Are There Modern Day Prophets in the Church?

This post comes from a review that I did on Radical Together written by my friend David Platt. The original review was posted on the 9 Marks website here.

Through that review, and some conversations with friends, I reflected on the nature of prophets in our culture. God leads prophets sometimes to do things that many of us see as extreme. Think, for example of Old Testament prophets who laid on their side for 3 years or married a prostitute to make a point. This doesn’t mean that that they are giving a pattern for us, but God is using them to make a point. Quite often they are the first ones to say that what they are doing is not a model for everyone. (And, I should note, I am not saying that modern-day prophets carry the same authority as Old Testament prophets. Old Testament prophets were revealing new messages from God; modern day prophets are merely elevating already-revealed messages to us).

God led David’s church through “the Radical Experiment” which included dramatic budget cuts, the elimination of certain good ministries, and the now infamous removal of goldfish and other snacks during the children’s program. Is that the new standard for all of us? David would say “no.” But the point being made through Brook Hills Church (and, I believe, by God) to us is that church is not a social club for Christians.

Gospel theology demands urgent missiology. David teaches periodically at a “Secret Church” for 6 hours with hardly any interruption or breaks. Do we all need to do that? Not necessarily. But the point being made is that the word, not the entertainment, is the living power of the church. Or, another example: Mark Dever, whose church has been “out of space” for years, won’t multiply services or campuses, can’t expand their current building, and won’t transfer locations. They believe that churches are too often focused on building an audience than they are the members, and they want membership to be meaningful. Should we all refuse to multiply services, or be unwilling to move locations to be able to grow? I don’t think so, but God has used Capitol Hill to remind us that the church is not an audience. It is a family.

The Apostle Paul would not take a salary for his work as an Apostle, even though he acknowledged he was entitled to it and that others in his position can and should take one. God had directed him to take no salary to make the point that ministry was not about self-promotion. The ministry, he said, is about pouring yourself out for the church, not enriching yourself off of the church. But Paul was very clear that what God had directed him to do was not a standard for others. In some ways, it was unique to him. But the point he made is for all of us.

I’m not trying to trivialize what any of these churches or leaders have done so that we can box them up and brush them off as extremists. Quite the contrary: God is using them to speak to us. We must heed the message being given and ask God what we need to do with the truths they embody. I’m just saying that even if we do not imitate them exactly in how they apply these truths, we can still recognize them as an appointed messenger from God.

I am very grateful for the prophets God has raised up in our Christian culture. Even if I don’t apply the truth they stand for in exactly the same ways that they do, I recognize the gracious, disciplining hand of God in them.

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  1 Comment

  1. Bruce H.   •  

    Classes are taught on Spiritual Gifts and little is done church wide to identify, log, train and utilize these gifts effectively within the local church. Prophesy or Prophet is one of the gifts that still exist and function within the local church. Prophet is one of the strong features I have and is almost equal with my main gift of Teaching. All Spiritual Gifts have a dual function; the “right way” and the “wrong way”. There is a great importance in the Spirit’s function through redeemed people and our attention to it seems non-existent. Frankly, there is not much of a focus on developing the body of Christ through the gifts. The main focus seems to be evangelism and we think everyone has to have the same sense of urgency as the Evangelist. There is an imbalance and it does need to be addressed.

    The Prophet requires restraint before making statements or moving forward. It is wise to be as sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s direction as possible and have a close walk with God. The Prophet isn’t necessarily the pastor. The gift isn’t just for men, it also includes women. Everything must be done decently and in order. Therefore, we must think through every detail and wait upon the Lord before we do anything. There is a structure within the body and Prophet is not a title, it is a gift. Much more can be said about the Prophet.

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