Modern Day Prophets

by  David Dill

  Since the first century, no self-proclaimed prophet
 has met the biblical description of prophets.  This should come as no
 surprise since the Bible itself not only implies, but also outright says
 that prophecy would cease.
 To be clear, we need to first define what we mean by the term "prophet".
 There are several definitions of the word "prophet", but in the biblical
 sense, there are only two: 1) one who utters divinely inspired
 revelations, and 2) one who foretells future events.  Examples of
 definition 1 are Jer 1:4; Ezek 1:1; 2 Cor 12:1.  Examples of definition 2
 are found in 1 Sam 10:2-9; 2 Kgs 7:1-2; 19:5; Acts 21:10-11; 11:27-28.

 As pages 9 and 10 of the "God Has Spoken" course clearly state, people
 don't have to guess who a prophet is because God proves who his prophets
 are by their ability to perform miraculous signs including predicting the
 future.  As with the prophet Samuel, EVERYTHING they say comes true (1
 Sam 9:6).  They had to be right--every time--under penalty of death (Deut
 18:20).  God never required people to guess who was and wasn't a prophet
 (Ex 4:1-9).  They did things that could only be done with the power of
 God (John 3:2), such as predicting the future or telling the secrets of
 people's hearts (1 Cor 14:25).  Modern day prophets avoid even attempting
 to predict the future.  If they do take a crack at it, the prophecy is
 either so vague, that there is no way to verify it, or it is outright
 wrong.  I once read a tract written by John Osteen, a deceased
 self-proclaimed prophet from Houston, where he prophesied that all
 denominations would end.  Without any time constraints, there was no way
 to prove that the prophecy was from God.  God will work within time
 constraints so that it is crystal clear where the prophecy is coming from
 (Ex 8:9-14; 2 Kgs 19:29; Matt 24:34).  When they are wrong, as was the
 case with most if not all of the predictions of the Mormon prophet Joseph
 Smith, their followers make excuses for them.  (The Mormons adjusted
 their definition of the term "prophet" so that a person who got one out
 of ten right was still considered a prophet.)  So when someone claims to
 be a prophet today, but provides no bona fide proof that they are from
 God, why should they expect people to believe them?  Even Moses knew
 that.

 Besides there being no good evidence for prophets today, the Bible says
 that prophecy would cease.  The account of Simon the magician in Acts
 8:9-19 is very telling.  As a very experienced illusionist, he would have
 been more keenly aware than most of what was a supernatural miracle and
 what was a trick.  He knew the signs that Philip the evangelist performed
 were not tricks, but he also recognized that Philip could not himself
 impart this miraculous capability to others, a talent he desired.  Later
 when the apostles Peter and John arrived on the scene, he saw that it was
 the apostles who had the capability to impart the ability to do miracles.
  What we can infer from this is that as soon as the apostles all died,
 there would no longer be anyone to impart to others the ability to do
 miracles.  So as soon as the last person who was given the capability to
 do miracles died, the miracles, including prophecy, would cease with that
 person.  The apostle Paul reiterated this obvious point in 1 Cor 13:8-10.

 The purpose of the miracles of the New Testament was to confirm the new
 message was from God (Heb 2:3-4; Acts 14:3).  Once it was confirmed,
 there was no longer any need for the miracles.  They were temporary,
 spiritually "childish" things God used to edify the early infant church
 that were to eventually be put away with (1 Cor 13:11).

 Many people who refuse to abide by the Bible's teaching on the subject
 try to claim that the word "perfection" in 1 Cor 13:10 refers to Jesus
 Christ, and thus miracles won't cease until Jesus' second coming.  If
 such were the case, why even mention it since for all practical purposes,
 they wouldn't cease?  But the context and language of the text states
 this is not the case anyway.  First of all, the word translated
 "perfection" comes from the Greek word "teleion" meaning perfect,
 complete or mature.  The first century Christians did not have the
 complete word of God, the Bible (consisting of both the Old and New
 Testaments), like we have today.  They only had partial or incomplete
 prophecy and knowledge to deal with, although admittedly it was
 supernatural.  Paul was simply stating that when the complete word came,
 that incomplete stuff would stop.  From a historical standpoint, we know
 that the last book of scripture, Revelations, was written about AD 90-95,
 which would have been about the time that the last of those who had
 miraculous gifts would have died off.  Because they did not have the
 complete scriptures, they couldn't examine themselves spiritually as
 precisely as we can today (1 Cor 13:12).  When one looks into Gods word,
 the perfect law of liberty, it's like a spiritual mirror (James 1:22-25)
 so we can see sin in our lives, and fix it.  Fortunately today we can see
 face to face in that mirror because we "know fully".  Paul said that
 scripture was sufficient "so that the man of God may be thoroughly
 equipped for every good work" (2 Tim 3:16-17).  If we are not thoroughly
 equipped with the Bible alone, and therefore still need more (i.e. more
 prophecy), then Paul's statement is false.

 If all that were not clear enough, Paul says in 1 Cor 13:13 that in
 contrast to prophecy and such which would cease when perfection came,
 faith, hope and love would continue on.  If the "perfection" refers to
 the second coming of Christ, then that would imply that along with love,
 faith and hope would continue on after Jesus' return.  This goes against
 the meaning of faith and hope because we'll be able to see Jesus then,
 thus no longer needing faith or hope (Heb 11:1; Rom 8:24).

 If miracles like prophecy still exist today, could someone point me to
 just one guy that can drink any deadly poison without it hurting them at
 all (Mark 16:18)?  If he or she drank a quart of gasoline in my presence,
 without it hurting them in the least, I would concede that I've somehow
 totally misunderstood the biblical teaching on the subject, and jump on
 the faith-healing, modern-day-miracle, Pentecostal bandwagon.