I’d Like to Prophesy…But* (Part 2)

shy2Click 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).


Filed under Christianity, Christians, Church, church planting, Emergent Church, Faith, Gifts of the Spirit, God, Home Church, Inspirational, jesus, Kingdom of God, Prayer, Prophecy, Red Letter Christians, reformation, Religion, spiritual warfare

15 responses to “I’d Like to Prophesy…But* (Part 2)

  1. Jim Jones had many issues in his life, one of them being he was heavily influenced by Marx and Stalin. But in this post, I have only zeroed in on his use of the prophetic gifts.

    I am not a biographer, just a teacher interested in highlighting possible problems for believers who want to prophesy.

  2. Look what happens to Lucifer when he wants to put himself higher than God. In other words, don’t get the big head.

  3. How much Godly character did the jack-ass have when God spoke through the animals mouth when the prophet would not?

  4. Jane,



    Good point.

    Perfect character is not a mandatory requirement for the spiritual gifts. But just like a soldier in the U.S. Army, there are different levels of marksmanship for these spiritual tools or weapons. Consider the spiritual gift levels to be akin to marksman, sharpshooter and expert.

    To raise above the entry marksman level demands godliness and a continuing effort to be like Jesus. And if you ever reach the expert level and your character slacks off, He will take you home early. Check out what happened to William Branham when he mentioned he was Elijah. He was killed a week or two later.

  5. This is very interesting and I look forward to part 3.

  6. seriouswhimsey,


  7. Pingback: I’d Like To Prophesy…But* (Part 3) « Larry Who

  8. Excellent post Larry. A good reminder of the results of pride.

    Jeremiah, really good point about Balaam’s ass. However I believe that God wants to walk with us in our freewill.
    ie. God does not force prophecy out of our mouths he gives us the words and we choose to let it flow.

    “The spirit of the prophet is subject to the prophet”.

    This verse is a crucial principle for the prophetic ministry.
    The ass being only an ass, I therefore believe that God has every right to usurp its freewill in a way He will not do with us, his children.
    Larry is right about the development of character for the ministry. Balaam had a very devious and manipulative character, the ass had no human character but only that of a captive animal. I don’t think its character entered into the process other than as an illustration to teach Balaam and us a lesson that human intelligence is not required to be a prophet.

  9. frank,

    Well said. Thanks for adding your insight.

  10. Pingback: I’d Like to Prophesy…But* (Part 4) « Larry Who

  11. Pingback: I’d Like To Prophesy…But* (Part 5) « Larry Who

  12. Pingback: I’d Like to Prophesy…But* (Part 6) « Larry Who

  13. Pingback: I’d Like To Prophesy…But* (Part 7) « Larry Who

  14. Pingback: I’d Like To Prophesy…But* (Part 8) « Larry Who

  15. Pingback: I’d Like To Prophesy…But* (Part 9) « Larry Who

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