Lesson No.1 - Meaning of Prophecy

Key to Lesson No.1 * Daily messages for Lesson No.1



Lesson No.1 - Meaning of Prophecy

The Dictionary meaning of prophecy is prediction; public interpretation of Scriptures.   From the biblical point of view, the scope and meaning of prophecy are much wider than the general dictionary meaning. Biblically speaking, the term "prophecy" covers the following:

-          Revelation of God and His salvation plan

-          Revelation of divine secrets/future events

-          Condemnation of sins and iniquities

-          Pronouncement of divine judgment on sins and iniquities

-          Divine comfort

-          Divine guidance

-          Divine promises

-          Conveying of timely messages of God
The Bible is a book of prophecy.   One may normally tend to believe that the word "prophecy" in the Bible means only prediction of the future. It is not so because it performs all the above functions. 
"For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost" (II Pet.1:21).
The Bible Prophecy was revealed in the Old Testament by the Holy Ghost through the holy prophets. We tend to think that the prophecies came forth only through the prophetic books like Isaiah, Jeremiah, etc. It is not so. We should bear in mind that the prophecies started flowing forth right from the Garden of Eden. In the third chapter of the Book of Genesis, God cursed the serpent and pronounced judgment on Eve and Adam.   These were the words of prophecy which came directly from the mouth of God.
Exercise No.1
Question No.1:   Did the Old Testament prophets speak on their own?                                                                                        Yes/No
Question (2) "….Men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost".   What is missing in this Bible verse? Please justify how the missing word is very important in today's context.
Question No.3: Some person in your church or in your neighborhood lives in sin, despite your warning. Though you have preached the gospel of grace, he has hardened his heart. You are now giving him a message condemning his sins and pronouncing divine judgment. Are you still giving him the gospel message or not?

Question No.4: The Bible Prophecy is contained only in the prophetic books commencing from Isaiah and ending with Malachi. Is it correct or not?



