1 Corinthians 14:22
ESV - 22 Thus tongues are a sign not for believers but for unbelievers, while prophecy is a sign not for unbelievers but for believers.
Community answers are sorted based on votes. The higher the vote, the further up an answer is.
Here is the test of true prophecy from God: 1) It should be consistent with the teachings and doctrines of the Bible and the overall harmony of the body of Scriptures. Any prophecy that violates any express or implied teachings of Scripture is false (1 John 4:1-7). 2) It cannot purport to make new revelation or inspiration. God has closed the revelation of His word in the Scriptures and nothing is to be added. Any prophecy that claims new revelation or inspiration is false. The Bible is sufficient for us (2 Timothy 3:16-17). 3) It should not obligate the recipient to make or give any material benefit to the prophet. Any prophecy that demands that we give money or material benefits in exchange is false. Notice that when Gehazi falsely purported that Elisha had sent him to collect gifts from Naaman,God revealed it to Elisha and Gehazi was rebuked (2 Kings 5). 4) No prophet has the capacity to foresee the future independently of God. Future prophecy was sealed by Christ. He alone speaks into our future (Hebrews 1:1-2) 5) It should not violate the revealed will of God. When Hananiah contradicted prophet Elijah, he suffered instant judgment. 6) It must come to pass. False prophecies never materialize because God never ordered the mind of the person proclaiming it. Notice that the prophecy on the house of Eli was fulfilled with precision until Abiathar, the last priest in Eli's order, was defrocked and replaced by Solomon in 1 kings 2:35. 7) It should be affirmed by the Spirit of God. The Holy Spirit who dwells in us agrees with spirit regarding the truths of God (Romans 8:16)
The Old Testament is filled with hundreds of historical Messianic prophecies of that time. The prophet, Isaiah prophesied the birth as well as the unspeakable thrashing that Jesus Christ suffered on the Cross seven hundred years prior to its occurrence. The following scripture is a primary example supporting this fact: Isaiah 50:6~ “I offered my back to those who attacked my jaws to those who tore out my beard; I did not hide my face from insults and spitting.” The next couple verses are from the Old Testament, prophecies which underscore the birth and death of Jesus Christ numerous centuries beforehand: Micah 5:2 ~ “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.” Psalm 22:16-18 ~ “Dogs surround me, a pack of villains encircles me; they pierce my hands and my feet. All my bones are on display; people stare and gloat over me. They divide my clothes among them and cast lots for my garment.” Although the above verses clearly exemplify biblical foresight; the best way to acquire a full comprehension of Isaiah’s prophetic message is to sit in a place of quietude and thoroughly read the entire Chapter of Isaiah 53. This, along with various other scriptures, is an excellent point of reference for those skeptics so eagerly awaiting the chance to provoke religious debates. One of the most compelling prophecies in the New Testament was spoken by Jesus Christ to His disciples as shown in the following scripture: John 2:19-22 ~Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.” They replied, ‘It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?’ But the temple he had spoken of was his body. After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. Then they believed the scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken.’” My past experiences have proven that messianic prophecy is the idyllic key that unlocks the coldest heart of hearts; people need to see proof. Go in peace, examine Scripture daily and remember to share it with those willing to listen; especially unbelievers. This will produce hope and glorify our Heavenly Father. “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20) The only proof we need to encourage and edify others falls within the divine pages where Scripture clearly expresses Christ as our eternal Creator who wondrously spoke inexistent galaxies into perfect existence. The Book of John Chapter One describes Jesus as “God,” while the Book of Hebrews Chapter One refers to Christ as the One who laid the foundations of the earth. In the Book of Revelation Chapter 22, Christ actually calls Himself, “the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. All of these prophetic verses correlate perfectly to the following Old Testament verses: Isaiah 44:6 ~ “This is what the Lord says—Israel’s King and Redeemer, the Lord Almighty: ‘I am the first and I am the last; apart from me there is no God.”’ Isaiah 48:12 ~ “Listen to me, Jacob, Israel, whom I have called: I am He; I am the first and I am the last.”
