“Let love be your highest goal! But you should also desire the special abilities the Spirit gives-especially the ability to prophesy…one who prophesies strengthens others, encourages them, and comforts them…one who speaks a word of prophecy strengthens the entire church…if all of you are prophesying, and unbelievers or people who don’t understand these things come into your meeting, they will be convicted of sin and judged by what you say. As they listen, their secret thoughts will be exposed, and they will fall to their knees and worship God, declaring, ‘God is truly here among you.'” – 1 Corinthians 14:1, 3-4, 24-25
During my theology class at Liberty University, I came across this statement by Professor Elmer Towns, author of Theology for Today:
“Today, we do not believe that there are prophets in the church, at least anyone who holds the office of the prophets…no one is a prophet today with the ability to receive a divine revelation and communicate it to the church today.”
Professor Towns actually states that the prophecy today coincides with preaching. The modern day “prophets” only have the gift to persuade, encourage and rebuke, but not receive visions or messages from God.
Now, I think we need to know Professor Towns’ definition of a prophet. Largely, a prophet must claim that their message is from God, their prophecies must come true, their message must correspond with the revealed will of God and they must not lead anyone from the LORD, our God. These points are drawn from Deuteronomy 18:20-22 and 13:1-3.
The Bible is filled with prophets, starting with Moses and ending, supposedly, with the apostles. Jesus and John are occasionally lumped into this category, though Jesus can be excluded because of our recognition of Him as the Son of God and the risen Messiah.
However, what became of the gift of prophecy? Did it cease a few decades or centuries after the founding of the Christian faith?
I am inclined to say no.
I myself have encountered prophets, those who have a direct communion with God very similar to those of the prophets of the Old and New Testament. All over the Middle East, God is raising up prophets to bring people to knowledge of Him and the redeeming work of His Son, Jesus Christ.
Many have received visions and dreams about future events, and have spoken of them and seen them come true.
Prophets still walk among us today, but they are hard to distinguish. They don’t speak out as much as they should regarding what they receive because they fear being shut down by their churches and families.
My friends, if you so see fit, ask God to make you a prophet. This was Paul’s prayer and longing for the church in Corinth (1 Corinthians 12:1-5).