“But he who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men. He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church.” (1 Corinthians 14:3-4 NKJV).
Out of the nine spiritual gifts or manifestations of the Spirit listed in 1 Cor. 12:4-11, three of the gifts can be classified as the Gifts of Inspiration, namely Prophecy, Different Kinds of Tongues, and the Interpretation of Tongues.
The inspirational or vocal gifts are spontaneous supernatural vocalisation, verbalisation, articulation, or proclamation of divine words or revelations from the Holy Spirit through the vocal or speech organs of the believers.
Let us examine the gifts of inspiration one after the other.
First, the Gift of Prophecy:
The gift of prophecy is not the same as the ministry or office of the prophet. Operating in the gift of prophecy, that is, being able to prophesy, does not qualify you to stand in the office of a prophet.
To stand in the office of a prophet you must be divinely called into the office and ministry of a prophet, and must have a consistent manifestation of the gifts of revelation (Word of Knowledge, Word of Wisdom and the Discerning of Spirits) in addition to the inspirational gifts especially, the gift of prophecy.
The gift of prophecy is also not the same as the ability to preach and teach God’s Word.
Prophecy and preaching are not the same things!
Preaching is from the Greek word “Kerysso” meaning “to herald, announce, publish, tell, or proclaim divine truth (the gospel).”
But, the word ‘Prophecy’ is from the Greek “Propheteia” meaning “to bubble up, to flow forth, or to cause to drop like rain.”
Unlike preaching and teaching which are often pre-planned or pre-organized before delivery, prophecy is a spontaneous, inspired, and anointed utterance in a known tongue.
The gift of prophecy is not supernatural ability to forecast or predict the future.
The word “Prophecy” is from two Greek words: “Pro” (meaning “forth”) and “Phemi” (meaning “to speak”).
Therefore, prophecy is not future-telling or prediction, but the speaking forth of the mind and counsel of God. It is “the forth-telling” of the will of God whether with reference to the past, the present, or the future.
Prophecy is a supernatural proclamation of the mind of God. It is calling forth words from the Spirit of God. It is the spontaneous supernatural declaration of that which cannot be known by any natural means.
The Scripture is replete with the manifestation of the gift of prophecy (1 Sam. 10:5-13, 2 Kings 2:14-20, Acts 11:28, 19:1-6, 21:10-14).
Although the gift of prophecy has greatly been abused and commercialized in the Church today, yet it is an indispensable gift in the Church.
Apostle Paul encouraged us to “Pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy.” (1 Cor. 14:1 NKJV).
“Therefore, brethren, desire earnestly to prophesy, and do not forbid to speak with tongues.” (1 Cor. 14:39 NKJV).
Why is the gift of prophecy so essential in the Church today?
Because of its significant blessings – the edification, exhortation and comfort of God’s people!
Paul explains, “But he who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men. He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church.” (1 Cor. 14:3-4 NKJV).
Also, through the exercise of the gift of prophecy, the believers can also receive divine counsel, encouragement, confirmation, instruction, direction and correction from God (1 Sam. 10:5-13).
While the Scripture warns us not to despise prophecies, however, it cautions us against believing and acting hastily upon prophecies without testing, examining and judging them carefully.
“Do not despise prophecies. Test all things; hold fast what is good.” (1 Thess. 5:20-21 NKJV).
“Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others judge.” (1 Cor. 14:29 NKJV).
“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” (1 John 4:1 NKJV).
How do you test, judge or determine whether a prophecy is from God or not?
Simply by asking some questions!
First, does the prophecy perfectly agree with the Scripture?
Any prophecy that is not perfectly consistent with the teachings, doctrines and principles of Christ and His early apostles recorded in the New Testament is not from the Holy Spirit and must be totally and vehemently rejected.
Isaiah warns, “To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” (Isa. 8:20 NKJV).
Apostle John also warns, “If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him; for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds.” (2 John 1:10-11 NKJV).
Second, who does the prophecy glorify?
If the prophecy does not ultimately promote, exalt, magnify or glorify Christ; it is not from the Holy Spirit, for the Holy Spirit is here primarily to glorify Jesus Christ.
If the prophecy promotes, glorifies, or magnifies the prophet or the person exercising the gift of prophecy, it is certainly not from the Holy Spirit.
The Lord Jesus said of the Holy Spirit, “He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you.” (John 16:14 NKJV).
Third, what fruits can you see in the life of the person prophesying or the prophet?
The Scripture warns, “You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? “Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit.” (Matt. 7:16-17 NKJV).
If the prophet bears no Christ-like fruits, his prophecy may not be from the Holy Spirit (2 Thess. 3:6).
Fourth, what are the results or outcomes of the prophecy?
Does the prophecy result in bondage or liberty?
Does it produce or promote peace or fear?
God does not frighten or terrorize the New Covenant believers with prophecies.
The Psalmist testifies, “I will hear what God the LORD will speak, for He will speak peace to His people and to His saints; But let them not turn back to folly.” (Psa. 85:8 NKJV).
Lastly, is there any witness in your spirit that the prophecy is from God?
If truly you are a believer when someone is prophesying from the same Holy Spirit dwelling in you there will be a witness, a divine conviction, or confirmation in your spirit (Rom. 8:16, 1 John 2:20, 27).
Beloved, don’t let anyone hurry, pressurize, cajole or coax you into believing, accepting and acting upon any prophecy without having thoroughly judged or examined it, and without being fully convinced or persuaded in your spirit that it is from God.
That is not operating in unbelief; it is operating in divine wisdom!
Heed John’s admonition, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” (1 John 4:1 NKJV).
What about other Inspirational Gifts – Different Kinds of Tongues and the Interpretation of Tongues?
Find out what the Scripture teaches about them in the next piece.
Prayer: My Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the unction within me to know, test and judge prophecies accurately. My Dear Holy Spirit, from today henceforth, teach and help me to test, examine and judge every prophecy I receive before believing and acting upon them, in Jesus’ name. Amen.