24. The Gift of Prophecy
Before man sinned God spoke to him face-to-face. But after sin God made His will known to mankind through the gift of prophecy. Through prophets the Bible was written that all might know God’s will. God revealed Himself to the prophets in a supernatural way, then commanded them to reveal His will to the people.
01. Under what circumstances did the prophets and apostles make their contributions to the Bible?
2 Peter 1:20-21
20 Above all, you must realize that no prophecy in Scripture ever came from the prophet’s own understanding,
21 or from human initiative. No, those prophets were moved by the Holy Spirit, and they spoke from God.
02. What method did God use to communicate with His prophets?
And the LORD said to them, "Now listen to what I say: "If there were prophets among you, I, the LORD, would reveal myself in visions. I would speak to them in dreams."
03. Should we expect to see the gift of prophecy in the church today?
Ephesians 4:11, 13
11 Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers.
13 This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ.
The Christian church has been given the gifts of the Spirit in order that it might progress. Through these gifts God seeks to mould the character of His people that they might grow spiritually. Notice one of these gifts is the gift of prophecy. We should expect to see it in the Christian church.
04. (Part 1) What is the purpose of the gift of prophecy?
Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ.
05. (Part 2) What is the purpose of the gift of prophecy?
Son of man, I have appointed you as a watchman for Israel. Whenever you receive a message from me, warn people immediately.
06. (Part 3) What is the purpose of the gift of prophecy?
2 Chronicles 36:15–16
15 The LORD, the God of their ancestors, repeatedly sent his prophets to warn them, for he had compassion on his people and his Temple.
16 But the people mocked these messengers of God and despised their words. They scoffed at the prophets until the LORD’s anger could no longer be restrained and nothing could be done.
It is interesting that not all prophets made future predictions, yet this is what many feel is the distinguishing mark of a prophet. Samuel, Ezra and John the Baptist made no predictions of the future. Not all prophets wrote portions of the Bible either; for instance, Elijah and Elisha. The chief work of a prophet was to speak on God’s behalf; to be His mouthpiece.
07. What did Jesus say regarding the fate of those chosen to be prophets?
37 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones God’s messengers! How often I have wanted to gather your children together as a hen protects her chicks beneath her wings, but you wouldn’t let me.
38 And now, look, your house is abandoned and desolate.
08. (Part 1) Was there any limit to time or person regarding the gift of prophecy?
34 Then Simeon blessed them, and he said to Mary, the baby’s mother, “This child is destined to cause many in Israel to fall, but he will be a joy to many others. He has been sent as a sign from God, but many will oppose him.
36 Anna, a prophet, was also there in the Temple. She was the daughter of Phanuel from the tribe of Asher, and she was very old. Her husband died when they had been married only seven years.
Here are two prophets living at the time of Christ’s birth: Simeon and Anna. Some are amazed to think that a woman should fit into the prophetic work, but prophetesses are not uncommon in the Bible. There was Miriam, who prophesied by the Red Sea. There was Deborah, who went into
battle with Barak.
09. (Part 2) Was there any limit to time or person regarding the gift of prophecy?
9 He had four unmarried daughters who had the gift of prophecy.
10 Several days later a man named Agabus, who also had the gift of prophecy, arrived from Judea.
God makes no difference between male and female when He bestows His gifts on mankind.
10. (Part 3) Was there any limit to time or person regarding the gift of prophecy?
Revelation 12:17, 19:10
12:17 And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ. (NKJV)
19:10 And I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, “See that you do not do that! I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren who have the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” (NKJV)
The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. The Bible is clear that the gift of prophecy can be expected in our day. Seventh-day Adventists
believe they represent God’s remnant church, and in the person of Mrs. E.G. White, God manifested the gift of prophecy. Many ridicule any
prophetic claim, but what is the Bible’s admonition?
11. What does the Bible tell us to do when someone appears to be displaying the gift of prophecy?
1 Thessalonians 5:19-21
19 Do not stifle the Holy Spirit.
20 Do not scoff at prophecies,
21 but test everything that is said. Hold on to what is good.
Here is advice that we should not scorn prophetic claims, but rather, put it to the test to see if it is genuine. “Prove all things.” Does Ellen G. White measure up to the test? Let us examine the following evidence.
