Over the past several years, I have been experiencing a widening threshold of God’s presence. Though I have heard countless powerful teachings, attended great conference, participated at amazing churches, read great books and even spent four years at top tier christian academic college, nothing has impacted me more than the Heart of God.
However, I did not encounter the Heart of God through teaching, understanding nor fact learning. I learned it first through experience of others. I experienced the Heart of God in presence of people who revealed God’s heart about me and His heart for me. These individuals had special revelation about me that no one else in the world would know and were able to articulate my circumstances beyond comprehension. They they would proceed with words of encouragement, exhortation and words of affirmation which reached a deep place in my soul – where a lifelong soul craving longs to encounter the Heart of God.
Many of them I had met for the first time or barely knew. But the encounters completely changed the trajectory of my faith. These moments gave a glimpse for what is behind intellectual and religious exteriors and into intimacy. It yielded a new craving for the Heart of God now I had personally experienced it for the first time.
I now know these people were prophets.
The word prophet and suggestion that prophets exist today often sparks much debate and a surprising amount of passionate argument. Perhaps many churches have yet to understand the role of prophets or maybe the role of a prophet scares them because it is hard to control people who hears from God.
A large majority of churches I’m familiar with these days believe that the role of a prophet was during the time of the New Testament and is irrelevant today. They are non-prophet organizations, if you will. (Sorry, I couldn’t pass up a pun like that!)
Had it not been for my encounters with these prophets, I think my life, faith and hunger for Jesus would have gone a much different route. Until these moments, relationship with Jesus was pretty limited to church attendance, reading the bible, not swearing and sin management. But the encounters with these prophets so impacted me that it finally brought life and meaning to so many of the scriptures that EVERY Church preaches but few people truly experience for themselves. I finally experienced the Biblical truths that God is an intimate God who dwells in our very bodies, where we receive His Power and ourselves are made powerful by Him, because we hear his voice and are instructed by Him and are united with Him.
The implications are this: we encounter (physically, spiritually, emotionally) the actual heart of God and God has appointed people to reach that same place. These people helped me understand that access to the Heart of God is not only possible, but expected in what Jesus did for us on the cross.
The role of the prophet today is a long forgotten, yet vital role, in Christ’s plan for making us mature and equipped as a Body of believers. Ephesians 4:11-13 best details it:
So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
We are all familiar with Teachers, Pastors and event Evangelists, but the Apostles and especially Prophets have all but disappeared.
For the longest time, I had associated prophets as something strictly limited to the Old Testament and consisted mostly of weirdos who were tormented by knowing what was going to happen as they warned God’s people. Not a fun role in my opinion. Modern day prophets were pretty limited to the people who were proclaiming the end of the world.
My journey led me to understand that prophets exist today, but serve a different role than previously thought.
Prophets exist today:
As I studied the Word, I understand that God did not abolish prophets after the New Testament, like I had learned. Consider first, Jesus himself was a prophet (as well as a teacher, pastor, apostle and evangelist) and Jesus lives in us. So surely Jesus is has not downgraded any part of His persona since inhabiting the hearts of man.
Additionally, when Jesus warns of False Prophets he is actually confirming the existence of real prophets. You can’t have a counterfeit $100 if there wasn’t such a thing as a real $100 bill. Jesus, who was always precise with his words could have made it very clear by saying, “In the last days, all prophets will be false” if there were no such thing as real prophets today.
Prophets have a new role:
I completely misunderstood the role of a prophet in the New Covenant era. We would make a grave mistake to assume prophets are the same as in the Old Testament (let alone fortune tellers or people who are predicting the end of the world). The Cross completely changed their job description since direct access to God was made available to every person who believed.
In the Old Covenant, Prophets warned people to become righteous and to change because God’s judgement and consequences were coming. A New Covenant Prophet’s role is to remind God’s people they ARE righteous because of the judgement that already occurred on the Cross. Certainly Satan would like to convince us otherwise by our mistakes, but it is a spiritual reality for those in Christ. Prophets live to enlighten us to the current reality that we possess the righteousness of Christ as our own and are clothed in Christ making us blameless before God the Father. We no longer strive with our actions to become righteous, we live differently because we are righteous.
Here are implications….
We have enough “christians” telling people what they are doing is wrong in the world. Don’t you think most people in America know the general idea of right and wrong in the Bible? Does anyone need reminding that the Bible says stealing, lying and adultry are wrong? If they don’t, anyone with a smart phone can quickly take two seconds and search online to get the entire rundown of Christianity.
In fact, the whole idea of telling people about their sin is completely abolished when people become christians. It is explicit stated that the new role as christians has nothing to do with people’s wrongs and everything to do with bringing people to the heart of God.
But how many people experience people in the church who help them encounter the Heart of God, who can reveal God’s heart for them and reveal their own heart? Paul refers to this phenomenon in 1 Corinthians. The prophet exists to take people beyond head knowledge and text on paper and give them an emotional and spiritual encounter that cannot be denied. It brings truth to real life.
In essence, the role of a Prophet has been upgraded to reveal the Heart of God now that judgement against sin and death has been completed. They help people live in a reality that we have direct access to God and are freely given the gift of salvation through faith alone.
I am fortunate to be part of a church and a faith community that does not shy away from the role of someone who reveals God’s heart. It seems like every week, I am getting an email, phone call or text of someone who has been radically transformed because someone else gave them an encounter with God’s heart.
If we had as many people who reveal God’s heart as we have people waiving signs, we would have a very different result in our churches and world.