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.
Prophecy is inspired utterance in a known tongue.
Interpretation of tongues is inspired utterance in your own tongue to give forth that which was spoken in tongues.
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, people 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". A sign of someone consecrated to God, and His authority, is one who will lay his own desires, and be misunderstood. This will be gone into in more detail further in this series of teachings.
The gift of prophecy also is confused with preaching. Some denominations teach that preaching is all there is to prophecy. However, preach and prophesy come from two different Greek words.
To preach means to proclaim, to cry, to announce. Ex. Jesus said to go into all the world and PREACH the Gospel. Mk. 16:15 He did not say to prophesy the Gospel.
Likewise Paul did not say that men will be saved "by the foolishness of prophesying." He said they will be saved by the foolishness of PREACHING." 1Cor. 1:21
Note: There are at times; elements of prophecy in preaching when the pastor becomes inspired by the Holy Spirit. There is also an element of prophecy at times in witnessing; when the Spirit inspires our minds with scriptures, or utterances we would not have thought of on our own. These times are beyond the natural.
There are prophecies which are conditional; and their fulfillment hinges on our actions, obedience, or disobedience. Deut. 28:1,2, 15
God tries to encourage His people today individually, and collectively in a church Body; that certain blessings will happen if they will heed Him in the message. However, many times people fasten their minds on just one part of a prophecy with the attitude, "God said it; now I'm going to wait and see if it really happens." There is no faith or action on their part to come into line with God's will in the matter. Then if it does not happen, they say; "It didn't happen, so it wasn't of God." We have a part to play in seeing conditional prophecies come to pass. Yes, God has promised us blessings, but it's up to us to keep ourselves under the flow of God's blessings and in His will. The fulfillment of conditional prophecy, whether for blessing or judgment, is the responsibility of the individual.
The Purpose of Prophecy
"But he that prophesies speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort." 1Cor. 14:3
Prophecy is for speaking to men supernaturally. It is a supernatural utterance.
It is given to edify the church. 1Cor. 14:4
It is to comfort the Body. He wants to draw them near.
It is to build up the church. Anyone who only gives scathing denunciations without redemption, and restoration within the message; is not speaking under the unction of the Holy Spirit, and this is not the gift of prophecy in operation.
The inspirational gifts and revelation gifts are a product of both God and man. It is not all God, or all man. It is the uniting of both the Spirit of God, with the spirit of the man; who moves in obedience and chooses to cooperate with Him to utter the inspired message under the unction of the Spirit.
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.
The Holy Spirit will not interrupt himself. A prophetic message is not to be given when someone else is speaking, or the pastor is giving his sermon.
Although we may be inspired to speak, we may have a message in tongues and interpretation, or even a word of prophecy it is not always wise to jump up and speak. If our inspiration comes at an inappropriate time when it would not be edifying, then we should hold our peace. At the right time; we can give what we have.
"The spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets." This also means we have the power to keep quiet, or to talk. We can decide to hold a prophecy; if we are unsure if it is truly from God, or if it is really meant to be spoken at that time. God will not chide us if we are careful, and "testing the spirits", on the contrary; He is pleased when we do. 1Cor. 14: 40 says "Let all things be done decently and in order". We need to examine ourselves continually in light of these verses.
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.
If someone is corrected, and they say “I could not help it, the Holy Spirit made me do it.” They are blaming the Holy Spirit for their excesses, and being out of order.
Guidance in the gift of Prophecy
God has several ways of showing his children his will:
1. The written Word.
2. The preached Word thru his ministers
3. The gift of prophecy; at times. However; great care must be exercised in this area, because many have fallen into error here. We must be careful to exercise scriptural guidelines.
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 they’ve been given a “new light”, “deeper revelation”, or “deeper truth”, should be avoided. Evidence of error in these people’s doctrines are 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 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
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. 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.
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.
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No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is of me,
saith the LORD.
is born of God overcometh the world: and this is
the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.
Who is he that overcometh the world,
but he that believeth
that Jesus is the
Son of God?
But they that wait
upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.
For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh:
(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)
Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;
The Whole Armor
Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.
Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all,
Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;
And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;
Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.
And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:
Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;
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