Prophets – Called to Know and Proclaim God’s will.
“11 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
14 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. 15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. 16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.” Ephesians 4:11-16 NIV
When we hear the word or title of prophet, we typically think of someone who is a fortuneteller or someone who predicts future events. While this clearly has happened with the prophets of the Old and New Testaments, we need to know that this is NOT their primary function.
The primary function of the Old Testament prophets was to call God’s people to repent and return to Him. When God’s people strayed from Him and turned to false God’s, the Old Testament prophet would call them back to Him. The prophet would have the courage to stand up against the popular culture and proclaim the un-popular message of repentance (which, by the way, is still not a very popular message).
A New Testament prophet’s primary function was to know and proclaim the Word of God. Paul states in 1 Corinthians 14:3, the purpose of prophesy. The primary purpose again, is not predicting the future, but it is for strengthening, encouragement, and consolation (or comfort).
“3 But the one who prophesies speaks to people for their strengthening, encouraging and comfort..” 1 Corinthians 14:3 NIV.
Those with a prophetic ministry today speak the Word of God, by the leading of the Spirit of God. They are tuned into God’s Word and His truth for today. The prophet will bring correction and challenge popular and often dominant assumptions we gain from our culture. A prophet questions the status quo, and if not accountable to the other leaders (such as Apostles, Evangelists, Pastors and Teachers), can become belligerent activists or disengaged from reality. Those with the prophetic gift sometimes speak in a predictive sense, but they must be speaking forth edification, encouragement, and consolation to God’s people. Often because of their passionate zeal for God and their unique gifting, those with the prophetic gift are challenged by their Biblical mandate of being subject to the discernment of church leaders.
“29 Two or three prophets should speak, and the others should weigh carefully what is said. 30 And if a revelation comes to someone who is sitting down, the first speaker should stop. 31 For you can all prophesy in turn so that everyone may be instructed and encouraged. 32 The spirits of prophets are subject to the control of prophets. 33 For God is not a God of disorder but of peace—as in all the congregations of the Lord’s people.” 1 Corinthians 14:29-33 NIV
It was the apostles and prophets that were the foundational ministries in the early church. Like the apostles, modern prophets do not speak with the same authority that the first century prophets brought during God’s foundational word.
“19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.” Ephesians 2:19-20 NIV
Those with a prophetic gift today are called to know and proclaim God’s messages and God’s Word to the church. People with a prophetic gift will expose sin or deception in others for the purpose of reconciliation, may speak timely words from God to cause conviction, repentance, and edification. Those with a prophetic gift may warn others of God’s immediate or future judgment if there is no repentance and are able to understand God’s heart and mind through the experiences that God takes them through. They are discerning, compelling, un-compromising, and confronting. They also tend to be authoritative and outspoken.
People who have a prophetic gift need to be aware that listeners may reject the message if it isn’t spoken with love and compassion. They also need to avoid pride which could create a demanding or discouraging spirit that hinders the gift. A critical reminder for those with a gift of prophecy is that discernment and Scripture MUST support and agree with each prophecy.
Those with this gift have a divine enablement to reveal and proclaim truth in a timely manner that brings correction, repentance, and edification. Imagine the power and influence of a church in which people operate with their prophetic gifting. Imagine a church where people take the risk to speak God’s word boldly. Wouldn’t that be powerful? Imagine a church where people speak the words of God to each other and offer the encouragement that God wants to speak to them. How inspiring is that? What about you? Can you see yourself operating in the prophetic gift in your church or community? I know it sounds intimidating, but you might be operating with a prophetic gift without even knowing it. You may operate in a prophetic gift if you recognize times when encouragement needs to be spoken, and you speak life to that person. You might be exercising a prophetic gift when someone around you needs strengthening from God’s Word, and you share your favorite life verse or take the time to pray for them. You might be operating from a prophetic gift when someone needs a word of comfort, and you take the risk to remind them of God’s great care for them.
Holy Spirit release the prophetic gifts in me and in those around me. Don’t let these gifts lay dormant in your people. Help me to see and to call out those who are gifted as prophets today. In Your strong name, amen.