Beyond the fact that Jesus embodied the office of prophet as well as priest and king, where does the idea that the office of a prophet exists today come from. Many of the authors I've read agree that the office exists and is proven through Ephesians 4:8 when Jesus left the ascension gifts. I've researched this idea and done my own exegesis and can't seem to find any answers. Is the name 'office of prophet' just a label or is it real. I see that there is a definite difference between this and the spiritual gifts of 1 Corinthians 12 and 14 and Romans 12, but how the name can into existence is the question. The same is true for the office of apostle. These authors seem to agree that this is real and exists today too. As far as I understood, they died. I have read that the equals today are people like bishops and leaders of parachurch organizations and the like - those who lay the foundation. I don't believe in cessationism, but I also don't see agreement in the Word for these offices. Please help... Authors on these subjects include: C Peter Wagner - Your Spiritual Gifts can Help your Church Grow, Bill Hamon - Prophets and Personal Prophecy, Mike Bickle -Growing in the Prophetic, Cindy Jacobs - The Voice of God
My response is in Green:
Thank you for writing. I am not sure I have the answer, but I will give you my opinion. I will try to give you as much background about why I believe what I believe, but because I want to try to keep this pretty short, I may not cover everything.
I believe there was an office called "Prophet" but I don't believe it exists today. The prophets were God's people who basically were preachers. They called the nation of Israel to repentance, they rebuked them and they exhorted them to follow God. God also often gave them very specific revelations for the people. Some of these revelations were about future events; judgments, about Jesus first and second comings, etc... Remember that when the prophets were most active there was not a Bible for the people to read. They had the Law of Moses, but not the rest of the Bible. In fact most of what the prophets said has been kept for us in our Bible. In other words, their Bible was the prophets.
Today we do have the Bible and I believe that God has closed the cannon of scripture. This is very important because if you believe that (that God has closed the cannon of scripture) then there would no longer be any reason for the office of Prophet. Now that is not to say there is no longer the gift of prophesy, because Paul clearly teaches that there is. However, I don't believe that God gives future revelations any longer. What the gift of prophecy is (in my opinion) is the calling of God's people back to Him. They still rebuke, exhort and teach.
There were 400 years of silence in Israel as far as prophets goes until the time of John the Baptist. John's ministry was different than the rest of the prophets, he made way for the Messiah. Of course Jesus could be called a prophet also, but of course He was much more than that. But let's go back to Israel. Even their cannon of scripture is closed. They might not realize it yet, but they have the same books as us in the Old Testament and no further revelations from God. Now of course we might say that is because they rejected their Messiah and that would be correct, but my point is this, I believe God closed the books and you either accept what He has already said or you miss the boat.
I will come back to this after I address the apostle question. I will also address the authors that you mentioned.
As for the office of Apostle. My belief is that other than Jesus Himself there were and will always be only 12 apostles. Here is a verse which I believe shows that. (Revelation 21:14 NIV) The wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.
Next I believe that apostles can only be appointed by Christ and that He did so in person. He appointed the 12 disciples as apostles if you remember to go out and preach. This included Judas. After Jesus' death and resurrection the disciples decided that they needed to add an apostle to replace Judas and they cast lots: (Acts 1:26 NIV) Then they cast lots, and the lot fell to Matthias; so he was added to the eleven apostles.
I personally think this was a mistake by them. I believe they tried to rush what God was going to do. I believe that Paul whom Jesus personally called to be an apostle on the Damascus road will be the 12th name on the foundation of the city wall, not Matthias. And the fact that there are only 12 names on the foundation of that wall to me shows that there were only 12 true apostles and that there is no such office today. Here is what Paul says about his appointment: (Galatians 1:1 NIV) Paul, an apostle--sent not from men nor by man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead--
Okay, now back to the part about the authors you have read. I am in no way trying to judge their hearts. I believe these are godly men who want to serve Christ, but I think they are mistaken. One of the reasons I think they are mistaken is that they believe in latter day signs and wonders. Now don't get me wrong, I believe that God has not changed, I believe that He still can and does heal people, change lives, etc..., but I don't believe that He is pouring out His Spirit today as He did with the Apostles. Again when the Apostles were doing signs and wonders there was no New Testament for the people to read. God used these signs and wonders to show people that He was truly speaking through these men. Since as I said earlier I believe that the cannon of scripture is closed, I don't believe there is a reason for God to do signs and wonders through individuals today, because He is not going to give them new revelations for the people. Here is a verse I think is important: (2 Corinthians 12:12 NIV) The things that mark an apostle--signs, wonders and miracles--were done among you with great perseverance.
Notice that signs and wonders and miracles are the mark of apostles. If you believe there is still an office of apostle today, then you have to believe that the persons holding that office can and will do signs, wonders and miracles. My questions is why? I must admit I am not going to be very civil at this point, but most of the so called modern day prophets and apostles get rich doing these signs and wonders and miracles. Yet historically none of the true prophets or apostles were rich, they put Christ first in more then just words.
Here is my final point, if these authors are right and there are prophets and apostles today, then why is it that God is not speaking through them to the whole Church (body of Christ)? Why aren't their letters and messages added to the scriptures? Why would God send a message and only have that message reach a small percentage of the believers? Also why do so many of the messages from these people contradict each other and some even contradict scripture? God will never give a message which contradicts anything else He has ever said.
Again I am not trying to say that these men are evil or anything like that, but I do believe that they are mislead. Emotions are what much of this is based on instead of the Word of God.
Well as I said earlier this is my opinion.
E-Mail Ralph (whose comments are in green)
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