Prophetic Momentum

Jon Cressey writing mostly about church, prophets and prophecy...

An observation

My Observation: The Remarkable Gift of Prophecy in the UK Church

Recently, a Canadian church leader asked me about prophecy in the UK Church.

Like everywhere else, we face different challenges across various churches in the UK. However, as American presidents often say, “The State of the Union is good.” The difference is, we mean it. God is doing something encouraging, fresh, and exciting in the church today.

This does not mean everything is perfect but with growing trust in leadership these gifts are being welcomed more and more, especially as the agenda of prophetic ministries is increasingly seen and demonstrated in a positive light. Today, (from what I know and hear) fewer ministries are out to make a name for themselves, partly due to healthy accountability with one another; and to leadership – with and emphasis on the need to be part of the local church and be accountable to it.

As I observe the remarkable gift of prophecy at large and active in the church in the UK today, I see great hope and God’s abundant favour upon it. This gift is not only alive but thriving, bringing life, encouragement, hope, and faith to the body of Christ. In this vibrant atmosphere, believers are discerning the mind and will of the Spirit, and through their prophetic contributions, they are revealing God’s profound purposes and plans.

Particularly encouraging is the willingness of local churches to encourage young and new believers to step out in the gift of prophecy.  There are a few scattered in various denominations and churches who are particularly good at sharing what God is saying whom we call prophets, these usually work alongside church leaders and bring great encouragement. Stepping out in the gift of prophecy with no agenda ‘to be a prophet’ but to prophesy encouragement, grace, and hope to the church means that it is a gift everyone can, and is encouraged by Scripture to engage in, and it is significantly less stressful!

Biblical Foundations of Prophetic Ministry

Prophetic ‘stuff’ means seeing past the obvious. Just because a congregation looks down-in-the-mouth doesn’t mean that is how they are. Just look at a football crowd that can turn from quietness to a wild frenzy! Prophetic people often see beyond the visual range and see what God is up to at a distance. The Bible provides profound examples of prophetic ministry that illustrate the depth and complexity of seeing beyond the visible (or the obvious and predictable). Two immediate instances are the visions of the prophet Ezekiel and the Apostle John on the island of Patmos.

Ezekiel’s Vision of the Valley of Dry Bones

Ezekiel’s vision in Ezekiel 37 is a powerful example of seeing beyond the visible. Ezekiel is taken in the Spirit to a valley full of dry bones, a desolate scene representing the spiritual death of Israel. God asks Ezekiel, “Son of man, can these bones live?” (Ezekiel 37:3). Ezekiel’s response, “O Lord God, you know,” shows his reliance on God’s insight rather than his own understanding; the answer wasn’t obvious and my probable answer may have been, “No – they’re dead!” Note that Ezekiel didn’t recognise the sound of the rattling bones as evidence of life!

God then commands Ezekiel to prophesy to the bones, saying, “O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord” (Ezekiel 37:4). As Ezekiel obeys, the bones come together, flesh and skin cover them, and eventually, the breath of life enters them. This vision symbolised the restoration of Israel and serves as a powerful reminder for us that God’s purposes often lie beyond what we can see. It encourages us to prophesy with faith in God’s ability to bring life to the most desolate, desperate, and impossible situations. That’s a welcome message today.

John’s Vision on Patmos

Another example is found in the book of Revelation. The Apostle John, exiled on the island of Patmos, receives a series of visions that reveal God’s ultimate plan for humanity. In Revelation 1:10, John says, “I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet.” It was the beginning of a series of revelations that include messages to the seven churches, the vision of the throne room of God, and the depiction of the end times. Awesome, to say the least.

John’s visions are complex and often symbolic, requiring spiritual discernment to understand. A lot of it I do not understand! They reveal not just future events but also the spiritual realities behind present circumstances. John’s experience emphasises the necessity of being ‘in the Spirit’ and attentive to perceive God’s purposes; and encourages us to seek prophetic insight that looks beyond our immediate surroundings.

Overcoming the Complexities of Prophetic Ministry

Prophetic ministry is inherently complex, involving both the discernment of God’s voice and the courage to speak His word. Looking at the Church in the UK, several challenges must be navigated carefully to fully engage in authentic prophecy.

Discerning God’s Voice

One of the primary challenges is discerning God’s voice amid the many voices we hear daily. This requires a deep relationship with God, cultivated through prayer, worship, and meditation on His Word. Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27). Developing the ability to hear God’s voice is foundational to prophetic ministry, and it only comes through intimacy with Christ and immersing oneself in the Bible.

Overcoming Fear and Doubt

Fear and doubt often hinder believers from stepping out in prophetic ministry. The fear of being wrong or the doubt about whether we truly heard from God can be paralysing. However, Paul encourages us, “For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control” (2 Timothy 1:7,). Embracing the power and love of God helps us overcome these barriers, enabling us to prophesy with humility, boldness, and accuracy. Those three words are the training ground for anyone wanting to move in power in this remarkable gift. Humility, boldness, and accuracy don’t come overnight.

Balancing Humility and Authority

Prophetic ministry requires a balance of humility and authority. We must be humble, recognising that we are vessels through which God speaks, but we are not the source of the prophecy. At the same time, we must exercise the authority given to us by the Holy Spirit to declare God’s word with confidence. James 4:10 reminds us, “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you”.

The Future of Prophetic Ministry

I am very confident that the future of prophetic ministry in the church is filled with potential and promise. As believers grow in their understanding and practice of prophecy, the church will experience increased life, encouragement, and direction from God.

Revival and Improbability

One of the most exciting aspects of prophetic ministry is its role in revival. Throughout history, revivals have often been sparked by prophetic words that call the church back to its first love and ignite a fresh passion for God. When we prophesy according to God’s revelation, we become instruments of revival, bringing new life to dry and weary places.

Additionally, prophetic ministry thrives in the realm of improbability. God often chooses to work in ways that defy human expectations, demonstrating His power and sovereignty. In 1 Corinthians 1:27, Paul writes, “But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong.” This principle assures us that no situation is too hopeless for God’s intervention, and prophetic words can often reveal God’s plans in the most unlikely circumstances.

Reassurance of God’s Work

It is crucial to reassure the church that God is at work not just in the heart of the nation but also within the church. The day we are living in is one of divine activity, where God is actively involved in our lives and communities. Habakkuk says, “For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea” (Habakkuk 2:14). God’s presence and power are pervasive and transformative.

Encouragement for Believers

To engage in authentic prophetic ministry, believers must be encouraged to look beyond the visible and seek God’s perspective. When God asks, “What do you see?” He is inviting us to see with spiritual eyes, to perceive His purposes and plans that are often hidden from natural sight. As we embrace this calling, we will see the church invigorated by the power of the Holy Spirit, bringing life, hope, and encouragement to all who encounter it.

An observation
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