Recently, I was talking with a young friend about the gift of prophecy. Although she is Spirit-filled, she was cynical about it, due to having been burned by a number of personal words which were not genuine. Still another thing bothering her was how many times well-known prophets have given word after word which did not come to pass, were hype-filled, or seemed trivial or ambiguous.
Folks, we do have some deep problems in the prophetic wing of the Church — including inaccuracy with no followup repentance, as well as gross sin taking place behind the scenes, some of which is finally being exposed. These things should shock us and cause us to be cautious.
However, it’s important not to reject the gift of prophecy just because some people are making a mess of it. We cannot let a few bad apples — or even a barrel full of them — steal from us this precious gift from the Holy Spirit. Indeed, God knew ahead of time that controversies would arise around prophecy. That’s why He gave us this advice in His Word:
“Do not despise prophesying. Prove all things; hold fast that which is good” (1 Thessalonians 5:20, 21).
Those few words give us the needed balance: don’t reject, but do discern. Discernment means we measure what is said against the Bible, our plumb line. It means we pay attention to whether the prophetic word “witnesses” to our spirit, too. I believe we must also discern the people who are prophesying. Are there repeated rumors that they are not living holy lives? Why would we want to sit under their ministry, then? Jesus wasn’t kidding when He said,
Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. You shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so, every good tree brings forth good fruit, but a corrupt tree brings forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit; neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that does not bring forth good fruit is cut down and cast into the fire. Wherefore, by their fruits you shall know them. — Matthew 7:15-20.
Desire to Prophesy
Not only are we to cherish prophecy when we hear it from others, but we are to desire to prophesy ourselves. The apostle Paul opened and closed 1 Corinthians 14 with this message: “Follow after charity, and desire spiritual gifts, but rather that you may prophesy” (v. 1), and “Wherefore, brethren, covet to prophesy…” (v. 39).
Each of us can and should prophesy at times — because, according to 1 Corinthians 14:3, “He who prophesies speaks to men for their edification (building up), exhortation (encouragement), and comfort.” It is an avenue through which we bless others.
You might be thinking, “But I’m not a prophet. I can’t prophesy.” Let’s demystify what prophecy is, because it’s not as difficult as we sometimes make it. Each of us can hear God speak to us personally, whether through impressions, words, or visual images (visions) God plants in our spirit. Prophecy is simply speaking forth to others what God has said to us or shown us. You can do that, because as a child of God, you hear His voice. (If you have doubts about whether you can hear Him, see what Jesus had to say about this in John 8:47 and John 10:3-5, 8, 27.) Although not everyone is a prophet, we can all prophesy, and we should — because we will serve others when we do.
There’s a variety of ways we can prophesy, too. It’s not limited to uttering a message from God in a church service. That might be intimidating for you, but it’s not the only avenue open to you.
In my next post, we’ll look at simple ways you can prophesy. You might be surprised to find you are already doing it, and you didn’t even know it.
The Spirit-Filled Guide to Personal Prophecy,
by Lee Ann Rubsam
Growing in the Prophetic,
by Lee Ann Rubsam