In this letter…The fourth Gift, The Gift of Prophecy within, Classification #2: The Gifts of Inspiration, or the Vocal Gifts (4) The Gift of Prophecy – The main scripture text for this letter –
- 1 Corinthians 14:1-5 “Let love be your highest goal, but also desire the special abilities the Spirit gives, especially the gift of prophecy. For if your gift is the ability to speak in tongues (Or in unknown language), you will be talking to God but not to people, since they won’t be able to understand you. You will be speaking by the power of the Spirit, but it will all be mysterious. But one who prophesies is helping others grow in the Lord, encouraging and comforting them. A person who speaks in tongues is strengthened personally in the Lord, but one who speaks a word of prophecy strengthens the entire church. I wish you all had the gift of speaking in tongues (Or in unknown language), but even more I wish you were all able to prophesy. For prophecy is a greater and more useful gift than speaking in tongues, unless someone interprets what you are saying so that the whole church can get some good out of it.” Also read these scriptures, 1 Corinthians 14:29-33, 39.…to another prophecy.” 1 Corinthians 12:10 – prophecy in the New Testament translated in the Greek means “divinely inspired and anointed utterance.”
The gift of prophecy is entirely supernatural. Speaking with other tongues is supernatural utterance in other tongues. Prophecy is supernatural utterance in a known tongue. It is a manifestation of the Spirit of God, not of the human mind. Through prophecy, God speaks to men through the organs of men.
As stated in the last letter, when man was created and placed in the Garden of Eden, God conversed with him directly. Sin broke the communion. There remains a deep longing in the human spirit for direct communication with his Creator. This basic need of man is supplied in a measure through the operation of the gift of prophecy as it is manifested in the New Testament church.
Let’s take a look at the various types of prophecy recorded in the Scriptures: In the Old Testament days, one inquired of the Lord through a priest. In the present dispensation, all believers are part of a royal priesthood, and may individually approach the Lord.
- 1 Peter 2:9-10 (NKJV) But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.
The gift of prophecy must not be confused with the office of prophet. Both the offices and the spiritual manifestations as stated in:
- Ephesians 4:8-12, are called “gifts,” but we must realize that the offices are the gift of Christ to the church while the other is a gift of the Spirit to individual believers. The gift of prophecy, anointed utterance, is generally distributed among all believers. But the office of prophet is another thing altogether.
- It takes far more than a simple gift of prophecy to make a man a PROPHET. The difference is shown in Acts 21:8-11. The revelation of things hidden from the natural understanding is given to the PROPHET. There is no hint of any such revelation of prediction in connection with the “gift of prophecy.”
- In fact as stated in:
- 1 Corinthians 14:3 (NKJV) the gift is limited to… edification and exhortation and comfort to men.
The office of prophet includes the gift, of course, but the gift does not make a prophet in the larger sense of the word.
The gift of prophecy is not to foretell (or predict), but simply to speak for another. At times, in prophesying some hidden truth may be revealed, this is the gift of knowledge operating along with prophecy. An example of this is given in:
- Luke 1:46-55. Here Mary while visiting her cousin begins to prophesy. Nearly everything she speaks is directly from the Word itself. In verse 48, under the anointed revelation of the Spirit she said: “from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.” This was the word of knowledge operating within the gift of prophecy.
The gift of prophecy is not for personal guidance.
- 1 Cor. 14:3 But one who prophesies is helping others grow in the Lord, encouraging and comforting them.
- In James 1:5, God says to: “ask for wisdom.” It is a mistake to seek unto anyone for personal guidance through the gifts of the Spirit.
The gift of prophecy is not manifested in the ordinary teaching or preaching of the Word. For, the gift is supernatural in character. In true, anointed, preaching, the natural mind is operated by the Spirit. In essence, the preaching of a pastoral sermon requires careful preparation but one does not prepare to deliver a message in prophecy, except to wait on the Lord for the anointing required for its manifestation. In true prophecy the Mind of the Spirit is speaking through the human speech organs. A minister may as the anointing increases, move from the ordinary preaching into the realm of prophecy.
