This article is one in a series of studies on prophecies, particularly those of William Branham - you are currently on the article that is in bold:
A prophet is a person who speaks by divine inspiration, revealing the will of God.
What identifies a prophet?
God knew that His people would have trouble identifying true and false prophets so the Bible contains some very clear identifications of a true prophet.
This text reveals how God gives information to a prophet. When a prophet speaks, people do not know whether the prophet is lying (speaking out of his own imagination) or if the prophet has actually received a dream or a vision from God. God told Israel to listen to everyone who claims to have received a vision from Him because such persons must either be believed or destroyed!
Performing miracles proves NOTHING
Jesus said that false prophets can perform great signs and miracles, so we know that displays or manifestations of supernatural power do not necessarily mean that God has sent a prophet. In fact, the book of Revelation reveals that a time is coming when the devil himself will call fire down out of the sky to prove that he is God, and this overwhelming miracle will deceive most of the inhabitants of Earth. “And he performed great and miraculous signs, even causing fire to come down from heaven to earth in full view of men. Because of the signs he was given power to do on behalf of the first beat, he deceived the inhabitants of the earth…” (Revelation 13:13,14) So, the ability to perform miracles does not prove that a prophet is sent from God.
Jesus warned His followers,
These few verses tell us that false prophets can:
The apostles never preached signs and wonders to attract the multitudes much less those who already believe. Seeing a sign was never a assurance of belief. With all this in mind, Paul did not use the signs and miracles as the absolute proof of his apostolic position.
Notice he says they were last examples condemned to death, weak, poor, hungry, beaten and homeless. It's obvious we don’t see those who claim these positions today living in such a manner. They for the most part became martyrs. Today those who claim apostolic positions live in luxury and opulence.
There are numerous warnings in scripture, in Mt.7 there is number of people who claim before the Lord,
They tried to be accepted by what they did, by the power they supposedly had, but they did not do the will of the Lord which is to preach the Gospel in truthfulness. Yet the Lord said he never had a relationship with them. So His name is not a stamp of authenticity for anyone. They were lawless; they were not under his leadership, or guidance; they did not practice the law of Christ. They tried to approach God on their own merit by their good deeds, saying "look at what we did, we had power." It wasn't about power, but about knowing him in a relationship.
In warning, Jesus said to those who were following Him for the blessings, 'Unless you people see signs and wonders you will by no means believe.' Our choice today is to believe His Word that he spoke.
They can look right but if they do not speak according to the word already delivered then whatever follows in miracles is not from God but from another source.
Followers of William Branham's message point to only one thing - the miracles. They state that his "gift of discernment came from God for the purpose of vindicating him as a true servant of God".
Having one or more gifts of the Spirit does not make one a prophet
The Bible indicates that Jesus bestowed spiritual gifts on the early church. (The word “church” as it is used in this study should not be confused with a particular denomination.) Paul wrote, “it was he [Jesus] who gave some [gifts to ordinary people so that they could serve as] to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, [so that all of these should work together] to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” (Ephesians 4:11-13, insertions mine)
These verses reveal that Jesus equips ordinary people with extraordinary gifts for the benefit of building up His church. Please notice that Paul identifies their order of importance: “And in the church God appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, also those having gifts of healing, those able to help others, those with gifts of administration, and those speaking in different kinds of tongues.”
The "One Mistake" rule
A true Prophet must be 100% accurate. There is absolutely no margin for error.
The true Prophet of the Lord predicts that which does come to pass. If the Prophet's predictions fail, they are exposed as NOT of God.
In Ezekiel there is an interesting scripture Ezek. 13:2-3 “Son of man, prophesy against the prophets of Israel who prophesy, and say to those who prophesy out of their own heart, 'Hear the word of the LORD!'“ Thus says the Lord GOD: “Woe to the foolish prophets, who follow their own spirit and have seen nothing!" God says one can actually say they are hearing from the Lord but it really is their own spirit.
The Bible says this of the prophet Samuel:
In the Old Testament, prophets prophesied within three time frames: their own time, for the 1st coming and the 2nd coming. The test of a prophet was his near prophecies which would be fulfilled in his own lifetime. Obviously, if it was beyond his lifetime, he wouldn't be around to have to answer for it. Prophecy was very specific in the Old and the New Testament. They would foretell God's revelation to the people and if one looks back at Biblical record to study a prophet's calling, it was God who picked them and they are often found arguing not to have the office. In contrast, there are now schools to train new prophets because the people desire this office.
