1 Sam. 8:7 π 1 Sam. 8:20 π 1 Sam. 8:22 π 2 Sam. 12:7 π Hos. 4:6 π Zech. 13:3 π Mt. 13:30 π Mt. 20:25-26 π Mt. 23:13-39 π Mt. 24:4 π Mt. 24:12 π Jn. 3:19-21 π Jn. 8:44 π Jn. 10:27 π Acts 20:30 π Rom. 8:14 π 1 Cor. 11:19 π 1 Cor. 14:3 π Gal. 5:17 π Gal. 5:20 π Col. 1:27 π 2 Ths. 2:11 π 1 Tim. 4:1-3 π Heb. 8:10 π Heb. 13:13 π 1 Pet. 5:3 π 1 Jn. 2:27 π 1 Jn. 3:8 π 3 Jn. 9 π Rev. 2:6 π Rev. 2:15 π Rev. 17:5
The term "prophet" is one that has accumulated some unfortunate baggage, especially the idea that it is some kind of permanent "office." In truth, it is a gifting, a function, a role the Lord enables a person to fill at a particular moment in time. The label simply indicates one who speaks what is on the heart of the Lord for that particular moment and for the people at hand. In today's context, there are those who truly operate in the gifting who are never called prophets. There are those who call themselves prophets but who in reality are not prophets at all. And there are those who routinely speak for the Lord but who never consider whether their words are truly from His heart or from some other spirit. Being a "prophet" is popular in certain circles and considered apostasy and error in others. This is indeed an area where great confusion abounds.
Prophets are usually not considered exceptionally annoying until they begin to point out certain sins. But even this is tolerable to a certain degree until the prophet - like Nathan confronting King David with a very personal, "You are the man!" ( 2 Sam. 12:7; top ) - begins to step on very personal, very "sacred-cow" kinds of idolatry. Then the prophet is either immediately well-loved or much-hated - all dependant upon the spiritual condition of the one to (and of!) whom he speaks.
Much grief is heaped upon the heads of many who are called to be prophets because they so often have such "negative" things to say about this "ministry" or that "church" practice. The leaders of these "ministries" and "churches," those who go so far as to even admit that a New Testament prophet is a valid gifting, will often resort to Paul's description of one who prophesies as a means to demonstrate that one who speaks negatively cannot possibly be a prophet from God.
Paul wrote, "But he who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men." ( 1 Cor. 14:3 ) "There it is," they say. "This is what a prophet speaks - and there's not a negative word to be found in that list." Apparently, Jesus with His denunciations of woe upon the hypocrites ( Mt. 23:13-39; top ) would be a false prophet today!
Such a dismissal of prophetic words on the basis of their "negativity" completely ignores the dual nature of human life. Either one lives by the Spirit, being led by God as His son ( Rom. 8:14 ) or one lives by the flesh and is controlled by the sinful nature. There is no neutral ground in this all-out war between the Spirit and the flesh. (see Gal. 5:17; top )
A word of spiritual comfort to the man undergoing a trial, encouraging him to stand firm for the Lord in the midst of that trial, is an extremely unwelcome word to the flesh nature.
An exhortation to cease from sinning is a very negative statement when made to one who is quite comfortable in their sin.
And a word of edification - that is, a word which builds up the spiritual nature of the believer - would be looked upon as sheer destructive blasphemy by those who have built up their own empires in the same place where this word of edification would establish something of God's kingdom.