In my opinion, the word "prophecy" as used in the passage cited in the question (and as a gift of the Holy Spirit to Christians) does not primarily refer to foretelling future events, but is meant in the sense of preaching, or "speaking on behalf of" God (which is what is meant by the Greek root words from which the word "prophecy" derives). (That is why Paul refers in the cited passage to the ability of prophecy to convict unbelieving people of their sin, which would be a function of preaching.) Therefore, to me, knowing if a prophecy is from God would not necessarily relate to whether foretold events come to pass or not, but whether the substance of the message being preached agrees with, or is based on, what God has revealed to us in the Bible, and whether the message being proclaimed tells people of their need for Christ as their Redeemer and Savior, and brings them to faith in Him. Any other preaching that seeks to glorify, or to draw people to, the speaker (or anyone or anything other than Christ, for that matter), would not be prophecy in the Biblical sense of the word.
Concerning prophecy defined as "foretelling" I believe the Lord drew a line in the sand in Revelation chapter 22:18-19. "For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book." If we acknowledge or endorse "progressive revelation" who's to say Mormonism is false or even Islam? We know that any belief system that waters down or denies the deity of Christ is false and the two religions above are easy to identify as false but can we not see the danger of individuals and/or groups who purport "thus saith the Lord"? 2 Timothy 13:6-17 "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works." Hebrews 1:1-2 "God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;".
The word "Prophecy" is a tricky word today, it is used in a couple of different ways with New Testament believers and is often times compared to Old Testament Prophecies in respect to how it is delivered. The folks who gave some of the other answers are indeed correct and have covered the application very well. The answers that are given by Ezekiel, Tim and Peter cover just about everything one would consider when being given a "Prophecy". I'd like to talk about two different perspectives or applications of prophecy that we may encounter in our walk with God and perhaps a definition or two in order to help understand that a Prophecy is from God or not. When ones hears the term Prophecy we usually expect to hear something spectacular, exciting, corrective, forthtelling-telling about the future but not predicting it, or doom and gloom. Based on what is said we begin to process the information and sometimes confusion comes because of lack of understanding. Someone may say "I have a Word for you" which for some means "I'm going to get a prophecy" the "Word/Prophecy is given and unless there is understanding confusion sets in. Some things to consider along with what was stated by the others are; Is this person a prophet- If the answer is yes (Based on your belief that they exist today) then the prophecy should be relevant to their gifting. IE Correction or direction/ Edification, Exhortation, Comfort. Most people who operate in the "Office of a prophet" can and sometimes do give correction or direction Is this person a lay person- Church goer who may or may not tend to be prophetic. Usually this person will give a prophecy or word of encouragement that edifies, exhorts and comforts (1 Cor 14:3). They may forthtell however this is not common, depending on their faith and how often they exercise their gift may be a factor. Timing- Is this prophecy timely or will it come to pass in time? God prophesied about the coming of Jesus since the beginning and it took a long time for it to come to pass. In my personal life my wife and I were told by a prophet that we would have a son, we immediately tried to adopt but that didn't work out and then 20 years later my drug addicted daughter had a son that we adopted from the moment of birth. So it took 20 years for the prophecy to come to pass. The situation and circumstances were not as we would have expected but we love this boy and cannot wait until he grows up and is a man. He is currently 2 1/2 years old and quite a challenge. I myself have done both, I have given a word of knowledge and forthtold and at other times more often than not have just encouraged others. I have brought correction that was confirmed and accurate but I do not consider myself a prophet. For the most part any "Word or Prophecy" I have given to anyone has been more edification, exhortation and comfort. I have been incorrect on occasion but still listen for the voice of God to help people in their walk in life whether they are christian or not. To God that does not matter but if we are an expression of His love to others to include the world then we are doing His will. As we love others we will be a voice to them from the Lord and can make an impact and difference in the lives of those who choose or not choose to follow after Him. For God is a lover of people, John 3:16 Though I tend to be prophetic and can give a word of knowledge or a word of wisdom according to 1 Corinthians 12 I find it is best to always encourage others and any doom and gloom is really not from God in the New Testament. God is an encourager because as Christians we are His children and no father I know speaks doom and gloom over their children but will always encourage them to go forth and be fruitful as God did with Adam and Eve in the beginning. God is a God of grace and mercy and not of judgement. Here is a blog that you may find helpful http://graceoveryou.blogspot.com/2015_02_01_archive.html
Because there are a lot of cessationalists here on eBible I'm just gonna say right now you are not gonna like my answer. If a Prophecy is from God it will line up with the word of God, meaning it will either foretell (Isaiah 7:14) or forthtell (1 Kings 17:1-7). The problem people get into is they want to see the immediate fruit of the Prophetic word. There are still prophecies from the minor Prophets throughout the Old Testament that were from God but have not yet come to pass (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17), not because they weren't true Prophecy, but rather because the timing of God was not in the coming about of that Prophecy immediately. Most modern prophecy that's observable is forthtelling, but that doesn't rule out the foretelling prophecy.
