”For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy”. (Rev. 19:10)
A true Prophet today, in the new covenant, does not have the same ministry as a Prophet in the old testament, although there are some similarities. Jesus, the cross, and the resurrection has accomplished a difference, not only when it comes to how God relates to believers, but also when it comes to how God views the whole world.
The disciples of Jesus at one time wanted to act like Elijah by calling down fire from heaven upon a Samaritan village that did not receive them. Jesus corrected them strongly and said, “you know not what spirit you are of” (Lk. 9:52-55). The disciples, who wanted to imitate Elijah, obviously weren’t influenced by the Holy Spirit at this moment. And if it wasn’t the Holy Spirit, one might wonder what spirit they were influenced by!
“These are the days of Elijah”, is a famous song in many churches. Not so. Instead we should sing, “These are the days of Jesus…”
Old covenant Prophets exposed the sins of the people; they focused on the problem. But now we live after the cross. Jesus has already dealt with the sin-problem once and for all (Hebr. 9:26). A true Prophet in the new covenant does not preach the problem that Jesus has already dealt with. A true Prophet explains how God, through Jesus Christ, has already solved the problem!
In the book of Revelation 19:10, we find a very interesting statement: ”The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy”. In other words: If you want to be prophetic, stay with the testimony of Jesus, the Gospel, the good news about Jesus and His finished work at the cross.
Old covenant Prophets exposed the problem; the people’s sin. New covenant Prophets reveal how Jesus has dealt with the sin problem through the sacrifice of Himself – once for all.
A true Prophet cooperates with the Holy Spirit – I believe all Christians can agree on that. Paul said in 1st Corinthians that the Holy Spirit’s job is not to tell us what we lack (like old covenant Prophets did), but what we by grace “freely have received” in Christ (1 Cor. 2:12). The Holy Spirit reveals what we already have, because of Jesus – not what we might receive in the future, should we measure up to a certain religious standard.
The best raw model of a Prophet in the Bible, the greatest Prophet of them all, is neither Moses, Jeremiah, Daniel, nor even John the Baptist (who according to Jesus was the greatest of all the Prophets in the Old Covenant). Jesus Himself is number one. He had the greatest prophetic ministry the world has ever seen. This means that a true Prophet in the new covenant acts like Jesus.
What did Jesus do? He preached good news, forgave sinners, confronted the self-righteousness of the religious elite, and made them wonder “what words of grace” (Lk. 4:22) He was speaking. He healed the sick, lifted religious burdens off people’s shoulders, and also predicted future events, and gave words of wisdom and knowledge etc.
A true Prophet in the new covenant does not mainly focus on future events, although prophesying the future is part of the “package” of being a Prophet even in the new covenant. The main focus is not what is about to happen, but the Gospel, the testimony of what has already happened because of Jesus.
If you believe you are called to be a Prophet, I encourage you to do the following: Study the new covenant, the result of Jesus’ death and resurrection. Learn the Gospel. If you only focus on future-telling, or giving people so-called prophetic greetings without having this foundation, you most likely will go wrong and leave many people wounded and hurt along the way.
A true new covenant Prophet opens people’s eyes about Jesus and His finished work. A true Prophet preaches the gospel. For the testimony of Jesus (not the testimony about future events) is the very spirit of prophecy.