Paul’s Teachings on the Gift of Prophecy
It is for speaking supernaturally to men. (1 Cor. 14:3-4)
It is to edify, to exhort (to encourage) and to comfort the church. There are times when the spiritual atmosphere of the services drop. A church can become so caught up in its organization, in political events, in business, in social engagements, that it fails to notice the slow cooling off. At such a time the word of prophecy may give a word to awaken the people. An example of this would be the words of Jesus to the Church at Ephesus:
- Revelation 2:4-5 But I have this complaint against you. You don’t love me or each other as you did at first! Look how far you have fallen from your first love! Turn back to me again and work as you did at first. If you don’t, I will come and remove your lampstand from its place among the churches.
When apostle Paul corrected the church it was not as a prophet, but as a teacher and instructor.
As stated in 2 Cor. 1:4, the gift of prophecy comforts the Christians going through tribulation and in John 16:33 Jesus said: I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” In other words, a certain amount of tribulation and sorrow will be in every Christians’ life… it has a purifying effect. The Christian to be at his best, should not be overcome with sorrow, but needs to be comforted if he is to comfort others.
The gift brings conviction to the sinner.
- 1 Corinthians 14:24-25 “But if all of you are prophesying, and unbelievers or people who don’t understand these things come into your meeting, they will be convicted of sin, and they will be condemned by what you say. As they listen, their secret thoughts will be laid bare, and they will fall down on their knees and worship God, declaring, “
God is really here among you.” Yes…Prophecy blesses believers, but it convicts the sinners. Often prophecy will strike home like an arrow and cause the sinner to feel that God is talking directly to him. However, conviction is not conversion. In most cases, it takes the preaching of the Word as a necessary follow-up to secure a decision for Christ.
The gift of prophecy, like all the other gifts, must be exercised in faith. Romans 12:6 God has given each of us the ability to do certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out when you have faith that God is speaking through you. If Satan can destroy your faith he can destroy your use of the gift.
Sources of Prophecy
The Holy Spirit –
- 1 Corinthians 12:4 Now there are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but it is the same Holy Spirit who is the source of them all.
- Evil Spirits and Lying Spirits – Isaiah 8:19-20 So why are you trying to find out the future by consulting mediums and psychics? Do not listen to their whisperings and mutterings. Can the living find out the future from the dead? Why not ask your God? “
Check their predictions against my testimony,” says the LORD. “If their predictions are different from mine, it is because there is no light or truth in them. (“familiar spirits”)
Here is an incident where God permitted a lying spirit to go into and speak through a false prophet in order to deceive a wicked king.
- 1 Kings 22:22 “‘How will you do this?’ the LORD asked.” And the spirit replied, ‘I will go out and inspire all Ahab’s prophets to speak lies.’ “‘You will succeed,’ said the LORD. ‘Go ahead and do it.’
- In Acts 16:17 we read of an evil spirit speaking through a girl.
- Acts 16:17 She followed along behind us shouting, “These men are servants of the Most High God, and they have come to tell you how to be saved.”
This is the reason the gift of discerning of spirits is necessary in the church. There is no fear and no danger that anyone who has a clean heart and whose life is under the blood of Jesus, can be possessed be these wicked spirits.
The Human Spirit – not supernatural at all but the Bible speaks of the possible of prophesying out of our own heart.
- Jeremiah 23:16 This is my warning to my people,” says the LORD Almighty. “Do not listen to these prophets when they prophesy to you, filling you with futile hopes. They are making up everything they say. They do not speak for the LORD!
- Ezekiel 13:2-3 “Son of man, speak against the false prophets of Israel who are inventing their own prophecies. Tell them to listen to the word of the LORD. This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Destruction is certain for the false prophets who are following their own imaginations and have seen nothing at all!Yes, it is possible for someone to speak from his own heart, deceiving others and sometimes even themselves, into thinking that their words are supernaturally anointed.
