THE PARTICLES OF PROPHETIC MINISTRY PART 1.
“But if they had stood in my council, they would have proclaimed my words to my people and would have turned them from their evil ways
And from their evil deeds. Jeremiah23:22”
It is evident that the church today is filled prophetic mash and so many Christians have been fed with that mash which has choked the rest of the Christians in the body of Christ and they are now breathless because the Holy Spirit is aside since the so called prophets’ today prophecy from themselves. The church has lost her roots in the prophetic ministry and has allowed the opposite Spirit of the Ministry” Jezebel” to raise her prophets in the church hoodwink the Christians and suppress the truth of God. The sole purpose of Prophetic Ministry is to reveal the purposes of God and this kind of character is really cultivated in humility and of holiness. God is very humble and therefore his prophets must bear the same mantle to manifest the true reflection of God and of Jesus Christ.
The prophetic ministry is the tank that fuels purity and intercession, and this means that the Prophetic will be like the nervous system that carries signals from the head or brains to the rest of the body and of course also bringing back the signals from the rest of the body to the Head when its feel of pain in the rest of the body. This is a true reflection of the Ministry. The Prophetic manages messaging and the Intercession. Intercession happens when there is pain in the body and messaging happens when the brains” Head” want to communicate to the rest of the body. The head being Jesus Christ and the body being the church. The true prophet of God will be connected to the head first then to the church and vice versa. After ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ to heaven, the prophets roles have changed, they are now embedded in the body of Christ, they are not lone rangers, the lone rangers or lone prophetic ministries are never of Jesus Christ, they just mimic the Holy Spirit ministries, what differentiates two is that the True Prophetic Ministry will grow in humility and the counterfeit prophets will grow in pride and that is the total contradiction in the character of Jesus Christ. “My servants the Prophets”
The mature prophet is, as we said before, mute and meek before the will of the other person, and he is a silent observer of what God does. It is God who acts. To be a watchman or a witness is to see what God is doing (John and Paula Sanford – The Elijah Task).
What is a prophet? What is prophecy? Who can prophesy? Is it right to seek prophecy? To whom should a prophet be accountable? How do the prophetic gifts and ministries function in the local church? Since we have the Bible for guidance, why do we need prophecy? If all God’s people are able to hear His voice, why do we need prophets?
These are just a few of the common questions being asked today. If we do not give the right answers to these questions, we can be sure that the vacuum created by ignorance will be filled with erroneous views and dangerous practices, which is exactly what has happened to many churches and ministries.
However, in spite of the confusion some have suffered, a truly remarkable prophetic ministry has begun to mature and become extremely useful to those who have recognized it. In the times ahead it will become not only more useful, but critical to the church—not only for its success, but in many cases, even for its survival.
In both the church and the world, there is a new hunger for the prophetic. This hunger stems from an increasing desire for guidance in order to survive the rampant confusion and fear of our time. The need for guidance is not new among God’s people, and neither is prophetic ministry. In fact, the very first one after the fall who was said to have walked with God was Enoch, and it was also said that he prophesied. A case could well be made that everyone who has ever walked with God has been used to prophesy. Prophecy was a primary way through which the Lord related to His people in both the Old and New Testaments. According to the Scriptures which we will examine, prophecy will be one of the main ways that He relates to His people at the end of this age.
The humility to receive the Lord’s guidance through others is a characteristic of those to whom the Lord entrusts spiritual authority. King David, one of the greatest biblical prophets, wrote Scripture and is himself the subject of large sections of the Bible. Yet with great wisdom and humility, he frequently called for the prophets when he needed personal guidance. As long as he lived, he heeded their words and remained open to their influence. Such is the character of those entrusted by the Lord with great authority.
Another reason there is such an increased interest in this subject is because people are arising with remarkable prophetic gifts which are being restored to the church today. This is a present- day fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy, quoted by Peter on the Day of Pentecost:
And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams:
And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy (Acts 2:17-18 KJV).
This passage indicates that there will be a dramatic increase in prophecy, dreams, and visions in the last days. This is, in fact, one of the great signs of the last days. Therefore, as we get closer to the end of this age we can expect this activity to increase. However, these gifts are not being given as just a sign, but because we are going to need increasingly specific and accurate guidance in the times ahead. Because of this, we do not have time to waste in learning to understand and use them.
Prophetic ministry in the last days will be used in some ways like the New Testament examples we have of the prophet Agabus, who foresaw a worldwide famine (see Acts 11:28), and the Apostle Paul, who went to Macedonia at the right time in response to a prophetic dream (see
Acts 16:9-10). Prophetic revelation will enable the church to prepare for future needs and will dramatically increase the success of our missionary outreach.
Counterfeit Prophetic Ministry
The Lord Jesus said in Matthew 23:34, “Therefore, behold, I am sending you prophets and wise men and scribes….” He also said in Matthew 24:11, “And many false prophets will arise, and will mislead many.” By this we can expect that along with the restoration of a legitimate prophetic ministry to the church, there will also be a corresponding increase of false prophecy and false prophets. False prophets have real power and must be recognized if we are to avoid becoming their prey. The desperate hunger for supernatural guidance has spawned entire television networks devoted to psychic revelation. Just as Moses’ God-given power greatly exceeded the demonic power of Pharaoh’s sorcerers, the Lord’s prophetic gifts to His church greatly exceed anything offered by psychics.
There are sound biblical answers to the questions now being raised about the prophetic, and it is crucial that we address them satisfactorily. Since the Scriptures indicate that this will be one of the most important issues at the end of this age, we, too, must give it the attention it deserves. We can also expect that those who try to avoid the issue of the prophetic, which is to avoid a major provision of the Lord for His people in these times, will become increasingly subject to the enemy’s schemes. The Lord has given us every provision we need to accomplish His purposes and prevail over the enemy, and we would be foolish to reject any of the resources He provides. As the Apostle Paul said concerning his own ministry:
And my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power,
that your faith should not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God (I Corinthians 2:4-5).
