Scripture Study, 1 Corinthians 14:1-40; Ephesians 4:11
PURSUE LOVE AND DESIRE SPIRITUAL GIFTS, BUT ESPECIALLY PROPHECY
THE GIFT OF PROPHECY is the most predominant of the Spiritual gifts in that it’s a gift manifested most often. In Acts 2, Peter says that the outpouring of the Holy Spirit with the manifestation of speaking in tongues isn’t the result of too much wine, but is the fulfillment of the prophecy of the Prophet Joel (Joel 2), a sign of the end times (Joel 2:17-18). This is significant because, in the Old Testament, only the priests and prophets prophesied. But not so in the New Testament. Sons, daughters, women, men from all walks of life are prophesying and speaking in tongues. (1 Corinthians 14:31)
In our scripture passage, we have the apostle Paul’s words on the subject, but caution must also be exercised. Because the gift of prophecy is the one most used, it’s also the gift most misused.
Paul does go on to say that believers should covet prophesy. It ministers to the entire church.
So what is Prophecy?
Prophecy is divinely inspired utterance concerning past, present or future events in a known language to the church or to people, or even to places or things. God told Ezekiel to prophesy to the mountains.
The gift of prophesy is exercised when God (not man) anoints a believer to be His vessel. He speaks through your vocal cords but it comes from divine inspiration. It’s not something that you can go to school or a church seminar to learn how to prophesy. It’s a Spiritual Gift from the Holy Spirit.
Many confuse the gift of prophecy with the ministry office of prophet found in Ephesians 4:11.
The gift of prophecy doesn’t make you a prophet.
There are certain characteristics (Numbers, chapter 12) that will distinguish the ministry office of a prophet but that doesn’t characterize one who has the Spiritual gift of prophecy.
The purpose and usage of the Gift of Prophecy is a message to the church sent to edify (to build up); to exhort (a calling near); and to comfort (to bring consolation, especially during a time of trial or distress, to cheer up!).
Prophecy can also be instrumental in bringing an unbeliever to conviction.
1 Corinthians 14:24-25
“But if an unbeliever or an inquirer comes in while everyone is prophesying, they are convicted of sin and are brought under judgment by all,  as the secrets of their hearts are laid bare. So they will fall down and worship God, exclaiming, “God is really among you!” (NIV)
Abuses of the Gift of Prophecy; What the Gift is Not!
The gift of prophecy isn’t to be used as a personal prophecy to others – NEVER! Years ago, my wife and I were fellowshipping at a small church nearby. A personal friend and pastor invited me to be his associate because of his busy schedule. One evening we attended a pot-faith supper at a home with a prayer vigil afterward. Before prayer began, pastor Anthony was called away on an emergency call. leaving me in a room of 15 people along with a self-confessed “prophet” who pulled up a chair in the center of the room.
And then the hair on my arm stood straight up!
Several people began to ask the “prophet” for personal prophecy. Thoughts rang in my ear as the Holy Spirit was speaking to me to leave this gathering and leave my responsibility hanging on the doorknob as we left. This wasn’t a prayer meeting, it was ‘fortune telling’! This is the area where the gift is probably abused most often. I don’t want to say that those who practice this are under the influence of a deceiving spirit. It’s most likely just the flesh.
The gift of prophecy isn’t to give direction or settle arguments.
The gift of prophecy isn’t to teach or introduce doctrine to the church.
The gift of prophecy isn’t to rebuke the body of Christ.
It isn’t to bring correction. The Word of God is supposed to do that. When the Lord corrects or rebukes the body, generally it’s through the Word and through the pastor. So don’t rebuke the body through prophecy unless you’re 100 percent certain it’s “thus says the Lord.”
The gift of prophecy isn’t to predict the future.
There can always be exceptions to what I’ve already mentioned. God is ALWAYS in control in every situation and can use anyone in any way that He sees fit.
The Believer’s Attitude toward this gift is to “Covet (desire, be eager to have) the gift.”
Sincerely desire that God will use you. This gift can be freely exercised by women as well as men: “…and your sons and daughters shall prophesy…” (Acts 2:17).
In my study this week I found something interesting that I had overlooked in the past. That seems to happen quite often these days. Maybe it’s because I’m older? I digress. When women do prophesy, they should do so with their heads covered. [Reference: 1 Corinthians 11]
Be anointed when you prophesy!
The anointing brings a compulsion to speak; an anointing of power within you. You will know when you’re anointed and so will the gathered assembly. Generally, you won’t know all that you’re going to say when you step out in prophecy. It’s a step of faith! Certainly you’ll have a few words and an idea and the general direction God is leading when you step out to prophesy, but it will be a step of faith!
