Saturday, October 4, 2008

The New Testament Prophet from a Pastor's Perspective

RECENTLY, PASTOR AL OFFERED SOMETHING FOR OUR CONSIDERATION. IN HIS MESSAGE, HE NOTED THAT HE FELT THAT OUR CHURCH WAS POISED TO BECOME A “PROPHETIC CHURCH”. AS A LEADERSHIP TEAM, WE HAVE BEEN INQUIRING OF THE LORD AS TO ITS MEANING AND APPLICATION TO US.

THIS MORNING, I WOULD LIKE TO TAKE THE FIRST CUT, AND OFFER SOME INSIGHTS FROM THE PASTORAL PERSPECTIVE IN ORDER TO DEFINE, IN SOME MEASURE, WHAT THIS MEANS AND WHAT IT LOOKS LIKE. OTHERS WILL ADD TO IT OVER TIME.

LET ME FIRST EXPLAIN THAT BEING A PROPHETIC CHURCH DOES NOT SIMPLY MEAN THAT WE HAVE PROPHECY IN OPERATION IN OUR CHURCH. IT INCLUDES THIS, BUT IT GOES MUCH FURTHER. IN ANY EVENT, WE WANT TO BE MORE SENSITIVE TO FUNCTION THAN TO TITLE OR DESCRIPTION.

IN EPHESIANS 4:11, ONE OF THE ASCENSION GIFT MINISTRIES THAT JESUS GAVE TO HIS CHURCH IS THE OFFICE OF PROPHET. IN FIRST CORINTHIANS 12:10; PAUL SPEAKS TO THE CHURCH ABOUT THE GIFT OF PROPHECY. IN REVELATION 19:10, JOHN THE REVELATOR SPEAKS ABOUT THE SPIRIT OF PROPHECY.

EACH ONE OF THE USES OF THIS CONCEPT IS DIFFERENT IN ITS AUTHORITY AND WEIGHT. LET’S TAKE A MOMENT AND SEE WHAT I MEAN.

IN THE FIRST INSTANCE, THE OFFICE OF PROPHET, DESCRIBES SOMEONE SET APART BY THE LORD JESUS CHRIST, NOT SELF APPOINTED, TO BE HIS SPOKESMAN, NOT SIMPLY IN HIS/HER LOCAL CHURCH; BUT MORE OFTENTIMES TO THE BODY AT LARGE.

EVERY PROPHET CAN PROPHESY, BUT NOT EVERYONE WHO PROPHECIES IS IDENTIFIED AS MINISTERING IN THE OFFICE OF PROPHET.

IT MAY BE SUCH THAT IN THESE LAST DAYS, GOD WILL ONCE AGAIN RAISE UP THE OFFICE OF PROPHET; CONSISTING OF THOSE WHO WILL SPEAK ON HIS BEHALF TO THE NATIONS. NO QUESTION THAT THESE WILL BE SEASONED VETERANS, NOT NOVICES, KNOWN FOR THEIR PROVEN RELIABILITY, CHARACTER, AND ACCURACY.

THE OLD TESTAMENT PROPHETS HAD A PECULIAR TEMPERAMENT; AS SPOKESMEN FOR GOD, THEY OFTEN SPOKE OF COMING JUDGMENT, CALLING FOR REPENTANCE, AND HAD A CONFRONTATIONAL STYLE. THE NEW TESTAMENT OFFICE OF PROPHET IS CHARACTERIZED BY A MORE GENTLE, ENTREATING SPIRIT.

EVEN THOUGH IT IS SEEN AS ONE OF THE FIVE FOLD MINISTRIES, IT DOES NOT HAVE THE SAME LEVEL AUTHORITY THAT WAS GIVEN TO THE OLD TESTAMENT PROPHETS.

ONE OF THE DIFFERENCES IS THAT THE OLD TESTAMENT PROPHETS WERE USED BY GOD TO ESTABLISH SCRIPTURE; AND SECONDLY, IF THEY PROPHESIED FALSELY, THEIR PUNISHMENT WAS STONING. IN THE NEW TESTAMENT, THERE IS NO SUCH AUTHORITY TO BRING FORTH NEW REVELATION, AND THERE IS NO SUCH PENALTY AS STONING.

PAUL NOTED IN HIS LETTER TO THE CORINTHIANS THAT THEY WERE TO PURSUE LOVE AND DESIRE THE SPIRITUAL GIFTS, BUT ESPECIALLY THE ABILITY TO PROPHESY

(1 COR 14:1).

THIS WORD IS DERIVED FROM THE GREEK WHICH IMPLIES THAT GOD SPEAKS THROUGH US, WHILE WE ARE UNDER THE INSPIRATION OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.

BY DIVINE REVELATION- WE SPEAK FORTH THE COUNSEL, MIND, AND WILL OF GOD. THIS IS A SERIOUS RESPONSIBILITY, NOT TO BE TAKEN LIGHTLY.

THIS ABILITY, EVEN IF CONSISTENTLY OPERATING IN AN INDIVIDUAL, IS LIMITED TO THE “IN PART REALM”, FOR PAUL INFORMS US THAT WE KNOW IN PART, AND WE PROPHESY IN PART, MEANING OUR INSIGHT IS LIMITED (1 COR 13:9).

IN FACT, PAUL ALSO SAID TO THE ROMANS IN CHAPTER 12:6 THAT THOSE WHO HAVE THE GIFT OF PROPHECY SHOULD PROPHESY IN ACCORDANCE WITH THEIR LEVEL OF FAITH. THIS IMPLIES THAT NOT ALL PROPHESY WITH THE SAME MEASURE OF GRACE, DEPTH, OR ABILITY.

THIS MEANS THAT PROPHECY IS MORE OFTEN SUBJECTIVE RATHER THAN OBJECTIVE; MEANING THAT WHEN WE BRING SOMETHING FORTH, IT IS BASED ON OUR INTERNAL PERCEPTIONS, AND WE HAVE TO BE CAREFUL THAT WE ARE IMPARTIALLY INFLUENCED.

THIS IS THE REASON THAT UTTERANCES HAVE TO BE JUDGED, TO DETERMINE THE SOURCE OF THE INSPIRATION: IS IT THE HOLY SPIRIT, THE INDIVIDUAL’S SOULISH DESIRES AND WISHFUL THINKING, OR IS THERE POSSIBLY DEMONIC INFLUENCE?

1 Cor. 14:3-5 (NKJV) But he who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men. He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church. I wish you all spoke with tongues, but even more that you prophesied; for he who prophesies is greater than he who speaks with tongues, unless indeed he interprets, that the church may receive edification.

NOTICE, THAT IN CONTRAST TO THE OLD TESTAMENT PROPHETIC UTTERANCES THAT WERE OFTEN HARSH AND DEMANDING, THE NEW TESTAMENT HAS A DIFFERENT FEEL TO IT. THERE IS MORE OF A SENSE OF HUMILITY AND WONDER, REQUIRING THAT WE ARE BROKEN, AND WALK SOFTLY BEFORE THE LORD.

IT DOES NOT OPERATE WHENEVER SOMEONE FEELS LIKE THEY WANT TO PROPHESY, OR WHEN SOMEONE COMES WANTING A WORD- BUT IT IS DOWNLOADED INTO OUR HEARTS BY THE SACRED IMPULSE, UNCTION, AND TIMING OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.

THE NEW TESTAMENT PROPHETIC, INSPIRED BY THE HOLY SPIRIT; IS GIVEN FOR

THE PURPOSE OF EDIFICATION, EXHORTATION, AND COMFORT TO THE SAINTS. IT COMES IN SUCH A WAY THAT THERE IS AN EXPRESSION OF AH-HA WITHIN OUR HEARTS. INDIVIDUALLY OR CORPORATELY, WE WANT TO RESPOND TO IT IN A POSITIVE MANNER.

THE RATIONALE IS TO BUILD UP THE MEMBERS OF THE BODY OF CHRIST, TO RELEASE GREATER MEASURES OF FAITH, TO PROMPT OBEDIENCE. IT IS NOT HARSH, JUDGMENTAL, NEGATIVE, CRITICAL, ACCUSATORY, LEGALISTIC, OR CONDEMNING.

IT IS NOT FLATTERY OR TRYING TO PUFF ANYONE UP.

IF WE DO THIS IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE SCRIPTURES, WE WILL FIND THAT THE WORD OF THE LORD OFTEN HELPS PEOPLE TO OVERCOME A SENSE OF NEGATIVITY EXPRESSED BY DISCOURAGEMENT, REJECTION, ALIENATION, OR CONDEMNATION.

BECAUSE THE WORD IS ENCOURAGING AND EDIFYING, THERE IS A RELEASE AND AN UPLIFTING IN THEIR SPIRITS.

