Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Do Prophets Exist Today?

From the beginning of creation to the present day, prophets---along with their female counterparts, prophetesses---have been elected by God to be the medium of His prophetic announcements to the human populace. Indeed, it is both a privilege and a burden to bear such responsibility, both in the sight of God and man (Jas. 5:10).

The duties of a prophet are manifold, entailing such things as . . .

1.) Disclosing the whereabouts of missing people and merchandise through heaven-inspired locutions (1 Sam. 10:20-23);

2.) Forecasting both the immediate and distant future by divinely-induced premonitions and precognitions (Acts 21:10-14);

3.) Augmenting decisions and destinies by Spirit-anointed intuition (1 Kgs. 22:5);

4.) Guiding and reprimanding political leaders and sovereigns through prophetic pantomime (1 Kgs. 11:28-40; 20:35-43);

5.) Preparing communities and nations for imminent cataclysmic events by divine foresight (2 Kgs. 8:1,2; Acts 11:27-30);

6.) Prosecuting moral and ethical deviants via empathy with the jurisprudence of the Lord (2 Chron. 20:35-37; 24:17-20);

And a host of other divinely bestowed abilities and requirements too numerous to mention in this brief essay.

Prophets in Ancient Israel
Nevertheless, suffice it to say that, in the Old Testament scriptures there is overwhelming evidence that the ministry of the prophet gained considerable momentum and influence soon after the inauguration of Israel as a nation (Hos. 13:10; Am. 3:7; Jer. 25:4-7).

In fact, so coveted was the spiritual authority and recognition associated with being a prophet that many charlatans arose in the land mimicking the ways of the true prophets of God (Jer. 23:22-27).

Without any shadow of doubt, such widespread imitation served (and still serves) only to verify the integral importance of the ministry of the prophet within the context of everyday life (Eph. 4:8-13 c.f. Ps. 68:18).

Prophets in the Early Church
It is believed by many (albeit, erroneously) that since the initial advent of Christ to the Earth, prophets and prophetesses are no longer necessary since (it has been argued) God now speaks to the human race through the words of His Son, Jesus Christ. This belief is based primarily upon the scripture which says, "God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son" (Heb. 1:1,2).

From this passage of Scripture, one can deduce that God truly does speak to humankind through Jesus Christ. However, this in no way means that the Messiah speaks in exclusion of the prophets. It simply means He speaks in addition to the prophets. If this were not the case, immediately after the completion of Jesus's earthly ministry, why didn't the Father simply suspend the ministry of the prophet, making it altogether obsolete? Yet many years after Christ's resurrection we find men by the names of Judas, Silas, Agabus and many others being referred to as prophets (Acts 11:27-30; 15:52; 21:10,11).

Moreover, the testimony of Scripture shows that Jesus Himself is responsible for placing these prophets in the Earth shortly after taking His place at the right hand of the Father in the heavens (Eph. 4:8-11).

Prophets in Modern Times
Is the God of creation, in this day and age, still speaking through His prophets? Emphatically, yes! For this purpose, He adjures His people to, "let the prophets speak" (1 Cor. 14:29).

Although there is little dispute concerning the existence of prophets during antiquity, there is much dispute concerning the existence of prophets in modern times. The contention is centered around a passage of Scripture which says, "For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away" (1 Cor. 13:9,10).

Many argue that the coming together of the Old and New Testament manuscripts into one volume (which we endearingly call the "Holy Bible") is the fulfillment of this prophecy of Scripture; that since "that which is perfect is come"---the infallible guide for living a godly and fruitful life, i.e. the Bible---then "that which is in part"---prophesying by the prophetic gifts of the Spirit---has been "done away."

This, many claim, makes the ministry of the prophet forever null and void. Yet, this claim is clearly contradicted two verses later by the statement, "For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face" (1 Cor. 13:12). It is true that one day the ministry of the prophet will become obsolete. But notice that day will not come until we are seeing "face to face."

What exactly does that mean?

It simply means that the prophet's ministry will continue to thrive in the Earth until the second advent of the Son of Man, after which time people will be afforded the privilege of consulting Him directly "face to face." That is because Jesus Christ will be living and reigning as King of kings in Jerusalem, Israel, and people will no longer have to consult Him indirectly through the mouth of His prophets.

In spite of this, some still insist that if a person needs a specific word of guidance from the Almighty, all he or she need do is open the Bible and read it; that there, within the pages of sacred Scripture, guidance pertinent to any given situation may be found.

