on being prophetic (2)
When people think of “prophets” they may think of prophecies that predict the future. I used to think that was what the spiritual gift of prophecy is- some divine knowledge of future events. In some way that may be correct; God can give someone knowledge of the future to share with others. Really, though, prophets are people who know the mind of God on issues affecting the church and who speaks these things of God into a community to bring growth and transformation. They may not know anything about future events, but they
To get a better idea of what modern day prophets may look like, it makes sense to look to the new testament. It seems like there is a difference between prophets in the old testament and the spiritual gift of prophecy in the new testament. In the OT, prophets spoke with the full authority of God. They were direct mouthpieces of God, being able to say “thus says the Lord…” with full divine authority. Their words were God’s words and became scripture. To disobey their words would be to disobey God.
New testament prophecy seems to be a little different… perhaps a little less divine or less authoritative. The spiritual gift of prophecy seen in the NT seems to be revelations from God spoken by the merely human prophet. In 1 Thessalonians 5:20-21 Paul says “Do not despise prophesying, but test everything; hold fast to what is good.” It seems that if prophecy can be questioned, it is probably not the authoritative word of God but the word of God filtered through people. Paul repeats this theme in 1 Corinthians 14:29, “Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others weigh what is said.” I know these scriptures are ripped out of context, but the theme seems to ring true to the overall NT. The spiritual gift of prophecy was given to many in the Church at Pentecost (see Acts 2:16-18 ) and seems to be a widespread gift to many rather than to a few select mouthpieces of God. So prophecy today should probably be treated as it was in the NT. It should be tested against the bible by the Church, but taken very seriously as a revelation of God given to a member of the Church. To someone with the spiritual gift of prophecy, it may be seen as a great gift or as a burden.
A prophet in today’s church may be someone who is a questioner, a disturber, or an agitator. They may feel that God is calling them to give the church a new direction or to return to faithfulness. This may lead them to disturb the status quo and challenge the church body to move in new directions.For these reasons those with a prophetic function within a church may get marginalized or cast out of a church. Like those in the OT, using the spiritual gift of prophecy may be seen in high regard by some and despised by others.
Hope you enjoy this FABULOUS prophet picture. Don’t worry, there is more where that came from!