The Gift of Prophecy: Part 1

Samuel Smith



You are welcome to another edition of Insights from God's Word, a Bible study programme that is committed to sharing God's Word by allowing the Bible to speak for itself.

In this edition, we continue with our series on The Gifts of the Spirit. The topic for this study is: The Gift of Prophecy: Part 1. In 1 Corinthians 12, the apostle Paul listed several spiritual gifts which are manifested in the body of Christ. These spiritual gifts include the following: "12:8 For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit;

12:9 To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit;

12:10 To another the working of miracles; TO ANOTHER PROPHECY; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues:"

(1 Corinthians 12:8-10; Capital Emphasis Added)
The passage above, coupled with several others (see Romans 12:6-8; 1 Corinthians 12:28; Ephesians 4:11), outline various spiritual gifts that are provided by the Holy Spirit to members of the body of Christ. In this study, our focus will be on the gift of prophecy. The gift of prophecy enables recipients to speak forth or preach under divine inspiration (see Deuteronomy 18:18; Revelation 10:11). The gift may also include the ability to predict or foretell future events (see Amos 3:7; Micah 5:2; Isaiah 7:14; Isaiah 53).

In both the Old and New Testaments of the Bible, God empowered men and women with the gift of prophecy. Through these prophets, the Lord provided messages of comfort, encouragement, reproof and warning to His people. Because of the important role that the prophets played among God's people, Satan always sought to also raise false prophets whose sole purpose was to counterfeit the true gift of prophecy and through that turn the hearts of the people away from Jehovah (see Ezekiel 13).

Because of the questionable characters portrayed by many of the so called 'prophets' of today, some in Christendom have asked whether the prophetic gift which was in operation in biblical times is still in operation in our day. The answer to this question is found in the book of the prophet Joel. The Lord prophesied through the prophet Joel the following: "2:28 And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions:

2:29 And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit."

(Joel 2:28-29)
Friends, the passage above makes it clear that the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in the last days will include a manifestation of the gift of prophecy on both males and females. From the apostle Paul, we also read the following in relation to the full manifestation of spiritual gifts in the church of Christ until the end of time: "1:5 That in every thing ye are enriched by him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge;

1:6 Even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you:


1:8 Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ."

(1 Corinthians 1:5-8; Capital Emphasis Added)
From the passage above, we learn that the church will lack no spiritual gift as she awaits the second coming of her Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. What this means is that there are going to be true prophets around until the end of the age. However beloved, due to the critical role that these prophets will play in preparing the church for the second coming of Christ, Satan will seek to counteract their efforts by raising up several false prophets. Christ foresaw this counterfeit work of Satan, and provided early warning to His people who will be living in the last days. From the gospel of Matthew, we read the following clear warning from Christ in respect to false prophets in the last days: "24:4 And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you.

24:5 For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.

24:11 And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.

24:24 For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.

24:25 Behold, I have told you before."

(Matthew 24:4, 5, 11, 24, 25)
Beside this clear warning from Christ Himself, we also read the following from two of His apostles:

i) "Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world" (1 John 4:1).

ii) "20 Despise not prophesyings. 21 Prove all things; hold fast that which is good" (1 Thessalonians 5:20-21).

From the passages above, the apostles John and Paul make it clear that in as much as we should not despise all prophesying in our time because some come from the Lord, we should also be careful to prove all things because many false prophets are gone out into the world. The apostle Paul in his second letter to the Corinthians, provide the following details about the cunning work of false prophets in these last days: "11:13 For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.

11:14 And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.

11:15 Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works."

(2 Corinthians 11:13-15)
Beloved, the passage above makes it clear that the work of false prophets in these last days will be so close to the genuine gift of prophecy. However, for the sake of His elect, the Lord has provided several tests in His word whereby His children may prove the genuine prophets from the several counterfeits. Outlined below are several tests that the Bible has provided to help God's people in their bid to identify a genuine prophet of God:


Key Text: "To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them" (Isaiah 8:20).

Key Explanation: True prophets will not come up with their own private interpretations of Scripture (see 2 Peter 1:20). Their messages will always be in harmony with the already established truth of Scripture. They will uphold the perpetual law of Jehovah and the sacred testimonies of His Word.


