In the days just before the flood, Noah was sent with a prophecy of the world’s soon destruction. In the days of Israel, the prophet Jeremiah was sent with a last day warning message for God’s people. In the days of Christ, John the Baptist prepared the way for Jesus first coming. Those who knowingly rejected God’s messengers rejected God’s mercy. Could it be that Jesus would send a prophet just before His second coming?
Could there be a prophet long after the time of Christ? Does the Bible say God’s last day remnant church would have the gift of prophecy manifested? And how can we distinguish between the true and counterfeit? Finding answers to these questions is of vital importance, for a true prophet would lead us closer to Jesus and prepare us for His soon coming. In addition a false prophet would lead us to destruction. The good news is that Jesus has given clear-cut answers to these questions through the Bible. So let us study the Bible to find the answers to these critical questions, but before we do so let us pray…
Dear Heavenly Father,
Today we have important questions and we ask for your guidance. Guide us with your word and with your Holy Spirit. Teach us your ways oh Lord, that we may follow the path that you wish us to take. Open our eyes so that we may see, and help us to follow you so that we may enter your kingdom when you return. We thank you Lord for blessing us and answering our prayer, we ask all these things in the name of your Son Jesus, amen.
Prophets after Jesus?
Is it possible to have a prophet after Jesus? The Bible in the book of Acts says…
“On the next day we who were Paul’s companions departed and came to Caesarea , and entered the house of Philip the evangelist, who was one of the seven, and stayed with him. 9 Now this man had four virgin daughters who prophesied. 10 And as we stayed many days, a certain prophet named Agabus came down from Judea .” ~ Acts 21:8-10
So here in verse 9 we see four women who are prophets. And also in verse 10 we see a male prophet. So based on the Bible it is possible to have male or female prophets after the time of Jesus, as this was recorded in the book of Acts. Also I think we can both definitely agree that the book of Revelation is inspired, and that is a prophetic book written by John the apostle, after Jesus ascended to heaven. So we already have a clear answer from the Bible to our first question. It is possible to have prophets after Jesus.
But how may we distinguish between true and false prophets?
If you went to a Ford dealership they would tell you that Ford makes the best cars. If you then went to a Toyota dealership, they would tell you that Toyota makes the best cars.
So it is also with churches. In fact if you gathered together the greatest pastors and priests from various religions and denominations, and asked them “How can we test someone to see if they are a prophet or not?” you’d probably get a wide variety of answers. Some might intentionally lie to you to support their creeds. Some might be completely honest with you but they could be honestly deceived. How then would we know who is the faithful witness? If only we had one who always spoke the accurate truth. One who could always show us the right way.
Thomas a disciple of Jesus also asked a similar question to Jesus when he said
“Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?”
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. ” ~ John 14:5-6
We can trust the words of Jesus friend, as they are written in the Bible today. For Jesus said…Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away. ~ Mark 13:31
“Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.
But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.” ~ Matthew 7:24-27
Therefore, we are not to look to any man for our doctrines instead we are to look to Jesus.
Are miracles a sign of a true prophet?
Jesus gave us the answer when talking about the last days He said “Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There!’ do not believe it. For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you beforehand” ~ Matthew 24:23-25
Now true prophets throughout the Bible did perform miracles by the power of God, but here Jesus is warning us that false prophets will rise and show us “great signs and wonders” These are no ordinary miracles for even Jesus called them “great signs”. “For they are spirits of demons, performing signs, which go out to the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.” (Revelation 16:14) Even Satan was able to send fire from heaven and create plagues (Job chapter 1 & 2). And even the magicians of Egypt were able to duplicate the appearance of some of God’s miracles (Exodus 8:8-13, 22-23). In Matthew 24 Jesus is warning us that our senses will be dazzled by Satan’s great deceptions. Could it be that Jesus is saying we can’t even trust our own feelings? We have all had feelings and urges to do something that we know is wrong. But that doesn’t mean we should be guided by feeling. The Bible says…
The heart is deceitful above all things,
And desperately wicked;
Who can know it? ~ Jeremiah 17:9
In fact sometimes sin can feel pleasurable for a season but the Bible says…
“There is a way that seems right to a man,
But its end is the way of death.” ~ Proverbs 14:12
So our feelings can deceive us. And when Jesus warned us that false prophets will perform great miracles we know that feelings cannot be our compass.
