A prophet is one who speaks with divine inspiration. There are also false prophets. Didache: "If he asks for money, he is a false prophet." Simply, a prophet is one that God speaks through but He also spoke through Balaam's donkey and if that is the case, He can speak through anyone or anything or any circumstance. Not everybody making ecstatic utterances is a prophet, but only if he behaves like the Lord and speaks the truth in love. It is by their conduct that the false prophet and the true prophet can be distinguished. "Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he reveals his secret unto his servants, the prophets."

I have to admit that I am not one of those thus saith the Lord kind of prophets. Not that I couldn't do it, I have always felt that if the Lord was speaking through me, then I could just say the words and if the spirit bears witness, I don't need any claim to divinity. A favorite concept is that the sheep knows the voice of the shepherd. If we are speaking for Jesus, it should be an authentic voice and not one merely sounding like Him. If it is led by the right spirit, the voice is always the same.

A prophet is an oracle of God, God's mouthpiece if you will and available to every believer. Peter writes these words:

If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
If any man speaks, of course includes women and this means the act of speaking as the oracle of God is for all of us, not just those who speak "thus saith the Lord" or the ecstatic visionaries and seers but for the whole body of Christ.

It's time for all of us to mature. We must embrace some of this prophetic power that has been given to us and identify exactly what happens in the process. The discussion here will be focused on prophecy and what we can do to stir up the gift in ourselves and in bringing others to come into line with the spirit of prophecy. More than any other gift, this is where we must submit to each other in the spirit. If God is truly speaking through us, then it will be according to what He is speaking through others and the most perfect mechanism in the body to come to unity. Those that have been given the gift of prophecy come in all levels of maturity. Those that exhibit the spirit of prophecy and then use it in a prideful manner are the first to come out with false prophecy by speaking in the flesh. We do not need to convince ourselves of the validity of the gift, we are already full-gospel people. What we need to do is stir up the gift and bring ourselves to the maturity that comes with total submission to the Lord and each other through the gift.

The English word prophet derives from the Greek word meaning "public expounder." In order for men to discern between false and true prophets, the Spirit gave the gift of "discerning the spirits" to other believers. New Testament Christians were not to despise prophesying but they were told to test all things. False prophets are ever with us, and false prophets generally begin by deceiving themselves.

The ancient world was full of prophetic preachers. Dressed in a rough cloak, one would take his stand at some street corner or at the gates of the city and amuse and instruct. His easy, animated talk to the chance crowd that gathered about him would mingle question and answer, apostrophe, dialogue, examples and anecdote, urging his little congregation to fortitude and self-control. Christian preachers had to compete with these men for the attention of the crowds to bring them Jesus, and they naturally adopted some of their methods. They would preach in the open air, lift up their voices in the market places, preach on the promenade at Ephesus, deliver their sermons right on the street. The early church also had itinerent prophets, those that would travel from town to town. Jesus had said "A prophet is not without honour, save in his own country, and in his own house." A traveling prophet had no problem being accepted for this reason. They would go without purse and depend on the Lord completely for their provision.

I believe that it is out of order for any other but the prophets to judge prophecy but clarification is needed. Many time prophets today take too much authority upon themselves as if they are to be the watchman of everything that goes on. They can be meddlesome at times and interfere without thought of proper edification but spout off just to get attention and show off their gift. If they are walking in the spirit, and they decrease so Jesus can increase, things are fine. Discernment is needed here however, for satan has a spirit also and will try to keep others from hearing the Lord correctly. Discernment of spirits is a prophetic gift, so is the interpretation of tongues. Preaching in the spirit is a prophetic gift, charismatic teaching is also. So just having the office of a prophet does not necessarily make the prophet some kind of judge over what others say unless it is is the spirit of prophecy and in its proper order.

Everything has their proper place but Paul is not so clear on who the "first" is that should hold his peace in I Cor. 14, so I would think that the "other" mentioned could be anyone in the congregation that is hearing the Lord at any particular time and holding your peace should be according to the spirit and not any legalistic rules. Without the spirit of prophecy, the prophets as a particular office have no function and it is all the same spirit no matter what the gift. Remember that Paul told us that if we "all" prophesy, others will be convinced of the message. God distributes the gifts as He wills but then we are told to desire to prophesy, so we do have a say in the matter and we are told that God gives gifts to those who ask. We can have multiple gifts, there are apostolic prophets and prophetic teachers and those who speak in tongues and interpret. We cannot lock anyone into any particular gift and say that this is their gift and one cannot operate in others, it is not our job to do that, it is the Lord's good pleasure.

We cannot elevate prophecy but the Lord has and has reminded us that the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. Once Jesus is exalted in this way, by giving prophetic testimony, others will be drawn to Him. There should be guidelines to follow but they must be according to present truth as to any particular situation at any particular moment as the spirit moves. The spirit must be exalted, not to the letter of given rules.

If God speaks through a prophet it is God speaking, the prophet is only the mouthpiece that God uses to deliver the message. God is not a respector of persons and there are several instances of women being prophets in the book of Acts. Many have a problem in submitting to women as a leader over the church or as an authority over men. Our contention should be that there should be only one leader in the church and that is Jesus but He shares His leadership with His body. It is clear ignorance to despise prophetic utterances just because God has delivered his message from a woman. The true prophet whether man, woman or child, if obedient, is passive in delivering God's message. He/she is not being the authority or leader over the one receiving the Lord's message, God is. In that there are many that do not have the wisdom to understand this is disappointing. Many women are not given a fair hearing on this matter as being a true prophet and are prejudged immediately, not because she is a prophet but because she is a woman. Anyone who is willing to listen to God's voice and repeat the words of the Lord according to his/her spiritual gifts are to be acknowledged in the church.

There is clear direction from the Lord in a true prophet but it can lead to pride. We must all be careful of what we do in the flesh. Pride is the real killer and through pride, prophecy has been misunderstood and taken to the kind of extremes that have diluted its effectiveness. When prophets start speaking in the flesh out of the pride of what they believe instead of waiting on the Lord for unction, confusion reigns and must be dealt with, this is the judgment involved. Many times, true prophecy suffers if we are to give it freedom of expression yet God's word will continue to be brought forth just because God is God and will protect His ways.

Many young prophets who have not learned the self-control necessary to be effective will think that the Lord is giving revelation and speaking through them all the time, so when they make mistakes, they fall into delusion and except the falseness as from the Lord. This leads to neurosis, religiosity, learning disabilities, self-importance, grandiosity of the message, recklessness, bad habits, false assumptions, speaking in the flesh, false thinking and in the worst cases, schizophrenia. Just because we have heard from the mature prophets in this group as well as the immature, it does not lessen God's love for all of us and the best groups seek to lift each other up and bear each other's burdens. We are all in the process of maturing.

Jung - Every respectable prophet strives manfully against the unconscious pretensions of his role. Some were diviners who could read the secrets of the heart and the past, and foretell the future, according to remuneration; some were fanatics who worked themselves into a frenzy.

There is one pastor that I will not mention by name that is in the midst of a waning revival. The congregation still wants to hold onto the revival fire but the leadership has resisted the prophetic spirit among them to bring them into the unity of the five-fold. We should all know that the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy but this particular denomination that they belong to was founded upon the gift of tongues being the initial evidence of the Baptism of the Holy Ghost. The Lord has overlooked past ignorance and used them in revival but it is time for restitution now and for us to come together in unity before the harvest. For them to give up this false doctrine exposed through the spirit of prophecy would force them to admit that they have been wrong all these years and introduced a divisive schism. Any church today has a choice, either bear witness to the spirit of prophecy and give up their divisiveness and traditions of men or hold onto their pride and refuse to admit that they were wrong. For unity to come about, the divisiveness and schismatic doctrines must give way to spiritual truth. For this church to choose to hold onto false doctrine, they must do something to curb the prophets that are hearing the Lord and being obedient by speaking out. This particular pastor abused his authority over his flock by having the final word over the spirit of prophecy and decided to curb the prophets. God is not allowed to speak through others whenever the Lord wills but only under strict control by the "leadership" and not until they go through a screening and training process. If this pastor truly loves the Lord and humbles himself before Him, he will start hearing the Lord as he sees things going wrong and truly decide to lay down his crown along with the control, manipulation and indoctrination involved in muzzling the prophets that speak the word of the Lord. If not, the last great revival that we are being prepared for will pass him and his entire church by. God is getting ready to pull down the strongholds of false authority and fleshly control in the church. The point that I am trying to make is that pastors such as this should be given space to repent and for no one to pass judgment ahead of God's timing. There is still more for us to do before they will be weeping between the porch and the altar.

We are certainly to be aware of false prophets among us as well as false teachers or apostles or whatever. But we must also realize that a prideful pastor, no matter how committed he is to his flock, by not submitting to others in the Lord through the true spirit of prophecy will deny growth to the flock. Among other things, it is in this abuse of authority that would make him false. The pastor must test the spirits, desire to bear witness by humbling himself, seek edification and order and allow the spirit of prophecy to be subject to the prophets, not to himself. The pastor is not to restrict prophecy, put controls or any constraints or legalistic rules on prophets in any way outside of what is stipulated in the Word or confusion and division follows.

The church does not qualify a prophet, or any other office, God does. Training for those that are truly called is good; we should never despise instruction and should take great strides that our giftings in the body are used wisely. Even so, we must still allow God total freedom to act spontaneously through us and to allow the gifts that He has given us to operate as He wills, not as the pastor of the church wills. It is our responsibility as obedient servants to show ourselves approved before God and man, not to lord it over the flock.
[17, Peter 4:ll, 117, 197, 279, 310, Amos, 374, the role of prophets as part of the five-fold ministry was an item of the latter rain discussion list]

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