THERE IS AN ETIQUETTE AND ACCOUNTABILITY INVOLVED. THIS IS WHY WE ARE ENCOURAGED TO ALLOW FOR 2 OR 3 MESSAGES IN THE LOCAL CONGREGATION, AND THEN THEY ARE TO BE JUDGED OR DISCERNED BY LEADERSHIP (1 COR 14:29).

THE LIMITATION ON THE NUMBER OF TIMES THAT THE PROPHECIES SHOULD COME FORTH IS BECAUSE THE ENEMY HAS A TENDENCY TO “PILE ON” IF YOU WILL, AND GET PEOPLE HYPED UP, AND CARRIED OFF INTO THE FLESH.

DO NOT BE DECEIVED, EVERY THOUGHT THAT COMES INTO YOUR HEAD, EVERY DREAM THAT YOU HAVE; JUST BECAUSE YOU ARE BORN AGAIN OR FILLED WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT IS NOT GOD!

WE ENCOURAGE ALL OF YOU TO STEP OUT IN FAITH IF YOU BELIEVE THAT YOU MAY HAVE SOMETHING FROM GOD. RATHER THAT INFORM US “THUS SAITH THE LORD” YOU COULD SHARE THAT YOU BELIEVE THAT THIS IS FROM THE LORD.

THERE IS ONLY ONE CAVEAT! IF YOU ARE WILLING TO RISK STEPPING OUT, YOU MUST ALSO BE HUMBLY WILLING TO RECEIVE LOVING CORRECTION IF IT IS JUDGED TO BE IMPROPER.

THIS IS WHY PETER SAYS THAT WE HAVE A MORE SURE WORD OF PROPHECY (2 PET 1:19); IN WHICH THE SCRIPTURE IS THE OBJECTIVE BASIS FOR OUR SPEAKING. IT IS BASED ON THE ALREADY REVEALED WORD OF GOD. WE MEASURE WHAT IS SPOKEN IN PROPHECY BY WHAT IS ALREADY WRITTEN, THEY ARE NOT IN CONFLICT.

THOSE THAT ARE IN AUTHORITY EITHER BEAR WITNESS TO THE WORD, OR DISCERN THAT IT IS NOT OF GOD. IT MAY NOT BE ERROR, BUT IT MAY BE OUT OF ORDER IF IT CLASHES WITH WHAT THE HOLY SPIRIT IS BRINGING FORTH FROM OTHERS.

I MIGHT ADD THAT THIS SAME TYPE OF THINKING APPLIES IN TERMS OF PERSONAL MINISTRY WHEN SOMEONE COMES FORWARD FOR INTERCESSORY PRAYER. ASK THEM FIRST WHAT THEY ARE HERE FOR. DO NOT TRY TO BE SUPER SPIRITUAL AND READ THEIR MAIL.

AFTER THEY HAVE INDICATED WHAT THE NEED IS, ALLOW THE HOLY SPIRIT TO MINISTER THROUGH THE GIFTINGS OF WORD OF KNOWLEDGE, WORD OF WISDOM, OR PROPHECY.

IT IS A SACRED TRUST WHEN THE HOLY SPIRIT ALLOWS US TO MINISTER TO SOMEONE, THE GUIDELINES ARE GIVEN IN SCRIPTURE TO HELP DIMINISH PRIDE AND DECEPTION.

FINALLY, JOHN THE BELOVED INFORMS US THAT THE HIGHEST FORM OF PROPHECY IS KNOWN AS THE SPIRIT OF PROPHECY, WHICH IS DEFINED AS THE TESTIMONY OF JESUS CHRIST. THIS HAS TWO MEANINGS TO ME.

MOST GENERALLY THIS IS EXPERIENCED ON RARE OCCASIONS, IN AN UNUSUAL MOVE OF GOD, IN WHICH HIS MANIFEST PRESENCE IS NOTICEABLY TANGIBLE AND THERE IS A SENSE IN WHICH EVERYONE SENSES THE ABILITY TO PROPHESY.

ON ONE OCCASION IN THE OLD TESTAMENT, THE SPIRIT OF GOD CAME UPON THE PEOPLE IN SUCH A DEMONSTRABLE WAY, AND THEY ALL PROPHESIED, INCLUDING KING SAUL (1 SAM 10:10).

WHEN SEVERAL INDIVIDUALS SPEAK OUT UNDER THIS TYPE OF ANOINTING; THE

WORD WILL COME FORTH WITH AUTHORITY, CONVICTION, AND INFLUENCE; SUCH THAT IT WILL BE WITNESSED BY ALL AS THE WORD OF GOD, THE TESTIMONY OF JESUS CHRIST.

