==== ====The Truth About The Last Days, Antichrist, The Rapture, More.http://www.teachingfaith.com/content.cfm?id=304==== ====Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge. If any thing be revealed to anotherthat sitteth by, let the first hold his peace. For ye may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn,and all may be comforted. And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets. For God isnot the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints. (1 Cor. 14:29-33)The subject of prophecy, prophesying, and prophets has caught the attention of many believerstoday, so I thought I would take the time to weigh in on this important but controversial area.It appears that some reject the idea of New Testament prophets in the church today. Some believethat since the canonization of the scriptures the gift of prophecy as well as the office of the prophethas ceased and they are no longer needed today.Personally, I think there is a lack of fundamental knowledge and understanding in the Body ofChrist when it comes to the entire arena of prophecy, prophesying, and prophets.Compound the issue with the misuse and abuse of the gifts and callings of some who representthese things and you end up with confusion, misinformation, and mistrust of anything prophetic innature. So, let us begin by defining what prophecy is.What Is Prophecy?Prophecy is simply anointed speech. To prophesy is to speak under the anointing and inspirationof the Holy Spirit. Therefore anyone moved by the Spirit of God can prophesy. Having thisunderstanding in mind, in my opinion:There are three levels or spheres in which one may prophesy. They are:1) The spirit of prophecy (Rev. 19:10)2) The gift of prophecy (Rom. 12:6; 1 Cor. 12:10, 14:3,6)3) The office of the prophet (Acts 11:27, 13:1; Eph. 4:11)A person who prophesies may do so from either of three levels or spheres. However, each level orsphere of prophecy has a different purpose or function and carries with it a different measure (Gk.metron).A measure is a sphere of authority and influence of ministry, and represents in some cases eitheran organic or official authority (2 Cor. 10:13-16).
One who prophesies may operate prophetically in one, two, or all three spheres or levels ofprophecy depending on their gifts and calling.All prophets (and all who prophesy) do not have the same prophetic measure. Some have ameasure that only extends to a specific geographical or relational setting, such as to the localchurch, some to their city, some to a particular nation, some to various nations of the world (2 Cor.10:13-16).A) The spirit of Prophecy:Whenever a person speaks under the anointing while giving testimony about Jesus Christ they arespeaking by the spirit of prophecy (Rev. 19:10).Just because a person has, can, or will prophesy does not mean he or she is a prophet or has thegift of prophecy. It simply means they are speaking under the anointing or inspiration of God in aparticular time and place.The word prophet is a general term applied to one who is known and recognized by the Body ofChrist as one who prophesies, whether it is fore-telling or forth-telling. Still, this does not equate toor imply that one is called to the office of a prophet.Often, prophesying (speaking under the inspiration and anointing of the Holy Spirit) occurs in asetting where the speaker and/or the hearers are not even aware that the spirit or gift of prophecyis in operation at all.All believers may prophesy by virtue of the spirit of prophecy, while some may prophesy throughthe gift of prophecy and others from the office of the prophet. This can occur in any setting wherethe purpose is to share Christ with one another (1 Cor. 14:31).Yet, regardless of the setting, there is a difference between one who prophesies and one who iscalled to the office of a prophet.B) The Gift of Prophecy:One who prophesies (level 1, 2) either by the spirit of prophecy or the gift of prophecy may onlyprophesy edification, exhortation, and comfort (1 Cor. 14:3). This is the extent of their propheticmeasure.However, a prophet (one called to the office of prophet) has a greater measure and function ofauthority than others who can merely prophesy.So, when we think of prophecy and prophesying we must distinguish between what level or sphereof ministry is in operation (i.e. spirit of prophecy, gift of prophecy, or office of prophet). Without thebenefit of knowing there are distinctions in the levels or spheres of prophecy, one may easilyconfuse one level for another and misunderstand the operation and working of the Spirit.C) The Office of the Prophet:
