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What's the difference between someone that claims to be able to tell the future and someone that has the gift of prophecy?


First of all, it's important to keep in mind what Jesus said in Matthew 24:11, 24 "And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many....For there shall arise false christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect."  Now take a look at what Numbers 12:6 says "If there be prophet among you, I the Lord will make myself known unto him in vision, and will speak unto him in a dream."  Right away, we see that the Bible tells us that there are both true and false prophets.  So not everyone who claims to have the gift of prophecy actually does. 

But can we know the difference between the genuine and the counterfeit?  Yes, the Bible gives us the characteristics that will be evident in the life a real prophet of God.  The first test is found in Isaiah 8:20  "To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them."  This verse assures us that a true prophet will always speak or teach in harmony with the Bible.  So when a person claims to predict the future and they go contrary to the Word of God, they are a false prophet and "there is no light in them". 

The next test is given to us in Deuteronomy 18:21-22  "when a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the thing does not happen or come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him."   Their predictions must come to pass 100% of the time for them to be a true prophet!  This cancels out a lot of the fortune tellers and psychics of our day because they obviously are not right all of the time.  Jeremiah 28:9 tells us "When the word of the prophet shall come to pass, then shall the prophet be known, the the Lord hath truly sent him." 

Another test that we find in the Bible is given to us by Jesus Himself in Matthew 7:15-17 "Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.  Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?  Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit."   Jesus explains that we will be able to tell whether or not a prophet is genuine by the kind of life they live or "their fruits".   This means that they will live and abide by the principals and teachings of Jesus Christ and His word.

The Bible tells us that prophets of God will not use their abilities to help people win the lottery or get rich quick.  Instead, Ephesians 4:12 states that God gives this gift of prophecy "for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ."   It's clear that the goal of a prophet is to build up and strengthen the Christian church, not to tell us about our "lucky stars". 

But if someone is working miracles, does this prove that they are a real prophet?  Not at all!  Matthew 24:24  says that "there shall arise false christs and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders".  Just because someone is performing miracles doesn't mean they are getting their power from God.  The devil can provide humans with supernatural power as Revelation 16:14 describes:  "for they are the spirits of devils working miracles". 

Keep in mind that the Bible forbids witchcraft, astrology, sorcery, mediums, channelers, psychics, and all attempts to contact the dead.
(Deuteronomy 18:10-12 & Revelation 21:8).

In conclusion, we can see that it is very important to test everything by the Bible and not to trust our own judgments or senses, or else Christ warned us that we will be deceived, especially in these last days when the devil is working overtime to lead people astray.


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