Introduction: This week I was speaking to a young man whose church
has a living prophet. Because of the prophecy of Joel 2:28-29, that
is not something I would automatically reject. Instead, what I found
worthy of consideration was his statement that the words of the
prophet were as authoritative as the words of the Bible. What do you
think of that? If the prophet truly speaks for God, then that makes
logical sense. Does it make Biblical sense? How about practical
sense? Let’s dive into our study of the Bible and learn what level of
confidence we should have in the prophetic gift!

  1. The Prophet and the Walkers

    1. Read Matthew 13:14. Is this a statement from a prophet?
      (Yes. Jesus says this is a fulfilled prophecy from

    2. Let’s look at this prophecy. Read Matthew 13:14-15.
      About what is the prophet warning? (People are not paying
      attention. They are seeing and hearing messages, but they
      are not paying attention. The message is not sinking into
      the mind.)

    3. Read Luke 24:13-18. Imagine you are speaking with a
      friend, and a stranger comes up and asks you what you are
      talking about. How would you react?

      1. Why do the two stop to answer this question? Why are
        their faces “downcast?” (Their faces reflect their
        sad mood. They are taking this question very
        seriously. They stop before they answer the

    4. Read Luke 24:19-21. How do they describe Jesus? (As a
      powerful prophet.)

      1. What is the significance of that? (They do not say He
        was the Messiah, the Son of God.)

      2. What is important about the “third day” reference?
        (Read Matthew 17:22-23. Jesus said that He would be
        raised to life on the third day. These two think all
        is lost.)

    5. Let’s continue with our story in Luke 24. Read Luke 24:22-24. What would you say to these two?

      1. Does the prophecy of Isaiah about seeing and hearing
        but not understanding ( Matthew 13:14) apply to them?

    6. Read Luke 24:25-27. Let’s review this situation. These men
      are discouraged and confused. They are thinking of the
      prophecy of Jesus and they are comparing it with what they
      know. How does Jesus help them to “see and hear?” (By
      opening to them the Bible.)

      1. Is Jesus doing the work of a prophet here? (Yes. The
        work of the prophet is to help humans understand
        God’s will.)

      2. What is the benchmark for Jesus’ explanation? (The

      3. What important lesson do we learn from this story
        about our confidence in the prophetic gift? (That
        statements of prophets must be benchmarked against
        the Bible.)

      4. Why didn’t Jesus just say to them “Hey knuckleheads,
        its Me!” (God’s goal for us is to understand the
        theme of the Scriptures and how Jesus fits in it.
        This is prophet work: to help us understand how our
        current situation, our current issue fits into the
        flow of Scripture.)

    7. Read 1 Corinthians 14:1-3. What is the role of the prophet
      in our day? (Just as Jesus encouraged the two discouraged
      men, so the work of the prophet today is to encourage,
      strengthen and comfort believers.)

  2. The Prophet and the Bereans

    1. Read Acts 17:10-12. Is Paul a prophet? (Of course.)

      1. How did the Bereans determine this? (By testing
        Paul’s words against the Bible.)

      2. Although the two men walking the road to Emmaus were
        not looking in a Bible as they spoke with Jesus, what
        gave them the conviction that Jesus was giving them a
        true message? (Read Luke 24:32. Their hearts burned
        as Jesus explained the relevant Scriptures to them.)

    2. Read 1 Corinthians 12:7-11. What is the purpose of giving
      the gift of prophecy to a believer? (For the common good.)

      1. Why does 1 Corinthians 12:11 stress that these
        spiritual gifts are the work of “one and the same
        Spirit?” (Because there must be harmony in the work
        of God. This is another reason why the Bible is the
        benchmark for anyone who claims to have the gift of

    3. Read Proverbs 2:1-6. This describes the process of
      understanding God’s will. Let’s break this down into its
      logical sequence.

      1. Re-read Proverbs 2:1-2. What kind of attitude does
        this describe? (This is someone who is open and
        anxious to understand God’s word.)

      2. Re-read Proverbs 2:3. What activity does this
        describe? (Prayer. The “call out” is to God, the Holy
        Spirit, for insight and understanding.)

      3. Re-read Proverbs 2:4-6. What is the end result? (If
        we are diligent in seeking God’s will, He will give
        us wisdom, knowledge and understanding.)

      4. What does this sequence teach us about confidence in
        the words of a modern prophet? (We should not
        approach a modern prophet like we approach a Chinese
        fortune cookie: we crack it open and find an answer.
        To be safe, we must have a deep understanding of the
        Bible. We must already know a great deal about how
        God directs the lives of humans. We then determine
        whether the words of the modern prophet “fit” into
        this stream of past revelation.)

    4. How should you react if a modern prophet gives a
      completely new understanding of the Bible? What if a
      modern prophet suggests a new doctrine? (Why would God
      give a message to someone now that He has not given to
      Moses, Paul or anyone else in the last 3,000 years? I can
      see a message that fits our time, but I would be very
      suspicious of a new message that has little relevance to
      our time and could have just as easily been given to
      Moses, Paul or some other Bible writer. If the new
      message in any way contradicts the Bible, I would reject

  3. Modern Prophets

    1. Let’s go back again to 1 Corinthians 14. Read 1
      Corinthians 14:1-5 & 1 Corinthians 14:29. How common was
      the gift of prophecy in the Corinthian church? (Very

    2. Read 1 Corinthians 14:36-40. Is there an unclear line
      between prophets and the “spiritually gifted” in the
      Corinthian church?

      1. How does Paul suggest prophets are to be judged?
        (Paul points out that God’s word did not originate
        with them. The inference is that prophets are to be
        judged by the stream of revelation starting with

    3. What guidance does this give us in evaluating modern
      prophets? (First, we should not be surprised by a
      Christian’s claim to have the gift of prophecy. The gift,
      like other spiritual gifts, should be expected in a
      church. By Corinthian standards, it would seem something
      was wrong with a church which did not have at least one or
      two who had the gift of prophecy. Second, this gift is to
      strengthen the church and believers. This gift is not to
      change the stream of revelations given by God over the
      past millenniums.)

    4. Friend, are you open to the words of a modern prophet?
      Are you open to those who are spiritually gifted? You
      should be open and you should be testing. If a modern
      prophet gives comfort, direction and strength to a church,
      and the words of the prophet are consistent with the
      benchmark of the Bible, then you are blessed.

  4. Next week: We begin a new study on “The Christian Life.”