THE GIFT OF PROPHECY – 5

Bible Reading: Acts 11:19-30

Over the next few days we will look at some simple Biblical facts about prophecy.

Firstly, there are different levels of prophecy. It might be a simple word of encouragement or communicating Scripture. It could be a picture that God has given you for someone. It may foretell the future as in the case of a man named Agabus, who by the Spirit said that there was going to be a great famine throughout the whole world [Acts 11:27-28]. The effect of that prophecy was to motivate the disciples to give and send relief to the Christians in Judea.

Many years ago Robert Fergusson and I were at a Bible College in Central Java. We had been asked to help activate prophetic ministry among the students. After an hour of teaching on the subject, Robert got the students into pairs, and told them to ask God for words for each other. At the end of the exercise he asked how many had heard something from God that was really meaningful and had strengthened or encouraged them. Most of the students acknowledged that God had spoken to them. This is prophecy in its simplest form.

Secondly, to prophesy requires faith. Paul wrote to the church in Rome, “Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith” [Romans 12:6]. It is one thing to hear from God, but another to speak it out to either an individual or group. In my own experience I have often hesitated when I have felt that I had prophetic word, because of my concern not to make a mistake. That may have protected me. If the word that I have felt God spoke to me does not diminish, but rather grows stronger within me, then I become more confident to share it, but it does require launching out in faith to speak. I have sometimes prefixed a word that I have shared with a statement such as, “I believe God is saying….” recognising that all prophetic words have to be tested [see 1 Thessalonians 5:20-21]. It was right for the Old Testament prophets to say, “Thus says the Lord,” but that may not be helpful for us as we share from God’s heart today. Prophecy does not have to sound religious!

Finally, the ministry of prophecy is for both men and woman. Sometimes the church has made it difficult for a woman to minister, but it is clear from God’s Word that women may prophesy. Anna was a prophetess [Luke 2:36], and the four daughters of Philip all prophesied [see Acts 21:8-9].

Questions:

What is it that would hinder you from waiting on God for a word of prophecy and then speaking it out?

Do you find it encouraging that there are different levels of prophecy, and that as with all gifts we can grow in the use of prophecy?