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Keywords: A PHILOSOPHICAL ANALYSIS OF THE EFFECT OF PROPHETIC MINISTRY IN THE MODERN DAY CHURCH
1.1 Background of the Study
The ministry of the prophets in the Old Testament was always to point out where Israel was going astray. They spoke forth the corrective word of the Holy Spirit. They did not seek for a “balanced ministry”. They always stressed what was missing. According to Wisconsin Phillips:
The Old Testament prophets never wasted time speaking of the matters in Israel that were already according to God’s order. In that sense, the Old Testament prophets were all imbalanced in their ministry1.
Considering Jeremiah as an example, at one stage, Jeremiah said to God, “You have never once let me speak a word of kindness to these people. Always it is disaster, horror and destruction”. His was certainly not a balanced message, full of grace and truth!! It was just judgment, judgment and more judgment! This message became such a burden to Jeremiah himself at one stage. But he still could not quit preaching it, because every time he thought of changing the message, God’s Word of judgment would burn within his heart like a fire and he could not hold it in any longer (Jer.20:9 – Living). And so he continued preaching judgment to the nation of Judah for 46 years. If Jeremiah had listened to the voice of his own reason or to the advice of other preachers who did not know the mind of God, he would have modified his message. He would then have been more balanced. But he would not have been God’s prophet any longer.
Now consider the ministry of Prophet Hosea. His message was totally different from Jeremiah’s. God’s message through Hosea to Israel was, “O how I love you, even though you have disobeyed me and gone astray.” But Jeremiah, who lived 180 years after Hosea, never sought to imitate Hosea’s ministry. These prophets were not imitators of each other. Each of them knew the burden that God had given them. Bale Wendy opines that: We see prophetic ministry often in the Old Testament, as God raised up prophets to encourage and rebuke the nation of Israel in times of trouble or rebellion2.
During King David’s reign (2 Samuel), the prophet Nathan, among others, spoke the word of the Lord to David, giving him guidance and direction as well as confronting him concerning his sin with Bathsheba. Of course, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Hosea, Amos, Micah, Zechariah, etc., also had a prophetic ministry they were prophets, after all. The calling of a prophet was to speak for God. A prophet would teach, give guidance, counsel, or rebuke as necessary.
In the New Testament, we find others who had a prophetic ministry. Certain people were gifted as prophets to give guidance, direction, counsel, etc., to God’s people. The gift of prophecy is specifically mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12:10 and Ephesians 4:11. In 1 Corinthians 12 the Apostle Paul said, concerning spiritual gifts, brethren I would not have you ignorant. God wants us to understand how to move in the gifts of the Spirit. The manifestation of the Spirit is given to profit all. We are going to talk about the gift of prophesy, prophetic ministry and the office of the prophet. We are told to covet earnestly the best gifts and yet also told that there is a more excellent way. We need the love of God in our lives. We can have all the gifts and yet not walk with the love and character of Christ.
In the old testaments prophets spoke with 100% accuracy as the Spirit of the Lord came upon the prophet for a specific time and purpose. The New Testament prophet speaks under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. We are told to stir up the gift that is in us. The Apostle Paul told his spiritual son Timothy not to neglect the gift that was in him through the laying on of hands and so we see it possible to neglect the gift God has given to us. We need to stir up the gift of prophesy by worshiping and praying in tongues. The more we use the gift of prophesy the more it will be stirred up and ready for use.
There then comes a time for some that the Lord will confirm their calling to the office of the prophet. This is a lifetime calling of the Lord. It is one of the fivefold ministry offices. It is a governmental position in the body of Christ. God will confirm your calling to this office through others in leadership in the body of Christ. There is a season of time between ones time in prophetic ministry and the ordination into the office of the prophet. You will find yourself going through tests and trials as well as the Lord asking you to die to the vision.
The restoration of the prophetic ministry is one of the most urgent needs of the modern church, the danger is, that in time of need, God’s people sometime accept second best. We must not accept every person who claims to be a prophet, but test them to discover those that are sent by the Lord. If the church is to release prophets into their full ministry, it must learn to recognize those who are truly called by God. We need words from heaven; too many words come from the human heart and not from heaven. God wants prophets who will bring words from heaven that will change things on earth but the body of Christ needs to mature; and be able to distinguish a true prophetic word from merely the word of a prophet. Many modern Christians are afraid to reject anything spoken by one who claims to be a prophet or prophetess.
The solution is not to reject all prophecy, but to test all prophecy. Even if a word comes from a “big name” prophet, we should not assume that it is correct. Christians often feel guilty about rejecting a word, because it came from a well-known prophet. They should remember that prophets with big reputations will still be wrong at times. In fact, because there is more pressure on them to prophesy, they will make more frequent mistakes, there is no shame in rejecting their prophecy, if it is tested and found to be incorrect.
Though, testing individual prophecies can often be difficult, what every Church needs is a prophet who has a proven track record, a person who is known for speaking the word of the Lord. It is easier to test prophets than individual prophecies. A prophet can be watched over time to see if his life is bearing fruit for the Lord (Matthew 7:15-20). Every church needs a proven prophet who can be trusted to bring a reliable word when one is required. Jesus warned that false prophets and deceivers would come upon the earth, and that even some of the elect would be deceived by them (Mark 13:22, 23). False prophets have been present in the world in every age, but they are particularly common in times of tumult like our present age. We have seen a great outburst of prophetic activity, with all kinds of individuals and cults claiming to have the truth. In this situation the church not only needs prophets who speak God’s truth, but must also learn to discern the true from the false. Whenever God releases a particular gift in the world, Satan tries to release a counterfeit of that gift. We can be sure that as God restores the prophetic ministry, Satan will try and raise up false prophets.
