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Modern Prophets

Does the Bible teach about modern prophets?   How can there be modern prophets?  Isn't this nonbiblical heresay?

by Jeff Lindsay

The teaching that there were to be no more prophets after Christ is popular, but simply not Biblical. Christ actually said that there would be prophets after him, whom he would send, and established the principle of continuing, modern revelation to apostles and prophets to guide his Church. In Matthew 23:34, Christ said:

Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city:

The same is repeated in Luke 11:49. Not only would Christ send prophets, but He would expect His followers to receive His prophets as His messengers (Matthew 10:40-41):

He that receiveth you receiveth me, and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me.

He that receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet's reward; and he that receiveth a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man's reward.

(See also John 13:20 and John 15:20.)

However, Christ did warn that false prophets would come (e.g., Matt. 7:15), but this warning only makes sense if there would be true prophets to be distinguished from the false. If there were to be no more prophets, He should have simply said so. Instead, He warned against false prophets and gave clues on how to distinguish them in Matthew 7:15-20:

15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.

16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?

17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.

18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither [can] a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.

19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.

20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.

The fruit of the Book of Mormon is tangible, hard evidence - not hearsay, slander, or rumor - which has been a proofstone available to all the world to examine the prophetic claims of Joseph Smith. Most of the ministers of the "mainstream" Christian world insist that there are to be no more prophets, but the absence of prophets and apostles is one of the surest indications that a general apostasy from the original Gospel had occurred. The original Church of Christ not only had apostles and prophets, but had such as its foundation, at its very core, as we read in Ephesians 2:19-20:

Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God;

And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;

Likewise, 1 Corinthians 12:28-29 and Ephesians 3:5 confirm that the early Church had apostles and prophets and that they taught sacred truths to the early Christians. Paul further explains the importance of apostles and prophets in the Church in Ephesians 4:11-14:

11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;

12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:

13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ:

14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;

Without the guidance that comes from revelation to God's anointed leaders, even a community of believers may be tossed about by every wind of doctrine, drifting like a ship without a rudder. For example, the early loss of apostles and prophets due to apostasy from within and persecution from without led to a situation where basic doctrines became clouded, confused, and perverted. The introduction of infant baptism is one example. Soon basic doctrines about the nature of God became replaced with ideas more palatable to the Hellenized thinking of the 3rd and 4th centuries. The reality of the physical, tangible, resurrected body of Christ was dissolved by councils of debating men who preferred abstract, Platonic "forms" over the "unsophisticated" idea of a God who actually looked like man, in whose image we were literally created. The idea that God and Christ were one in purpose yet separate beings (see John 17:20-23, Acts 7:55,56; John 14:28) was replaced with ideas that were more appealing to Hellenized intellectuals. Those who were taught and believed such doctrines were still Christians, certainly, if they accepted Christ, but there were truths and principles that were missing. These truths and principles have been restored - and it required specially called, authorized, and ordained prophets of God such as Joseph Smith.

God has always worked through apostles and prophets, and has not changed in that regard. Amos 3:7 explains: "Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets." The Lord God does His work through His servants, the prophets, to whom he reveals truths and teachings. If there are no prophets, then something is missing.

Besides the apostles named in the New Testament (whose body of 12 was meant to be maintained, as seen by the selection of Matthias to replace the deceased traitor Judas, Acts 1:24-26), we have other names of men who were prophets, after the time of Christ. Acts 15:32 names two: "And Judas and Silas, being prophets also themselves, exhorted the brethren with many words, and confirmed them."

Did Paul say prophecy had ended with Christ? No. In fact, prophecy was a gift of the Spirit had among the Christian community, as Paul indicates in 1 Cor. 14:3: "But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort." Revelation 11:10 also prophecies of two prophets in particular who, in the last days, will be killed in Jerusalem and be revived miraculously.

Amazingly, some modern critics charge that a belief in prophets after Christ makes Latter-day Saints non-Christian. While the word "Christian" is not defined in the Bible, it is used in 3 places. One is in Acts 11, where we learn that believers in Christ were first called "Christians" in Antioch. One of the key features of these Christians was that they accepted and heeded prophets who came among them - and this was after the Ascension of Christ. Look at Acts 11:25-30:

25 Then departed Barnabas to Tarsus, for to seek Saul:

26 And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.

27 And in these days came prophets from Jerusalem unto Antioch.

28 And there stood up one of them named Agabus, and signified by the Spirit that there should be great dearth throughout all the world: which came to pass in the days of Claudius Caesar.

29 Then the disciples, every man according to his ability, determined to send relief unto the brethren which dwelt in Judaea:

30 Which also they did, and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul.

In the above passage, prophets (apparently Christian) from Jerusalem came and prophesied of a coming famine, and the Christian community in Antioch apparently accepted and responded to the message of those prophets by sending relief to their brethren in Judaea. The saints (members of the Church) in Antioch were Christian, and had prophets, after the coming of Christ. Later in Acts 13:1, we again read of prophets being among the Christian community at Antioch:

Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.

In my opinion, accepting living prophets from God is a vital part of true Christianity, rather than a sign of paganism. The presence of living prophets is a sign of God's work underway, rather than a sign of evil. It is the absence of apostles and prophets, and continuing revelation itself, that is cause for concern among the mainstream Christian churches, as good and noble as many of them may be. Without continued revelation through anointed servants, these churches are like ships without a rudder, depending on human logic and debates among scholars to settle issues and provide guidance. No wonder there is such a huge range of ideas among Christian churches on moral and theological issues. Something is missing: guidance through God's chosen apostles and prophets. But that something has been restored, and the Book of Mormon provides the solid evidence to back the claim.

(See Follow the Prophets home page; Response to Criticism home page; Accusatory Questions home page)

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