At The Prophetic Society we wholeheartedly agree that God does indeed speak to His people through Scripture. Nevertheless, we contend that the Bible does not, indeed, it cannot rule out the need for personal prophetic guidance. We insist upon this by virtue of the fact that, although scriptural guidance is often very specific, for the most part it is rarely particular.

The Pepsi Oracle
An actual case in point is when Jeanette---a school teacher---drove a considerable distance to come to Prophet Barber & Associates, my prophetic consultation and guidance firm. Although she had been exposed to prophetic ministry for quite some time, the concept of inquiring of the Lord through the mouth of His prophets was new to her.

When she arrived at my office for her appointment, as always I had harp music playing softly in the background. Once the consultation was under way, she told me that one of her siblings---a 43 year old gentleman whom I had never met---was in jeopardy due to rapidly deteriorating health. She conveyed how a number of medical doctors were baffled by this because they were unable to determine the source of her brother's illness.

So I asked the Lord to reveal to me the very thing that was plaguing this man's health. And immediately I heard the Spirit of the Lord say one word---"Cola."

I then said to Jeanette, "I heard the word 'cola.' Does that have any significance to you?"

As God is my witness, her eyes almost fell out of her head. Extremely animated by the healing oracle I just gave to her, Jeanette then proceeded to tell me that her brother was a cola junkie, drinking anywhere from one to two cases of Pepsi-Cola per week! In fact, she went on to tell me that, just prior to coming to see me that day, in a telephone conversation with this very same brother, he had asked her to pick up a case of Pepsi for him while she was out and about.

Of course, she was overjoyed at the Lord's answer to her brother's dilemma through the mouth of His prophet. Naturally, I rejoiced with her, charging her to tell her brother to stop drinking Pepsi immediately.

Some time later Jeanette contacted me, informing me about how mystified her brother was when she told him about my prophetic word of guidance for his life. And, praise be to God, he obeyed the prophet, stopping his illicit affair with Pepsi, cold turkey! After that, her brother's health improved markedly, so that within two month's time he was able to move about as healthily as he did before his harrowing ordeal with that toxic abomination to mankind called "Pepsi."

Overcoming B.B. Warfield
Most Christians who do not believe in the existence of prophets in the present era are not aware of the fact that their belief is not based upon what Scripture actually teaches but rather upon what they received---either directly or indirectly---from the teachings of the highly influential 19th century theologian, Benjamin Breckenridge Warfield.

Strangely enough, Warfield was very much like the Pharisees of Jesus's time, vehemently opposed to the demonstration of miracles among the people of God. In fact, Warfield was so against miracles that he devoted a considerable amount of time in an endeavor to persuade as many people as possible that God no longer works miracles as those recorded in the Bible. The Protestant churches at large (e.g. Baptists, Methodist, Presbyterians, Lutherans, Congregationalists, Episcopalians, Church of Christ, Evangelicals and many others) are still reeling from the negative impact of his teachings, especially in relation to the perpetuity of miracles and the legitimacy of the ministry of the prophet in the modern and post-modern eras.

NEWSFLASH: prophets exist today!

Now, suppose if Jeanette's pastor had been like many of today's pastors, parroting what he read B.B. Warfield say instead of what the Bible clearly teaches. Her brother would be dead today because she never would have taken the time to consult the Lord through me--a prophet---because, due to Warfield's erroneous teaching, she would not have believed in the existence of prophets.

If you believe what B.B. Warfield taught about New Testament prophets, know of a surety that you are believing a lie.

Overcoming Harold Horton
In the Pentecostal/Charismatic churches, people outright reject Warfield's teaching---and rightfully so. They believe that prophets do indeed exist today. Notwithstanding, this particular group of Christians are bound by yet another erroneous teaching about prophets, namely, that, unlike prophets of the Old Testament era, prophets of this New Testament era do not prophesy guidance. They believe that prophets of today are only used by the Spirit of God to prophesy what you already know. In other words, they teach that every prophetic word that a prophet gives you will only be confirmation (never revelation) of what God has already told you directly.

This teaching began with the early 20th century Assemblies of God theologian from Britain, Harold Horton, who once said, "Now the Old Testament prophet foretells, and often leads. The New Testament prophet foretells, but never leads." Because of Horton's eloquence, coupled with his vast knowledge of Scripture, this teaching quickly spread like wildfire throughout England and various parts of Europe, eventually crossing over the Atlantic into the Pentecostal/Charismatic churches here in the United States.

