The Office of Prophet and the Gift of Prophecy

Art Katz

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An important distinction, as we have said, is to differentiate Art Katz, Prophetbetween the gift of prophecy as opposed to the office of prophet. In fact, our failure to distinguish between the two may be the gravest mistake now being made. We tend toward calling a man or woman a ‘prophet’ who are only moving in the gift of prophecy, but are not called to the office. The fault lies with us in thinking that this is a New Testament dispensation that therefore requires another definition. If there is only one definition, however, and has been in existence for all time, though we have not seen it much in recent times, then there is no reason to look for a new kind. The Spirit of God divides severally His gifts, which He can give in a moment as He wills. That should not, however, be a permanent and abiding distinction or designation. The Spirit of God can fall on any one of us and we can prophesy. We are operating by the Spirit in the gift of prophecy. The gift is something that the Spirit exercises at His will, and it can come through either a man or a woman. It has nothing to do with their calling, their training, their preparation or their qualification. It may be informational, directive or a word of encouragement, but the office of the prophet is altogether something else and other.

The office of prophet differs from the gift of prophecy in that it is permanent. It is given with the man. It is a calling, and it may well be that men, who have the office of prophet, can go an entire lifetime in their service and never once speak out of the gift of prophecy. The church today is suffering from the ignorance of blurring these two categories. We are calling men prophets who have not the office, but who are operating in the gift of prophecy, and in many instances, not even the gift of prophecy, but rather even a deceitful clairvoyance.

The office of prophet is an ultimate thing and carries an enormous responsibility. Such a one brings the oracles of God. He is standing for very God and speaking from God with the authority of God. His statements are the intent of God’s heart to His people and have to do with His purposes in an understanding of the present time in view of the things that are future and eternal. It is the prophet who is alerted and alerts.

The man who calls himself prophet and talks statistically (for example, seventy or eighty percent predictive accuracy) is not in keeping with the timbre, the character and the knit of a truly prophetic man. To determine whether a prophet is true or false should not immediately depend on whether their predictions are accurate. The real issue is not the accuracy of prediction in assessing the validity of prophets. Even to think statistically is to put us on a false basis in determining true and false among prophets. False prophets can bring a biblically correct message, but it is the kind of message that is a routine commonplace, that is to say, which virtually anyone can bring. There is nothing in it that can be faulted in terms of doctrine, but it is not oracular. It is not a message that bears prophetic weight, intensity, seriousness or requirement. Oracular speaking can be distinguished by the way it brings with it a perception of reality and of the purposes of God that were not there before that word came. It opens up things as God Himself sees them, which is altogether not as we see them!

If we allow the word ‘prophet’ to be given to anyone who is giving predictive prophecy or even the gift of knowledge or what may be more likely, clairvoyance, and call that oracular prophecy, then we are well on the way to deception! These men speak messages of a predictable kind, but they are usually only a preliminary that one has to wait through in order to get to the ‘action’ for which we have really come, namely, for their predictive and personal prophecies that so excite and titillate us as an audience. The greater issue is not whether these prophets are accurate most of the time so much as whether they are prophets at all! To confirm the church in its present lightness by their own example is analogous to the false prophets of Old Testament time who confirmed Israel in its sin. All in all, one must ask, "What is their revelation? How oracular is it? What is it more or other than the general preaching of others who make no profession of being prophetic? Is their distinctive not much more than the sensationalism or excitement of their gifts or the anticipation derived from the elevated status generated largely by their mutual affirmation of each other?"