Are there modern day prophets?

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Question: Do modern day prophets exist? How can we tell whether they speak for God or not?

Answer: There are prophets that exist in our world, but not the kind that deserves our attention. From the distant past to this very day the study of prophecy has peaked man's religious interests. Scriptures that reference prophets are not always clear. For example, in 1Corinthians, we find the Apostle Paul discussing this topic in the midst of a discussion on speaking in tongues and other gifts.

So when I come to you, my friends, what use will I be to you if I speak in strange tongues? Not a bit, unless I bring you . . . some inspired message (prophecy, Greek: propheteia) . . . Two or three who are given God's message (prophets, Greek: prophetes) should speak. . .

So then, my friends, set your heart on proclaiming God's message (prophesying, Greek: propheteuo) . . . (1Corinthians 14:6, 29, 39)

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Even though a case could be made that Paul was one of several Biblical prophets, he did not think highly of himself but humbly gave credit to God (1Corinthians 2:1, 4 - 5). He addresses the subject of spiritual gifts, of which prophecy is just one of many others, in 1Corinthians 12. It is likely the most authoritative chapter on the matter of prophets and their prophecies in Scripture. It is here that Paul makes the case that a prophetic gift is not the most important one to possess!

The Prophet David
The Prophet David
Camillo Boccaccino, 1530

It is widely understood that prophesying does not necessarily mean predicting the future, but it can mean speaking with inspiration, as a sermon can be, when God genuinely inspires it. Godly instruction in Christian living would then be the essence of that prophesying, rather than a prediction for the future.

In 1Thessalonians Paul tells us to test things, especially those who say they are speaking like prophets (1Thessalonians 5:21). We have the right to test, or prove out, the words given by modern day "believers" who claim to have some prophetic gift. What, however, should we test? What are we to look for to determine whether someone who claims they represent God really does? Jesus told us one thing to test for when he stated the following.

You will know them (false prophets) by what they do ('by their fruits' in the NKJV and other translations - Matthew 7:15 - 16).

Which fruits or actions is Jesus talking about in regarding to spotting false prophets pretending to be from God? In another place, God provides us with an exact definition of what to look for.

You may wonder how you can tell when a prophet's message does not come from the Lord. If a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord and what he says DOES NOT COME TRUE, then it is not the Lord's message (Deuteronomy 18:21 - 22).

A true servant, one directly inspired by God, makes unequivocal predictions that do happen! Jesus warned us, just before his death, that today there would be presumptuous people (false prophets or Christs) trying to deceive as many people as they possibly can (Matthew 24:4 - 6, 23 - 25). God has warned us about such modern liars! Will we heed the warning?

Additional Study Materials
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