The Gift of Prophecy:
“Pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy…But he who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men. He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church. I wish you all spoke with tongues, but even more that you prophesied; for he who prophesies is greater than he who speaks with tongues, unless indeed he interprets, that the church may receive edification.” (1 Corinthians 14:1,3-5).
To understand prophecy, there is an important distinction that must be made between the gift of prophecy, and the office of a prophet. The gift of prophecy is a supernatural gift of the Holy Spirit that any Spirit-filled Christian can exercise. The office of a prophet is “Christ’s gift to the church to help bring us to maturity. The prophet reveals God’s Word for the church’s understanding and application.” (John & Sonya Decker, Foundations for Discovery). In other words, although not all Christians are called to the office of a prophet, all Christians who have been filled with the Holy Spirit have the potential to minister the gift of prophecy. “For you can all prophesy one by one, that all may learn and all may be encouraged.” (1 Corinthians 14:31).
How do we receive the gift of prophecy? First Corinthians 12:11 tells us, “But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.” In other words, these are the Holy Spirit’s gifts, and He distributes them to people as He desires. However, we need to balance this truth out with the command in Scripture to “desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy.” (1 Cor. 14:1). The Holy Spirit will most often give the gift of prophecy to those who are desiring and seeking after that gift. However, it is vital that we remember this serious warning from the Scriptures concerning the gifts of the Spirit, “And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge…but have not love, I am nothing.” (1 Cor. 13:2). The foundation for exercising the gift of prophecy must be love—love for God, and love for the people to whom you are going to minister the gift.
What is the purpose of prophecy? “But he who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men.” (1 Cor. 14:3). If you are unsure of whether or not something you have on your heart to share with someone is a prophetic word from the Lord, ask yourself this question: Will it edify, exhort (strengthen), and comfort them? If not, then there’s a good probability that the word isn’t from God. Always remember that he who prophesies edifies the church. A genuine prophecy from the Lord will edify and build up the church or the person to whom the prophetic word is being given.
Here’s another example of what will happen when the gift of prophecy is in operation in the church: “But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or an uninformed person comes in, he is convinced by all, he is convicted by all. And thus the secrets of his heart are revealed; and so, falling down on his face, he will worship God and report that God is truly among you.” (1 Corinthians 14:24-25). Can you imagine what would happen if someone came into church, and someone in the congregation shared with them something that God revealed to them? As the secrets of their heart were revealed, they would fall down on their face, worshipping God! We need the gift of prophecy to be in operation in the church today. Let us pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts, but especially that we would prophesy.
- The Fullness of the Spirit Part #1
- The Fullness of the Spirit Part #2
- The Fullness of the Spirit Part #3: The Gifts of the Holy Spirit
Pastor Chris Jordan