Christianity and theology, Sound Teaching

Biblical Prophets Vs. Today’s Prophets

A couple of days ago, the social media was awash with a prophecy coming from the West Africa, Nigeria in particular. The so-called Prophet TB Joshua predicted the outcome of USA 2016 Elections. He stated that a female candidate would win. This was a reference to Hilary Clinton. However, come early this morning, the “prophecy” has proved to be another false prediction.

Now this is not the first time that prophets in my beautiful and beloved continent have predicted falsely. They are a number of instances that can be cited, but that is beside the point of this post. I am writing mainly to express my concern over some people’s unhealthy fascination with prophets.

Prophets have become so popular in Africa that they are regarded as semi-gods, which is certainly against the Second Commandment. Prophets have also become the elite and one of rich groups of people, monetary wise, at the expense of their poor followers. But this is very different from the picture we see of Biblical prophets both in the Old and New Testament.

The Biblical prophets were often unpopular. Their message was very offensive to those rebelling against God. The Biblical prophets were not crowd-pullers as our “prophets” today. They were not business magnets as the prophets our time. When one was called to be a prophet in the Bible, it often meant putting your life in the harm’s way.

While it was not all glamour and glitter for the Biblical prophets, it’s all a bed of roses for the contemporary “prophets.” The biographies of modern “prophets” stand in sharp contrast to the biographies of Elijah, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Amos, and John the Baptist just to mention a few examples.

Looking at this fact, one thing is certain: the prophets like those in the Bible no longer exist. Without repeating what I have stated again and again, the ultimate fulfiment of the office of Biblical prophets is found in Christ (Hebrews 1:1-2). Jesus Christ is the Prophet par excellence. He is the only prophet we need today. In fact, he is not only the Prophet but also the Priest and King forever.

Now back to the prophecy of TB Joshua. His so-called prophecy should bring to mind Deuteronomy 18:20-22:

But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in my name that I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that same prophet shall die.’  And if you say in your heart, ‘How may we know the word that the Lord has not spoken?’ when a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the word does not come to pass or come true that is a word that the Lord has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously. You need not be afraid of him.

Now we know how we should respond to TB Joshua and all the so-called prophets.

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Sound Teaching

An Appeal to my Pentecostal Brethren

“I have many relations and very good friends who are Pentecostal and I thank God for them all. This post is dedicated to them.”

At the end of each and every year, WordPress experts or helper- monkeys as they prefer to call themselves release statistical report regarding each and every blog they host and Scripture Alone is not an exception. In the report of 2013, WordPress records that the most read article on the blog was “Do Prophets Still Exist?” followed by “Jesus Christ: The True Greatest Prophet.” The third most viewed post was “Of Anointed Water, Stickers, Handkerchiefs, etc.”

Am I surprised by these stats? Not at all! The above topics are real issues that the Church is facing today. People who claim to get direct revelations from God or prophets continue to rise almost every day.  The hunger for miracles and wonders has led to mass production of “anointed staffs” which steadily are taking the place of Christ in the hearts of many.

Now, why am I raising all this? I would like to appeal to my Pentecostal brethren to speak up against these unbiblical developments. Why? Because so many false prophets today claim to be Pentecostal in their beliefs yet what they do sometimes even leave other Pentecostals, I believe, mouth agape. For instance, who among my brethren using the Scriptures could confidently say that God will put money in your bank account or in your pair of trousers’ pockets or your pulse while you are just idling? Would a true Pentecostal, so to speak, agree that the Holy Spirit will direct a pastor to feed his congregants grass as if they are goats?  In case you missed it, check this link, http://www.africanspotlight.com/2014/01/08/south-african-pastor-makes-members-eat-grass-steps-photos-video/

My point again is that please my friends speak up against these things unless you don’t see anything wrong with such pathetic and blaspheming developments. I make this appeal because if you don’t raise your voice the old adage will prove true that silence means consent. By the grace of God, I write and will continue to write against these errors and heresies but I am not Pentecostal and some think I do so merely to score points over you brethren.

