Ask Pastor Alex, Ep. 32
This is the Ask Pastor Alex podcast with your host, Pastor Alex.All right, what’s going on everyone?We’re here with another episode and another question.And the question for this episode is, are there prophets today?And that’s a good question because it’s fairly common in our day to see people refer to themselves as apostles or prophets.And the people who do this typically gain a lot of traction and prominence and popularity because the title that they’ve given themselves is one that typically warrants respect.And so when they see someone who’s called an apostle or a prophet or something like that, they really flock to them and give them a lot of attention and respect.But the question is, are there really still prophets today?And in order to answer that question, we have to first define a prophet.What is a prophet?Well, according to the Bible, a true prophet is a person who receives direct, infallible revelation from God and proclaims that infallible message to others.All right, so think about that again.A true prophet is a person who receives direct, infallible revelation from God and then proclaims that infallible message to others.In the book of Deuteronomy, when the Lord is explaining to His people how to tell the difference between true prophets and false prophets, He says this in Deuteronomy 18-22,when a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the word does not come true, that is a word that the Lord has not spoken.The prophet has spoken it presumptuously.So I want you to notice within that verse the two aspects of that definition that we talked about when it comes to being a true prophet.So first, he must first hear and proclaim only what the Lord has said to proclaim.He must not just proclaim something according to His own will and desire and then try topass it off as if the Lord has revealed that to him.So this means that the true prophet must wait on the Lord to reveal to him the message heis to proclaim to others.This would be a direct revelation from God.But then there’s that second aspect of being a true prophet.The true prophet must not be proven wrong.This goes right along with only proclaiming what the Lord has revealed to the prophet because think about it like this.If God says something, it’s true because God is truth.He is the source of all truth.And the Bible says in Numbers 23, 19 that God is not a man that he should lie.So it is impossible for God to tell a lie, to say a lie.So then every word that proceeds from the mouth of God is true and cannot be provenfalse.Which means if the prophet is a true prophet and is really proclaiming to others what God has really revealed to him, then he will never be proven wrong .All of his prophecies will come true because he is speaking the very words of the Lord.However, false prophets will utter all sorts of prophecies that will clearly be shown tobe false.And so according to the Bible, a true prophet is a person who receives direct, infallible revelation from God and then proclaims that infallible message to others.And throughout the Bible, we see both true prophets and false prophets.There were those to whom the Lord actually did appear and give direct, infallible revelation that was intended to be proclaimed to others.But then there were also those who claimed to be prophets and claimed to speak on behalf of the Lord, but were actually false prophets.And it never ended well for them.I hope you hear me on this.It is a dangerous thing to claim to have heard from the Lord and speak for the Lord if that is not the case.For instance, when the Lord was addressing the false prophets in Jeremiah’s day and saying what He was going to do to them, He said in Jeremiah 14, 15, by sword and famine, those prophets shall be consumed.In other words, the false prophets will be met with the wrath of God for spreading lies and leading people astray and claiming to speak for God when He had not said anything to them.And of course, we know that prophets didn’t just exist in the Old Testament, but they continued on into the New Testament times.However, what we need to understand is that the prophets during the New Testament times,especially those who were prophets after the resurrection and ascension of Jesus, served a very particular function.They were there for a very particular reason.And this really brings us to our discussion of this question of are there still prophets today? It all is going to hinge and depend upon, well, not only what is a prophet, but what was the purpose of the prophets?What role do they play in the life of the church?Why did God give prophets in the first place?And so we need to see the function that they actually played when it came to the church.And this is what we read in Ephesians chapter 2 verses 19 through 20.The Bible says this, So then you were no longer strangers and aliens, but you were fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the cornerstone.So I want you to notice what the Bible is saying there.The Bible specifically says there that the church is built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets with Jesus being the cornerstone.Very plain and simple.The apostles and prophets were meant to serve as the foundation of the church.They were supposed to be that foundation upon which everything else in the church is built.And so let me ask you this question.Is the foundation complete?Has the foundation already been laid?If it hasn’t, does that mean that no building has been done in the church since Jesus’s ascension?If we’re saying that the foundation is not completed, and then that means nothing’s being built because you can’t build unless you have a completed foundation.You have no security and strength of structure without a foundation.So my question again is, has the foundation been completed?Has it already been laid?And as you’re thinking about that, and before we answer it, let me ask you another important question on this topic.In what way did the apostles and prophets serve as the foundation?It’s one thing to say that they served as the foundation of the church, but what does that actually mean?In what way did they serve as the foundation?Well, I want you to think through what those offices actually are.They are the revelation bearing offices of the church.That’s what the apostles were.That’s what the prophets were.They were the revelation bearing offices of the church.In other words, God revealed His Word through the apostles and prophets.So ultimately, the Word of God is the foundation of the church, but the apostles and prophets can be said to be its foundation because they were the ones who revealed and proclaimed that Word to the world.So think about it like this then.If the apostles and prophets served as the foundation of the church, and the way in which they served as the foundation of the church was by being the revelation bearing office of the church and bringing God’s Word to the people, we need to then consider this.In order for the foundation to be complete, that means the Word of God would have to be complete, right?If the Word of God is ultimately the foundation of the church, then in order for that foundation to be complete, that means the Word of God would have to be complete.So let me ask you this question.Has the Word of God been completed?And the answer is yes.We know that the canon was closed nearly 2,000 years ago.Not only that, we read in Hebrews chapter 1 verses 1 through 2, long ago, at many times and in many ways God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days He has spoken to us by His Son.In other words, the Bible is saying there