For our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction; just as you know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake (I Thessalonians 1:5).
The truth of God is the greatest force on earth, but Paul understood that his message must be characterized by supernatural power rather than by words alone. This was also true of the Lord Jesus Himself. He was the Truth, but He still used the power of miracles to confirm His message. If this was true of the Lord Jesus and the apostles, how much more do we need to have His power confirming our words?
Even if we are not called to the office of a prophet, we need to understand this ministry. The entire church is called to be a prophetic voice to the nations, serving as the Lord’s spokesmen to the world. The prophetic ministry is listed as one of the primary ministries given “for the equipping of the saints for the work of service…” (Ephesians 4:12). The prophetic gifts are not just an optional novelty for the super-spiritual; they are essential tools for effective functioning in pastoral, teaching, evangelistic or apostolic ministry.
For example, effectively using words of knowledge can significantly reduce the time many pastors spend in counseling sessions. An evangelist using this gift can speak to one woman and stir an entire city, just as Jesus did with the woman at the well. The gifts of the Spirit are not toys but tools. The Lord does not give the gifts of the Spirit for our entertainment but because we need them to do His work. When used correctly, they will multiply the spiritual effectiveness of any ministry. This is why the Apostle Paul exhorted the church, “…desire earnestly spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy” (I Corinthians 14:1.
Questions Regarding the Prophetic
Once we understand the importance of the gifts of the Spirit, we also need to understand how to properly use them. This includes becoming aware of the traps which the enemy sets for all who walk in the supernatural realm. Leaders who may not have these gifts, but who are called to equip the emerging prophetic ministries, also need to understand these matters. Because of this, we will address the questions listed at the beginning of this chapter, as well as others such as the following:
How does current prophetic revelation relate to the revelation contained in the Scriptures?
How do New Covenant prophets differ from their Old Covenantcounterparts?
Can a true prophet give an inaccurateprediction?
Why does the Lord speak through dreams and visions instead of just telling us plainly?
How are we to interpret supernatural revelations, dreams, andvisions?
How does one function in the revelation gifts of the Spirit such as prophecy, the word of knowledge, the word of wisdom, and discernment ofspirits?
What are the characteristics of the counterfeit gifts of the Spirit, and how can we recognize them?
My goal in addressing these questions is to be both biblical and practical. We must be biblical if we are going to establish the real and recognize the false. We want to be practical in order to aid the effective release of true prophetic gifts and ministries in the church. This study will deal primarily with foundational issues pertaining to the prophetic, but we will also build upon them with more advanced issues.
Again, this article is not targeted only to those who are specifically called to the prophetic ministry. Every Christian should be able to both hear from the Lord and, at times, speak a specific word from Him. The general principles addressed in this book will apply in some degree to all Christians who desire to know the Lord’s voice.
Many Christians have a genuine prophetic gift or call to prophetic ministry, yet have been discouraged from pursuing their calling because of past mistakes. As I was shown years ago, the first part of the harvest will be the recovery and restoration of such ministries. My prayer is that this study will help stir up these gifts and give people the courage to rise again and pursue their purpose in the Lord.
It is also my desire to help those who have the gifts functioning in their lives but have not really understood them or known what to do with them. God wants to see the talents and spiritual gifts He has entrusted to us used to bring a maximum return for His kingdom.
And finally, to those who have never been used by the Lord in one of the gifts of the Spirit but have a genuine desire to be, I pray that this study will help you in your quest so you can be fully equipped for your place in God’s plan.
Drawing From a Pure Well;
Pure motives are crucial if we are going to function in true ministry. Living waters spring up from the “innermost being” (see John 7:38), or the heart. Our motives accurately reveal what is in our hearts. The purer the heart, the purer the waters that will flow from it. Because a bad tree cannot bring forth good fruit, all who minister must “watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life” (Proverbs 4:23). Because we are serving God’s own children, we must offer them the purest of waters. For this reason the Lord Jesus said, “…for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth” (John 17:19).
The Apostle Paul exhorts us, “Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith…” (II Corinthians 13:5). This test is primarily an examination and purification of our motives. The test is not complicated, but we must diligently apply it to ourselves if we are going to maintain purity of character and ministry before the Lord. One of the goals of this study is to illuminate this test so that we can properly examine ourselves and our ministries to be sure we are walking in obedience.
As we study spiritual gifts and ministries, it is right that we consider the importance of integrity and proper motives. Some of these lessons and insights will be purposely repeated in this book. Redundancy helps retention (see II Peter 1:12-13). Each time a principle is repeated and read with humility, there is a greater potential for it to be transferred from mere intellectual assent to true understanding and obedience of heart.
Believing in our minds is not what results in righteousness, but rather believing in our hearts (see Romans 10:10). “…Therefore it says, ‘God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble’” (James 4:6). “…Knowledge makes arrogant, but love edifies” (I Corinthians 8:1). We are not merely seeking knowledge, but a love for the truth. When we hear something that we already know and humbly listen to what the Lord is saying, there is a grace released which brings the transfer of knowledge from our minds to our hearts. The goal is not to know but tobecome.
Closer to God
A closer walk with the Lord must be the basic motivation for all who seek prophetic gifts or ministry. Amos 3:7 declares, “Surely the Lord God does nothing unless He reveals His secret counsel to His servants the prophets.” Nowhere does the Bible state that the Lord must do this; it is not a matter of legal obligation. Rather, the Lord does not want to do anything without sharing it with the prophets because the prophets are His friends. The true essence of prophetic ministry is to be so close to the Lord that He does not want to do anything without sharing it with you. There are special gifts and callings which are required for the prophetic ministry, but more than anything else, the essence of prophetic ministry is to be the special friend and confidant of the Lord. Therefore, friendship and intimacy with Him must always be our primary and ultimate goal.
