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The Nature and Purpose of Prophecy
Following are the notes for a teaching delivered at a home fellowship in August, 1991. This teaching outlines the nature and purpose of prophecy as outlined for the New Testament church
Prophecy: The immediate expression of the mind (voice) of God through the human spirit.
This expression may come as a supernatural unction, with or without the knowledge of the human participant. As an unction, it may fall on any human (regenerate or not.)
This expression may also be appropriated by faith in the Spirit-filled believer. As such, it may grow in expression as faith grows, even to the place of becoming the governing expression through the believer (ie, a "walking oracle.")
II. Historical Overview
A. As a walking perfect expression of God's mind, Adam was a living prophet until his fall.
B. The first recorded prophecy after the fall is by Enoch (Jude 14)
C. The entire Old Testament is written prophecy. Those observed as prophets make up a major portion of Israel's history to the time of Christ.
D. The New Testament church was marked with prophecy and prophets. A clear distinction was elucidated between prophecy as a "gifting" and as an office.
E. The book of Revelation characterizes the last generation church as a prophetic people. (Rev. 11:6-7; 19:10 →12:11)
III. Prophecy in the New Testament Church
A. Prophecy was released into the church at Pentecost as a property of the Spirit-filled life, promised to all and their descendants who would appropriate it by faith. (Ac. 2:4 → 17-18, 39)
B. Examples of Prophets
Ac. 13:1 15:32 21:9-10 (Note: the daughters were said to prophesy, but Agabus was called a prophet.)
C. Guidelines For Exercise in the Church
I Cor. 11:4-5 14:29-31
D. Used to Establish Ministry and Life Direction (Imparted through laying on of hands by those already functioning in the prophetic, ie "prophetic presbytery.")
I Tim. 1:18; 4:14 II Tim. 1:6
E. A Ministry Not to Be Despised
I Th. 5:20
F. Counterfeits Released Into Society in Response to True Prophecy
I Jn. 4:1
IV. Power Potential of Prophecy Available to the Church
A. Ministry Outside the Church
All evangelism is accomplished through the power of prophecy (whether or not recognized.)
- Prophecy is equated with the testimony of Jesus (Rev. 19:10)
- (study the word "testimony" throughout N.T. See Mk. 13:9-11)
- No man calls Jesus Lord but by the Holy Ghost (I Cor. 12:3) This is prophecy
- The Word of God (Gospel) grew and multiplied through the believers. This is the active dynamic of prophecy. (Ac. 12:24; 19:20)
- Prophecy convinces unbelievers (I Cor. 14:24-25)
B. Ministry Inside the Church
Prophecy is of the same power and availability as tongues.
- Tongues and prophecy were released together at Pentecost (Ac. 2:4 → 17-18)
- Tongues and prophecy were released together in Paul's ministry (Ac. 19:6)
- Paul taught on tongues and prophecy as commensurate gifts (I Cor. 14)
- Because of its superiority to tongues yet its equal availability, prophecy is to be coveted above all Spirit-filled expressions. (14:1)
- Prophecy equals tongues plus interpretation (14:5)
V. Classes of Prophecy
A. A gifting ("expression") appropriate by faith by all believers through release of the Life-force of the Indwelling Spirit.
- expandable with the growth of faith (Rom. 12:6)
- to be coveted by all (I Cor. 14:1,5)
- capable of being stirred up (II Tim. 1:6)
- the root force of all evangelistic testimony (Rev. 19:10)
- should become the root force behind all our speech as we grow into His perfection. Spirit-filled speech is prophecy. (I Pt. 4:11 See I Sam. 3:19)
B. A sovereign unction imparted by choice of the Holy Spirit (may be imparted by prophetic presbytery.)
- impartation by the Spirit (I Cor. 12:10-11)
- impartation by prophetic presbytery (I Tim. 1:18; 4:14; II Tim. 1:6)
- the unctioning behind anointed ordained ministry (I Pt. 4:11)
NOTE: This unctioning is the same that differentiates between any faith-appropriated gifting and sovereign manifesting gifting such as healing or miracles or tongues, etc. It is the unctioning that may fall on any human regardless of standing with God (see next section.)
