Gifts of the Spirit

Gifts of the Spirit

discerning of spirits

Gift of Prophecy

audio version 

A. Misunderstanding about prophecy. 

Not the gift or ability to Preach- This is what is generally believed. While I believe a preacher can be anointed of God and gifted to preach. That is not the gift of prophecy. They may say a few things in their message that is prophesy and even the whole message could be a prophesy but generally speaking preaching is not prophesying. If it was, we could surely prove that women should be allowed to preach then. Both Joel and Peter quoting Joel predict that “Your Sons and daughters shall prophecy.”

While an anointed preacher is a gift from God and God gives Him that gift or ability to preach, not all preaching is the gift of prophecy. Preaching though can contain prophesy, the word of knowledge, or the word of wisdom even sometimes without knowing it. We've all heard messages or good bible teachers that surely were anointed to preach or teach but preaching in itself is not considered the gift of prophecy. 

It is not the ability to memorize and quote scripture – While quoting scripture many times is straight from the Holy Spirit, this is not the gift of prophecy. Finis Jennings Dake is someone who was gifted to memorize and quote scripture. He was a walking bible in other words. I do believe that was from the Holy Spirit but it was not the gift of prophecy. 

Not Fortune Telling – Foretelling the future is not the gift of prophecy although some prophecy may contain warnings of the future or blessings of the future. It is not limited to future events though. This is where the gift of discernment has to kick in. Gifts of the spirit should really have us being thankful to the Lord, glorifying the Lord, praising the Lord or having an awesome fear of the Lord. Never should it bring glory to a man or women, “The great madam so and so.” Never should it be done to raise funds even for a ministry. 

It is not saying what pops in our head when we supposedly given a prophecy over a person. Many times people do this and get it wrong. In doing so they could ruin many lives. I’ve seen someone line people up and prophesy over each one of them. When he got to me, he got it wrong and another lady said that he had her's wrong. I believe we will know when we speak for the Lord, the spirit will bear witness and it will bear spiritual fruit of some kind. 

It is not making predictions by guesswork or imagination, supposing, gut feeling and intuition. We’ve heard of a woman’s intuition. That may be true and a good thing but that is not the gift of prophecy. Some things we can figure out by circumstances, past behavior, gut feelings, and knowing a person’s personality. This doesn’t mean that we are giving a prophecy.

B. What the Gift of Prophecy is:

Prophecy is to speak for God, from the mind of God. It is an inspired word usually short in duration but can be longer.

It is a vocal utterance in one’s own language that is understood by all present. It is similar to the interpretation of tongues but no tongues precede it.

Tongues and an interpretation are equal to a word of prophecy. 

I’ve given prophecies before that some thought I was just praying out loud and then I prayed hard out loud once and someone thought it was a prophecy so this gift is not as easily recognized as a tongue and interpretation message. People are more familiar with that kind of prophesy. I believe that tongues and interpretation is also prophecy. 

C. The purpose for the gift of prophecy is in:

  • 1 Corinthians 14:3 “But He that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation and comfort.”

D. When does it occur?

Many times when we are in a worship service and there is a quiet pause. A message is given that comes forth from an individual. Many times people do not recognize this as a message if there are no tongues preceding it. They might think someone is just speaking a word of comfort or testifying. This is usually the  gift of prophecy speaking to the congregation assembled in a worship service. So the gift of prophecy is spontaneous from the Lord similar to the interpretation of tongues.

Sometimes one preaching the message may have a word of prophecy within the message even though most preaching is not usually considered prophesying. Anointed preachers and teachers are gifted but that may not necessarily be a word of prophecy but it can be. 

When witnessing or speaking to someone about the Lord or about God’s word and you are inspired to speak a word that you didn’t plan. This word is anointed and it brings forth fruit. It is not just slipping up and saying the wrong thing. It is not just people who are quick at comebacks when speaking. This is the gift of prophesy at work.

Prophecy is not planned. Like all the supernatural gifts, it is unexpected and we do not plan to go to church and prophesy.

E. Who does God use? 

Men, women and children. There is no limit. It is not limited to the clergy. We know that by reading the words of Moses which I have as number 2 in the examples from God's word below. God’s gifts are for all believers, not just the clergy. When a separation between clergy and laity began after the apostles died off, it actually kept people from receiving the Holy Spirit and being used of God. The clergy started doing all the worshipping for the people. The people were robbed of a close relationship with God.

People who have been praying and listening to the Lord are the ones that are spiritually available to give a word of prophecy. That doesn’t make them holier or better because anyone of the body of believers can pray, seek God and be used by the Holy Spirit. 

One who prophesies is not necessarily a prophet like the Old Testament prophets. This can occur in any Holy Spirit filled individual and is not limited to the same one all the time. 

F. Examples from God’s word:

King Saul in 1 Samuel 10 when Samuel anointed Saul to be king. There were others prophesying also. This happened before Saul got into error and fell out of God's favor. So just because God anoints and someone even prophsies does not mean that the person is perfect and doesn't fail later. I want to emphasize though that we don't have to fall away from the Lord and fail.  The Holy Spirit is always there to draw us back to the Lord.

We do see however that some may attempt to prophesy and it not be for real. This reminds me of the words of Jesus when people would come up to him and say, “Lord have we not prophesied in thy name?” Jesus said unto them, depart from me, I never knew you. I don't know if King Saul once know the Lord or not but he fell away from the Lord in later life, but doing the will of God until the time we go to be with Jesus is what counts, not whether we prophesied once a few years ago. Jesus' words though seem to indicate that He never knew them and were not those that followed Him from the beginning. Who knows Saul may have had a weakness of jealousy to self exaltation that made him disobey God later in life.

