And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints… Eph 4:11-12
A prophet is someone who supernaturally receives a message from the Lord for someone, a group of people, the church or a nation. A prophet is not just any preacher. Preachers generally speak the general word of God, but a prophet is sent again and again by the Lord with a specific word at a specific time. A prophet therefore experiences a lot of supernatural communications as part of the ministry. Dreams, visions, visitations are things that are common with prophets. Even though any person may experience these things once in a rare while, it tends to be more regular with the prophet. When people who are not prophets receive these manifestations of the spirit, the messages tend to be personal, but prophets generally receive these as tools of ministering to other people.
The main thing about a prophet is that he or she hears or sees a specific word from God for onward delivery to people.
There are those who teach as if prophets do not exist these days, but that is not founded on Scripture. As we see in the verse of scripture quoted above from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, it is a ministry gift that the Lord sent for the perfecting of the saints and it is in full manifestation even today. There are many credible prophets who bring the word of God to us even today. One must of course accept that there are many charlatans out there calling themselves prophets, but indeed there are genuine ones.
There are many people out there who practice divination and shamanism# and who by reason of their often accurate predictions confuse many Christians.
Being able to see into the realm of the spirit and also to accurately predict something does not make a person a true prophet. The fact that a person has supernatural knowledge, like being able to find missing things or know things about people do not make such a person a prophet. There are two related ways by which one can do these things without being a prophet and without even having the Spirit of God. One way is to learn spiritism or shamanism, and the second way is to possess a cer the second way is to possess a certain type of evil spirit. This spirit is described as a divination spirit or a familiar spirit. These are the two closely related methods employed by witch doctors and false prophets to impress people.
The book of Acts (in chapter 16) has the story of a certain slave girl who had such a spirit of divination in her and who was making money for her masters because her predictions and knowledge were accurate, yet Paul cast out the demon by the power of the name of Christ. But many Christians these days are so ignorant of these operations that they follow anyone who can ‘see’ things. These people try to make a reputation for themselves using their predictions. For this reason many so-called churches are all over the place, proclaiming the name of Jesus to appear like genuine churches of Christ, but operating familiar spirits to get results. Many of these grow into large denominations with branches world-wide. Their shamanic practises are always clear when you get closer. Many operate animal sacrifices,** bath in rivers at odd hours and use a lot of fetish things in prayer. Intense fasts and long nights of prayers are also very common with them. Those long fasts and vigils appear Christian but are nothing but shamanic practises found in most mystics religions, such as Hinduism.
These are matters which have, to be sure, the appearance of wisdom in self-made religion and self-abasement and severe treatment of the body, but are of no value against fleshly indulgence. Col 2:23
Once you are following anyone for signs and not for the love of righteousness, then you are likely to be captured by these false prophets. Don’t follow anyone because they supposedly have power but rather because they are leading you deeper into the righteousness that is in Christ.
The primary duty of true prophets
First, it is not the duty of prophets to be giving predictions. I see that joke these days in which prophets compete at the beginning of each year to foretell what the year holds. It is sad that even genuine preachers feel like they must get involved in these things. They predict the results of elections, the outcome of games, deaths and calamities for the following year, etc. See, even though the Lord does reveal the relevant ones of these things when necessary, it is not part of the prophetic office to be foretelling the future. It is false prophets that make these things their trademark.
A true Christian prophet waits for the Lord to see what He will reveal. A true prophet carries a message from God to people. The usual day to day message of a prophet is a call to righteousness and true spirituality. A prophet does not get up every day bringing special messages from God. On a regular basis, the prophet preaches or teaches righteousness from the scriptures like every other preacher. Sometimes he is not even a regular preacher but a regular worker like Daniel in Babylon. Then, here and there, the Lord gives him or her a special message. The messages of a true prophet are usually laced with the threads of the call to righteousness. They do not brag about their prophetic proficiency.
As for personal guidance, the Lord did not put prophets in the church for them to be the source of divine guidance on a regular basis. We are not supposed to ask prophets for what the Lord may want us to do. If a prophet has a word for you, it will be initiated by the Lord, and not because you poked the prophet to get a word from the Lord for you. The prophet’s ministry is to build up each believer, not to be the source of divine guidance.
There are churches that have the practice in which members approach prophets to get approval before they do anything important. They want to know if they should travel, who they should marry, which job appointment they should take, etc. Seeking godly counsel is definitely a good and necessary thing for believers to do, but going to prophets, or even pastors, to determine the will of God in the decisions we are faced with is definitely not Christianity.
The reason people love to go to prophets to obtain the knowledge of the will of God is that they are lazy or they have no confidence in their own relationship with the Lord. They often are too lazy or too ignorant of spiritual things to take time out to pray and meditate until they discern what the Spirit is saying to them as the will of God. It is much easier to turn to a ‘prophet’ and then let him tell what he thinks God is saying. This is not why the Lord put prophets in the body of Christ. Prophets were put in the body of Christ to help saints mature through instructions in righteousness and not to keep them in perpetual dependency of childhood.
Excerpt from the book Guided by the Spirit, by Pastor Bankie (coming soon)
# Shamanism can simply be described as the non-Christian practise of communicating with the spirit world. The people use chants, objects and sacrifices to communicate with the spiritual realm and by that often also attempt to manipulate physical things, including bodies (sometimes for healing) and even the weather. Common words used for this include magic, witchcraft and sorcery. These practises of course involve demonic spirits and are specifically prohibited by the Lord. Israel was taught not to tolerate them in the least (Lev 19:26; Ex 22:18). Simon was a practitioner before he believed (Acts 8:9)
**Animal sacrifices have no place under the New Covenant; they have been totally done away with. As soon as Jesus Christ was sacrificed on that Cross, the need for any form of animal sacrifice was wiped away. Every animal sacrifice was a type of the real thing, and Jesus on the Cross is the real thing. It is pure anachronism to speak of Christianity and animal sacrifices. Animal sacrifices is of the old order, Christianity is the New Order. See Heb 10:8-10
By Will on 21 Mar, 2017
What you need to do is to pray for them regularly that the Lord will give them understanding. Use the prayers of the Paul in Ephesians 1 and Colossians 1. Ask the Lord to open their hearts. And share materials with them when you can.That is all you can do.
By Utia Gaxton on 27 Mar, 2017
Sir I am grateful for all the good work your doing for the body of Christ. I am a product of your ministry and as a Church leader many others are becoming used to this new way of living.