When the Advent movement arose around 1840, God sought a man to be His spokesman. The gift was given to a talented young man by the name of Hazen Foss. He refused to relate the vision given to him, and was told by the angel that the gift of prophecy would be given to the weakest of the weak. The next person to receive the gift was a humble, godly woman, named Ellen Gould Harmon. She was brought up in a Methodist home and was converted at a Bible camp meeting at the age of 12. Unlike her predecessor who was offered the prophetic gift, she was poorly educated. She had only three years of primary schooling. She received her first vision at the age of 16, at a prayer meeting where over 60 people were in attendance. She lived for 88 years, during which time she received over 2,000 visions and prophetic dreams.
She married a young minister, James White, and four boys were born into their home. She was a widow for 34 years, spending her time caring for the poor, the needy, and orphans. She also travelled and conducted public meetings where audiences up to 15,000 to 20,000 were held spellbound. She was also a prolific writer. As related by the Ellen. G White Estate she: "... wrote more than 5,000 periodical articles and 40 books; but today, including compilations from her 50,000 pages of manuscript, more than 100 titles are available in English. She is the most translated woman writer in the entire history of literature, and the most translated American author of either gender. Her writings cover a broad range of subjects, including religion, education, social relationships, evangelism, prophecy, publishing, nutrition, and management. Her life-changing masterpiece on successful Christian living, Steps to Christ, has been published in more than 140 languages.""
As Mrs. White felt the presence of the Lord coming upon her, she would say, glory, three times. She would then go into vision, and her physical strength would leave her. She would then be strengthened supernaturally. It was impossible for any person to move her arms from whatever position she placed them. On one occasion she held a family Bible, weighing 18 lbs, with outstretched arm at shoulder level for half an hour. Mr America, who tried the same feat several years ago, managed to hold it for only 4 minutes. These physical phenomena were also experienced by Bible prophets. See Numbers 24:3,4 and Daniel 10:8,17,18.
Mrs. White’s eyes were open in vision, but she was not conscious of her surroundings. Her look showed no appearance of a vacant stare; instead she appeared to be watching something.
At the commencement of her visions she would slowly exhale until all breath was gone. She did not breath again until the vision was over, and some visions lasted over two hours. On various occasions doctors examined her and tested her while she was in vision. Two sceptics at one time held her nose and mouth for ten minutes, but her colour, blood pressure and heartbeat remained normal.
Her writings were never intended to be an addition to Scripture. Rather they were meant to point the reader to the Scriptures, thus leading one to a higher and holier life. She has never been regarded as infallible – she was human – but her messages of truth uplifted the Bible and Jesus Christ. It is true that there are false prophets. Jesus warned His followers to beware. Matthew 7:15-20. He said the test of a true prophet was by his fruits. The fruits of Mrs. White’s life reveal her as a genuine Christian. Her life was above reproach.
She did not make many predictions of the future, but history now testifies to the accuracy of their fulfilment.
Signs of the Times 1890:
“The tempest is coming, and we must get ready for its fury, by having repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord will arise to shake terribly the earth. We shall see troubles on all sides. Thousands of ships will be hurled into the depths of the sea. Navies will go down, and human life will be sacrificed by the millions. Fires will break out unexpectedly, and no human effort will be able to quench them. The palaces of the earth will be swept away in the fury of the flames. Disasters by rail will become more and more frequent: confusion, collision, and death without a moment’s warning on the great lines of travel. The end is near, probation is closing. O let us seek God while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near.”
In 1904 she wrote, “Soon great trouble will arise among the nations ... trouble that will not cease until Jesus comes.”
Soon after she wrote, World War 1 broke out, and the world saw these things happen. Travel was slow in her day, but her predictions of disaster on the lines of travel certainly came to pass.
Many have tried to misrepresent Mrs. White. Some have even said she was mad, but only those who never knew her. Those who were acquainted with her personally had the utmost regard for her, whether they were in the church or not.
