, to form an alliance with him and join him in battle against Syria, Jehoshaphat asked King Ahab if there was a prophet of the Lord in Israel that they may inquire as to the true outcome of the battle. King Ahab said that there indeed was a prophet of the Lord living in Israel named Micaiah, the son of Imlah, but that the prophet “does not prophesy good concerning me, but evil” (I Kings 22:8, 18). Ahab felt this way because he was wickedly practicing idolatry and sin, and God was continually warning him to repent through the mouth of His servant Micaiah. But Ahab didn’t listen. And consequently, Micaiah’s seemingly “evil” prediction regarding King Ahab’s death and Israel’s subsequent military defeat shortly came to pass.
The Bible says that we are to “quench not the Spirit and despise not prophesyings” (I Thess. 5:19-20). The Amplified Version of the Bible renders this same verse this way: “Do not quench (suppress or subdue) the Holy Spirit. Do not spurn the gifts and utterances of the prophets – do not depreciate prophetic revelations nor despise inspired instruction or exhortation or warning.” (I Thess. 5:19-20). Obviously, King Ahab despised prophesying. For he said to Jehoshaphat regarding the prophet Micaiah, “There is still one man, Micaiah the son of Imlah, by whom we may inquire of the Lord; but I hate him, because he does not prophesy good concerning me, but evil.” (I Kings 22:8). Notice that Jehoshaphat then said to King Ahab, “Let not the king say such things!” (I Kings 22:8). Jehoshaphat obviously, and rightly, feared God. But Ahab didn’t. Therefore, King Ahab died according to the word of the Lord as spoken by the mouth of His prophet Micaiah.
True Prophets are Rejected and Persecuted but False Prophets are Accepted
The Bible describes true prophets as:
– Persecuted by the people of God.
– Without honor among their own people and countrymen.
– Without honor among their own relatives and family members.
– Honored by the people only after they are dead.
– Frequently calling for repentance; brokenness is the focus of their message.
But false prophets are described in the Bible as:
– Accepted and spoken well of by the people of God.
– Honored by the people while they are alive.
– Speaking nice, smooth, peaceful things (“health/wealth gospel”), not repentance.
– Frequently requesting money; materialism is the focus of their message.
Notice these Scriptures regarding prophets: Jesus said…
“A prophet is not without honor except in his own country, among his own relatives, and in his own house.” (Mark 6:4).
“Blessed are you when men hate you, and when they exclude you, and revile you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of Man’s sake. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy! For indeed your reward is great in heaven. For in like manner their fathers did to the prophets. But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation. Woe to you who are full, for you shall hunger. Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep. Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for so did their fathers to the false prophets.” (Luke 6:22-26).
“Indeed, I will send you prophets, wise men, and scribes; some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues [churches] and persecute from city to city, that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, son of Berechiah, who you murdered between the temple and the altar. Assuredly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation. O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!” (Matt. 23:34-37).
“Woe to you! For you build the tombs of the prophets, and your fathers killed them. In fact, you bear witness that you approve the deeds of your fathers; for they indeed killed them, and you build their tombs.” (Luke 11:47-48).
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees [religious leaders], hypocrites! Because you build the tombs of the prophets and decorate the monuments of the righteous, and say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.’ Therefore you are witnesses against yourselves that you are the sons of those who murdered the prophets. Fill up, then, the measure of your father’s guilt.” (Matt. 23:29-32).
“For it cannot be that a prophet should perish outside of Jerusalem” (Luke 13:33).
Jesus is saying in the above statement that a prophet is only discredited, disgraced, and murdered by his own people within his own church system. Jerusalem was the headquarters of the Church in Israel and represented the pinnacle of its religious system. As the Bible reveals, the gentiles (the unbelievers – those outside of Israel’s church system) didn’t kill the Lord’s prophets that were sent to them. But Jerusalem (Israel) did! Notice what Jesus said: “The men of Nineveh [a gentile city] will rise up in the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah. And indeed a greater than Jonah is here.” (Luke 11:32). In other words, the gentiles humbled themselves and hearkened unto the words of the Lord’s prophet (Jonah) and repented, but the Israelites (God’s people) that Jesus was talking to here ignored Him, belittled and rejected Him, and finally killed Him – and yet, He was greater than Jonah!
In every Scripture referenced above, Jesus was talking to the leaders and people of Israel – those within the Church. These statements by Jesus are quite an indictment against the people of God. Most of the prophets in the Bible were not sent to the gentiles or “unbelievers” of the world, but rather to the people of God who were called the “people of Israel” or “congregation of Israel” and “church in the wilderness” (Acts 7:38) as the Bible describes them. Notice further what the Bible says. Before Stephen was murdered by the Church leaders in Jerusalem, he said to them at the unction of the Holy Spirit, “You are just like your fathers. You always resist the Holy Spirit! Was there ever a prophet your fathers did not persecute? They even killed those who predicted the coming of the Righteous One [Jesus]. And now you have betrayed and murdered Him!” (Acts 7:51-52).
