Topical - Holy Spirit - Prophecy-Speaking Forth the Word of God

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“Speaking Forth The Word of God”

1 Corinthians 12:8-10

I.       The Gift of Prophecy.

A.     Prophecy in the Bible.

       The gift of prophecy is speaking forth the Word of God through the anointing of the Holy Spirit.  It is being a channel through which the Lord may speak.

               We are told that, “God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, (Hebrews 1:1)

               Peter tells us that, “prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. (2 Peter 1:21)

               Despite common belief, prophecy is not only foretelling the future.  Most of prophecy is forthtelling, or speaking forth the Word of God.  In fact, the gift of prophecy as it was practiced in the early church was more often used for edification, for exhortation, and for comfort that it was for predicting future events, “But he who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men. (1 Corinthians 14:3).

1.       Prophecy in the Old Testament.

a)        Prophecy Was a Common Gift in the Old Testament.

1)        Moses was a prophet and served as God’s spokesman to the people.

(a)      He gave God’s guidance & instruction to his fellow Israelites.

(b)      Most of what he said was God’s direction for Israel’s ongoing relationship with God.

(c)      Some of what Moses said was predictive.

2)        David is listed in Acts 2:30 as another prophet of God.

(a)      Many of his Psalms speak of the Messiah to come.  The New Testament often quoted them, and says they were fulfilled in the life of Jesus. 

3)        Elijah and Elisha are other well-known prophets.

(a)      They were God’s spokesmen, warning the king and the people of God’s coming judgment.

2.       New Testament Prophecy.

a)        New Testament Counterparts to Old Testament. Prophets Are New Testament Apostles.

1)        Old Testament prophets had an amazing responsibility

·         They were able to speak and write words that had absolute divine authority.  They could say, "Thus says the Lord," and the words that followed were the very words of God.

·         The Old Testament prophets wrote their words as God's words in Scripture for all time (see Num. 22:38; Deut. 18:18-20; Jer. 1:9; Ezek. 2:7; et al.). Therefore, to disbelieve or disobey a prophet's words was to disbelieve or disobey God (see Deut. 18:19; 1 Sam. 8:7; 1 Kings 20:36; and many other passages).

2)        New Testament No Longer Calls Them Prophets but Apostles. 

(a)      Jesus no longer calls them "prophets" but uses a new term, "apostles."

1.         The apostles are the New Testament counterpart to the Old Testament prophets (see 1 Cor. 2:13; 2 Cor. 13:3; Gal. 1:8-9; 11-12; 2 Thess. 12:13; 4:8,15; 2 Peter 3:2). It is the apostles, not the prophets, who have authority to write the words of New Testament Scripture.

2.         When the apostles want to establish their unique authority they never appeal to the title "prophet" but rather call themselves "apostles" (Rom. 1:1; 1 Cor. 1:1; 9:1-2; 2 Cor. 1:1; 11:12-13; 12:11-12; Gal. 1:1; Eph. 1:1; 1 Peter 1:1; 2 Peter 1:1; 3:2).

b)        The Meaning of the Word Prophet in the Time of the New Testament.

1)        The Greek word prophetes ("prophet") had a very broad range of meanings.

(a)      It generally did not have the sense "one who speaks God's very words" but rather "one who speaks on the basis of some external influence" (often a spiritual influence of some kind).

1.         Titus 1:12 uses the word in this sense, where Paul quotes the pagan Greek poet.

2.         The soldiers who mock Jesus also seem to use the word prophesy in this way, when they blindfold Jesus and cruelly demand, "Prophesy! Who is it that struck you?" (Luke 22:64). They do not mean, "Speak words of absolute divine authority," but, "Tell us something that has been revealed to you" (cf. John 4:19).

3.         The words prophet and prophecy were used of ordinary Christians who spoke not with absolute divine authority, but simply to report something that God had laid on their hearts or brought to their minds.

c)        New Testament prophets usually were "forthtelling" God's message to the Church.

1)        The exception is Agabus who foretold a drought (Acts 11:27-28) and Paul's imprisonment. (Acts 21:10-14).

(a)      Acts 13:1-2 – usually these men also served as pastors.

(b)      Acts 15:32

(c)      Ephesians 4:11

(d)      1 Timothy 4:14 – those who would exercise the gift of a prophet, many times they would prophesy the gifts that God was bestowing upon the individual or speak of something pertaining to his life or to his ministry.

2)        Woman as well as men occupy the office of prophet.

(a)      Miriam, the sister of Moses; Deborah and Huldah.

(b)      Anna, the eighty-year-old woman who prophesied about Jesus (Luke 2:25-40).

(c)      The daughters of Philip were called prophetesses (Acts 21:8-9)

(d)      Joel’s prophesy (Joel 2:28; Acts 2:17).

1.         Biblically the only ministry from which a woman is not to hold is teaching men (1Tim.2:12). 

2.         Paul instructs the church to let the older women teach the younger (Titus 2:3,4) & commended Timothy because his mother and grandmother taught him from the time he was a child concerning the things of the Lord.    

