There is a record of prophecy in both the Old Testament (O.T.) and the New Testament (N.T.). “Thus says the Lord” is a standard beginning with biblical prophecy and is known as the “Messenger Formula” (Thompson, 2008: 21). God instructed Moses to use the messenger formula when he spoke to Pharaoh (Exodus 4: 22). The significance of the messenger formula is deduced from its secular use—a servant his master had sent to deliver a message commonly used it.
The prophets introduce their oracles with the formula and then speak in the first person as though they were God, often saying things that only God could say in the first person (Isaiah 66:1). That is the pattern of Biblical Prophecy. The prophet categorically is not saying, “This is what I feel God is leading me to say.’ Or “This is what I believe the Lord is saying.” The O.T. view of prophecy is corroborated in the N.T. (Matt. 1:22 – 23, 2; 5-6, 4: 13-16, 12: 6-21; Acts 1:20, 2: 16-21).
From the New Testament, Prophecy could be defined as “telling something that God has spontaneously brought to mind.” Jesus actively taught the divine authority of Prophecy (Luke 24: 25). The NT shows continuity like prophecy in the linguistic evidence, received revelation, and prediction of future events. I believe the current Pentecostal and Charismatic Prophecy is different from the biblical prophecy. So prophecies in the present Church should be considered merely human words, not God’s words, and are not equal to God’s words in authority.
Apostle Paul indicates that God could bring something spontaneously to mind so that the person prophesying would report it in their words. Paul terms it “Revelation.” “If a revelation is made to another sitting by, let the first be silent. For you can all prophesy one by one so that all may learn and all be encouraged.” – (1 Cor. 14: 30-31). In his book (Thompson: 2008, 26-28), Jim Thompson gave five differences in Prophecy in Israel according to the biblical record. The differences are:
- Means of Revelation.
- Status among the Prophets.
- Behavior among the Prophets.
- Ministries gave to the prophets.
- The amount of material that has been recorded and preserved from each prophet.
There is almost uniform testimony from all sections of the Charismatic movement that prophecy is imperfect and impure and will contain elements that are not to be obeyed or trusted (Robinson, 2015. theothoughts.com). For example, Bruce Yocum, the author of a widely used book, said, “prophecy can be impure – our thoughts or ideas can get mixed into the message we receive.” Wayne Grudem, in his Systematic Theology book (Grudem, 1994: 1059), quoted the words of Michael Harper (Anglican Charismatic pastor): “Prophecies which tell other people what they are to do – are to be regarded with great suspicion.” The examples of prophecies in the New Testament indicate that prophecy is not only predicting the future. The biblical record shows some predictions (Acts 11:28; 21:11) and disclosures of sins (1 Cor. 14:25). Paul says, “He who prophesies speaks to men for their upbuilding and encouragement and consolation” (1 Cor. 14:3). Biblical prophecy does not relegate the Scripture to the background. The Church should place more prominence on the superior value and authorities of Scripture as the source Christians can always depend on to hear the voice of the living God. ***continues tomorrow.