However, if truth be told, I write and denounce errors and heresies because I am concerned with God’s truth and the glory of Christ regardless of who is involved. John Calvin once observed: “Even a dog barks when it’s master is attacked, I would be a coward if I saw that God’s truth is being attacked and yet would remain silent.” I bark when God’s glory and truth is maligned because I can’t help it to see or hear the name of Christ my Master and Savior being brought into disrepute.

So, friends raise your voices against errors and heresies that are coming out coated with your name for Christ’s sake and his Church. Grace and peace.

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Christianity and theology

Do prophets still exist today?

Quadruple combination opened to the Book of Is...

The Bible: God’s Final Special Revelation

Do prophets still exist today? My answer: Yes and No. Please allow me to explain.

Yes: Basing on Scripture we see that prophets were the men called by God to speak on behalf of God. In other words, prophets took a word from God and gave it to God’s people. In this sense, I would say that prophets still exists in form of preachers of God’s Word. Every time, a preacher stands up to preach from the Bible (God’s Word) he is actually saying: “Thus says the Lord in the Bible.” So in this case, prophets (preachers) still exist today.

No: Prophets both in the Old and New Testament got their revelation directly from God in various forms. So, in this sense, prophets of the caliber of Old  and New Testament (who directly get special revelations from God) do not exist anymore. Why? Because God’s special revelation ceased with the completion of the Bible (66 books: 39 in the Old Testament and 27 in the New Testament).

I know the statement ‘God’s special revelation ceased’ has sent cold chills down the spine of some and probably you have began to agitate in anger against me but I beg you to hear me out. So, please read on.

God’s giving of special revelation (the Bible) had to with the redemption or salvation of man after man sinned. From Genesis, God revealed his plan of salvation little by little until when Christ came and completed the plan of saving man through his birth, death, burial and resurrection. So, when God completed his work of saving man through Jesus Christ, God also completed the work of giving out special revelation with the last book of Revelation.

F. Fowler White is right when he writes in his article, “Does God Speak Today Apart from the Bible”

“God’s giving of revelation, spoken and written, is always historically joined and qualified by God’s work of redemption. Now that God has accomplished salvation once-for-all, in Christ, He has also spoken His word, once-for-all, in Christ and in those whom Christ has authorized and empowered by His Spirit (Hebrews 1:1, 2; 2:3, 4; Matthew 16:15-19; John 14:26; Ephesians 2:19, 20). With the completion of salvation in Christ comes the cessation of revelation. Consequently, the church now lives by a ‘Scripture only’ principle of authority,” (Reformed Perspective Magazine, Vol. 9, No. 15, April 8-14, 2007).

Today, we cannot get any special revelation apart from the one that God has revealed to us through the Bible. Please consider this. Suppose a person calling himself a prophet comes to you with a book in which he has written all ‘the revelations’ he has got from God, will you add that book to the Bible so that you have a Bible with 67 books? Would you call that book the Word of God as you call the Bible? Certainly not! Yet what God revealed to the prophets of the old is contained in the Bible as God’s own word. I hope you get my point there!

Also ponder with me on this. When I ask those who believe that prophets still exist on how they know whether a prophecy is true, they say that they weigh it against the Bible. If what is said is supported by the Bible they take it. If what that man calling himself a prophet says anything that contradicts the Scripture, they leave it.

Now, if you always have to compare any ‘new revelation’ with the Bible, it means that there is no single new revelation that can come to you besides the Bible. In other words, you are in essence saying that God’s final revelation is the Bible and whatever ‘revelation’ that is outside the Bible is not God’s revelation at all, isn’t it? By this, you, further,  agree with me that there are no new ‘revelations’ apart from the Bible hence no new prophecies apart from those contained in the Bible consequently also no prophets like those we read in the Bible.

But some would argue for the existence of prophets today by quoting  that familiar verse about various ministries in the church, Ephesians 4:11, 12: which reads: “And he (Christ) gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ.”

But before you can conclude that prophets still exist basing on these verses, please just go back to chapter 2 of the same Letter to Ephesians and read verses 19 to 21:

“So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord,” (Underscoring added).

