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Copyright © 2021 by Wayne Stegall
Created June 1, 2021.  See Document History at end for details.


After very public failure of prophecies by many Pentecostal ministers in 2020, one might ask what is the mark of a real prophet.  Here are a few thoughts.

They are Christians.

Following intellectual faith, true Christians have made a decision to stop sinning and follow Jesus, a motive that by regeneration becomes their normal heart condition along with saving faith.  Those who claim Christianity only on the basis of intellectual faith have not completed their redemption ("The devils also believe, and tremble." James 2:19).  Then a Christian has God's help to live a life set apart to obey him.

They are men of God

In addition to being truly born again, a man of God is against sin.  He speaks against it and refrains from it practice and its advocacy.  Unless otherwise required, his opposition to sin need not be rude.
And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient,  In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; (2 Timothy 2:24-25)
Apart from bad doctrine, enabling and promoting sin is a primary mark of a false man of God whether teacher, prophet, or any other position.  Even if he can do miracles, or prophecy accurately...
Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?  And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. (Matthew 7:22-23)
If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder,  And the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them;  Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet.  (Deuteronomy 13:1-3)

They are prophets

Prophets are men of God called for that purpose.  Then through the careful exercise of their gifts they declare what they have heard from God accurately.  This is not glib thing just to repeat a heard voice, but rather a labor of much prayer and discernment.  They consider the scriptures preeminent and proven and look to them first for inspiration.  Inspired exposition of scriptures is safe and the highest pinnacle of inspired utterance.
We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts:  Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.  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 1:19-21)
Also hearing from God does not go unopposed by the devil, thus the application of prayer and discernment.  If the opposition is fierce enough, a clear word may delay for as long as the 21 days for Daniel or the 17 for Jeremiah.  I imagine that they passed the time wrestling in prayer against unseen forces, even to ward off deception.  Even then, if a prophet is not careful enough, a word given may fail.
When a prophet speaketh in the name of the LORD, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him. (Deuteronomy 18:22)
At its worst, prophecy may be nearly impossible.  Then it is good that the Bible is a sure word.  I wonder if these are such days.
Behold, the days come, saith the Lord GOD, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD:  And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the LORD, and shall not find it. (Amos 8:11-12)
In some instances a prophecy may only appear to fail.  In the case of Jonah, his prophecy failed because the hearers repented.  This even without some precondition that repentance would alter the outcome.  The much maligned Y2K apocalypse was similar.  Real concerns that computer problems could cause calamity originated in the military then was taken up by prophecy watchers.  After the problem was averted, ministers who gave warning took the fall for a political coverup.  The following is an excerpt from a New Yorker article on the subject:
On his way underground, passing through Cheyenne Mountain’s massive, twenty-ton blast doors and concrete-lined, reinforced tunnels, Myers knew that something even worse could be in store when the clocks struck midnight. Military command-and-control systems also risked failure —including the early-warning radar networks used to detect incoming missiles. For years, an international crew of computer experts had been working to upgrade or reprogram American military gear in advance of Y2K. But Myers and his colleagues feared that their Russian counterparts hadn’t done the same.
True prophets are slandered and maligned.

In whatever form, God's word will stand.

1Geoff Manaugh, "When Russia and America Coöperated to Avert a Y2K Apocalypse," December 30, 2019 The New Yorker,, link.

Document History
June 1, 2021  Created.