God’s Still Speaking
Jesus has invited us into a relationship. He said that His sheep would know His voice and that the Holy Spirit would teach us all things. It’s natural for God to communicate with His family and important for us to listen, look, and learn His language and ways.(Isaiah 50:4-5; Matt. 4:4; John 10:26-28, 14:25, 16:13; Acts 2:17; 1 John 2:27; Num. 11:29)
Scripture calls us to earnestly desire the gift of prophecy, which is speaking on God’s behalf to strengthen, encourage and comfort people. So, we desire to say what the Father is saying in order to grow their identity and call out the purposes and treasure He has placed in them.(I Tim. 4:14-16; I Cor. 14:1-4, 24-25; Acts 13:1-3; Eph. 2:10; 1 John 4:17)
Prophecy is not “one-way communication” it involves two people hearing from God, the one who gives the word and the one who receives it. Therefore, with the help of the Holy Spirit, Scripture and the community, we judge the spirit and accuracy of the words we give and receive, holding on to what is good and letting go of what is not.(Thess. 5:19-22; 1 Cor. 14:29; Acts 21:10-22:30 (Agabus’ inexact prophecy); Acts 27:10, 22-24 (Paul’s prophecy Corrected by an angel)
The Bible is authoritative revelation, unlike any other, and nothing will be added to it. No accurate prophecy will contradict the Scripture (properly interpreted) or be considered equal with it.(Matt. 22:29; John 8:31-32; Gal. 1:6-9; 2 Thess. 2:13-15; 2 Tim. 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:16-21; Matt. 7:15-20)
What does it look like?
God is perfect, but He has chosen to partner with imperfect people to build the kingdom. Like all spiritual gifts and ministry skills (think love, generosity, preaching, etc.) we simply don’t operate in any of them perfectly. That is why we sometimes make mistakes and need to judge the words.(1 Cor. 13:12; Acts 15:28)
Gifts aren’t given fully developed. We can become better at moving in our gifts as we practice.(1 Tim. 4:14-15)
God often speaks to us in the language of our own mind/spirit/soul. Therefore the voice of the Lord often sounds like us (but is usually smarter than us!). We have to practice to discern His voice with confidence. Being accurate increases our confidence.(Acts 10:9-16; 1 Cor. 2:12-16)
In the Old Testament, the prophet is judged, but in the New Testament, the prophetic word is judged. The O.T. expectation that all prophecy should be 100% accurate has been modified in the New Testament. The N.T. church is commanded to test everything and hold on to the good. The leaders judge the prophecy not the prophet. Unlike the O.T. in which the Spirit came only on the prophet, everyone in the church possesses the Holy Spirit, so the word can be discerned and we can say, “You got that wrong” instead of “You are a false prophet.”(Deut. 18:18-22; 1 Cor. 14:29; 1 Cor. 13:2; 1 John 4:1)
In the N.T. false prophets are generally teaching wrong doctrine, doing signs and wonders designed to deceive and producing bad fruit, not giving inaccurate words of edification, encouragement and comfort.(2 Pet. 2:1-3; Matt. 24:24)
Prophecy should always be delivered with humility and love. It should never be for self-promotion or selfish ambition. If we give a wrong word or do so with a wrong heart, we own our mistake and humble clean it up.(Phil. 2:3-4; I Cor. 13:1-2; Matt. 7:21-23)
Prophecy is three-part process of revelation, interpretation and application. Just like Scripture, prophecy can be misunderstood, misinterpreted or poorly applied.(Acts 10:9-16; Acts 15:28, Acts 21:10-22:30; Acts 27:10, 22-24)
We don’t strive to make prophetic words happen but are sometimes invited by God to co-labor with him and see them come to pass.(Gen 21:2; 2 Kings 5:10; Luke 17:11-14; Acts 10 (Cornelius and Peter co-labor) Acts 9:1-19 (Saul and Ananias co-labor)
There is sometimes a mystery to prophecy and it’s timing. Some prophetic words are completely outside our box, so we hold onto them for a later time. Some prophecy is only understood in hindsight.(John 16:12; Luke 24:44,45; John 13:7)
We are not saying…
…we prophesy perfectly.(1 Cor. 14:29; 1 Thess. 5:19-22)
…one person can fully know or have the mind of Christ.(1 Cor. 2:16)
…“anything goes” and we are unaccountable for the words we give and don’t care if they are accurate.(Matthew 12:36, 37)
…the only way to know the heart and will of God is through a prophetic word from someone.
…major life decisions should be made solely on the basis of a prophetic word devoid of other sources of God’s leadership and communication like prayer, Scripture, leaders, wisdom, personal desires, covenant relationships etc. In fact, this is a sign of immaturity.(1 Tim. 4:11-16)
…we have to check with God on everything in our lives like what clothes to wear or what street to walk down (although He sometimes has ideas about these things that lead to adventure if we are listening!)
…there is no need for us to have teachers or study Scripture.(Eph. 4:11)
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