Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I. Send me!”
The use of prophecy is hotly contested in the church today- I haven’t come to debate that! Firstly, it’s clear that many do not understand the prophetic function in the body of Christ. As a result, endless wolves have crept in claiming to be prophets: claiming to be sent, chosen, called- you name it. Many don’t even understand the difference between the prophetic gift and the Prophetic Office… people think it’s the same, but it’s not.
The former is a temporary unction (urging) given by the Holy Spirit whereby any member of the church who is (1) born again, and (2) walking in righteousness and obedience to Scriptures can be used by God to deliver a message, to see or ‘speak’ into the future, or to receive previously unknown information they may or may not be instructed to share publicly- all in order to bring wisdom, knowledge and understanding to the body of Christ. Prophecy does the great work of “Building Up” believers: it strengthens, comforts and reminds them that God is actively and intently involved in the lives of His people. When used properly the prophetic gift is a beautiful and helpful gift from God intended to comfort and instruct his people.
The spiritual gift of prophecy is one of the gifts of the Spirit, and here’s a bit more about it.
“To another [is given] how to work of miracles; to another prophecy; to another how to discern between spirits; to another different kinds of tongues; to another interpretation of tongues:” – (1 Corinthians 12:10)
“We have then gifts that differ according to the grace that is given to us, if it is a gift of prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; ” – (Romans 12:6)
“For everyone can prophesy in turn, so that everyone can be instructed and everyone can be encouraged. – (1 Corinthians 14:31)
It is clear from these verses that this gift is meant to operate in ALL who believe in Jesus Christ. On a small scale we experience prophecy every time Jesus speaks to us. On the larger end prophesying grows in proportion to our faith, so over time you may see someone greatly empowered to flow in this gift as their life becomes more surrendered, cleaned up and fully submitted to Jesus as Lord. This person is not a prophet (one who holds the office), but they are still a weapon in the hand of God. They can be used at any moment by the leading of the Spirit to deliver powerful messages to bring men’s hearts back to God. With prophecy God assures us that He is always near and watching over us.
Conversely, a Prophet is one who holds one of the five-fold ministry offices. This person is usually a set apart, chosen individual that God planned to use as a prophet, usually before birth. Someone may or may not know he/ she is a prophet, but there are many ways and tests we can use to rightly determine if they are. The main thing I will emphasise is this: Prophets are NEVER self appointed. Jesus is the only one who can call and establish them.
“And he gave some as apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; to perfect the saints, to do the work of ministry, to build up the body of Christ: – (Ephesians 4:11-12)
“Before I created you within your mother I knew you, and before you came out of the womb I set you apart as holy, and I pronounced you as a prophet to the nations. Then I said I, Ah, Lord God! See, I cannot speak: I am only a youth. But the Lord said to me, Do not say I am a youth: for you will go to everyone I sent you to, and you will speak whatever I command you to speak. Do not be afraid of their faces, for I am with you to save you, said the Lord. Then the Lord stretched out His his hand and touched my mouth. And the Lord said to me: Behold, I have put my words in your mouth. See, I have this day set you over nations and over kingdoms, to root out and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down, to build, and to plant. – (Jeremiah 1: 5-10)
A prophet must be called by God. They will speak for God based on what HE tells them to say, and may be at a level high enough where they are sent to speak to leaders and rulers of countries. They operate at the Lord’s pleasure, and should never come up with “stuff” just because there’s pressure on them to prophesy. The flow of the gift operates from the Lord ONLY, not the other way around. Also, in every real prophet’s life you’ll find an origin story- a “who/ what/ where” if you will. This person must be able to state with conviction and clarity when they began operating in the prophetic anointing: having dreams with God or the Holy Spirit as the centerpiece, able to interpret dreams, able to provide godly instruction to others by divine wisdom or revelation gifts operating, being led to private, often driving prayer by God, able to speak and command larger spiritual territory than just themselves, able to see hidden things, and predict things before they happen, or declare that they will happen- there are a lot of markers.
You cannot decide one day that this prophet job seems nicer than other ones in Christianity, so you’re going to get a fancy suit, shoes polished to a diamond shine, a microphone, and prophesy. You’re looking to invite God’s anger if you do, as well as attract serious demonic powers to your life- (these are called divination spirits, though what you can attract isn’t limited to those). Such entities love nothing more than the illegitimate use of power among Christians, because it brings curses on those who listen to the false prophecies, and wrath on the false prophets too. False prophecy seriously warps the spiritual dynamic of churches, nations and even individuals’ lives.
Preparation for this office is usually long, arduous and very, very humbling. A Prophet is able to hear from the Lord on a consistent basis, differing from the prophetic gift which flows largely in the presence of greater anointing, in a corporate gathering or church, or in private times with God. Prophets inhabit an ongoing, consistent dialogue with the Lord- they hear Him on matters great and small, personal and public. They hear things that haven’t happened yet, and “speak forth” things they have no way of knowing except that God told them. Their duty is to declare what they hear from God as HE instructs. Once they do that they have obeyed God- the responsibility is now on the people as to whether they believe what God has said or not.
I pray that if you’ve read this far, you’ll stay connected to hear what God will share in future.