Lesson 22 – Prophets and Prophecy/Visions and Dreams
There is a dramatic upsurge of interest in supernatural phenomena in our world. People are looking for authoritative answers to the challenges and problems of life. They have turned to astrologers, psychics, and so-called prophets.
Satan’s goal is to counterfeit the genuine gift of prophecy. Jesus clearly warned that Satan would do this. In Matthew 24:24 He declares, “For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect” (NKJV).* Have you ever seen a counterfeit $11 bill? Certainly not! Every counterfeiter in the world attempts to make the imitation as close to the genuine as possible.
It is only by carefully studying the biblical gift of prophecy that we can detect the counterfeit and receive the genuine.
1. Whom did Christ send as His representative after His ascension? John 14:16, 26
Answer: Another Counselor; the Holy Spirit
2. What gifts did the Holy Spirit bring to assist the church in carrying the gospel to the world? Ephesians 4:11
Answer: Some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers
3. How long would the gift of prophecy continue in the church? Ephesians 4:12, 13
Answer: Until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature
4. What promise does God give to His church awaiting the Advent? 1 Corinthians 1:7
Answer: You lack no spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ
5. What two specific characteristics does God list in Revelation to describe His last-day church? Revelation 12:17
Answer: Obey God’s commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus
6. How does the Bible define the “testimony of Jesus”? Revelation 19:10
Answer: The spirit of prophecy
When one of heaven’s messengers descended to bring John the gift of prophecy, the aged apostle knelt to worship the angel. The angel stopped him, explaining that he was testifying for Jesus in giving to John the spirit, or gift, of prophecy. (See also Revelation 22:8, 9.) Revelation 12:17 reveals that the gift of prophecy, or the testimony of Jesus, would be revealed again in God’s last-day church.
Scripture gives several biblical tests of a true prophet.
7. What does the Bible teach regarding the accuracy of a true prophet? Jeremiah 28:9
Answer: As one truly sent by the Lord only if his prediction comes true
In prophecies that are not conditional, that is, that depend on a personal response to determine their fulfillment, the prophet is 100 percent accurate. The so-called prophets of our day miss the mark completely on this test. A few of their predictions may come to pass, but most are never fulfilled.
8. What if a prophet is apparently accurate, but leads away from the truths of Scripture? Deuteronomy 13:1-4
Answer: You must not listen to the words of that prophet or dreamer.
The true gift of prophecy does not lead away from, but back to, the Bible. The Bible is always supreme. It is the sole criterion for the establishment of doctrine.
9. According to the Bible, how does the prophet relate to Jesus? 1 John 4:2
Answer: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God.
10. What relationship does the genuine gift of prophecy have to the law of God? Isaiah 8:20
Answer: To the law and to the testimony. If they do not speak according to this work, they have no light of dawn.
All Bible prophets exalt God’s law. Elijah called Israel from idolatry to the true God. Nehemiah preached for a reform in Sabbath-keeping. John the Baptist condemned Herod’s adultery.
11. How does the Bible describe the prophet while in vision? Daniel 10:17
Answer: My strength is gone and I can hardly breathe.
Bible prophets often experienced certain supernatural physical phenomena that accompanied their visions. Often they did not breathe in vision. God sustained them.
12. How did Jesus Himself tell us to distinguish between the true and counterfeit gifts of prophecy? Matthew 7:15-17, 20
Answer: By their fruits you will recognize them.
13. Where should we look to find the genuine gift of prophecy today? 1 Corinthians 12:28
Answer: “In the church God…”
When we discover God’s faithful commandment-keeping church, we should also look within the church for the gift of prophecy. Because prophecy is one of God’s last-day gifts to His church, we should expect to find it within the church. The gift of prophecy is not a doctrine contrary to the Bible, but rather one of the gifts God says will remain in the church. What a joy it is to know that God has a commandment-keeping church on earth today. It has been raised up to prepare a people for the coming of the Lord. God promised to place the gift of prophecy within His true church. It is one of the identifying characteristics of the true church (Revelation 12:17; 19:10). Seventh-day Adventists believe that God has again raised up the genuine gift of prophecy in the life and teachings of Ellen G. White, who was born in a humble home in Gorham, Maine. When she was only a child, she had a tragic accident, so she completed only a few grades of education. She thought of herself as “the weakest of the weak.” When she was a young woman, God revealed Himself to her in visions and dreams. She wrote down God’s messages as counsel to His church. Her books on health and education are world-renowned. Her thousands of pages about Jesus are spiritual masterpieces. Books such as Steps to Christ, The Desire of Ages, and The Great Controversy have run through millions of copies. Ellen G. White was a humble woman who exalted Jesus and always led her readers back to the Bible. She claimed her writings were “a lesser light to lead men and women to the greater light [the Bible].”
14. Why did God give us the gift of prophecy? What is the result of following the prophets’ counsels? 2 Chronicles 20:20
Answer: You will be upheld; have faith in His prophets and you will be successful.
God has given His church the gift of prophecy for our benefit. Following God’s counsel brings greater joy to our lives. Accepting heaven’s wisdom saves us from a great deal of heartache and sorrow. The prophets’ messages are heaven’s blessings on our lives.
* Texts credited to NKJV are from the New King James Version. Copyright ©1979, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.