Is the gift of prophecy really no longer needed in the church? Should we make all people who prophesy in the church cease and desist from doing so? Should we avoid televangelists who prophesy over the air?
My views on the prophetic
There are instances where people go overboard when they prophesy. For example, if someone prophesies that you will get an overflowing financial blessing when you become a regular partner to their ministry, I get turned off. When someone prophesies great things but they have an air of superiority and pride, that’s also a turn-off. But if they prophesy things that don’t come to pass or prophesy something that happens but they do it to turn people away from God, then Deuteronomy tells us to dismiss them as false prophets [Deut. 13:1-10; 18:20-22].
However, I’m not ready to throw the baby out with the bath water by claiming the gift of prophecy is not for today’s church and it ended when the Bible was complete. Many have claimed this when they use 1 Corinthians 13:9-12 out of context where Paul said–
9For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. 10But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. 11When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. 12For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
Paul is saying that when we see the Lord face to face at the end of the age when all things will be revealed is when that which is perfect is come. Prior to that, we only “know in part” and only “prophesy in part.” How can anyone claim our knowledge is perfect because the Bible is complete when we don’t even know when the Lord will rapture us out or when he will return to establish his millenial kingdom or when he will create the new heaven and new earth? Paul even commanded in 1 Corinthians 14:39 that we should “covet to prophesy.”
As we move closer to the end of the age, evil will continue to increase which means God’s church will continue to face a rising tide of opposition from within and from without. Even though Ephesians 5:6 commands us to let no man deceive us with vain words promoting sin, we are witnessing deception in the church. People are deceiving within the church with vain words that it’s okay to have sex outside of marriage with any gender you choose, that it’s okay to believe God created the world by evolution, that it’s okay to believe Jesus isn’t the only way to God, that it’s okay to covet wealth. Vanity of vanity, it’s all vanity!
This means we will need all hands on deck and all the resources God has placed at our disposal until we are caught up to meet him in the air. And among those resources is the gift of prophecy. After all, why would God, knowing that the final generation would face the most challenges than any before it, choose to withdraw such a vital spiritual gift from his church like prophecy?
The process of prophecy
I thank God that Paul gave us so much helpful advice on how to fight a good warfare in this battle against principalities, powers, the rulers of the darkness of this world, and against spiritual wickedness in high places. Some of the basic fundamentals in our war are in Ephesians 5.
Ephesians 5:11 tells us have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. We must first be resolved that we will not give place to the devil, the world’s mindset, or the ungodly desires of our flesh. Instead we become resolved to expose them and express our disapproval of them. So before we do anything else, we need to take spiritual inventory of our own hearts.
Ephesians 5:12 says it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret. Talking about evil stuff the world does in secret is uncomfortable and the specific details of them make us feel ashamed to even speak of them. The fact that a lot of sin is done in secret means we may not be aware within ourselves (by what we see or hear) about what goes on in the lives of people around us. Therefore, we are given further instruction.
Ephesians 5:13 says all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light. When we know something needs to be reproved, it is because of the godly knowledge we receive from God’s word by the teaching of the Holy Spirit. God’s word is light and gives us clear direction about what is sin. Once we have the foundation of God’s word he can give us a bonus, or additional information. That additional information can come through a prophetic word. Why a prophetic word? Because, as previously mentioned, people do a lot of their sin in secret. If God feels the need to share something with us that another person is doing in secret that needs to be exposed, the Spirit may tell us prophetically so we can address it with humility and in love. Since whatsoever makes manifest is light, then a true prophetic word from God is light.
Ephesians 5:14 goes on to say Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light. God does not want us to walk around spiritual dead or spiritually unaware. He wants us to have spiritual light to discern good from evil and to have fellowship with the Lord Jesus. So Ephesians 5:15-16 continues this thought to tell us See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.
Circumspectly means we are looking around, being aware of our surroundings and of the things going on around us. It’s having a sense of alertness about the times one lives in and avoiding the mistakes of a fool. A fool would process the information gathered from looking around and would fail to use it to their own godly advantage or for the godly advantage of someone else.
A wise person registers the information and with the help of the Holy Spirit determines the best way to proceed for the glory of God. By doing so, they would make the best of their time, taking advantage of their window of opportunity, knowing well that the days are full of evil and goodness needs to be injected whenever and wherever possible to counteract it. A word of prophecy from God helps us walk circumspectly to redeem the time efficiently because if God needs something done really quickly, prophecy can really prompt one to cut to the chase.
So in conclusion, Ephesians 5:17 says be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. This is the end result of knowing God’s word, praying it, and in some cases receiving a word of prophecy. God wants us to understand his will so we can carry it out on earth as it has been determined in heaven. When we get fuzzy on the specifics of what God wants, there are certain times where God may prompt us to make a particular move with a prophetic word in faith and once the move is made, everything else starts falling in place. Things become clearer as we proceed in faith.
posted by Harry A. Gaylord