Click on following link for Part 1.
How important is godly character for operating the prophetic gifts?
Over the years, I have done research on Jim Jones, founder of the Peoples Temple and leader of Jonestown (Guyana) where over 900 people committed mass suicide on November 18, 1978. His name, even today, evokes nervous twitches in us believers who are skeptical of over-the-top religious leaders.
But Jones’ life provides us with a few valuable lessons, especially for the prophetic gifts.
As a child, Jim Jones attended a small Pentecostal church in Indiana. His spiritual gifts were recognized by the church, and he became a child-preacher sensation. People came from all over to hear him.
His mother, Lynetta Putnam Jones, practiced spiritism. And when she discovered her son was involved in preaching and spiritual gifts, she promptly pulled him out of the church.
So, during Jones’ formative years, the young believer’s spiritual gifts and calling were heavily influenced by a wacky mom who was involved with demons and mediums. Certainly, not a healthy environment for a future man of God.
In the 1950’s, Jones was ordained by the Methodist Church as a student pastor. Then, at a state pastors’ convention, his life was forever changed. A woman speaker left the podium, walked down the aisle to Jones and said, “You are called to be a prophet. Go up to the microphone and prophesy.”
Jones was stunned by the woman’s words but followed her instructions. He proceeded to prophesy to everyone there, giving unbelievably accurate words of knowledge and words of wisdom. His ministry skyrocketed from that time forward.
Leaving the Methodists, Jones founded his own church called the Peoples Temple Christian Church Full Gospel in Indianapolis. Though William Branham ministered with Jones at times, Jones felt tormented about continually giving prophecies.
On the one hand, he knew the spiritual gifts worked like a magnet, drawing people and money to his church. But on the other hand, he had no desire to expend the time and energy in prayer, developing a solid foundation to shore up his prophetic gifts.
So, he cheated. He had members gather tidbits of information which he passed on as prophetic words of knowledge to hungry listeners. It worked. The crowds and finances kept flowing into his ministry.
It only gets worse from here on out in his ministry. Finally, at a service in his Peoples Temple of San Francisco, he threw the Bible on the floor and declared, “No longer will we pay attention to this Book. My words are more important.”
So, what can we learn about the use of the prophetic gifts from Jim Jones’ life?
(Continued in Part 3)
*I have used the word prophesy in a general sense to denote prophecy, words of knowledge and words of wisdom (1 Corinthians 12: 8-10).