- True, supernatural anointing by the Holy Spirit cannot be mistaken, as stated by Jeremiah “And I can’t stop! If I say I’ll never mention the LORD or speak in his name, his word burns in my heart like a fire. It’s like a fire in my bones! I am weary of holding it in!” (Jeremiah 20:9)
Prophecy is Unconditional but sometimes Conditional. It must be noted that many of the prophecies in the Bible are unconditional.
Examples of unconditional prophecy are:
- Abraham was promised …concerning the land of Canaan as a seed.
- The book of Isaiah contains many prophecies that were unconditional, including the future ministry and death of the Messiah (Isaiah 53).
- An example from a personal experience...A few years ago I had written a letter on, “There is a Heaven and There is a Hell”. That morning, this study was deep within my spirit. I worked at the Post Office. I was a letter carrier. As I was casing my route, that morning, in preparation for that days deliveries; a couple of fellow workers were asking me about the weather. They wanted to know if I saw the weather report. The whole sky was filled with dark clouds and they were saying that the reports they heard was that we were going to have tremendous storms in our area. Heavy rain, hail and bad storms, were to be all day. A few minutes later, something rose up within and I turned around and stepped out into the aisle. I suddenly proclaimed, “as sure as there is a Heaven or Hell it will NOT rain here today”. I stepped back into my case and finished preparing the mail for the days rounds. Several of the letter carriers walked by me on their way out to do their routes and said, “I was dead wrong”. I knew in my spirit that I had not said that for it was NOT I, But the Spirit of God speaking! All reports throughout the day on local weather stations was warning of extremely bad storms for the day. There was NO rain throughout the day and God had a message…for my fellow workers; and that was for certainty “There is a Heaven and There was a Hell!”. After returning to the office several Letters Carriers asked me how I did that; for ALL REPORTS spoke of 100% extreme bad storms in our area. I simply relied, God had a message, “There is a Heaven and There is a Hell”.
When God has a message to bring to the people and you are are in tune with the Spirit of God, He will use you as an Oracle of God to bring that specific message; at your Church, at the work place, at the grocery story, with your neighbors, family and friends. Be prepared and ready to be that vessel or instrument for His purpose.
Examples of conditional prophecy:
2 Kings 20:1-6 About that time Hezekiah became deathly ill, and the prophet Isaiah son of Amoz went to visit him. He gave the king this message: “This is what the LORD says: Set your affairs in order, for you are going to die. You will not recover from this illness.” When Hezekiah heard this, he turned his face to the wall and prayed to the LORD, “Remember, O LORD, how I have always tried to be faithful to you and do what is pleasing in your sight.” Then he broke down and wept bitterly. But before Isaiah had left the middle courtyard, this message came to him from the LORD: “Go back to Hezekiah, the leader of my people. Tell him, ‘this is what the LORD, the God of your ancestor David, says: I have heard your prayer and seen your tears. I will heal you, and three days from now you will get out of bed and go to the Temple of the LORD. I will add fifteen years to your life, and I will rescue you and this city from the king of Assyria. I will do this to defend my honor and for the sake of my servant David.'”
His prayer and faith brought into operation God’s unlimited power, and this overruled the power of death.
Another instance of conditional prophecy is the story of Jonah. Jonah had been commanded of God to go and pronounce judgment on the wicked city of Nineveh.
- Jonah 3:4 On the day Jonah entered the city, he shouted to the crowds: “Forty days from now Nineveh will be destroyed!” Jonah, instead of obeying the command of God to go to Nineveh, went down to Joppa instead to take a ship to flee from the presence of the Lord. His act of disobedience finally led to his being swallowed by a great fish prepared by the Lord. Jonah cried to God, repented, and was delivered and after which he was ready to carry out his mission.
- In Jonah 3:5-10, the people of Nineveh took the warning, repented and God had mercy on them and spared the city.
Prophecy is…the merging of the human mind with the Spirit of God…that is, it involves the merging of the human and the divine, the finite with the infinite, and imperfect with the perfect. Praying and fasting goes a long way in attaining the anointing, and flowing in the supernatural gifts.
As we can see in the case of Daniel…where He receive his greatest revelations during the times he had set aside for praying and fasting. God wants to and will use ordinary people for extraordinary tasks.
Love in Christ Jesus,