The Prophet’s Voice (Part 10)
There is truly great “profit” in being a church prophet, but it may not be how it sounds. Most people think of “profit” as personal gain (e.g. financial, possessions, position, power), but is that what God means when He speaks of the profit of the prophet? Let’s get a lesson about “profit” from the greatest Prophet Who ever lived — Jesus Christ.
“For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” Matthew 16:26
“If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.” Matthew 5:29-30
“It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.” John 6:63
“He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.” Matthew 10:39
“He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” John 12:25
Jesus always had the “eternal” in view. His concept of “profit” is opposite of what most people believe. They see getting as gain. Jesus sees loss as gain and explained it beautifully during His Sermon on the Mount. His concept of loss is here on earth which is temporary, as compared to Heaven which is permanent. It also goes to the matter that what we value is what we worship.
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:19-21
The Apostle Paul also understood the Lord’s insight to “profit” and lived it out so that many might be saved.
“Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Give no offense, either to the Jews or to the Greeks or to the church of God, just as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved.” 1 Corinthians 10:31-33
So much is made about spiritual gifts (charismata) today, but many Christians have forgotten the purity of the purpose of these precious gifts. It is not for their personal profit, but for the “profit of all.”
“There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all…” 1 Corinthians 12:4-7
Paul emphasized that the primary purpose of spiritual gifts is for the edification (building up) of the Church. He emphasized revelation, knowledge, prophesying, and teaching for accomplishing that work.
“Pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy. For he who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God, for no one understands him; however, in the spirit he speaks mysteries. But he who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men. He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church. I wish you all spoke with tongues, but even more that you prophesied; for he who prophesies is greater than he who speaks with tongues, unless indeed he interprets, that the church may receive edification. But now, brethren, if I come to you speaking with tongues, what shall I profit you unless I speak to you either by revelation, by knowledge, by prophesying, or by teaching?” 1 Corinthians 14:1-6
Paul knew that the highest purpose of spiritual gifts was to reveal and demonstrate the Love of God.
“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.” 1 Corinthians 13:1-3
Paul, like His Lord Jesus, saw things from an eternal point of view.
“But reject profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise yourself toward godliness. For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come. This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance.” 1 Timothy 4:7-9
Paul understood what was at stake in the decision the Galatians were making about how they would experience the Christian life. He knew that what they were doing would profit them “nothing.”
“Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage. Indeed I, Paul, say to you that if you become circumcised, Christ will profit you nothing. And I testify again to every man who becomes circumcised that he is a debtor to keep the whole law.”Galatians 5:1-3
Paul reminded his student and friend Timothy to charge believers not to strive about words to “no profit” and to the “ruin of the hearers.” The real profit comes from the Word of God.
“Remind them of these things, charging them before the Lord not to strive about words to no profit, to the ruin of the hearers. Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” 2 Timothy 2:14-15
“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17
Paul often emphasized the importance of serving God as things that “are good and profitable to men.”
“This is a faithful saying, and these things I want you to affirm constantly, that those who have believed in God should be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable to men.” Titus 3:8
“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
“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. Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears.” Acts 20:28-31
“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.” 2 Peter 2:1-3, 12-19
“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
Jesus warned believers to “beware” of false prophets and said they would know them “by their fruits.” Paul warned church leaders to “watch” because the “savage wolves” would “rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves.” Peter warned believers that the false teachers would exploit them “by covetousness” and “deceptive words.” John warned believers not to believe every spirit, but to “test the spirits, whether they are of God.”
It’s clear from the great prophets of the New Testament that many false prophets are in our churches today in disguise. It is also clear that we have the duty and right to warn Christians about them and teach how to “test the spirits, whether they are of God.” The idea that church prophets today should quietly “get along” with the false teachers and prophets exploiting Christians is ridiculous. That is opposite of our Lord’s clear directive. There is a great “profit” for prophets, but it is not in making a profit. It’s in making sure that all spiritual gifts are used “for the profit of all” and that no leader is seeking his own profit, “but the profit of many, that they may be saved.”
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.”