The Case for a Living Prophet

Replica Statues of Bertel Thorvaldsen’s Twelve Apostles Located in the visitors’ center — Rome Temple

To Moses, Jehovah said, “Who hath made man’s mouth? or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? have not I the Lord? Now therefore go, and I will be thy mouth, and teach thee what thou shalt say. (Exodus 4:11–12, KJV)”

One of the central tenants of the Bible is that God speaks to prophets. While the accounts are short, we know from the Bible that God spoke to Adam, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (later Israel). These are the Patriarchs spoken of throughout the remainder of the Bible.

Hundreds of years after the death of Jacob, Moses, an Egyptian-raised Israelite, was anointed by God to be a prophet to rescue the House of Israel from Egyptian slavery.

Then followed nearly 1,500 years of the history of a people led by prophets such as Samuel, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel with dozens of lesser known prophets.

Among all the prophets of the Old Testament there are two common messages: the eventual coming forth of Messiah and an eventual falling away and need for restoration of all things.

In what is commonly referred to as the meridian of time, the promised Messiah was born. A singular prophet and so much more. Billions of Christians, past and present, understand — at least on some level — the eternal importance of Jesus of Nazareth in the life of every one of God’s children.

The chief apostle, Simon Peter, was broadly recognized as the last prophet to lead the Church of Christ before the close of the Bible.

Half a world away, other prophets testified of the Messiah and the need for a restoration. Prophets such as Lehi, Nephi, Jacob, Mosiah, Alma, Mormon, and Moroni, while unfamiliar to most of the modern world, bore powerful witness of Jesus Christ as our Savior and Redeemer.

From a etymological perspective, the word prophet comes from the Greek prophētēs meaning “spokesman”. Many religions regard a prophet as an inspired teacher or proclaimer of the will of God; a person who advocates or speaks in a visionary way about a new belief, cause, or theory.

God loves His children. When God speaks, He does so to teach, inspire, refine, and often warn us. A prophet speaks to us on God’s behalf. An important question that arises here is why does God not simply speak to us Himself. He does, but having a prophet anciently was a way for Him to ensure there was no confusion about His word.

If God spoke to His prophet in antiquity, why doesn’t he do so now? In the scriptures God often says he is not a changeable God. So, one of the following must be true:

  • God said all He was going to say through ancient prophets and now it is up to us to interpret what He said,
  • God does change and the representation that He does not is effectively errata in Holy Writ,
  • Or, God does still speak through prophets today and most people are simply ignorant to it.

John MacArthur, in an article adapted from the Master’s Seminary Journal Vol. 14, writes, “The biblical canon closed after the writing of Revelation and was popularly recognized soon after in the ancient church. Jude 3 speaks of ‘the faith once for all delivered to the saints’ and warns repeatedly against tolerating false prophets.”

In the conclusion to the first section, he writes, “Scripture is a closed system of truth, complete, sufficient, and not to be added to (Revelation 22:18–19). It contains all the spiritual truth God intended to reveal.”

Additionally, in an article entitled “The Truth About Continuing Revelation” author M. Ashley Evans states, “One of the major problems with Continuing Revelation is that it undermines the sufficiency of Scripture. It is a proclamation that the Bible is not our sole source of God’s revelation.”²

If we accept what both authors say is true, then the heavens really are closed and God has left us to fend for ourselves, relying on the well-intentioned teachings of men and women trained by other men and women to help us make sense of it all.

Let’s do an experiment. Take a few deep breaths and consider the question — really consider it — why would a God who loves His children stop talking to them?

Without much difficulty, we can examine the Bible. For those who believe, it is apparent that God established a standard procedure, if you will, of talking to man.

  • Is it possible God doesn’t speak to us anymore because He has lost the ability to do so?
  • Perhaps he doesn’t speak to us anymore because He doesn’t love us anymore and is no longer interested in us?
  • Maybe He doesn’t speak to us because we don’t need Him anymore.
  • Perhaps it’s because we aren’t listening.

I think we can agree that at this time of so much commotion in the world, we need to hear his voice now more than ever.

Hugh B. Brown, a prominent leader in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints outlines eleven characteristics shared by prophets³. To be brief, here are just four of the eleven points.

  1. He will boldly claim that God has spoken to him.
  2. Any man so claiming would be a dignified man with a dignified message — no table jumping, no whisperings from the dead, no clairvoyance, but an intelligent statement of truth.
  3. Any man claiming to be a prophet of God would declare his message without any fear and without making any weak concessions to public opinion.
  4. His teachings would be in strict conformity with scripture, and his words and his writings would become scripture. “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” (2 Peter 1:21).

For a long period of time, God didn’t call a prophet because no one was listening. A falling away was required that there might be a restoration of all things.

It’s time to start listening. We need prophets now more than at any other time in the history of the world. The canon of scripture is not closed, because the Bible, while enormously important, is not sufficient. God spoke to a new prophet in the spring of 1820. And God does, in reality, speak to a prophet today. That man is named Russell M. Nelson⁴. He was called by God to speak for Him today.

Thank you for reading. If you’d like to know more, please drop me a note.

Here are some additional resources on why we need and how we have a prophet today.

Joseph Smith’s First Vision

Why Do We Need Prophets?

Joseph Smith: A Man and Prophet (this link has a link to dozens of other articles)

Married to my best friend. Father to five exuberant children. Fledgling entrepreneur. Writer. Software developer. Inventory management expert.

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