The fivefold ministry that Paul wrote about in Ephesians 4:11 was given to prepare Gods people for works of service so that the body of Christ may be built up are as follows, Apostles, Prophets, Evangelist, Pastors and Teachers. The apostles today would be the modern day missionary who plants churches where none exists, much as Paul did throughout Greece and Turkey. The prophet is Gods mouth piece for the people, he brings the words God has spoken and his intentions to the church. The evangelist try's to bring the people back to God when they have gotten of the path they should be on. The pastor is the caretaker of the sheep that is he is the leader of the congregation and protector of the flock. The teacher studies the word of God and teaches it to the assembly, sometimes he can be the pastor also.
But here we will look at the prophet's seat and what it takes to be a prophet. First, no one can claim this without being called of God personally. Than he would be tried by fire for whatever length of time God desires, this would be to mold him and break him of all earthly taste. Of the five he is the only one who sits directly under God day and night. This is why prophets in the old and new testaments were usually at odds with the rest of the people. Theirs is a lonely life while they take God warnings to the people who many times hate them and in the past have killed them. Where the pastor makes the peoples wants known to God the prophet makes Gods wants known to the people, which put him at odds with the rest of the church.
Where today it has become a status symbol to be called a prophet in the Christian church, there are really few prophets. That's because it is not a glamorous position to be a real prophet. In the Old as well as the New Testament the prophets were the ones that did the suffering both at the hands of God and at the hands of the people. According to Jesus, John the Baptist was the greatest of all prophets, Matthew 11:9 and yet he had his head cut of over a belly dancer. Jeremiah and Ezekiel spent their lives arguing with God and being punished by the people. Hosea was instructed to marry a prostitute and have children by her in order to show Israel the coming danger. Isaiah walked around naked and barefooted as a sign of how God would strip the land, none of these men had a life full fame and glamour.
You don't become a prophet by reading a manual, taking a course or deciding it looks good with the rest of your activities. You become a prophet by having a solid relationship with God and spending most of your time getting to know what he wants. Since it is not a science it must be learned on the run and on an individual basis, all the while making mistakes because we are not divine. I have heard Prophet Bob Jones say that only sixty percent or so of what he said he knew came from the Lord. I had another prophet tell it to me this way. Everything we get from God has to fight its way out of our minds to make it to the natural realm and our minds are full of what we are. He also went on, many of the prophecies are like pictures that have a double exposure, some parts come from God and some come from us. The trick is in knowing which words are ours and which are his. Another prophet just made it simple and said that he only knew it came from God when it came about, until than he always thought it came from his own mind.
Many will argue that New Testament prophets are different than what the others went through in days gone by. But they forget that Jesus was a prophet as well as being the son of God, Paul, and the rest of the disciples were all prophets and all died terrible deaths at the hands of the people. The marks of a prophet are the wounds his has received as quoted by the prophet Zechariah 13:6; Paul tells us the same thing in Galatians 6:17 where he mentions the wounds of Jesus on his back. It is well to remember that In the Old Testament the ratio was sometimes eight hundred to one, the false from the real as in the case of Elijah and the prophets of Baal. What does that tell you of this modern trend when everyone wants to be a prophet, if even the true prophets are prone to mistakes because we only know in part, imagine what the false ones are like.
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