Prophecy Gifts Today?|
Q. Is there a difference between the New Testament gift of prophecy like that mentioned in 1 Corinthians 14:1 and the Old Testament prophets? Are there prophets today? Should we believe the rantings and ravings of charismatic Christians about catastrophes and earth changes? What do you think?
Thanks for the question - this is an important and timely subject.
I have before me prophetic writings or warnings from several sane, conservative, contemporary Christians. One is a "vision" that James Robinson had. Another is a dream or vision experienced by Chuck Colson. Hal Lindsey and Jack Van Impe also see a similar scenario. David Reagan, David Wilkerson, and Bill Koenig see the same thing, too, although most of the people I've listed refer to themselves as "watchmen" and not "prophets." It's pretty frightening, and I hope they are wrong.
What is it that they see?
All of them see apocalyptic-type nuclear strikes and fires raging in several major U.S. cities, particularly Wall Street in New York, and devastation wrought throughout Washington D.C., Los Angeles, Chicago and Houston.
What are we to make of these visions announced by leading pastors and theologians? Are they like the Old Testament prophets? Should we head for the hills or move?
I like the explanation of apocalyptic judgment given by David Reagan. Dr. Reagan states:
God uses signs of nature as remedial judgments to call nations to repentance. Both the Bible and history attest to the fact that God has a pattern of dealing with nations. To begin with, He is the one who establishes nations, and He is the one who takes them down (Daniel 2:20-21).
Raising up Prophetic Voices
When a nation rebels against God, He responds first by raising up prophetic voices to call the nation to repentance. These are not people with supernatural knowledge of the future. They simply have the gift of discernment to see where a nation is missing God's mark. To put it another way, they know how to apply the Scriptures to contemporary events.
If a nation refuses to listen to the prophetic voices, God will then send remedial judgments. These can take many forms. Deuteronomy 28 mentions economic failure, rebellion of youth, an epidemic of divorce, confusion in government, foreign domination, and military defeat. The chapter also mentions natural disasters like drought, crop failure, and pestilence.
Finally, if a nation digs in against God and sets its jaw against His calls to repentance, a point of no return will be reached - often referred to as "when the wound becomes incurable (Nahum 3:19, Jeremiah 30:12, and Micah 1:9).
Dr. Reagan concludes,
At this point, the Lord will deliver the nation from judgment to destruction. That destruction may occur quickly - as with Babylon and the Soviet Union - or it may occur gradually over a period of time, as with the Roman Empire.
Old Testament Office of Prophet
The famous Old Testament prophets like Isaiah, Daniel, and Jeremiah are different than those given the New Testament gift of prophecy. Old Testament prophets prefaced many of their prophecies with, "Thus says the Lord…"
These were clearly men whom God used to declare the future. They were God's voice. We call prophets such as Jeremiah, Daniel, Hosea, and others, men who held the "office of prophet."
Of course, the office of prophet no longer exists. Old Testament prophets were required to be 100% accurate or they were put to death! How would you like to fall under those requirements?
New Testament Gift of Prophecy
However, in the New Testament we are told that many believers have various gifts. One of those gifts is "the gift of prophecy" as described in 1 Corinthians 12:7-11.
I like Bible teacher Jack Kelley's explanation of the New Testament gift of prophecy:
"The purpose of this gift is to fill-in-the-blanks in God's revealed word by giving supporting information as to how God's plan will be fulfilled in various situations. Accordingly all prophecy given today has to be consistent with and validated by God's Word. This is what makes the New Testament gift of prophecy different than the Old Testament office of Prophet."
I believe we need to listen to the numerous prophetic voices warning the church of judgments to come in America. We seem to be following the pattern outlined throughout the bible.
To begin with we thumbed our noses at God starting back in the sixties as we began to kill unborn babies and as we threw God and prayer out of our schools and public places. We embraced hedonism to the extent that our only motto seems to be: "If it feels good, do it." Homosexuality became acceptable in our churches and schools.
I will Bless those who bless you&Curse those who Don't
Finally, we began to turn against Israel. This last measure sealed our fate. God clearly states that He will bless those who bless Israel and curse those who curse Abraham (Genesis 12:2-3).
Let the Record Speak for Itself
No one can deny that we have suffered record-setting hurricanes and tornados among other disasters. We lost an entire strategic port-city, and our "high towers" were destroyed by foreigners from ancient lands, no less! To put this into perspective, Reagan notes that since 1991 we have experienced:
-9 of the 10 largest insurance events in U.S. history.
-9 of the 10 greatest natural disasters as ranked by FEMA relief costs.
-5 of the costliest hurricanes in U.S. history.
-3 or the 4 largest tornado swarms in U.S. history.
Prophets have Warned Us
We have heard from prophets and watchmen throughout our country warning us of impending judgment. These include pastors such as David Wilkerson, James Robinson, Dr. Reagan, Bill Koenig, and others.
It appears that we are facing the potential of complete destruction of our country now. God has repeatedly sent us warnings and wake-up calls. But, we have ignored Him. Our only hope rests in this Scripture:
"If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land" (2 Chronicles 7:14, ESV).
A Prayer for the Church - not the World
This isn't a prayer directed to homosexuals, heathens, or the immoral left. It is God's call to His people - That's Us. The Church.
"If my people who are called by my name…" That's us!
Written to those who love God
Yet, for those who love the Lord, are obedient and belong to Him, He says:
"You will not be afraid of the terror by night,
Or of the arrow that flies
Of the pestilence that
stalks in darkness,
Or of the destruction
that lays waste at noon.
A thousand may fall at
And ten thousand at your
But it shall not approach
(Psalm 91:5-7, NASB)
Grudem, Wayne. 2000. The gift of prophecy. Wheaton, ILL: Crossway Books.
Kelley, Jack. The gift of prophecy. Available from: http://www.gracethrufaith.com/ask-a-bible-teacher/gift-of-prophecy.
McTernan, John and Bill Koenig. Israel:the blessing or the curse. Availble from: www.watch.org.
Reagan, David. America the beautiful? Available from: www.lamblion.com.
Robinson, James. We have a choice: humility or humiliation. Available from: www.lifetoday.org.
Wilkerson, David. 2003. The vision and beyond. Reprinted from: The Vision. 1974. World Challenge Publication. Availble from: www.worldchallenge.org.
Author Valorie Mays Emilio holds an MA in History from UCLA focusing upon early church history.