The Bible emphatically states that the people of God persecute every true prophet that is sent to them! And yet, they readily and graciously receive every false prophet that arises and speaks nice things to them. Notice these Scriptures:
“For among My people are found wicked men. They lie in wait as one who sets snares. They set a trap. They catch men. As a cage is full of birds, so their houses are full of deceit. Therefore they have become great and grown rich. They have grown fat, they are sleek. Yes, they surpass the deeds of the wicked. They do not plead the cause – the cause of the fatherless. Yet they prosper, and the right of the needy they do not defend. Shall I not punish them for these things? says the Lord. Shall I not avenge Myself on such a nation as this? An astonishing and horrible thing has been committed in the land. The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests rule by their own power. And My people love to have it so.” (Jer. 5:26-31).
To whom shall I speak and give warning that they may hear? Indeed their ear is uncircumcised and they cannot give heed. Behold the word of the Lord is a reproach to them. They have no delight in it. Therefore I am full of the fury of the Lord…Because from the least of them even to the greatest of them, everyone is given to covetousness. And from the prophet even to the priest, everyone deals falsely. And they have healed the brokenness of My people superficially, saying ‘Peace, peace’, but there is no peace.” (Jer. 6:10-14).
“If a liar and deceiver comes and says, ‘I will prophesy for you plenty of wine and beer’, he would be just the prophet for this people!” (Micah 2:11).
“Her heads judge for a bribe, her priests teach for pay, and her prophets divine for money. Yet they lean on the Lord, and say, “Is not the Lord among us? No harm can come upon us.” (Micah 3:11).
Some people today foolishly say, and have said, “Oh, those Scriptures are from the Old Testament and aren’t really relevant to us today! God was speaking to the Israelites then, and He is not talking to us like that anymore. We are New Testament Christians now! Those Scriptures don’t apply to us now. We are under the New Testament (covenant)!” Well then, let’s look at some New Testament Scriptures to show that the people of God haven’t changed, and that they still desire false prophets and teachers and not the Truth of God.
“For the time will come when they [the people of God] will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap for themselves teachers. And they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.” (II Tim. 4:3-4).
“But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come. For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers …lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power… Evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived.” (II Tim. 3:1-13).
“Indeed, I will send you prophets, wise men, and scribes; some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues [churches] and persecute from city to city, that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth.” (Matt. 23:34-35).
“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” (I John 4:1).
“Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name [in the name of Christianity] saying that I am the Christ, and will deceive many… Many false prophets will rise up and deceive many.” (Matt. 24:4-11).
“Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’ – and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked – I counsel you to buy from Me, gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” (Rev. 3:17-22).
God’s People Reject Him, Therefore They Reject His Prophets That He Sends to Them
The Bible shows that when the people of God are not right with Him, and are disbelieving, they will not accept the Lord’s prophets that He sends to them. Notice what God told His prophet Ezekiel:
“Son of man, go to the house of Israel [God’s people] and speak with My words to them. For you are not sent to a people of unfamiliar speech and of hard language [the Gentiles], but to the house of Israel, not to many people of unfamiliar speech and of hard language, whose words you cannot understand. Surely, had I sent you to them, they would have listened to you. But the house of Israel will not listen to you, because they will not listen to Me, for all the house of Israel are impudent and hardhearted. Behold, I have made your face strong against their faces, and your forehead strong against their foreheads. Like adamant stone, harder than flint, I have made your forehead. Do not be afraid of them, nor be dismayed at their looks, though they are rebellious house.’ Moreover He said to me: ‘Son of man, receive into your heart all My words that I speak to you, and hear with your ears. And go, get to the captives, to the children of your people, and speak to them and tell them, ‘Thus says the Lord God,’ whether they hear, or whether they refuse…Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel. Therefore hear a word from My mouth, and give them warning from Me. When I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die’ and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life, that same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at your hand. Yet, if you warn the wicked, and he does not turn from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered your soul. Again, when a righteous man turns from his righteousness and commits iniquity, and I lay a stumbling block before him, he shall die; because you did not give him warning, he shall die in his sin, and his righteousness which he has done shall not be remembered; but his blood I will require at your hand. Nevertheless if you warn the righteous man that the righteous should not sin, and he does not sin, he shall surely live because he took warning; also you will have delivered your soul… And you, O son of man, surely they will put ropes on you and bind you with them, so that you cannot go out among them. I will make your tongue cling to the roof of your mouth, so that you shall be mute and not a reprover to them, for they are a rebellious house. But when I speak with you, I will open your mouth, and you shall say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God.’ He who hears, let him hear; and he who refuses, let him refuse; for they are a rebellious house.” (Ezek. 3:4-27).
Jesus also said that during His day, the people of God would not receive a true prophet from the Lord either (Luke 4:16-29). For it is written: “He [Jesus] came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become the children of God” (John 1:11-12). The same is still true today. Jesus said, “He who receives you receives Me, and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me. He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward. And he who receives a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward.” (Matt. 10:40-41). And again, Jesus said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who receives whomever I send receives Me; and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me.” (John 13:20). In other words, many in Israel (in the Church) will not receive the true prophets, because they don’t truly receive Christ Himself. They have a form of godliness, but deny the power thereof (II Tim. 3:5). They play “church”. Their hearts are not right with God, even though they profess to know Him with their lips (Matt. 15:7-8). To them God says, “What right have you to declare My statutes, or take My covenant in your mouth, seeing you hate instruction and cast My words behind you?” (Psa. 50:16-17).
