Monday, July 9, 2012

On Prophets

I was looking for some information and ran across this man's essay on Church Governance. It spoke to me as a prophet. This is exactly what is going on in the Ministry Gift I carry. The emphases are mine and scroll down thru the whole thing to see what I am dealing with:

Throughout history, the prophet has always been God's messenger, or mouthpiece. He has used them to communicate his warnings and plans; especially when His people weren't otherwise listening to His voice. Most of these messages appeared negative to the average believer, and especially to the unbeliever.

However, the idea we have today of prophets is not the same. When we talk of prophets in the church, we think that the message and purpose of the prophet has changed to giving nice, sweet, uplifting words. God hasn't changed, only our understanding has. This understanding has come from a misunderstanding of First Corinthians, chapter 14, verse 3:

But he that prophesies speaks unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort.

1 Cor 14:3

If we take a closer look at the definition of the three underlined words, we see that they are not nice, sweet, uplifting words, but in fact are strong words.

Edification (Strong's number 3619) - the act of one who promotes another's growth in Christian wisdom, piety, holiness, happiness 1

Exhortation (Strong's number 3874) - a calling near, summons, imploration, supplication, entreaty; words of appeal, containing entreaties; admonition, encouragement; persuasive discourse, stirring address, instructive, admonitory, consolatory, powerful oratory discourse 1

Comfort (Strong's number 3889) - any address, whether made for the purpose of persuading, or of arousing and stimulating, or of calming and consoling 1

Read those definitions closely, they're very enlightening. Don't just skim over them, you won't receive the full impact of what they are saying.

You can't promote another's growth (edification) by telling them they're okay, and God's happy with them the way they are. Nor can you call someone near by telling them they're near enough. Nor is it very persuasive to say that "you're okay."

As I said, these are strong words, and the true prophet's message is a strong one. For this reason, a prophet is not readily accepted in many places. The average person isn't interested in a strong word of correction, rebuke and direction. They want a word of affirmation, that makes it seem as if God is not only pleased with them but grateful to them for the little that they do for Him.

There is another area of confusion about prophecy in the Body of Christ today. That is, the difference between prophecy and declaration. Believers will say something like, "I prophesy to the principalities over this city, let the people go!" In fact, they aren't prophesying, they are making a declaration against the spirits of darkness. There is nothing wrong with that, but it is wrong to call it prophecy. It is only prophecy when we are speaking forth what the Holy Spirit has commanded us to speak.

Most prophets don't actually hear many words, instead they see visions. For this reason, the Bible also calls them "seers." They see things in the spirit realm, as allowed by the Holy Spirit, and describe what it is they are seeing.

This is obvious if anyone spends any time at all studying the books of prophecy in the Bible. Or, if you just take a brief look at the book of Revelations (the only book of prophecy in the New Testament), you will see the same thing. John was shown by the Spirit those things which were to come. Repeatedly, throughout the book, John uses the words, "I saw." He tried to describe in words those things that he saw in the vision.

All true prophets are also intercessors. To me, this is the proof of whether someone is a prophet. Many people want the "glamour" of giving forth a word of prophecy, so that they seem spiritual. But, not many people want to spend the time in gaining an intimate relationship with the Lord so that they will have a true word to bring forth.

One of the greatest errors that young prophets make is to assume that every word the Lord gives them needs to be given to the individual that the word is about. This is untrue. The hardest part of a prophet's training is learning discernment about when to give forth a word. Most of the words a prophet receives are not for him to bring forth, but for him to pray about. Possibly after praying the Lord will have him give that word, but many times it will never go farther than the prophet and the Lord.

Prophets are people who spend a lot of time with the Lord in prayer and worship. It is impossible to bring forth a message from God, without truly hearing His voice. It is impossible to hear his voice without closing off the distractions of the world, and focusing on Him.

Unfortunately, although there are true prophets in the church today, the Body of Christ has been besieged with many false prophets, or simply unstable prophets. Some of these are women with unsaved husbands, who truly want to be spiritual, and want to be used by God. Many might even have a true calling to be a prophet. However, because they are not properly submitted under authority (because their husband is unsaved) they are easy prey for the enemy, and will often hear false words just as easily as they hear true ones.

Another error of false prophecy that happens in the Body of Christ today is that people say things which are of themselves, and call it prophecy. They are actually performing "Christian witchcraft" (by definition, witchcraft is using supernatural means to control, or manipulate others). This might happen because they believe a person, usually a pastor needs to do something that they are not doing. Or, because they aren't being heard, and they feel that adding "Thus sayeth the Lord" to their words will make people pay attention.

We must be cautious about misusing the Lord's name, especially to manipulate or control others. Those who do will have to answer to the Lord for their actions, and I wouldn't want to be in their shoes.

A true prophet is very cautious about the words that they bring forth. They understand the seriousness of the office which they hold, and the grave responsibility of speaking forth something of God. They never bring forth a word lightly.

For these reasons, it is much easier to prophecy to people that one doesn't know, than to one's own congregation, family, or friends. When a prophet knows the person, they are usually unsure if the word is from the Lord, or from themselves, and will often withhold it. However, when the Holy Spirit reveals something to them about someone they don't know, it is easier to be sure that it is truly a word from the Lord.

Prophets will often be dramatic in their presentation, and may even use various props, or actions to demonstrate their message. Before Paul's journey to Jerusalem, when he was arrested, a prophet named Agabus came to him, took Paul's belt, and bound his own hands with it. Then he prophesied that the owner of the belt would be bound in the same manner by the Jews in Jerusalem (Acts 21:10-11). This may have seemed a little overdone to the casual viewer, but the prophet had obviously heard from the Holy Spirit, because the word he gave came to pass.

Even with being dramatic, the prophet isn't trying to attract attention to himself, only to the message he is bringing forth. True prophets are very humble people. They don't go looking for position, or title, only for truth and God's presence. A mark of a false prophet (or, one gone astray) is that they try and draw attention to themselves.

Most prophets are uncomfortable being part of a church congregation. They feel like they don't fit in. Because they are extremely serious about God, His Word, and their relationship with Him, the average Christian seems to them to be very worldly and uncommitted to God.

However, this doesn't mean that a prophet shouldn't be part of a regular church congregation. They need the fellowship, teaching, encouragement, accountability, and spiritual covering that every other believer needs. If a prophet distances himself from the Body of Christ, or tries to be a "lone ranger" without being submitted to anyone else's authority, they are putting themselves in a position of being easily led astray by the enemy.

A prophecy always has two parts. The first part is whatever the prophet, or person moving in the gift of prophecy, receives from the Holy Spirit. The second part is the interpretation. It is important that we differentiate between the two, because otherwise, we can end up misunderstanding the plans and purposes of God.

The part which is the actual prophecy is seldom wrong. Almost anyone moving in prophecy can receive this part correctly; as long as they are receiving it from the Holy Spirit and not from their own mind. This part can be a vision, one word, one sentence, a whole lengthy exposition, a scripture verse, a parable, or just an impression in their spirit. When the prophet is giving forth the prophecy, this is usually the first part.

The harder part is the interpretation of the prophecy. This is where we can easily get into error. The interpretation is the understanding of what the prophecy means. There can be more than one interpretation to any prophecy, and the prophet needs to be very careful in what they give.

A number of years ago, when my wife was pregnant with our first child, we received a prophecy from someone who was known to be a prophet. He told us that we would have a son, and the son's name would be "Joshua David, and he would have red hair." Since my wife was very obviously pregnant, the prophet, the pastor of the church, the congregation, and ourselves all thought that the prophecy was talking about the baby which was currently in her womb. We were all greatly surprised when she gave birth to a girl! The prophecy wasn't wrong, just the interpretation. Joshua was our second child.

Prophecy can be either for an individual, a congregation, a city, a region, a nation, or the world. God will often increase a true, mature prophet's influence beyond his own church, or area. It is very important that the prophet properly discern who the message is for.

Personal prophecy should always confirm, and never direct. If a prophet gives a word of prophecy to an individual, and the person has never heard the Lord speak to them about that particular thing, they should not take action on it. Instead, they should put it "on the shelf" and wait until the Lord speaks to them.

Prophets can be a great asset to a pastor (or, bishop). A prophet and pastor who form a good working relationship can rely on each other's strengths. When the pastor is needing confirmation on something the Lord is telling him, he can receive that through the prophet. When the prophet is seeing, or hearing something from the Lord that needs to be brought forth in the church, he can pass it on to the pastor, and allow the pastor to bring about the necessary change.

Unfortunately, it is very rare that pastors and prophets form this good a working relationship. Most prophets in the church try and tell the pastor what to do, and are upset when he doesn't do it. Most pastors are suspicious of the prophets, because the sheep gravitate to them, wanting a word.

Although a church will always contain pastors, evangelists, and teachers, it will not always contain prophets. Due to the nature of their ministry, prophets may work with a number of different ministers within a given area.

1 comment:

lataina lenton said...

I enjoyed this message it really Bless my soul, Been in the office of the Prophet/ess, I thank God For the information, I have been in this office effective for 4 years, and its hard to receive Truth from Man, Been taught by the HOLYGHOST, ITS NICE TO HEAR ANOTHER POINT OF PROPHESIES, THANK U AGAIN AND GOD BLESS U AND UR FAMILY, IF THERE'S A WAY I CAN EMAIL U OR UR WIFE PLEASE LET ME KNOW, att: LATAINA LENTON