Sunday, February 15, 2015

Does the Church of God Need Prophets Today, and If Not, Why Not?

Some may say that, because there were prophets in the New Testament Church of God, there must also be prophets in the Church today (1 Corinthians 12:28-29, Acts 11:27-28).

Does the Church of God need prophets today?

A true prophet of God is one who receives a message from God by direct and miraculous revelation, not just through the Bible. God in the past has given His prophets such messages for individuals or for His people as a whole. It is the prophet's job to deliver the message as God instructs. The revelation can come from God through various means, including dreams (Numbers 12:5-6, Daniel 7:1), visions (Ezekiel 1:1-3), voice (1 Samuel 3:1-14), or face-to-face communication with Christ or an angel of God (Numbers 12:7-8).

Mr. Armstrong never claimed to be a prophet. He never claimed to receive revelation direct from God apart from the Bible. Nor did he say in his sermons and articles that anyone else in the Church was a prophet during his time. I think it is safe to say that no man in the Church of God during Mr. Armstrong's lifetime was known and recognized by the Church of God as a prophet. If someone claims that there must be prophets in the Church at all times because there were prophets in the New Testament, that person should explain who such prophets were when Mr. Armstrong was alive.

God does not expect us to be foolish and naive. We are not to automatically believe everyone who claims to be a prophet of God. If a man is a prophet, we can expect God to show us the proof before God expects us to believe the prophet.

"But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in My name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet shall die. And if you say in your heart, 'How shall we know the word which the Lord has not spoken?' - when a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the thing does not happen or come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him" (Deuteronomy 18:20-22).

Do we need prophets today?

It may be that the Church will need prophetic revelation direct from God before the return of Christ. If we need prophets, God will provide them. But the Church does not necessarily need prophets at all times.

There is one difference between conditions today and conditions in New Testament times that can explain why there has not been the need for direct prophetic revelation from God in the Church in our time.

In New Testament times, the Bible was not complete and widely and readily available as it is today. Today we have the Bible, and the Bible contains the teachings of the prophets and the apostles, inspired by God and infallibly accurate.

When the Church of God first started in the first century, the Bible was not complete. It was actually being written during the time that there were prophets in the Church. Not only was the Bible not complete, it was not readily available. The printing press was not invented yet. Individual books of the Bible were made by copying the text by hand and were rare and expensive. The Church had access to the scriptures that were already written, but not every individual member could afford to have even most of the books that were already written. God gave us instructions regarding scripture so that we know it is infallible and is inspired by God (John 10:35, 2 Timothy 3:16-17, Acts 17:11), but Church members did not have complete Bibles in their homes they could study every day.

But today, the Bible is complete. It has been translated into all major languages on earth. It is affordable for almost all Church members. Moreover, today we have proof of the inspiration of the Bible in the form of the historical fulfillment of prophecy, which had not yet occurred in New Testament times.

And since we have the Bible, there has been less need for prophets in our time.

But when and if the time comes for God to give the Church of God messages by direct revelation, God will provide whatever prophets we need to deliver those messages. And He will give us the evidence we need to know they are prophets.

Here are links to posts in this blog related to this subject:

"What Is the Most Important Issue in the Whole Church of God?", dated June 30, 2013, link:

"Christ as Head of the Church", dated July 3, 2014, link:


Anonymous said...

In reading your post, it seems that you may be forgetting a few Scriptures and the intent of the context, which could certainly place “Prophets” in our time frame.

Ezek 33:33 “And when this comes to pass -- surely it will come -- then they will know that a prophet has been among them." NKJV
Amos 3:7 “Surely the Lord GOD does nothing, Unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets.” NKJV
1 Cor 12:28 “And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers”,-- NKJV
Heb 13:8 Jesus Christ (The head of the COG) is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” NKJV

These are just a few that readily came to mind, but the real key for us today is IF we are able to recognize them. I think that is the bigger question. You mentioned HWA and what he said about there being no prophets—yet Amos 3:7 applied to him as well.
Just something to think about.

Tig1 said...

Some today in the greater COG are trying to shoehorn their way into the office of prophet The fruits of their work will speak for them self.