Prophecies -    Old Testament Vs New Testament
The Old Testament reveals the salvation plan of God.   The New Testament fulfills the salvation plan of God.  The prophets of the Old Testament were the spokespersons of God for revealing the salvation plan of God. The prophets of the New Testament execute the salvation plan of God.   
"For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John" (Matt.11:13).
In fact, the prophecies concerning the salvation plan of God came to an end with the ministry of John the Baptist who revealed Christ as the Lamb of God to the Israel. However, the Bible Prophecy concerning prophetic events continued to be revealed through Jesus Christ and through His apostles who wrote the Gospels and the Epistles.   Since the salvation plan of God had already been revealed through the Old Testament prophets, Jesus as the Prophet did not make any fresh prophecy in this regard. However, He made prophecies concerning prophetic events that would take place.   He spoke words of comfort and of promises. He also spoke words of condemnation against the Pharisees and Scribes, and condemned the sin. He also conveyed timely messages of God to Israel.
The Bible Prophecy concerning revelation of the salvation plan of God came to an end with the ministry of John the Baptist. Fulfillment of the salvation plan began with the birth of Christ. All the Old Testament prophecies concerning the ministry of Christ right from His birth to His ascension to God's right hand were fulfilled. The word of prophecy in Gen.3:15 concerning the seed of a woman was fulfilled with the birth of Christ as mentioned in Col.4:4. The word of prophecy in Ps.68:18 regarding Christ's ascension to God's right hand was fulfilled as per Mark 16:19. The Bible Prophecy concerning the salvation plan of God which had begun in the Book of Genesis was partly fulfilled at the Calvary. The remaining part of the Bible Prophecy concerning the final redemptive plan of God would be fulfilled after the second advent of Jesus Christ when those who would be alive and those who are dead in Christ would put on immortality (I Cor.15:51-58).
No prophet under the New Testament shall further add to the salvation plan of God which had been revealed once and for all under the Old Testament. Neither shall he add to nor shall he delete what the Old Testament prophets spoke.   If he adds or takes away any of the words of prophecy spoken by the Old Testament prophets, he will be a lying prophet. 
These days, some prophets claim to be end-time prophets and their claim is not scripturally correct. God has revealed all the truths to us in the Bible Prophecy which came to an end in the isle of Patmos when John received the special revelations from God. There are no such end-time truths to be revealed to such end-time prophets. Of course, in these last days, the New Testament prophets get revelations on the Bible Prophecy which had already been given to the Church. The New Testament prophets only interpret the Bible Prophecy and are not supposed to give any other prophecy which contradicts the Bible Prophecy.   Through the revelations and visions received by them from the Holy Spirit, they only confirm the Bible Prophecy that takes place at the end-time. These so-called end-time prophets should not and cannot proclaim any message which is outside the written Word of God.   Leaders of certain cults proclaim other ways of salvation than what the Old Testament prophets proclaimed. They are indeed false prophets.
The Bible Prophecy concerning prediction of future events which had begun in the Garden of Eden was finally revealed to John the apostle and prophet, when he was in the island of Patmos. The Book of Revelation was given to the Church through John as the last book of the Bible Prophecy concerning future events about the end of this world and about the final redemptive plan of God. Revelation is the book of consummation.   In it, the divine program of redemption is brought to fruition.  Although there are numerous prophecies in the Old Testament books, the Gospels and Epistles, Revelation is the only New Testament book that focuses primarily on prophetic events. This book is an unveiling of the character and program of God.   It is also known as the Apocalypse, a transliteration of the word apocalypses, meaning unveiling. No prophet under the New Testament is supposed to add unto these things or take away from the words of the book of this prophecy ( Rev.22:18-19). The Bible Prophecy concerning prediction is still being fulfilled.  Though many of such prophecies had been literally fulfilled before and during the earthly ministry of Jesus Christ, certain words of prophecies are yet to be fulfilled.
John the apostle and prophet did not prophesy on the salvation plan of God in the isle of Patmos. He only received a revelation of Christ Jesus and about the end-time events through visions given to him by the Holy Spirit. He recorded in the Revelation what the Holy Spirit commanded him to write to the churches and what he saw in the visions. However, the Old Testament prophets prophesied until John the Baptist. They prophesied during the reigns of the kings of Israel and Judah and during the Babylonian captivity of the Jews.
The Bible Prophecy contains words of divine comfort.   Though many prophetic books under the Old Testament were directed toward the peoples of Israel and Judah, yet the same words of comfort are applicable to the Church, the spiritual Israel. For instance, let us read the words of comfort in the 54 th chapter of Isaiah. Though Isaiah spoke these words of comfort to the Israel, all these words of prophecy can be claimed by us under the New Covenant.
The Bible Prophecy also contains words of exhortation, words of condemnation of sin and of divine judgment on the disobedient and backsliding Israelites.   We should not conclude that these words of warning and of condemnation are meant only for the then nations of Israel and Judah that existed during the Old Testament period, and not for us. The words of warning against idolatry and sins spoken by the prophets to the Israel and to the Gentile nations that existed during the Old Testament period still hold good even today for the whole world.   What we do nowadays is pick up conveniently certain words of promises and of comfort but ignore the words of God's condemnation of and judgment on sin.
Exercise No.2
Question No.1: "For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John " (Matt.11:13). Was Baptist John a prophet under the Old Covenant or the New Covenant?
Question No.2: Did the apostles of Christ including John who had the special revelation from God on the island of Patmos prophesy on the salvation plan of God?
Question  No.3: Can anyone today prophesy on the salvation plan of God which was accomplished on the Cross of Calvary?
Question  No.4:   A person comes to your church and prophesies that God will send His Spirit to save you from the sin and sicknesses through a particular Spirit-filled evangelist in your town if you sow seeds of money in his ministry. Is it a false word of prophecy or a true word of prophecy?   Please justify your answer with reasons.
Question  No.5: A servant of God teaches you that the words of warning and of judgment given by God under the Old Covenant are not meant for you but for the people of Israel under the Old Covenant. Will you believe this prophecy?
Question  No.6: A servant of God teaches you that the promises of God in the prophetic book of Isaiah are not for you.   If you do not believe his teaching, how will you counter his false teaching?
Question  No.7 : Read Isaiah 54:8-9. Does this passage contain words of comfort for you? Has God a message for you? Please explain in about 5 lines.
Question No.8: Some body prophesies that a particular town or a particular nation would be destroyed by God through judgment on a specified date.   Does this accord with the Bible Prophecy or not? Justify your answer with reasons.
Question No.9: Can you prophesy in the same manner as the Old Testament prophets like Isaiah, Jeremiah, etc.?

