LESSON 8
THE UNIQUENESS OF THE GIFT OF PROPHECY? 
(1 CORINTHIANS 12:27-31, 14:4-5 & 29; EPHESIANS 4:11-13; ROMANS 12:4-8)

Copr. 1999, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.  All scripture references are to the
New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International
Bible Society,  unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used
by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found
within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or
some other visual aid. This lesson can be found at:
<url:http://www.CameronLaw.Com>

Introduction: We have spent these past weeks looking at how God
communicates to us through the writers of the Bible. Is God still
interested in communicating with us today? Does He use men and women in
modern times to communicate His will outside of the Bible?  That is our
subject today. Let's dive in.

I.      THE BIBLE AND THE LATTER DAY PROPHET

        A.      Assume someone walked into our church today and said that she had a
message from God.

                1.      Would you listen to her or reject her out of hand?

                2.      Would you have questions for her?

                        a.      What questions would you have?

                3.      Is it a problem that the messenger is a woman?

        B.      Let's look at some Bible texts to help us understand this. Read 1
Corinthians 12:27-31.

                1.      Is everyone in church a prophet?

                2.      Should some be prophets?

                        a.      Who decides who will be a prophet? (Verse 28 "God has appointed.")

                        b.      If you are a prophet, do you have a role in this appointment
decision?

                                (1)     What does Paul mean in verse 31 when he says, "Earnestly
desire
the greater gifts?" (This gives us at least the role of wanting to do
more for God.)

                                (2)     Is the gift of prophecy a "greater gift?" (Yes.  It is
second on
Paul's list of spiritual gifts.)

                                (3)     How many prophets should we expect to have in our church?
(Read
1 Corinthians 14:4-5, 29.)

                        c.      If we do not have a prophet in our church, is something wrong?

                                (1)     Let's look at two texts: Ephesians 4:11-13 and Romans
12:4-8.

                                (2)     If we do not have one or more prophets is our church
missing a
"body part?"

                                (3)     Ephesians 4:12 tells us that the gift of prophecy is part
of
building up the body of Christ.  Are we weaker if we do not have a
prophet?

                3.      I started out asking about the hypothetical woman coming to your
church and claiming to be a prophet.

                        a.      Can a woman be a prophet?

                        b.      In the same chapter (1 Corinthians 14) where Paul speaks of the
gift of prophecy he also says "women should remain silent in the
churches. They are not allowed to speak...." (1 Corinthians 14:34) Does
this preclude a woman from being a prophet? (Let's read a few texts:
Exodus 15:20-21; Judges 4:4; Luke 2:36-38 (notice what she "never
left"); Acts 21:8-9.)

                                (1)     How do you reconcile these texts?

                                (2)     Who decided that these women would be prophets, man or
God?

                4.      We have learned that prophets are important to building up the body
of the church. If your church does not have one or more prophets, what
do you think is the reason?

                                        (a)     If you have a prophet, how often do you hear from
him or her?

II.     WHAT IS THE GIFT OF PROPHECY?

        A.      At this point you may be saying, "Whoa Bruce, are you suggesting
that something is wrong with our church if we do not have at least one
prophet?"

                1.      Is it possible that we do not understand what a prophet really
does?

                2.      Is it possible that when we read about several prophets in a church
that the text is talking about one situation and we are thinking about
another?

                3.      Tell me what you think a prophet does? Let's look at a few texts on
this:

                        a.      Read Numbers 12:6. What work does this suggest for a prophet?
(Revealing God.)

                        b.      Read 1 Corinthians 14:29-31. What work does this suggest?
(Instruction and encouragement.)

                        c.      Read Deuteronomy 18:15. This is Moses speaking. What was Moses'
primary work? Predicting the future? (No. Instruction and leadership.)

                        d.      Read Joel 2:28-29. What do you think these young people are doing?

                                (1)     Are they predicting the future?

                                (2)     Why do we need so many of them?

                                (3)     Read Acts 2:14-18. What is happening in Acts 2?  What work
is
going on here?

III.    ELLEN G. WHITE, A PROPHET FOR THE LAST DAYS?

        A.      Our lesson (Monday) says that Ellen G. White was a last day prophet.
People of many different denominations read this lesson.  In light of
what we have read about the gift of prophecy is this a bold or
outrageous claim? (No! Paul and Joel see the gift of prophecy being
widespread in the last days.  It is expected, not unusual, to have one
or more prophets in the church in the end time.)

        B.      Can claims about a modern day prophet be bold, outrageous and wrong?

                1.      Go back and review Joel 2:28 again.

                2.      What is the relative importance that you would attach to  the
Spirit-filled words of the "sons" "daughters" or "old men?"

                3.      In which would you place more importance, the Bible or the words of
these people at one of the extremes of age?

                4.      The lesson says that Ellen White wrote approximately 25 million
words and had 2,000 visions. Our entire Bible is only about 1,300 pages
long and the New Testament only about 300 pages. Should this disparity
set off warning bells?

                        a.      Paul has around 100 pages that has been preserved in the New
Testament. Is a church which preserves 25 million words of a modern
prophet putting the emphasis in the wrong place?  Is this a bold,
outrageous and wrong claim to inspiration for 25 million words?

                                (1)     Or is this just the advantage of modern technology?

        C.      The lesson points out that Ellen White died in 1915. Do the texts we
read above(Romans/ 1Corinthians) about prophets seem to infer that the
prophet is dead?

                1.      Could a dead prophet be a "member of the body?" Review Romans
12:4-6 again. (The Bible is a collection of writings of "dead" prophets.
(Some, like Moses, may not be so "dead." See, e.g. Luke 9:30-31)
Therefore, it certainly seems appropriate to look to the writings of a
dead prophet for guidance.  However, the sections in Romans, Ephesians
and 1 Corinthians that deal with the gift of prophecy certainly seem to
envision live prophet(s) that form an active part of the church.)

        D.      Our lesson (Sunday) says that "The gift of prophecy is an
identifying mark of the remnant church." This idea can be drawn by
comparing Revelation 12:17 and 19:10. Based on what we read in Romans, 1
Corinthians and Ephesians it seems obvious that the gift of prophecy
must be alive among God's people.

                1.      Can a church still lay claim to be a remnant with a single prophet
who has been dead for almost 85 years?

                        a.      Is this a spiritual problem or a problem of defining a prophet too
narrowly?

                2.      At the time of the second coming of Christ, will the remnant church
have at least one prophet alive?

                3.      Read Joel 2:28-31 yet again. What answer to these questions does
this text suggest? (On my website
(http://www.cameronlaw.com/sermons/last_chance.html) you will find my
sermon entitled "Last Chance."  This sermon compares our experiences on
earth with the exodus from Egypt to Canaan.  The people did not enter
the promised land at their first opportunity. This comparison suggests
that Jesus had several "entry points" in history where, if we had been
faithful, He could have returned to take His saints home to heaven.  Is
it possible that the remnant church will have prominent prophets alive
just before one of those "entry points?"  If Jesus does not come at one
of those "entry points," will He raise up another prophet before the
next "entry point?"

                4.      In light of this, should we be suspicious and hostile to anyone who
claims to be a prophet today?

                5.      Should we be suspicious of anyone who puts too much emphasis on a
modern day prophet?

                        a.      Can you put too much emphasis on a modern day prophet?

IV.     NEXT WEEK: GUIDE FOR THE LAST DAYS