To those people in the Church who truly know Him, God’s prophets are graciously received by them, welcomed, honored, and obeyed. That is why the Bible says that “prophesying is for the believers” (I Cor. 14:22). They are edified and strengthened by the words of the Lord as given to them at the mouths of the prophets. It would be foolish, however, to give the true and precious words of God to people who don’t believe – people who will do nothing with the true words of God seeing that they don’t have “ears to hear” and have hardened their hearts in self-righteousness and unbelief. Jesus said, “Do not give what is holy to the dogs or cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces.” (Matt. 7:6). Sadly, such is still the case in the Church today. Many people in Christendom today truly don’t know God. Therefore, when a prophet of the Lord is sent to tell them to repent and to change their evil “hidden” ways that they think the Lord does not see, they become offended and turn and rend that messenger of the Lord. Sadly, it is still happening among the people of God (the Church) today.
Unfortunately, just like it was in Jesus’ day, when a prophet is sent to tell those in the Church, ‘Thus says the Lord!’ the leadership in the Church’s first question is still, “Who are you to teach us?!” (John 9:34). These are the very same words that the religious leaders said to the man that Jesus sent to them in the first century, and they are still saying it to those whom He sends to them now. Notice, the self-righteous leadership of the Church cast out that man that was sent to tell them the truth and to testify to them of Jesus’ messiahship (John 9:1-34). Sadly, for the most part, the spiritual conditions in the Church haven’t changed. The “rulers of the Church” still cast out anyone who professes to have a word from the Lord to share with the congregation. In their fear of losing control over “their” congregations, or of offending the people with the harsh truths of God’s Word as revealed by the Lord’s prophets, many pastors fearfully reject the Lord’s command to “let two or three prophets speak, and let the others judge” (I Cor. 14:29). Because many of them rely on their congregations for their paychecks, these pastors are afraid for the true words of God to be spoken lest the prophets offend their tithing congregates. Sadly, in this way, they clearly demonstrate that they really fear men rather than fear God (John 12:42-43; Matt. 10:26-28). God is soon going to deal with this wrong situation in the Church!
The Testimony of Jesus is the Spirit of Prophecy
Many people don’t realize it, but the Bible actually says that “the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy” (Rev. 19:10). In other words, simply put, the spirit of prophecy is the testimony of Jesus. That is, it is actually Jesus who is the One who is really speaking through the prophets. The Apostle Peter wrote: “Of this salvation, the prophets have inquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that would come to you, searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ, who was in them was indicating when He testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow. To them it was revealed that, not to themselves, but to us they were ministering the things which now have been reported to you through those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven – things which angels desire to look into.” (I Peter 1:10-12).
The Bible says that Christians overcome Satan by “the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony”, and that they are willing to die for that testimony (Rev. 12:11). It states that Satan will “make war” with those individuals in the Church that are living in the last days “who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus” (Rev. 12:17). It then states that this “testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy” (Rev. 19:10). In other words, in the last days, Satan will seek to discredit, kill and destroy anyone who prophesies by the power of the Holy Spirit because it will actually be Jesus speaking through them. For God has said that in the last days He will pour out His Spirit upon His servants, both male and female, and that they will prophesy (Acts 2:17-18). Yes, once again, God will send His witnesses – the prophets, to prophesy and testify of Him, and Satan will seek to kill them, and the Scriptures show that he will ultimately be allowed to do so (Rev. 6:9-11; 10:11; 11:1-10; 18:20-24).
As explained above, it is the Spirit of Jesus who is (and will once again be) talking through the prophets. It is Jesus who is doing the speaking. It is Jesus who is “testifying” in that person when they prophesy. It is Jesus’ testimony, not that prophet’s testimony! That is why the Apostle John wrote in the Book of Revelation that his message was really “the revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants – things which must shortly take place. And He [Jesus] sent and signified it by His angel [messenger] to His servant John, who bore witness to the Word of God, and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, and to all things that he saw. Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy…” (Rev. 1:1-3). It was not John’s revelation – it was Jesus Christ’s revelation and testimony – which came to John in the spirit of prophecy. That is why when we reject the spirit of prophecy, we are really rejecting the testimony of Jesus Christ who is God! For it is the Spirit of God that testifies (or tells) about the things of God not the spirit of man (John 16:13-15; I Cor. 2:10-16).
Brothers and sisters, Jesus warned His followers against being foolish and slow of heart, by not believing “all that the prophets have spoken” (Luke 24:25). For God has called us to believe, and to not be rebellious and hardhearted like our forefathers were who rejected and murdered His holy prophets. We must be willing to ask ourselves the same question that the Apostle Paul asked when he said, “Do you believe the prophets, King Agrippa?” (Acts 26:27). The question is – do we?
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