Is an angelic appearance a sign of a true prophet?
Angels did appear to many of the prophets through the Bible. But the Bible also says…
And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. ~ 2 Corinthians 11:14
So what is the biblical rule we can take away from the verses we just considered?
The appearance of an angel or miracle shows that something supernatural is taking place, but it does not guarantee that it is the working of the Holy Spirit.
Since we cannot instantly trust miracles, appearances of angelic beings or even our own feelings, what can we trust?
We know we can trust Jesus for He is the way, the truth and the life and in Matthew 4:4 Jesus said..
It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’
Jesus said that in order to survive the great deceptions of our time, we can only live by the word of God. And “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God” (2 Timothy 3:16). So what does the Bible say are the Biblical tests for a modern day prophet? It is written…
And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private origin, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. ~ 2 Peter 1:19-21
The Bible says prophets are given their messages from God. So that means that future prophets cannot contradict the Bible in any point. Why? Because the Holy Spirit never contradicts Himself.
I (God) have also spoken by the prophets,
And have multiplied visions;
I have given symbols through the witness of the prophets. ~ Hosea 12:10
The Bible also says God cannot lie (Titus 1:2). So God’s prophets cannot teach anything that is false. They can never say something is pure and then later on change their teaching and say that same thing is sinful. “For I am the LORD, I do not change” Malachi 3:6. Isaiah 8:20 gives the single best rule for testing Bible prophets….
To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them. ~ Isaiah 8:20
Therefore, a prophet must not contradict previous Biblical revelations. If a prophet teaches something contradictory to the Bible, then as the verse says “there is no light in them”. In a world clouded by darkness and deception, counterfeit prophets and principles, God’s last day people must declare “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” Psalm 119:105
Did Jesus give any other additional tests for a modern prophet?
Yes, Jesus said…
Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them. ~ Matthew 7:15-20
Again we see that Jesus is warning us that false prophets would appear in “sheep’s clothing” acting like they are sent from God. But Jesus gives us yet another good test, He says true prophets must live up to a high moral standard. How can we define good and bad fruit? The Bible says…
Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. ~ Galatians 5:19-24
This is a faithful saying: If a man desires the position of a bishop, he desires a good work. A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, of good behavior, hospitable, able to teach; not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, but gentle, not quarrelsome, not covetous; one who rules his own house well, having his children in submission with all reverence (for if a man does not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of God?) ~ 1 Timothy 3:1-5
Now prophets are human, and do occasionally sin, but they should not be living in continual disobedience to any of God’s commandments, neither should they teach disobedience to any of God’s commandments. If they do they are in clear violation of the warning of Jesus. So if someone says “I believe brother XYZ is a prophet”. Based on the words of Jesus we must ask is prophet XYZ’s life full of adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness or revelries? Was prophet XYZ blameless, of at most one spouse, faithful, gentle, of good behavior, hospitable, able to teach and self-controlled? If we apply these tests to all professed New Testament prophets as Jesus told us to do, we will be building on the rock of Christ’s teachings.
Prophets in our time? Would God’s last day church have the gift of prophecy?
What about God’s last day church? Would there be prophecy near the time of the end?
The book of Revelation speaking of God’s last day church says…
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. ~ Revelation 12:17
The dragon represents Satan (see Revelation 12:9), the pure woman in Revelation 12 represents God’s last day church (Jeremiah 6:2, 2 Corinthians 11:2, Ephesians 5:23-27). Here in Revelation 12:17 we are given two identifying characteristics of God’s last day church. God’s last day church would restore the law of God, all of the Ten Commandments including the 4th commandment Sabbath by “keep(ing) the commandments of God”. Also secondly God’s last day church would “have the testimony of Jesus”. What is the testimony of Jesus? Let’s let the Bible speak for itself….
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. ~ Revelation 19:10
So God’s last day church would keep the commandments of God and have the spirit of prophecy manifested. In fact the book of 1 Thessalonians also written after Jesus ascended to heaven it is written…
“Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies. Test all things; hold fast what is good.” ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:19-21
I think we can agree that a statement such as that would be rather pointless at the near end of the Bible if there were no more prophecies. In fact, why would Jesus ask us to test the prophets if all of them would be false? If all prophets were false then Jesus could simply say “there will be no more true prophets”. The very warning signifies that there would be a true prophet in the last days. The question is who?
