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The Ministry of the Prophet: Meanings and Goals

The Calling, The Prophetic Voice, Character, New Covenant Prophets

The ministry of the prophet is referred to as any ministry that depends on the gift of prophecy and revelations from God to guide the church to maturity or a specific direction. The prophetic ministry is seen most often in the Old Testament, where prophets were chosen to both encourage and war the nation of Israel. In the New Testament, prophetic ministry is much rarer, but it is mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12:10, “to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues.” Of course, the apostles and other recognized figures such as John the Baptist also had prophetic gifts. The calling of a prophet is to speak on behalf of God and the Word of God for the Church so that the faithful can understand the wishes of the Lord and how the church should function. Prophets can also guide, counsel, teach, and rebuke as seen fit (“What is Prophetic Ministry”).

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Prior to entering the ministry of the prophet, individuals typically receive a calling, known as the calling of a prophet. It is the moment of awakening to the person that they have been chosen by God to be a prophet, a messenger. God is all-knowing and omnipotent, so He knows that they are prophets before birth, sanctifying and ordaining them. As written in the Scriptures, “before I formed thee in the belly, I knew thee; and before thou came forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations” (Jer. 1:5). When the time comes, God reveals Himself to the prophet, calling them upon their role and what actions they must undertake. The prophetic voice refers to the message that is spread by the prophet, which provides the explanations, guidance, and alignment with God’s law. The prophetic voice has a key role in the community, resounding over centuries and becoming the spiritual and moral compass that keeps the faithful focused on God’s plan and bringing the church together (Hunter).

The prophetic ministry is a gift from the Holy Spirit and assures a close connection with God. Only the select few have been chosen in the Bible, and it is one of the greatest honors bestowed upon a mortal human being. Those that have been selected as prophets historically have been either devout servants of the Lord or demonstrated the inner spiritual strength to take on the mantle of responsibility required from prophets, changing their life dramatically.

While the prophetic ministry is shown in both testaments of the Scriptures, they are much different in nature. The Old Testament prophets had powers, spoke words of God’s judgement, and carried out somewhat bizarre prophetic acts. The New Testament prophets are held back, focused on teaching and interpretation, and seem more relatable. That is because since the coming of Jesus Christ, the world is living in a new and better covenant, with a new mentality. The New Covenant is more about grace and forgiveness, an opportunity for intimacy with God and the faith. New covenant prophecy is less about judgment and punishment seen in the Old Testament, and more aimed at encouragement and love (Hilder).

Role of Ministry of Prophecy in Today’s Church

As discussed earlier, the prophecy of the new covenant differs from the exercise in the old covenant. In the New Testament, the prophets laid the foundation of the church by articulating theological truths bound by the universal body of Christ. The Scriptures were completed and the last book of revelations discussing what happens finalizes everything. The finality and sufficiency of the Scripture is established, and the modern views is that contemporary prophets do not exists, and the gift of prophecy ceased with the last apostle (Storms).

Therefore, the ministry of the prophet as it is seen in the Bible is potentially gone, but with the new covenant, the Holy Spirit was distributed among all God’s people. Paul encourages the pursuit the gift of prophecy (notable to avoid false prophets and idols), “Follow the way of love and eagerly desire gifts of the Spirit, especially prophecy. 2 For anyone who speaks in a tongue[a] does not speak to people but to God. Indeed, no one understands them; they utter mysteries by the Spirit. 3 But the one who prophesies speaks to people for their strengthening, encouraging and comfort. 4 Anyone who speaks in a tongue edifies themselves, but the one who prophesies edifies the church (1 Corinthians 14.1-4). In these words, Paul envisions the faithful on taking some of the roles of prophets, which is teaching others, bringing comfort and encouragement, bring conviction of sin to unbelievers, and bringing people to the church (Storms).

