I recently had a conversation with a beloved Sister in Christ regarding "the prophetic". From some of my comments about "false prophets", she thought I might be expressing doubt in the gift of prophecy being viable for today. I assured her that I absolutely believe that prophecy is important in the Body of Christ today. I just struggle with the amount of men and women that I discern are prophesying from their soul [and from pride] and not out of their spirit.
In other words, I believe what 1 Corinthians 12 says ... God, as the Holy Spirit, distributes the spiritual gifts [word of wisdom and word of knowledge; along with faith, healing, miracles, prophecy, discerning between spirits, speaking in tongues, and the interpretation of tongues]. Jesus, as God, ordains the ministries of apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers. And the the Father, who is the same God as Jesus and Holy Spirit, empowers them [for His will to be done] through their gifts and ministries, as He energizes and activates them.
And, of course, Jesus can use His ordained men and women to help grow and mature others until we are called to step into those ministries. But I'm very careful to discern who is a REAL and LEGITIMATE prophet, ordained by God, and not simply men giving each other that title, through a Church committee, or by self-proclamation. Furthermore, the fact that I believe God still ordains prophets today, is evidence that I believe God still speaks prophetically to His "called out ones", just as He did to Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Isaiah, Daniel, Zechariah, etc.
These prophets all foresaw the coming Messiah, and spoke of what Almighty God told them, teaching ancient Israel about the laws and statutes of the One True God and how to live in them. When instructed by God, the prophets of old called the people to repentance when they strayed from those laws and the holy lifestyle they were meant to protect. And although they would not see Him, it was their assignment to bear witness that the Lord YHWH would send them a Redeemer; the Messiah. And, miraculously, all the prophesies in the Old Testament concerning the First Coming of Jesus were literally fulfilled -- among them, His divine conception and His place of Birth; the Holiness of His character; that He would be David's seed; that He would be crushed for our iniquities; and that His body would not be allowed to decay (prophesying His resurrection on the third day, before decay began to set in on the fourth day).
These reasons that God sent prophets in the Old Testament are the same reasons He sent His Son, Yeshua Ha Mashiach -- to stress a return to the moral laws and statutes of God; to call the people to repentance (Repent for the Kingdom of God is at hand!); to instruct them on how to live a holy lifestyle; and to bear witness of Himself, sent by God And for the record, these same reasons are why I do believe that the spiritual gift of Prophecy is for the Believer today, and it did not cease after the Apostles died.
My spirit clearly discerns that this gift [along with all the other spiritual gifts] was given to the early Church to advance the Kingdom of God that Jesus brought to the earth, and all the gifts are just as needed today! I don't understand why anyone in the Body of Christ would think that God revoked those gifts in the First Century. The Gospel of the Kingdom certainly had not spread throughout the world, and there was still so much work and progress that needed to happen to restore the earth and the Kingdom to God's original plan -- we're still far short of that goal! So, let me share with you a few reasons that the particular gift of Prophecy is so important for strengthening and cultivating a Kingdom culture.
First of all, God did not design us to be completely mature in our faith the moment we received our Salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. It is a process of growing up into the image of Christ, and that will take practice and commitment. Also, the point of Salvation is not to give us a "get out of jail free" card so we can live out our lives, simply waiting on the promises of God -- His strength; His rest; His provision; the answers to our prayers; His protection; His freedom from temptation to sin; and most importantly, everlasting life. Additionally, "the prophetic" is more than what is predicted to happen in the future. If understood correctly, Prophecy gives us a spiritual foundation upon which to build a Kingdom lifestyle -- it instructs us how to live and gives us goals for spiritual growth.
NOTE: It is important for Christians to grow into the mature understanding that the Kingdom of God on earth is a spiritual kingdom -- NOT a physical kingdom. That's why Jesus responds to Pilate in this way when asked about His Kingdom: My kingdom is not of this world, if it were, My servants would fight to prevent My arrest by the Jews. But now My kingdom is not of this realm". But the influence of His spiritual kingdom can now [and will in the future] manifest changes in the earth and in nations and in peoples.
For example, Jesus gives many prophetic pronouncements to the Disciples before His Death on the Cross. He foretells the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD; and warns of false christs and prophets, wars, tribulation, persecution, lawlessness, and most importantly, the Coming of the Son of Man. All these prophecies will be fulfilled, just as the prophecies of the Old Testament were, and they will serve to validate that Jesus was who He [and the Bible] says He was!
The state of this world is evidence that humankind has strayed far from the moral laws of God. If we only looked at the news and the events around us, it would be easy to lose hope and give up on this life and the reasons we are living. But prophecy serves to give us that hope and to inspire us to live a holy life, awaiting in patience and endurance for the return of the Lord. Now, if we lived only in the prophecies of Jesus in Matthew 24 [of wars, tribulation, persecution, and lawlessness], it would be easy to become discouraged. But God provides those glimpses of the future so that we might not become too lax, but that we might become strengthened and prepared [in our faith] for the Enemy's strategies. As Amos 3:7 says, "The Sovereign Lord does nothing without revealing His plan to His servants the prophets".
So, Jesus gave those prophecies for His Disciples [in their time] and for us, in our time, so that we might begin to understand and correctly identify the season we are in. Remember, we are not to know the hour or the day, but we are to watch and remain sober, because we are children of the Light. We can see and discern correctly, because we recognize the signs the prophets have given us, and begin to look forward to our Lord's return.
I am thankful that God still sends us Prophets and Watchmen! I praise Him for continuing to validate Scripture and our faith through the words of those He appoints as prophets. I am thankful for the discernment He gives us, so that we might hear correctly from these men and women of God, and not be deceived by those who seek to validate themselves. God is still speaking to this generation, and Prophecy is still good for educating, encouraging, and comforting the Body of Christ. Let the true prophets of God share what they're hearing from the Lord!
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2 Peter 1:19 And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts