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PROPHECY: Its meaning and use

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PROPHECY –
Its meaning and use
By Ven Dr I. U. Ibeme
Website: http://www.scribd.com/ifeogo
http://priscaquila.6te.net
The Chapel of Grace Web Blog: http://thechapelofgrace.wordpress.com
In 1Corinthians 14:1-6, the Apostle instructs and commands
that we follow the excellent way of desiring spiritual gifts
(12:31). That is by first following after love and then earnestly
desiring spiritual gifts especially Prophecy more than
Tongues (14:1, 5-6, 11, 19). Not to forget that gifts are
variously given by the Holy Spirit according to His will
(12:4,11). This chapter therefore gives us Christ’s sound
doctrine on exercising spiritual gifts (i.e. be motivated by love
in your quest for spiritual gifts – spiritual gifts are only
valuable when used for fruit bearing that builds others
up). This Apostolic teaching is a divine command (14:37) and
so to be kept in the Church as received custom (1Cor 11:1-2)
without contention (1Cor 11:16).
PROPHECY
The gift of Prophecy is the complex special grace to prayerfully
search (inquest) so as to gain insight into the counsel and
purpose of God concerning the past, present and future
(revelation), and speak-forth or tell-forth (proclaim) or
foretell (predict) in FAITHFUL WORDS as moved by the Holy
Spirit (inspired) at the given time, the revealed divine
counsel which the whole Church or some members need to be
aware of. Joh 4:16-19; Act 21:9; 1Pe 1:10-12; 2Pe 1:19-21.
Prophets have the gift of Revelation combined with the gift of
word of Exhortation for effective delivery of their prophetic
messages Act 15:32; 1Cor 14:3. Some Prophets also have the
gift of Miracles to support their prophetic testimony or draw
attention to their ministry. Effective Gospel Prophets are vast in
Scriptures and prayerfully eager to discover God’s PURPOSE
AND TRUTH Dan 9:1-3; Dan 9:22-23; Dan 10:11-12; Dan
12:8-9. Christian Prophets must eschew inclination to
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divination and avoid dabbling into occultist mysticism or
cabbalistic numerology and ritualism.
In the New Testament, there is GENERAL DEPOSIT OF THE
PROPHETIC SPIRIT which is on ALL BELIEVERS upon whom the
Holy Spirit has been outpoured to PROPHESY and SEE VISIONS
(Act 2:17-18) or upon whom the Holy Spirit has been endued
with WITNESSING power to bear TESTIMONY for Jesus (Act
1:8; Rev 19:10). In this sense, the Church is therefore the Last
Days brotherhood of Christ’s “witnessing prophets” (Rev 1:9;
22:9) who overcome by their prophetic witness (Rev 12:11,
17).
“PROPHET” is from the Greek word “prophetes” (one who
speaks for another as spokesman or interpreter Exo 7:1 or
one who speaks by another spirit as inspired speaker or
oracle). It is used by the Greeks for some FORTH-TELLERS
such as sacred singers (1Ch 25:1) and poets (Tit 1:12), or for
FORE-TELLERS such as pseudo-prophets, augurers, FORTUNETELLERS, soothsayers, and oracles (1Kin 18:19).
“PROPHET” was borrowed from Greek but was used in the Bible
to describe a divinely INSPIRED SPEAKER or divinely INSPIRED
SINGER (Heb= nabi), who may also be a REVELATORY WAKE
SEER (Heb= ro'eh) and INSIGHTFUL SLEEP VISIONER (Heb=
chozeh). Joel and Peter spoke about the Holy Spirit being given
to inspire us to prophesy prophetic words, dream prophetic
dreams and see prophetic visions (Joel 2:28; Act 2:16-18)
and John understood that prophetic Spirit is for inspired word
that bears witness to Christ (Rev 19:10). True Prophets search
God’s mind to SEE and GRASP the hidden truth from God and
are moved by the Holy Spirit to SPEAK the Word from the
Mind of God (1Pe 1:10-12). The Bible in 1Sa 9:8-10; 2Sa
24:11; 1Ch 29:29 described the three nabiystic Prophets:
Nathan as nabi (inspired speaker), Samuel as also ro'eh
(inspired seer), Gad as also chozeh (inspired visioner).