C. An "ascension-gift calling" as "prophet."
This call is sovereignly appointed by God. A prophet is one whose entire life is set apart to stand forth and declare God's mind to his generation. He is ordained to express God's present-truth mind to the church, to nations, to families and individuals. The focus of that mind is the establishing of spiritual righteousness and holiness in the lives of those to whom he ministers
I Cor. 12:28-29 Eph. 4:11
VI. Limitations of Prophecy
A. Prophecy is filtered through the veil of flesh and blood. It is therefore unreliable as a "fail-safe" means for ascertaining the mind of God in a way that perfectly satisfies the human mind. Meanings of words and phrases (especially time-words) may have applications beyond face value expectation. In addition, prophecies can be tainted by the imperfections of the vessel through which they are given. For this cause, all prophecy must be tested, and in no case can prophecy ever be used to substitute for heart-faith relationship with God.
(I Cor. 13:8-9)
B. As a supernatural unction, the prophetic spirit may fall upon:
- disobedient men (I Sam. 10:11-12)
- unregenerate men (Mt. 7:22), some even unaware of their prophesying (Jn. 11:51)
- immoral men and sorcerers (Num. 22-24)
- even animals and rocks! (Num. 22:28 Lk. 19:40)
Therefore possession of such gifting can never be used to evaluate one's standing with God. (For an excellent discussion of this point read the book Lead Us Not Into Temptation by Don Basham.)
(I Cor. 13:2)
VII. Case for the Prophetic Explosion in the Church
A. The book of Revelation portrays the last generation church as a people fully functioning in the prophetic spirit (Rev. 11:6-7 / 19:10 → 12:11) We believe that we are the last generation people. If so, the explosion of prophecy in the Church should be an expected and welcomed event.
B. The riper in maturity the Church comes to being harvested in Christ's image at the end of the age, the more it should be characterized by the prophetic flow that witnesses to God's dominion through her. If we are as near as we think we are to Christ's return, this flow should be expected.
C. Given the last generation revival of the tongues movement, and given the commensurateness of tongues with prophecy, the manifest transition from tongues movement to prophetic movement should also be a given.
D. The last day explosion of false prophets points in reverse to the truth of the true prophetic explosion of our day. (I Jn. 4:1)
VIII. Conclusion and Questions
Stripped of its mystery and its narrow definition as "foretelling the future," Prophecy is seen as the natural inheritance of the entire church to be fully appropriated by faith as never before. It is to be activated and exercised in the same way that tongues was once activated and exercised at Spirit-infilling Prophecy is a latent reservoir waiting to be expressed and developed through every Spirit-filled believer.
1. "How can I activate my prophetic reservoir?"
This is activated the same way tongues is entered: by faith. You simply step into it. It helps to build yourself up first by praying aloud in the Spirit til your heart and mind are clear from cares and distractions. Then wait in silence, listening with your heart to the Lord, whether it be a single word, or perhaps a mental picture, or a vague thought. Then release what you have, no matter how little, or whether or not it makes sense to you. It is yours but to speak. God will take over.
In addition to this, your reservoir may be activated by the ministry of prophetic presbytery. This is the laying on of hands by a group of activated prophetic ministers.
Once activated, your reservoir may be continually stirred up by these same means. As you practice what you have, your faith will grow, and your capacity for more expansive and detailed prophecy will grow.
2. "But what if God hasn't given me the gift of prophecy?"
Only God can impart His supernatural prophetic unction by choice. But He has already imparted the pool and river of His prophetic life into every Spirit-filled believer. It is yours waiting to be accessed and harnessed. Remember, you have already prophesied to others without knowing it. Every time you have shared the Gospel in response to His inspiration in you, you have prophesied! Now, that same love is yours to call upon actively in knowledge and understanding.
3. "But what if I make a mistake?"
The key to prophesying is faith. The key to faith is losing self-consciousness. The question "What if I make a mistake?" appeals to self-consciousness. Therefore, it is not worthy of consideration. It is not a factor. For in God, and in everything undertaken by faith, there are no mistakes, even if there may seem to be. When you speak by faith, you trust God for the oversight of your words, and you leave with Him the results of what you say. The only concern for which you need take thought is your own motive. Let whatever you say be motivated by love ("unto edification, exhortation, and comfort" I Cor. 14:3). If you are clear about this. God will look to the accuracy of what you prophesy. Remember, whatever we undertake by faith, we can never verify finally through our natural understanding of accuracy. So relax! Don't worry about your potential for mistakes. Rest in God's potential for faithful accuracy.
written from Merrimack, New Hampshire
First Love Ministry
- a ministry of Anglemar Fellowship
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Page created June 18, 2016