Matthew 3.1 cont.
1 Now in those days John the Baptist came preaching in the desert of Judea,
When John began his ministry it had been about four hundred years since a prophetic voice had been heard in Israel. Was this because God did not speak to the nation, or was it because there was no one listening to God? This is a question for which we do not have an answer.
We must be thankful that God does continue to speak to us, and that prophecy is one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit that He has given to the Church. There are those who say that the gifts of the Holy Spirit ceased when all the apostles had died. This would mean that the voice of prophecy also died with the apostles.
However, through the baptism of the Holy Spirit upon all who ask, we are all able to receive the gift of prophecy.
Paul also wrote about prophets being a part of the fivefold ministries that have been given to the Church to build up every believer in Jesus:
Indeed He also gave the apostles, also the prophets, also the evangelists, also pastors (overseers) and teachers – Ephesians 4.11.
If the ministry of prophets ceased with the last of the original twelve apostles, then logically so did the ministry of apostles, evangelists, pastors, and teachers. It is plainly evident that Jesus still appoints, and anoints, apostles, evangelists, pastors, and teachers for this purpose:
- for the equipping (training) of the saints for a work of service, for the instruction of the body of Christ,
- until we should all come to being united in the faith and knowledge of the Son of God, complete as one man in the full measure of the maturity of Christ – Ephesians 4.12-13.
Paul also urged the church at Corinth with these words:
Let love be your highest goal, but also desire the special abilities the Spirit gives, especially the gift of prophecy – 1 Corinthians 14.1 (NLT).
Perhaps we can say that with the ministry of John, God was resurrecting the ministry of the prophet and prophecy.
Therefore, prophecy and prophets are still God’s gifting to the Church and we are urged to eagerly seek them.