Prophecy and The Church Today

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,   [25] 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

  1. All true prophecy agrees with the letter and the spirit of the Scriptures. (2 Tim. 3:16)
  2. All true prophecy centers in Jesus Christ and exalts Him. (John 16:13)
  3. True prophecy produces fruit in character and conduct that agrees with the fruit of the Holy Spirit. (Gal. 5:22-23)
  4. True prophecy, given by the Holy Spirit, gives freedom and not bondage. (Gal. 5:1)
  5. True prophecy, given by the Holy Spirit gives life and not death. (2 Cor. 3:6)
  6. True prophecy, given by the Holy Spirit agrees with the Holy Spirit within each believer who hears it. (1 John 2:27)

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CREDITS –

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).

 

 

 

The JOY of Blessing AND the Necessity of Diligence

I have been a home gardener since I was a child–vegetables, fruit trees, flowers…you name it, I’ve tried growing it!

But I’m not a child any longer, so a few years ago, I decided to transform my small backyard lawn into a raised bed, natural food garden endeavor.

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Natural Food —

Although the size of the vegetable garden is somewhat small, I still have to make time and effort to either grow something or… go to the store and buy the food, then prepare to cook it–to get gas, I must allocate time to make the effort to go to the station to fill of the car–to get clean, I must set aside the time and make the effort to have a shower each and every morning and my wife is thankful on all counts.

But somehow, we want to get God and His BLESSINGS on the fly without any daily effort or commitment of time on our part.  And as a result, we get nothing and we find our spiritual condition begins to start wilting, goes limp and deteriorates, as lack of attention does to the produce in the garden–which it cannot help but do.

We will experience a loss of PEACE, a loss of JOY, and a loss of TRUST in God, and instead, we find increasing doubt, irritability, confusion, anger, criticism of others, worries.

We find ourselves making poor decisions and PRIDE begins to take over as weeds in a garden, which means a fall is on its way.

Also, we become totally unable to bear any spiritual fruit of living words into other people’s lives.

When all this happens, we are prone to complain a lot about where we find ourselves–and indirectly, we are complaining against God, which is music to the ears of our enemy.

All this because we wouldn’t invest adequate time and spiritual effort [work] to seek and find God, to be fed by Him with our essential, daily, spiritual food.

I am referring to the study and reflection on the Word of God; not casually reading a chapter a day in your bible–and that’s not wrong–but that’s not a full meal.  It’s a ‘spiritual snack.’  And, a snack now and then is okay, but a steady diet of “snacks” won’t make you physically fit.  See how long your physical body can be sustained on nothing but snacks each and every day!

The Word of God is the only spiritual nourishment that will sustain and grow our reborn spirits–the real us that will survive our natural bodies.

BLOG’S SCRIPTURE REFERENCE – 2 Thessalonians 3:10 (naturally or spiritually).

2-thessalonians-3-10

The JOY of the Blessing and the necessity of DILIGENCE when it comes to connecting with God.

THE NECESSITY OF DILIGENCE–

According to the Oxford Universal Dictionary, DILIGENCE is…

“Careful attention, unremitting application, persistent endeavor.”  A “diligent person” ids one who is “industrious, conscientious. thorough; not idle, not negligent, not lazy.”

God takes DILIGENCE seriously! 

I love the writer of Hebrews words of explanation of due diligence–Hebrews 11:6:

[6]  “And without faith it is impossible to please Good, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” (NIV)

Even more than our physical endeavors, God EXPECTS us to be spiritually diligent–spiritually fed!

That old belief that God will accept you “as you are” is simply not true.  

God will not accept just anybody into His family–but only those who will respond to His calling and choose to diligently follow Him.

Psalm 77:6:  “I call to remembrance my song in the night; with my heart I meditate and my spirit searches diligently:”

Proverbs 12:27:  “…the diligent man gets precious possessions.” 

To constantly find God requires constantly searching for Him with my heart and not quitting.

Jeremiah 29:13:  “You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart (NIV).

1 Chronicles 28:9:  “…If you seek Him [inquiring for and of Him and requiring Him as your first and vital necessity] you will find Him…”  (AMP)

Acts 17:27:  “…so we could seek after God, and not just grope around in the dark but actually find him.  He doesn’t play hide-and-seek with us.  He’s not remote; he’s near”  (MSG).

The earlier I SEEK Him and find Him, the sooner I will start my day with the JOY of Blessing of trust.

Psalm 63:1:  “O GOD, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirst for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water (NIV).

Isaiah 26:9:  “My soul yearns for You [O Lord] in the night, yes, my spirit within me seeks you earnestly…”

Hebrews 4:11:  “Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest…”  (KJV).

Hebrews 4:11 (AMP):  “Let us therefore be zealous and exert ourselves and strive diligently to enter that rest…”  

HOW DO I DO THAT?

Proverbs 4:20-22:  

[20] “My son, attend to my words; consent and submit to my sayings.  [21] Let them not depart from your sight; keep them in the center of your heart.

Consider all of these ACTION WORDS (attend, consent, submit…) God uses that all imply some effort on my part.

[22]  For they are life to those who find them, healing and health to all their flesh.

If I’m hungry for God, I’ll always find Him and He will always feed me with Himself.

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Jeremiah 15:16:  “Your words were found, and I ate them; and Your words were to me a joy and the rejoicing of my heart…”  

Isaiah 1:19:  “If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land.”

Psalm 34:4:  “I sought (inquired of) the Lord and required Him [of necessity and on the authority of His Word], and He heard me…”

10cd8e4f7c408c0b6556656dcd665155Matthew 5:6:  “BLESSED are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled”  (NIV).

Proverbs 27:7:  “He who is satiated [with sensual pleasures] loathes and treads underfoot a honeycomb; but to the hungry soul every bitter thing is sweet.”

Psalm 37:3:  “Trust (lean on, rely on, and be confident) in the Lord and do good; so shall you dwell in the land and feed surely on His faithfulness, and truly you shall be fed.”

Job 23:12:  “I have not gone back from the commandment of His lips; I have esteemed and treasured the words of His mouth more than my necessary food.”

THE HOLY SPIRIT, when guiding my spirit, always leads me to today’s necessary spiritual food.

There’s a big “IF” here.

IF… I give God adequate, quality time with due diligence in SEEKING Him with ALL my heart, by getting quiet in my thought life, by ceasing from all other activities, and by BELIEVING that, just as He promises, HEAR HIS VOICE–then I can expect to find Him and be fed.

John 16:13:  “But when He, the Spirit of Truth *the Truth-giving Spirit) comes, He will guide you into all the Truth (the whole, full Truth)…”

Matthew 6:11:  “Give us this day our daily bread…”

Father, by your Spirit, breathe life into your words–so giving us our daily spiritual bread.

John 16:15 –  Jesus–who is the Word of God, speaking about the Holy Spirit, says…  

“He [the Spirit] will take the things that are Mine and will reveal (declare, disclose, transmit) it to you.”

I would love to hear from you in regards to your DILIGENCE to be fed, or the lack thereof,  for the encouragement to others who read this blog.  Leave your comments in the REPLY section.

 


CREDITS –

Photos:  Backyard Vegetable Garden by Mel Thompson; Google Image Search.

Commentary:  Final Expectations Regarding Idleness in the Church (2 Thes. 3:6-18), by J. Hampton Keathley, III @ Bible.org

*The NIV Complete Concordance.

Bible Translations:  Amplified Bible (AMP), except where noted.