Bible Reading: 1 Corinthians 14:1-40
“But [on the other hand] the one who prophesies, speaks to people for edification [to promote their spiritual growth] and [speaks words of] encouragement [to uphold and advise them concerning the matters of God] and [speaks words of] consolation [to compassionately comfort them]” [1 Corinthians 14:3 Amplified Bible]
The purpose of prophecy is to edify, exhort and comfort [1 Corinthians 14:3].
It is specifically directed to believers [1 Corinthians 14:22], although sometimes it will convict an unbeliever of sin and lead them to fall on their face and worship God [1 Corinthians 14:24-25]
The first purpose of prophecy is to edify. The word ‘edify’ comes from the Greek word ‘oikodomi’ = “building”. Prophecy is “to build up,” “to strengthen,” and to make people more effective as members of the body of Christ.
The first prophecy that I remember being given to me was on the night I was first filled with the Holy Spirit. I only remember one sentence of the prophetic word spoken to me that night. It was this: “You will walk in the midst of terrible darkness but you will be light in the Lord.” That word lived with me for those early years as we ministered in a fanatical Muslim area and as I look back over many years it continues to bless me. It was a word in season from the heart of God that strengthened me.
The second purpose of prophecy is to exhort. The word ‘exhort’ comes from the Greek word ‘parakaleo’, ‘para’ = alongside, and ‘kaleo’ = to call, to beckon. These two words combined depict someone who is right alongside a person, “to stimulate,” “to encourage,” “to admonish,” and “to stir up.” It can include a severe warning or rebuke, but is never condemnatory! It does not discourage or condemn! If it does then it is not prophecy and its source must be questioned.
Esther and I knew that God had called us to Indonesia. He had spoken to both of us individually and separately, and yet I had been rejected by the missionary agency that we believed God had called us to serve under. We were late going into a meeting one night at a church in the East End of London. The only places left to sit were on the front row of the church. The preacher was speaking but suddenly stopped and looked at me. His name was George Stormont. We had never met before. He pointed at me and said, “Young man, you shall go to all the people that I will send you to. Do not be afraid of their faces, for I am with you to deliver you, says the Lord.” This was a powerful prophetic exhortation that stirred my faith and encouraged me to press forward.
Why do you think that prophesy is such a powerful gift? Why do you think that Paul encourages everyone to prophesy? What does that mean to you personally?