Now, notice Horton said that a New Testament prophet "never leads." But is this actually true? As we turn our attention to Scripture, witness with me a group of prophets in the city of Tyre "who said to Paul, through the Spirit, that he should not go up to Jerusalem" (Acts 21:4).

These prophets were unctioned by the Spirit of God to tell Paul to not go up to the city of Jerusalem. This was not their suggestion. Scripture says the Holy Ghost inspired them to tell Paul what not to do. That constitutes prophetic guidance!

Unfortunately, Paul did not heed the prophetic guidance given by these prophets thereby setting in motion a series of events which culminated in his premature death. Shortly before his execution, Paul, looking back over his life, regretted the fact that he did not heed the prophetic leading of the prophets from Tyre. So, in order to prevent others from making the same mistake that he did, Paul wrote in an epistle, "Despise not prophesyings." (1 Thess. 5:20).

These were prophets of the New Testament era endeavoring to lead Paul. Scripture says the Spirit of God told then to do this but Horton said a New Testament prophet "never leads." Either Horton knew something about prophetic guidance that the Holy Spirit didn't know or his point of view is grossly inaccurate.

Now, suppose if Jeanette's pastor had been like many of today's pastors, parroting what he read Harold Horton say instead of what the Bible clearly teaches. Her brother would be dead today because she never would have taken the time to consult the Lord through me---a prophet---because, due to Horton's erroneous teaching, Jeanette would not have believed that I could provide for her brother's health challenge any type of authentic prophetic guidance.

If you believe what Harold Horton taught about New Testament prophets, know of a surety that you are a believing a lie.

Overcoming Kenneth E. Hagin
Those of the Word of Faith circles take comfort in the fact that, more than most Protestant churches, including Pentecostal/Charismatic churches, they walk in an uncommon degree of understanding of the things of God. As a consequence, it is oftentimes even more difficult to break the strongholds within their minds than with most other Christians, particularly in relation to the ministry of the prophet.

Kenneth E. Hagin, the most influential minister of the Word of Faith churches, taught from the mid to the latter part of the 20th century, on into the beginning of the 21st century, that prophets in the New Testament era are not to be consulted for prophetic guidance as they were during the Old Testament era. Hagin argued that the common people in the Old Testament epochs did not have the Holy Spirit but that only the prophets did. And, as consequence, it was only natural that God's people seek divine guidance through the prophets at that time. Hagin continued his argument that, since God's people in the New Testament period have access to the Holy Spirit, that alone equips them to receive guidance directly from God thereby making guidance from prophets in this New Testament absolutely unnecessary. Hagin even takes it so far as to say that it is actually morally wrong and dangerous to seek out a prophet for guidance in this New Testament Age. But is this actually true?

Scripture teaches that, at the age of 15, David received the Holy Spirit, and that "the Spirit of the Lord came upon David from that day forward" (1 Sam. 16:13).

But from the age of 15 to the age of 70, David continued to receive and even seek out prophetic guidance from the prophets, Gad and Nathan, although he himself had the Holy Spirit (1 Sam. 22:3-5; 2 Sam. 7:1-17; 24:10-14). That's a total of 55 years of seeking and receiving guidance from God's prophets although he himself had the Holy Spirit.

If, then, as Hagin taught, receiving the Holy Spirit makes guidance from prophets both unnecessary and morally wrong, why then did he not apply this same standard to David, who was a Spirit-filled believer?

And why on various occasions did God send the prophets, Gad and Nathan, to prophesy guidance to David when He knew full well that David already had the Holy Spirit? Hagin either knew something about prophetic guidance that God Himself didn't even know or Hagin's point of view is grossly inaccurate.

Does having a home security system installed in your home somehow make you exempt from needing a police department in your city?

Does having a fire extinguisher in your home make you exempt from needing a fire department in your city?

Than neither does being the recipient of the Holy Spirit somehow make you exempt from needing prophetic guidance from a prophet.

The fact that David, after having received the Spirit of God, still needed prophetic guidance from prophets, and that the Holy Spirit inspired the prophets of Tyre to give Paul a prophetic word of guidance, is proof positive that consulting God for particular guidance through His prophets is to be an ongoing practice among God's people until the second coming of Jesus Christ (Eph. 4:11-16).

Now, suppose if Jeanette's pastor had been like many of today's pastors, parroting what he read Kenneth E. Hagin say instead of what the Bible clearly teaches. Her brother would be dead today because she never would have taken the time to consult the Lord through me---a prophet---because, due to Hagin's erroneous teaching, Jeanette would not have believed she needed any guidance from a prophet concerning her brother's ordeal since both she and her brother already had the Holy Spirit.