The popular saying that we should “seek the Giver and not the gifts” is not biblical and is actually contrary to the scriptural exhortation to “pursue love, yet desire earnestly spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy” (I Corinthians 14:1). We must pursue love first if our desire for spiritual gifts is to be pure, but this emphasis does not nullify the need to seek spiritualgifts.
Paul’s statement that we should desire spiritual gifts is not just a suggestion—it is an apostolic command. We must never allow the gifts to supplant the Lord Himself as our
end of this age without the prophetic, this ministry is a means to an end, not an end in itself.
In order to avoid being carried away by another “wind of doctrine” or the latest Christian “flavor of the month,” we must understand the Lord’s greater purposes. As one friend of mine put it, “If we do not keep our attention focused on the ultimate purposes of the Lord, we will be continually distracted by the lesser purposes.”
If the church is to accomplish her last-day ministry, she must have a prophetic ministry with trustworthy accuracy and impeccable integrity. We must know the Lord’s plans before the time of their implementation so that we can properly position ourselves to carry them out. A few propheticministriespredictedyearsaheadoftimethatthewallsweregoingtocomedown preeminent quest. However, it is impossible to get close to the ultimate Giver without receiving gifts. There are no gifts in this universe as precious as His spiritual gifts, and to receive them is evidence that we have found favor with the ultimate Giver.
Some people have determined to pursue love and then just stay open for the Lord to use them in spiritual gifts if He wants to—but these people rarely get used! We must “earnestly desire” spiritual gifts if we are going to receive them. But the only right reason to desire the gifts is for love’s sake—in order to accomplish the purposes of the Lord and touch the needs of His people.
If we seek to be close to the Lord just to know what He is doing, we are using our relationship with Him in a tragically manipulative way. We must seek Him because we want to be close to Him, not because of what we can get from Him. What husband would be pleased if he knew that the only reason his wife wanted to be with him was to get information? The revelation of God’s purposes will come if we seek to be close to Him, but it must never be our primary motive for doingso.
The Swirl of Controversy
The prophetic ministry and gifts have been a major source of attention in the church for more than a decade now. There have been spectacular demonstrations of these gifts, having a positive effect on thousands of people. There has also been great controversy because of a few well- publicized mistakes by those who have prophetic gifts. Even when the prophetic gifts have been used properly, there have been misunderstandings.
The stringent standards applied to prophetic ministry are seldom applied to other ministries. Should we throw out the ministry of the pastor because some have made mistakes? Should we discard the ministry of evangelists or teachers because some have been dishonest or doctrinally defective? Of course not. In the same way, if we want to maintain the integrity of prophetic ministry, we must learn from the mistakes without throwing the baby out with the bath water.
During the late 1980s, the prophetic ministry captured the attention of the church on an almost unprecedented level. At that time, many prophetic ministers predicted that great controversy was coming to “purify the ranks,” bring maturity to prophetic people, and support a more solid and effective advance that would come later. What has been called the “Prophetic Movement” has made some important advances, but there are obviously much greater movements to come. The prophetic ministry and gifts are destined to be thrust to the very forefront of issues facing the church worldwide, and they will ultimately help to ignite a spiritual advance that will have a positive impact on the entire church.
The Purposes of the Lord
The restoration of prophetic ministry to its biblical stature and integrity is important to the purposes of the Lord, but it is not the ultimate purpose of the Lord. It is part of the preparation for a much greater movement to come. Although the church will not be equipped for her mandate at the
around the former Communist states so the gospel could be preached there for a period of time. Tragically, even those who knew these prophecies did not do much to actually prepare for them to happen. The church was basically caught off guard as one of the most profound watersheds in human history unfolded and shifted the political poles of the entire earth.
Sadly, many cults and spiritual fringe groups were more prepared for the changes in the former Communist nations than the church, and they successfully rushed in to fill the vacuum of spiritual hunger in these countries. Will the same happen when China and Islamic countries become open to the gospel? Will the church continue to be caught off guard by the natural disasters and wars that create other great spiritual vacuums?
What About Mistakes?
I have friends who I have never known to miss a prediction when they received it in a dream or an open vision. However, we have less than a perfect score in interpreting these revelations
when they are shared with us. This is another major issue in understanding prophetic ministry and gifts. We are learning, but we do have further to go. For this reason I want to be candid about our mistakes as well as our successes. Some of the greatest lessons have in fact come from the mistakes. If you learn from ours, you may not have to make your own. If the church is going to move with the kind of strategy and vision that the times demand, we must know how to receive, interpret, and judge prophetic revelation.
There is much resistance to this concept, but mistakes are inevitable if we are going to grow in the prophetic. When mistakes happen, we must be candid about them with the hope that many can learn from our blunders and avoid having to make the same ones. If we are humble enough to acknowledge them, the Lord may be willing to give us more grace and authority. The key to being trusted with more authority from the Lord is not to trust in ourselves, but to trust in Him. Our mistakes can compel us to even greater dependence on Him and more humility about ourselves.
Most of the prophetic men and women I associate with do not claim to be “prophets,” nor do they care for such titles. They are simply trying to learn to hear from God accurately and are devoted to seeing the whole church brought to the place where it can do the same.
