1 Corinthians 12:10, “To another prophecy…”
The sixth spiritual gift is the “gift of prophecy.” Prophecy is “a supernatural message that brings edification, exhortation and comfort.” Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 14:2, “But the one who prophesies speaks to people for their strengthening, encouraging and comfort.” Howard Carter said prophecy was like, “the poetry of the Spirit, since the thoughts expressed, and the language which clothes them, are raised above the ordinary level of the person’s natural gift of speech.”
Prophecy is God speaking to His creation in love to share His heart. It is not man’s opinion or thoughts; it is giving a human voice to the divine heart of God.
Sadly, more than any other spiritual gift, prophecy can be abused or counterfeited. Concerning its abuse, the carnal thoughts of the speaker can enter in and distort the message. God may be speaking to the person to give a message to another disciple, but the one being used contaminates the flow. Or with “false prophets,” people can try to usurp their will upon people and use the phrase, “The Lord has said,” when He actually never spoke to them (Jeremiah 23:16-32). Abuse and counterfeits shouldn’t discourage us from believing in prophecy, but it should have us proceed with caution. Abuse and misuse shouldn’t lead to disuse, but rather proper use.
God’s people, in both the Old and New Testaments, had to contend with the problems involving prophecy, but God taught them how to discern His voice through the true prophets. Today in the New Testament, the Bible teaches us that prophecy is to bring a message from God that build’s us up (edifies), encourages us (exhorts) and comforts us (brings peace).
As a result, if the “prophetic word” brings discouragement or turns people’s focus towards man, then you can be sure it is not from God. Always test every prophecy with the Word of God. Any supposed prophecy that contradicts sound doctrine is to be rebuked and considered wicked. Good leadership should humbly judge and discern all the words given in the church to insure that everyone is actually hearing from God and not another source (1 Corinthians 14:29).
A biblical example of the gift of prophecy would be when Peter preached on the day of Pentecost and quoted Joel to the people describing that God was wanting to pour out His Spirit on all flesh, just like He had promised. When the people heard that God was speaking to them about their generation, they were encouraged to draw near to God, receive salvation and be filled with the Spirit.
God did exactly what He said He was going to do. Peter was fulfilling Joel’s prophecy as he was prophesying (Acts 2:16-21). A modern example of the gift of prophecy would be the time I held a young man in my arms and said, “Jesus wants me to tell you just like I am holding you now, He is holding you in His arms and pouring out His love upon you.” The next moment tears gushed down his face as he began to feel the comfort of God heal his many hurts.
Remember, the messages of wisdom and knowledge have more to do with God revealing hidden or secret things; prophecy is more about God giving encouragement and edification. Often times good intentioned disciples do not prophesy a word from the Lord, because they think it is “too simple.” They wrongly believe that prophecy has to be like Isaiah’s prophecies, but in the New Testament, prophecy is not about writing Scripture or telling the future. It is primarily used for God to convey His heart to His people. Paul taught that everyone should seek the gift of prophecy because it is beneficial for the church and it helps bring unbelievers to Christ. Let us all be obedient to God’s word in 1 Corinthians 14:1, “Follow the way of love and eagerly desire gifts of the Spirit, especially prophecy.”
- Recall a time you were given or gave a prophetic word.
- Next time you’re in church or in a Bible study ask God to use you in the gift of prophecy.
- Always prophesy according to the Spirit of God (nothing more or nothing less) and follow the order set by your church (1 Corinthians 14:32-33).