Thursday, July 23, 2009

God’s Prophet of Today

Ephesians 4:11-16 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, (12) to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, (13) until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, (14) so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. (15) Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, (16) from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.

Our last discussion of Ephesians 4:11 dwelled on the biblical precedent & therefore definition of the apostle. We formed a biblical perspective of what an apostle is based on what an apostle was in the first generation church.

In like manner, let us examine the principles & precedents of the true biblical prophet to rightly judge the prophet of today.

The prophet of Scripture was the messenger of God’s revelation to men. In the secular sense, prophecy is often narrowly defined as the foretelling of future events, but that is only a fortune-teller. God’s prophet reveals the heart of man & the will of God. He speaks for God to man. When he prophesies, the prophet speaks not of his own heart nor of his own mind, but only the heart & mind of God. Early on in Scripture, Aaron modeled the role of the prophet (Ex. 4:15-16 & 7:1) as he himself worked signs & wonders but was primarily purposed to be Moses’ mouthpiece.

The prophet Amos describes the role of the prophet:

Amos 3:1-8 Hear this word that the LORD has spoken against you, O people of Israel, against the whole family that I brought up out of the land of Egypt: (2) "You only have I known of all the families of the earth; therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities. (3) Do two walk together, unless they have agreed to meet? (4) Does a lion roar in the forest, when he has no prey? Does a young lion cry out from his den, if he has taken nothing? (5) Does a bird fall in a snare on the earth, when there is no trap for it? Does a snare spring up from the ground, when it has taken nothing? (6) Is a trumpet blown in a city, and the people are not afraid? Does disaster come to a city, unless the LORD has done it? (7) For the Lord GOD does nothing without revealing his secret to his servants the prophets. (8) The lion has roared; who will not fear? The Lord GOD has spoken; who can but prophesy?"

When God speaks to the heart of His prophet, that prophet cannot shut his own mouth. His oration is nothing less than a direct pipeline from God

His prophetic utterance is therefore inerrant, as God himself is inerrant

The prophet of God will always present Jesus Christ as God & the events of his 33 year material visitation as the only way for man to be saved from God’s wrath for sin. The right prophet leads the humble towards embracing this truth, & in so doing leads them closer to Christ. The prophet that leads men away from worshipping & following Jesus Christ is the false prophet despite any seeming supernatural abilities:

Deuteronomy 13:1-5 If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, (2) and the sign or wonder that he tells you comes to pass, and if he says, 'Let us go after other gods,' which you have not known, 'and let us serve them,' (3) you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams. For the LORD your God is testing you, to know whether you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. (4) You shall walk after the LORD your God and fear him and keep his commandments and obey his voice, and you shall serve him and hold fast to him. (5) But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has taught rebellion against the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt and redeemed you out of the house of slavery, to make you leave the way in which the LORD your God commanded you to walk. So you shall purge the evil from your midst.

The prophet of God is also one who most often brings men disturbing testimony about themselves. They are always a polarizing lot, dividing wheat from tares, the hard-hearted from the “poor in spirit”. They are wildly unpopular to secularists, but a draw to the humble in heart, for they speak to that humble heart. Theirs is not a glamorous or even desirous vocation, but one that is often sorely despised- even by themselves. They don’t pursue the office of prophet, the office pursues them…