Some believers hold to the teaching that a true prophet cannot make a mistake and are offended by my mention of mistakes made by prophetic people. While I hope there will ultimately be a prophetic ministry raised up in the church with 100 percent accuracy, at the present time the only people I know who may claim 100 percent accuracy have never made a significant prediction worthy of a prophet. Though I may not personally ever reach a level of 100 percent accuracy on significant, detailed predictions—and, therefore, not merit the title “prophet” in the eyes of some—I intend to do all I can to make the way easier for others to attain that level. This must begin with acknowledging where we are.
Even so, I agree that our goal should always be 100 percent accuracy in the reception, interpretation, and application of prophetic revelation. While freely admitting that we are not there yet, we must pursue this goal without giving up until we get there. This will require being honest and straightforward with our mistakes and humble with our successes. God gives His grace to the humble (see James 4:6). We need to be far more concerned with walking in His grace than with receiving recognition for being prophetic.
Tares in the Wheat
As stated, along with the extraordinary prophetic ministries now being released in the church, there is also a horde of pseudo prophets circulating. This is to be expected. The Lord Himself warned us that every time He sows wheat, the enemy will try to sow tares in the same field. He also warned that in the last days “many false prophets will arise, and will mislead many” (Matthew 24:11). This warning that there will be “many false prophets” implies that there are also true ones. Otherwise, Jesus would have just said that all prophets in the last days will be false.
The only reason there is counterfeit money is because there is also real money. There are no counterfeit three-dollar bills because there are no real three-dollar bills. As we will establish by the Scriptures, the prophetic ministry is given for the edification of the church and can be expected to be included in the church’s ministry until she is made perfect. To claim that we no longer need prophets is to claim we are already perfect, which even the most casual observer would recognize as major delusion.
Even so, we know that there are false prophets and a lot of them! This includes false prophets who are in the church and those who are not. The false prophets who are not in the church, such as cult leaders and those who are vehemently anti-Christ, are obvious. It is the ones who are in the church, who may in every way appear to be good Christian brothers or sisters, who are more difficult to discern. These I do not like to call “false prophets,” but rather “pseudo prophets.” They can truly be good Christians, but they have simply presumed to have a ministry that the Lord did not give to them. They are, in fact, false in the sense that they are not true prophets, but to call them false prophets implies to many that they are not Christians.
We do need to recognize though that the enemy has a counterfeit for each of the true prophetic gifts and that they do have some power. The spiritual power being released by the New Age movement and other cult practices is real, but it is the supernatural power of the evil one. There are also false prophets and false spiritual gifts in the church. How can we discern the difference between the genuine and the false?
Many, out of a fear of deception, have shied away from all prophetic or other spiritual gifts. But if we allow the fear of deception to control us, we have already been deceived, and the enemy has accomplished his purpose. The church and the powers of evil are now moving swiftly toward the last day confrontation foreseen by many of the prophets and apostles in Scripture. If we have not matured in our knowledge and use of the true gifts, we will be found tragically unprepared for this confrontation. Very soon, neutrality concerning spiritual gifts and power will not be possible. Those who have not matured in the use of true spiritual gifts will become increasingly subject to the false ones.
Uprooting the Tares
We need to again review the Lord’s parable about the wheat and the tares. It would be impossible for the enemy to come and sow tares in the Lord’s field if the Lord did not allow it. From this we must conclude that the Lord has purposes in the tares. One purpose is that He allows the enemy to sow tares in His field because learning to deal with the tares is helping to prepare us for the ultimate last-dayconfrontation.
The Lord knows the hearts of all men. He realized that Judas was a betrayer when He first chose him. He also knew that Judas was a thief, yet He gave him the moneybag. Obviously, there is not a sign that we are losing ground, but that ground is being taken. Which one of us would have chosen any of the disciples that the Lord chose? They seemed to cause Him as many problems as His enemies, and when He needed them most, they all deserted Him! It is apparent that we have much to learn about dealing both with the tares and the wheat.
The Treasures of Controversy;
The church has experienced great controversy with the restoration of every truth and every one of the equipping ministries listed in Ephesians 4. Christendom was shaken when Martin Luther declared the priesthood of all believers, but he set the church on course for the restoration of the pastoral ministry. Wesley, Whitefield, Edwards, and others who helped to restore the ministry of the evangelist to the church were all accused of heresy and the most base forms of deception, immorality, and corruption. Their accusers have long been forgotten, but the ministry they helped to restore to the church lives on. The same will be true of the prophetic and apostolic ministries.
The Lord allows controversy because it helps to purify the ministry He is raising up. First, controversy helps to correct the mistakes and extremes that inevitably come with the restoration of every truth and ministry. It also separates those who are seeking to identify with the new movement out of selfish ambition.
Likewise, controversy helps to bring purity by removing the cowards. The Lord listed cowards along with unbelievers, the abominable, murderers, the immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and liars who will have their part in the lake of fire (see Revelation 21:8). Cowardice has no place in the kingdom of God, for true faith is characterized by courage. The Lord uses controversy and persecution as a means of separating the fearful and unbelieving from His work.
True Christianity, in Bible times and throughout church history, has normally existed amid controversy. It is a prophetic principle that the natural realm often reflects spiritual realities. Oil represents power. We anoint people with oil because oil represents the power of the Holy Spirit. It is no accident that the Middle East, the part of the world with the greatest oil reserves, is also the area that is embroiled in the greatest controversy. This is a reflection of a principle in the spiritual realm: The place of the greatest anointing is also going to be the place of the greatest conflict and controversy.
If we are not willing to fight for the Middle East oil, we will either lose the greatest source of power fueling our civilization or become slaves to some of history’s cruelest despots. The same is true of the anointing. The Lord often purposely situates what He is doing in a place of conflict and controversy so that we must esteem His purposes above anything else in order to attain them.