Whereas revelation comes to the prophet while awake and
alert, vision comes while the prophet is asleep or in some
diminished consciousness. Inspiration by divine will, as found
in the Scriptures (2Tim 3:16; 2Pe 1:19-21), comes by the Holy
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Spirit indicating in the prophet what the counsel of God is and
moving him/her with utterance to speak from God (1Pe 1:1012).
When God began the nabiyistic Prophetic movement in Israel
(through Samuel 1Sa 10:5-6; 19:20), they supplemented or
complemented the Priests in meeting the growing need to
preach, interpret and teach God's Word and Counsel. This was
especially useful in the absence, shortage and exclusion of
Priests, as well as in neglect of and negligence by Priests.
Prophets went where Priests couldn't, and went to those who
wouldn't come to the Priests. Priests became Priests by birthgender and training, while Prophets became Prophets
irrespective of these pedigrees, but by call-gift and training.
Christians should pray like Prophet Daniel who prayed
according to what God has revealed earlier to the Prophets, not
merely as we wish, desire or think (Dan 9; Joh 14:10-15; and
15:7). When people say "prophetic" today, this does not always
mean prophesying by the Gift of Prophecy or spiritual
psalmody, rather this may mean that what is spoken shall be
honoured by God. Prophetic benediction (Num 6:22-27),
declaration (1Ki 17:1), intercession (Gen 20:7, 17; Job 42:8;
Act 4:25-31; Jas 5:14-18), or imprecation (1Ki 22:28; Act 5:810; Act 13:8-11) are when a Prophet or a spiritual person
makes an intercession or declaration based on faith in divine
principles derived from scriptural revelations, and also backs it
up with prayers and the conviction that God before Whom the
prophet/prophetess stands will honour his/her words. Prophetic
preaching is when a spiritual person preaches eternal truths
derived from the earlier revelation, as is in the Scriptures, to
exhort or comfort unto edification (Act 15:32; 1Co 14:3; 1Co
14:37). Also, statements by persons in positions of spiritual
authority could tantamount to prophetic utterance (John
11:49-52).
Biblically, holy prophecy means to speak the mind of God
by inspiration in order to bring revelation, discernment,
exhortation and conviction to God’s people (1Co 14:3, 24
and 25). Therefore Christian Prophecy is not same as
soothsaying, divination, augury or prognostication about every
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inquisitive frivolous secret and every mundane future curiosity
we wish to know. Prophecy is rather, the timely proclamation
of the counsel of God (what God intends to do and intends us
to know and do) for the hour, which is according to His
pleasure and predetermined purpose. Isa 47:12-14; Jer 23:1618; Dan 10:21).
Moses said a false prophet may be right in prediction and signs
and yet be wrong in proclamation of God’s counsel (Deu 13:15; Deu 18:20-22). So the true test of prophecy is compliance
with the Scriptures not confirmation of predictions and signs.
True prophets forth-tell divine mysteries to PERSUADE
people to PLEASE God and fore-tell to PREPARE people
to be ready for God, but they DO NOT fortune-tell to
prognosticate human curiosities to PLEASE people.
THE COMPLEXITY OF PROPHECIES
We must recognize that prophesies could be complex, having
composite components. God’s Prophets (like occultist diviners
or deceptive soothsayers) are not only oracles by divine
INSPIRATION but also seers/visioners by divine REVELATION.
True prophets speak for God by divine inspiration, but occultist
diviners and deceptive soothsayers, false prophets (like Simon
Magus), and even fallen prophets (like Balaam), speak for
other pagan or worldly interests by occultist divination and
deceptive prognostication.
Divinely inspired Prophecies serve varieties of complex
purposes, which many are unable to distinguish. A thorough
study of Prophesies in the Scriptures shows they could be
PROCLAMATIONS of immutable divine purpose (in the past,
present and future), or simply the EXPLANATIONS of
occurrences and events (in the past, present and future) from
divine perspective, as well as EXTRAPOLATIONS of
consequential divine judgments based on reprobation,
regeneration or mediation (for the past, present and future).
