Bible Reading: Acts 21:1-14
We continue today with more simple Biblical truths about the gift of prophecy.
Firstly, we must recognise that personal prophecy is always partial. Paul writes, “For we know in part and we prophesy in part. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known” [1 Corinthians 13:9,12]. Each prophecy touches only a small segment of our lives. Prophecy is not only partial, but also progressive in the sense that it unfolds gradually over the years with each word adding new information and revelation. It is also conditional – the fulfilment of a prophecy requires the participation and co-operation of the one receiving the prophetic word.
Secondly, a person who has received a word of prophecy must ultimately make their own decision about what they should do, based on what they sense that the Holy Spirit is saying to them and not what He may be saying to others. One of the most remarkable stories in the Book of Acts concerns a prophecy given to Paul. Paul had been advised by the disciples in Tyre not to go up to Jerusalem [Acts 21:4]. Paul then travelled to Caesarea and stayed there for many days [Acts 21:8-10]. Agabus, a prophet from Judea met with Paul in Caesarea and performed a prophetic act. He took Paul’s belt, bound his own hands and feet with the belt, and then pronounced, “Thus says the Holy Spirit, ‘So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man who owns this belt, and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles’” [Acts 21:10-11]. After Paul had received this word the disciples in Caesarea, including Luke, tried to persuade him not to go to Jerusalem [Acts 21:12]. Despite all these voices Paul had to make his own decision. It is important that when a person receives a word of prophecy they weigh it up and test it, and then make their own decisions based on what the Holy Spirit has been saying to them.
In our Bible reading Agabus is called “a prophet.” The office of a prophet was an appointment by the risen Christ [Ephesians 4:11] whereas the gift of prophecy is given by the Holy Spirit and available for all believers to exercise.
A prophet functions as a divinely appointed preacher, predicts future events, and is watchman over the affairs of God’s people. In this sense it is correct to say that a man like Dr. A.W.Tozer was a prophet in his generation.
Over the next two days I want to take a careful look at how a prophetic word should be tested. It is vital that prophetic words are weighed and tested.
Why is it important that we make our own decisions concerning guidance?
What might be the dangers for a person making a decision based on a word of prophecy that someone has given them, if they themselves are not in tune with what the Holy Spirit is saying to them personally?
It is clearly Biblical that God intends people to give words of prophecy. What dangers must people who do this avoid in order to keep their hearts pure?