I. Are there prophets today?
Yes. The Bible is a recorded history of the words and teachings of prophets over a period of nearly two thousand years. Because there is not clear evidence to suggest that the prophetic office is ended, then the onus shifts on to those who claim there are no more prophets to prove it. Until it is shown biblically that the office is ceased then presumption should rest on them continuing. But do not confuse me as saying there are many of them because it is clear from my studies that they are vastly outnumbered by the frauds.
II. It has been said there is no longer any need for prophets today because revelation is complete in the Bible. Are you saying that revelation continues?
If revelation continues, it will not contradict the Word. I do confirm that revelation of a different scope DOES continue today. I view revelation as being divided between NATIONAL and INDIVIDUAL levels. Individual level revelation IS still in need because people have the same problems today as they have always had, whereas the case can be made that revelation of a NATIONAL scope is complete in the Bible. The prophets in the Bible days offered advice for people that originated with God and was reliable. So that does continue today. When a prophet in our modern era brings a message that is national in nature then I find that it will generally provide greater clarity to the prophecies already received. He would explain symbols or the mysteries that have long been a source for confusion.
The second thing is that the prophecies recorded in the Bible were of such substantial nature that inclusion was necessary. Clearly, not every word Elijah or ______ or ______ gave were necessary to be written for us today. And the prophets today give such types of words, which are life-changing for the people they are meant for, but not of worth to the church-at-large. So generally, yes, revelation is complete on a national level but individual revelation does continue. National revelation that takes place today is designed to clarify rather than add to.
III. What is a major quality to look for in a prophet? I have a friend who I am not sure if his gift is authentic.
A prophet almost invariably has 'perspective'.
A prophet is not afraid to speak his mind or reveal to you things he received in visions or dreams. But the prophet will always be centered on the Word. If someone speaks nearly exclusively of HIS visions, HIS dreams, HIS prophecies... then there could be a few problems going on: a) He may genuinely have a gift that he is not yet operating in fully and he does not totally understand, b) he is immature and has greatly overestimated his gifting, or c) very likely, he is a false prophet who is receiving false revelation from either his own imaginings or a deceiving spirit. I say more likely because the character of the prophets discussed in the Bible all had the proper perspective or learned it very quickly and were not people with an ongoing spiritual problem. The perspective can be stated in a few ways: The prophet never has an inflated view of himself, unlike the frauds who receive much publicity today. They never exalt their ministries or revelations above God and God's revelation, that is meaning they will be fluent in the Bible and not simply harp on and on about their calling and their prophetic words. And they are centered on the Word and don't lose sight of those things we hold dear.
IV. Let's go back to revelation being complete. Most well-respected sources argue that because it is complete, there is no longer any need for prophets today. How do you square the idea that the Bible is complete and solely sufficient with the idea that there are prophets today?
Let us examine the two points of that argument, namely: 1) Revelation is complete and the Bible is sufficient and 2) Prophets are unnecessary.
The syllogism is framed like this:
If revelation is ceased, then - prophets. (minus prophets)
Revelation is ceased, thus - prophets.
The problem is hard to spot, but here it is: If prophets are no longer necessary and the Bible is sufficient, then why don't you show me the verse that states that? Instead you have used a syllogism, a piece of your own logic. But if all revelation is in the Bible, show me the part where it is said that the gift of prophecy was to stop after the time of Christ. So either the Bible is not complete and we need you to add to it or it is complete and there certainly are prophets today. Don't expect everyone to buy into your sham argument defending an idea found nowhere in the Bible, which you are adding to, while also maintaining that it is complete and there is no need to add to it. You add to it right there.
But there is also an additional problem: It assumes that all prophecy is of a stature such that its inclusion is necessary and that it is of personal value to all in the church. It is not. Gad, Iddo, Nathan, several prophets who went unnamed (some of whom are found in I and II Kings) and others did not have their prophetic words recorded. That is because they had personal meanings to the individuals God gave them for and were of no value to others. The New York Times once billed itself as "All The News That's Fit To Print". This shouldn't be misunderstood as saying that it is all the news in the world, just simply those an ample selection of stories that will speak to readers from all walks of life. The Bible in effect then is not All Prophecy, but instead, All The Prophecy That Is Fit To Print.
V. Where are the prophets?
If many are quiet now, it is because their time is not yet come. The others, if one has not found you, then it is not your time. When God sees you have a need, He will fill it. And third, some of you have found prophets already but despised and rejected them, like the Bible said most people would do. It always seemed to me that the verses against false prophets outnumbered the verses on true prophets ten to one. So if you are consistently finding fakes, you are like most everyone else. Keep looking and don't mind the fakers because they surely vastly outnumber authentic prophets! If all else fails, ask God to speak to you in a dream, vision, sign, or voice and wait on the Lord.
VI. I ask someone many difficult problems and they have a smooth answer for everything. Is he speaking truly? HELP!
There is a good piece of advice Christians must remember: Know what you know and know what you don't know. The prophetic calling demands this: If you are not certain of something, making a guess or speculation then you can never suggest to a person that something is from the Lord. If the prophet does not have the answer to something he should not be afraid to admit to not knowing and should preface any reply by saying, "My opinion is.." or some equivalent marker to note that he is not stating as a biblical certainty. You can always investigate more but if you speak error, this cannot be undone. A man who speaks smoothly and answers many difficult problems may not be a prophet and it seems he has more in common with the false prophets.They spoke many pleasant things as Jeremiah made clear with Hananiah. Prophets were not often known for being eloquent or skilled speakers. Moses stuttered, Isaiah was a man of unclean lips, Jeremiah complained he was only a child, and Jonah even complained that no one would want to hear him. Prophets were the awkward and the absurd of their generations. You would laugh if you saw a real one. I knew one whose chairs would fall out from under him, he'd trip over things that weren't there, or trip over three or four things at a time before falling flat on his face and breaking something. He'd open the door to a kitchen cabinet and the screws would pop loose. Please do not ask me why because only God knows why He chooses the absurd for this office! But God believes in the poor vessel, the stone the builders reject, that one who is reviled by his neighbors and thankfully shows special grace in these.