Discerning Prophetic Gifts
The gift of prophecy is a difficult subject to teach on, because many will pick and choose what they want to hear, and use this gift for their own profit. It's been so from the beginning of time and will become worse the closer we come to the coming of Christ. Jesus also said in the last days:
Mat 24:5 For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.
Christ is the greatest of the prophets, and when the false Christ's claim to be him-we will know them by their fruits, and by examining them by the word of God.
There's many today hinging their credibility, and their status in the world by the predictions they make, and forming their reputations and popularity by using this as a platform to gain a following. Making predictions doesn't make someone a prophet called by God; even if they come to pass. Anyone with keen intelligence, discernment, and good outside sources of information, can help the person to connect the dots to an event, long before it may happen, and be right-this isn't prophecy from God.
The word of God gives guidance on how to evaluate the prophetic message given, and the individual who's giving it, to make sure we aren't being deceived. These are perilous times, and it's crucial that the word of God be the final word on every matter for the believer in Christ. Below is a short teaching on prophetic gifts, and servants of God called to a prophetic ministry.
The Gift of Prophecy
Text references: 1Cor. 12:4-10, 1Cor. 14:1,3,5,39-40
Among the nine gifts of the Spirit:
There are 3 gifts of revelation, or gifts that reveal something. The word of wisdom, the word of knowledge, the gift of discerning of spirits.
There are 3 gifts of power, or that do something; the gift of faith, working of miracles, and gifts of healings.
Then there are 3 gifts of inspiration; gifts that say something; of utterance: prophecy, divers kinds of tongues, and interpretation of tongues.
Scriptures stress that the gift of prophecy is the most important gift. Paul said "greater is he that prophesieth than he that speaks in tongues." (1Cor. 14:5). Tongues with interpretation equals prophecy; but tongues with no interpretation is either an incomplete prophetic utterance (caused by someone hindered by fear or uncertain in his gift, or some other error), or a counterfeit from Satan.
Tongues is inspired utterance in an unknown tongue.
Interpretation of tongues is inspired utterance in your own tongue to give forth that which was spoken in tongues.
Prophecy is inspired utterance in a known tongue.
The gift of prophecy is often confused with the office of a prophet. Everyone who prophesies is not a prophet. Operating in the simple gift of prophecy does not qualify someone to stand in the office of a prophet.
Someone standing in the office of a prophet will be used consistently in the gifts of revelation; (word of wisdom, word of knowledge, discerning of spirits, along with prophecy).
The office of a prophet is a ministry, a calling. Everyone does not have the same calling or ministry. 1Cor. 12:28,29
The prophetic gift is different from the office of the prophet because Paul encouraged the whole Church at Corinth to covet to prophesy. He tells them to "desire spiritual gifts, but rather the ye may prophesy". He is not telling everyone here to seek the office of prophet, but that all may prophesy; which is to edify, build up, comfort, and exhort the body. The simple gift of prophesy carries no predictions of the future in it. 1Cor. 14:3
If someone is called by God to stand in the office of prophet; He will equip them by the Spirit with the necessary gifts to stand in that office. And, men in the Body of Christ will know you are called and equipped; it won't have to be proclaimed or defended.
Important point: If others who have the Spirit do not know you are called and equipped with these gifts, take no offense when they do not accept what you say. Rather, humble yourself before your brethren and take a lesser place. If the Lord sees fit to exalt you; then you will have praise of both God and man.
Anyone who claims the office of prophet when they are not called by God or equipped, or imitate other's ministries; cause confusion and division in the Body of Christ. Here is the words of Jesus' to be heeded "you will know them by their fruit".
However, another important point, that few enjoy pointing out-Many of the prophets in the Old Testament never lived to see the fulfillment of their messages-and many who were labeled false prophets, were tortured and killed. Only after many years (sometimes hundreds of years) did the fulfillment of their messages come to pass. This fact makes it clear to me-don't be quick to label someone a false prophet-if you see a total consecration to Christ in their life-they may be speaking under the unction of the Holy Spirit-and it's important to take all prophetic messages to the Lord in prayer-and ask for true discernment, before making any judgement.
The purity and accuracy of the message will be a direct result of the level of consecration, maturity, and obedience of the servant giving the prophecy.
1Cor. 14:32 "The spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets."