Jeremiah 20:1-18 Now Pashhur the priest, the son of Immer, who was chief officer in the house of the LORD, heard Jeremiah prophesying these things. (2) Then Pashhur beat Jeremiah the prophet, and put him in the stocks that were in the upper Benjamin Gate of the house of the LORD. (3) The next day, when Pashhur released Jeremiah from the stocks, Jeremiah said to him, "The LORD does not call your name Pashhur, but Terror On Every Side. (4) For thus says the LORD: Behold, I will make you a terror to yourself and to all your friends. They shall fall by the sword of their enemies while you look on. And I will give all Judah into the hand of the king of Babylon. He shall carry them captive to Babylon, and shall strike them down with the sword. (5) Moreover, I will give all the wealth of the city, all its gains, all its prized belongings, and all the treasures of the kings of Judah into the hand of their enemies, who shall plunder them and seize them and carry them to Babylon. (6) And you, Pashhur, and all who dwell in your house, shall go into captivity. To Babylon you shall go, and there you shall die, and there you shall be buried, you and all your friends, to whom you have prophesied falsely.”
(7) O LORD, you have deceived me, and I was deceived; you are stronger than I, and you have prevailed. I have become a laughingstock all the day; everyone mocks me. (8) For whenever I speak, I cry out, I shout, "Violence and destruction!" For the word of the LORD has become for me a reproach and derision all day long. (9) If I say, "I will not mention him, or speak any more in his name," there is in my heart as it were a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I am weary with holding it in, and I cannot. (10) For I hear many whispering. Terror is on every side! "Denounce him! Let us denounce him!" say all my close friends, watching for my fall. "Perhaps he will be deceived; then we can overcome him and take our revenge on him." (11) But the LORD is with me as a dread warrior; therefore my persecutors will stumble; they will not overcome me. They will be greatly shamed, for they will not succeed. Their eternal dishonor will never be forgotten.
(12) O LORD of hosts, who tests the righteous, who sees the heart and the mind, let me see your vengeance upon them, for to you have I committed my cause. (13) Sing to the LORD; praise the LORD! For he has delivered the life of the needy from the hand of evildoers. (14) Cursed be the day on which I was born! The day when my mother bore me, let it not be blessed! (15) Cursed be the man who brought the news to my father, "A son is born to you," making him very glad. (16) Let that man be like the cities that the LORD overthrew without pity; let him hear a cry in the morning and an alarm at noon, (17) because he did not kill me in the womb; so my mother would have been my grave, and her womb forever great. (18) Why did I come out from the womb to see toil and sorrow, and spend my days in shame?

Allow me to repeat my principal thesis of last time concerning apostles, for I believe it applies to the office of prophet as well:

Ephesians 2:13-22 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. (14) For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility (15) by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, (16) and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. (17) And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. (18) For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. (19) So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, (20) built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, (21) in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. (22) In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.

Such a momentous structure as this, a building with no less than Christ as the cornerstone & His apostles & prophets being the very substance for the rest of the foundation, is not the kind of building I could imagine being utterly torn down past the foundation & rebuilt with every generation that passes.

So as Christians gaze upon the modern church, for better or for worse they often search for God’s prophet of today. We should “not believe every spirit, but (we) test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1). We firstly apply the litmus of 1 John 4, that they must primordially confess Jesus Christ as “coming into the flesh”. This means they must teach He existed beforehand (that He had been God) & came into a completely corporeal existence (that He became man as well). We examine them for inerrancy in their prophetic utterances. We assess their message as to whether it is convicting of sin. We rightly ask: “Do they rebuke the proud, & give grace to the humble?” As prophets, they lay claim to intimacy with the heart of God; Scripture shows this is central to His nature ( Prov. 3:34, James 4:6, & 1 Peter 5:5).

But it grieves God’s heart as Christians search for a prophet for today, for in doing so, we dismiss surely the greatest & most sure prophecy that has already been given & established. This prophetic word proclaims throughout the “testimony of Jesus”, validating its “spirit of prophecy”(Rev. 19:10). It has stood the test & been proven time & again; never having been shown to be false. It has ministered to billions. It most often speaks not to itching ears (2 Tim 4:3), but hardened hearts. If Moses & the OT prophets were deemed ample as instruction for the rich man’s family (Luke16:31), then how rich are we in prophetic instruction, as their teaching is expounded upon by the teachings of NT apostles, prophets, & even Christ Himself? (e.g. 1Cor 9:9-10)

Revelation 22:7 And behold, I am coming soon. Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.

The office of Prophet is indeed alive & quite active as well today. It is alive & active in the form of the Scriptures. We are profitably prophetic every time God’s Spirit uses us to speak its concomitantly admonishing & edifying words to teach, reprove, correct, or train in righteousness (1Tim 3:16).

Revelation 19:9-10 And the angel said to me, "Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb." And he said to me, "These are the true words of God." (10) Then I fell down at his feet to worship him, but he said to me, "You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God." For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.

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