Prophetic information serves to enlighten, instruct, exhort and
equip us to ensure that we walk with God for our good and His
glory, so that we neither clash against God’s purpose nor fall
into divine judgment.
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It is both interesting and intriguing to notice that in the
Old Testament, the Law commands that prophetic signs
and messages are TO BE BELIEVED PRIMA FACIE
WITHOUT QUESTION (Deut 18:19; 1Chron 20:20) since
Israelites lacked discerning Grace and the Holy Spirit.
But when the message turns out to contradict the Law or
the sign fails to be proven, the Prophet is to be
summarily executed by the nation as a State (Deut 13:5;
18:20) else God would destroy both prophet and the
followers (Ezek 4:9-10). Whereas in the New Testament,
which provides discerning Grace and the Holy Spirit for
all it is more intricate and less gory.
Christ and His Apostles strictly admonish that prophetic
signs and messages should NOT BE BELIEVED PRIMA
FACIE UNTIL AFTER THEY HAVE BEEN TESTED AND
ADJUDGED to be of God and the prophet/prophetess
found to be using his/her Prophetic Gift according to the
Scriptures in moral fruit and messages truth (Mat 7:1516; Mar 13:21-23; Act 17:11; 1Cor 14:21; 1John 4:1).
Under the Gospel, false prophets are not to be executed
by the congregation (since the Church is not the Sate)
but are under eternal condemnation (Jude 11-14).
Prophecy, soothsaying, augury and fortune-telling are wonders
well known to be performed by the means of divine GIFT,
divining ART and deceptive TRICK. From 1Kin 22, Jer 23 and
Ezek 14:3-10, we learn that although Prophecy is an
insightful and wonderful phenomenon, yet it could
become delusive and dangerous. True and False prophets
are persons who cogently (unlike lunatics) “SEE and SPEAK by
another SPIRIT (Holy/Divine Spirit or evil/demonic spirits)”.
 Both true and false prophets could be DATAORACLES who PROBE (or search) to PREDICT (foretell) things that happen.
 Amongst those called Prophets, there are SEERS
who PROBE/search by divine revelation usually
given by the Holy Spirit, but there are also
MEDIUMS who PROBE/search by occultist divination
often claimed to be from the Holy Spirit.
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Prophets should not fall into using their gifts for soothsaying,
divination, augury or prognostication about every inquisitive
frivolous secrets and every mundane future curiosities people
may wish to know. Prophecy should rather serve for timely
proclamation of the counsel of God (what God intends to do
and intends us to know and do about His intensions) for the
hour, which is according to His pleasure and predetermined
purpose (Isa 47:12-14; Jer 23:16-18). Divination for
soothsaying is about consulting spirits/omens on behalf of men
but Inspiration for Prophecy is about speaking to men on behalf
of God (Jer 14:14-16; 1Cor 14:1-5).
Today, some Christians have suddenly become obsessed with
crave to consult prognosticating diviners and soothsayers
instead of desire to know and obey God’s written Word and
conform to God’s programme and good pleasure (Rom 12:1-2;
Col 1:10). All Christians have the Holy Spirit with which they
are born of God and by which they are indwelled by God,
therefore Christians have the witness or leading of the Holy
Spirit in them through which they know God’s will personally
and do not need to consult prophets (Rom 8:14-16; 1John
2:20, 27). Christian prophets should speak when God sends
them not when they wish or when people require them to
prophesy. Christian prophets need no formal “shrines”
with congregations, pulpits and programmes to
prophesy for populist purposes but should deliver their
messages to those concerned informally by speech or by
writing, except they have opportunity to preach at
formal gathering.
The necessity on the Church is to believe, preach and teach the
saving Gospel of Christ as witnessed to by the Apostles in the
Scriptures; to fulfil biblical prophecies that please God. The
Church is neither to produce new self-serving and self-pleasing
“prophecies” (Gal 1:6-10) nor are Christians meant to
obsessively consult prophets as the Gentiles consult diviners
and soothsayers.
The Prophets in the Scriptures were devout REFORMERS
who were proven to have been inspired in their:
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 declaration of God’s precepts, power, purpose and
pleasure;
 invitation of people to repent and please God in
purity and piety;
 assurance of all about God’s readiness for merciful
pardon and mighty salvation.