Most people fail to understand how there historically came to be a "pastor" over the local "church." Most do not recognize either that whether he stands over a huge crowd at a mega-"church" or over only a handful in a house "church," the office is taken from the same mold, the "office" of the "bishop" of the first and second century. Nor do many realize that this historical event of the bishop arising over the assembly bears great similarity to how there came to be a king over Israel. God still says, "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge." ( Hos. 4:6; top )
The bishop (Greek episkopas ) arose from the midst of the elders (Greek presbuteros  - see Acts 20:30 ) and stepped into a place of headship over the local assemblies by telling the people that it was right and appropriate that they should be there (see Ignatius of Antioch) - and the people, led by an "instinctive" urge for visible unity in the face of empire-wide persecution and the contentiousness of the various arising bishops, set themselves at the feet of these men who seemed to have God's approval upon them. ( 1 Cor. 11:19 , also see Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, Vol. II, p. 141-143) In the New Testament, this error, attributing to a man "delegated" authority supposedly from God and then exalting him over the rest of the people, is called "Nicolaitan" ( Rev. 2:6 , 15 ) and is seen practiced by Diotrephes who "loved to have the preeminence" among the people. ( 3 Jn. 9; top )
When we become aware of this history - which is easily confirmed by a little historical research - we can see that God's allowing the bishop to step into the place of Christ and God over each local assembly is very similar to God's acquiescing to the demands of the Israelites for a king to rule over them. The Israelites desired a king so "that we also may be like all the nations, and that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles." ( 1 Sam. 8:20 ) After warning them of the hardships and deprivations a king would enact upon the people - things that would substantially subtract from their lives - God then told Samuel, "Heed their voice, and make them a king." ( 1 Sam. 8:22 ) God had already told Samuel, "Heed the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them." ( 1 Sam. 8:7 ) These are exactly the commonly found attitudes of people who set themselves at the feet of a modern "pastor." Forgotten (or explained away) are Jesus' words that His sheep hear His voice ( Jn. 10:27 ) and John's words that we all have an anointing from the Spirit of truth and we do not need that any man should continually be teaching us the things of God ( 1 Jn. 2:27 ) Cast aside and ignored are the truths that God's laws are already written on our hearts ( Heb. 8:10 ) and that Christ already within us is our hope and expectation of experiencing God's glory. ( Col. 1:27; top )
John wrote, "For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil." ( 1 Jn. 3:8; top ) When we find that having the "pastor" over the "church" is nothing short of deceptive works and schemes of the devil, we can suddenly understand why a New Testament prophet would speak against the "church" and its leaders - and why the "church" and the "pastors" would be so diametrically opposed to even the idea of New Testament prophets!
God has always spoken words that comfort, exhort and edify the spirits of men to go "outside the camp" to meet Jesus. ( Heb. 13:13 ) These "extremists" and "come-outers" (which some did indeed go too far in one direction or another, as is true of all "prophets" - and "pastors"!) were most often ridiculed and dismissed because their message did not fit into the "church" paradigm the devil had erected. And because it was not yet time for the tares to be exposed as tares ( Mt. 13:30; top ), God has graciously met men where they were at. But many are those prophets who spoke of the deeper things of God, who tried in vain to reconcile those divine mysteries and revelations back into the deceptive schemes men commonly called "church."
Many have argued themselves in circles trying to justify the existence of the "pastor" over the flock in spite of Christ's clear command that it "not be so among you" ( Mt. 20:25-26 , etc.) and Peter's clear instruction that the elders not be "lords over God's heritage." ( 1 Pet. 5:3; top - the word "heritage" here, Greek kleros , is the very word by which the "church fathers," within two centuries after Christ and Peter, derived the word "clergy"! God's "heritage" used to be all the people - in the time of the "church fathers" it became the leadership.) It is ironic in no small way to read many of these well-"churched" prophets speaking wonderfully of our need to obey God in greater depth only to have them end their exhortation with a call to submit ourselves back to a local "pastor" or "church."
Historically, prophets have been either excluded and driven off or they have acquiesced to the system and produced some sort of hybrid-message that incorporated elements of deceptive beliefs alongside and intermingled with elements of genuine ekklesia and true following after Christ. Sorting out which is ekklesia and which is "church" (using these terms in their spiritually opposing senses) is no easy task in this age of lawlessness (doing what is right in one's own eyes) and deception brought on by demonic inspiration. ( Mt. 24:4 , 12 , 1 Tim. 4:1-3; top )
We have had to wade through all this to make a rather simple point - that the prophet who truly speaks the heart of Christ and God will indeed both tear down and build up. He will root out and plant. He will brutally plow up "fallow (hardened) ground" and he will patiently and gently water tender young shoots. He will both comfort and challenge those who hear what he says. That this simple point is lost in modern churchianity tells us several things simultaneously:
- The works of the devil and the demonic are lies. ( Jn. 8:44; top ) Wherever men have embraced and built upon those lies - which includes the vast superstructure commonly called "church" - to destroy those works will infringe upon the false beliefs and practices that men hold sacred and dear to their hearts.