We will never walk in the fullness of true ministry until we are willing to sacrifice everything but our love for the truth and God’s will. To serve in ministry is the most holy and honorable commission that a person can have upon this earth. The Lord will not allow true ministry to be cheapened. But in order to keep it from being cheapened, He will allow its appearance to regularly be cheapened to remove pretension and separate those motivated by personal ambition.
It is likely that no other ministry carries the potential for either blessing or disaster as does the prophetic. But if we expect to have the wheat of a true prophetic ministry raised up in the church without any tares, the wheat will always elude us. Learning to deal with the tares is part of the curriculum. Aleksandra Solzhenitsyn observed, “Even nature teaches us that perpetual well-being is not good for any living thing.” Those who do not want any problems will not receive the blessings either.
If we trust the Lord to lead us into all truth more than we trust Satan to lead us into deception, we will be blessed with clear prophetic vision. This clarity of vision will be required if we are to accomplish our mandate for this hour, and in some cases, it will be necessary for our very survival. Prophetic ministry was given for the equipping of the church, was something more important to the Lord than just keeping His money safe, or He would not have purposely given it to the one most inclined to pilfer it.
Right within His own inner circle, the Lord allowed people and situations to enter that would bring about confrontations with evil. The training from this was far more important than perpetual harmony or the safekeeping of material goods. One of the Lord’s primary strategies for preparing His disciples was to allow them to be confronted with the enemy from within the camp as well as outside.
Many churches and ministries spend a considerable amount of effort trying to keep tares out of their field. This is a fruitless endeavor because the Lord wants some of the tares to get in and He is going to let Satan continue to sow them. What was the Lord’s wisdom for dealing with the tares? He said in Matthew 13:30 to “allow both to grow together until the harvest….” He said that if we try to separate them before the harvest we will destroy the wheat along with the tares. In failing to understand this wisdom, many churches have destroyed the emerging young prophets and other ministries in their midst by prematurely trying to root out thetares.
Until “the harvest” or the time of maturity, it is not really possible to tell the wheat from the tares. Tares actually look like wheat, but wheat is nutritious and tares are noxious. Fittingly, mature wheat bows over and tares remain standing upright. With maturity, the true gifts of God make one more humble. Counterfeit gifts will make one more proud.
Prior to the time of harvest, a prophet who is true, but immature, may be just as vain as a false prophet. Even Samuel, one of the greatest prophets who ever lived, tended to judge men by their external appearances rather than by their hearts (see I Samuel 16). Some of the most discerning prophets I have ever met still have this same tendency. In fact, I have never met anyone who was completely free from this problem, including myself. It is not possible for us to truly know another person’s heart except by revelation from the Lord—but that revelation is what we are seeking. We must learn to recognize one another after the Spirit and not the flesh (see II Corinthians5:16).
When Jacob and Esau were young, most of us would have chosen the compliant, obedient Esau over the conniving, dishonest, schemer Jacob. But Esau had so little regard for his eternal inheritance in Christ that he was willing to sell his birthright for the immediate gratification of his flesh. Jacob was a liar, schemer, and thief, but he loved the inheritance so much that he was willing to jeopardize his own life to get it. Jacob was even willing to wrestle with an angel for the blessing. He recognized the surpassing value of the Lord’s favor and was willing to do whatever it took to obtain it. This pleased God far more than just being compliant. In my experience with prophetically gifted people, as they are maturing they tend to be much more like Jacob until they, too, have wrestled with God and had their hips put out of joint.
Most true prophets, teachers, pastors, evangelists, or apostles will have a “Jacob” nature until they have had the kind of encounter with God that Jacob experienced when he wrestled with Him. Many pastors and church leaders esteem peace and harmony in their congregations above the purposes of God. They would never say this, but their actions reveal it. Certainly we should value peace and unity, but not at the expense of the ultimate purposes of God. The only believers who are now in perfect order and harmony are in the cemetery!
James Ryle once said, “All healthy living things grow; all growing things change; and change brings challenge.” Because of our tendency to put our security in our environment instead of in the Lord, most people, including most Christians, are very resistant to change. Change is unsettling if we have placed our confidence and security in our environment. This is actually one of the strongest yokes on human beings and is the primary factor causing us to become old wineskins that are unable to receive new wine. This yoke is called “the tyranny of the familiar.”
Trials and tribulations are often meant to help free us of this yoke so we will press further into the kingdom. We often need trials in order to keep us moving in the right direction. Conflict and she will not be adequately prepared without it. Churches that do not receive “a prophet in the name of a prophet” (see Matthew 10:41) will not receive the prophet’s reward or the benefit of the prophetic ministry.
The Responsibility of Speaking for God;
Just as the church has a responsibility to open herself to the unfolding purposes of God, those who are called to the prophetic ministry have a responsibility to restore the essential integrity to this ministry. With the increased authority and anointing now being given to the prophetic office, there comes increased responsibility.
The definitions of the different Greek and Hebrew words translated “prophet” in the Old and New Testaments reveal that this ministry is one that speaks for God, has immediate intercourse with God, is an interpreter of the oracles of God, and preaches the counsel of God. These are all indicative of the awesome seriousness of prophetic ministry. To speak for God and interpret or preach His counsel is a responsibility of unfathomable proportions to be entrusted to mere men.
The Lord has magnified His Word above even His name (see Psalm 138:2). In biblical times, one’s name was his identity. The same is still true, for we will be judged by our words, not our titles or reputations. To speak the Lord’s words on His behalf must be considered one of the greatest responsibilities a person can have, which must be handled with the greatest of care and integrity.
When we start to be respected for our ministries and are given increasing influence in the church, our victories will yield greater fruit and our mistakes will do more damage. Although it is right to earnestly desire spiritual gifts, it is not only wrong, but will usually be tragic when we seek visibility and influence prematurely. Those who really understand spiritual authority automatically seek the lowest place—out of self-preservation if nothing else! To engage in the awesome responsibility of speaking in the name of the Lord, we must be adequately prepared, or we may end up doing more damage than good.
