Search For Certainty
22. Prophets and Prophecy / Visions and Dreams
Insight Into the Future
There is a dramatic upsurge of interest in supernatural phenomena in our world. People are looking for authoritative answers to the challenges and problems of life. They have turned to astrologers, psychics, and so-called prophets.
Satan’s goal is to deceive as many as possible through the counterfeit gift of prophecy. Jesus clearly warned of Satan’s strategy. In Matthew 24:24 He declares, “For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect”. Have you ever seen a counterfeit $11 bill? Certainly not! Every counterfeiter in the world attempts to make the imitation as close to the genuine as possible.
It is only by carefully studying the biblical gift of prophecy that we can detect the counterfeit and receive the genuine.
01. Whom did Christ send as His representative after His ascension?
But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.
02. What gifts did the Holy Spirit bring to assist the church in carrying the Gospel to the world?
And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers,
03. How long would these gifts, including the gift of prophecy, continue in the church?
12. for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ,
13. till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ;
04. What promise does God give his church who are awaiting the second coming of Jesus?
1 Corinthians 1:7–8
07. so that you come short in no gift, eagerly waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ,
08. who will also confirm you to the end, that you may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.
05. What two specific characteristics does God list in Revelation to describe His last day church?
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.
06. How does the Bible define the "testimony of Jesus Christ"?
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.”
When one of heaven’s messengers descended to bring John the gift of prophecy, the aged apostle knelt to worship the angel. The angel stopped him, explaining that he was testifying for Jesus in giving to John the spirit, or gift, of prophecy. (See also Revelation 22:8, 9). Revelation 12:17 reveals that the gift of prophecy, or the testimony of Jesus, would be revealed again in God’s last-day church.
SCRIPTURE GIVES SEVERAL TESTS OF A TRUE PROPHET
TEST 1 - Prophetic Accuracy
07. What does the Bible teach regarding the accuracy of a true prophet?
As for the prophet who prophesies of peace, when the word of the prophet comes to pass, the prophet will be known as one whom the LORD has truly sent.”
In prophecies that are not conditional, that is, that depend on a personal response to determine their fulfillment, the prophet is 100 percent accurate. The so-called prophets of our day miss the mark completely on this test. A few of their predictions may come to pass, but most are never fulfilled.
TEST 2 - The Prophet's Relationship to the Bible
08. What if a prophet is apparently accurate, but leads away from the truths of scripture?
01. “If there arises among you a prophet or a dreamer of dreams, and he gives you a sign or a wonder,
02. and the sign or the wonder comes to pass, of which he spoke to you, saying, ‘Let us go after other gods’—which you have not known—‘and let us serve them,’
03. you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams, for the LORD your God is testing you to know whether you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.
04. You shall walk after the LORD your God and fear Him, and keep His commandments and obey His voice; you shall serve Him and hold fast to Him.
The true gift of prophecy does not lead away from, but back to, the Bible. The Bible is always supreme. It is the sole criterion for the establishment of doctrine.
TEST 3 - The True Gift of Prophecy Exalts Jesus and His Law
09. According to the Bible, how does the prophet relate to Jesus?
1 John 4:2
By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God,
The Bible declares that the true gift of prophecy exalts Jesus. The poet summarized it well in these words:
Lord, make me a nail upon the wall,
And from this thing so humble and so small
Hang a lovely picture of Thy face.
The function of the gift of prophecy is to exalt and uplift Jesus continually. Since the spirit of prophecy exalts Jesus, it is called “the testimony of Jesus.”
10. What relationship does the genuine gift of prophecy have to the Law of God?
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.
All Bible prophets exalt God’s law. Elijah called Israel from idolatry to the true God. Nehemiah preached for a reform in Sabbath keeping. John the Baptist condemned Herod’s adultery.
TEST 4 - Physical Phenomena Surrounding the Gift
11. How does the Bible describe the prophet while in vision?
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.”
Bible prophets often experienced certain supernatural physical phenomena that accompanied their visions. Often they did not breathe in vision. God sustained them.
TEST 5 - Spiritual Fruit
12. How did Jesus tell us to distinguish between the true and the counterfeit gifts of prophecy?
Matthew 7:15–17, 20
15. “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves.
16. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles?
17. Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit.
20. Therefore by their fruits you will know them.
13. Where should we look to find the genuine gift of prophecy today?
1 Corinthians 12:28
And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues.
When we discover God’s faithful commandment-keeping church, we should also look within the church for the gift of prophecy. Since prophecy is one of God’s last-day gifts to His church, we should expect to find it within the church. The gift of prophecy is not a doctrine contrary to the Bible, but rather one of the gifts God says will remain in the church. What a joy it is to know that God has a commandment-keeping church on earth today. It has been raised up to prepare a people for the coming of the Lord. God promised to place the gift of prophecy within His true church. It is one of the identifying characteristics of the true church (Revelation 12:17; Revelation 19:10).
Seventh-day Adventists believe that God has again raised up the genuine gift of prophecy in the life and teachings of Ellen G. White, who was born in a humble home in Gorham, Maine. When she was only a child, she had a tragic accident, so she completed only a few grades of education. She thought of herself as “the weakest of the weak.” When she was a young woman, God revealed Himself to her in visions and dreams. She wrote down God’s messages as counsel to His church. Her books on health and education are world renowned. Her thousands of pages about Jesus are spiritual masterpieces. Books such as Steps to Christ, The Desire of Ages, and The Great Controversy have run through millions of copies. Ellen G. White was a humble woman who exalted Jesus and always led her readers back to the Bible. She claimed that her writings were “a lesser light to lead men and women to the greater light [the Bible].”
14. What counsel does the apostle Paul give us regarding the gift of prophecy?
1 Thessalonians 5:19–20
19. Do not quench the Spirit.
20. Do not despise prophecies.
If a prophet meets each of the biblical tests for the genuine gift of prophecy, we can readily accept the gift as coming from God. If they do not meet these biblical tests, we should reject them as false prophets.
15. Why did God give us the gift of prophecy? What is the result of following the prophets counsels?
2 Chronicles 20:20
So they rose early in the morning and went out into the Wilderness of Tekoa; and as they went out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, “Hear me, O Judah and you inhabitants of Jerusalem: Believe in the LORD your God, and you shall be established; believe His prophets, and you shall prosper.”
God has given His church the gift of prophecy for our benefit. Following God’s counsel brings greater joy to our lives. Accepting heaven’s wisdom saves us from a great deal of heartache and sorrow. The prophets’ messages are heaven’s blessings on our lives.
God has been very gracious to ensure His church has gifts that will see His people through these difficult times, including the gift of prophecy. Would you like to choose today to cherish His prophetic counsels and humbly follow God's will?
FOR FURTHER STUDY
Read the following Bible passages:
1 Corinthians 12:28
1 Peter 1:10, 11
1 John 4:1