What then is the place of the prophet if he cannot see visions and tell us the future? Maybe we should assume prophets and Apostles have truly ceased to exist after the time of Paul the Apostle. The answer is a big NO. Till we see Jesus face to face, the ministry of the prophet will remain very crucial to the church of Christ. We only need to contrast between the role of the prophets in the Old Testament against what it is in the new.
God raised prophets in the Old Testament to ‘lead and guide’ the nation of Israel. God is not dealing with a nation directly anymore in this dispensation, He has restored His spiritual kingdom back to earth through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross and the advent of the Holy Spirit in the church. The Holy Spirit leads us individually and corporately in the new covenant. A New Testament prophet sees his primary assignment as the preaching and or the teaching of the Word of God. The forth-telling of God’s Word which is practically manifested as the inspired preaching and or teaching of the Word of God takes preeminence.
However, like the prophet of the Old Testament, the one in the new covenant also has revelatory gifts and therefore is able to see and hear from the realm of the Spirit as the Spirit wills. However, the revelations play different roles. Primarily in the Old Testament they were intended to guide Israel, her kings and individuals as the Spirit wanted but in the new covenant, the revelatory gifts are for the confirmation of the revelation already in the spirit of believers.
It is possible that due to the spiritual sensitivity with which they are endowed coupled with the insensitivity of some Christian’s, the prophet may know certain things ahead about believers and declare them. However, under such a circumstance we ought to seek the Lord in prayer for confirmation. This confirmation may come through a vision or dream of our own but mostly through an inner witness of peace and joy. One of the things I have also learnt to do is to ask God for other ‘witnesses’. God in his sovereignty will then send other independent witnesses to attest to the prophecy.
One of the warning signals I will like to put out there is that of people who always have a word for everybody who consults them like the Old Testament. Most of the time, such people operate by forces of darkness. This is so because according to 1 Corinthians 12.11, spiritual gifts operate as the Spirit wills and not as a man wills. The gifts cannot be turned on and off at the prophet’s will unless the Spirit comes into manifestation. A young lady was prophesying for days in Acts 16 and was saying the truth about Paul and his company but was possessed with a spirit of divination. The word divination literally means python and depicts how it is a deceptive serpentine spirit which mimicked the Spirit of God. This spirit is employed by many false prophets, herbalists and even witches and that’s why we all need to be careful and prayerfully judge prophecies. My heart aches at people being misled by false prophets and immature ones who may receive revelations from God but misinterpret them due to lack of sufficient foundation knowledge of the Bible.
Finally, let us remember to test every spirit by how it elevates Jesus or self. According to 1 Corinthians 12.3, every spirit that curses Jesus or denigrates Him to a place less than His deity is not of God. False prophecy exalts the prophet and not Jesus. So also do false prophets prey on the innocent by making merchandise with the gift. When every prophecy must end in fundraising, it is suspect. When the purpose is to make money, it is either an abuse of a genuine gift or outright falsehood. Whichever one it is, it is not edifying and should not be entertained. May the Lord fill you with the Spirit of wisdom and understanding to discern between the genuine and the counterfeit in Jesus name.