Question No.10: A person prophesies on you that Jesus will save you from your sins.   Is it false or true? Justify your answer with reasons.


Bible Prophecy Vs World Religions
God had not revealed to the world any other plan of salvation except redemption through His Son since the ministry of John the Baptist.

"God, who at sundry times and in diverse 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". (Heb.1:1-3).
God had spoken to our fathers in the past through His prophets at sundry times and in diverse manners under the Old Testament.   But He has spoken to us by His Son in these last days. The period of last days began with the ministry of John the Baptist, the forerunner to Christ. After God had spoken by His Son, He has never again spoken by any other man or any of His angels.    Those religious leaders who appeared in this world after Christ with the so-called divinely inspired messages other than the gospel of Christ are false prophets. The Bible Prophecy is a litmus test to expose such religious cults. The Bible Prophecy is tested upon the anvil of the world history.   In other words, the world history is the recorded evidence to prove the prophecies of the Bible.

The Bible Prophecy reveals God and His attributes whereas the so-called divinely inspired religious doctrines do not reveal God and His character as these merely present philosophical thoughts or moral values. God still speaks to the world only through Christ Jesus or through Church, the Body of Christ. "No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him" (John 1:18). It is only the Bible Prophecy that reveals Christ, the Son of God, to the fallen human race. The Bible Prophecy is pivotal on the Person of the Son of God, whereas the world religions are pivotal on doctrines of the so-called enlightened men or prophets who had reportedly received divine messages.

Exercise No.3
Question No.1: A person says that he has the message of God for your salvation other than the gospels and he says God has spoken to him about this. Will you accept his message? Justify your answer with reasons.
Question No.2: The author of the book of Hebrews says that in these last days, God has spoken to us through His Son. Christ Jesus, the Son of God is seated on the right of the Father after His ascension into the Heaven. If Christ is not in His physical form on this earth, how is that Christ the Son of God has spoken to us? What is the evidence that is with us which shows that Christ the Son of God has spoken to us?
Question No.3: A servant of God gives a message saying that it is a revelation given to him by God.   When you have examined this revelation with the New Testament, this revelation does not accord with the gospels, the epistles and the book of Revelation.  Will you accept this revelation as inspired of the Holy Spirit? Justify your answer with reasons.
Question No.4: A Jew who has not accepted the gospel claims that he has received the revelation of God.   Can you believe him? Justify your answer with reasons.
Bible Prophecy Vs Personal Prophecy
The Bible Prophecy is different from the personal prophecy. Apart from the Bible Prophecy, the Old Testament prophets also gave personal prophecies to individuals including kings. For instance, the prophet Nathan prophesied to King David when the latter committed the sin of adultery. Though the New Testament prophets do not make any Bible Prophecy, they make personal prophesies.   Agabus, a prophet of the New Testament did prophesy to the church at Antioch of a famine throughout the world. Agabus then prophesied to Paul of persecution in the hands of Gentiles (Acts 11:27-28 & 21:10-11). 
Exercise No.4
Question No.1: A person prophesies on you that God will do a new thing in your life.   Is it a personal prophecy or a Bible Prophecy?
Question No.2:  Can you make a Bible Prophecy today? Justify your answer with reasons.
Question No.3:  Somebody prophesies on future events of the Bible Prophecy which are not revealed in the book of Revelation. Can you believe his word of prophecy?
Question No.4: Somebody prophesies in continuation of the book of Revelation and claims that these are end-time revelations given to him by the Holy Spirit. Can you accept the special revelations?

Who are the prophets today?