There have been many people who have claimed to be prophets, but out of the main religions in the world I can think of a handful of churches that have claimed to have the spirit of prophecy manifested. Joseph Smith with Mormonism, Muhammad from Islam, and perhaps a name you may or may not know, Ellen G. White from Seventh Day Adventist Christianity. Jesus has told us to test the prophets by His words, to see if they are true or false. I think we can agree that Muhammad doesn’t meet the test of Matthew 4:4 & Isaiah 8:20, for he teaches that Jesus was just a prophet. Jesus has warned us that there will be an abundance of false prophets but the good news is that no one needs to be deceived, “For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:3-4) God’s greatest desire is not for you or I to be deceived by falsehood, but rather for you to be saved from sin, to obtain“knowledge of the truth” and enter into heaven. The LORD is longsuffering and abundant in mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression…(Numbers 14:18). In fact, God’s greatest demonstration of His desire for no one to be lost, was His great sacrifice on the cross for us.
Public Opinion: Is this another test of a true prophet?
But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own country, among his own relatives, and in his own house.” ~ Mark 6:4
For Jesus Himself testified that a prophet has no honor in his own country. ~ John 4:44
Jesus said public opinion is a poor indicator of Biblical prophets. Think about it, what did they say about Jeremiah or even Jesus? The Pharisees said of Jesus “This fellow does not cast out demons except by Beelzebub, the ruler of the demons”. (Matthew 12:24) If the Pharisees had the technology we had today, they probably would have started a bunch of websites twisting the words of Jesus. Wouldn’t Satan want to slander God and His true prophets? So when testing a modern day prophet, its best to probably avoid websites altogether, unless the site just has the reproduction of that person’s writings. We cannot tell if www.john-doe-is-not-a-prophet.com was written by a doubting Pharisee who is taking a person’s words out of context, or an apostle of God.
I believe that Ellen White, who lived about a hundred years ago, had the genuine gift of prophecy. If you’re skeptical of that statement that is good, we should be open to truth but also watchful and cautious. I was extremely skeptical; in fact I only began reading one of her books to see if I could find one of her statements that would contradict the Bible so I could prove others wrong. But the more I searched, the more I discovered new things from the Bible that I had missed. I encourage you to investigate her writings as well as putting them and those of other serious professed prophets to the tests of the words of Jesus.
In closing, Jesus didn’t tell us to test the prophets by the opinion of others but rather to test them by the Bible. Remember the car dealership example? People will tell you what they want, but Jesus will tell you what you need. Therefore don’t take even my word for truth, simply follow 1 Thessalonians 5, compare the writings of Ellen White and others to the Bible, put them to the Biblical tests of a prophet and whatever you do, follow Jesus.
“Do not despise prophecies. Test all things; hold fast what is good.” ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:20-21
I (God) have also spoken by the prophets… ~ Hosea 12:10
May the Lord bless you as you continue to study His word!
Quick Summary for future reference or review
1 – We can trust Jesus and following Jesus is the key to distinguishing between true and false prophets (John 14:6, Matthew 7:24-27)
2 - Jesus said that we cannot just trust an outward display or our feelings (Matthew 24:23-25, Proverbs 14:12)
3 – Jesus said a modern prophet cannot contradict the Bible, if they do then they are false (Matthew 4:4, Hosea 12:10, Isaiah 8:20)
4 – Jesus said New Testament prophets must live a pure life, free of things such as violence, greed, adultery, fornication, heresies etc. (Matthew 7:15-20, Galatians 5:19-24, 1 Timothy 3:1-5)
5 – Jesus said public opinion is not a good test of a prophet (Mark 6:4, John 4:44)
6 – Prophecy is a gift of God’s last day church (Revelation 12:17, Revelation 19:10, also see Joel 2:28-32 not mentioned in this study)
7 – Test the prophets, let the Bible be your guide. (1 Thessalonians 5, Isaiah 8:20)
Words of Christ are in red.
Other words from the Bible are in blue.