Understanding The New Covenant Gift of Prophecy-
This is the Fourth in our series, “Empowered”- Gifts Of The Holy Spirit, taught by our Connections Pastor, Leigh Sloan.
- I) Old Testament Prophets and New Testament Prophecy-
There are very important differences between the two. Under the Old Covenant, the Holy Spirit did not live inside the people and the prophets filled a unique connection between the people and God’s heart and voice. They spoke the Word of the Lord to His people. Much of what they spoke then became the written Word of God, the Old Testament.
-True and False Prophets-
This is why Old Testament prophets had to be accurate or they were labeled as “false prophets.” But perfect accuracy was not the main measurement. Even if a prophet could be accurate, if he or she led the people away from worshipping the true God, they were stoned as a false prophet.
But in the New Covenant, the Holy Spirit lives inside every believer. So God speaks to us and guides us from within. Because there are some many “earthly” distractions for us, God frequently speaks through our fellow believers to encourage us.
The Old Testament prophets were a shadow of what Christ would perfectly be in the New Covenant. When Christ came, He didn’t just speak the Word of the Lord, He was/is the Living Word!
- II) What is Prophecy?
The Scripture tells us that God is thinking “good thoughts about us all the time,” “more than sands of the sea.” New Covenant prophecy is God speaking through a believer, sharing some of His “good thoughts” to build up another believer.
New Covenant prophecy is intended to accomplish three important things-
1 Cor 14:3-5- “But everyone who prophesies speaks to men for their
-strengthening, encouragement and comfort…
-he who prophesies edifies the church…
-I would rather have you all prophesy…
-He who prophesies is greater (of more benefit) than one who speaks in tongues, unless he interprets, so that the church may be edified.” NIV
- II) Prophecy Is Unique Among The 9 Categories of Spiritual Gifts-
Paul teaches that the Spirit divides the gifts among all the different members of Christ’s Body so that, like our physical body, every member must depend on one another.
1 Cor 12:12-13- “The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ.” NIV
But prophecy is unique because it is one gift which Paul says we may, and should, all do.
1 Cor 14:31- “For you can all prophesy in turn so that everyone may be instructed and encouraged.” NIV
A main trick used by our enemy is to create myths based on false information.
Myth #1: Prophecy is only for some special people (called Prophets).
Paul makes it clear that there are prophets in the New Covenant church. However, not all are prophets. 1 Cor 12:29-30– “Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles?” NIV
But Paul does say that “…you all may prophesy.” (1 Cor 14:31)
Paul also says, “…be eager to prophesy” (1 Cor 14:39)
Remember, in the New Covenant ALL may prophesy for the edification or encouragement of others, but only a relatively few are actually prophets. Because of the nature of New Covenant prophecy, we must extremely careful about receiving prophesies that reference dates, mates or specific events. True prophets may speak in these specifics but they are held to a very high standard and their words must be judged.
Myth #2: Prophetic-type people are harsh.
-The gift of prophecy is a gift from the Spirit, not a personality and should not be attributed to a personality trait.
-Since prophecy is God speaking through a person, the personality should be more of God and less of us. God is love so prophecy should certainly come out through His love.
-So, there is no “prophetic personality type.” People with the gift of prophecy come in all kinds of temperaments and personalities but they operate with the same Spirit. We need to realize that harshness has no place in New Testament kingdom prophecy.
-The heart and goal of prophecy is to open a person’s heart to the work of the Spirit. God wants to give us eyes to see even the most hardened person how he sees them. He knows the way into their hearts to break of that hardened exterior. And what prophecy does is it calls those good qualities to attention. It commands the God-nature inside of that person to rise up and become reality.
– It says to the seemingly weak person, “You are strong.”
– It says to the seemingly dirty person, “You are clean.”
And in that very faith declaration, things begin to happen within that person.
Myth #3: If you get it wrong, you are a false prophet.
What does it mean to “get it wrong”?
In the Old Testament, because prophets represented the Christ who was to come and frequently predicated specific events and dates or timing, accuracy was required. But since Christ has now fulfilled the role of the True Word of God, no human prophecy holds the authority Old Testament prophets had. The New Covenant changes the role of both prophecy and prophets.
“In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son…” Heb 1:1-2
Today, we speak tiny portions of what God is saying primarily about His love and plans for us. Paul puts it like this- “We know in part and we prophesy in part.” 1 Corinthians 13:9
-No one person or prophet, no matter how great, has the full picture.
Here’s another thing to consider: The vast majority of the words we give are conditional in nature. Meaning that if the hearer will apply them and agree with them, then they will see the fruit that has been prophesied. But if they do not engage with or receive that word, then the outcome will not necessarily come to pass.
Myth #4: If you get it right, you are a true prophet.
So, we’ve talked about conditional words. But what about people who speak true words, but they are not operating in the right spirit?
In Acts 16, Paul and Silas encounter a slave girl fortune-teller who was shouting at them. But she was not shouting obscenities, instead she was shouting truth. She was saying, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved.” But she did this for days. Finally they got so annoyed that they cast the demon out of her just to get her to stop.
What she was saying was true but because she was being motivated by an evil spirit, her “truthfulness” was giving credence to her other ungodly activities. Motivation really matters!
Myth #5: The prophetic gift doesn’t require practice.
-Just we as “grow in grace and maturity,” we grow in our ability to hear Him clearly and speak it clearly.
-In Romans 12:6, Paul instructs the church in this way. He says, “If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith.”
Growing in a prophetic gift means paying attention to the little things that God is showing you and rejoicing in what he is giving you so he can give you more.
We do not prophesy in accordance with how spiritual we feel that day.
We do not prophesy in accordance with our bible knowledge.
We do not prophecy in accordance with our maturity.
We always prophecy in accordance with our faith.
And that faith continues to grow.
As a very young man, Samuel didn’t recognize the Lord’s voice when He began speaking to him. As he learned to pay more attention, he began praying, “Speak, Lord, Your servant is listening.”
Make this your prayer and God will use you to share His encouraging words with those who need it!
Got Questions? Send them to AskMark? at firstname.lastname@example.org.