PROPHETS AND THE GIFT OF PROPHECY
1. After “Apostles!” what is the next ministry gift mentioned by Paul? Ephesians 4:11.
2. What Old Testament prophecy foretold of the outpouring of the Spirit which produced the gift of prophecy in the New Testament days? Joel 2:28
3. When was this prophecy fulfilled? Acts 2:16-18.
It is noteworthy that the outpouring of the Spirit was upon “all flesh”. In the Old Testament times only chosen men of special calling received this special anointing. But in New Testament times we find that the gifts are for “all flesh” – your “sons and your daughters”. Let us also bear in mind that the initial outpouring of the Spirit on the Day of Pentecost was not the final outpouring. There were subsequent outpourings as we shall see in our study.
In 1 Corinthians chapters 11 through 14 the word “Prophesyings” occurs some 22 times. This indicates the important place it occupied in the worship of the EarlyChurch.
4. What is the purpose of prophecy?
A. God speaks to the Church supernaturally – 1 Corinthians 14:3.
B. Prophecy edifies the Church – 1 Corinthians 14:4.
C. Prophecy is for the exhortation of the Church – 1 Corinthians 14:3. We must note that prophecy is ministering to the Church. It is never to be used as a means of human vengeance or denunciation of each other. It is meant to “build up” the Church.
D. Prophecy is for the “comfort of the Church – 1 Corinthians 14:3.
E. Prophecy brings conviction to the sinner – 1 Corinthians 14:14:24, 25.
Note: In many churches pastors have forbidden prophecy because they fear it will cause embarrassment and divisions in the Church, but the Word of Giod declares that they that are “unlearned and unskilful” in the manifestations of the Spirit will recognize that it is the Spirit of God that causes the supernatural revelations and they will acknowledge that God is in His people and they will repent.
F. Prophecy will bring teaching to the Church – 1 Corinthians 14:31.
G. Prophecy enables the Christian to war a good warfare – 1 Timothy 1:18.
H. Prophecy will bring life to the “dry bones” [formal worship] Ezekiel 37: 3-10.
Note: In these days of Laodicean complacency [lukewarmness] the ministry of prophecy is needed to quicken to spiritual activity the latent powers and gifts that God has for the believers. Prophecy will encourage, strengthen, and empower the believer. Every child of God needs this in his or her life today.
5. How many may prophesy? 1 Corinthians 14:1, 24, 31.
6. How does this agree with 1 Corinthians 12:29?
Note: It is obvious that not all of God’s people are prophets. The office of a “prophet” is not necessarily the same as the “gift of prophecy”. We have noticed that prophesying serves certain purposes in the Church. We have also noticed that “all may prophesy”. When Paul asked the question “Do all prophesy”? he no doubt referred to the office of a prophet who through divine revelation foretold future events. See Acts 11:28; Acts 21:10, 11. In Acts 21:8, 9 we find that Philip the evangelist, who was also of the seven deacons, had “four daughters, virgins, which did prophesy”. This is the gift of prophecy which Joel declared would be for “all flesh”. But the office of a prophet, one who foretells future events, is for certain God-appointed men.
There are two words in the Old Testaent that are used interchangeably for this office – a “prophet” and a “seer”. In the Hebrew these words are entirely different. “Seer” is one who sees, or has visions. It appears that the old Testament prophets had this ability and there was no distinction between the Seer and the Prophet.
However, when we come into the New Testament ministry the “gift” to prophesy is for every believer and does not necessarily refer to the office of a Prophet – one who is a Seer, a special gift bestowed upon certain men of God’s choosing. [1 Samuel 9:9, 2 Samuel 24;11].
HINDRANCES TO PROPHECY
7. What are some of the hindrances to prophecy?
A. Failure to “stir up the gift” – 2 Timothy 1:6.
Note: In view of the scriptures quoted above that “all may prophesy” it is evident that all who receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit with the Bible evidence of speaking in other tongues may prophesy. The gift to prophesy is imparted as part and parcel of the gift of the Spirit and is resident within; but it needs to be “stirred up” or put into operation in the same way that “speaking in tongues’ is for all believers and needs to be operative. Paul said “I would that ye all spake in tongues” [1 Corinthians 14:5] and “Ye all may prophesy” [1 Corinthians 14:31].
B. Despising Prophecy – 1 Thessalonians 5:20.
Note: We are not to minimize the ministry of prophecy. Today many Christians are too proud and self-righteous and they do not desire the manifestation of prophecy. They do not want the revelation of their hypocrisy.
C. Neglect of Prophecy – 1 Timothy 4:4.
Note: Neglect, indifference and lukewarmness are the curses of the nominal churches today. Many places of worship are in the icy grip of dead, lethargic formalism. They are no longer the power house where saints used to become charged with a holy zeal for the proclamation of the gospel.
D. Quench the Spirit – 1 Thessalonians 5:19.
Note: Today, in many places the Spirit is quenched by man-made programs, no place is given for spiritual manifestations.
E. Grieve the Spirit – Ephesians 4:30.
Note: The Spirit of God is grieved [mourn, sorrow] by the stubbornness, arrogance and self-will of man. God seeks a humble and contrite vessel through whom He can speak.
- Failure to wait upon your ministry – Romans 12:6,7.
Note: If one does not wait upon God in humble preparation his ministry will be ineffective and grievous; it will become “sounding brass and tinkling cymbal”. We have far too much preaching about the errors and controls and pitfalls of spiritual gifts and not enough positive preaching to encourage the believers to enter into their ministry. Too many preachers spend time preaching about limiting prophecy to two or three and never get to the first one. It is just as much out of order not to have any as it is to have too many; maybe more so. When God set these gifts in the Church He had a purpose and that purpose cannot be disregarded or we will suffer spiritual loss. It is true we can substitute our man-made programs, but that will not fill the place of the spiritual gifts. Paul said, “Desire spiritual gifts” and “he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to EDIFICATION and EXHORTATION and COMFORT” – 1 Corinthians 14:1, 3. Let us pray that God will give the Church a complete RESTORATION of SPIRITUAL MINISTRIES.