If we are wise, we will seek spiritual gifts, but not position or influence. Every bit of influence that we gain from self-promotion or self-seeking will end up being a stumbling block to us. We will end up falling from every platform that we build for ourselves, and the higher we have built it, the farther we will fall. No one can stand the pressures of true spiritual authority who is not standing on a platform that God has built. The higher the platform we are standing on, the more everything is magnified—the power and the pressures, the fruit and the damage.
It is not wrong to desire a higher platform if we are desiring it for the right reasons—to glorify the name of the Lord and to accomplish His will. But it is wrong for us to build the platform ourselves. The writer of Hebrews stated concerning the priestly ministry, which is the essence of all ministry: “And no one takes the honor to himself, but receives it when he is called by God, even as Aaron was. So also Christ did not glorify Himself so as to become a high priest” (see Hebrews 5:4-5). If this is true of the Lord, how much more should it be true of us?
The tares may seem to be everywhere—in the wheat field, church, the prophetic ministry, and in us as individuals. But even though the Lord commands us to let the wheat and tares grow up together, there must be a separation of the tares from the wheat before bread can be made from it. This is often a very uncomfortable process and can only be done at the right time. It was even said of Jesus, “Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered” (Hebrews 5:8). How much more should we be willing to suffer the trials and tribulations that will bring us to the maturity required for true spiritual authority?
Friends of God
The Lord has entrusted Himself to the prophets to the degree that He will do “nothing unless He reveals His secret counsel to His servants the prophets” (see Amos 3:7). He has obligated Himself to share everything with His prophets simply because He wants to—because the prophets are His friends. The foremost calling of a prophet is to be God’s friend, someone with whom He can share His most intimate purposes. Only friends and true lovers share their deepest secrets with each other because no one else can be trusted with them.
The Lord also said that “the secret of the LORD is for those who fear Him” (see Psalm 25:14). No king would put up with gossips or those prone to spreading the things they heard near his throne, and neither does the Lord. If there is to be a true prophetic voice restored to the church, it must be preceded by a pure, holy, and righteous fear of the Lord. Respect for who He is and the preciousness of His Word is necessary if there is to be a prophetic ministry with the integrity that such a responsibilityrequires.
The Fear of God
Elijah’s first public statement, given before King Ahab of Israel, was indicative of the first principle of prophetic integrity: “…As the LORD, the God of Israel lives, before whom I stand…” (I Kings 17:1). Elijah was testifying that he was not only standing before Ahab, who was merely a human king, he was standing before the Lord, the King of the universe. Elijah lived his life before the living God, not before men.
The Apostle Paul said, “…If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond- servant of Christ” (Galatians 1:10). The degree to which we are seeking the recognition and approval of men is the degree to which our ministry and word will be corrupted, regardless of how often or how solemnly we attach the addendum, “Thus saith theLord.”
Peter was called “Satan” by Jesus because he tried to counsel Him from the perspective of man’s interests rather than God’s (see Matthew 16:21-23). We cannot speak a pure word from the Lord until we are delivered from the fear of man and the desire for man’s recognition and acceptance. We need to be set free from a perspective that only sees things on the basis of man’s interests. When man-centered traits have influence in our lives, we will be prophesying from man’s perspective, and, like Peter, we will become stumbling blocks to the purposes of God.
Often when we pray for the Lord to bring revival or repentance to an area, He sends a drought to get the people’s attention—then we fill the churches to pray for rain! Elijah prayed for the Lord’s judgments to come because he was of one mind with God, not the people. He also understood that being of one mind with the Lord is ultimately in the best interests of the people. Even God’s judgments are in the best interests of the people—if we get judgments, it is because we need them.
Because of Elijah’s uncompromising devotion to God’s interests, even when they conflicted with the desires and lifestyle of the entire nation, he was called the “troubler of Israel” (see I Kings 18:17). The person who fears God more than man will always be perceived as a threat to man and his interests. The true prophet will, in fact, be the greatest threat to people’s perversions but can also bring great hope for their salvation. It is for this reason that prophets who are overly concerned about what people think of them will never fully walk in their calling and can easily be changed into false prophets.
A true prophet is the spokesman of God, not the spokesman of the church. Prophets are given for the equipping of the church, not to speak for her. Those who only receive prophets who verify their doctrines, their ministry, or their vision are probably not receiving true prophets. Self- appointed or self-seeking leaders, who are so insecure that they only receive those who agree with them, will always be in conflict with true prophetic ministry and will often be open to false prophetic ministry. The prophets who only speak what they think will be received by such leaders have perverted the prophetic ministry.
King David is one of the great biblical examples of the leadership that has been appointed and established by God. It is said that even Jesus sits upon the throne of David (see Luke 1:32). A throne is a seat of authority, and David established a position of authority that even the Lord Jesus could sit upon! Nevertheless, David did not even stop the lunatic who cast stones at him because he thought God may have sent him to do it (see II Samuel 16:5-13). David did not want to refuse God’s rebuke if it was due. That is the nature of true authority, which can only come from a true commissioning by God. David was not concerned about what his people thought of this humiliation; he was more intent on trying to receive what God might be trying to say to him.
David knew that if this lunatic was not sent by God, He would judge him. It was this kind of heart that established David’s throne for all generations. In the same way, it is having this heart that will establish our authority and enable it to endure. Those who seek to save their lives or their positions of authority will lose them. But those who are willing to lose everything into the hands of God will truly find their lives and be able to keep the authority and positions to which they are appointed. This utter devotion to God’s glory and purposes will be required not only from all who desire to walk in the true prophetic anointing, but also from churches that will receive the benefit of that ministry.
A Member of the Body
God gives prophets to speak to the church on His behalf. Although every ministry in a sense speaks for the Lord, a prophetic word speaks to a specific situation with a specific revelation of the will and purpose of God concerning it. However, the prophet is just one part of the body of Christ and must function in harmony with the rest of the body.
The prophet is like the nervous system, which carries signals from the brain to the rest of the body. Although its primary function is to represent the head and connect it to the rest of the body, the nervous system also carries some signals (such as pain) from the body back to the brain. The prophet, likewise, must stand in the place of both messenger and intercessor.
The Lord has by no means limited Himself to speaking only through those called as prophets, but that is a prophet’s primary function. Similarly, even though the Lord may choose to use anyone for healing the sick, whether the person has a special gift of healing or not, the one who has this gift will be especially devoted to it. As the Apostle Paul explained, everyone is not a foot or an eye, for “if the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be?” (see I Corinthians 12:17)
Paul also said, “For you can all prophesy one by one” (see I Corinthians 14:31).
Even though the foot is not the eye, when it is dark and one cannot use his eyes, he may stick out his foot to “see” where he is going. While the Lord does appoint many believers to specialize in a ministry, this does not mean those are the only ones He will ever use for that ministry. Not everyone is a prophet, but all may prophesy.
Every member of the body is different. We cannot expect other ministers to be like prophets, nor the prophets to be like other ministers. Actually, every prophet in Scripture was different from all of the other prophets. It is the nature of the Lord to be creative. He makes every person, every tree, and even every snowflake different. When we limit the Lord or the things of the Lord to a certain pattern or formula, we have greatly limited our ability to relate to Him and hear from Him.
Some prophets in the Bible received revelation primarily through visions, others through dreams, others by the word of the Lord, others by discerning His purposes in current events, others through the Scriptures, and others in trances. Some were caught up into the heavenlies so that they were not just seeing a vision—they were actually there. Some received revelation from angels and others directly from the Lord. He may speak to us one way now and the next time speak to us in an entirely different manner. He does not do this to confuse us, but to keep us seeking Him and dependent onHim.
“…For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy” (Revelation 19:10). All true prophecy is His testimony. It comes from Him and draws us to Him. It is what He is saying to His church. Jesus has manifested Himself in different ways—He is a Lion, and He is also a Lamb. He came as the Prince of Peace, and yet He said He came to bring a sword (see Matthew 10:34). These aspects of His nature do not contradict; they complement each other and give us a more complete revelation of Him.
This is why the apostle entreated the Romans to “behold then the kindness and severity of God…” (Romans 11:22) We must behold both His kindness and His severity if we are to have an accurate revelation of His nature. Those who only see His kindness, mercy, and forgiveness have almost inevitably fallen into the bondage of presumptuous grace and unsanctified mercy. Unsanctified mercy is having mercy for things of which God disapproves. Those who only see His severity often become “sheep beaters” who minister more in the spirit of “the accuser of our brethren” (see Revelation 12:10) than in the Spirit of Jesus, who ever lives to intercede for us (see Hebrews 7:25).
Prophets of Christ
We must not be “prophets of grace” or “prophets of judgment,” but rather prophets who give the testimony of Jesus. Different countries and even different parts of countries are under different controlling spirits or principalities. For each country or region, the Lord has a specific message—truth prescribed to set people free from these controlling spirits of darkness.
For example, the southern United States is generally under a religious spirit that promulgates doctrines and mindsets which lead to self-righteousness. In the Midwest, there tends to be almost the opposite problem. There you will find a critical spirit that has driven the people to a sense of unworthiness and an inability to believe that God really loves and accepts them. However, much of the preaching in the South is an overemphasis on God’s kindness, and this has promoted a false concept of grace and a false view of prosperity. Generally, the South needs to hear more about the severity of God, while the Midwest needs to hear more about His kindness.
Those who preach or prophesy must be sensitive to what Jesus is saying in the place where they are and must not just come with a general message of kindness or severity. If we carry the general message of severity to those who are already beaten down by the accuser, we will be feeding that condemning spirit instead of the Spirit and testimony of Jesus. The same is true if we are prone to only preach His kindness. The true prophet will not be “locked in” to a message of mercy, judgment, or any other position, but will speak the present mind of Christ for each situation.
When John received the Revelation, each of the seven churches in Asia Minor needed a different message, even though they existed in the same region at the same period of time. This shows that when we try to give a single message to the whole church, we will seldom really have the mind of the Lord. John was given these messages for the churches by being caught up in the Spirit and receiving them from the Lord, not by going to the churches and trying to judge their condition or needs. Pastors and teachers can sometimes discern the needs for shepherding and teaching by just being with a church and observing it, but that is not how prophets operate. To give the appropriate prophetic message to a church, we must see the Lord, not the people.
Jesus is the Lion and the Lamb. Sometimes He speaks in a “still small voice” (see I Kings 19:12 KJV), and at other times He “roars from Zion” (see Joel 3:16). If we can only hear the still small voice, we will miss Him when He roars and vice versa. It is not how God speaks that enables us to recognize Him—it is the Spirit who is speaking that we must discern. I know my wife’s voice whether she whispers or raises her voice because I know her. If we know the Lord, we will recognize His voice regardless of the manner in which He speaks.
Growing in the Prophetic
One of the most common questions asked of me is, “How does one grow in the prophetic ministry?” Although this is not really an improper question, until it is changed somewhat we may never mature into a true ministry of any type. We are not called primarily to grow up into a ministry— “we are to grow up in all aspects into Him” (see Ephesians 4:15). An apple tree does not have to strive to produce apples; apples will grow because of the kind of tree it is. To walk in true ministry, we must be delivered from a fallacy of the Industrial Age—the need to have a formula for everything. The real issue of ministry is not how we do it, but in whom we are abiding while we doit.
There is no formula or “how to” for becoming prophetic. If God has not called us as a prophet, it cannot be generated by self-effort. We can ask for spiritual gifts and receive them, but the existence of gifts in our lives does not necessarily mean we have an office of ministry in the church. If the Lord has called us to a certain ministry, it will be evident in the rightseason.
It is not wrong to desire a ministry as long as we desire it for the right reason—which is to serve the purpose of God. When that is our motive, we are able to maintain the simplicity of devotion to Christ. Ministry, then, is but a means for serving Him. When ministry itself is our emphasis, it will be a tainted ministry at best. If testifying of Him is our central devotion, we are close to that which is truly prophetic, which is “the testimony of Jesus” (see Revelation 19:10). As the Lord warned, “He who speaks from himself seeks his own glory [or recognition]; but He who is seeking the glory [or recognition] of the One who sent Him, He is true…” (see John7:18).
Regardless of which ministry we are called to, we must not copy or emulate other people, but rather the One whose image we are called to bear. Schools for prophets may be helpful, but they will be counterproductive if they just bring forth “parrots” who all prophesy the same things. Sadly, I can tell the denomination of most ministers by their clothes and, in some cases, by the cars they drive. Where does this compulsion toward uniformity come from? It is contrary to both the natural creation and the new creation.
There is a place for learning from those who are our elders and who have gone before us, and there is a true discipleship that must be restored to the church. However, true discipleship must allow the unique gifts and calling of each individual to come forth. It must prepare people and point them to an increasingly direct relationship with the Lord. Even though we may love and appreciate our natural parents and may occasionally turn to them for counsel even when we are grown, there is a time when we must become the heads of our own families. Wise parents prepare their children for that time, which means helping them to become increasingly independent.
Not Forsaking the Assembling
One must first learn to be independent before it will be possible to attain the highest form of maturity—interdependence. Healthy relationships are based on interdependence, not co- dependence. Before we can achieve this, we must come to know and be secure in our own identity. It would be hard for a hand to properly function with the rest of the body if it did not know it was a hand or did not know the proper functions of a hand. Without this knowledge, it might one day try to be a foot, the next day an ear, etc. Is this not what we see so often in the church?
The biblical exhortation to “not [forsake] the assembling of ourselves together…” (Hebrews 10:25 KJV) was not just referring to church meetings, but also to the way in which the different parts must be assembled together to make a whole. The real school and crucible of the prophetic ministry comes as we properly learn to fit and function with the rest of the body of Christ. This is because Jesus was not just a Prophet; He was THE Shepherd, THE Evangelist, THE Teacher, and THE Apostle. His prophetic ministry flowed in perfect harmony with the other aspects of His ministry. All who walk in true prophetic ministry will fit with the other ministries as well.
Unlike their Old Testament counterparts, New Testament prophets are a part of a body of different ministries which must all function together in order to be complete. In Christ, no ministry is to be independent of the others, but all are interdependent and must work as one unit. A prophet’s ultimate identity cannot be realized without being properly joined to the Head and to the rest of His body. Neither will any of the other ministries be complete without the prophet. Paul said that “we have the mind of Christ,” not “I” (see I Corinthians 2:16). It is as we all come together that we have His mind and His ministry. When Jesus “ascended on high” and “gave gifts to men” (see Ephesians 4:8), He was giving Himself to men.
As stated, Jesus is THE Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist, Pastor, and Teacher. Now since these aspects of His ministry are given to individuals, all of these gifted individuals must come together in order to have the complete ministry of Christ. This is why Paul also explained to the Corinthians that “…the testimony concerning Christ was confirmed in you, so that you are not lacking in any gift…” (I Corinthians 1:6-7). The complete testimony of Christ can only be presented by all of the gifts and ministries functioning together as one unit. Jesus prayed for His people to be “perfected [literally, made complete] in unity” (see John 17:23).
The writer of Hebrews opened his Epistle, “God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us IN HIS SON…” (Hebrews 1:1-2). The Old Covenant prophets were prophesying of Jesus who was to come; the New Covenant prophets are prophesying in Jesus as members of His very body. New Covenant prophesying is to be in harmony with the full revelation of His Person, nature, and commission, as manifested in the rest of the gifts and ministries distributed to the church.
Why We Must Emphasize the Prophetic
We have come to a period in which the prophetic ministry will be emphasized, and, for a time, it needs to be. It must be fully restored as a vital part of the ministry of Christ in His church. If it is restored properly, it will bring about a greater realization and more complete restoration of the other ministries as well. They are all required for the complete testimony of Christ and for the complete fulfillment of their own purpose and function.
No ministry which rejects or avoids what is now happening in the restoration of the prophetic ministry will be able to truly fulfill its own calling and purpose in this hour. Prophets who reject or avoid integration into the rest of the body of Christ are not true New Covenant prophets, regardless of their gifts or the accuracy of their doctrine. Today the Father is speaking “in His Son” (see Hebrews 1:2). It is true that one can be “joined to the church,” according to the popular interpretations of what that means, without genuinely being joined to the Head. But no one can be properly joined to the Head without also being joined to His body, the church.
We shall continue with Prophetic Particles part two in the coming subjects;
Asher the bondservant of the Lord Jesus Christ and God the Father.
God enable you to read and understand all and follow the coming Particles of Prophetic Ministry.
When I find and get edifying message from the Holy Spirit we shall always share until the enemy is defeated. It is our work to reveal the mysteries of God and the truth of God, and of the word, the counterfeit shall be exposed. Peace be with you all and Grace be multiplied.