A television evangelist stood before an auditorium filled with anxious and excited people who had come for healing. Pacing across the stage while TV cameras, like giant alien eyes, captured his image, he would raise his arms, close his eyes, and utter “prophetic” words:
The Lord has shown me that there’s a Felicia in the audience out here today. That Felicia has come from Omaha, and that she’s carrying a heavy burden. Yes, this precious daughter of the Lord is suffering from a debilitating stomach disease. But, Felicia, the Lord will bring healing today. Hallelujah!
A few moments later, this evangelist got another message:
Darien, Darien from Cincinnati. I say to you, in the name of God, that the unceasing pains in you back and legs are going to be healed. Yes, brother, don’t despair, but be healed! Amen, Amen!
Now, imagine if you happened to be Felicia from Omaha and you had a stomach ailment, or Darien from Cincinnati with pain in your back and legs? And you were in the audience that night hearing your name, city of residence, and health problem being uttered by a man whom you have never met before or talked to?
You’d be impressed, wouldn’t you? In fact, these people and others like them were so impressed that they gave their testimony to the truth of his words, and before the night was out, many in the crowd were tossing their medications on the stage and claiming to be healed by this “prophet” of God.
Only one problem . . . this prophet was getting his messages, not from God, but from his wife, who had been mingling among the crowd, getting their stories, and then via hidden mics conveying the messages back to the “prophet” on stage!
Fortunately, this con game has been exposed and closed down (but not before he made a killing in donations), yet it does raise the question: What about the gift of prophecy? Does the prophetic gift exist today? Are there, really, any modern day prophets?
Well, the Bible does make it clear that the prophetic gift, the spirit of prophecy, is a New Testament phenomenon. The apostle Paul, talking about various functions in the church, wrote: “It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers,” (Ephesians 4:11). Thus, along with evangelists and teachers and pastors are prophets, and because evangelists, pastors, and teachers still exist in the church—there’s no reason to believe that the prophetic gift doesn’t either.
Paul also wrote: “Follow the way of love and eagerly desire spiritual gifts, especially the gift of prophecy” (1 Corinthians 14:1) and, “Therefore, my brothers, be eager to prophesy. . . “(1 Corinthians 14:39). No question, the gift of prophecy exists in New Testament times.
The book of Revelation makes clear this gift will be manifested in the last days. In vision the prophet John, so amazed by what he saw, started to worship an angel. But the angel said to him: “Do not do it! I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy” (Revelation 19:10).
In another place, Revelation talks about God’s people in the last days as those who “keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus” (Revelation 12:17).
The commandments of God are easy enough: the Ten Commandments. But what is “the testimony of Jesus?” As we just read: “For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy” (Revelation 19:10); that is, it is an expression of the prophetic gift.
Our point? Despite con men and holy rolling rip-off artists, the Bible is clear: the gift of prophecy is a phenomenon in the church today.