Prophecy is the inspired utterance of God through a prophet. It is an exhortation, literally a calling near, invitation. The early apostolic church recognized prophecy as a special supernatural or prophetic function.
II Hermas: "When therefore a man who has the Spirit of God shall come into the church of the righteous, who have the faith of God, and then pray unto the Lord; then the holy angel of God fills that man with the blessed Spirit, and he speaks in the congregation as he is moved of God. Thus therefore is the Spirit of God known, because whomever speaks by the Spirit of God, speaks as the Lord will."
St. Francis: "God has inspired me, and I have taught and will go on teaching this."

There is no chain of command in the giving of prophetic utterances. God must have the freedom to speak freely whever His spirit moves. We have all heard the adage that a chain is a strong as its weakest link. This is a true statement, if a link in the chain is weak, it affects the strength of all down that link. Jesus taught us that we are not to prefer any one of us over others, we are to be servants, not authoritarian commanders. We as the army of God are to be marching in unison, shoulder to shoulder, following Jesus into the kingdom, not behind each other following the person ahead of us. What the military chain of command suggests is a worldly system that was mentioned in Revelation as the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, the separation of clergy and laity, begun with the Roman church and carried on with the Protestants. The fact is that God can speak through any one if He so desires and His word will be just as true from a lowly servant as it is from some uppity up or prophets or apostles or pastors with titles in front of their name, even more so for as we decrease, Jesus increases.

The prophetic gift is given to those who hear the Lord and who God speaks through. For us to be able to discern prophecy correctly, God has put in place the system of self correction by having the prophets agree with each other. The spirit of prophecy is subject to the prophets. We are subject to each other, not as in a chain but as a rope. As a rope is tied together in strands and bound along the whole length of the strand, as one strand weakens, the rope does not break because there are other strands there to keep it strong and tied together. Being entwined, we draw upon our individual strengths from each other together as one.

The great purpose of these discussions is to surround ourselves with the prophetic in order to bear witness with each other and come to one accord. As to authority, we have the authority of Jesus and the more we grow together in humility, the more authority God will be giving us. God is truth and we are seekers of the truth. We do not concern ourselves with the truth that the world gives us but as obedient servants we decrease and allow the Lord to increase in each one of us. Prophecy is clearly cut and dry for us. Prophecy is desirable for the whole body and is simply allowing God to speak through you. Every one of us should desire to operate in the prophetic and bear witness to each other. This is the way it should be. The prophets are subject to the spirit of prophecy and is a charismatic gift that needs the fullness of the Holy Spirit to be used in power. We all except the gift as valid and do not despise prophetic utterances.

Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife has made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints. And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God. And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See thou do it not: I am your fellowservant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. Revelation 19:7-10.

Muslims believe in prophecy as the highest of God's gifts but many of their fundamentalists despise prophetic utterances out of disbelief in much the same way as conservative Christians do. There will be a day of reckoning for the Muslims that serve the living God and it will be judged by the testimony of Jesus. If this testimony is despised, they will also be despised by God.

The word of prophecy carries mainly the sense of exhortation, encouragement, preaching, mediating, forth-telling and building up of the body. New Testament prophecy then, is a supernatural gift of the spirit of God, by which is spirit speaking in a man, telling forth the wisdom and power of God for the edification and upbuilding of God's people and the conversion of those who are not yet a part of the people of God.

In everything pertaining to the Lord, we must give Him complete liberty. I know that this is not the "conservative" way but God needs to be given the freedom to speak to whomever He wants, whenever He wants. That means that there should be no action whatsoever to curb or gag the prophets in any manner. God can speak through anyone (even through the mouth of a donkey, if you remember) so we cannot isolate them or control them or put up legalistic rules for them. I know that Paul chided the Corinthians but that was because of excess and confusion, we need to be able to allow the mature as much freedom as we would expect for God.

We should be on the lookout for false prophets and even true prophets that get swollen with pride because of their calling and speak presumptuously in the flesh according to their own bias opinion. Allowing them to speak freely however is the price we pay for Christian freedom. Prophecy cannot be judged if it is despised or forbidden to come forth so pastors that would try to control it are the ones that are out of order, they are protecting their privileged positions and false teaching from a position of pride. Over zealous naysayers and those that will attack others out of their own pride and bias cannot do it in love, so are easily recognized.