On reading her books one is led into a deeper love for Christ, and a better understanding of the Bible. Many have come back to God through reading her works. Her constant aim was to exalt the Scriptures. She said, “I take the Bible as it is, as the inspired Word. Let not a mind or a hand be engaged in criticising the Bible, cling to it as it reads. I commend you to this book.” Selected Messages, Vol.1 pages 17, 18. Concerning her writings she said “The Lord has given them a lesser light (her writings) to lead men and women to the greater light” (the Bible). Her writings are like a powerful telescope. It does not put new stars into the sky, but reveals clearly what is already there. Her writings are to give a clearer understanding of the Bible.
As a result of an accident she attended school for only three grades. Strangely enough, she has written volumes on the principles of education. One of her best-known works is a book called Education.
Leading educators have upheld this book as one of the best in its field. The government minister for education in Yugoslavia in the late 1930’s, Dr Paja Radosavlyevish, was a highly educated man. He studied in Europe and U.S.A. to prepare a work on the art of Pedagogy (the science of teaching). Upon returning home he published a book, and his name was clearly displayed as the author. However, the book was discovered to be a word for word translation of the book Education by Ellen G. White. Remember, she had only three years of schooling. She could not have produced such authoritative works unless she received divine enlightenment.
Approximately 40% of her writings pertain to healthful living. Her understanding of nutrition and health were far ahead of her time. Medical science has discovered many things in the field of health, which were written about by Mrs. White in the last century. For example, in Ministry of Healing, page 327 she said, “Tobacco is a slow, insidious, but most malignant poison”. Today we know tobacco contains over 20 poisons, including nicotine, one of the most deadly poisons known.
Her writings excel on the subject of Christ and His saving grace. Christ said, “By their fruits you will know them”. Notice the beauty and inspiration of the following passages:
Evangelism, page 185: “Lift up Jesus, you that teach the people. Lift Him high in sermons, in song, in prayer. Let your powers be directed to pointing souls confused, bewildered, lost, to the Lamb of God ….. Let the science of salvation be the burden of every sermon, the theme of every song”.
Steps To Christ, page 67: “He lived a sinless life. He died for us, and now He offers to take our sins and give us His righteousness. If you give yourself to Him, and accept Him as your Saviour, then sinful as your life may have been, for His sake you are accounted righteous. Christ’s character stands in the place of your character, and you are accepted before God just as if you had not sinned.”
The perils of the last days are upon the world and the church, but soon the ‘harbour’ will be reached. Before we arrive, treacherous waters must be crossed, but we can thank God for sending a reliable pilot, the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy to guide the ship safely home.
To the remnant church God has promised the Spirit of Prophecy. It has been given to help God’s people in the last days, to mould a character like Jesus. It has been given to prepare us for the eternal kingdom.
Just a final word of admonition: 1 Thess.5:19-21 “Despise not prophesyings.” 2 Chronicles 20:20 “Believe in the Lord your God, so shall ye be established; BELIEVE HIS PROPHETS, so shall ye prosper”.
To believe the writings of Ellen G. White is not to believe a woman – it is to believe God Himself. She was inspired, as were the Bible prophets. To reject what she has written is to reject the counsel of God Himself, even as the Jews rejected the prophets’ warnings many years ago. In love, God has given us the Spirit of Prophecy, to save us from the deceptions of the world. Friend, if you wish to prosper spiritually, “Believe His prophets”.
12. What does the Bible reveal are the tests of a true prophet?
Isaiah 8:20 (Speak according to God's Word)
Look to God’s instructions and teachings! People who contradict his word are completely in the dark.
Jeremiah 28:9 (Predictions of the prophet come to pass)
So a prophet who predicts peace must show he is right. Only when his predictions come true can we know that he is really from the LORD.
Deuteronomy 13:1-4; 1 Kings 18:21 (Point people to the true God)
13:1-4 “Suppose there are prophets among you or those who dream dreams about the future, and they promise you signs or miracles, and the predicted signs or miracles occur. If they then say, ‘Come, let us worship other gods’ - gods you have not known before - do not listen to them. The LORD your God is testing you to see if you truly love him with all your heart and soul. Serve only the LORD your God and fear him alone. Obey his commands, listen to his voice, and cling to him.
18:21 Then Elijah stood in front of them and said, “How much longer will you waver, hobbling between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him! But if Baal is God, then follow him!” But the people were completely silent.
