There is apparently much confusion in society about where to find the word of the Lord. This confusion is evident from the many self-proclaimed prophets on the scene. From the prophets in televangelism to the prophet of the Mormon Church, there is one thing all of these so-called prophets have in common. They all claim to be speaking a new and modern word from the Lord.
The Bible tells us how God speaks to mankind throughout the ages. Yet, only from reading the Bible in light of God’s twofold purpose and plan can we explain the role of a prophet and discover if we even have a need for them today.
The Bible says that God will put His words into a prophet’s mouth to speak (Deut 18:18-19). The prophets in the Bible did not paraphrase a secret inspiration from God; they spoke the very words of God. Speaking by inspiration of God, Paul commends the Thessalonians that they received his words as they were in truth, the words of God (1 Thess 2:13).
As was the case, anyone impersonating a prophet of God was condemned under the law to die (Deut 18:20). This tells us that prophesy is a serious thing to God. The words of the prophet were not a prediction, a guess, or an educated deduction. They were true words from God describing future events and he does not want to be misspoken.
‘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,…’
Notice that the verse tells us how God spoke to men in time past. He spoke to the ‘fathers’ of the Hebrews by the prophets. Therefore, we would expect the prophets in the Bible to a) be sent for Israel, and b) to all have spoken in time past.
Secondly, notice that Hebrews 1:1 calls the time reference of the book ‘these last days’. At the time Hebrews was written, the prophesies of time past were about to be fulfilled (Isaiah 46:10).
This seems to compare with what Jesus himself said in Luke16:16 that the prophets prophesied until John, but ‘since that time the kingdom of God is preached and every man presseth into it’ (Matt 11:9-13). They were now ready for the fulfillment in the kingdom.
Yet, there were other prophets after Jesus, what was their function?
Remember, the disciples did not have the complete word of God to open up and to study as we do today. Jesus tells his disciples that they will receive the power of the Holy Ghost to teach them all the things he has told them (John 14:26).
The power in Acts 2 at Pentecost was the fulfillment of that promise. Sons and daughters of Israel prophesied about the coming kingdom and judgment just as Christ did during his earthly ministry (Acts 2:17; Joel 2:28).
Are there prophets today?
The prophets in the Bible were prophesying about Gods purpose for the earth, which is his coming kingdom, Messiah, and judgment. This prophesied program was in the midst of arriving in those last days of Hebrews 1:1 and Acts 2. Yet, here we sit nearly two thousand years later and no kingdom and no judgment.
The key to understanding what happened to the prophets and the last days is recognizing Paul’s mystery revelation. Paul says his gospel was ‘kept secret since the world began’ and ‘was not made known unto the sons of men’ (Romans 16:25, Eph 3:5).
Paul claims to have received a revelation that was new and different from what Peter and the disciples were given. Paul was given a hidden plan and purpose from God.
His revelation from Jesus Christ was about the ‘manifold wisdom of God’ for those who would spend eternity, not on earth like the Jews were promised, but in ‘heavenly places’ (Eph 2:7, 3:9-11).
Paul received an inspired word from God that was not about the subject of prophesy. As God’s spokesman for this age, Paul wrote what was to be the marching orders for the church for thereafter until the end of the age (Romans 11:13,25; 1 Tim 1:16).
This age in which we live is not an age in which we are waiting for God’s incomplete plan to be fulfilled. We are not waiting for a further revelation from the Lord, because Jesus revealed to Paul the message of our complete standing (Col 2:10). He proclaimed Christ’s finished work on the cross (Rom 3:21-26, Titus 3:7).
Our possession of a present salvation and a righteous standing before God, if we trust in the gospel, precludes the necessity for a prophet to let us know what will happen next. It has all been accomplished for us at the cross!
Many modern prophets do not prophesy about the kingdom, the coming, or God’s wrath, as do the Biblical prophets. Nor do they prophesy about God’s heavenly purpose given to the Apostle Paul. Yet, Paul himself says,
‘If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord.’ – (1 Cor 14:37)
So then, we who are spiritual should also acknowledge Paul’s complete word from the Lord and his message of Christ’s finished work on the cross for our salvation. ‘His grace is sufficient’ to meet all our needs (2 Cor 12:9, Phil 4:19).
The Scriptures were given to us in their complete form today so that ‘the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works’ (2 Tim 3:17).
The present confusion about trying to seek out a new word from the Lord could be abated if we would spend just as much time in proper study and instruction of the complete Word of God that has been providentially provided for us.