B.     The Purpose of Prophecy.

1.       The Difference Between Prophecy and Teaching.

a)        New Testament "prophecy" was based on spontaneous prompting from the Holy Spirit

1)        Unless a person receives a spontaneous "revelation" from God, there is no prophecy.

(a)      A man's words may be inspired by God without his even knowing it

1.         The unsaved (John 11:45-53) or the saved (Matthew 16:13-17)

(b)      Mark 8:31-33 – A man can also be parroting the words of Satan without realizing it.

b)        Teaching is often simply an explanation or application of Scripture

1)        Acts 15:35; 11:11, 25; Rom. 2:21; 15:4; Col. 3:16; Heb. 5:12.

2)        A repetition and explanation of apostolic instructions (Rom. 16:17; 2 Tim. 2:2; 3:10; et al.). It is what we would call "Bible teaching" or "preaching" today.

c)        So the distinction is quite clear:

1)        If a message is the result of conscious reflection on the text of Scripture, containing interpretation of the text and application to life, then it is (in New Testament terms) a teaching.

2)        But if a message is the report of something God brings suddenly to mind, then it is a prophecy.

3)        And of course, even prepared teachings can be interrupted by unplanned additional material that the Bible teacher suddenly felt God was bringing to his mind--in that case, it would be a "teaching" with an element of prophecy mixed in.

1 Corinthians 14:20-25 – I have heard a report of this happening in a clearly noncharismatic Baptist church in America. A missionary speaker paused in the middle of his message and said something like this: "I didn't plan to say this, but it seems the Lord is indicating that someone in this church has just walked out on his wife and family. If that is so, let me tell you that God wants you to return to them and learn to follow God's pattern for family life." The missionary did not know it, but in the unlit balcony sat a man who had entered the church moments before for the first time in his life. The description fitted him exactly, and he made himself known, acknowledged his sin, and began to seek after God.

In this way, prophecy serves as a "sign" for believers (1 Cor. 14:22)--it is a clear demonstration that God is definitely at work in their midst, a "sign" of God's hand of blessing on the congregation. And since it will work for the conversion of unbelievers as well, Paul encourages this gift to be used when "unbelievers or outsiders enter" (1 Cor. 14:23).

2.       The Superiority & Purpose of Prophecy.

a)        We Should "Earnestly Desire" Prophecy (1 Cor.14:1-5)

1)        Paul valued this gift so highly that he told the Corinthians to:

(a)      "Make love your aim, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts especially that you may prophesy" (1 Cor. 14:1).

(b)      Then at the end of his discussion of spiritual gifts he said again, "So, my brethren, earnestly desire to prophesy" (1 Cor. 14:39).

(c)      And he said, "He who prophesies edifies the church" (1 Cor. 14:4).

b)        The Three Purposes of Prophecy.

1)        To Edify – Build Up, and To Encourage Us To Trust the Lord & Lay Hold of His Promises.  The Spirit speaks forth words the build us up, increase our faith, and fortify our relationships in Jesus Christ.

2)        To Exhort – This is someone who spurs us to act upon what we know from Scripture.

3)        To Comfort Us – God is on the throne, He is in control, He is watching over us (Rom.8:28).

C.     Rules For Prophecy.

1.       The Church Services

a)        Church Services Are To Be Conducted Decently and in Order (1 Cor.14:40).

1)        God is not the author of confusion (14:33), and the church services ought to be conducted with a mind toward the response of unbelieving guests

b)        Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others judge (14:29)

1)        It should not start out with “thus says the Lord”

2)        The words should not be condemning.

3)        Other times people might say something that is what I have been mulling over in my heart.

c)        All Prophecies Are To Be Judged—Three Scriptural Bases for Judging Prophecy.

1)        Does the prophecy line up with the already revealed Word of God?

(a)      The Word of God is forever established and God is not going to give any revelation that conflicts with He written Word (Jer.23:28).  God speaks to us through His Word, and visions and dreams are but chaff compared to the wheat of the Word of God.  

2)        Does it line up with the facts?

(a)      People accuse you of motives you don’t even have.

(b)      If the prophecies are a prediction, the I observe them to see whether the things come to pass.  If the things come to pass & the message honors the Lord, then you can judge that it mjst have been of God.

3)        Does is honor Jesus Christ?

(a)      A prophet may be false even if his prophecies come true (Deut.13:1-5).

d)        Make Room for Others to Speak (1 Cor.14:30).

2.       Dealing With False Prophets.

a)        The Prophets Word’s Had to Come From God.

1)        When a prophet spoke in God's name in this way, every word he spoke had to come from God, or he would be a false prophet (cf. Num. 22:38; Deut. 18:18-20; Jer. 1:9; 14:14; 23:16-22; 29:31-32; Ezek. 2:7; 13:1-16).

2)        Jesus repeatedly spoke about false prophets (Matt.7:15; 24:11, 24), Peter wrote (2 Pet2:1-3)


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