In general sense, (though not all believers are Prophets yet) all
spirit-filled believers in Christ could prophesy because the Holy
Spirit of Christ which indwells all believers and persistently
testifies to Christ’s Lordship is the Prophetic Spirit (Ezek 13:610; Act 2:17-18; 1Cor 12:3; Rev 19:10).
FALSE PROPHETS are mostly prophets in their own rights
who are able to do mighty deeds (Matt 7:21-23), but they do
not prophesy according to scriptural principles. All False
Prophets use their prophetic powers or pretence for
their private business and selfish purpose. They are
manipulated MANIPULATORS who are either POWERFUL
DECEIVERS (Deut 13:1-5; Mat 7:15-23) or POWERLESS
PRETENDERS (Deut 18:18-22) as follows:
A FALSE PROPHET is one who uses deception to
prophesy or one who uses prophecy to deceive.
1. Occultist prophets who prophesy by divination and
demonic powers LIKE SIMON MAGUS OF SAMARIA AND
THE SOOTHSAYER MAID OF PHILIPPI (Act 8:9-22; 16:1620). This is where the final Antichrist false prophet
belongs (2Thes 2:7-12; Rev 13:11-17; 16:13-14).
2. Pretentious prophets who have no prophetic powers but
pretend to prophesy by clever tricks LIKE THE SEVEN
SONS OF SCEVA (Act 19:13-17).
3. Insincere prophets who turn their true prophetic
ministry into soothsaying venture through:
a) syncretism
and
sinful
contamination,
LIKE
HANANIAH SON OF AZZUR AND ELIMAS BARJESUS
(Jer 28; Act 13:6-12; Rev 2:20), or
b) profiteering and selfish commercialisation LIKE
BALAAM SON OF BEOR (Num 22-24; 31:16; Josh
13:22; 2Pet 2:15-16; Rev 2:14), or
c) inclusion of guesswork and deluded presumption
LIKE ZEDEKIAH SON OF KANAANAH (Deut 18:20-22;
1Kin 22; Ezek 13:6-10).
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FALSE TEACHERS are not always the same as False Prophets
but heretics (who preach another or erroneous Gospel (Gal
1:6-9; 1John 4:1-6) and libertine motivational preachers who
turn the grace of God into licentiousness (2Pet 2:1-3; Jude 34).
FALSE CHRISTS are those who even dare to deceitfully claim
that they are another Christ (Mat 24:5, 11, 24).
All spiritually false and morally false “Christian” ministries and
convictions which are propagated by False Prophets, False
Teachers and False Christs are under the spirit of error and
lawlessness: all of which belong to the Antichrist and Satan
(2Thes 2:8-10). God has put all moral falsehood and spiritual
error within the Church under His wrath and curse (Gal 1:6-9;
Heb 10:26-31; Jude 4) even worse than those outside the
Church (Jer 13:13-15; 23:9-32; Rom 1:18; Eph 2:2-3).
TRUE PROPHETS are those consecrated brethren whose
oracles are true declaration of God’s mind for His people. True
prophets forth-tell to persuade people to please God and
fore-tell to prepare people to be ready for God. True
Prophets prophesy with all sincerity and diligence, and not with
divination, delusion, dissimulations, derivations, deceptions or
distortions (Deut 18:18-22; 2Cor 2:17; 4:1-2).
End-time Wisdom is to know that the false prophets
shall do great signs and deceive many (Mat 24:22-28; Rev
13:13-18). End time foolishness which shall be deceived,
is to think that only true prophets do great signs. To
escape fraud and folly in this end-time requires some wisdom
nuggets:
1. Miraculous signs are amazing stunts that fascinate
unbelievers, false prophets and demons (Mat 24:24; Act 8:1823; Rev 13:13-15).
2. Message of the Scripture is the saving truth that fascinates
the saints, true prophets and angels (Joh 6:68-69; 1Pe 1:1012).
3. A crooked and perverse generation (Php 2:15) seeks to see
signs and wonders as the proof for God’s works (Psa 95:811; Mat 12:39-45; Act 8:13). They say: "show us an amazing
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sign to behold that we may have a marvelling faith" (Mat
16:1-4). They believe every deceptive lie (2Th 2:8-12).
