Developing and Testing Prophetic Ministry Today

A:  Growing in Prophetic Ministry

1.  Obey the biblical command to be zealous to prophesy.  (1 Cor 14:1, 12, 39)

2.  Develop a life of prayer (and fasting).  (Acts 13: 2; 1 Cor 14:15; Luke 2:37; 3:21; 5:16; 6:12; 9:18,29; 11:1)

3.  Be willing to count the cost of rejection.  (Matt 5:12; 23:29 -37; Luke 11:49; Acts 7:52; Rom 11:3; Rev 2:13; 13:9 -10; 16:6; 18:24)

4.  Deliberately listen to God and be sensitive to the Holy Spirit.

5. Intentionally seek to be filled with the Spirit.  (Luke 1:15,41,67; Acts 2:4; 10:44-45; 19:6; Eph 5:18)

6.  Be aware that God will give a word, phrase, sensation, burden, image, vision etc. which will give to the recipient a sense that it needs to be expressed.  God however will never force the person to speak; the spirit of the prophet is subject to the prophet.  (1Cor 14:32; Ps 85:8; Phil 4:7- 9).

7.  Nevertheless, faith and not feeling is the key to prophetic release.  (Romans 10:17; 12: 6)

8.  If your intention is pure then “failure” is not a problem.  Humility will lead to growth. (1 Peter 5:5)

B: Speaking Out a Prophecy

1.  Speak clearly, audibly and slowly using language which can be understood.

2.  Be sensitive as to timing.

3.  Cooperate with leadership.

4.  Be aware that revelation may be for private intercession, or, it could be that God wants to build on what he is showing you over a period of time.

5.  With experience a “prophetic flow” develops as the Spirit carries the speaker along a train of thought.

C:  The Limits of Contemporary Prophecy

1. We are told to test all spoken prophecy. (1 Cor 14:29; Acts 21:4-5,10-11; 1 Thess 5:19-22)

2. It is never equated with God’s words or called the “Word of God”.  Prophets today do not receive new revelation about the God and his plan for the salvation – history of the world.  Contemporary prophecy is therefore primarily inspirational or applicational.

3. The dynamic relational nature of N.T. prophecy means that it is always mixed in quality (1 Cor 13:9 -12).

D:  Testing Prophecy

1.  Confessional test: any true prophecy will exult the person and work of Christ, in particular his Incarnation, death resurrection and Lordship.  (1 Cor 12:3; 1 John 4:1- 3)

2.  Theological test: prophecies must conform yo both the content and balance of the Bible.  This is especially important with respect to grace and judgement.  (Gal 1:8; 1 Cor 14:37- 38; 1 John 4:2- 3,6; Acts 17:11)

3.  Moral test: prophetic utterances should be weighed up against the character and motives of the speaker.  (Matt 7:15-22;12:33- 35; 1 Tim 6:3 -10; 2 Peter 2; Jude 3- 16)

4.  Order Test: those sent from God should have a desire to keep order in the church and to work with God – appointed leaders.  (1 Cor 14:33,36- 38; Heb 13:17; 1 Peter 5:5)

5.  Spiritual discernment: the above tests can all be passed but the prophecy be, at least in part, in error, such as in timing.  Since the gift of “discerning spirits” (1 Cor 12:10) is placed next to prophecy in 1 Cor 12:8 -11, and Paul teaches that prophets prophesy from their “spirits” (1 Cor 14:32), it is best to see this gift as a supernatural ability to sense what  is the role of the Holy Spirit and the human spirit in a suggested prophecy.

6.  Who can test: since all believers possess the anointing of the Spirit they are all in principle able to test prophecy.  (1 John 2:20,27; 1 Cor 14:29; 1 Thess 5:21; 1 John 4:1- 6)

E:  The Context of New Testament Prophecy

1. The examples we have in the N.T. are congregational.  (Acts 11:27-30; 13: 1 -2; 21:4,7- 12; 1 Cor 14:26).

2. This is because the emphasis is on prophecy building up “the church”.  (1 Cor 12:7,12,27; 14:3,12,19,24 – 25,26)

F:  Personal Prophecy

1.  This is a word directed to an individual.  (Acts 13:1- 3; 20: 10 -11)

2.  It is to be tested by the same principles of all prophecy.

3.  The fulfilment of a personal prophecy is dependent upon the submission and of the receiver.

4.  Directive and controlling prophecy is to be rejected.  Prophesying which is to the advantage of the speaker is false prophecy.  (“God is saying you are to marry me.”)

5.  Since all who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God (Rom 8:14 cf. v. 16 ) we should expect personal  prophecy to be a confirmation to our spirits of what God has already told us.

6.  Over – reliance on personal prophecy reduces our authority as children of God (keeps us immature and dependent) and opens us up to deception and manipulation.

G: A Prophecy Discernment Team

1. When prophecies are for an individual they should be confidentially shared with that person.  (This should not involve collaboration with others; so as to avoid rumour, gossip, elaboration etc.)

2. When prophecies concern a ministry area they should be initially submitted to the coordinator of that area e.g. to the children’s pastor.

3. When prophecies concern the whole church they need to be discerned by a group those responsibilities embrace the direction of the entire local church community. This “Prophecy Discernment Group” will be composed of individuals representing the APEPT / “five –fold” ministry gifts of Ephesians 4:11 and inclusive of oversight of the various age  – groups in the church.  At least one of these people will be an elder representing the local congregation.

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