Acts 21:1 - 40
ESV - 1 And when we had parted from them and set sail, we came by a straight course to Cos, and the next day to Rhodes, and from there to Patara. 2 And having found a ship crossing to Phoenicia, we went aboard and set sail.
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Although the text from Acts cited in the question does not specifically state it, I would speculate that, in the case of the prophet (Agabus) mentioned in the chapter, there had been previous instances both of him behaving as a genuine prophet, and also making prophecies that came true (since he is specifically indicated as being known to have had the gift of prophecy, which he apparently gave evidence of prior to the prediction he made in this chapter). I would say that the following characteristics distinguish a genuine prophet from God (using "prophecy" here specifically to mean foretelling future events, rather than the more generic meaning of speaking on God's behalf): 1) a 100% record of prophecies coming to pass (Deuteronomy 18:22; Jeremiah 28:9) 2) faithfulness to the Bible and its teachings (Deuteronomy 13:1-4) 3) confession of Jesus Christ as God incarnate (1 John 4:1-2) 4) glorifying God rather than himself (Revelation 19:10) 5) personal obedience to the Bible's commands (Isaiah 8:20; 1 Corinthians 14:37) 6) bearing good spiritual fruit (Matthew 7:20) 7) reproving or rebuking sin, rather than participating in it or approving of it (Jeremiah 23:14), or encouraging people to become prideful, competitive, or self-exalting 8) prophesying not in their own strength or power, but at the inspiration of God (Daniel 10:17)
Ephesians 4:11-16 states that he gave some prophets, teachers, evangelist, pastors and apostles for the work of the ministry and perfecting of the saints. If a prophet is not coming in that capacity, be careful. Prophets along with the others are called specifically to set the house in order. The Word given by the prophet will not be "out of the blue" as they are confirming and speaking what God has already ordained in your life. They are not fortune tellers. They are vessels of God speaking as God gives them the words. The recipient will know when they speak immediately if it is of GOD.
There is no need for prophets today as God word has revealed the truth. If God were to speak through a prophet today, it would be in 100% complete agreement with what God has already said in the Bible. God does not contradict Himself.
Simply, if the prophecy is not Biblical. It is not true. Beware false prophets if it is not of God, step away immediately.
Do you see all the prophecies out there from conservative charismatic sources? Notice how a great deal of it is prophecy about Trump, the government, the laws, national morality, etc. Guess what. Those prophecies are all “true, false prophecies.” Not just some of them, all of them. And they come from “committed Bible believing evangelicals” who believe with all their heart that they are prophesying truth to the Church. And yes, is is truth. But it’s not Truth. It is “false truth” because it leads the Church astray from its primary mission and Kingdom calling. It focuses our attention on “kingdom of this world” stuff and not the Kingdom of God. False prophets are sincere, but have been led astray by the cares of this life. These prophets were once true prophets who became false because they lead the Church into focusing on temporal, earthly values and not the values we are called to espouse. Yes, their prophecies, many of them, are true and speak of what is and what’s to come in the Kingdom of America. But they lead the Church away from our primary calling, to make disciples of all nations. We get so caught up in who’s right and who’s wrong politically, what the economic consequences will be for us, how our pleasures and fleshly passions are being abrogated, that we lose the leading of the true Spirit of God. Here's the rub: These prophecies do indeed come from the prophetic gifts of God. But they are misperceived, fundamentally misunderstood, and misapplications of the prophecies are the result. I remember back in 1992 when I received a prophetic anointing. My spirit was like a radio receiver, getting input from dozens of transmitters simultaneously. One guy with whom I worked kept asking me what pro football teams would win each Sunday. I found out later that he was placing bets with a bookie and raking in a pile of cash. It was this new knowledge about prophecy and a conviction from the following passage of scripture that caused me to shut down every prophecy that was not solely focused on Christ and His will. This is the scripture: And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These are the true words of God.” Then I fell down at his feet to worship him, but he said to me, “You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God. For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy” (Revelation 19:9-10). Notice the focus: A True prophetic witness is the Testimony to Christ and His calling. And again, what is His calling? To gather people groups from every tongue and tribe and nations into the corporate Bride of Christ. Nothing less, and certainly nothing more. Finally, notice how the deceiver led Adam and Eve astray: by using a tree created by God for one purpose, in order to accomplish another purpose. Yes, the tree was a true tree because it’s fruit would, as God said, lead to death. But it was a false life-giving tree because it's fruit led humanity astray from the revealed will of God and into the death of Life. Our eternal values have been corrupted and replaced with the deadly values of this “life.” So, if you want to follow these deceived self-promoting prophets who highjack and build on each other’s true-false pronouncements, and who truly believe they are promoting God's will, feel free. But know this: the consequences are a shallow Christianity at best, and a failure to follow the True Lord and His Kingdom will. So much for heavenly rewards. As Christ said:. “Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay each one for what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end. Behold, I am coming soon. Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book (Revelation 22 ESV).
Foreknowledge is another word for prophecy. Now Jesus has given us a truth through scripture about truth. Out of the mouth of two or even three witnesses shall all things be edified and approved of the Lord. (2 Corinthians 13:1) What that is implying is that one might have a person speak some foreknowledge into your life, but it will be confirmed by one or even two others; but an important key is that these witnesses will have no connection or knowledge of others speaking this into your life. The holy spirit will always be one that bears witness to you inwardly. Outwardly he may use a helpmeet like a wife or husband or another person who is known to be credible by the fruit of the spirit and their personal witness of Jesus, meaning their spiritual development is mature and secure in our lord. The works of the flesh will not reign in their lives, but the fruit of the spirit will. No one is perfect but sin will not reign over their lives. In addition, everything said to you must never go against any wisdom given to us in the scriptures used for discernment. God's people are destroyed by a lack of knowledge. (Hosea 4:6) In today's electronic age sound scriptural wisdom is at our fingertips. Be wise in our Lord; test and prove everything with the scriptures.
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