The same Apostle Paul who tells us that God gave the gifts of apostle and prophets to the Church also reminds us that these apostles and prophets are the foundation of the Church. Now, let me ask you. After you have laid the foundation of a house, do you still use the same foundation materials to build the wall of the house as well as roof it? NO! The foundation remains down.

Similarly, the apostles and prophets being foundation of the church are no longer needed today unless we say that the church is still at its foundational level. But most certainly, after almost 2, 000 years since the birth of the New Testament Church no one would say that the Church is still at its foundation level. The church of Christ has grown and it continues to grow.

But what about the ‘predictions’ that the men called ‘prophets’ make and they come to pass, aren’t these a sign that prophets still exist today? First, we should not confuse prophecy with prediction. In as much as prediction is part of prophecy, prophecy is more than prediction. The prophets of the Bible rebuked, taught, encouraged and also predicted.

Secondly, we should realize that the ability to predict does not always and solely come from God. In Acts 16:16-18, we read of a girl who could predict out of powers of a demon. Recently also, during the 2010 World Cup Soccer Finals, there was an octopus called Paul in Germany that also predicted outcome of games before they were played. Did this ability to predict, in the two cases cited, come due to revelations directly from God? No! Would you call the girl and the octopus, prophets? God forbid!

As I wrap up, I would like to highlight that there are some good and well meaning Christians, some of them are my good friends and even relatives, who believe that prophets still exist, probably basing on what is happening, especially, in the African Church today. Of course, I would not call them heretics. However, I would encourage them to sincerely and prayerfully study Scripture and they will find out that prophets no longer exists today except in cases in which a prophet means a preacher of God’s Word.  Bill Crouse says it better:

“The men who challenge the Church to revive the gift of prophecy have good intentions. They want to see significant growth in the Kingdom; they want to see believers have a vital mystical relationship with Christ. They are not heretics, but they are proposing major doctrinal shifts that we sincerely believe will lead to confusion and dangerous consequences. Regardless of spectacular experience being reported by godly men, we must resist the temptation to satisfy our spiritual thirst for anything other than the certainty of the written Word of God” (C.I.M. Outline #57, The Gift of Prophecy: Is it for today?).

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Christianity and theology

Jesus Christ: The True Greatest Prophet

“Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days, he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom also he created the world” (Hebrews 1:1, 2). 

The issue of prophecy is no doubt a big thing, especially, in the African Church today where various people have come

Jesus

Jesus: The True Greatest Prophet

up declaring that God has called them as prophets. I remember a couple of months ago while attending and speaking at a missions conference, a young man came to me and asked, “Confex, what about the prophets?” I wasn’t so sure what he meant by the question and I asked him to elaborate. He then said, “What does Scripture say about prophets today?”

I believe that Hebrews 1:1, 2 helps us to put this matter of prophets in the right perspective. However, before dwelling on the passage, there is a need to go back to the Old Testament where the ministry of prophets began and see what it says about prophets.  Basing on various passages of Scripture, we see that prophets were people who had been called by God to speak on behalf of God. In others words, prophets took the word from God and presented it God’s people.

Now Scripture tells us that all the prophets pointed to one true greatest prophet Jesus Christ.  In other words, all the prophets were a foreshadow of one true great prophet, Jesus Christ. Moses who was the first prophet in the Old Testament prophesied about one true great prophet In Deuteronomy 18:15, 18 when he said: “The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers – it is him you shall listen. And the LORD said to me, ‘I will raise up for them a prophet like you among their brothers. And I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him.”

Luke 24:27 also tells us that all prophets pointed to Jesus and their work found its fulfillment in Christ. This is what we read in Luke 24:27: “And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he (Jesus) interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.” Again in this passage we see that All the prophets spoke about Jesus the true greatest prophet.

Indeed Jesus Christ is the true greatest prophet, first,  because unlike the prophets of the past who had to get their revelation from God, Jesus is the source of revelation. That’s why if you read your Bible you will find that the prophets of the Old Testament would begin or end their prophecy by saying: “Thus says the Lord…..”  But when Jesus speaks, he begins by saying: “I say unto you… or Truly, Truly, I say to you….”