that Jesus is the full and final revelation of God.That He is God’s final revelation to the world, the culmination of God’s revelation.And the life and words of Jesus are recorded for us in the Bible.So with the completion of the Bible, we also have the completion of the foundation.So let’s think about this again, going all the way back to the passage from Ephesians that says that the church is built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets,and we see that they were the revelation-bearing offices of the church, bringing God’s Word to the world. And now since the Bible has been completed, since the canon is closed, the foundation has been laid.And if the foundation is completed, it means that we no longer have need of prophets orapostles.They have served their God-intended purpose.Therefore, there are no more apostles or prophets today.And it’s important that we get clear on this issue because there’s a lot of confusion about it today and a lot of opportunity for confusion.Because it’s quite common today for people to say something like, God told me…And this is essentially on par with claiming to have received a prophetic word from theLord.It’s essentially claiming that like a prophet, you have received direct revelation from God.You are saying, God told me this thing.But there’s a lot of issues with such statements.First, a person who says this is claiming like a prophet, as we just said, to have received a direct word from the Lord.And if that is true, if the Lord actually did say something to this person, then that word is true and infallible.But not only that, it comes from the Lord.So it would be on par with Scripture because both come from the Lord and both are infallible.But we know, as we just said, that the Scriptures have been completed now for approximately2000 years.So here’s my question.Anytime someone says, well, the Lord told me this or God said this to me, are we supposed to reopen the canon every time someone says that?Are we supposed to then add the words to the Scriptures that we have today?If God said something to John Smith, are we supposed to then add that statement to the Bible?And if we’re not supposed to add it to the Bible, you have to then say, well, why shouldn’t we add it to the Bible?If it is from the Lord, and we know that because it’s from the Lord, it is true and it is infallible,then why would we not add it to the Bible?You see, this is one of the biggest problems with these kinds of statements is they don’t think about the implications of what such statements would mean for the entire church.Another issue with such statements is that people will often use such statements for personal and selfish reasons.It’s kind of like the ultimate trump card, isn’t it?I mean, for instance, if you don’t like something the pastor is doing at your church, you could simply say, well, God told me he doesn’t like what you’re doing.And if the pastor disagrees, then that person can claim that the pastor is going againstGod.And listen to me, folks, that is manipulative.I have seen such statements used by manipulative people who are seeking to control the church,who are seeking to have their ways and their will done in the church.And so they use God as a tool for their means, their own selfish means.And that is danger.Not only that, but that’s also how false religions and cults get started.I mean, just think about Mormonism, for instance.Joseph Smith claimed to have received new revelation from God that is on par with Scripture.And so he started a brand new religion on that basis.And because people believed that he had actually received this word from God, they took itas gospel truth.They ran with it.And now they hold the teachings of Joseph Smith to be on par with the Bible, just as reliable as the Bible, because he claims it comes from God.And going right along with this point, oftentimes people will claim that God told them something that directly contradicts Scripture.And there we have a huge issue, folks.When someone claims that God told them something that directly contradicts what is recorded in Scripture, then we have no clue what to trust.I know of a situation where a man claimed that God told him it was okay for him to divorce his wife since he didn’t love her anymore.He said, God told me he wants me to be happy and I’m not happy anymore.And so he said, it’s okay for me to get a divorce.The problem is, God’s word says that God hates divorce and only allows for it in two very drastic circumstances.So in that situation, who are we to believe if both Scripture and the message that this man said he received from the Lord were both from God?How do we judge which one is true and which one is not?Does God contradict himself?No, absolutely not.Does God say anything that’s untrue?No.We would again have to go back to Scripture as our ultimate authority and say that if someone claims God told them something that goes against what we find in the inerrant,infallible, inspired, revealed Word of God that is Scripture, that person is lying.And it’s not just divorce.There’s a whole number of issues that people have often claimed that God told them it’s okay for them to do that contradicts Scripture.We don’t have time to get into all those today, but suffice it to say, if anyone ever say that God told them it’s okay for them to do something that goes against what we read in Scripture, that person is lying because God does not contradict himself.It’s as my favorite theologian of all time, John Owen, once said, if private revelations agree with Scripture, they’re unnecessary.And if they disagree, they’re false.You see, that’s one of our big issues today is everybody wants to receive a new word from the Lord.They want to hear from God, but God has already spoken to us, folks.He has spoken to us in the most perfect way possible.He has spoken to us by His Son, and that is recorded for us in Scripture.We do not need a new word for the Lord.It’s amazing how many times people say they want to hear from God, and yet they don’t go to the revealed Word that He has already given us.They say they want to hear from God, but they never open their Bibles.They say they want a word from the Lord, but they neglect the Word that He’s already givenus.If private revelations agree with Scripture, they’re unnecessary, and if they disagree,they’re false.Now, even though God doesn’t still speak audibly to people today or give new revelations today,He does still give impressions and leads people today.A person might sense that God is impressing upon him to speak to a coworker about Jesus.Or a person might sense that God is leading her to join a women’s Bible study.Or a couple praying together might sense that the Lord is leading them to sell all they have and become missionaries to Taiwan.It wouldn’t be appropriate in these situations to say, the Lord told me, since no words werespoken.However, it is entirely appropriate and biblical to say, the Lord is leading me, or the Lord has impressed upon me the need to…The Lord does still work in these ways, but He does not give new revelation.So taking all that into consideration, we conclude that there are no more prophets today.With the conclusion of Scripture came the conclusion of God’s prophetic Word.There are no more revelations from God because we have in Jesus God’s full and final revelation.And that revelation is Scripture.Scripture is our ultimate authority.So if you are looking for a word from the Lord, if you do want to hear from God, read your Bibles.I hope that this answer has been helpful.Thank you for the question.I look forward to answering more in the future.