If there is a prophet in the Church of God, either now or in the future, how will we know, and what sign or signs should we look for?
One of course is that the prophet will teach according to God's will and God's word.
"If there arises among you a prophet or a dreamer of dreams, and he gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or the wonder comes to pass, of which he spoke to you, saying, 'Let us go after other gods'—which you have not known—'and let us serve them,' you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams, for the Lord your God is testing you to know whether you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. You shall walk after the Lord your God and fear Him, and keep His commandments and obey His voice; you shall serve Him and hold fast to Him" (Deuteronomy 13:1-4).
In principle, this means that a true prophet of God will teach people to keep all of God's commandments, including His commandments to avoid the occult and pagan prophecies.
"Give no regard to mediums and familiar spirits; do not seek after them, to be defiled by them: I am the Lord your God" (Leviticus 19:31).
"And the person who turns to mediums and familiar spirits, to prostitute himself with them, I will set My face against that person and cut him off from his people" (Leviticus 20:6).
"When you come into the land which the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not learn to follow the abominations of those nations. There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, or one who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. For all who do these things are an abomination to the Lord, and because of these abominations the Lord your God drives them out from before you. You shall be blameless before the Lord your God. For these nations which you will dispossess listened to soothsayers and diviners; but as for you, the Lord your God has not appointed such for you" (Deuteronomy 18:9-14).
"Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons" (1 Timothy 4:1).
But that is not all. There is another sign of a true prophet, a sign so obvious it is amazing that someone in the Church of God today can overlook it.
Here it is. Are you ready for it?
I see no examples in the Bible of prophets without prophecy. A man who claims to be a prophet yet offers no actual prophecies seems to be lacking in Bible knowledge and spiritual perspective, and maybe common sense too. He claims a title, but offers nothing for it. It would be like a man who calls himself a "pastor" but has never pastored anyone. Or a man who calls himself a bricklayer but has never touched a brick. Or a "taxicab driver" who has never driven a taxi. Or an airplane pilot who has never piloted a plane.
It is claiming the title and the prestige of the title but without any accomplishment to justify the title. It seems like wanting the respect and honor that comes with the title but without doing anything for it.
Even if a teacher in the Church of God is faithful to always teach God's word accurately from the Bible, that does not make him a prophet. There can be many such teachers in the Church of God from the time of Herbert W. Armstrong till now, but they were not prophets, nor did they claim the title.
God Himself in the Bible teaches that one of the ways to know that someone is a prophet is that the prophecies he gives come true.
"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 18:21-22).
The two main signs of prophet are overall faithfulness in teaching, and it bears repeating that a man who leads his listeners or readers to look to pagan prophecies contrary to the word of God is not teaching God's way of life faithfully, and giving prophetic predictions that actually come to pass in a way that proves that the prophecy is from God.
A man who has given no prophecies has no right to call himself a prophet. Likewise, a man who gives prophecies that fail has no right to call himself a prophet. And a man who leads his readers and listeners to pay attention to pagan prophecies to learn details of future events from demons, details that God has not given us, has no right to call himself a true prophet of God. On the contrary, such a man is fooling with dynamite by consulting demons and is in very much danger of being deceived by Satan and his demons and thus potentially deceiving anyone who looks to that man as a prophet.
What about ordination or anointing with oil to be a prophet? Is that how God shows us who His prophets are?
No, that is not the pattern of the Bible. Men are generally not made prophets by ordination by men or by anointing by men. God deals with a man directly to make him a prophet.
And even if a man was anointed to be a prophet, that itself would not make him one. He would only become a prophet when God begins to reveal prophetic messages to him. And there would be no doubt or ambiguity about the message, whether it was an opinion or a human dream for example. It would be clear, powerful, and directly from God, and it would be provable by fulfillment when the prophecy comes to pass.
God made David king. Did David become king when God had Samuel anoint him in the presence of his brothers? No, he did not become king at that time.
"And Samuel said to Jesse, 'Are all the young men here?' Then he said, 'There remains yet the youngest, and there he is, keeping the sheep.' And Samuel said to Jesse, 'Send and bring him. For we will not sit down till he comes here.' So he sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, with bright eyes, and good-looking. And the Lord said, 'Arise, anoint him; for this is the one!' Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers; and the Spirit of the Lord came upon David from that day forward. So Samuel arose and went to Ramah" (1 Samuel 16:11-13).
Did that make David king? Absolutely not! David was NOT king from that point on. You can read the rest of the account up to the time David actually became king. Saul was still king, not David. It was after David killed Goliath, then served as an officer in Saul's army long enough to establish a reputation, then after David fled from Saul and became a leader of a small band for a while. Then, it was after that that Saul was killed in battle, and then David became king, not at the time he was anointed (2 Samuel 2:1-7).
God made David king through circumstances. God gave him the kingdom after God removed Saul. And one of the reasons God removed Saul was that Saul tried to learn the future through occult means that God had forbidden. "So Saul died for his unfaithfulness which he had committed against the Lord, because he did not keep the word of the Lord, and also because he consulted a medium for guidance" (1 Chronicles 10:13).
As we get closer to the end of the age, there is likely to be a great increase in deception and in those claiming to be prophets, whether within the Church of God or outside of it. We need to be spiritually alert to escape deception. We need to live by every word of God, including those parts that deal with knowing true versus false prophets.
Here is a link to another post related to this subject:
" 'Double Portion of Your Spirit' ", dated December 28, 2014, link: