With our Lord’s sacrifice on the cross and His resurrection, He made the Old Covenant obsolete.
With this, we no longer need to appoint a high priest to go into the Holy of Holies to offer gifts and sacrifices for our sins. Jesus is our High Priest forever and His blood has cleansed us from all our sins. We also no longer need a Temple because we are His living temples and His Spirit dwells in us.
Thus, the ministry of the New Testament prophet has changed dramatically from that of the Old Testament prophet.
First: the New Testament prophet is still a mouthpiece for the Lord, but he no longer is the Lone Ranger galloping into town on a white horse ready to speak the word of the Lord to people. Through the gifts of the Holy Spirit, all believers can prophesy and are encouraged to do so.
Second: Prophecies spoken by a prophet (or a believer) are not to be accepted as prophetic words straight from the throne of God without being judged first by other believers. We judge prophecies by checking scripture and our inner spirits.
Third: A prophet or believer can no longer burst onto a scene, like a church, and prophesy. Everything has to be done decently and in order. Thus, the Holy Spirit has to make a way for the person to prophesy.
Fourth: If a prophet or a believer makes an error in his (or her) prophecy, he is to humble himself and ask forgiveness. Believers are to forgive him as the Lord has forgiven them.
Fifth: Prophets are still held accountable for prophesying words of warning and the full counsel of the Lord, but the sting of failing to do so has been removed at the cross.
The one thing that has stayed the same is that prophets or believers who prophesy may suffer afflictions, even severe ones.
Okay, what can we do to encourage believers to prophesy?
(Continued in Part 7)
10 responses to “To Listen or Not to Listen to Prophecy…That’s the Question (Part 6)”
First: In context: “Two or three prophets should speak, and the others should weigh carefully what is said. And if a revelation comes to someone who is sitting down, the first speaker should stop. For you can all prophesy in turn so that everyone may be instructed and encouraged.” — 1 Cor 14:29-31 (NIV).
“And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret?” — 1 Cor 12:28-30
Paul’s whole emphasis in Ch 14 is that we are all parts of the body, all having different spiritual functions. Not all prophesy, not all teach, not all speak in tongues, not all interpret, etc.
Fourth: Any sin can be forgiven except for blaspheming against the Holy Spirit (i.e., rejecting His call to receive Jesus). But Deut 18:20 is a stern warning against speaking out of one’s own head and attributing it to the Lord.
I agree that not all people prophesy, but Paul also included verse 1 and verse 39 in Chapter 14 of 1 Corinthians. These two verses encourage everyone to prophesy. Will all follow Paul’s admonition and prophesy? For whatever reasons, no.
A respected conservative Baptist theologian named Wayne Grudem wrote a book, “The Gift of Prophecy in the New Testament and Today” and he agrees with me that all believers should be encouraged to prophesy. Yet, Grudem does not speak in tongues or agree with Pentecostal and/or Charismatic thinking.
The number one reason that today’s believers do not prophesy is fear. On the one hand, the Lord encourages us to prophesy through the writings of Paul, and on the other hand, what if we make mistakes? So, in fear, we do not desire to prophesy and thus do not prophesy.
I feel that the Lord will extend more than enough grace to cover us while we learn how to prophesy, but I also understand, that mistakes will be made. This is a part of the growing process. None of us were born as mature adults. We all began as infants and grew through a learning process, which included some mishaps along the way.
Do I want us to make mistakes? No, of course not, but I would rather live with a few mistakes, than not attempt to prophesy.
Thank you, Mr. Larry, for the post and for your reply to Jim! Both have helped me see prophesying in a better light. God bless you!
Thanks. Probably the worst recommendations for prophecy are today’s prophetic ministries. On the one hand, they bless us, and on the other, I shake my head and say, “Oh my!”
But our failures and errors do not negate the Lord’s desire for us to prophesy. So, let’s prophesy in proportion to our faith [now] and grow from there.
God bless you.
I have been in church settings where people spouted off about what God was saying was going to happen, and they were wrong.
In the Bible, people made life-or-death decisions based on words coming from God through the mouth of prophets. I can’t think of a single example from Scripture in which the saying of a true prophet was a mistake. Can you?
I have also noticed that scriptural prophets were generally, if not always, reluctant. How often do we see reluctance today?
Interestingly enough, the only prophetic words that I can think of which did not come to pass were the ones spoken by the Apostle Paul in Acts 27:10 when he spoke about much injury and loss of life on the ill-fated boat trip.
Now, I believe Paul’s prophetic words informed him of a soon happening event so that he could stand in the gap and pray for a different outcome. Thus, the prophetic words accomplished exactly what the Lord intended for them to do. (Isaiah 14:24)
But at the same time, Paul directed his counsel on the spiritual gifts and prophecy to a messed up spiritually gifted church: the Corinthian Church. And even though, the Corinthians were making all kinds of mistakes, he told them to keep pursuing the gifts and prophecy.
So, even though we modern believers resemble the messed up Corinthians, what are we going to do? Discard prophecy because we have made some big, embarrassing mistakes or we can make changes.
Okay, do I believe every believer is willing to go through the humbling processes needed to make changes in our prophesying? Probably not. It’s my belief that it will be easier – for the most part – to train new people, like you, to prophesy.
I believe in prophecy, but I also believe in humility and an understanding that we can make mistakes and learn from them.
Larry, thank you for your response. I know and appreciate that your work for the Lord is guided by a humble spirit. Otherwise, nothing lasting would be accomplished.
Your mention of Acts 27:10 got my attention. The word rendered “I can see” or “I perceive” suggests an opinion of Paul’s determined from observation, rather than a prophecy from the Lord. Later in the chapter, he hears from God, and declares to his shipmates God’s willingness to spare them if they will obey His instructions.
The Corinthians to whom the letter was addressed had gone seriously astray spiritually, to the point where Paul described them as babies and as being carnal. I don’t see any mention of false prophecy, but he does highlight their misuse of the spiritual gifts. As you say, he encouraged them to seek the spiritual gifts, especially prophecy, but based on Ch 12, not everyone would have the same gifts.
By the way, as I think you know, not all prophecy involves telling of future events. In verse 19, he describes prophecy as “intelligible words to instruct others”.
Funny thing: This morning our pastor spoke out of, 1 Cor 14:1-19. He does not deny the continuance of spiritual gifts, as some have done. He described the overall theme of the passage as the proper use of the gifts in church, speaking to edify others rather than oneself.
To me, it is so fascinating that out of the whole Bible, the only possible prophetic error could be Acts 27:10 if Paul’s words were given out of a word of knowledge via the Holy Spirit. Even this – like you wrote – could be wrong.
“Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith” (Romans 12:6)
Paul mentioned both grace and faith in Romans 12:6, but he mentioned grace first. From my viewpoint, God’s grace is the key to prophesying because if we really understand His grace, fear will not be a hindrance for us.
As many teachers have written: prophecy can be foreknowledge or just knowledge for our edification, exhortation, and comfort at the present time. But invariably, it is the foreknowledge prophecies that causes our problems and rightly so.
Hmm! That was a funny thing…might have even been the Holy Spirit at work.
Bro, we are on the same page. What a surprise. 😉
As usual, I enjoy your input and know that others feel the same. Thanks.