Discerning the Truth: Navigating the Prophetic Ministry with Care
Predictions without any outcomes
From my perspective, the prophetic ministry has been experiencing a bit of a glitch in recent years. It is controversial, but much of what we have heard and seen (especially in America) has taken on a style of ‘pep-talk’ or nice encouragement rather than revelation. Some have even gone as far as to make their stance on the prophetic ministry to be long lists of predictions. Much of this has also been predictions without any outcomes. By that I mean there are predictions of events and deaths, but nothing indicating anything that God is as actually doing or saying, or what is required of us as a reflection on or about those events – no sense of urgency…
Discern the truth
As believers, we are called to discern the truth of God’s Word and distinguish it from the opinions and ideas of man which is absolutely crucial in the prophetic ministry where the potential for deception and false teachings can be high. The prophetic ministry can bring considerable encouragement and edification to the body of Christ, but it is vital that it remains grounded in the truth of God’s Word and uses discernment when evaluating the messages that have been received or proclaimed.
Pointing to Christ
One key aspect of much needed discernment in the prophetic ministry is distinguishing between personal opinions and divine revelation. God’s Word is the ultimate and only source of truth, and any prophetic message that contradicts or goes beyond what is revealed in scripture should be carefully examined and viewed with suspicion. We do well to raise the question as to does the message align with the character of God as revealed in the Bible? Does it exalt Christ and direct people towards Him? There, of course, can be things that are shared that seem off, but those moments can sometimes be that what was said, could have been said better, rather than being anything more untoward.
Good, healthy and heavy fruit?
Another crucial aspect of discernment is weighing the fruit of a prophetic message. We must look beyond the surface and examine the effects it produces in the lives of those who receive it. Does the message produce lasting transformation and a deeper relationship with God, or does it merely offer temporary comfort and emotional highs? We must also examine the character and motives of those giving the message to ensure they are not seeking personal gain or attention. This can be done by observing their fruit over time, looking at their track record of accuracy and humility. That is easily done if that ministry or gifting is expressed by someone in the local church, it can be more difficult when it is someone visiting the Church.
While not all prophetic messages will be perfectly accurate or complete, this does not mean that we should accept any message uncritically. We should approach every message with an open heart and mind, but also with a high regard for scripture and a commitment to seek the truth of God’s Word in any application. It is important to weigh prophetic messages against the entirety of Scripture, rather than isolated verses or passages to ensure they align with God’s character and revealed will. Context is everything!
It’s also important to mention the elephant in the room, that the prophetic ministry is a calling from God, not the result of an ‘activation’ or frequent use of the gift of prophecy and should be approached with humility and a deep reverence for His holiness. It is not a platform for self-promotion or personal gain, but a sacred responsibility to be stewards of God’s message to His people. That doesn’t stop anyone from stepping out frequently in the gift of prophecy, in fact the bible urges us to, “eagerly desire the gifts, especially prophecy.” The gift of prophecy draws on encouragement, exhortation and building people up – its main resource in doing that is by pointing people unambiguously to Christ. Reminding, informing and refreshing the heart of the believer to trust in Christ and not be spooked like a horse in the face of adversity or difficulty.
Growing in God
To cultivate discernment in the prophetic ministry, we can study the Scriptures, grow in our relationship with God, seek guidance from mature believers and practice humility. It is a slow, deliberate but essential process. The potential for deception and false teachings in the prophetic ministry is something we avoid better by evaluating the message and the messenger with discernment and by asking ourselves if they align with the character of God as revealed in the Bible and if it exalts or glorifies the Lord.
In short, in these difficult days, our role in the prophetic ministry is to bring encouragement and hope while remaining focused on the gospel message and the mission of the Church, which is to make disciples of all nations. We must challenge ourselves and others to be faithful stewards of the prophetic message and use discernment in all that we do.
It is revelation, not platitude that causes the unbeliever to exclaim that, “God is with you!” because the secrets of their heart have been thrown open!