In last week’s email , I laid out a case for modern day prophecy in the church. When you think of prophecy, you may think of Moses, Elijah, or John the Baptist living in the wilderness eating locusts. You may think of foretelling future events. As a reminder, according to Paul, prophecy is meant for edification, exhortation, and encouragement.
1 Cor 14:1-3 KJV Follow after charity, and desire spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy. For he that speaketh in an unknown tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God: for no man understandeth him; howbeit in the spirit he speaketh mysteries. But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort.
Does that mean foretelling stopped? No! We’ll get into that later. There’s a lot of misunderstanding about prophecy and the gifts of the Spirit in the church today. For instance, some think that the gifts of the Spirit ceased. They’ll even try to use Paul’s words to prove it. A common misuse of scripture that people use is in 1st Corinthians 13:8:
1st Cor 13:8-10 KJV Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.
Usually verse eight is the only verse referenced when someone tries to claim the gifts ceased. The context gets ignored, which is one of the reasons the church is where it’s at. There are two problems with the idea that prophecy has stopped according to this passage and both problems have to do with context. Clearly the context says that prophecies will cease or fail. When? When that which is perfect is come, according to Paul. What’s the perfect? The perfect is not a thing. It’s a person – Christ. Paul writes this scripture long after Jesus ascended to heaven. He’s referring to Christ’s return (See also verse 12). When Christ returns, everything will be perfect or perfected. Everything will be dealt with. There will be no need to prophesy because believers will be in the presence of God. That is when prophecies will cease. Not until then. The second issue involving context is the context of the gift chapters as a whole. Paul can’t mean that the gifts have stopped because he’s in the middle of explaining that the gifts are active. He started teaching the gifts in chapter 12. If he says they stopped in chapter 13, then you have a problem with chapter 14:1 above. Why desire to prophesy according to 14:1 if the gifts stopped? Paul, writing for God, would make God sound erratic, irrational, and unjust. Why would God tell you to do something you can’t do? It would be unjust. God is a righteous God, not an unjust God. The gifts never stopped.
The bottom line is that God never stopped being supernatural. Instead, people have chosen to rationalize the supernatural. That’s usually what happens! When someone doesn’t see something the way someone else sees something, it becomes very easy to justify why that may be so. We don’t see miracles, so God must not do them anymore. WRONG! Getting back on topic, prophecy in the church is still active and we are to prophesy!
Fifteen years ago in a prayer room at church, God gave me a vision. We were praying for an older lady who was leaving her ministry on the prayer team. I didn’t know why and didn’t know her, but she had been active in ministry long before I started going there. I had my eyes closed and was trying to pray but kept getting distracted because of the loud praying going on all around me. Then I saw a candle burning (eyes closed) and knew it was a medium-sized candle. Not a burned-up candle with no life in it. Not a full candle that had just started burning. A medium-sized candle still burning . I told her God had shown me that she had plenty of life left in her. She teared up and thanked me. There’s no telling why she left her ministry or what her concerns may have been. I didn’t know if I was prophesying correctly but knew the candle vision I saw with eyes closed did not come from me. It was given to me. For someone else. For her. That testimony fits Paul’s teaching on prophecy. “God is showing me you have plenty of life left in you,” is encouraging. It’s not necessarily a futuristic prophecy. It’s not a two-page or even a two-paragraph prophecy. It’s not a prophecy of judgement. Just a simple message of comfort.
The message was simple. The process of gathering the courage to speak it was another matter. You have to test the voice as best you can. I had nothing invested in giving her that message. There was nothing to gain. I didn’t know her. Giving a message of encouragement based on what was shown would not benefit me at all. It was from God, not me. That was important to me at that moment. Looking back on that years later has brought me to a place where I know it was God.
She brought me a book two or three days later. She knew I was a Castaway – a member of Castaway Ministries for people coming out of jail and starting their lives over. The book was from the teachings of Smith Wigglesworth. I remember her tearing up the day of the prophecy. Having never done that, I wondered did she cry because I did it so badly? Did she bring me a book to learn how to prophesy? I now know she was simply encouraging me by giving me the book. I wish I had known what she was going through. It was none of my business. I just gave the message. The question that everyone wants the answer to is, “How do you know when it’s God speaking?” You don’t always. But be careful what you prophesy.
Rom 12:6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith;
We prophesy by faith. It doesn’t have to be complicated. It can feel that way, but it doesn’t have to be that way. You don’t have to prophesy everything you think God is saying. I’m chewing on a couple of words the Lord has given to me recently. This is NOT prophecy. The Lord recently said ‘Famine,’ and I’ve been exploring famines in the Bible. In light of the 1,000-degree weather we’re having in the south, hay for the animals is getting scarce in places. It’s got my attention. Also, I think the Lord said something about overachieving the other day. A few hours later on Facebook, there was mention from a weather forecaster of a tropical development next week. He said there was probably nothing to worry about but that he had seen some developments become overachievers. That statement got my attention. I’m NOT prophesying that. And yet, you consider coincidences like that possibly being the Spirit of God showing you something. Jesus said:
John 16:13 KJV Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.
More to come next week! The testimony of the candle can be found in my first book, The Voice: Words from God (page 39). The topic of testing the voices can be found all throughout The Voice: A Study . Amazon has a “Look Inside” feature which will allow you to read the first ten pages of both books. Check them out!