Saturday, June 18, 2011

On Prophecy

Prophecy in the New Testament is a fascinating thing. For whatever reason, it doesn't get too much attention in the church today. My hope is that God's people will gradually warm to the idea of discussing prophets and prophecy. This will only strengthen the church.

The bible speaks much about the gift of prophecy:

"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

"...to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues."  I Cor. 12:10

"Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy."   I Cor. 14:1

We see from these verses that certain people are especially gifted as prophets. However, this does not limit others in the church from participating in prophetic speech. For example:

"Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head, but every wife who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head, since it is the same as if her head were shaven." I Cor. 11:4-5

"Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others weigh what is said. If a revelation is made to another sitting there, let the first be silent. For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all be encouraged, and the spirits of prophets are subject to prophets. For God is not a God of confusion but of peace." I Cor. 14:29-33

So we see that all Christians may prophesy. With that in mind, what is prophecy from a New Testament perspective? I've heard various solid definitions. My understanding is that prophecy is a message that God gives directly to a Christian. This, in turn, is shared with other Christians. This is obviously significantly different from teaching the scriptures because the message has come now instead of many years ago in the bible.

As we gather with the church, we have the opportunity to share prophecy. This may occur with individuals or the entire group. The following may seem fairly basic, but they are some questions that we would all be wise to ask ourselves as we think about sharing a prophetic word:

1. What are my motives in sharing this prophecy?

2. Is this merely my opinion or do I believe this is a word from God?

3. Does this word correspond to scripture?

4. Is it loving to say this right now?

5. Does it seem necessary?

6. Do I believe this prophecy will edify the body?

7. Above all else, will this honor God?

If we ask ourselves questions like this, then the prophecy will likely build up the body, which is the purpose of spiritual gifts and the gathering in the first place.

I encourage you to speak with other Christ-followers about prophecy and engage with them in prophecy as the Lord leads. Prophecy is an important gift that we must not ignore. The church needs it.

2 comments:

francisdrakeprivateer said...

I am puzzled. On a number of occasions I have commented on posts of yours. I largely agree with your blog direction and always seek to be encouraging.
This was so on this occasion with my comment regarding your prophecy post, yet again it disappears in your moderation.
I find it particularly frustrating when I have spent considerable time on what I think is a good contributary comment.
Do you have something against me personally or was there something wrong with the comment.
It is of course your blog to do with as you please, but having it happen several times makes me wonder?
It may of course be a technical problem, in which case forgive me for my accusation.

Eric said...

Frank,

I'm not sure what the problem is. It could be my particular blog. A few other folks have had difficulty commenting as well. Please try again. Thanks.