- Men love darkness more than light. John wrote, "Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes to the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God." ( Jn. 3:19-21; top ) When a prophet speaks a true word from the Lord, the "rats" will go scurrying for their dark corners but those who truly live in the light will be comforted by the words of the Lord.
- The devil's work is far more pervasive, effective and successful than most at "church" are able or willing to admit. The apostasy, the great falling away from the faith is being accomplished by deception (strong delusion - 2 Ths. 2:11; top ) and it is largely occurring within the little man-made boxes of deception and distortion men most commonly call "church."
When a prophet speaks a word that destroys some work of the devil - as happens when the truth is told about the mother of abominations and prostitutes ( Rev. 17:5 , the Catholic "church" and all her religion-for-profit denominational "church" daughters) or about the sin of Nicolaitanism ("pastor" exaltation, worship and following) or dissensions (Greek dichostasia ) and heresies (Greek hairesis  divisions - Gal. 5:20; top - both of these sins are commonly called denominations or "churches" today) or even in just telling the truth about the deceptions behind the usage of the English words "church" and "pastor" rather than the original meanings held in the Greek words "ekklesia"  and "poimenas" (shepherd)  - this is enough to earn the speaker the enmity of the "church" institution. That is, a truth revealed by the Spirit of God, whose heart hates what these sins do to His people, is immaterial to those who claim most to represent Christ and God.
What an abomination the "church" is - men stand in front of the door to the kingdom of God refusing to enter in themselves, nor do they allow others to enter in either. The men who stand in front of the crowd have worn the "pastor" mask for so long that they have virtually become the mask and most don't seem to know the first thing about confronting and overcoming the deceptiveness that reigns in their own hearts and lives. And rather than hear and obey what God is saying to all who claim to be His, they instead ridicule and "theologically" dismiss and refute the true words the Lord sends through those who are His true prophets. This abominable state of affairs is soon to come to an abrupt and final end. The time to repent of such foolishness is now before it becomes too late to do so.
Though this is a simple truth that we can readily walk in, we must also beware of the human tendency to over-generalize and over-simplify the complications that have arisen from men embracing the demonic's deceptions. Not all "church" "pastors" are false shepherds - though to be a "church" "pastor" requires submission and embrasure of certain demonic deceptions. But in truth, some "pastors" are only sincere but deceived men trying to stand with one foot in deception and the other in the Spirit of truth. That is, they are men attempting to accomplish impossible demands upon their human nature as they stand in a place designed to be held by Christ and God alone. Oh that these would repent and step away from the unclean thing they have become!
Nor are all men who claim the title of "prophet" truly genuine prophets of the Lord - just as surely as some men who will not touch or claim the title of prophet truly are New Testament prophets. False prophets have been around as long as there have been true prophets and they will not cease to exist until the Lord returns and rules with a rod of iron. (see Zech. 13:3; top )
The true shepherd of the Lord and the true prophet of the Lord - because both are submitted to the same Spirit - will work in unity with one another, not in contradiction and antagonism. The true prophet will always work in antagonism against the "pastor" because, by submitting himself to the Lord, he stands in direct contrast to all that is deceptive "church." The true shepherd and the true prophet will be involved in the work of building the eternal kingdom of Christ and God and the destruction of the works of the devil will be seen as the victory for the kingdom of light, goodness and justice that it truly is. When men decry the destruction of their own kingdoms and the exposure of their preferred darkness, we can know without question that what we are witnessing is not the kingdom of Christ and God. When true words tear down, they will tear down only the devil's kingdom, the world or the flesh - true words will always comfort, exhort to obedience and comfort the spirits of men as they seek to attain to the will and way of Christ and God.
Let he who has ears hear.
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