In Christ Apostolic Church of today, one can say that the office of prophets has been limited, not that this great church does not have prophets and prophetess that are sound, but the truth of the matter is that, many prefer being a pastor as the of is the most recognized today, but still, the prophetic ministry in Christ Apostolic Church still command respect, in as much as the holder of the office is genuine.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Accuracy is important to the prophetic ministry. Accuracy is defined as the quality or state of being correct or precise. There are things that can hinder and block accuracy, such as prejudices, misconceptions, doctrinal obsessions, sectarian views, bitterness, rejection, and lust. Prophets and prophetic people need to be careful to guard their hearts against things that can block their prophetic flow and the accuracy of the word of the Lord from their mouth.
Some of the problem accredited with the office of prophets today is the inability of some of the prophets to speak for God, as many are concerned with gain the office will bring to them. Many of the holders of the office are also been found with behaviors which are not biblical, e.g engaging in sacrifice and various act which are derogatory to the church. And we have seen many prophets that have through prophecy scattered homes and relationship due to lack of education and proper seminary trainings.
1.3 Purpose of the Study
Many Church today had been scattered because of various prophecy from the prophetic offices of prophets, likewise many homes, not to mention marriages and host of other things, despite the fact that the research work intend to fill some vacuum which other researchers that have researched the topic left unfilled, the research work will be of benefit to the reader and other researchers in the following ways:
It will look at the Genesis of the Prophetic office in the Bible
It will explain who is a prophet in a biblical term
The office of the prophet in the New Testament
Some who operates in the office of the Prophet in the Bible
The use of the office of the prophet in the modern day church
Pitfalls of the office of the prophet
It will tell the importance of prophets in the fivefold ministry
It will explain the effect of prophetic ministry in the modern day gospel church
It will state the problems of prophecy and prophets in our society
Finally, it will explain how to know a true prophet from the fake ones.
1.4 Significance of the Study
The researcher intends to let the readers understand and know all that is needed to be known about the prophetic ministry so that people will limit their race in running after prophets, by this, they will understand that the remaining offices are as good as the prophetic office.
Likewise, the researcher intend to fill every vacuum left unfilled by the previous researchers on the research topic, hopefully, so that the current research work can be a material for upcoming researchers to be used.
1.5 Research Methodology
The researcher will not base his conclusion on self belief or to be subjective on the issue, the researcher shall consult books that have been written on the research topic, he will likewise visit other researcher’s work on anything that is having to do with the research topic, library and works online shall be visited, finally, some notable Gospel church leaders shall be interviewed in order to have a balance and decisive conclusion on the research work.
1.6 Scope / Limitation of the Study
Since the research work is limited to the modern day gospel church, the researcher shall not bother to touch other churches; rather, he shall strictly consult those in authority on the research topic in order to have a balance and decisive outcome, not being subjective.
The time frame within which this work is to be completed is somehow short and not enough, so it cannot be possible for the researcher to access all the effect of prophetic ministry in the modern day gospel church in Lagos as it is not limited to a gospel church. It was envisaged Clerics who ought to be good source of material for the research may likewise not cooperate with the researcher due to differences in belief as stated earlier. But serious effort will be made to overcome these problems so that the final outcome of this work will not lack any shortcoming.
1.7 Definition of Terms
Philosophical: The Merriam Webster Online Dictionary defines it as characterized by the attitude of a philosopher or relating to philosophers or philosophy.3
Analysis: The Merriam Webster Dictionary defines analysis as a detailed examination of anything complex in order to understand its nature or to determine its essential 4.
Effect: The Merriam Webster Dictionary defines effect as something that inevitably follows an antecedent.5
Prophetic: The Merriam Webster Online Dictionary defines it as a foretelling event.6
Ministry: The Merriam Webster Online Dictionary defines it as the body of ministers of religion.7
Modern: The Merriam Webster Online Dictionary defines it as relating to, or characteristic of a period extending from a relevant remote past to the present time.8
Gospel: The Merriam Webster Online Dictionary defines it as the message or teachings of a religious teacher or truth as a guiding principle or doctrine.9
Church: The Merriam Webster Online Dictionary defines church as a building for public and especially Christian worship, a body or organization of a religious believer, the whole body of Christian denomination.10
1Wisconsin Phillips, “The importance of Prophets to the Kingdom”. (Mississippi: Mayflower Printers, 1996), 46
2Bale Wendy, “Prophecy and Prophets in Old Testament. Philadelphia”: (West Minister Printers, 2007), 96
3Webster Merriam, “The Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary”. (Ohio: Printed and Published by Jordan Printers, 2008). Accessed on 22nd January, 2019
4Webster Merriam, “The Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary”. (Ohio: Printed and Published by Jordan Printers, 2008). Accessed on 22nd January, 2019
5Webster Merriam, “The Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary”. (Ohio: Printed and Published by Jordan Printers, 2008). Accessed on 22nd January, 2019
6Webster Merriam, “The Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary”. (Ohio: Printed and Published by Jordan Printers, 2008). Accessed on 22nd January, 2019
7Webster Merriam, “The Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary”. (Ohio: Printed and Published by Jordan Printers, 2008). Accessed on 22nd January, 2019
8Webster Merriam, “The Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary”. (Ohio: Printed and Published by Jordan Printers, 2008). Accessed on 22nd January, 2019
9Webster Merriam, “The Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary”. (Ohio: Printed and Published by Jordan Printers, 2008). Accessed on 22nd January, 2019
10Webster Merriam, “The Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary”. (Ohio: Printed and Published by Jordan Printers, 2008). Accessed on 22nd January, 2019
Keywords: A PHILOSOPHICAL ANALYSIS OF THE EFFECT OF PROPHETIC MINISTRY IN THE MODERN DAY CHURCH