How would you, or other members of your church vote for the role of prophets, if it was a secret ballot?
We all have internal core-values and when the box has to be ticked or not, the decision is based on either our understanding of scripture, presupposition or experience. But we do choose.
We mustn’t let our encounters and experiences, or even our presuppositions determine our internal, core values, the Bible alone is our moral, ethical and spiritual compass.
Don’t let your experience, and disappointments in life, teach you wrong things about God. Some people have chosen to believe that because they have not encountered miracles, or the gifts of the Spirit in a way that satisfies them, that they must have now ceased, and that God does not manifest Himself in that way anymore. And from there, a sad and disturbing doctrine emerges that does not honour the Scriptures.
Despite the abuse of the prophetic ministry in this day, we do need to put the prophets in their place. Some would love to do that – but I am speaking positively here of seeing the value of the prophet, their role among us and how they function among us.
- God has given prophets to the Church. (Ephesians 4:11-16) While some may think that certain prophets parade themselves as God’s gift to the church, the authentic prophets actually are! They are called by God to help equip the saints for the work of ministry, for the building up of the body of Christ. The are not an elite force, but they themselves are part of the body. The prophets at their best are not speaking into the body, but speaking as part of the body of Christ, the Church. (Eph 4:16)
- Prophets belong in Church because prophets grow too! Everyone needs to hear the gospel regularly – when it is preached properly it is astonishingly good news. Many immature prophets think that the gospel is just about the issue of salvation. It is much more than that. It is about the entire catalogue of experience and riches in Christ – hope, courage, trust, providence, conviction, assurance, affirmation. The list is too long to mention, but you get the picture.
- Prophets – stop arguing about it, and ‘give’ yourself to accountability. Accountability doesn’t meant shepherding or being subject to a thug. But it does mean being accountable to God, the Church leadership and to our friends. Especially friends that are able to withstand us when they perceive that there is a problem. Many people who see themselves as prophets have a problem in being subject to the leadership of the Church. If God really has given you a message for the Church you will have the favour for it to be received.Ultimatum prophecies are highly suspect to me – I would strongly encourage you to avoid them. God is building His church and not tearing it down, what is more, He died for the Church.Most of the time prophets have to just be patient, God’s timing is always perfect – and they are not responsible for making God’s word happen. More realistically, lots of church leaders may have it right and that some of those who are a real pain are not prophets at all. I would consider that 97% of Church leaders will at least listen to real prophets, if only because of their Christ-like character.
- Prophets are a real encouragement ’Scripture Alone’ is absolutely true. We have all the revelation we need to know God, His purposes and His plan for our lives. The prophets today are not adding anything to the Scriptures. But what they do, and they do very well, is draw from the Scriptures a fresh sense of hope, direction and courage for the Church and individuals, in their ongoing pursuit of God. The Church is built on the foundations of the apostles and prophets.These prophets are not Old Testament prophets as some may infer, for the Apostle Paul goes on to say, “the mystery of Christ which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations, as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit.” (Eph 3:4-5)
- The foundations are built by apostles and prophets. And they are still building, directing, encouraging and motivating the Church today. Sometimes they do bring warning, but most of the time they are stirring the Church to wholeheartedly give themselves to God, despite the trials and disappointments they may feel.
Much more could be said. It is time for meaningful conversations about the real focus, ministry, disposition and role of the prophetic to happen. I look forward to those conversations.
My vote is a big tick next to the question, “Are prophets relevant today?”