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Sabbath School Lessons on The Prophetic Gift
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About the Author
Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
is the author of these Sabbath School lesson study outlines. He is the Reed Larson Professor of Labor Law at Regent University School of Law. Professor Cameron has devoted his life to promoting the Gospel and defending believers. In addition to teaching at an overtly Christian law school, he continues his 41 year practice of law which is limited to the litigation of constitutional rights and religious freedom cases for employees. He holds an undergraduate degree from Andrews University and a Doctor of Law from Emory University School of Law.
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Lesson 13: Confidence in the Prophetic Gift *
Introduction: This week I was speaking to a young man whose church
has a living prophet. Because of the prophecy of Joel 2:28-29, that
is not something I would automatically reject. Instead, what I found
worthy of consideration was his statement that the words of the
prophet were as authoritative as the words of the Bible. What do you
think of that? If the prophet truly speaks for God, then that makes
logical sense. Does it make Biblical sense? How about practical
sense? Let's dive into our study of the Bible and learn what level of
confidence we should have in the prophetic gift!
- The Prophet and the Walkers
- Read Matthew 13:14. Is this a statement from a prophet?
(Yes. Jesus says this is a fulfilled prophecy from
- Let's look at this prophecy. Read Matthew 13:14-15.
About what is the prophet warning? (People are not paying
attention. They are seeing and hearing messages, but they
are not paying attention. The message is not sinking into
- Read Luke 24:13-18. Imagine you are speaking with a
friend, and a stranger comes up and asks you what you are
talking about. How would you react?
- Why do the two stop to answer this question? Why are
their faces "downcast?" (Their faces reflect their
sad mood. They are taking this question very
seriously. They stop before they answer the
- Read Luke 24:19-21. How do they describe Jesus? (As a
- What is the significance of that? (They do not say He
was the Messiah, the Son of God.)
- What is important about the "third day" reference?
(Read Matthew 17:22-23. Jesus said that He would be
raised to life on the third day. These two think all
- Let's continue with our story in Luke 24. Read Luke 24:22-24. What would you say to these two?
- Does the prophecy of Isaiah about seeing and hearing
but not understanding ( Matthew 13:14) apply to them?
- Read Luke 24:25-27. Let's review this situation. These men
are discouraged and confused. They are thinking of the
prophecy of Jesus and they are comparing it with what they
know. How does Jesus help them to "see and hear?" (By
opening to them the Bible.)
- Is Jesus doing the work of a prophet here? (Yes. The
work of the prophet is to help humans understand
- What is the benchmark for Jesus' explanation? (The
- What important lesson do we learn from this story
about our confidence in the prophetic gift? (That
statements of prophets must be benchmarked against
- Why didn't Jesus just say to them "Hey knuckleheads,
its Me!" (God's goal for us is to understand the
theme of the Scriptures and how Jesus fits in it.
This is prophet work: to help us understand how our
current situation, our current issue fits into the
flow of Scripture.)
- Read 1 Corinthians 14:1-3. What is the role of the prophet
in our day? (Just as Jesus encouraged the two discouraged
men, so the work of the prophet today is to encourage,
strengthen and comfort believers.)
- The Prophet and the Bereans
- Read Acts 17:10-12. Is Paul a prophet? (Of course.)
- How did the Bereans determine this? (By testing
Paul's words against the Bible.)
- Although the two men walking the road to Emmaus were
not looking in a Bible as they spoke with Jesus, what
gave them the conviction that Jesus was giving them a
true message? (Read Luke 24:32. Their hearts burned
as Jesus explained the relevant Scriptures to them.)
- Read 1 Corinthians 12:7-11. What is the purpose of giving
the gift of prophecy to a believer? (For the common good.)
- Why does 1 Corinthians 12:11 stress that these
spiritual gifts are the work of "one and the same
Spirit?" (Because there must be harmony in the work
of God. This is another reason why the Bible is the
benchmark for anyone who claims to have the gift of
- Read Proverbs 2:1-6. This describes the process of
understanding God's will. Let's break this down into its
- Re-read Proverbs 2:1-2. What kind of attitude does
this describe? (This is someone who is open and
anxious to understand God's word.)
- Re-read Proverbs 2:3. What activity does this
describe? (Prayer. The "call out" is to God, the Holy
Spirit, for insight and understanding.)
- Re-read Proverbs 2:4-6. What is the end result? (If
we are diligent in seeking God's will, He will give
us wisdom, knowledge and understanding.)
- What does this sequence teach us about confidence in
the words of a modern prophet? (We should not
approach a modern prophet like we approach a Chinese
fortune cookie: we crack it open and find an answer.
To be safe, we must have a deep understanding of the
Bible. We must already know a great deal about how
God directs the lives of humans. We then determine
whether the words of the modern prophet "fit" into
this stream of past revelation.)
- How should you react if a modern prophet gives a
completely new understanding of the Bible? What if a
modern prophet suggests a new doctrine? (Why would God
give a message to someone now that He has not given to
Moses, Paul or anyone else in the last 3,000 years? I can
see a message that fits our time, but I would be very
suspicious of a new message that has little relevance to
our time and could have just as easily been given to
Moses, Paul or some other Bible writer. If the new
message in any way contradicts the Bible, I would reject
- Modern Prophets
- Let's go back again to 1 Corinthians 14. Read 1
Corinthians 14:1-5 & 1 Corinthians 14:29. How common was
the gift of prophecy in the Corinthian church? (Very
- Read 1 Corinthians 14:36-40. Is there an unclear line
between prophets and the "spiritually gifted" in the
- How does Paul suggest prophets are to be judged?
(Paul points out that God's word did not originate
with them. The inference is that prophets are to be
judged by the stream of revelation starting with
- What guidance does this give us in evaluating modern
prophets? (First, we should not be surprised by a
Christian's claim to have the gift of prophecy. The gift,
like other spiritual gifts, should be expected in a
church. By Corinthian standards, it would seem something
was wrong with a church which did not have at least one or
two who had the gift of prophecy. Second, this gift is to
strengthen the church and believers. This gift is not to
change the stream of revelations given by God over the
- Friend, are you open to the words of a modern prophet?
Are you open to those who are spiritually gifted? You
should be open and you should be testing. If a modern
prophet gives comfort, direction and strength to a church,
and the words of the prophet are consistent with the
benchmark of the Bible, then you are blessed.
- Next week: We begin a new study on "The Christian Life."
* Copr. 2009, 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.