Seventh-Day Adventists/Prophets Today?
Dear Brother Sal:
I believe you will agree there have been no true prophets of God since the Bible times. Ellen White is a false prophet as are all who claim to be prophets since the Bible cannon was closed. Jesus told us as much when he warned of the false prophets in the Last Days (Matthew 24:24). Mary Baker Eddy, Charles Taze Russell, Joseph Smith, and Ellen Gould White have all claimed to be prophets sent by God, to have seen and spoken with angels, and spoke for God, yet all have been conclusively proven to have been false prophets many times over. Why do people continue to believe in such obviously false prophets?
Dear Brother Jay:
I agree with you that they have been no true prophets since the closing of the New Testament cannon. By “prophet” I mean one who claims to receive new revelation from God. I believe this is what you mean as well. You noted Matthew 24:24 which reads in the New King James Version (NKJV): “For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.” This verse does indeed warn of false prophets; however, there being false prophets does not preclude there also being true prophets. Perhaps a better Bible text to use to show that there will be no true prophets bringing new revelation is from the Book of Revelation.
“I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this scroll: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to that person the plagues described in this scroll. And if anyone takes words away from this scroll of prophecy, God will take away from that person any share in the tree of life and in the Holy City, which are described in this scroll” (22:18-19 NIV).
Although this quote refers to the Book of Revelation (“this scroll”) the principle it expounds is certainly applicable to the entire Bible. The principle is that nothing can be added or subtracted to alter the word of God. The Bible is the complete revelation of God to the world. Therefore, no new revelation can be added to that which is contained in the Bible.
On the other hand I do believe that there have been and will continue to be true prophets even in the Last Days. This sounds like a contradiction to what I have just said, but it is not. Let me explain: the false prophets I spoke about above are those who pretend to have new revelation from God. The true prophets since the closing of Bible are those who “prophesy” from the written word of God, the Holy Bible. In other words, every Christian who preaches to the world from the Bible is a true prophet. Anyone who brings news of a revelation from God not contained in the pages of the Bible is a false prophet. It is our duty as Christians to expose false prophets for the sake of God’s people. This principle was expressed by the prophet Ezekiel.
“And the word of the Lord came to me, saying, 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!’” (Ezekiel 13:1-3 NKJV).
By exposing false prophets we spare the flock from the vicious attack of the wolves (cf. Matthew 7:15 & Acts 20:28-29).
Unfortunately there are many false prophets in these last days. You mentioned some of the more popular false prophets, but there are many more. We can be assured that there will be new false prophets in the future. God warned His people by the prophet Jeremiah of the great problem of false prophets. “Then the Lord said to me, ‘The prophets are prophesying lies in my name. I have not sent them or appointed them or spoken to them. They are prophesying to you false visions, divinations, idolatries and the delusions of their own minds’” (Jeremiah 14:14 NIV). How fitting is this verse for our day, “false visions” and “delusions of their own minds”. This is a perfect description of the false prophet. It is important to note the all such individuals are not always malicious. Their deception could be unintentional. By that I mean that the false prophet may have honestly misinterpreted his own thoughts as being from God.
If a self-proclaimed prophet is not 100% accurate then he is not a true prophet of God.
“And if you say in your heart, ‘How shall we know the word which the Lord has not spoken?’— when a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the thing does not happen or come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him” (Deuteronomy 18:21-22 NKJV).
If a self-proclaimed prophet teaches contrary to the revealed word of God then he is not a true prophet of God.
“But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!” (Galatians 1:8-9 NASB; cf. Romans 16:17-18).
It seems rather easy today for God’s people to discern a false prophet. Therefore, it is all the more perplexing that even through a prophet may predict that which doesn’t come true or teach that which is not in accordance with the genuine word of God, the Bible, that prophet doesn’t lose his following! Paul explained this phenomenon this way, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables” (2 Timothy 4:3-4 NKJV).
I can’t answer with certainty why people still follow false prophets. I suppose that there are many reasons. Here is one possibility. God’s people long to be with Him. They want to see Him face to face. Short of this they desire to know all they can about Him. While this is a wonderful desire it also makes them more vulnerable to accept false prophets who offer such information. These prophets give them the feeling that they are getting closer to God by knowing and accepting what information the prophet has revealed to them. So the people feel closer to God and they feel special because they now have exclusive knowledge about God that other Christians do not possess. Consequently, when this prophet is exposed as a fake those who have been deceived often do not want to accept that the information that made them feel better about themselves was false information. Therefore, they begin defending their false prophet. Some do this by ignoring the facts and some do this by reinterpreting the prophet’s statements into something acceptable to them.
You mentioned four post-Bible prophets who prophesied through the 1800’s into the early 1900’s. You rightly pointed out that they all were false prophets yet they all have substantial followings even today. If those four “prophets” had lived in the Old Testament times they would have lost not only their followings, but also their lives. “But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in My name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet shall die” (Deuteronomy 18:20 NKJV).
In conclusion, true prophets still do exist in the Church today, but they do not give new revelation as the prophets of old did. All Christians if they proclaim the word of God are today’s prophets. God has made all Christians His sanctuary where He now dwells and speaks through us. “Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?”(1 Corinthians 3:16 NKJV). Public revelation closed with the writing of the New Testament. Revelation 22:18-19 implies that revelation is closed since no addition may be made to it. The
prophets today preach and clarify the Gospel they do not bring new revelation. They encourage and strengthen the Church.
“But he who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men. He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church” (1 Corinthians 14:3-4 NKJV).
We see this lived out in the infant Church. “Now Judas and Silas, themselves being prophets also, exhorted and strengthened the brethren with many words” (Acts 15:32 NKJV).
Thank you for the question.
God Bless You,