(i) Prophets to world
A prophet is a messenger of God or a spokesperson of God.   Under the New Testament, a person who has accepted Christ as his/her personal Savior is a prophet of God to the world because he has God's message of salvation to the world. He/she has to execute the salvation plan of God revealed through the Blood of Christ Jesus by preaching the gospel. He/she has to give the divine message to the lost.   He/she cannot have a different message of salvation except through the Blood of Jesus Christ.  He/she cannot re-write the Bible Prophecy revealed by God through the Old Testament.   The Old Testament prophets prophesied until John.  A New Testament prophet interprets the same Old Testament Scriptures in order to reveal Christ Jesus.
(ii) Prophets to Body of Christ
Though every disciple of Christ is a prophet of God to the lost world, yet God has appointed to the Body of Christ a special category of ministers, called prophets in the second place.   Their functions are given below:
(i)                   To exhort, edify and warn the people of God (Acts 15:32)
(ii)                 To define God's will in the individual lives of the people of God (Acts 13:1-3)
(iii)               To predict as led by the Spirit on future events (Acts 21:10-11). However, such   prophecies should in no way add or take away the words of prophecies in the Book of Revelation but may confirm the words of prophecies in the said Book.
(iv)               To interpret Scriptures including the New Testament books
(v)                 To comfort the afflicted people of God
(vi)               To see and interpret prophetic visions (Acts 10:9-16)
(vii)              To condemn sin and to convict the people of sin, righteousness and judgment
(viii)            To pronounce divine judgment (Acts 5:1-11)
(ix)               To prophesy in Jesus' Name (Matt.7:22).   This means pronouncement of deliverance, miracles, healings, etc. in the Name of Jesus Christ (Mat. 7:22, Acts 3:6, 14:8-10, 16:18). Such prophecies should be only in the Name of Jesus Christ.
(x)                 To give timely prophetic messages to the churches or to the members of the Body of Christ ( Rev.1:4) in the same manner as John gave to the seven churches in Asia.  Such prophetic messages should conform to the truth of the revealed Word of God. A prophet should visit individual ministers of God or the churches as led by the Spirit for his ministry. He should not hanker after church pulpits on his own.
(xi)               To reveal the secrets of one's heart so as to bring glory to God (I Cor.14:24)
Those who prophesy saying, " thus saith the Lord" do so under the Old Covenant. A New Testament prophet need not say, " Thus saith the Lord".   God the Father spoke only in His Son and does not speak directly through His prophets under the New Covenant. A New Testament prophet should not add or delete what God the Father spoke through His prophets under the Old Covenant.

In this chapter dealing with the Bible Prophecy, I have mentioned that the promises of God made to the people under the Old covenant are applicable to His chosen people under the New Covenant.   I have interpreted some prophecies from some prophetic books of the Old Testament. You should also prayerfully meditate on the promises of God in the prophetic books, and interpret the same under the anointing of the Holy Spirit.   As a student of Bible Prophecy, you may as far as possible memorize the promises of God in the prophetic books of the Bible. For giving a prophetic message of comfort or promise to a church, you may prayerfully meditate on the prophetic books of the Bible from Isaiah to Malachi. You can also give prophetic warnings to the churches, especially on repentance, revival, etc., after meditating on these books.



Exercise No.5

Question No.1:  Are you a prophet to the world?


Question No.2:  Somebody is preaching you about Jesus out of his personal experience – how he received him. The preacher says that you have to simply accept this Jesus without repenting of your sins. Is he presenting the Jesus Christ of Nazareth or some other Jesus who is not of the Bible?


Question No.3: A person conveys a message to you saying that he had received a word of prophecy concerning you.   According to his message, you can divorce your spouse and marry another person. Does this revelation accord with the doctrines of Jesus and Paul concerning marriage?   


Question No.4:  A person comes to your church.  The pastor introduces him as a prophet. He prophesies in the Name of Jesus, saying, "I will restore My glory to the Church in these last days. I will save you from sin. Thus saith the Lord thy God".  Is it a false prophesy or not?  Justify your answer.

Question No.5:   You comfort a child of God stricken with grief, in your church saying, "Jesus cares for you. Do not fear. He knows all your problems. Just pour out your heart to Him".  Is it a Bible Prophecy or a personal prophecy?
Question No.6: A person claiming to be a prophet comes to your church and gives a message of salvation not by faith in the finished work of God at
Calvary but in following certain codes of conduct quoting from the Bible. Will you accept his message as inspired by the Holy Spirit? If yes, please justify your answer.

Question No.7: A servant of God has given a message of warning in your church, reproving the church members of sin, of righteousness and of judgment.  But your pastor informs you later that the servant of God concerned had not given God's message because he did not speak about grace and love of God and that he merely had given a message of condemnation by speaking on the effects of sin.  Will you agree with your pastor or not?  Please justify your answer.
Question No.8: A church member prophesies in Jesus' Name that you, a saved soul redeemed by the precious Blood of Jesus Christ, are under a generational curse and that you have to pray to God for removing this generational curse from your family.  Is it a false prophecy or not? Justify your answer.