Order In the House
I remember growing up, my mom and dad repeating the phrase, “Mind your manners.” – Don’t start eating at the table until everyone is seated. – Asking to be excused from the table after a meal. – Calling adults by their last name and not their first. – Not walking into a room and interrupting a conversation before waiting for an empty space. – Walking on the outside of a walkway when with a young lady, and opening doors letting women enter first, including car doors. I still do this today!
“Remember your manners when you’re away from home,” my folks would repeat over and over again. And good manners…Order in the house applies in the church today – or it should!
And we must not forget, there’s to be “order” in the house in the giving of prophecy. God isn’t the author of confusion and the spirit of the prophet is subject to the prophet. Therefore, there shouldn’t be interruptions during the teaching moments, etc. A proper time for the manifestations of the gifts should be given in each service.
In any particular church meeting, “Two or three prophets should speak, and the others should weigh carefully what is said” (1 Corinthians 14:29).
The most likely interpretation of the controversial passage is the silence of women in 1 Corinthians 14:33-35. And yet, at the same time, Scripture reveals that women may prophesy (see Acts 2:17-18; 21:9; 1 Cor. 11:5) but not publically judge the prophetic words of men in the congregational setting.
Prophets were always to be in control of their speech (1 Cor. 14:32) as an expression of God’s desire for peace (1 Cor. 14:33). And as important as this ministry is in the body of Christ, even those claiming to be prophets must be subject to the final authority of the spiritual leadership (deacons, elders, pastors). (1 Cor. 14:36-38).
I believe that everything we need to know as Christians is found in the Bible. It’s a sufficient source of revelation for each one of us.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 says,
The Bible is the firm foundation that God has given to us all. All other ground is sinking sand. This is the source of truth on which we need in our lives.
Yet, we must be willing to listen if God chooses to speak to us in an “uncommon way” – in a way we don’t expect. By that I mean if He chooses to speak to us outside of the normal channels of the Scripture, we need to be still and listen to what God says. Just because there’s a lot of abuse by people who falsely claim they have received a message from God, doesn’t mean we need to slam the door shut on any possibility of God speaking to us in that way. Oh, I suspect it might be wise to slightly shut the door, but we need to leave it ajar so that if God has something to say to us and to let it be known to others, we are able to hear Him.
And yes, it’s true, the Bible contains all we need as Christians. But our gracious and generous God sometimes chooses to give us more than we think we need! Sometimes He may choose to communicate with us in another way in order to provide special encouragement when we need direction trying to make a decision. I’m seeking that encouragement and direction in a matter right now that I’ll share in a later blog. I’m not going to pretend these uncommon messages from God always make us comfortable. Many of us like the status quo. If someone says he or she has a message from the Lord on a Sunday morning which requires us to do something new or different, we probably won’t want to hear it. But if God is speaking to us, we’d better be willing to listen!
The GIFTS OF THE SPIRIT are never to be made the focus of congregational life.
Make Us Aware…
Worship and the Word are the focus, and the gifts flow under God’s direction, not men. The great, final purpose of all spiritual gifts in the church, including PROPHECY, is the edifying of God’s people.
Holy Spirit You Are Welcome Here should be the focus of our minds and on our lips when we enter the House of God.
True Prophecy in the Church to remember – by Derek Prince
- All true prophecy agrees with the letter and the spirit of the Scriptures. (2 Tim. 3:16)
- All true prophecy centers in Jesus Christ and exalts Him. (John 16:13)
- True prophecy produces fruit in character and conduct that agrees with the fruit of the Holy Spirit. (Gal. 5:22-23)
- True prophecy, given by the Holy Spirit, gives freedom and not bondage. (Gal. 5:1)
- True prophecy, given by the Holy Spirit gives life and not death. (2 Cor. 3:6)
- True prophecy, given by the Holy Spirit agrees with the Holy Spirit within each believer who hears it. (1 John 2:27)
Music Video: Holy Spirit You Are Welcome Here – by Heavens Mutambira & Amplified Praise.
Photo/Images: Google Image Search.
True Prophecy by Derek Prince (pdf): Giving, Receiving and Testing a Prophetic Word.
Commentary: What Does Scripture Teach About the Office of Prophet and Gift of Prophecy by Sam Sorm @ TGC; October 8, 2015.
Bible Translations Used: New International Version (NIV); New Living Translation (NLT); Amplified Bible (AMP).