During the days of Moses, Numbers 11 when Joshua got jealous for Moses’ sake. Moses said, “Enviest thou for my sake? Would to God that all the Lords’ people were prophets and that the Lord would put his spirit upon them?". This should be our attitude. We should desire that all of us speak in tongues and prophesy. We should rejoice to see people used by the Holy Spirit.

The book of Joel speaks of this, “Joel 2:28 And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit."

This speaks mostly of the time the Jews will be restored to their land and find out who the Messiah is but the first outpouring of this was recorded in the book of Acts. The latter day outpouring began in the late 1800s and early 1900s in different parts of the world in about the same time period. The final outpouring will be during the tribulation period. We do not have to wait for a certain time period, it’s God’s will that we be filled with the spirit and allow His spirit to use us any time.

Philip had four daughters who prophesied in Acts 21. Yes, it was for women too. Because of this fact, Paul had to mean something else when he spoke of a woman keeping silent. It is impossible to prophesy without speaking in an audible voice.

Paul laid hands on some in Acts 19. Then they spoke in tongues and prophesied. Not all receive the Holy Spirit with the laying on of hands but it does happen this way occasionally. We cannot limit God to one way or another. The minute we try to make rules about how a person receives the Holy Spirit, God will baptize someone in a different way. It does not have to be in church or the same way everyone else receives the Holy Spirit. I was in the back seat of my Dad's car when I received the baptism in the Holy Spirit.

  • Luke 1:41 Elizabeth was full of the spirit when she spoke to Mary the mother of Jesus. I believe Elizabeth’s words to Mary was prophecy.

Paul urges us to seek this gift above all others. 1 Corinthians 14:1. I believe this is because that is the main purpose of every single born again believer. He or she is to speak God’s word to those that have not heard or need to be disciple and taught the word. A word from God is greater even than a healing from God although prophecy might increase our faith to believe in the physical healing. Again, I for one will not limit God to my understanding. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God. Verse by verse study of scripture also just as important as any other part of worship. 

I can’t understand anyone that thinks studying God’s word is a little less important or not as important as preaching, singing or worshipping. To me the word, “We are having church tonight but it is only bible study,” is wrong. How can we have “only bible study?” 

We are not to despise prophecy. 

  • 1Thessalonians 5:19 Quench not the Spirit. 

  • 1Thessalonians 5:20 Despise not prophesyings. 

  • 1Thessalonians 5:21 Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. 

Let us not be so afraid of fanaticism or want to be the one in charge and run everything that worship is suppressed or confined to the song service. If someone praises God in another tongue please don't get bent out of shape and start quoting Paul. As long as no one is preaching, prophesying or teaching and it is time for prayer, praise or worship, there is nothing wrong with speaking in tongues, remember it is a gift from God too and we are not to quench the spirit. We are not to forbid the speaking in tongues, interpretation or prophecy. If it is proper to pray out loud in a known tongue, it is also proper to pray in tongues or what we call, "In the Spirit."

We are to prove all things and judge whether or not a prophetic utterance is truth. Remember to judge the words, not the person speaking them. 

For example, someone may come to us and tell us a dream that had. They feel the dream is from God. When we hear the dream, we doubt it is from God. That doesn’t make the person a bad person and “not of God.” That just means that they were mistaken. The gifts are perfect but the vessels are not. We can get nervous, scared, excited, emotional, shake, tremble, or feel nothing. We know them by their fruits, not by their tongues, interpretation of prophecy. In saying that though, we should be seeking these things not shying away from them but do all with love. That 13th chapter of Corinthians didn’t get between chapter 12 and 14 by accident.

We are to covet to prophesy. 1Corinthians 14:39 Wherefore, brethren, covet to prophesy, and forbid not to speak with tongues.

The same Paul who mentions the rules and regulations governing speaking in tongues and prophecy also says not to forbid the same. Now if we are not to forbid these things, why has some forbidden these things? Why have even Pentecostal churches gotten away from being Pentecostal? I have been in many Pentecostal churches where one could not tell it was Pentecostal.

We don’t have to throw the baby out with the bathwater. We need to encourage the gifts of the spirit among all of us but have discernment along with them. That is why we have a pastor. Not to Lord over us or forbid any of us to worship, speak or prophesy but to preside over the meetings, make sure everything is done to glorify God and bring forth His word, and to keep order. I don’t want any of my words to be misunderstood. A good church needs a pastor. We don’t want to even go there…..having a church without someone called of God to be in charge. Someone has to make sure the word of God is taught either by him or someone else reliable. If we don’t do that, people tend to gossip, talk foolishness and waste time. I can do that stuff at home, I don’t need to go to church for foolishness. 

Prophesy is to be given one at a time, not everyone speaking at once. Here is where perfect love comes in. If we were made perfect in love, we would not want to say or do anything to hinder the word going forth, the body of Christ being edified, and the will of the Spirit done. We don’t want to speak just to be heard above everyone else. We don’t want to speak just to show off. We want to speak at the will of the spirit and at a time when it will edify the church. When all is done in love, these things work out and harmonize perfectly. That should be our goal. I’ll close with this thought. Perfect love also casts out all fear. We will not be afraid of the gifts of the spirit if we are made perfect in love. 


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