Bible Reading: 2 Chronicles 20:1-30
We now come to the third group of the gifts of the Spirit. There were the gifts to know [revelation], the gifts to do [power], and now the gifts to speak [utterance]. These gifts to speak are prophecy, tongues, and the interpretation of tongues. God’s word says, “to another [is given] prophecy” [1 Cor.12:10].
Prophecy is the ability to speak in a language understood by others, using words that are given and inspired by the Holy Spirit. It is communicating a revealed message from the heart of God into a given situation. It is more than just inspired preaching, although the preacher may speak prophetically. Prophecy does not come from human reasoning, education or Bible school training but from the heart of God. Wayne Grudem defines the gift of prophecy as “telling something that God has spontaneously brought to mind.”
Paul needed to correct some misunderstandings about both speaking in tongues and prophecy in the church at Corinth, and so 1 Corinthians chapter 14 is given entirely to these subjects. In this chapter Paul gives several important guidelines concerning prophecy:
Firstly, Prophecy is a gift that we should desire.
We should “Pursue love and desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy” [1 Corinthians 14:1]. The word desire is the Greek word ‘zeloo’ which means “to be zealous for,” “to pursue ardently,” and “to desire earnestly or intensely.”
Secondly, Prophecy edifies the church.
When a person speaks in a tongue they speak to God and he edifies himself, but when a person prophesies he edifies the church [1 Corinthians 14:2-4].
Thirdly, Prophecy is a gift for every believer.
Paul desired that everyone spoke in tongues, but even more that all should prophesy. There are two purposes for the gift of tongues. The personal/private use is for personal edification. The public use of tongues (with interpretation), together with prophecy, edifies the church.
What a challenge! Every believer desiring to prophesy, in order to edify the church! Sadly many of our church meetings do not make room for this much needed prophetic ministry, but it is a great necessity. Tomorrow we will take a closer look at the purpose of prophecy.
Try to form a mental picture of the church’s worship in the church at Corinth. In what ways did it differ from the church’s worship today? Did it include any features, no longer familiar, which it would be good to see restored?
In our Bible reading today we saw how God worked for the Israelites as they faced a powerful enemy. What was the prophetic word given through Jahaziel and how did it impact God’s people?