There is a vast difference between a Prophet and a Gift of Prophecy. In this day and age, however, there are countless number of religious people with the gift of prophecy who wrongly call themselves prophets. Billboards displayed on our streets are full of such advertisements.
While true prophets of God are hardly known and hardly accepted by society at large, because the message they bring from God are normally contrary to the accepted norm in religious and social circles, the false ones are easily accepted because they conform to the norm.
Unfortunately, many false self-acclaimed and church-acclaimed prophets are everywhere deceiving and being deceived and are normally accepted as prophets while a true Scriptural Prophet may be branded false because he normally comes against the accepted norm and denominational practices and beliefs that are contrary to Scriptures.
WHO IS A PROPHET?
Deuteronomy 18:18-22 states:
18 I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him.
19 And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto my words which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him.
20 But the prophet, which shall presume to speak a word in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die.
21 And if thou say in thine heart, How shall we know the word which the LORD hath not spoken?
22 When a prophet speaketh in the name of the LORD, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him.
The above Scriptures give us a beautiful clue to enable us decipher between a true prophet and a false one.
The clue gives us an idea that prophets are men born in sin and saved by grace like all of us. They are not angels from heaven. They are raised from among men. No heavenly angel is a prophet.
A prophet is a divine interpreter of the Word. He is God’s mouthpiece (Deuteronomy 18:18).
We learn that a true prophet speaks in the name of the Lord only that which has been given him by God and what he speaks must agree with Scriptures. That which he speaks therefore are not his but the Lord’s. Thus, God will require from anyone who will not hear that prophet, for he comes in the name of the Lord. A prophet of God does have “That Saith the Lord” which never fails.
We learn again that any prophet who speaks for God that which God has not said shall die. Now, we know that physical death is separation from among the living, while spiritual death is eternal separation from God. It is therefore a big deal for a prophet to speak for God that which God has not commanded him to speak.
The problem in this modern day, however, is the difficulty of knowing whether what that prophet speaks is of God or not. Verse 22 of the above Scriptures gives us an excellent measuring rule:
“When a prophet speaketh in the name of the LORD, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him.”
This means that when a prophet gives, say, hundred prophecies and ninety-nine are fulfilled but one fails, people must ignore that prophet as a prophet of God and not fear or reverence him because there is no margin of error in God.
Say ‘AMEN’ to that!
If men will test the plethora of “prophets” we have in our churches and on the streets by this measuring rule, we will know whether there is a true prophet among them or not. By this rule or measurement, William Marrion Branham stands out as a true prophet of God. Out of the thousands of visions he had, not one fell unfulfilled. He stayed pure with the Word and preached exactly what Paul preached.
Brother Branham had seven major continuous visions on Sunday morning in June, 1933 and prophesied of them that before the coming of the Lord, these seven major events would transpire. They are the following:
(i) Mussolini would invade Ethiopia and that nation would "fall at his steps." It happened with precision.
(ii) He saw that an Austrian by the name of Adolph Hitler would rise up as dictator over Germany, and that he would draw the world into war. It showed the Siegfried line and how US troops would have a terrible time to overcome it. Then it showed that Hitler would come to a mysterious end. It happened with precision.
(iii)He saw that in the realm of world politics there would be three great ISMS, Facism, Nazism, Communism, but that the first two would be swallowed up into the third. The voice admonished, "WATCH RUSSIA, WATCH RUSSIA. Keep your eye on the King of the North.” It has happened with precision.
(iv) He saw in the vision great advances in science that would come after the second world war. It was headed up in the vision of a plastic bubble-topped car that was running down beautiful highways under remote control so that people appeared seated in this car without a steering wheel and they were playing some sort of a game to amuse themselves. It has happened with precision.
(v) The fifth vision he saw had to do with the moral problem of our age, centering mostly around women. God showed him that women began to be out of their place with the granting of the vote. Then they cut off their hair, which signified that they were no longer under the authority of a man but insisted on either equal rights, or in most cases, more than equal rights. She adopted men's clothing and went into a state of undress, until the last picture he saw was a woman naked except for a little fig leaf type apron. With this vision he saw the terrible perversion and moral plight of the whole world. That has happened with precision.
(vi) In the sixth vision there arose up in America a most beautiful, but cruel woman. She held the people in her complete power. He believed that this was the rise of the Roman Catholic Church, though he knew it could possibly be a vision of some woman rising in great power in America due to a popular vote by women. Keep your fingers crossed!
(vii) The last and seventh vision was wherein he heard a most terrible explosion. As he turned to look he saw nothing but debris, craters, and smoke all over the land of America. Keep your fingers crossed!
According to the vision, these have to transpire before the coming of the Lord.
Another excellent measuring rule to test a true prophet is that what a true prophet preaches and teaches must be in perfect harmony with Scriptures, not contradicting the faith that was preached by the early saints (Galatians 1:8; Jude 1:3). The penalty of adding to or taking away from the Word is spelt out in Revelation 22:18,19.
Apart from using Deuteromy 18:22 as an excellent measuring rule to decipher between a true and a false prophet, let’s consider the URIM THUMMIM in the Old Testament and what role it played in determining who a true prophet was.
