The following is a series of discussions from my upcoming new book. Let me know your thoughts on the subject. Blessings!
The present church is on the crossroads; there is a great dilemma, if not, a serious outcry in the spiritual realm. Today, church folk especially in Southern Africa, have come into direct contact with a new phenomenon of spiritualists and zealous religionists who are marketing the spiritual on the religious market place. Their new kind of spirituality seems to be appealing to many believers in a new way that far supersedes the previous spiritual revivals that ever occurred in the Southern Church. Among the many merchandise available on this spiritual market place, one serious or impulse buyer can easily shop prosperity, deliverance, prophets and prophecy and load your spiritual basket with it to the satisfaction or dissatisfaction of the buyer. After all, who does not want to try the new goods in the newly opened market (though not new but refurbished)?
The subject of prophets and prophecy in today’s church has created interest among many people in Southern Africa. Some feel that this is a much needed and yet, neglected ministry in the church. Others are of the opinion that prophecy should be minimized in the churches because of a number of self-acclaimed prophets that have mushroomed in the churches. To some, there is no true prophet who exists today and therefore, all prophets are false and the gift has long ceased to operate. While the majority of Pentecostals, Charismatics and Apostolic churches give preeminence to the particular use of the prophetic ministry in their churches, some people in Africa feel that the supposed ministry is nothing but a fraudulent activity rooted in African Traditional Religion but masquerading as the gift of prophecy. This is poised by the fact that there exists a number of similarities within the ATR practices and modern day prophetism.
Another observer has noted that, due to poverty in Africa and the advent of higher education, the witchdoctors and physicians in ATR has had a paradigm shift from operating in their traditional shrines to the most recent and convenient places and have changed the shrines’ names to prophetic churches. This is quite a similar approach in ATR that says if one was possessed by an unclean spirit, they can cleanse it to become a good spirit. Likewise, many who formerly were witchdoctors are now prophets because the evil spirit has been cleansed to become the Holy Spirit.
Still, there are those prophets who have not emerged directly from this kind of background. They are in a class of their own. These are the prophets who have travelled to other countries, get contact with a prophet and began to prophesy. It is not clear however, if they received their prophetic gifting through impartation or they realized these gifts after they crossed borders. Of particular interest is how these prophets have serious spiritual ties with prophetic mentors or spiritual fathers in other parts of the world whom they also invite time and again to minister in their congregations.
Then, there is another breed of prophets who claim to have received unique and amazing powers in their childhood days but then, these gifts and powerful miraculous displays have begun to intensify these days. Someone has remarked that this is the fulfilment of Joel’s prediction that in the last days, the prophetic ministry will be everywhere in the church, visions, dreams, signs and wonders! Those skeptical of the modern day prophetic movement have been castigated by others as being unspiritual and subscribing to a faulty theology that has placed God in a box to such an extent that they have failed to see what God is doing in the Church and the world today.
Likewise, those who believe the prophetic ministry to be the normative order of the day have likewise been charged for peddling religious emotions and spiritual psychology on the followers. The accusations have been levied unsparingly with others charging the prophets as fraudsters, agents of Satan and moving devils bent to destroy Christianity. In each group, there seem to exist several extremisms and there is truth to some of the things. However, one has to be careful in his observation not to blaspheme the Spirit of God at work in the Church today. At the same time, one should also be careful not to be quick to subscribe every spiritual activity in the church today to the Spirit of God.
It is of paramount importance for believers today to understand that the Bible is so clear in its predictions and descriptions of the last days. Apart from the Scriptures in Joel and Haggai used to promote a worldwide outpouring of the Spirit and a great revival in the last days before Jesus returns, numerous Scriptures describes the end of the age as filled with a great delusion, apostasy and a great turning away from the faith. As if it’s not enough, Christ Jesus himself made it clear that there would be many false preachers, teachers and prophets, even those who would claim to be the Christ. It is abundantly clear from Jesus’ discourse on the Mount of Olives that deception was to come “in the name of Christ”.
The apostle Paul made it clear that we should not despise prophecies but we should test them and hold on to what is good. Likewise, the Spirit calls us to be watchful, to walk circumspectly not as fools but as wise. There is a need to be awake, sober, alert and watchful especially that there are several spiritual phenomena that enshrouds the Southern Church today. I am told by several of my students in over 173 nations that what we are experiencing in Southern Africa is also happening in several countries of the world. This tells me that the signs of the end of the age are truly upon us and the Lord is about to come. Today, there is an intensification of spiritual battle as the forces of darkness are marching against God’s armies and the saints in preparation for that great and terrible day of the Lord.
As I write, I have the believer at heart who seeks to know where to draw the line between what is godly and ungodly, the counterfeit and the true. I have discovered that as humanity, our inclination is mostly given to those things that appeals more to the carnal nature than the spiritual nature. Thus, I am not tempted to think that my perception of the subject will be welcomed with great zeal or interest, however, I know to some people, this work will be of great importance. For others, it will create an inner desire to pursue the issue further. As in all my works, the Bible is the benchmark for all my studies. If we happen to differ in our viewpoints, it’s only because it’s logical to do so as humans. We don’t think alike. Also, you may need to check your hermeneutics – how you read, understand and interpret Scripture. This is usually where most people differ and call each other names like heretic, theologian (of course, in a sarcastic and detrimental way), etc.
To be honest, I have many good friends in the theological camp that don’t subscribe to my opinions and understanding of modern events. There are also those who disagree with me on my exegesis of several scriptural passages, and some contends for their denominational teachings and traditions more than the simple plain truth of Scripture, yet, I have utmost respect for them. This work is not meant to expose anyone, but it’s meant to equip the believer against Satan’s chief tool against the church in our times, deception in the name of Christ. Truly, there are many good things we can all learn from each other and in the spirit of true Christianity, we endeavor to earnestly contend for the faith that was once delivered.
Are there prophets today? Do spiritual gifts exists? Have any of the gifs ceased? Are theologians biased and tools of the devil against the church when they seek out to explain the faith and the teachings of Christ to the church? Is there a good or bad theology, if so, how do you tell? What is the purpose of prophecy and the ministry of the prophet? Do believers have to rely on the ministry of the prophets in the churches today? Is the Bible an outdated and irrelevant book and have prophetism overtaken its use today? Can demons prophesy? What about unfulfilled prophecies and predictions? Can prophets err and is the message of a prophet today infallible? Is the fulfilment of my prophecy dependent on my level of prayers, faith or gifts to God? Can one buy a prophecy? What about divination, soothsaying and hypnotism, are they also experienced in the churches today? Is a prophet a miracle worker and has every prophecy to be authenticated by a miracle?
These and other such questions will be dealt with in this book. It is my desire to build the body of Christ and as an apologist, to defend the faith. As a polemicist, I seek to safeguard the church from ravening wolves who have crept in unnoticed in the church with sheep’s clothing yet they are marauding wolves. As a pastor, my heart goes to the sheep that are being manipulated and controlled by fear instead of their love for Christ. As an evangelist, I have brought some good news to you and as a teacher, I will help you to understand the times we are living in and give you the necessary resources and knowledge that you need to help combat counterfeit Christianity and grow in the grace and knowledge of pour Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It is my sincere desire that the thoughts in this discussion will be of great help to you. May the Lord bring his shalom peace and order to your spiritual chaos and may the Holy Spirit dispel the ignorance and darkness that permeates our minds and churches in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ is my prayer!