Secondly, Jesus Christ is our true greatest prophet because he reveals the full picture of God to us. The prophets of the old times began to reveal the picture of God to us but their work remained incomplete until when Christ came and revealed the full picture of God to us. It’s like the painter. Before a painter paints a picture, he begins to draw with a pencil and after that he takes the painting brush and paints the picture and eventually we see the full picture as it ought to look.

Like a painter, the other prophets drew the picture of God with a pencil and when Christ came he finished the picture with the painting brush. The Bible affirms this truth when read in Colossians 1:15 and 19 that “(Jesus) is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell.” John 1:1 and 14 also says: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

In Jesus, the full picture of God is revealed to us. Therefore, if we want to know God, we should realize that we have the greatest prophet who reveals this God to us. He is Jesus Christ.  There is no need for you and me to run to this man and that woman in order to hear from God. We have Jesus the Word who reveals the full picture of God to us.

Jesus fully reveals God to us in Scripture. As somebody said, “All Scripture is all about Jesus and according Jesus.” Immerse yourself in it. Read it with joy and out of love and you will know God fully. You don’t need any prophet any more for you to know God because in these last days,  God has spoken to us through Jesus Christ.  By the way, the last days began with the coming of Christ on earth. From that time to now, we are living in the last days.

Thirdly, Jesus Christ is the true greatest prophet because He reveals the whole will of God to us. In the past God revealed his will through the prophets little by little at different times in history. At one particular time God would reveal his will at that time through one prophet. Then at another time God could also reveal his will at that time through another prophet. You can see this very clearly when you consider the prophets of the Old Testament. Each prophet came at a particular time to reveal God’s will at that particular time and to particular people.

For instance, Prophet Isaiah prophesied about the Babylonian captivity for the Southern Kingdom of Judah and also the fall of Babylon as well as the return of Israelites from Babylon. Prophet Jeremiah prophesied to the Southern Kingdom of Judah about the victory of King Nebuchadnezzar over this nation as means of God’s punishment to unrepentant Judah. Prophet Ezekiel prophesied while in Babylon the return of God’s people to the Promised Land.  Prophet Joel prophesied about the Day of the Lord in which God will come in judgment upon his covenant people for their disobedience and rebellion against God.  Prophet Hosea prophesied in the Northern Kingdom of Israel and he mainly spoke against the mixing of worship of Yahweh with idols also known as syncretism.

So, the prophets kept building on each other as they revealed God’s will to his people. They kept revealing God’s will for his people in stages or phases; however, when Christ came he revealed the whole will of God to us. This is why Hebrews 1:1, 2 says that in the past God spoke to us in various ways through various prophets but now, He has spoken to us once and for all through Jesus Christ.

God wants us to listen to our true greatest prophet Jesus. This is why during the Transfiguration when Jesus took Apostles Peter, John and James to the top of a mountain. Moses and Elijah appeared to them and God the Father spoke from heaven and said, “This is my Son, my Chosen One; listen to him” (Luke 9:35).

Fourthly, Jesus is our true greatest prophet because He reveals the whole future to us. One of the things that the prophets of the old were known for was their ability to foretell the future. Although prophecy involves more than foretelling future events, still this is an element of prophecy.

Jesus is our true greatest prophet because he does not only know the future but he is also the future himself.  Jesus Christ being fully God he is our future. There is nothing that will come to pass in this world or in the life to come that Jesus does not know or control. While God could reveal some future events to the old prophets, in Jesus the whole future is in his hands. This is why Christ says to us: “Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore” (Revelation 1:17).

Bill and Linda Gaither put it well when they composed that hymn, “Because He Lives’ and declared:

 Because He lives, I can face tomorrow.
Because He lives, All fear is gone!
Because I know He holds the future
And life is worth the living just because He lives!

In Jesus the true greatest prophet our future is secured because he does not only know the future but also holds the future and the whole world in his hands. Oh, how I love this true and greatest prophet.

So please, let this truth always linger in you mind: “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days, he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom also he created the world” (Hebrews 1:1, 2).

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