Paul taught that everything should be in order. One listens, while another speaks. If it is from God, the spirit of order will suppress the spirit of confusion and that witness of the spirit. The problem with the Corinthians is that they would have a word of prophecy whether God gave it or not. I have heard them many times, prophets come forth with words just because they have the gift and wish to be heard. There are times, in prayer and in prophecy, when a speaker will start praying or prophesying about some local event but will be led by the Holy Spirit to go from that to some far greater theme, entirely to his own surprise. Spontaneous prophecy is effective and genuine.

A true prophet can silence false prophecy but that takes a level of faith and maturity that most do not have. We know that Paul would speak to the wise and to the foolish, the mature as well as the babes and he is the one that would tell us that it is in the spirit that we are to judge prophecy and not the letter. A mature prophet knows when the word is being given through another and will keep silent so rules governing them would take away that spontaneity. Each circumstance by the spirit should govern what rules should be obeyed, this is christian freedom, not the legalistic ways that man would try to come up with to stifle what God would have us to receive. And it must be done in love, public outbursts in the middle of a sermon is not love, it is a desperate grab for attention, vicious attacks on a persons character or false doctrine is not love, neither is back-biting, no matter how spiritual they think they are by doing it.

Paul would have us all speak in tongues but went on to tell us that he would rather that we prophesy. It is the main gift that subjects itself to the spirit of prophecy as a guard against falseness in the church. The prophets must bear witness with each other to confirm the spiritual word. This is why, no matter what your spiritual gift is, you should all be prophesying. The spirit of prophecy is not limited to any other spiritual gifts or ministry offices. Paul would have us all prophesy, pastors, teachers, evangelists, anyone. The reason for that is that if we are truly living for God and Jesus is living through us, we will speak for Him. The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy, we are judged by what comes out of our mouth, none of us should be speaking from the flesh. Any pastor that does not speak as an oracle of God cannot be trusted as a repository of truth and understanding, plain and simple. Prophecy is encouragement, exhortation, spirit filled preaching. These are the days of restoration and also the time to be getting out of Babylon. Jesus told those among the seven churches of Asia that they were to strengthen what remains but not at the price of being part of their sins in these last days. The stars that are to fall from heaven are church bodies, it is up to us to restore them into their proper order.

We are not to despise prophecy and I am not suggesting exalting it but we should all recognize its importance in the body of Christ and seek to use it to its full potential. Those that want to be a part of the prophetic movement of today that is bringing us together for the end-time harvest should listen closely to the spirit of prophecy that we are bringing forth.

When I first read the New Testament many years ago, I came to the part where Paul told us that we should all desire to prophesy. New in the faith, I had no idea what that meant but it was good enough for me to ask to be obedient to the scriptures. The confirmation that I received came soon afterward when I was witnessing in the spirit to a brother. As I was relating my faith the best I knew how, the Spirit suddenly touched my lips and they started moving of their own accord. I was telling this man what he needed to hear and with words that I had not previously learned myself. As I told him these things, we were both learning. The amazing part is that as this was happening, I did not question it, I was given understanding immediately as to what was happening and from then on, I knew what the gift of prophecy was. I learned more about the gift since, like dreams, visions, word of knowledge, desiring to edify, encourage and lift up the body but for that moment, God had given me all that I needed to know how He works through me in words. I had another instance of confirmation soon after when I was writing something about the Lord with my typewriter. The Spirit took control of my fingers and I started typing as if it was automatic remote control. I remember that my thoughts were only on what was happening with my fingers and not even on what I was writing - but the writing continued by direct inspiration.

Comparison of certain traits of prophecy with contemporary events has convinced us that neither can there be true prophetic denunciation nor true prophetic promise unless prophecy be applied to politics, unless it discerns among political options those which are more in accord with its interpretation of reality. Themes developed by prophecy are justice, freedom, the future of man, the liberal spirit of what Babylon opposes.

In spite of Paul's warning, "despise not prophesying", the ability to prophesy fell into disuse and virtually vanished from the church before the end of the first century. There have been many prophets throughout history and those that bear witness can easily discover them. It was not until the Great Awakening that prophecy was given sufficient freedom for prophets to be readily known to fulfill the proverb, "He that receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet's reward."

"For prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost." David: "The spirit of the Lord spoke by me, and His word was in my tongue".

Be obedient to the spirit of prophecy, desire the gift and ask. Are you a Christian that has been baptized in the Holy Spirit? Do you seek the testimony of Jesus? Ask yourself and the Lord whether you are speaking in the flesh or in the spirit. To receive the gift, all you need to do is ask in faith. So what are you waiting for?
[07, 49, 65, 116, 187, 291, II Peter, 351, 378, BD, Matthew 10, I Thessalonians, the role of prophets as part of the five-fold ministry was an item of the latter rain discussion list]

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