Wednesday, 29 April 2015

What does the Bible say about Prophets?

Have you ever noticed how people turn to the pages of the Bible to find answers to questions, or things they may not fully understand? Me neither. To find someone who actually reads - for understanding, to boot - is a rarity. Therefore, I have set out to find answers from the most well-known, recorded source of God's dealings with mankind. And, as a Latter-day Saint, I'll start with one of the foundations of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints - prophets. For such is my charge, to feed His sheep.

The Articles of Faith, written by Joseph Smith to state the official beliefs of members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, state that we believe in prophets.
Articles of Faith 1:6 "We believe in the same organization that existed in the Primitive Church, namely, apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists, and so forth."

We believe these things as they have been revealed through prophets of God, both ancient (from the Bible and the Book of Mormon) and modern (called of God by the laying on of hands). Additionally, the Holy Bible supports this statement, and provides the purpose.

Ephesians 4:11-16 "And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love."

It is to protect the saints from the craftiness of men, and the winds of doctrine which would have us tossed to and fro. It is to be the foundation until "the unity of faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God". It also places Christ as the head of His Church, which we perpetuate as members of The Church of Jesus Christ.

So what is the purpose of a prophet?
Amos 3:7 "Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets."
So prophets receive revelation from God - as it is His chosen means of work with the children of men.
Luke 1:70 "As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began:" (See Luke 1:68)
Prophets are the Lord's spokesman, and have been in existence since the beginning of the world.
Acts 10:43 "To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins."
And they witness of Christ, and His redeeming love. This, I believe to be of strong importance, as we are taught to try the spirits, whether they be of God.
1 John 4:1-3 "Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world."
We are warned of many false prophets, so we test them to see of whom they testify.

So how do we identify a prophet?
Numbers 12:6 "And he said, Hear now my words: If there be a prophet among you, I the Lord will make myself known unto him in a vision, and will speak unto him in a dream."
I find this verse particularly interesting, because it shows that God reveals Himself to His prophets through a vision [and speaks to them in a dream].

Joseph Smith, a prophet of God, not only testified of Christ, but saw God the Father, and His Son, Jesus Christ, in a vision, in the Spring of 1820.

Another evidence would be whether or not they have received authority to do so from God.
Articles of Faith 1:5 "We believe that a man must be called of God, by prophecy, and by the laying on of hands by those who are in authority, to preach the Gospel and administer in the ordinances thereof."
An account given in the Old Testament shows how Moses ordained Joshua, as commanded by God, by the laying on of hands.
Numbers 27:22-23 "And Moses did as the Lord commanded him: and he took Joshua, and set him before Eleazar the priest, and before all the congregation: And he laid his hands upon him, and gave him a charge, as the Lord commanded by the hand of Moses."

Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery were ordained by John the Baptist and Peter, James, and John (respectively) as a part of the restoration of The Church of Jesus Christ, specifically, the restoration of the Priesthood of God.

And by their fruits, ye shall know them.
Matthew 7:20 "Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them."

Joseph Smith was the instrument of God in the bringing back of His Church in these latter days. He was the instrument used in the translation of a record recorded on golden plates, even the Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ, which testifies of Christ.
2 Nephi 25:26 "And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins."

Ephesians 2:19-21 even teaches us that prophets form part of the foundation in the household of God (so prophets were not abolished in the New Testament). And Isaiah even prophecies of the restoration of these judges and counselors from the beginning (Isaiah 1:26).

This is what the Bible says. The question is, What does this mean for us?


  1. I'm wondering if "As He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets, Who have been since the world began" means that the prophets existed in spiritual form before they were born...

    1. Interesting comment. If we look at Jeremiah 1:5, it seems to support your statement. Another fundamental LDS belief is that of pre-mortal existence. I.e. We lived as spirits in the presence of God before being physically born. See for more details.