Another test used on would be prophets, found in Deuteronomy 13:1. In addition to whether or not their predictions came true is whether they used signs and wonders as tools to draw people to other gods or a different representation of God. (Such as Jannes and Jambres in 2 Timothy 3:8). Here, God is testing the people to see if they love only Him. This is probably the most overlooked scripture pertaining to examining the claims of those who profess supernatural powers that come from God. If they were to contradict the teaching that had already been revealed - which had provided knowledge of the one true God then they were seen as false prophets. God did not, and still does not tolerate false prophesying. If they wrong once, they are false, they were to be stoned. If this occurred today many if not all who lay claim to this position would have a quick end to their so called anointing!
Remember: just because one performs miracles, even inside a church, does not mean God is working. We should be more on guard inside the church than we would like to think. In 1 Corinthians 4:6, we are told no to go beyond what in written. If one contradicts the apostolic writings and teachings, then they are false (2 Cor.11:14). Those who go beyond the word having God speak to them directly with new revelation, become puffed up with self deception. There is something called humility that is practiced when one adheres to the same standard that everyone else does. Isa.8:16” bind up the testimony (of the Prophets) seal the law among my disciples”. (Moses) vs. 20 “To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because their is no light in them.” This standard distinguishes a believer from an unbeliever. The test of the prophet was his conformity to the word of God, he condemns sin, he comforts the brethren, and he speaks of things in the near future and later than his life. A prophet, like an apostle, not only functioned as a gift, but as an office. A prophet would declare God's will for his generation, addressing idolatry or lukewarmness. We see this personified in John the Baptist who warned and rebuked the people preparing the for the Messiah.
Prophets must be judged
Once the scriptures were completed, the Church had all that was necessary in the area of revelational truth. The apostles' instructions were in words, then put to paper for all succeeding generations on how to live in obedience to the faith.
Once a foundation is laid down and a house is built, we don't rebuild the foundation.(Eph.2:20) Neither should we rip apart the house that the Lord has built.
In terms of authority, the Bible is a closed book. When the apostolic age ended, the Bible was completed. God has not given subsequent prophets any information that extends Scripture. Everything that God wanted said in the Bible has been said in the Bible and the Canon is closed. This means that Scripture must test all prophetic utterances since the apostolic age. The words of prophets today are not authoritative (that is, their words are not to be regarded as an extension to Scripture). True prophets always direct people to the Bible because every true prophet knows that the Bible is man’s sole authority in matters pertaining to God. Yes, we should consider the claims of people who say that God has told them something, but we have to test their claims by the Bible. Paul wrote, “Test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil.” (1 Thessalonians 5:21,22) Those claiming to receive dreams or visions from God are not to be revered, quoted as an authority, or worshiped. Instead their words are to be thoroughly challenged by the Word of God and if they bear up after close investigation, the Word of God is to be exalted – not the prophet! The lives of the prophet should also be examined. Speaking of prophets, Jesus said, “Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.” (Matthew 7:19,20)
Each time a prophet claims to reveal something from God, that claim has to be verified. If the claim is found to be in harmony with Scripture, then a clearer understanding of Scripture will unfold and the body of Christ will be blessed! Otherwise, I hope that none of you will have anything to do with the subtle lies of a false prophet!
There are those who claim to be apostles and prophets by their own word. Others claim it by showing their signs, wonders and miracles. This so-called signs and wonders movement is part of an effort to restore what they understood to be the five-fold ministry described in Ephesians 4:11. The proliferators of the movement claim that these dynamics are what is necessary for the church to have power. In actuality, those who lay claim to this ministry today are operating under a misunderstanding of apostles and prophets of the Bible. The Lord confirmed His signs to the apostles' words to show a transition of authority from Israel and its priesthood to the apostles who were laying down the foundation for the church, a new entity. This unique anointing testified to Israel and to the gentiles a new order of leadership, the demonstration of spiritual authority was transferred to the church Christ body. Becoming aware of what the Bible says about these positions in the early church can help us guard against misleading teachings in the church today.
