Modern day "prophets" abound. They wear the name in order to imply or outright claim they are speaking for God.
Understanding some fundamental aspects about the prophets of old sheds light on the claims made by so many during these times. Prophets are a fascinating class unto themselves in Scripture that hold many lessons for us today.
So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.
You are no longer set apart, but now are fellow citizens with the saints of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets. Jesus, Himself is the chief cornerstone, in whom the entire building joins together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In Christ, you also are adding together to form a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.
Paul is pointing out to the Ephesians and Gentile Christians, that though they were at one time “called the uncircumcision by the circumcised” (vs 11), they are now part of the inheritance in Christ as a result of the “peace” that has been preached (vs 18).
A prophet that is truly God’s prophet is sent as His spokesperson1,2,4,6,7,10,11,12. It is someone that God has revealed Himself to8 and sent on a mission to speak His literal words6,7,10. They have stood in the council of God, seeing His heavenly throne and deliberations among those around the throne5,8.
The message is not usually a happy one3. In fact, it is often a message of mourning and woe1 – effectively one of judgement10 due to the disobedience of the people.* Sometimes, the message may even be a false one – words not consistent with God’s commands – as a way to test the hearer9. But ultimately, the message announced God’s plan of salvation11,12.
*The majority and central message of what’s recorded in all the books of prophecy in the Old Testament and Revelation.
One way that false prophets were identified in Old Testament times was by waiting to see if what they said came to pass1. But what about when you couldn’t wait and needed to make a decision right away about someone speaking truth3?
In addition to this challenge, it could be that God is testing you6. God says He might send a “prophet” (or “strong delusion”8) to perform great signs, but speak things contrary to His word as a test6. And it’s in this, along with other examples2,3, that we see a more fundamental rule emerge. We see the prophet’s message being measured against past messages from other proven, true prophets2 – that is, prophets speaking God’s word6. They were “testing” to see that the things prophesied were true in the early church as well5,7,8. In other words, the consistency of the message is paramount (and why wouldn’t it be since God doesn’t change).
Note: A ‘tip-off’ for the hearer that a “prophet of God” was actually a false prophet was someone that is always preaching peace3 (“everything’s going to be okay”). The much more common message of God’s true prophets was one of judgment, condemnation for disobedience, and a call to repent. True spokesmen for God are speaking His words/message4.
God’s prophets exist today only as they were recorded in Scripture1. Prophets of God, being direct spokesmen for God, played a specific and needed role in disclosing to mankind God’s will1,4,7. In fact, they were serving Christian’s today with their predictions5. However, prophesies were only a part or portion3,6 of God’s message. When the time came that all of God’s message was revealed they would no longer be needed3,5.
God’s revelation to mankind was completed with the coming of Jesus (the “cornerstone”7) and his full gospel message1,3,4,5,6 (a complete “foundation”7). By the time of Peter’s letters, God’s prophets had apparently all past, replaced by teachers2 which were similar in nature (but didn’t literally speak God’s words). Therefore, prophets of God do not exist today. Any “prophet of God” could only be a false prophet.
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