4. A chosen and holy generation (1Pe 2:9) seeks to know the
saving truth and the Word of God as the standard for God’s
ways (Psa 103:7; 2Ti 3:16-17). They would say: "teach us the
saving truth to believe that we may have the obeying
faith" (Luk 11:1-4; Act 2:36-40). They believe only the Word
of God (Act 17:11-12).
CANONICAL AND NON-CANONICAL PROPHECIES
Apart from the endowed ABILITY of the charismatic Prophetic
GIFT for all Prophets, there is the assigned RESPONSIBILITY or
AUTHORITY of the instituted or administrative Prophetic
OFFICE for some out of the many who are prophetically gifted.
Prophets are of two categories – NORMATIVE or canonical
office for the Church’s foundational purpose which cannot be
repeated (1Cor 3:9-11; Eph 2:20) and NON-NORMATIVE or
non-canonical gift for the saints’ perfecting purpose which is
yet to cease till Christ returns (Eph 4:11-13; 1Cor 13:9-10).
Prophetic messages are of two categories – those that are of
TRANSIENT value not usually written in the Scriptures but
subject to judgment by the saints (1Cor 14:29; 1John 4:1-3)
and those that are of ETERNAL value which are written in the
Scripture to which the Saints are subject to in judgment. So,
there is normative TESTED inspiration for scripturation and
transient TESTABLE inspiration not for scripturation. That is
why the Prophets that wrote the Scriptures did not write all
their prophecies except those meant for Scripture.
NORMATIVE PROPHECY IS ALREADY WRITTEN IN THE
SCRIPTURES AS THE SETTLED CANON, BUT NON-NORMATIVE
PROPHECIES OF TRANSIENT VALUE ARE STILL OPERATIONAL
IN THE CHURCH AS SPIRITUAL GIFT. Such transient messages
by
non-normative
Prophets
or
Teachers
MUST
BE
TESTED/JUDGED WITH THE NORMATIVE CANON BEFORE
BEING HEEDED (1Cor 14:29; 1John 4:1).
Scripture-worthy prophets and witnesses (such as Moses and
Mosaic prophets of the O.T. or Apostles and Apostolic prophets
of the N.T.) were not merely gifted with the oracular or
prophetic gift for spontaneous extemporaneous utterances but
HAVE BEEN PROVEN (Act 17:11; Gal 1:11-2:9) to be reliably
authorized and authenticated, peculiarly consecrated and
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inspired as well as specially prepared to diligently inquire their
oracles (1Pet 1:10-12; 2Pet 1:19-21) to know what to write
and what not to write in the Scripture (Exo 34:27; Rev 2:1, 8,
12, 18). The inspired writings of these canonical or normative
prophets are to be believed as authoritative tradition without
question and obeyed as divine commandment without option
(Rom 16:17; 2Tim 3:15-17; Gal 1:6-9; 2Thes 2:15; 3:6;
2John 9-12).
THE CANONICAL PROPHETS MAINTAINED THAT OTHER NONCANONICAL PROPHETS AND THEIR PROPHECIES ARE NOT TO
CEASE OR BE FORBIDDEN, but must be subjected to TESTING
and judgment (Num 11:26-29; Deut 18:15-22; 1Cor 14:29-32;
36-39; 1Thes 5:19-22) because their insights are partial and
blurred (1Cor 13:12) as well as liable to error. Like all
spiritually gifted persons, Prophets prophesy “in proportion”
(Rom 12:6), and “in part” (1Cor 13:9), and “in fragments”
(Heb 1:1) so every non-normative prophecy or revelation (as
well as teaching or doctrine as though derived from divine
Truth) is false or invalid except they are proved to agree wholly
and wholesomely with the normative oracles and tradition of
the canonical Scripture (Deut 13:1-3; 1Cor 13:9-12; Gal 1:69; 2Thes 2:2-3; 1John 4:1).
May God raise us again a generation that earnestly seeks
God and His good pleasure. Amen.
Last Updated April 19, 2014
By Venerable Dr I. U. Ibeme
Copyright © PriscAquila Publishing, Maiduguri, Nigeria.
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PriscAquila Christian Resource Centre
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