Friday, January 09, 2009

“The Prophetic Gift”

The test of a true prophet is whether they proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ whom God promised in His everlasting covenant. Prophets who lived in the old dispensation preached the same good news to sinners who needed salvation, as did prophets living in the new dispensation. The old and the new dispensations are a better designation for the Old Testament and the New Testament in that the word “testament” has the sense of a “will” that necessitates the death of a testator in order for it to go into effect. However, that is not the nature of God’s everlasting covenant, for it was effective for sinners throughout the old dispensation even though Christ had not yet died. The old dispensation then designates the times before Christ’s incarnate mission to earth and the new dispensation designates the times at and following His earthly ministry.

In the Book of Genesis Noah was a “preacher of righteousness” (2 Peter 2:5), and understood God’s “everlasting covenant” (Gen. 9:16). God called Abraham out of Ur of the Chaldees and “preached before the gospel unto Abraham” (Gal. 3:8), commissioning him to proclaim “the everlasting covenant” (Gen. 17:7).

By faith Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, and the patriarchs (Heb. 11:20-22), believed in God’s promised Seed who is Christ (Gal. 3:16). They understood the “better promises” (Heb. 8:6) of the new covenant which are the forgiveness of sins and the writing of God’s law upon hearts and minds (Heb. 8:10, 12; Gen. 15:6).

The greatest prophet of the old dispensation, Moses, believed God’s new covenant. When he was called up into Mount Sinai before the presence of Jehovah, he reverently ventured on holy ground trusting in His Saviour from sin. Moses wrote the gospel of the everlasting covenant in the five books that compose the Pentateuch.

In his youth Samuel was called by God to the prophetic ministry in the temple precincts where was the ark of the covenant (1 Sam. 3:3). We read in Isaiah a delightful description of the covenant, which God gave to King David in which he connects mercy with the everlasting covenant. “Incline your ear, and come unto me: hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David. Behold, I have given him for a witness to the people, a leader and commander to the people” (Isa. 55:3, 4). The sure mercies of David are the blessings which are assured to us through Christ, the Son of David.

Daniel prophesied that the Messiah “shall confirm the covenant” (Dan. 9:27). Ezekiel envisioned David as prince in the midst of his people and promised that God would be with His people forever,—“I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them” (Eze. 37:25, 26). Jeremiah prophesied of the atonement made complete between God and His people on the basis of the new covenant (Jer. 31:31-34).

At the Lord’s Supper Jesus, the prophet, gave the cup of blessing to His disciples by promising “this is my blood of the new testament” (Matt. 26:28). The apostle Paul, who bore the prophetic office, wrote: “Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made” (Gal. 3:16), thus defining the everlasting covenant as God’s promise to Christ. “And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Gal. 3:29).

The servant of the Lord in these last days proclaimed the everlasting covenant with her endorsement of two messengers bearing “heavenly credentials” (The Ellen G. White 1888 Materials, p. 545). “The Lord in His great mercy sent a most precious message to His people through Elders Waggoner and Jones. This message was to bring more prominently before the world the uplifted Saviour, the sacrifice for the sins of the whole world. It presented justification through faith in the Surety; it invited the people to receive the righteousness of Christ, which is made manifest in obedience to all the commandments of God. ... It is the third angel’s message, which is to be proclaimed with a loud voice, and attended with the outpouring of His Spirit in a large measure. The uplifted Saviour is to appear in His efficacious work as the Lamb slain, sitting upon the throne, to dispense the priceless covenant blessings” (Ellen G. White, Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, pp. 91, 92; emphasis supplied).

The sign of a true prophet is the proclamation of the everlasting covenant of salvation from sin by the shed blood of Jesus Christ upon the cross, which He ministers as high priest in the heavenly sanctuary.

Paul E. Penno