In error; some people think if they display some kind of physical manifestation this means they are anointed. This will include jerking, jumping, yelling, elaborate gestures, etc. At times; when speaking under the anointing and power of the Spirit; emotion may spill over into the message; but our hearts will witness that it is sincere, and honest. But, not in a display of a "pattern" of manifestations. This is not a manifestation of the Holy Spirit.
Pride can cause someone with this gift to be corrupted. Many examples are given in scripture of this. We must be examining our motives, and hearts. All messages must be filtered thru this one point; "does it glorify Christ Jesus; or me?"
The gifts of God are perfect, the Holy Spirit is perfect. But the gifts are not always perfect in manifestation, because they are manifested through an imperfect channel: men and women. The Spirit of God flows thru us as water flows through a pipe. Sometimes the Spirit picks up something of our own personalities within that gift manifested.
Immaturity, pride, wrong manifestations can scare many people off; and cause a body of believer’s to shut out the gifts. Proper teaching correction is necessary.
An example of God using a prophet in the New Testament to give guidance to someone is found in Acts ch. 21: 10,11
Act 21:10 And as we tarried there many days, there came down from Judaea a certain prophet, named Agabus.
Act 21:11 And when he was come unto us, he took Paul's girdle, and bound his own hands and feet, and said, Thus saith the Holy Ghost, So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man that owneth this girdle, and shall deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.
An important point here is; when God spoke thru the prophet Agabus, the Spirit only told Paul what was going to happen if he chose to go. It was up to Paul to choose whether to go or not. The prophet is only a messenger; he does not use his influence to persuade people, or tell them what to do.
What Prophecy Is Not
The gift of prophecy is not to be used to introduce new doctrine. The bible is our source of doctrine. Anyone who claims to be a prophet; and comes to you saying they’ve been given a “new light”, “deeper revelation”, or “deeper truth”, should be avoided. Evidence of error in these people’s doctrines are a muddled, twisted use of scriptures; leaving a vague, murky interpretation that could be changed and excused when their prophecies do not come to pass. Confusion is another fruit of false prophecy.
Co 14:33 For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.
The gift of prophecy is not to settle arguments. Arguments should be settled according to the Word of God. Matt. Ch. 18 gives clear guidance for this problem.
The gift of prophecy is not to be used to satisfy curiosity; or promote any particular church or denomination to prove how spiritual they are.
A true word of prophecy will edify, exhort, and comfort. It will help people become better Christians. The Spirit of God can tell us things if He wishes, but we need to know the difference between the true and the false; or stay away from it, and get into the Word of God until we do.
The difference between an operation of the Spirit of God and an evil extrasensory manifestation is:
1. A true Word of prophecy will center around Christ. Evidence of a true word of prophecy will be:
a. There will always be a thread of restoration and redemption within the message; even if the message carries a stern rebuke.
b. It will always point to the power of Christ and His shed blood on the cross; never to the messenger himself.
c. In prophecies of judgment; there will always be a cry, a pleading for repentance; and turning back to God. Judgment can be stopped when a person or nation repents.
2. Familiar spirits are familiar with us. These are demonic spirits. We are not to have anything to do with them. They know facts about us; and so does the Holy Spirit. However the difference in their operations are:
a. A familiar spirit will tell things and reveal things for public display
b. to incite curiosity
c. to attract attention to the messenger himself, or man’s flesh
d. to gain money, to elevate himself into a position of authority
For teaching on familiar spirits, go to these verses- Lev. 20:27, 1Sam 28:7-8, 1Ch 10:13, 2Ch 33: 6, Isa 19:3, Isa 29:4
Seven Steps to Judging Prophecy
1. The first step: “By their fruits you shall know them.” Mat 7:16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?
Mat 7:17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.
Mat 7:18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.
Mat 7:19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.
Mat 7:20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.
2. Does it glorify Christ? Rev 19:10 And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See thou do it not: I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. If the prophecy is right, and the prophet is right, they will testify of Jesus. If either attracts attention to man, it is wrong. John 16:14 “He shall glorify Me”. If they lead us away from Jesus, they are a wrong spirit.
3. Does it agree with Scriptures? If it is a right message it will be according to the Word of God, because the Word and the Spirit always agree. The Word of God was inspired by the Spirit. The Holy Spirit is not going to tell us one thing, and the Word of God another through prophecy. If it doesn’t agree with the Word of God; dismiss it.
4. Has the prophecy been fulfilled? Some prophecies are spoken out of someone’s own mind, and presumptuous; and are not fulfilled. Our guidelines are in Deut. ch. 13 and ch. 18
Deu 13:1 If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder,
Deu 13:2 And the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them;
Deu 13:3 Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the LORD your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.
