There is a dramatic upsurge of interest in supernatural phenomena in our world. Many are looking for authoritative answers to the challenges and problems of life. And they have turned to astrologers, psychics, and the prophets of our day.
Satan's goal is to counterfeit the genuine gift of prophecy. Jesus clearly warned that Satan would do this. In Matthew 24:24 He declares, "For false christs and false prophets will arise and shew great signs and wonders, so as to deceive, if possible, even the elect." Have you ever seen a counterfeit eleven dollar bill? Certainly not! Every counterfeit in the world attempts to make the imitation as close to the genuine as possible.
It is only by carefully studying the Biblical gift of prophecy that we can detect the counterfeit and receive the genuine.
I. Whom did Christ send as His representative after His ascension? John 14:16, 26.
MY BIBLE SAYS: "And I will pray the Father, and he will give you another Helper, . . . The Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things. . . ."
2. What gifts did the Holy Spirit bring to assist the church in carrying the gospel to the world? Ephesians 4:11.
MY BIBLE SAYS: ". . . Some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, . .
3. Would the gift of prophecy cease at the end of the Biblical period or would it continue in the church until the end?
1. Ephesians 4:12, 13.
MY BIBLE SAYS: ". . . for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God, . .
4. What promise does God give to His church awaiting the advent? 1 Corinthians 1:7.
MY BIBLE SAYS: ". . . So that you come short in no gift, eagerly waiting for the revelation of Our Lord Jesus Christ, . . ."
5. What two specific characteristics does God give in Revelation to describe His last-day church? Revelation 12:17.
MY BIBLE SAYS: "And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ."
6. How does the Bible define the "testimony of Jesus"? Revelation 19:10.
MY BIBLE SAYS: "For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy."
Scripture makes it plain that God would raise up a last-day movement in connection with the 2300-year prophecy, which culminated in 1844. This movement would lead men and women back to keeping God's commandments and would also have the guidance of the prophetic gift.
7. Scripture gives seven Biblical tests of a true prophet.
Test #1—Prophetic Accuracy—Jeremiah 28:9.
MY BIBLE SAYS: ". . . When the word of the prophet comes to pass, the prophet will be known as one whom the Lord has truly sent."
In prophecies that are not conditional, that is, that depend on a personal response to determine their fulfillment, the prophet is 100 percent accurate.
Test #2—The Prophet's Relationship to the Bible
What if a prophet is apparently accurate, but leads away from the truths of Scripture? Deuteronomy 13:1-4.
MY BIBLE SAYS: "If there arises among you a prophet . . . saying, 'Let us go after other gods' . . . you shall not listen to the words of that prophet . . . You shall walk after the Lord your God . . . and hold fast to Him."The true gift of prophecy does not lead away from, but back to. the Bible. The Bible is always supreme. It is the sole criteria for the establishment of doctrine.
Test #3—the True Gift of Prophecy Exalts Jesus and His Law
According to the Bible, how does the prophet relate to Jesus? 1 John 4:2.
MY BIBLE SAYS: "By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, . . ."
The Bible declares that the true gift of prophecy exalts Jesus. The poet summarized it well in these words,
Lord make me a nail upon the wall, And from this thing so humble and so small Hang a lovely picture of Thy face.
The function of the gift of prophecy is to continually exalt and uplift Jesus. Since the spirit of prophecy exalts Jesus, it is called the testimony of Jesus."
What relationship does the genuine gift prophecy have to the law of God? Isaiah 8:2.;
MY BIBLE SAYS: "To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them."
All Bible prophets exalt God's law. Elijah called Israel from idolatry to the true God. Nehemiah preached for a reform in Sabbath-keeping. John the Baptist condemned Herod's adultery.
Test #4—Physical Phenomena Surrounding the Gift
How does the Bible describe the prophet while in vision? Daniel 10:17.
MY BIBLE SAYS: "As for me, no strength remains in me now, nor is any breath left in me."
The word "inspiration" means God breathed. Since God is breathing through the prophet. communicating his will, the prophet does not have human breath when in vision_
Test #5—Spiritual Fruitage
How did Jesus Himself tell us to distinguish between the true and counterfeit gifts of prophecy? Matthew 7:15, 17, 20.
MY BIBLE SAYS: "Beware of false prophets, • • • every good tree bears good fruit. but a bad tree bears bad fruit, . . . Therefore by their fruits you will know them."
What a joy it is to know that God has a commandment-keeping church on earth today.
It has been raised up to prepare a people for the coming of the Lord. God promised to place the gift of prophecy within His true church. It is one of the identifying characteristics of the true church.