First, we must see what scripture says. There are many answers here using scripture and several without a single reference to scripture, but all only using man's definition of prophet and prophecy and not the scriptural definition. It is true that scripture does not explicitly define all of its terminology, but you cannot find definitions that are more clear than those given for prophet and prophecy. These are defined in Dt 18:14-20. Because the people refused to hear God's voice directly at Sinai god raised up prophets to hear him and relay his words to the people. Prophecy has little to do with foretelling the future, it is about repeating God's message to those who have no ability or no willingness to hear God for themselves. Naturally there is a factor of foretelling in this because in Amos 3:7 God tells us he will not do anything in the earth without first telling his servants the prophets. Those who claim that God no longer speaks to his prophets and no longer makes any revelation in the earth are either calling God a liar or worship a god who will not obey his own law, or are admitting that the agnostics are right and God takes no interest in what happens in the world today. All of these are sins. God does not change (Num 23:19, Mal 3:6) so he still reveals to those who will listen to him. Dt 18:21, 22 gives the first word on how we are to tell if the prophets word actually comes from God or not. They must come true, but then this cannot be an absolute because God relented and did not destroy Nineveh when they repented at Jonah's warning, at least not from man's perspective. Repentance creates a new man and the old man is destroyed (2 Cor 5:17); physical destruction is not necessary, but destruction is not complete until we receive the glorified body. Nineveh was destroyed from this perspective. Dt 13 goes into more detail, telling us that God sends those who prophesy falsely to us (if you study in Greek and Hebrew you find the Bible never says false prophet, only one who prophesies falsely, and it gives examples such as Balaam of prophets who actually do hear God's voice and give his message but who prophesy falsely for their own personal reasons. Dt 13 tells us that if the prophet is accompanied by signs and wonders it is proof God has sent him/her. Dt 18:21 told us the most important sign is the word of the prophet coming true, but we are not to wait for that sign. Before that we are to compare the prophet's message to the previously revealed word of God (Dt13:4,5). If the prophet in any way contradicts God's commandments he is false and to be stoned to death (symbol for being confronted with God's law (stones) and brought to repentance (2nd death). Ezekiel 14:1-11 tells us that what makes a prophet sent by God false is his heart idols (preconceived interpretations that are self-serving or otherwise false,) that God will give that prophet the words to say, but he will give them in such a way that the idol of the hearts of the prophet or his hearers can easily twist those words to mean what they want them to. We can witness this occurring in nearly every discussion on this site. There is always someone twisting scripture to their own desires. God's truth is still in that word, but it is concealed by their interpretations. Saul entered the ranks of the prophets when he was anointed king (1 Sa 10:9-13), yet when God rejected him as king for his sins He sent an "evil spirit from God". Saul continued to prophesy by this spirit and under its influence sought to kill David, the Lord's anointed;" Saul could not tell the difference but some of his servants could (1 Sa 16:15). A similar story is the lying spirit sent from God to Ahab's 400 prophets (1 Kg 22, 2 Chr 18). The idols of the heart or strong delusion (2 Thes 2:11) are sent by God to keep those who don't love him from seeing the truth, but the word he gives those prophets is also his and if you love God you won't worry about the prophet; hear his word.
Only one item is the test factor--it has to be 100% accurate not 99% either. God never makes a mistake or makes an error. It also must be in advance of what ever it is dealing with and even names are noted.
All answers are REVIEWED and MODERATED.
Please ensure your answer MEETS all our guidelines.
A good answer provides new insight and perspective. Here are guidelines to help facilitate a meaningful learning experience for everyone.