Isa. 29:10-13: “For the LORD has poured out on you the spirit of deep sleep, and has closed your eyes, namely, the prophets; and He has covered your heads, namely, the seers. The whole vision has become to you like the words of a book that is sealed, which men deliver to one who is literate, saying, “Read this, please.” And he says, “I cannot, for it is sealed.” Then the book is delivered to one who is illiterate, saying, “Read this, please.” And he says, “I am not literate Therefore the LORD said: “Inasmuch as these people draw near with their mouths and honor Me with their lips, but have removed their hearts far from Me, and their fear toward Me is taught by the commandment of men.” When we see new prophets operate outside the written word or give new unknown meanings to the word they have become illiterate to expounding truth. When this happens many turn to signs and wonders to validate their ministry. Its not truth that they have to give, but the power to display. 2 Tim.4:3 The time will come when they will not adhere to sound doctrine but according to their desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers, and they will turn away from the truth and be turned aside to fables.” Fables are all things beyond what is written in the word.
A prophet does not point to himself
The Bible also indicates that a prophet cannot validate himself. In other words, no person becomes a prophet because he decides to be a prophet and neither can any man appoint a prophet. God Himself decides who will speak for Him – and that person may prophesy once during his entire lifetime or he may prophesy many times. (1 Samuel 19)
Paul wrote, “All these [gifts, including the gift of prophecy] are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he [the Spirit] gives them to each one, just as he determines.”
Jesus said, “If I testify about myself about myself [claiming that I am the Messiah], my testimony is not valid. There is another who testifies in my favor, and I know that his testimony about me is valid. You have sent to John and he has testified to the truth [that I am the Messiah].”
If a person is “gifted” with visions from God, this gift will become evident over time. Spiritually mature people will test and validate the gift and of course, time will prove whether the prophet spoke of God or out of his own imagination.
Followers of William Branham's message state that William Branham never said he had the spirit of Elijah — but that he did point out many of the scriptures that the "end-time Elijah would fulfill. Unfortunately, this statement is the product of cognitive dissonance.
William Branham pointed to himself repeatedly and often.
A true prophet will point out the false ones
A true apostle would point out the false ones. Yet today, not only do those who claim to be apostles fail to do so, but there are threats and manipulations for those who do not go along with what they are trying to portray. 'Jezebel,' 'Antichrist,' and 'Blasphemer of the Holy Spirit' are common terms used for those who speak against them.
Alarmingly, these impostor’s claim to be exclusively without error in their interpretations and teachings on these matters. They are to be questioned by no one. In reading the letter of Jude, we find him exhorting the believers to contend for their faith among apostates in the church. More specifically, verse 17 reminds the church of the apostles' warnings of mockers coming in the last days that are natural men not having the Spirit. Today we find those who claim to have more of it than others. Nowhere do we find the apostles preaching they are anointed and certainly did not imply they were more so than others. The danger of these mislead leaders is that they will cause divisions without realizing the harm they do, nor the judgment that they will eventually incur upon themselves.
Lack of popularity is not "proof"
True prophets are not popular during their lifetime because Almighty God does not trifle with man nor does God send trivial messages through His prophets. When God sends a message, His words cut like a double-edged sword. God condemns sin and exposes error. So, the message of a true prophet is usually hated, and historically, the life span of a true prophet is short and painful. Jesus acknowledged Israel’s customary treatment of the prophets saying, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing.”
However, being unpopular is not an indication that someone is a prophet. Joseph Smith, the founder of the Mormons, was killed for his beliefs but this did not make his beliefs correct.
Does not give a private interpretation of scripture
2 Peter 1:20, "Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation." A true Prophet NEVER gives his private interpretation. He only shares what the Lord reveals. Scripture defines Scripture, not man.
Does not glorify himself
2 Peter 1:21, "For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost."
A true Prophet only prophecies in the name of the Lord. He only seeks to glorify the Lord. He will never seek glory to himself. NEVER!
Purpose is to edify, comfort, and uplift the church
1 Corinthians 14:3-4, "But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort. He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself; but he that prophesieth edifieth the church."
A true Prophet will look to edify, comfort, and uplift the Church body by his testimony as well as exhort them.
Believes that Jesus Christ is God
1 John 4:1-3, "Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world."
A true Prophet believes and preaches the incarnation of Jesus Christ. He will preach Jesus as God who came to Earth and put on humanity in order to redeem us all.
