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Bible Q

Are there modern day prophets and apostles?

There have been, and still are, many people who claim to be a prophet or an apostle. Obviously most, and possibly all, of these claims are false since their claims conflict with each other. So how can we tell?

For a start we would need to look very carefully, even suspiciously, at the evidence for such claims. On the other hand we would not want to miss identifying a true prophet. Fortunately God gave some tests that the ancient people of Israel were to apply. These tests are so practical, and make such good sense that we would be foolish to ignore them. The main test is:

Deut 18:21-22  And if you say in your heart, ‘How may we know the word that the LORD has not spoken?’–  (22)  when a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the word does not come to pass or come true, that is a word that the LORD has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously. You need not be afraid of him.

Many charlatans have made claims that when carefully examined fail this test. I am not aware of any modern claim to be a prophet or apostle that has passed this test.

In contrast, predictions made by the ancient Hebrew prophets regarding Israel have been verified by events. The likelihood that these were fulfilled by chance alone is so slight that we can have strong confidence in the scriptures that they wrote. Similarly the apostles such as Peter and Paul were able to do miracles that could not be refuted. Those miracles were unlike many falsely claimed miracles of modern so-called apostles.

The Bible predicted that there would be prophets:

Joel 2:28-29  “And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions.  (29)  Even on the male and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit.

This was quoted by Peter on the day of Pentecost as predicting that day. It is reasonable to also give Joel’s words a latter day application because the verses that follow it seem to refer to the establishment of Christ’s kingdom. However there is no  need for these prophets to be here today because Christ has not yet returned, and God’s kingdom has not yet been established over all the earth.

Heb 6:4-6  For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit,  (5)  and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come,  (6)  and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt.

The heavenly gift was evident in the first century, and is also promised in the age to come. However there is no requirement to expect that there are modern day prophets and apostles. Great care should be taken not to be hoodwinked by emotion. Only clear proof should convince us.

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