2 Chronicles 24:19-20; Revelation 12:17 (Encourage obedience to the Ten Commandments)
24:19-20 Yet the LORD sent prophets to bring them back to him. The prophets warned them, but still the people would not listen. Then the Spirit of God came upon Zechariah son of Jehoiada the priest. He stood before the people and said, “This is what God says: Why do you disobey the LORD’s commands and keep yourselves from prospering? You have abandoned the LORD, and now he has abandoned you!”
12:17 And the dragon was angry at the woman and declared war against the rest of her children--all who keep God’s commandments and maintain their testimony for Jesus.
Matthew 7:15-20 (Their work produces good fruit)
“Beware of false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep but are really vicious wolves. You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act. Can you pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit. A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit. So every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire. Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions."
1 John 4:2-3 (Confess that Christ is come in the flesh)
This is how we know if they have the Spirit of God: If a person claiming to be a prophet acknowledges that Jesus Christ came in a real body, that person has the Spirit of God. But if someone claims to be a prophet and does not acknowledge the truth about Jesus, that person is not from God. Such a person has the spirit of the Antichrist, which you heard is coming into the world and indeed is already here.
Luke 1:17 (Prepare people to meet the Lord)
He will also go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, ‘to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children,’ and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” (NKJV)
Daniel 10:8,16-17 (Loses all natural strength)
8 So I was left there all alone to see this amazing vision. My strength left me, my face grew deathly pale, and I felt very weak.
16-17 Then the one who looked like a man touched my lips, and I opened my mouth and began to speak. I said to the one standing in front of me, “I am filled with anguish because of the vision I have seen, my lord, and I am very weak. How can someone like me, your servant, talk to you, my lord? My strength is gone, and I can hardly breathe.”
Daniel 10:18-19 (Supernaturally strengthened)
18 Then the one who looked like a man touched me again, and I felt my strength returning.
19 “Don’t be afraid,” he said, “for you are very precious to God. Peace! Be encouraged! Be strong!” As he spoke these words to me, I suddenly felt stronger and said to him, “Please speak to me, my lord, for you have strengthened me.”
Numbers 24:3-4 (Have their eyes open)
and this is the message he delivered: “This is the message of Balaam son of Beor, the message of the man whose eyes see clearly, the message of one who hears the words of God, who sees a vision from the Almighty, who bows down with eyes wide open:
Daniel 10:17 (Does not breathe)
For how can this servant of my lord talk with you, my lord? As for me, no strength remains in me now, nor is any breath left in me.” (NKJV)
Daniel 10:17-19 (Speaks without breathing)
For how can this servant of my lord talk with you, my lord? As for me, no strength remains in me now, nor is any breath left in me.” Then again, the one having the likeness of a man touched me and strengthened me. And he said, “O man greatly beloved, fear not! Peace be to you; be strong, yes, be strong!” So when he spoke to me I was strengthened, and said, “Let my lord speak, for you have strengthened me.” (NKJV)
2 Samuel 23:2 (Tongue controlled by the Lord)
The Spirit of the LORD speaks through me; his words are upon my tongue.
2 Corinthians 12:2-4 Unconscious of natural surroundings
I was caught up to the third heaven fourteen years ago. Whether I was in my body or out of my body, I don’t know—only God knows. Yes, only God knows whether I was in my body or outside my body. But I do know that I was caught up to paradise and heard things so astounding that they cannot be expressed in words, things no human is allowed to tell.
12. Regarding the gift of prophecy what can we expect in the last days?
17 ‘In the last days,’ God says, ‘I will pour out my Spirit upon all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your young men will see visions, and your old men will dream dreams.
18 In those days I will pour out my Spirit even on my servants - men and women alike - and they will prophesy.
19 And I will cause wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below - blood and fire and clouds of smoke.
20 The sun will become dark, and the moon will turn blood red before that great and glorious day of the LORD arrives.
21 But everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved.’
The word "calls" in verse 21 in the original Greek is in the aorist tense, which means past tense. A proper rendering of the verse may be written like this: "But everyone who has been and continues to call on the name of the Lord will be saved" indicating an action that is past, current and continuing.