Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai
Last week we treated an interesting topic – “Spectacular Guidance”. We learnt that God does guide through spectacular means! These may involve visions, dreams, through angels, etc. It is, however, important to note that such occurrences do not have to be every time. The primary means of God’s guidance for believers are through His word – the bible and the Holy Spirit bearing witness with our spirit. In this week’s study, we will consider one of the spectacular means of guidance - Guidance through Prophecy.
Texts: 1 Corinthians 14.1 “Follow after charity, and desire spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy.”
1 Corinthians 12:29 “Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles?
From our two texts we will notice that we have two different things operating: (1) the gift of prophecy; (2) the ministry of the prophet. These are different; and it will be a mistake to confuse the two. The fact that one prophesies does not make him a prophet. The Word of God plainly teaches that everyone should desire to prophesy (1 Cor. 14:1). The simple gift of prophecy is for speaking unto men for edification, and exhortation, and comfort. In this simple gift of prophecy there is no foretelling—no prediction whatsoever.
The Office of the Prophet
For one to be a prophet, he stands in that office and uses that ministry. Other spiritual gifts besides prophecy must operate in his ministry. In the ministry of the prophet there is foretelling and prediction. A prophet has the revelation gifts (the word of wisdom, the word of knowledge, and/or the discerning of spirits) in operation along with prophecy.
• God speaks through prophets: “I have also spoken by the prophets, and I have multiplied visions, and used similitudes, by the ministry of the prophets.” (Hosea 12:10);
• He reveals His plans to prophets: “Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.” (Amos 3:7),
• He uses prophets to lead His people and to protect them: “And by a prophet the LORD brought Israel out of Egypt, and by a prophet was he preserved. (Hosea 12:13).
As wonderful as these are, we should not build our lives on prophecies or depend on prophecies for guidance. Instead, we should build our lives on the Word! Put the Word of God first and let those other things be secondary.
Firstly, if there are true prophets, we can expect false prophets in the last days. Matthew 24:24 says: “For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.”
Secondly, we should realize that spiritual things can be misused just as natural things can be misused. Because 1 Corinthians 14:32 says: “And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets.”
For instance, there have been people who were once wealthy who are now bankrupt because they listened to someone prophesy how to invest their money. There have also been ministers who have lost their ministries because of wrong prophecies.
1 Kings Chapter 13 tells us of a man of God who was deceived by a prophet. In verse 18: “He said unto him, I am a prophet also as thou art; and an angel spake unto me by the word of the LORD, saying, Bring him back with thee into thine house, that he may eat bread and drink water. But he lied unto him.”
The Gift of Prophecy
The gift of prophecy is a supernatural gift given to the body of Christ for edification, exhortation, and comfort. As long as the gift of prophecy stays in the realm of speaking to men for edification, exhortation, and comfort, it is wonderful. And should be encouraged. But there are instances where those who prophesy begin to believe they are prophets and begin to offer guidance out of ignorance. Another reason why we should be cautious about building our lives on prophecies or depending on prophecies for guidance.
We should be very careful about personal prophecies because so many lives have been shipwrecked and ruined by not being careful regarding personal prophecy. E.g. marrying someone because someone prophesied you should. Or going into the ministry because somebody prophesied you should. Get it on the inside of you for yourself. Then if a prophecy confirms what you already have, that's all right.
We have to judge personal prophecies by what we have in our own spirits. If we do not have something in our own spirits, along that line, caution should be exercised in accepting a personal prophecy.
The Holy Ghost said in Acts 13:2; "Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them" He had already called them. This was just a confirmation of it.
The Spirit of God is perfect. The gifts of the Spirit in themselves are perfect. But they certainly are not always perfect in manifestation, because they are manifested through imperfect vessels. This is the reason prophecy and tongues with interpretation need to be judged by the Word. (1 Corinthians 14:29, 30.) Remember—if it does not bear witness, or confirm something you already have, caution should be exercised in accepting a personal prophecy.
It is very easy for babies to be misled and misguided; that is why we need to know these things. This knowledge helps us mature and grow out of being babies; making us aware that there’s one sure (major) way to be led and guided in this life and it is by the Spirit of God and His word. Romans 8:14 says: “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.”