Key Texts:

(i) "The prophet which prophesieth of peace, when the word of the prophet shall come to pass, then shall the prophet be known, that the LORD hath truly sent him" (Jeremiah 28:9).

(ii) "21 And if thou say in thine heart, How shall we know the word which the LORD hath not spoken? 22 When a prophet speaketh in the name of the LORD, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him" (Deuteronomy 18:21-22).

Besides conditional prophecies whose outcome is dependent on the actions of the people concerned (see Jeremiah 18:7-10; Jonah 3), all prophecies of a true prophet must come to pass to the letter. However, this is not to be used as the sole test of a true prophet as Satan can also make certain prophecies of false prophets come to pass in his bid to deceive people. In relation to this point, the Bible expressly states the following: "13:1 If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder,

13:2 And the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them;

13:3 Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the LORD your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.

13:4 Ye shall walk after the LORD your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and ye shall serve him, and cleave unto him."

(Deuteronomy 13:1-4)


Key Texts: i) "12:6 And he said, Hear now my words: If there be a prophet among you, I the LORD will make myself known unto him in a VISION, and will speak unto him in a DREAM.

12:7 My servant Moses is not so, who is faithful in all mine house.

12:8 With him will I speak mouth to mouth, even apparently, and not in dark speeches; and the similitude of the LORD shall he behold: wherefore then were ye not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?"

(Numbers 12:6-8; Capital Emphasis Added)
ii) "And the angel that talked with me came again, and waked me, as a man that is wakened out of his sleep" (Zechariah 4:1; see also Revelation 19:10; Revelation 22:8-9).

Key Explanation: True prophets will receive direct messages from God through visions, dreams and angelic visits. Sometimes, God may even speak to them face to face just like in the case of Moses (review Numbers 12:8). Through these mediums, the Lord provides messages of encouragement, counsel, reproof, warning and judgement unto His people. False prophets do not receive messages from God. However, they apply satanic mediums to enlist people into the camp of the enemy. From Deuteronomy 18:9-11, we read about various mediums that false prophets employ to deceive people: "18:9 When thou art come into the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not learn to do after the abominations of those nations.

18:10 There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire (idolater), or that useth divination (fortune teller), or an observer of times (astrologer), or an enchanter (magician), or a witch (female psychic).

18:11 Or a charmer (person who casts spells or charms), or a consulter with familiar spirits (spirit medium), or a wizard (male psychic), or a necromancer (person who claims to consult with the dead).

18:12 For all that do these things are an abomination unto the LORD: and because of these abominations the LORD thy God doth drive them out from before thee."

(Deuteronomy 18:9-12; Emphasis Added)
From the passage above, it is clear that any prophet who is connected with any of the mediums above is a false prophet. God's people living at the end of time must be careful not to have any dealings with such prophets who work directly with evil angels to deceive mankind.


Key Text: "4:1 Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.

4:2 Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God:

4:3 And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world."

(1 John 4:1-3)
Key Explanation: True prophets proclaim the biblical fact of the divine human nature of Christ. They attest that even though God, Christ became flesh in order to give up His life for the salvation of mankind (see Philippians 2:5-8).


Key Texts:

i) "For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost" (2 Peter 1:21).

ii) "7:15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.

7:16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?

7:17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.

7:18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.

7:19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.

7:20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.

7:21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.

7:22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?

7:23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity."

(Matthew 7:15-23)
Key Explanation: Unlike false prophets, true prophets will strive through the power of the Holy Spirit to lead a lifestyle that is above reproach. They will represent God as faithful ambassadors by bearing fruits that show a semblance of the character of Christ.


Key Text: "John bare witness of him, and cried, saying, This was he of whom I spake, He that cometh after me is preferred before me: for he was before me" (John 1:15).

Key Explanation: True prophets will seek to uplift Christ in all their work. Like the mighty prophet in the wilderness, their slogan will be: "He must increase, but I must decrease" (John 3:30). Unlike false prophets who draw attention to themselves, true prophets will direct their disciples to follow the Master (see John 1:35-37). Their lifestyle will be after the model of the humble Carpenter of Nazareth.


Key Text: i) "But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort" (1 Corinthians 14:3).

