For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom;
to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit;
To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the
gifts of healing by the same Spirit; To another the
working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another
discerning of spirits; to another various kinds of
tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues:
But in all these works that one and same Spirit,
dividing to every man individually as he will. For
as the body is one, and has many members, and
all the members of that one body, being many, are
one body: so also is Christ. (1 Corinthians 12:8-12)
The Bible clearly tells us that the gift of prophecy is one of the many gifts of the Holy Spirit, as we read in I Cor. 12:8-11.
The first thing we need to note is that prophecy is a gift given by the Holy Spirit. Not every person receives this gift, or any of the gifts of the Spirit. God, in the form of the Holy Spirit, knows every person's heart, their talents, their desires, their personality, and He chooses the gift or gifts for each person according to His own Divine wisdom.
We can not choose our gifts, any more than the holy men of old chose theirs. They did not choose their calling as prophets, but were chosen by God himself.
What exactly is a prophet? A prophet is a person authorized by God to speak the message God has revealed to him. The Bible shows us that from the beginning, God entrusted His chosen prophets with His messages to the rest of the world.
Whether the message well received or not, the prophet's job was to relay that message to the people. What they spoke was given to them by God, they did not speak their own words for their own purposes.
A prophet's function was actually two-fold, consisting of both foretelling and forth-telling. Foretelling is stating something that will happen in the future. Of course, the only possible way a human
being can tell what will happen in the future is if God reveals it to him. The Old Testament prophets were often foretelling future events as revealed to them by God himself : events like being taken captive by their enemies because of the hardness of their hearts and their unfaithfulness to God.
In each and every case, events unfolded just as God's prophet had foretold, proving again and again that God will do just as He says He will do!
In our day, God's people can only foretell the events that God has revealed to us in
Scripture: things of an eternal nature. We can foretell that whatever He has said in His Word will indeed come to pass. For instance,
I can prophecy that one day, at the name of Jesus, every knee will bow, and every tongue will confess Him as Lord.
Or that one day, heaven and earth will pass away, and there will be a new heaven and a new earth. This is what I can foretell,
because it is revealed in the Bible, and it WILL happen, just as God's word says!
However, there are many so-called psychics and spiritualists today who claim to have some abilty to foretell the future.
There have always been such charlatans. They have no true God-given gift of prophecy, and the Bible warns us to stay away from and do not heed any who claim to have special powers to foretell the furture:
whether they call themselves psychics, mediums, spirtualists, sorcerers,
white witches, diviners, or anything else. Anyone who claims to be able to tell the future apart from what is revealed in the Holy Bible is a fraud, and an abomination to God.
There shall not be found among you any one that makes his son
or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that uses divination,
or sorcery, or interprets omens, or is a witch, Or casts spells, or
is a medium, or a wizard, or consults the dead. (Deut. 18:10-11)
For all that do these things are an abomination unto the LORD:
and because of these abominations the LORD your God does
drive them out from before you. (Deuteronomy 18:12)
Many people make it a point to check their horoscope every single day, and to plan the events of ther lives accordingly. Others call so-called psychic hotlines, looking for
answers to problems in their lives, when the Holy Bible contains all the answers they'll ever need. Make no mistake about it, these things are idolatry. They were idolatry in the day of Moses, and they are idolatry today!
God's words to His people are unchanging. We are not to seek out those who claim to tell the future,
or have any involvemnt with physic readers, palm readers or fortune tellers, horoscopes, ouija boards, or any thing else of this nature - not even as a
form of entertainment, or "just for laughs". God's word assure us that there is nothing entertaining nor
humorous about such things! He did not tolerate it in ancient days, and does not tolerate it now.
The other part of prophecying is forth-telling, which simply means proclaiming God's word to others. In other words,
the second part of a prophet's job was simply proclaiming the word of the Lord to the people: teaching, encouraging, admonishing, uplifting, and
setting an example for them. The prophets were to be the spiritual leaders of God's people, who were in turn to be a visible representation of the
invisible God to the rest of the world, a light that shines in a dark place.
Nothing has changed since the calling of the Old Testament prophets. God told His prophet Moses to tell His people:
And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and
an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt
speak unto the children of Israel. (Exodus 19:6)
And He tells us today, through the apostle Peter:
But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood,
an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should
shew forth the praises of Him who has called you out
of darkness into His marvellous light. (1 Peter 2:9)
No, nothing has changed from the Old Testament to now. God is still calling His people to be prophets in our day and age.
Our gift of prophecy is not so much the "foretelling" kind, but rather
the "forth-telling": We are to be proclaiming the truths He has revealed to us in His Holy Word, the Bible. This is so important that the last words of Jesus
left this intruction to each and every one of His people in every generation:
Go ye therefore, and teach all nations,
baptizing them in the name of the Father,
and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
Teaching them to observe all things what-
soever I have commanded you: and, lo,
I am with you alway, even unto the end
of the world. Amen. (Matthew 28:19-20)