There have been times where prophetic ministry, left to its own devices has gone wrong and people have felt greatly disappointed, hurt, frustrated or even mislead.
I am very sorry if that was ever your experience. From everything I know about prophetic ministry it more than likely was not ever the intention of their heart. In the light of the way people may sometimes feel when considering prophetic ministry or the gifts of the Spirit, Church leaders and members of the congregation can understandably have concerns.
The comforting answer is in our confidence that God gives good gifts, has given directions in the scriptures and that above all, it is He and not us, that is building His glorious Church.
We can and should trust the work of the Spirit in our midst, and more often than not, that is through people. There is a growing sense in which that is not always through adults – God is increasingly doing a ‘Samuel’ thing and speaking through the youth. And the youth often have their own, inimitable way of communicating!
We may well cooperate with God’s Spirit to the best of our ability as He enables us, and be accountable to Him; but His wise judgment is that in our need for encouragement, exhortation and admonition as the Church, that the wonderful God given gifts of the Spirit, are more than sufficient for our prevailing needs.
“Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts,
especially that you may prophesy”.
The apostle Paul’s letter to the Corinthians demonstrates that such concerns as those mentioned previously, were not isolated to church life as we know it today. The Corinthian church was clearly one where major emphasis was given to the work of the Holy Spirit. Paul’s observation of the Corinthian church was that they were not lacking in any spiritual gift (1 Cor 1:7) but, it would seem, lacking in love. This is probably something perhaps echoed today in some Churches around all the world, and not just the Church in the West.
The prophetic ministry brings great encouragement, hope and relief when it is done in the context of healthy church life. The gifts of the Spirit have been and are given to build, encourage and comfort God’s Church. The concern from some is that the anticipated fruit has been sadly lacking, or bitter.In addressing this, it is firstly a significant encouragement of the Word of God that we do not quench or grieve the Holy Spirit(1 Thess 5:19; Eph 4:30) who is the author of the gifts of the Spirit, because despite all the completeness of God’s redemptive purposes, God is still at a great work; building, encouraging, directing and establishing His Church in these last days.
Again, almost sensing the situation we face today, the apostle Paul implores the Church of Christ in his day and ours, “Do not despise prophecies” (1 Thess 5:20).
We must recognise that those who are interested either in prophetic ministry or the gifts of the Spirit come in all stages of Christian maturity, wisdom and understanding. There is a constant need for us all to be accountable, indeed scripture does encourage us all to be accountable to each other.
Terry Virgo in his book ‘Restoration in the Church’ raises another issue that,
“Some have tried to dismiss the prophet by arguing that he is simply a teacher, but lists of gifts in Ephesians 4:11; 1 Corinthians 12:28 and Romans 12:6-7 are consistent in differentiating between them. Why does the Holy Spirit regard them as different if they are simply the same gift? And what are we missing in the Church without their ministry?“
Further to Terry’s question, did Jesus really mean that He was sending ‘teacher’s to Israel when He said,
“Therefore I send you prophets and wise men and scribes, some of whom you will kill and crucify, and some you will flog in your synagogues and persecute from town to town”, Mat 23:34
We hope to address some of the issues of concern here shortly. If you feel that you have any comments about any of these issues that concern you please do not hesitate to contact us.