Gender is not an issue
Exodus 15:20, "And Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a timbrel in her hand; and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dances." Judges 4:4, "And Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lapidoth, she judged Israel at that time." 2 Chronicles 34:22, "And Hilkiah, and they that the king had appointed, went to Huldah the prophetess, the wife of Shallum the son of Tikvath, the son of Hasrah, keeper of the wardrobe; (now she dwelt in Jerusalem in the college:) and they spake to her to that effect." Luke 2:36, "And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser: she was of a great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity;" Acts 21:8-9, "And the next day we that were of Paul's company departed, and came unto Caesarea: and we entered into the house of Philip the evangelist, which was one of the seven; and abode with him. And the same man had four daughters, virgins, which did prophesy." Gender makes no difference. Women can, and have been prophet's as well.
Age is not an issue
Acts 2:17-18, "And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy:"
Age makes NO difference in being a prophet.
Do not disagree with scripture
Isa. 8:20. "To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, [it is] because [there is] no light in them." The "law" here is a reference to the "Law of Moses," the first five books of the Old Testament, which also contain the Ten Commandments law, and "testimony" is a reference to the rest of the Old Testament, and by extension including the New Testament, which also contains the "testimony of Jesus Christ" (Rev. 12:17), that both together explain what the "Law of Moses" means in mankind's practical experience.
True prophet's sayings are totally consistent with all that the Holy Spirit has already revealed in Scripture.
Do not plagiarize
A true prophet does not plagiarize from others.
Jeremiah 23:30 So I, the LORD, affirm that I am opposed to those prophets who steal messages from one another that they claim are from me. (NET)
Do not create pride
Mt. 7:15. "Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. ... Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither [can] a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. ...Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them." True prophets lead people to repentance and humility before God, and to love their fellow humans. They never lead people to become competitive, prideful or self-exalting.
Marks of a false prophet
They expect God to fulfill their words
The Bible is clear that genuine and false prophets will exist until the end. I believe the first step in identifying a true prophet is found in the book of Ezekiel: “The word of the Lord came to me [Ezekiel]: ‘Son of man, prophesy against the prophets of Israel who are now prophesying. Say to those who prophesy out of their own imagination:
[They deceitfully say] ‘Hear the word of the Lord! [But,] This is what the Sovereign Lord says [to them]: Woe to the foolish prophets who follow their own spirit and have seen nothing! Your prophets, O Israel, are like [noisy] jackals [roaming aimlessly] among ruins. You [claim to speak on my behalf, but you] have not gone up to the breaks in the wall to repair it for the house of Israel [that is, you have not turned My people away from their decadent sins] so that it [My house] will stand firm [in righteousness] in the battle on the day of the Lord. Their visions are false and their divinations a lie.’ They say, ‘The Lord declares,’ when the Lord has not sent them; yet they expect their words to be fulfilled. Have you not seen false visions and uttered lying divinations when you say, ‘The Lord declares,’ though I have not spoken?’” (Ezekiel 13:1-7, insertions and italics mine)
Visions are not indicative
Not everyone mentioned in the Bible who received direct revelation from God was a prophet or even a believer. God spoke to Pharaoh in a dream also Nebuchadnezzar. In Gen.20 Abimelech is warned by God not to take Sarah into his harem. So just because one receives a dream or vision does not mean they are of God. Also we need to know the enemy can give prophecies that will come to pass but will oppose Gods word. So all needs to be tested by the words of the true prophets and apostles.
Healings can't be "taken away if you lose faith"
“Truly the signs of an apostle were accomplished among you with all perseverance, in signs and wonders and mighty deeds.”(2 Cor. 12:12) The sign of an apostle was the miracles done, this distinguished them from the other believers.
Unlike those who claim miraculous healings today the apostles healed totally and instantaneously, and it was permanent. Those healings were not as some claim today that one must continue in faith or the devil will steal it away. They were able to heal all, such as Paul on the Island of Malta in Acts 28 healed Publius and the rest of the people who had diseases came to him. He was also able to be unaffected by a poisenous snake. They healed organic disease on those from birth. They raised the dead . Peter raised Dorcas Acts 9:36-42, Paul raised Eutyches back to life after he fell 3 stories Acts 20:6-12. Like Jesus it was by a word or a touch, as God approved their office it was immediate and permanent .