The Urim Thummim covered Aaron’s breast plate and also hung in the temple. When any prophet of Israel came before it and prophesied and light flashed on it, it was a sign that that prophet had spoken that which the Lord had given him to speak even if what he had spoken was contrary to popular opinion and church doctrine.
On the contrary, if a prophet spoke before the Urim Thummim and no light flashed on it, that prophet had spoken what the Lord had not said even if which was prophesied, received popular acclamation (References: Exodus 28:30, Leviticus 8:8, Numbers 27:21, Deuteronomy 33:8, 1st Samuel 28:6, Ezra 2:63, Nehemiah 7:65).
Do we have the Urim Thummim today? Yes and No. We do not have the physical Urim Thummim with us but we have the true version of it – the BIBLE. If any prophet speaks and ‘light’ does not flash on the Bible, that is, if that prophet’s teachings and sayings do not tally, correspond or agree with the Bible, that prophet is found to be false, though many may agree with him.
The reverse is true. If that prophet’s teachings match with the Bible, though his teachings may not match with popular opinion in religious circles, he is a true prophet of God.
In the Old Testament, what was important was the light flashing on the Urim Thummim and not on popular opinion. All true prophets of God have normally been rejected by the denominations of their day. Moses, Ezekiel, Jeremiah, Elijah, Joel, Noah, John the Baptist, Paul etc. were all rejected in their days. Those who rejected them were the religious people who should have known that those were God-sent prophets.
Today, all denominations believe the afore-mentioned prophets to be God’s true prophets because it is now history. If today, a prophet like those mentioned, rises among men, he will surely be rejected by denominations again even though he would be vindicated by the Word and the accuracy of his prophecies
When the Lord Jesus Christ changed the phase of His ministry from healing and feeding the people to preaching hard core truth, He was rejected by every church there was. The Lord told them to search the Scriptures, by which every prophet must be measured (remember the Urim Thummim), but they wouldn’t search. Their minds were fixed (John 5:39). Their pastors had told them the Lord Jesus was a false prophet.
In summary, a true prophet of God is one whose prophecies never fail and speaks nothing but the pure Word of God, not popular opinion. Amos 3:7 says God reveals His secret (the mysteries of His Word) to His prophets. Besides this, God does nothing. A prophet is a carrier of the Word (Deuteronomy 18:18). The Word comes to the prophets. William Branham said “As a servant of God who has had multitudes of visions, of which NONE has ever failed…”
He spoke these words before the world, not in a secret place, with God vindicating it with signs and wonders beyond scientific explantion, and yet the hearts of men are still not pricked to test or prove all things as the Bible admonishes (1st Thessalonians 5:20,21).
Let’s be like the noble men of Berea. They checked everything Paul spoke by the Scriptures (Acts 17:10-13). They were not like the people of Thessalonica or the religious people of today who do not search the Scriptures but rather follow the crowd and popular opinion.
THE GIFT OF PROPHECY
Today, anyone with the gift of prophecy calls himself a prophet. The word “prophet” has been massively misused.
A prophet is an office (God’s mouthpiece) while a gift of prophecy (also called a spirit of prophecy) is a gift. Anyone can pray to receive a gift of prophecy but a prophet is born a prophet. Before a prophet is even converted, he is a prophet. The Lord told Jeremiah, “Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations (Jeremiah 1:5).
A man or woman may have a gift or spirit of prophecy in a church service and may not have that spirit with him or her again for the rest of their lives. It may happen also that the gift of prophecy may be with the fellow from time to time and each time that prophecy may be accurate.
Due to the possibility of a margin of error in the gift of prophecy, the one with the gift of prophecy must prophesy in the presence of two or three judges in the church to see whether the prophecy is Word-based, as Paul taught it in the
New Testament. Normally, these judges are matured in the Word.
On the contrary, no one can stand before a prophet to judge his words or prophecy. No one could stand before Moses, Jeremiah, Isaiah etc. to judge their prophecies. They were God’s mouthpiece. To challenge them on the Word-vindicated prophecies they carry, is to directly challenge God and the consequences are dire as when Korah, Dathan and Abiram challenged Moses (Numbers 16:1-34).
Those with the gifts of prophecy do not carry the Revealed Word for their day but the prophets do.
The gift of prophecy is not given to someone because he is a Christian. It is given to people irrespective of whether they are Christians or not, converted or not. The gift of God are without repentance (Romans 11:29).
Because of the fact that people who are not converted can also receive the gift of prophecy, according to Romans 11:29, many of them do things against Christ and His Word, putting fear in their followers, making them perpetual slaves. They hold them bound. They tell their followers their kinsmen are witches who always bewitch them and that only they, the ‘prophets’ have the powers to protect them. It has never happened that the mothers of the ‘prophets’ are witches.
These quack prophets rob the people of their belongings and point the people to themselves, instead of pointing them to Christ, the Word.
A gift of prophecy is a beautiful gift if it is operated by a Christian who stays with the Word. The only way to tell if a person is a prophet or has the gift of prophecy is by referring to the Word of God.
- Matthew 15: 14
Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.
- 1 John 4:1-3
Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.
- Matthew 7:15-20
Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.
- Matthew 7:22-23
Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
- Acts 2:17:18,
And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy:
- Matthew 24:24,25,
For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. Behold, I have told you before.
- Mark 13:22
For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect.