Prophets were vital to the church in the first century, but today there are many people claiming such power. What does the Bible say about prophets and their role in the church Jesus built?
ROBERT >> I’m so glad you’ve joined us today as we want to continue our lesson from last week on the apostles and prophets of the church of Christ you read about in the New Testament. You remember we’ve already learned that that church was built by Christ, it began on the first Pentecost after the resurrection of Christ with the pouring out of the Holy Spirit and the preaching of the gospel of Christ; that it consisted of those that were being saved, that is, those that had upon faith in Christ, repented of their sins and been baptized for the remission of their sins. God added them to his church. That church is the body of Christ of which Jesus is the head. It is his spiritual body. And in that spiritual body we find many different members with different roles, with different functions. Two of those, the apostles and the prophets.
SINGING>> Speaking the truth, speaking the truth, speaking the truth, speaking the truth in love.
ROBERT >> Last week we learned that the apostles and the prophets, along with other leaders of the New Testament church, were actually given by Christ to equip the church for the work of ministry, for the building up of that church.
The first two offices, the apostles and the prophets that we read about in Ephesians 4:11 were given to that church first of all to be witnesses of Christ.
We noticed that last week, that the apostles were those who Christ chose because they had been with him from the beginning of his ministry, and that they would be witnesses of his miracles, his teachings, his perfect life on earth, his death at Calvary, and his resurrection on the third day. But not only that, before he went to the cross, he promised these men that he would also give them the Holy Spirit to guide them into all the truth. There were things that he had taught them, some things that they might forget, but the Holy Spirit would remind them of those things, and he would continue to guide them into all the truth.
It was their work to deliver the will of Christ, the complete will of Christ for his church today. But let’s notice this morning that the apostles of that church passed on the power of the Holy Spirit to others by the laying on of hands. Let’s take a look back in the book of Acts once again, and let’s begin in Acts chapter 2 where the church had its beginning where the Holy Spirit was poured out on the apostles, and they spoke as the Spirit gave them utterance, they spoke with great power. And because of the Holy Spirit, they were able to perform great miracles.
We notice in Acts 2:43, just at the beginning of the church that the Bible says, “Then fear came upon every soul; and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles.”
Notice that the miraculous power was something that was demonstrated by the apostles. In fact, there’s no mention of anyone else performing such miracles until later when the apostles laid their hands on them. Go on with me in Acts chapter 3, and we’ll see how this works out.
In Acts chapter 3 we read about the healing of the lame man at the temple gate. Peter and John had passed by, and he wanted some help from them. And so they told him to get up and to walk.
We read about it in chapter 3, verse 6. “Then Peter said, Silver and gold I do not have; but what do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk. And he took him by the right hand and lifted him up, and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. And so he leaping up stood and walked, and entered the temple with them, walking, leaping, and praising God.”
see, these apostles had the miraculous power of the Holy Spirit to do many signs and wonders and miracles. And this was just one of them. These miracles would confirm them as the teachers of God. It would show them to have the message of God. They could be believed because they had the power of God.
You see it in Acts chapter 5. Look in verse 12. “And through the hands of the apostles, many signs and wonders were done among the people; and they were all with one accord in Solomon’s porch.”
Yes, you see here once again it was the apostles that were demonstrating the miraculous powers of the Holy Spirit. And all the people could see that these were in fact the men of God that had the power of God.
Now go a little bit further in Acts 6:5-6. By this time a problem had arisen in the church. Some of the widows were being neglected in the distribution of the food, and so some special men were selected to help to distribute this food for these widows. And the ones that were selected, the apostles laid their hands on them.
Read about it with me, chapter 6, verse 5 and verse 6. “And the saying pleased the whole multitude. And they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit, and Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolaus, a proselyte from Antioch; whom they set before the apostles. And when they had prayed, they laid hands on them.”
So you see here now that these, Stephen, and you’ll notice also Philip, whom we’ll talk about in a moment, both of these along with the other of the seven had the apostles’ hands laid on them.
And it’s interesting, when you look down in verse 8, it says, “And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and signs among the people.”
You see, the apostles had always been demonstrating the power of the Holy Spirit, this miraculous power; but as soon as they laid their hands on these others, then we begin to read about these demonstrating the power of the Holy Spirit, this miraculous power.
First it was Stephen. And then we look in chapter 8 verses 5 to 8, and we see it was also Philip, another of the seven upon whom the apostles had laid their hands.
Read with me Acts chapter 8 beginning verse 5. “Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria and preached Christ to them. And the multitudes with one accord heeded the things spoken by Philip, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did. For unclean spirits, crying with a loud voice, came out of many who were possessed, and many who were paralyzed and lame were healed; and there was great joy in that city. So the apostles performed miracles by the power of the Holy Spirit, and now those, at least two of them that they laid their hands on, began to perform great miracles, Stephen and Philip.”
After Philip had preached here in Samaria and done these great signs, the people believed. Even Simon the sorcerer, who had deceived the people for many years as though he had the power of God, could recognize that Philip had the true power of God, and he also became a Christian. Like the others in Samaria, he believed and he was baptized. But then the apostles that were still in Jerusalem heard about these conversions and wanted to come and to give the others the power of the Holy Spirit.
Look with me in Acts chapter 8 beginning in verse 14. “ Now when the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them, who, when they had come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Spirit; for as yet he had fallen on none of them. They had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And then they laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit. And when Simon saw that through the laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy