Prophecy, A Superior Gift
Paul opens 1 Corinthians 14 with these words, “Pursue love and desire spiritual gifts, and above all that you may prophesy.” ♥ He said and above all that you may ________________________. Why do you think he would say that? The one that prophesies speaks to believers for edification, encouragement, and comfort. A word of prophecy strengthens the entire church! Fellow believers, we desperately need edification, encouragement, and comfort in this age! We have had more than enough contempt, more than enough unbelief, more than enough discouragement, more than enough fear, and more than enough fence-sitting! We want to see the Lord’s glory! I desire a demonstration of the work of the Spirit as opposed to a few clever words (1 Co 2:4) how about you?
In His grace, God has anointed each believer for powerful service in specific areas. If God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you (Romans 12:6). Prophecy is one of the supernatural gifts of God’s power made manifest through the Spirit filled and yielded believer. Prophecy is a gift we are instructed to eagerly pursue (1 Cor. 14:39). According to Acts 2:17-18 the prophet Joel announced that in the last days God would pour out His Spirit on all humanity. Our sons and daughters would prophesy; young men would see visions and our old men would dream dreams. God said He would pour out His Spirit on His male and female slaves and they would prophesy. We can all prophecy! (1 Corinthians 14:31) Since prophecy is given for edification, encouragement, and comfort, if a prophecy is given to a believer that falls out of line with one of these three areas then it did not originate from the Spirit of God. This is not to say, however, that prophecy is not for corrective counsel that leads to repentance. The result of the counsel is to bring about edification, encouragement, and comfort and never condemnation.
Prophecy should always be presented in the presence of a gathering (no minimum number required) of believers so that it can be unfailingly evaluated in terms of the witness to the heart by the Spirit and by the written Word of God (with which prophecy must always agree).
Unbelievers also benefit from prophecy because it brings a demonstration of the power of God. “But if all of you are prophesying, and unbelievers or people who don’t understand these things come into your meeting, they will be convicted of sin and judged by what you say. As they listen, their secret thoughts will be exposed, and they will fall to their knees and worship God, declaring, “God is truly among you.” (1 Corinthians 14:24-25) Let’s talk about two things brought up in verse 24; the unbelievers and the uninformed. As intimate facts are revealed (during prophecy or through different gifts) regarding the condition of the unbeliever’s heart, he is convinced of God’s reality and immediately converted. The uninformed or uninstructed believer; one who does not fully understand the gifts of the Spirit, is often at this point convinced that these things are real (many these days are coming to receive because they have seen the gifts in operation, which they had been previously told were “not for today.”). Since the day of Pentecost and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, any yielded child of God may be moved by the Spirit to prophesy.
Then there are those who have a ministry in prophecy (which we will not be discussing at length at this time). It is not what a man says in the natural realm that makes him a prophet; but that he is moved by the Spirit of God to speak the words God gives him. Very often, a prophet of God will naturally minister in the gift of prophecy as well as the gift of knowledge and it may be hard to distinguish between the two – declaring God’s will and God’s mind.
Let’s focus on a couple of areas of prophecy that we, as discerning members of the body of Christ, should be aware of. First, prophecy should be used in accordance with the standard of one’s faith. I recently had a dear friend report a prophetic message to me. As soon as I heard it I was edified, encouraged, and comforted! What came forth was praise to God! She spoke what she heard according to her faith. After I had time to process the magnitude of the words I wanted to know more so I asked her questions. After prayerfully considering what I had done I realized she had already told me all the information and anything else she added would be coming from her own intellect and feelings. I immediately recalled times in the past when I felt I had received a word from the Lord but it was only a word or two. I felt compelled to add more to it because it did not seem to be enough. The part I added came from my own intellect or feelings and did not proceed from divine inspiration because the words added were my own. Adding to the prophecy is moving out of the Spirit and back into the flesh. To sum up, divine prophecy given in faith may only be a word or two and we should end there. Adding more to the prophecy is no longer divine but human. If you are given a word and you desire more information, take the request to the Lord through prayer and allow Him to reveal what is lacking.
Secondly, the discerner should determine if the words given in prophecy edify, exhort, or comfort the believer. 1 Corinthians 14:31 tells us prophecy is for all believers to learn and be encouraged. Praise God! There are times when a believer might be given information that stirs up fear, for example. In this situation we should always be ready to stop the person uttering the prophecy that we believe is not from the Lord because fear never edifies, never exhorts, and never comforts. Nothing else needs to be said on the matter and you should dismiss the prophecy immediately. This prophecy was uttered under the influence of a wrong spirit. In sensitivity to a believer who has uttered a false word we must also remember we are judging the spirit not the individual. We are all individuals operating with varying levels of sanctification. The Holy Spirit is life, He does not deaden or plant seeds of fear in the righteous.
♥Thank you Lord! I praise you for Your gift of the Spirit in my life. Your word says to pursue prophecy. I desire to do so and anticipate receiving and speaking as you see fit. Teach me everything you would have me know concerning prophecy. I cast down every imagination, mentality, and prior experience that might hinder my openess to the teachings of Your Spirit. Increase my faith! Break down the barrier walls of unbelief. Help me to further discern gifts of the Spirit you desire for me to operate in – all to Your glory! Amen.
Here is a prayer written as a song to guide you in praise and worship as you further seek the Lord regarding prophecy. Listen to it unabridged – it will bless you!
Remember not to worry if the Bible version you are using does not line up exactly with the blanks given below. You can make it work!
♥Acts 2:17-18 And it will be in the last days, says God, that I will pour out My Spirit on ___________________________________; then your sons and your daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, and your old men will dream dreams. I will even pour out _________________________ on my male and female slaves in those days, and they will ___________________________. (Holman) Those who are brought under the influence of the gospel should be remarkably equipped with ability to proclaim the will of God. I love how God says He will pour out His Spirit on “my” male and female slaves. We serve the Lord and should make ourselves available to fulfill His purposes. We are His! Expect to prophesy. Ask Jesus to edify His believers through you. As you have fellowship with the Lord and with fellow believers, you may find thoughts and words of inspiration coming into your mind that you have not heard and did not construct. If they are according to Scripture, share them with the Body.
♥Romans 12:6 In His grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to ____________________________, speak out with as much ____________________________ as God has given you. (NLT) The gifts are manifested through God’s ability, not ours. If He has given you some words to speak then He will give the faith that is required. I recently read this perfect comment. When God calls, He also equips. Therefore if you are struggling in discerning God’s vision for your life, concentrate on discerning your gifts. Every believer has the responsibility to discern, develop, and deploy their gifts so that they will reach their full potential and fulfill their role in the Body of Christ. What do you think of that?
♥1 Corinthians 1:7 …so that you do not ___________________ any ____________________________________ as you eagerly wait for the ______________________ of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Holman) As a believer filled with the Spirit, you have as fully as any other person, those spiritual gifts which sustain you and enable you to wait for the revelation (second visible appearance) of Jesus.
♥1 Corinthians 12:4-6 Now there are different _______________ but the same Spirit. There are different ________________, but the same Lord. And there are different __________________ but the same God activates each gift in each person. (Holman) Here is a table to demonstrate how this verse suggest a grouping of the gifts.
Ephesians 4 & 1 Corinthians 12:28
Working of Miracles
Gifts of Healing
1 Corinthians 12:8-11
Word of Wisdom
Word of Knowledge
Interpretation of Tongues
♥1 Corinthians 13:2 If I have the _____________ of __________________ and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all ______________________ so that I can move mountains but do not have _________________________, I am ______________________. (Holman) We must primarily possess the love of God (agape) for fellow believers. Out of this love, we desire spiritual gifts in order to serve. Unless we have love (agape), which motivates the pure desire for spiritual gifts, all is lost.
♥1 Corinthians 14:1 Let __________________ be your highest goal! But you should also desire the ________________________________the ____________________ gives – especially the ______________________ to ______________________. (NLT) Pursue love. We hear this yet again so it is worth putting our minds to the pursuit of it above all other things. Have you earnestly desired it, strived to possess it, and been influenced by it continually? While we strive after love we secondly desire the miraculous gifts of the Spirit and are motivated to excel in what He imparts to us. It is proper to desire and seek spiritual gifts, especially that which edifies the church. Love has the priority and after that the gift of prophecy must particularly be sought.
♥1 Corinthians 14:3-6 But one who _________________________ strengthens others, ______________________ them, and ____________________________ them. A person who speaks in tongues is strengthened personally, but one who speaks a word of ____________________ strengthens the entire church. I wish you could all speak in tongues, but even more I will all could _____________________. For ______________________ is greater than speaking in tongues, unless someone interprets what you are saying so that the whole church will be strengthened. Dear brothers and sisters, if I should come to you speaking in an unknown language, how would that help you? But if I bring you a _________________________ or some special _______________________ or ___________________ or teaching, that will be helpful. (NLT) Paul is saying that tongues in an assembly without interpretation does not edify the church. Tongues will be looked at further in a following lesson. For this message we are primarily considering prophecy. Prophecy is something uttered or declared and can only be known by divine revelation. It might be a sudden impulse of a lofty discourse or divine praise. Prophecy is not inspired preaching (proclaiming the Gospel through inspired intellect). Preaching should indeed be inspired by the Holy Spirit, but prophecy means the person is bringing the words the Lord gives directly, not through the intellect, training, skill, background, or education.
♥1 Corinthians 14:22b ____________________________, however, is for the benefit of believers, not unbelievers. (NLT) A word of prophecy is used for edification, exhortation, and comfort for believers; to be built up in our most holy faith. The Holy Spirit encourages, stirs up, cheers up, helps, counsels, and quickens because that is what love (agape) does.
♥1 Thessalonians 5:20-21 Don’t despise _________________________, but _____________ all things. (Holman) Let’s look at an example of when someone gives you a word ‘in the Lord’ which can indeed be refreshing and helpful. There must, however, be a witness of the Spirit on the part of the person receiving the words. Never do something just because someone says, “The Lord told me to tell you this”. If the Lord has instructions for you, He will give you a witness in your own heart. When a word then comes from a friend, through the gifts of the Spirit, it will be confirmation to what God has already been showing you. Also remember the gifts of the Spirit are inspiration, not compulsion, and provide no excuse for erratic behavior.
As I was seeking the Lord regarding prophecy He gave me a word to share with you. “There is NO greater love than This.” A prophetic word indeed. Of all the people who love you and of all the love you think you need, there is absolutely NO greater love than that expressed through God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit. When I received this revelation I froze in the place I was. The magnitude of the truth of that statement is more magnificent than there are words to label it. Our minds and emotions are unable to fathom it. Our experiences are so minute they can not even be measured by it. We have not mastered enough vocabulary to describe it. Even still, it beckons us to draw from the endless bounty available to us. For every need you have – there IS no greater Source.
Remember: (1) pray the prayer throughout the week asking the Lord to reveal insight to you regarding prophecy, (2) Fast as you are able on Tuesday, (3) complete the Scripture blanks for further study, and (4) add your name in the comment section if you plan to join – it is never too late!
In His grace,