A New Testament prophet is one who prophesies, preaches and teaches the mind of God for the present and immediate future. His prophecies, preaching and teaching are confirmed by supernatural signs and wonders. In doing this he confirms, clarifies and amplifies what God is already revealing to the Church about His purposes for the present and immediate future. A prophet is not a fortune teller who tells you the future of your financial and material fortunes!
This is in some contrast to the Old Testament prophets who usually prophesied of things that were going to come to pass in the far future: usually hundreds or thousands of years to come. However, because we are now in the 3rd. day or 21st. century and God’s purposes are coming to an end, the present 3rd. day New Testament prophet will be bringing revelation that is to be fulfilled in the present and immediate future: 6 months to 1 year; 1-30 or 40 years. Incidentally it so happens that the purpose of God for the Church in this 3rd. day for the present and immediate future is the manifestation of the perfection and fullness of Christ in the Church (Eph. 4.11-16. 5.26, 2 Cor. 7.1): the fullness of all other purposes of God for our lives (e.g. marriage, career and ministry) will be fulfilled as we gradually experience the perfection and fullness of Christ.
Also in the Old Testament there was little prophetic preaching and teaching: the prophets simply uttered what they either saw in visions or dreams, or what the Lord spoke to them and wrote them down to form the canon of scripture (Rom. 1.2, 16.26) that we now have. In many cases they did not fully understand what they prophesied as the fulfillment was far in the future:
1 Peter 1:9-12 NKJV: Of this salvation the prophets have inquired and searched carefully, who prophesied of the grace that would come to you, 11 searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ who was in them was indicating when He testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow. 12 To them it was revealed that, not to themselves, but to us they were ministering the things which now have been reported to you through those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven–things which angels desire to look into.
So far we have only seen the partial measure of the operation of the office of the New Testament prophet.
There are 4 areas of New Testament prophetic operation:
- Prophetic utterance: either by the gift of prophecy or diversities of tongues and interpretation of tongues that confirms what God is saying to the Church: individually, locally and universally.
- Prophetic preaching by revelation from the written Word that brings clarification to prophetic utterances and the witness of the Holy Spirit in the hearts (Rom. 8.16) of the saints showing them things to come (Jn. 16.13).
- Prophetic teaching by revelation from the written Word that brings amplification to prophetic utterances and the witness of the Holy Spirit.
- Prophetic signs and wonders: supernatural fulfillment of prophetic utterances, preaching and teaching.
Hitherto we have seen only a partial measure of the operation of these areas of the prophetic office.
However, we are going to see the full measure of the prophetic office in operation: manifesting the Daniel, Joseph and Elisha governmental prophetic anointings all mixed together in spectacular display of divine revelation and power as it was in the ministry of Jesus (Jn. 14.12).
We need to believe prophets so we can prosper both spiritually and materially in the purposes of God for our lives in the present and immediate future.
2 Chronicles 20:20 NKJV: So they rose early in the morning and went out into the Wilderness of Tekoa; and as they went out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, “Hear me, O Judah and you inhabitants of Jerusalem: Believe in the LORD your God and you shall be established; believe His prophets, and you shall prosper.”
It is the confirmation, clarification and amplification that comes by revelation through the prophetic office that enables us to begin to walk in God’s purposes for the present and immediate future and prosper in them. It is instructive to note that the apostolic anointing adds the wisdom of detailed instruction (Pr.1.3, 4.13) to the revelation of the prophetic anointing to cause the saints to become established (Rom. 1.11) in the purposes of God. So the prophetic anointing will causes us to start walking in God’s purposes by revelation, while the apostolic anointing will cause us to be established in those purposes by wisdom. This is why Paul prayed for both the spirit of wisdom and revelation (Eph. 1.17).
We have to believe prophets so we can receive this confirmation, clarification and amplification of what God is revealing to us for our present and immediate future, so we can prosper in and fulfill His purposes for us.
It is for this reason the scripture tells us not to despise prophecies:
1 Thessalonians 5:20 NKJV: Do not despise prophecies.
Why would we have a tendency to despise prophecies?
We are tempted to do this because of:
- The human imperfections we may know in the prophetic vessel.
- Imperfections or incompleteness in the prophetic message.
- The apparent difficulty or impossibility of fulfilling the prophetic message.
We overcome these 3 things by:
- Esteeming the prophetic vessel highly in love for their works sake (1 Thess. 5.13): not their personality or conduct sakes. We find great prophets like Moses (Num. 12.1cp Ezr. 10.2), David (2 Sam. 12.13), Elisha (2 Kgs. 2.23-24), Peter (Mt. 16.22-23, Gal. 2.12-14) and Paul (Ac. 23.3) having imperfections in their personalities and conduct. Yet this did not invalidate the authenticity of their prophetic messages.
- Testing or judging (1 Cor. 14.29) the prophetic message in the light of the written Word (Is. 8.20, 2 Pet. 1.19) and God’s character of loving-kindness, justice and righteousness (Jer. 9.24) and holding fast only to the part of it that passes through this filter of God’s Word and character (Jam. 3.17).
- Developing faith in God’s ability to fulfill the difficult and impossible (Mark 10.27) by reading, meditating and acting (Rom. 5.3-4) on the written Word which gives accounts of God fulfilling the difficult and impossible (Rom. 10.17, 15.4).
So we see that without the input of prophets you will not be able to prosper in and so fulfill God’s purposes for your life: you must believe prophets to get to the expected end (Jer. 29.11) God has for you!