Prophecy and the Prophetic
The importance of words remains foremost in my mind. Life and death are in the power of the tongue. I have learned some personal lessons here. As with any principle of truth, we can try to live by this one. Life does not operate that way. We live by the Spirit, and we learn to walk by that same Spirit. Similarly we need to learn to talk by that Spirit. Walking and talking go together. I will mention some extreme examples of words spoken that do not seem right to us. Jesus cursed a fig tree and it shriveled and died. Peter confronted Ananias concerning his hypocrisy and he dropped dead. He then told his wife Sapphira that she would be carried out dead also. (Acts 5:1-11) Some speak of this as if their holding back part of their property was the cause of death. I don’t hear the Spirit say that. I understand the story that their hypocrisy, their lying, caused their quick departure. The church was newly born and the Spirit cut off that hypocrisy abruptly and gave a tough love lesson to the church.
Peter had insight by the Spirit and asked questions that confirmed what he, Peter, was understanding. Peter did not cause their death, but he cooperated with the Spirit for the Lord’s purpose to proceed. This is an aspect of what we call prophetic. During the Reformation, many truths were restored in principle and men and women began to again walk in them. The corrupted “church” of the Dark Ages had buried much truth. One such truth is that every true follower of Christ is a prophet, priest, and king. Let’s focus on the prophet aspect and look at the reference scripture. The testimony of Jesus is the Spirit of prophecy. True prophecy will bear the image of Christ, of Jesus. It will smell, feel, and taste like Jesus. If my spirit does not bear witness to words from someone, I do not receive them. Jesus and the apostles warn us of false prophets. Have you known of such?
I have. I have written of a specific experience of discerning self-ambition in so-called ministry and will not repeat the details here. The heart of the matter is motivation. Is one seeking their own glory in their use of a gift from God, or are they truly looking for the life of God to be increased in the one receiving? In 1 Cor. 14, Paul refers to prophecy as that which edifies, that which builds someone up in their spirit, in their inner man. True words from God should encourage one to go with God. This can include correction. We need to be open to correction. Many have gone away from the Lord because they cannot make changes. Often a wound remains from the past. In other cases, a purely rebellious, wicked spirit can be at work. Consider Ananias and Sapphira again. Self-ambition. Read the previous portion in Acts concerning Barnabas. They wanted to look good and be admired like Barnabas. Such is criminal activity in God’s house. I have known it and had to severely end a relationship with a man in ministry because he was using me and my family.
When the life of a larger group, church, or ministry is in danger of corruption, a strong word may come. When it is not heeded, separation may come. Take a look at the history of the church at large. Our problems rise to schisms when we then think we are superior to the others. The issue is to go on with God and of necessity leave the others behind. That always includes humility. Some of those who have missed God may turn again later. Ultimately, it is God’s house. He dropped Ananias and Sapphira. I know that word sounds brutal. Imagine being there and seeing it firsthand. It should cause us to go to the Lord and stay in a place of humility. Great fear fell on them all. But not all prophecy is severe. In fact it is far and away to encourage the hearer to one end; to press on, to continue on to know the Lord. Whatever gift, whatever the Spirit may work in us, we remain a vessel in His hands. It is not about us, that is, the focus should be on the Lord Himself. True prophecy increases the life of Christ in the hearer. If it doesn’t bring you closer to the One who is worthy of your life, let it slide away. And be aware the next time that person talks with you. If you do not receive something of value, look for real fellowship elsewhere.