It is held by some that there are no New Testament era prophets that operate as they did in theOld Testament. I would agree a prophet in the New Testament church does not have the samefunction as a prophet in the Old Testament.However, the scriptures clearly teach there are prophets set in the church today (1 Cor. 12:28).The New Testament order of the five-fold ministry of apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor, andteacher are essentially extensions of the very ministry of Christ and are designated as gifts (Gk.doma) or presents to men (Eph. 4:11). These gifts will serve the Body of Christ until Jesus returns.In contrast, the Old Testament prophets did not have an office or function equivalent to the NewTestament office today. They were a class and breed of their own, sent by Jehovah as seers toguide Israel and her leadership. With the exception of Samuel they had no ecclesiastical or priestlyfunction.That being said, there was also a spirit of prophecy that temporarily came upon certain men andwomen at various times, such as Miriam, Eldad, and Medad under the prophet Moses. David,Saul, and others came into contact with this prophetic anointing at times and have been called aprophet or one among the prophets (1 Sam. 10:11-12, 18:10; Acts 2:30).We refer to them as prophets because at times they behaved as prophets although they did notfunction as prophets exclusively. David and Saul were kings, while Samuel was a priest prior to hisbeing called to the office of prophet.In the New Testament era, Silas, Barnabas, Niger, and Agabus were prophets and teachers whowere also instrumental in founding the first century church. Their office as New Testamentprophets was an entirely different function than that of the Old Testament genre.The New Testament prophet, like other five-fold ministers has a measure that is given him by theHoly Spirit which confines and defines the extent or sphere of his ministry as a prophet.One called to the office of prophet has the authority to speak correction, as well as admonition andwarning to the Body of Christ. The first two levels or spheres of prophecy do not have this functionor measure of authority at all.One can hardly say that there are no prophets today in light of the teaching of Paul that God hath[set] some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, etc. (1 Cor.12:28)emphasis mine. It stands to reason, if one five-fold ministry gift can be discontinued, so canthem all. What is interesting to me is:There are those who say that there simply are no New Testament prophets today. However, sincethe ones who are usually saying this are also evangelists, pastors, and teachers, why cant we saythe same thing about them? Where does it say the prophetic office would be done away with?Clearly, Paul taught that the church is built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets (Eph.2:20). If there are no prophets today, then we are lacking an important foundational ministrythrough which to build the church upon Christ the chief corner stone.
D) Prophetic Problems:Are there prophets and prophetic people who abuse their gifts? Yes, just as there are pastors, andteachers, etc, who do the same; the gift of prophecy and the office of the prophet are no exceptionto this.Any gift of ministry can be abused and misused by any believer or other five-fold minister at anytime. To be sure, there have been and probably always will be abuses and excesses of ministry bythose who do not walk in truth and wisdom.However, let us not cut down the apple tree because it yielded a few rotten apples.The decent and orderly working of all levels and spheres of prophecy is the responsibility of theindividual believer (1 Cor. 14:31-37). Paul writes, And the spirits of the prophets are subject to theprophets (1 Cor. 14:32).Therefore, a prophet or other prophetic person can be led astray and misuse his gifting just as anyother five-fold minister. The lure of money, notoriety, and fame has led some to makemerchandise of their gift of prophetic ministry. This is of course an embarrassment, a disgrace,and a shame.For this, he/she will give account to God.This does not mean however that he/she is not a prophet (or prophetess) or does not have thespirit or gift of prophecy. Take Balaam for instance:Balaam was a true prophet of God. That is, he was a recognized prophet within Israel. However,when he sold his gift for money he became a soothsayer and a false prophet (Josh. 13:22; 2 Pet.2:15-16).For the love of money Balaam taught Balak to cause the children of Israel to stumble, sin, and losethe favor of God. For this reason, God in due time judged him and left him as an example for all(Num. 31:8).We should understand that the gifts of five-fold ministry (this would include the office of prophet)as well as the gifts of the Spirit (this would include prophecy) are not given to the believer on thebasis of merit or because we are spiritual. These operate by faith, and God expects us to usethem responsibly with wisdom and knowledge. (1 Cor. 12:1)E) What about Prophetic Conferences?In conclusion, I do not approve of the Balaam-like, prophet for hire, commercial enterprise ofprophetic conferences that have infiltrated Charismatic and Pentecostal circles today.This phenomenon is the result of the so called, Apostles and Prophets movement, which is merelya rebirth of the old Latter Rain movement of the 40s and 50s.