IT WILL BE OF SUCH MAGNITUDE OR SIGNIFICANCE THAT IT WILL ELICIT A RESPONSE FROM ALL OF US; AS WE SAY AMEN TO IT.

AS SUCH, IT WILL NEVER BE IN OPPOSITION TO THE REVEALED WORD OF GOD RECORDED FOR US IN SCRIPTURE; THIS IS WHY WE MUST NOT BE BIBLICALLY ILLITERATE, BUT THE SPIRIT OF PROPHECY MAY BRING US INTO NEW TERRITORY. IT MAY STRETCH US, GET US OUT OF OUR COMFORT ZONE AND CHURCH AS USUAL.

IN ADDITION, EVEN WITHIN THE MARKET PLACE- A PROPHETIC CHURCH IS DETERMINED IN SOME MEASURE BY THE FACT THAT ITS PEOPLE HAVE A LIVING WORD, SOMETHING TO SHARE OF THE COUNSEL OF GOD, FROM THE THRONE OF GOD.

IT IS WRITTEN. IN SOME SENSE, IT WILL DERIVE ITS MESSAGE AND PROVIDE ANSWERS FROM THE PROPHETIC WORDS OF THE OLD TESTAMENT PROPHETS.

IT WILL ALSO ENCOMPASS THE TEACHINGS OF JESUS, AND THE DOCTRINES OF

THE EPISTLES.

BECOMING THE NATIONAL CONSCIENCE- THE MESSAGE OF THE CHURCH WILL INCLUDE THE WISDOM DRAWN FROM THE VOLUME OF THE BOOK; AND THESE TOGETHER WILL BE THE MEANS BY WHICH THE CHURCH BECOMES A PROPHETIC VOICE IN THE WORLD, A VIABLE COUNTER CULTURE, IN CONTRADISTINCTION TO THE WAYS OF SOCIETY.

IN EVERY CASE, FOR A MESSAGE TO BE TRULY PROPHETIC, THE BURDEN WILL COME FROM THE HEART OF GOD, IT WILL MAGNIFY THE LORD JESUS CHRIST, IT WILL DRAW THE LISTENER INTO A CLOSER WALK OF OBEDIENCE TO THE WILL OF GOD, AND IT WILL ENCOURAGE THEM TO PERSEVERE.

ALL THAT BEING SAID, WE SHOULD NOT GET THE IMPRESSION THAT PROPHECY AND THE ASSOCIATED GIFTS OF THE SPIRIT, IS LIMITED TO USE WITHIN THE FOUR WALLS.

IF INDEED WE ARE THAT CITY ON A HILL, IF WE ARE THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD, WE WILL RECOGNIZE THAT THIS MEANS THAT WE WILL BE INFLUENTIAL OUTSIDE OF THE FOUR WALLS. WE WILL HAVE SOMETHING TO SAY TO THOSE THAT ARE IN DARKNESS.

THESE GIFTS ARE BEING COUNTERFEITED IN THE WORLD, AND GOD IS RAISING UP THE CHURCH WITH THE GENUINE GOODS; WITH KEYS AND STRATEGIES, TO OFFSET THE INFLUENCE OF THE PSYCHIC AND THE OCCULT.

ONE OF THE ELEMENTS OF A PROPHETIC CHURCH IS THAT THE PEOPLE THEMSELVES WILL EXERCISE THESE TYPES OF GIFTS IN THE MARKET PLACE; WITHOUT TRYING TO BE SPIRITUAL. THEY WOULD FLOW OUT OF A PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP WITH THE LIVING AND TRUE GOD.

AS WE ARE PRAYING IN THE SPIRIT, IN OUR PRAYER CLOSET, INQUIRING OF THE LORD, WE COULD HAVE THE CONFIDENCE THAT IN THE FULLNESS OF TIME, GOD WOULD DO SOMETHING THAT WOULD BRING GLORY TO HIS NAME. WE CAN EXPECT DIVINE APPOINTMENTS AND OPPORTUNITIES TO BE AN INFLUENCE FOR CHANGE.

SOMEONE HAS SAID THAT TOO MANY FEAR STEPPING OUT INTO A NEW OPPORTUNITY MORE THAN THEY FEAR MISSING OUT ON A NEW OPPORTUNITY TO STEP OUT. THEREFORE, THERE IS A REAL URGENCY, NOT TO NEGLECT AN OCCASION TO BE USED BY THE LORD; ESPECIALLY OUTSIDE THE CHURCH.

