PROPHETS. Prophets were men in the church who spoke under the direct impulse of the Holy Spirit and whose main motivation and concern were with the spiritual life and purity of the church. Under the new covenant they were raised up and empowered by the Holy Spirit to bring a message from God to His people (Acts 2:17; 4:8; 21:4).

(1) The O.T. prophet provides a basis for understanding the prophetic ministry in the early church. The O.T. prophet's primary task was to speak a word of God by the Spirit in order to encourage God's people to remain faithful to their covenant relationship. He also, at times, predicted the future as the Spirit revealed it to him. Christ And the apostles serve as examples of the N.T. ideal (Acts 3:241-23; 13:1-2).

(2) The prophet's function within the church included the following- (a) He was a Spirit- filled proclaimer and interpreter of the Word of God, called by God to warn, exhort, comfort, and edify (Acts 2:14-36, 3:12--26; 1 Cor. 12:10; 14:3). (b) He was to exercise the gift of prophecy.(c), He was at times a seer (cf. 1 Chr. 29-29) who foretold the future (Acts 11:28; 21:10-11). (d) It was the N.T. prophet's task, just as it was the prophet's task in the O.T., to expose sin, proclaim righteousness, warn of judgment to come, and combat worldliness and lukewarmness among God's people (Luke 1:14-17). Because of their message of righteousness, the prophet and his ministry can expect rejection by many in the churches during any time of  lukewarmness and apostasy.

(3) The prophet's character, burden, desire, and ability include: (a) a zeal for church purity (John 17-15-17; 1 Cor. 6:9-11; Gal. 5:22-25), (b) a deep sensitivity to evil and the capacity to identify, define, and hate unrighteousness (Rom. 12:9; Heb. 1:9); (c) a keen understanding of the danger of false teachings (Mat. 7:15; 24:11,24; Gal. 1:9; 2 Cor. 11:12-15); (d) an inherent dependence on the Word of God to validate his message (Luke. 4:17-19; 1 Cor. 15:3-4; 2 Tim. 3:16; 1 Pet. 4:11); (e) a concern for the spiritual success of the kingdom of God and a sharing in the feelings of God (cf.Mat. 21:11-13; 23-37; Luke 13-34; John 2:14-17; Acts 20:27-31).

(4) The prophet's message is not to be regarded as infallible. His messages are subject to the evaluation of the church, other prophets, and the Word of God. The congregation is required to discern and  test whether the prophet's witness is from God (1 Cor. 14:29-33; I John 4.1).

(5) Prophets continue to be essential to God's purpose for the church. A church that rejects God's prophets will be a declining church, drifting toward Worldliness and the compromise of Biblical truth and standards (I Cor. 14:3; cf. Mat 23:31-38; Luke 11:49; Acts 7:51-52). If the prophet is not allowed to bring words of reproof and warning, words prompted by the Spirit, words exposing sin And unrighteousness (John 16:8-11), then the church will become a place where the Spirit can no longer be heard. Ecclesiastical politics and worldly power will replace the working of the Spirit (2 Tim. 3:1-9, 4:3-5; 2 Pet. 2:1-3,12-22). On the other hand, if the church, with its leaders, hears the voice of the prophets, it will be moved to renewed life and fellowship with Christ, sin will be forsaken, and the presence and holiness of the Spirit will be evident Among the faithful (I Cor. 14:3; 1 Thes. 5:19-21; Rev. 3:20-22).

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