Deu 13:4 Ye shall walk after the LORD your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and ye shall serve him, and cleave unto him.
Deu 13:5 And that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams, shall be put to death; because he hath spoken to turn you away from the LORD your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt, and redeemed you out of the house of bondage, to thrust thee out of the way which the LORD thy God commanded thee to walk in. So shalt thou put the evil away from the midst of thee.
Deu 18:20 But the prophet, which shall presume to speak a word in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die.
Deu 18:21 And if thou say in thine heart, How shall we know the word which the LORD hath not spoken?
Deu 18:22 When a prophet speaketh in the name of the LORD, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him.
5. Sometimes a prophecy is wrong; even if it comes to pass. In Deut. Ch. 13:1-5, even though a prophecy came to pass, it was not from God. How do we know? Does the prophecy lead you away from God, or to Him? Does it lead you to the New Birth, the fundamentals of scripture; or away from them? Does it cause you to become more reverent toward God, and cause you to desire to come nearer to Him; or away from Him?
6. Does the prophecy produce liberty or bondage? If it is spoken in the realm of faith; it will produce liberty. If not, it will produce bondage.
2Co 4:13 We having the same spirit of faith, according as it is written, I believed, and therefore have I spoken; we also believe, and therefore speak;
Rom 8:15 For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.
Rom 8:16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:
God is not going to lead us back into fear and bondage. We have been delivered from fear.
7. Our spirit will witness to the anointing. When something is not right; something inside of you, the unction, the anointing that abides in you will tell you something is wrong. The Holy Spirit inside of us will tell us when things are not as they should be.
1Jn 2:20 But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things.
1Jn 2:27 But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him.
1Jn 4:1 Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.
DISCERNMENT TO SPOT THE FALSE PROPHETS IN TODAY'S WORLD
If someone claims to have prophetic gifts, and makes public predictions frequently, but lives a double life, beware. What do I mean by this.
A public figure who claims to be a Christian, but also associates with people who are clearly not Christians-and endorses them and elevates them in their public platforms. Many are doing this today, and most in the world find no problem with it. But, Jesus said your either for Me, or against me-you can't have it both ways. It's a common problem today-those in power, who are making a lot of money, and have public popularity will make many claims of being a Christian, but not walk it out, and it shows in who they allow in their lives, and who/what they endorse. If you claim to be a believer in Christ, have a large media platform-and also put somebody on who's a spiritualist, occultist, someone who endorses reincarnation, yoga, Buddhism, etc., you are showing me-and anybody else who is a serious Christian-that your a phony, and playing a game, to keep the people coming. You may fool the masses of blind pagans-but you won't fool anyone who's sold out for Christ. I'll refer you back to the verses in Deut. ch. 13 and 18 above, study them and allow them to take root in your soul, to give you the discernment you need to spot a false prophet in this world today.
You won't fool us, because we see through the smoke and mirrors-we see it's really all about YOU, it has nothing to do with Christ in your life. You throw out the name of Jesus occasionally, or claim to be a Christian because it keeps the shallow, empty headed ones, who also have no serious commitment, following you. You've mastered the techniques to keep all the different groups contented enough to support you, and sending the money to keep you where you are. But, for some of us, the truth is as plain as day-and we know Jesus Christ is not your Savior, nor your God. You have many gods-and the greatest one is yourself.
The martyr's down through history, and to this day, paid the prices, and know what it means to take up their cross and follow Christ. The majority of the world, won't pay these prices-they cling to the world, and all it has to offer. Only those who've surrendered their lives to Jesus completely, and have come to know the reality of WHO He is, understand this.
Mat 16:24 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.
Mat 16:25 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.
Mat 16:26 For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?
Mar 8:38 Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.
Anyone today, who is used by God in the prophetic ministry-who proves to be a true servant of Christ's, will only speak when they are as sure as they can be, that God is truly requiring it of them, and they won't do it with any desire for recognition, or popularity. They will do it with great reluctance-and only to obey the Lord. They will only speak what is given to them-and no more. Then, they will leave it. They've done what was asked, and will not seek or desire to go any further with it.
May God protect His people today, in these perilous times-as the days grow darker.
A teaching on the prophet John the Baptist, of whom Jesus said, there was no greater prophet than he-
John - The Voice in the Wilderness
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