WE CANNOT ENGAGE IN THE BATTLE FROM THE PEW ALONE, AT SOME POINT WE HAVE TO INVADE THE ENEMY’S CAMP. SATAN WOULD HAVE NO PROBLEM IF WE CONFINED OURSELVES TO THE FOUR WALLS, FORMING SOME TYPE OF BLESSING CLUB. WE ARE IN THE WORLD, BUT NOT OF IT. WE HAVE BOTH THE MINISTRY AND THE WORD OF RECONCILIATION.

HOW WONDERFUL IT WOULD BE IF, WHILE IN THE MARKETPLACE, GOD SHOWED YOU THE PROBLEM (WORD OF KNOWLEDGE) AND THE SOLUTION (WORD OF WISDOM) IN THE COURSE OF ORDINARY CONVERSATION WITH SOMEONE WHO IS DEALING WITH A MATTER OF CONCERN. YOU COULD CALL IT PROPHETIC EVANGELISM, BECAUSE IT OFFERS US AN OPPORTUNITY TO SHARE JESUS.

WHAT IF THE LORD RAISED UP PEOPLE WITHIN THE CHURCH WHO WOULD BE INFLUENTIAL IN THE SCHOOLS, IN THE LOCAL GOVERNMENTS, IN HOME OWNERS ASSOCIATIONS, AND THE LIKE. WHAT IF GOD PROVIDED THEM SUPERNATURAL WISDOM AND REMEDIES TO KNOTTY PROBLEMS THAT ARE BEING DEALT WITH.

SURELY THESE OPPORTUNITIES, ORDAINED BY GOD, WOULD GIVE THE BODY OF CHRIST INROADS TO SHARING THE GOSPEL WITH THE LOST. GOD HAS CALLED, MADE, AND EQUIPPED US TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE. SURELY, IF WE RESPOND AS WE HAVE BEEN PREPARED, THAT WOULD MAKE THE CHURCH MORE RELEVANT AND MEANINGFUL THAN IT CURRENTLY IS.

THUS, WE CAN CONCLUDE, THAT A PROPHETIC CHURCH IS ACTIVE AND NOT PASSIVE. SHE IS CALLED TO HAVE AN IMPACT, TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE- NOT JUST IN CHURCH, BUT IN THE ENVIRONMENT IN WHICH WE HAVE TO LIVE AND WORK.

WE NEED TO HAVE A HARVEST MINDSET. IT MAY VERY WELL BE THAT THE EMERGING PROPHETIC CHURCH WORLD WIDE WILL BE ONE OF THE INSTRUMENTS LEADING TO REVIVAL AND A SPIRITUAL AWAKENING IN OUR PRESENT DAY SOCIETY. IT MAY BE ONE OF THE MEANS BY WHICH GOD PIERCES THE ARMOR OF A HARDENED SOCIETY.

IN THAT CASE, WE WOULD EXPECT THE LORD TO RAISE UP MEN AND WOMEN WHO WOULD ADDRESS THE LEADERS OF NATIONS, WHO WOULD SPEAK OUT WITH ANSWERS TO PERPLEXING PROBLEMS. IT WOULD BE WITH THE WISDOM THAT

COMES FROM ABOVE THAT CANNOT BE GAINSAID.

THEY COULD SPEAK INTO PERTINENT ISSUES, SUCH AS IMMIGRATION POLICY, ABORTION, AND THINGS OF THIS NATURE, WITH AUTHORITY AND THE BACKING OF THE WHOLE CHURCH UNIVERSAL.

ARE YOU WILLING TO GIVE YOURSELF TO THE LORD IN SUCH A WAY THAT YOU WILL OVERCOME THE FEAR OF MAN, AND BE INVOLVED ON THE CUTTING EDGE OF WHAT GOD IS DOING IN THE EARTH? ARE YOU WILLING TO STEP OUT IN FAITH AND BE USED BY GOD?

3 comments:

jojo said...

since watching this site (started out good) i figured you spend way too much time defending being a prophet.
be one instead, and give prophesy instead of defending being one of several roles in the church body.
like the saying goes, build a bridge-get over it already.
enough already.

marktrainor@live.com said...

I was searching the net with questions and came across your prophetic blog. good discussions on prophesy. my church wants to use prophetic flags and asked us if we had any problems with that. do you have anything in the way of feedback on that? marktrainor@live.com

marktrainor@live.com said...

added to my question yesterday. our church in iowa wants to put up black and red flags because the colors have some special meaning. would you be able to explain that too? is this normal? we are meeting tonight to vote spending the money for these prophetic flags. marktrainor@live.com