If you believe what Kenneth E. Hagin taught about New Testament prophets, then know of a surety that you are believing a lie.

Arnette's Mistake
Years ago, while attending a weeknight Bible study, I was introduced to a woman by the name of Arnette. When the Bible class ended in prayer, the Spirit of the Lord revealed to me that Arnette was being unfairly harangued by a particular individual on her job. Indeed, by the prophetic gift called "the word of knowledge" (1 Cor. 12:8) I was able to tell her,

1.) the gender of the person harassing her,

2.) the actual position of the person harassing her,

3.) the ethnicity of the person harassing her,

4.) the hair color of the person harassing her, and

5.) even the amount of time this individual had been harassing her.

I then proceeded to tell Arnette, by the Spirit, that she was not to leave that job because God was about to remove this person who was harassing her, and promote Arnette into this very same person's position. Arnette was visibly impacted by the supernatural nature of the things I shared with her. She admitted to the truth of it all, even confessing that she was seriously considering leaving her job because of the intensity of the harassment. Indeed, the Almighty was about to demonstrate to Arnette that "promotion cometh neither from the East, nor from the West, nor from the South. But God is the judge: He putteth down one, and setteth up another" (Ps. 75:6,7).

All of us attending the Bible class rejoiced with Arnette for the things the Lord had spoken to her, then we went home.

Almost three weeks later, I ran into Arnette as I was coming out of the downtown post office. She proceeded to tell me, quite jubilantly, that she quit the very job I told her that the Spirit of God told her not to quit. And when I asked her why she left her job after what I prophesied to her by the Spirit, she insisted that she had made the right move, and that she was much happier at her new job. Of course, I was nonplussed. I then wished her well, and we both parted ways.

See, Arnette had been tainted by teachings similar to Horton and Hagin, which teach that prophetic guidance is not a binding thing in this New Testament era. So, although she accepted everything I said to her prophetically that night at the Bible study concerning her past and present experiences on her job (i.e. by the word of knowledge), she however would not accept the guidance that I gave her about her future (i.e. by the word of wisdom).

Due to erroneous teaching, Arnette no doubt believed she was following the Word of God by rejecting the prophetic guidance I gave her. If only she really knew what the Word says about prophetic guidance because, some months after, while shopping in town, I ran into Arnette yet again. However, instead of being her usual congenial self, she was quite curt when I attempted to speak with her. And with a scowl on her face, she passed me by and kept on going.

A few weeks later, I saw a sister in Christ who knew Arnette and I voiced my concern about my abrupt encounter with Arnette just a few weeks prior. This sister then proceeded to inform me that Arnette's newfound bitterness was the consequence of her having been terminated from her new job a few months before and not being able to secure another job.

Now, think about that: God, because He is omniscient, foresaw that Arnette would be in this very predicament if she left the job she was already at. And that is precisely why He sent me---a prophet---to that Bible study a few months prior so that, through the power of prophecy, I could head off Arnette's future ordeal with unemployment before it ever occurred.

Unfortunately, many Christians, like Arnette, fail to take heed to the account in Scripture which records, "And a certain man of the sons of the prophets said unto his neighbour in the word of the Lord, Smite me, I pray thee. And the man refused to smite him. Then said he unto him, Because thou has not obeyed the voice of the Lord, behold, as soon as thou art departed from me, a lion shall slay thee. And as soon as he was departed from him, a lion found him, and slew him. Then he found another man, and said, Smite me, I pray thee. And the man smote him, so that in smiting he wounded him. So the prophet departed" (1 Kgs. 20:35-38).

Here we see a man was actually killed by a lion simply because he trivialized the importance of prophetic guidance, whereas another man continued living his life in peace because he properly honored the blessing of prophetic guidance.

Months later, because she failed to heed the career oracle I dropped into her lap by the Spirit of God, Arnette was devoured by the lion of unemployment.

Prophets do indeed exist today. And so many preventable problems in the lives of God's people would be avoided if they would simply follow the example of Jeanette (not Arnette) and ignore the erroneous teachings of Warfield, Horton and Hagin concerning the ministry of the New Testament prophet. By doing this, they would be taking the limits off of God, allowing Him to lead and guide them through green pastures and by still waters, in this day and age as He did in the days of old, through the mouth of His servants, the prophets.

Selah.

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