What about prophecy in the church?


What about prophecy in a church? Should the prophet ask the minister to check the word before it is given? Should a prophet first be 'released' into the ministry of prophets before they are free to prophesy or give words in a meeting?


Just because a role was mentioned in the New Testament, it is not a necessary assumption that the role was one that would continue throughout the history of the church. As an example, Jesus is our Lord and Savior. He fulfilled these roles while here on earth and he continues to hold these roles as he reigns in heaven. Even though he is no longer here on earth, we have no need for additional "saviors" to take his place. "By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all" (Hebrews 10:10).

Similarly, a select group of men played a vital role in the start of the church, whom we call the apostles. They served as eye-witnesses to the events of Jesus' life, death, and resurrection and organized the church as instructed by Jesus through the Holy Spirit. "Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit" (Ephesians 2:19-22). Just as a building only needs one cornerstone, so it also only needs one foundation. The article "Apostleship" discusses the role the apostles played in the early church and shows why that role cannot exist today outside of the instructions the apostles left for us in the New Testament.

A part of the foundation of the church was also the role of a prophet. It is amazing how many people claim the gift of prophecy today and refuse to acknowledge what a proven apostle and prophet stated. "Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away" (I Corinthians 13:8-10). Prophesy was a partial solution to a temporary problem. The church needed access to the laws of Christ, but it took time to record them. The prophets taught, and sometimes recorded, what God wanted to be revealed in the early days of the church, but once that revelation was completed Paul clearly stated that prophecy would end. The sermon outline "Prophets" discusses the role of prophets in the church and why that role was not a continuous one.

In the early church, the words of a person claiming to be a prophet were checked by all Christians. "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" (I John 4:1). During a worship service, the early church had multiple prophets available, each listening to the other, and thus providing some safeguards that a false prophet would not come into a church (I Corinthians 14:29-32). There were several tests to verify that the words were truly from God that a person claiming to be a prophet said. One was that what he said always came to pass (Deuteronomy 18:21-22). Second, the teachings of the prophet were always consistent with what God had said before (Deuteronomy 13:1-4). I know of no so-called prophet today who passes these tests, but I wouldn't expect it because the very claim of being a prophet when God said prophecy would end shows a willingness to contradict God.

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