Acts 2:43: “Then fear came upon every soul and many signs and wonders are done through the apostles. Acts 5:12 “And through he hands of the apostles many signs and wonders were done among the people. Acts 14:3” Paul and Barnabas speak boldly in the Lord, who bears witness to His word of grace, granting signs sign and wonders to be done through their hands.”
Time is the enemy of a false prophet
Time is the enemy of a false prophet, so if one cannot discern from their conforming to scriptures, then they will certainly be able to tell by waiting to see if what was said will come to pass.
In Jer.28 Hananiah the prophet publicly prophecies in the temple that within 2 years Jeconiah and all taken captive with him the vessels of the Lords house will be brought back into Jerusalem. The yolk will be broken. To illustrate this he takes the yoke off Jeremiah that the Lord had him wear and breaks it. Jeremiah immediately receives a word from the Lord in which he says Go tell Hananiah Thus says the Lord you have broken the yokes of wood but you have made in their place a yolk of Iron. Gods response to his self made prophecy is he will put all the nations in the surrounding area in a yolk of iron to serve the king of Babylon. It is then Jeremiah addresses him directly saying “hear now, Hananiah, the Lord has not sent you, but you make these people trust in a lie. Therefore says the Lord I will cast you from the face of the earth, this year you shall die because you have taught rebellion against the Lord and so he died in the 7th month of the same year. Obviously Jeremiah and others were in no position to bring sentence on the false prophets so God did.
False prophets incorporate their own agenda
What we see is false prophets incorporate their own agenda. We find censoring the false prophets protects Gods people from harm, physically and spiritually. Anyone who allows people of this type of questionable ability to go for it in their church needs to question whether they are pleasing man or God. As a shepherd do they really care for the sheep or are for promoting their own ministry? We don’t read of any second chances for false predictions or an attitude of let bygones be bygones. The scripture does not allow to let prophets practice because practice makes perfect. There are no readjustments in their figures. Nor do we hear, "lets see if any harm comes from what they say first before we judge".
2 Peter 1:19 says we have a more sure word of prophecy. No prophecy of scripture is of any private interpretation. There seems to be a common denominator with all the new cults that disguise themselves as the original. They have new views on basic fundamental doctrines that have been accepted for almost 2,000 years. Their doctrines usually start with "the Lord told me" or "he appeared to me" or "I went to heaven".
Prophets do not bring doctrine
Hebrews 1:1 I tells us that God has spoken in times past to the fathers by the prophets in many various ways, but in these last days, He has spoken by His Son. Once the New Testament was completed, there was no longer a need for prophets to reveal God's will or new revelational knowledge. His Son's words are all we need. Prophets are not a continuing position. However, we do have the gift of prophecy functioning for edification, consolation, and exhortation within the local church body. But this is never doctrine. Prophets are not sent, as in Old Testament times, to rebuke; rather the gift is to console and build us up.
God is able and still does speak in various ways yet he has chosen a more explicit but simple way to convey his message. It is by his son. Not just any son but one who is God himself to delivered it in person. To change this or reject this method is to reject God. As Jesus said he who receives you receives me and he who receives me receives the one who sent me, the Father.
Today prophecy dos not have the same importance that it did with the prophets to Israel.
1 Cor. 14:3 “But he who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men.”
False prophets resist being tested
What do all false prophets have in common? A hope of not being tested! They count on the people not to test their writings by putting guilt and fear in those that would dare to question Gods “anointed ones”. Most people think that if we just teach the truth then we don’t have to address error. However error dies a slow death and must be exposed and then killed by the truth. Infections don’t leave the body by just eating right they need to be combated by antibiotics. The writers of the scripture did not believe in the concept of just teaching the truth. We have numerous letters that have their major content and themes addressing the false views and practices that arose in the early church. 1 Cor., 2 Thess. and 2nd John, Jude would not have been written if the apostles did not put the truth alongside error to expose it. All error challenges the truth and if accepted will usually rise above it. It was chased out of the early church and if a church is to be true to the words delivered by the apostles then it needs to be forged with the same attitude today. To be apologetic in ones approach to the culture and beliefs of the people is to be evangelical. That is to make sense out of the Gospel. The Bible teaches to preach the word not new knowledge. If someone claims the position of a prophet they need to be brave enough to accept the consequences of one.
Scriptures in the Old Testament concerning prophets
Scriptures In the New Testament concerning prophets