Monday, February 15, 2021

Is The Church a Non-Prophet Organization?

By Gerald Cowan

    I once wrote a bulletin article with this title, but my elderly secretary corrected it to read “Non-Profit’ Organization. I took a bit of razzing for it. One member joked, “Just what I always thought:: the church is in it for the money.” But jokes aside, the question is valid: does the church have prophets or does it not? To answer that we must first define the term: what (not who, but what) is a prophet?
    The common understanding is that a prophet is one who can see and foretell the future, what is going to happen – some woe or weal that is coming. That is actually only part, sometimes a relatively small part, not even a necessary part of a prophet’s message. Prophets are forth-tellers not fore-tellers – like a president’s press secretary They speak for another, by revelation or instruction; they speak what they are given by or have received from the one for whom they speak. It may be instruction or information, approval, or warning – not always a forecast but sometimes an explanation or summary of past or present conditions. The prophet himself is not the source but only the conduit of a message from the one for whom he speaks, an oracle -- literally a “mouthpiece” through whom the source speaks. Oracles have been common, sometimes famous and revered because of the import and impact of the messages they delivered. The true source from which the oracle receives the message must be identified separately. The Christian preacher, teacher, oracular disseminator of the word of God is the oracle, the mouthpiece of God – the message he or she delivers can also be called an oracle. Apostle Peter says anyone who speaks the message and words of God is an oracle of the Lord (1 Peter 4:11).
    The test of validity of a message delivered in the name of the Lord – that is, the words from a prophet – is simple: if it is a prediction or pronouncement of something to come does it come to pass as stipulated, does it actually happen? (Deuteronomy 18:22). If it is information it must be proved true. If words given in God’s name or the name of Christ or the Holy Spirit are not true and/or do not come to pass, the speaker is proved to be a false prophet.
    Does the church have prophets today? None who are receiving messages directly from God – that kind of prophecy has ended (see 1 Corinthians 13:9-10). We can repeat what was taught by prior prophets, revealed in scripture – which makes us prophets too, prophet preachers. Any profit we seek is for God or our audience. Preachers and proclaimers can tell forth the message of prior prophets – it happens anytime we repeat the prophetic message of God. Even you can be that kind of prophet.
- Gerald Cowan, a longtime preacher and missionary, is retired from full-time pulpit preaching. Gerald publishes an e-mail newsletter entitled GERALD COWAN’S PERSONAL PERIODICAL WRITINGS. He is available for Gospel Meetings and he may be contacted at

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