In modern-day, prophetic ministry is seen largely by sharing the Word of God through the Bible and guiding the people towards the Christian way of life. The purpose of the prophetic ministry if to grow and guide the church, and the Bible and those who preach it are inherently fulfilling this mission as a collective. Some scholars view that in the context of the new covenant, the Church itself represent the prophetic ministry. In the literal sense of the word, there is no prophetic preaching in modern-day. Anyone, even a religious leader, cannot declare a revelation from the Lord. Church clergy, leaders, and faithful can only recognize the authority of the authors of the Scriptures, who spoke by inspiration of God. The duty of ministers is to apply the revealed truth, not assume the role of prophets (“The Prophetic Ministry of the Church”).

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This modern role of the prophetic ministry is also critical, through which the church is strengthened and promoted. It allows the people to mature in Christ and meet the numerous challenges with perspectives and wisdom necessary to achieve the Christian preparation for his Second Coming. Prophetic ministry, particularly of the prophets past in the Scriptures helps to provide vision for the Church, which it needs. The Church is continuously challenged to give up its convictions, change perspectives, give up old customs under the guise of humanistic or new age thinking. Through prophetic ministry, God has given the blueprints and guidance on building a strong church in the unity of the Spirit and fulfilling his purpose. “Where there is no revelation, people cast off restraint; but blessed is the one who heeds wisdom’s instruction” (Proverbs 29.18).

When incorporating prophetic ministry in the modern church, it can be helpful to divide the concept into two categories, ministry and prophecy. Ministry involves caring for others, building of communities, acting in the name of God, and seeing/spreading holiness around. Caring for others is straightforward, being caring and understanding without prejudice with reverence, integrity, and compassion. Building community goes a step further, which is a sacrament in itself. Ministry consists of building and strengthening the body and soul of the faithful to build strong Christian communities. Next, ministry should be exercised in the name of God, partaking in Christian rituals and traditions but also acting in a Christian manner in God’s grace and to serve God’s people. Finally, the mark of the ministry in the church is holiness, whether real or perceived. People who act in the name of God and the faith community should have a sense of holiness around them (Kammer 12).

Meanwhile, prophecy has certain characteristics as well. While nobody in the modern church are specifically chosen by God, all faithful and especially Christian leaders are called upon to practice these characteristics alongside the descriptions of the ministry above. “Prophets are whose who see and speak the truth and do so with a purpose” (Kammer 13). Key characteristics of prophecy are the determination to set things right, a special concern for the poor, a costly fidelity, and a passionate love. Prophets not only told the future and gave dire warnings, but they were also denouncers of evil and fought for justice, even if it was within the Jewish society itself. That leads to the second trait, as prophets always paid close attention to the poor and others whom society left behind. The prophets always called on and acted with equality and without prejudice, suggesting that everyone deserves God’s love and an equal place in society. Prophecy also calls upon fidelity and sacrifice for the church. Similar to Jesus was not accepted in many places and eventually paid the ultimate price, Christians may face challenge and judgment but should remain true to their faith. Finally, there is the act of passionate love, that is love for Christ, the church, and all people. The Spirit within us gives the power to love the Lord and to preach God’s word, with love and acceptance (Kammer 14).

Taking all these aspects of ministry and prophecy into consideration, the ministry of the prophet can be achieved in the modern church by all faithful. In fact, it is encouraged, albeit difficult. It would require a passion-deepened commitment in life, work, prayer and religious ministry.

Works Cited

Hilder, Anthony. ” Prophets and The Prophetic Ministry” Anthony Hilder, 2019, Web.

Hunter, Evan. “Defining Prophetic Voice as a Calling for the Theological School.” InSights Journal, vol. 5, no. 1, 2019, pp. 9-16.

Krammer, Fred. “Prophetic Ministry in a New Century.” Health Progress, 2001, pp. 12-15.

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Storms, Sam. “What Does Scripture Teach About the Office of Prophet and Gift of Prophecy?” The Gospel Coalition, 2015, Web.

“The ‘Prophetic Ministry’ of the Church.” Christianity Today, 1960, Web.

The Bible. Authorized New King James Version, Thomas Nelson, n.d. Web.

“What is Prophetic Ministry?” Got Questions, Web.

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