Are there modern day prophets? J.D. Greear, pastor of The Summit Church in North Carolina, believes there are, but that they are different from Old Testament prophets.
In his post on the "Between the Times" blog, Greear noted that prophets in the Bible did extreme things for God to make a point. But he emphasized that this doesn't necessarily mean that "their model is something everyone should adopt, nor do modern day prophets carry the same weight of authority that the Old Testament prophets held."
"Old Testament prophets were revealing new messages from God; modern day prophets are merely elevating already-revealed messages to us," he writes.
Regardless, he believes we can learn from what other pastors and modern-day church leaders are doing among their own congregations.
"God is using them to speak to us. We must heed the message being given and ask God what we need to do with the truths they embody… we can still recognize them as an appointed messenger from God," he writes.
The website ChristianAnswers.net describes prophets as "the immediate organs of God for the communication of his mind and will to men. The great task assigned to the prophets whom God raised up among the people was 'to correct moral and religious abuses, to proclaim the great moral and religious truths which are connected with the character of God.'"
Julie Ferwerda, author of the book The Perfect Fit: Piecing Together True Love, writes that based on this definition, "in over-simplistic terms, you could say a prophet is a truth teller."
She explains that the gift of prophecy can take different forms such as "in dreams, special insight either in the Bible or in life situations, direction for future events, declaration of sin, and even just 'truth-telling.'"
Greear cites David Platt, pastor of The Church at Brook Hills in Alabama, as an example of a modern day truth-teller.
Platt led his church through something called "the Radical Experiment," which included dramatic budget cuts and the elimination of certain ministries to make the point that the church isn't a "social club."
Platt also hosts a "Secret Church" periodically, preaching for 6 hours with almost no break. Greear writes that by doing that, Platt is making the point "that the word, not the entertainment, is the living power of the church."
Another example Greear gave is Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, D.C., where Pastor Mark Dever has refused to expand out of his current church building or change locations even though they are at capacity.
Greear writes, "They believe that churches are too often focused on building an audience than they are the members, and they want membership to be meaningful." He explains that this is a reminder that God is using Dever's work and Capitol Hill Baptist as a reminder that the church is not an audience.
"I am very grateful for the prophets God has raised up in our Christian culture. Even if I don't apply the truth they stand for in exactly the same ways that they do, I recognize the gracious, disciplining hand of God in them,"Greear said. "God leads prophets sometimes to do things that many of us see as extreme. This doesn't mean that that they are giving a pattern for us, but God is using them to make a point."