Key Explanation: Unlike false prophets, true prophets will not make pronouncements that will bring disunity and enmity between families and the larger flock of God. Rather, they will seek to edify, exhort and comfort the people of God. Their prophecies and counsels will be directed at seeking the best for all of God's children. In their bid to deliver messages from God to His people, true prophets will always be careful to exercise godly wisdom, tact, and brotherly love (see 2 Samuel 12:1-14).


Key Texts: i) "3:5 Thus saith the LORD concerning the prophets that make my people err, that bite with their teeth, and cry, Peace; and he that putteth not into their mouths, they even prepare war against him.

3:6 Therefore night shall be unto you, that ye shall not have a vision; and it shall be dark unto you, that ye shall not divine; and the sun shall go down over the prophets, and the day shall be dark over them.

3:7 Then shall the seers be ashamed, and the diviners confounded: yea, they shall all cover their lips; for there is no answer of God.

3:8 But truly I am full of power by the spirit of the LORD, and of judgment, and of might, TO DECLARE UNTO JACOB HIS TRANSGRESSION, AND TO ISRAEL HIS SIN."

(Micah 3:5-8; Capital Emphasis Added)
ii) "24:19 Yet he sent prophets to them, to bring them again unto the LORD; and they testified against them: but they would not give ear.

24:20 And the Spirit of God came upon Zechariah the son of Jehoiada the priest, which stood above the people, and said unto them, Thus saith God, Why transgress ye the commandments of the LORD, that ye cannot prosper? because ye have forsaken the LORD, he hath also forsaken you."

(2 Chronicles 24:19-20)
iii) "3:7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?

3:8 Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance:"

(Matthew 3:7-8)
Key Explanation: True prophets did not mince words in condemning the sins of the people when they were in error. They gave the divine warning and coming judgement that will assail the people if they did not repent. Prophets who through diverse prosperity messages promise the people the blessings of heaven, yet distance themselves from rebuking their sins cannot be true prophets of Jehovah.

Instead of preaching the undiluted Word of God, many prophets in our day have made a booming business of the gift of prophecy. Today, church members are made to book paid appointments with prophets before they are allowed to meet them. Many prophets in our day are also found selling holy water, anointing oil, and wrist bands of protection to their followers to enrich themselves. Ironically, the amazingly rich extravagant lifestyle of the prophets of our day stands in direct contrast to the humble Carpenter of Nazareth, who even didn't have a personal abode of His own (see Matthew 8:20).

Clearly, it is in respect to the false prophets of our day that the prophet Isaiah wrote the following: "And in that day seven women shall take hold of one man, saying, We will eat our own bread, and wear our own apparel: only let us be called by thy name, to take away our reproach" (Isaiah 4:1). Friends, we are definitely living at the time when several prophets are basically doing things their own way, yet want to be associated with the name of Christ. Many prophets today utilise the name of Christ just as a cover to pursue their nefarious satanic activities.

Beloved, it is high time we began to measure the prophets of our day with the tests that the Lord has graciously given us in His Word before we have any encounters with them. Our very life may depend on this important work. You see, even though a lot of modern day false prophets are cunning enough to often quote Scripture, and make use of the name of Christ as a cover, it is impossible for them to pass all of the identifying texts of a true prophet. Together, the varying tests of a true prophet will prove to be a standard that the most cunning of the ravening wolves in sheep's clothing cannot meet. It is my prayer that even as we seek to employ these tests of a genuine prophet from the Bible, the Lord Himself will guide our steps away from the ministers of unrighteousness unto the genuine prophets who will lead us into the coming kingdom of Christ.

Exhortation: i) "Believe in the LORD your God, so shall ye be established; believe his prophets, so shall ye prosper" (2 Chronicles 20:20).

ii) "20 Despise not prophesyings. 21 Prove all things; hold fast that which is good" (1 Thessalonians 5:20-21).

In our next study, we will consider the topic: The Gift of Prophecy: Part 2. The Bible Study references for this study are Joel 2:28-29, Revelation 12:17, Revelation 19:10, Revelation 22:8-9 and 2 Chronicles 20:20. Please do well to go through these passages before the next study is released.

Stay blessed and keep shining for King Jesus.


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