In the last part of our study we asked a question – “Where does a young prophet go to learn how to speak for God powerfully and effectively?” – and shared five answers:
1. To the Word of God
2. To the Son of God
3. To the prophets of God
4. To the people of God
5. To the enemies of God
Every true prophet of God speaks the Word of God – no exception. That’s how Israel knew whether a prophet was true or false.
“But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in My name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet shall die.’ And if you say in your heart, ‘How shall we know the word which the Lord has not spoken?’—when a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the thing does not happen or come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him.” Deuteronomy 18:20-22
It’s interesting, though sad, that Christians don’t look to the history of God’s prophets to determine whether people who call themselves prophets of God are really prophets of God. We see the standard of prophecy in the Law, but what did Jesus say? What did Paul say? What did Peter say? What did John say?
“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them. Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!” Matthew 7:15-23
“Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, ‘Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?’ And Jesus answered and said to them: ‘Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. … Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. … Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There!’ do not believe it. For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you beforehand.” Matthew 24:3-6, 11-12, 23-25
“I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars.” Revelation 2:2
“But I have a few things against you, because you have there those who hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit sexual immorality. Thus you also have those who hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate. Repent, or else I will come to you quickly and will fight against them with the sword of My mouth.” Revelation 2:14-16
“Nevertheless I have a few things against you, because you allow that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, to teach and seduce My servants to commit sexual immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols. And I gave her time to repent of her sexual immorality, and she did not repent. Indeed I will cast her into a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of their deeds. I will kill her children with death, and all the churches shall know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts. And I will give to each one of you according to your works.” Revelation 2:20-23
“I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die, for I have not found your works perfect before God. Remember therefore how you have received and heard; hold fast and repent. Therefore if you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you. You have a few names even in Sardis who have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with Me in white, for they are worthy.” Revelation 3:1-4
“Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves. ” Acts 20:28-30
“But what I do, I will also continue to do, that I may cut off the opportunity from those who desire an opportunity to be regarded just as we are in the things of which they boast. For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light.” 2 Corinthians 11:12-14
“But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed. By covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words; for a long time their judgment has not been idle, and their destruction does not slumber … But these, like natural brute beasts made to be caught and destroyed, speak evil of the things they do not understand, and will utterly perish in their own corruption, and will receive the wages of unrighteousness, as those who count it pleasure to carouse in the daytime. They are spots and blemishes, carousing in their own deceptions while they feast with you, having eyes full of adultery and that cannot cease from sin, enticing unstable souls. They have a heart trained in covetous practices, and are accursed children. They have forsaken the right way and gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Beor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness; but he was rebuked for his iniquity: a dumb donkey speaking with a man’s voice restrained the madness of the prophet. These are wells without water, clouds carried by a tempest, for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever. For when they speak great swelling words of emptiness, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through lewdness, the ones who have actually escaped from those who live in error. While they promise them liberty, they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by whom a person is overcome, by him also he is brought into bondage. For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning. For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them. But it has happened to them according to the true proverb: ‘A dog returns to his own vomit,’ and, ‘a sow, having washed, to her wallowing in the mire.” 2 Peter 2:1-3, 12-22
“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world.” 1 John 4:1-3
God warned Israel and the Church to listen to His prophets and oppose Satan’s prophets. So, what did Israel and the Church do? They didn’t listen to God’s prophets and did listen to Satan’s prophets. The history of Israel in the Old Testament and the history of the Church in the New Testament confirm that. Also, the last 1,900+ years of Church history have confirmed that God’s people all too often listen to false prophets and teachers instead of true prophets and teachers of God.
Young prophets need to know what God has said in the past to be sure about what they believe He’s telling them to say now and what He will tell them to say in the future. One of God’s non-moral attributes is His “Immutability.” That means God is unchangeable in all His attributes, essence, consciousness, and will. That’s a wonderful thing to understand as a prophet because we are depending on God always being Who He says He is and doing what He says He will do.
“Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.” James 1:16-17
“Of old You laid the foundation of the earth, And the heavens are the work of Your hands. They will perish, but You will endure; Yes, they will all grow old like a garment; Like a cloak You will change them, And they will be changed. But You are the same, And Your years will have no end.” Psalm 102:25-27
“For I am the Lord, I do not change.” Malachi 3:6
Here are some recommendations for what young prophets can do to know that what they’re speaking is from God.
- A prophet of the Church is going to spend a lifetime speaking forth God’s Word, so I highly recommend that young prophets read the entire Bible at least twice before starting a prophetic ministry. You can finish reading God’s Word in about four weeks by spending several hours a day reading and asking God for wisdom to understand what you’re reading. Spending eight weeks to saturate your mind and heart with His Word through two complete readings will help you greatly in your future ministry. It will sensitize you to Who God is, what He thinks, what He feels, what He wants, and how He speaks. How much you love God’s Word and how willing you are to invest yourself in learning, understanding, and speaking His Word is an excellent measurement to what kind of prophet you will be. God deserves our best in everything we do.
- Make notes from your Bible reading that you believe will be helpful in speaking to a variety of issues in your ministry. Organize the notes into physical notebooks as well as electronic files. You will refer to them many times during a prophetic ministry that could last many decades.
- Continue to read through the Bible at least once every one or two years to continue diving deeper into the Mind of God. Your maturity as a prophet of the Church will necessitate a deep knowledge of God’s Word and awareness of the leading of His Spirit. You cannot depend on something you learned years ago but have not thought about recently. The Word of God must ever be fresh in your heart, mind and mouth.
- Learn enough about Old Testament Hebrew and New Testament Greek so you can study God’s Word in the original languages. Do not depend on what others tell you God’s Word says and means. Go to the Source of the Word, the Holy Spirit, and know what He inspired in Hebrew and Greek and why. The Holy Spirit will always be your best teacher and guide in both studying God’s Word and speaking God’s Word. He will be your closest advisor for the rest of your life. Know Him well. Depend on Him always.
- Be humble toward God. He knows things you do not know and will show you great and mighty things you cannot imagine. Do not be proud of your accomplishments–for a prophet of God has no worthy accomplishments aside from the Truth God reveals to you. All is to be to His Glory.
“Thus says the Lord: ‘Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, Let not the mighty man glory in his might, Nor let the rich man glory in his riches; But let him who glories glory in this, That he understands and knows Me, That I am the Lord, exercising lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth. For in these I delight,’ says the Lord.” Jeremiah 9:23-24
In the next part of our study we’ll look at what a young prophet can learn at the feet of Jesus Christ–the Son of God–the Chief Prophet of the Church.
In Christ’s Love and Grace,
Building Confidence Through Evidence
“Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”