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Why We Need The Prophetic
Prophets are not more spiritual than pastors. That’s not why we bring them into the local house. Prophets are brought in by the local pastor to complement (“complement”: something that fills up, completes, or makes perfect – Webster; cf. Eph 4:12) his or her ministry gifts.
Any one of the five-fold ministry gifts will complement any and all of the others. Eph 3:10 speaks of “the manifold wisdom of God.” This is the “many-faceted” wisdom of God. Just as a diamond has many facets to it and you see something different each degree you turn the diamond, so it is with each of the five-fold ministry gifts. Each has something to offer that makes up the whole and we do not have the whole without each providing its part. The prophetic minister is needed just as the teacher or evangelist is needed to add their portion to the Body of Christ.
I. REASON ONE: GOD SAID SO
A. GOD HATH SET SOME
The main reason we need the prophetic is because GOD SAID we need the prophetic. 1 Cor 12:28 And GOD HATH SET some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues. God has set (set: to fix, establish, set forth, to ordain – Thayer) prophets in the church just as He has set pastors and teachers in the church. God Himself has established the need for prophetic ministry.
B. THE EXTENT OF GOD’S DESIRE
Moses, God’s prophet, was only expressing the thoughts of God when he said, “…would God that all the LORD’s people were prophets, and that the LORD would put his spirit upon them!” (Num 11:29). This shows us the extent of God’s desire. He not only wants us to have a few prophets scattered here and there, He wants a prophetic people! Joel agrees in Joel 2:28, Peter agrees in Acts 2:17-18 and Paul concurs in 1Co 14:1,39. Others who established the need for prophets were Ezra (2Chron 20:20), Amos (Amos 3:7) and Luke (Acts 3:20-21).
II. REASON TWO: JESUS SAID SO
Another reason we need the prophetic active in the Body of Christ is because JESUS SAID SO. Matt 23:34 Wherefore, behold, I SEND UNTO YOU PROPHETS, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city.
A. HOLD ON TO THAT WHICH IS GOOD
Even though God hath set some in the church and Jesus Himself (THE Prophet) has sent us prophets, one of the warnings continually sounded is: “Jesus warned us about false prophets in the last days.” This warning has been used by some as an excuse to reject all prophetic ministry. The reasoning is that if there are false prophets then all who call themselves prophets, or who minister in a fashion which could be identified as something prophetic, should be rejected as not being biblical for today.
Proper reasoning would lead us to understand that in order for false prophets to exist in the last days, true prophets would have to exist. Bankers, grocery clerks and retailers do not concern themselves with $4.00 bills. They are immediately unacceptable. There are no false $4.00 bills because there are no true $4.00 bills. But retailers take the time to examine $50.00 bills. The only reason there can be false $50.00 bills is because there are real $50.00 bills.
We are taught a good principle in 1Thess 5:21. We are taught to test all things but we are also taught in that same scripture to hold on to that which is good. Just because you bit into a bad piece of fruit once does not mean that you are never to eat fruit again.
John Blattner said that, in his experience, “false prophecy” is quite rare and that we should be very careful about labeling people “false prophets.” He has found that it is more often what he calls “non-prophecy”: a message whose content may be perfectly acceptable but whose source lies more in the speaker’s spirit than in the Lord’s. (Equipping The Saints Magazine, Fall 1989, p.15)
B. DON’T THROW OUT THE BABY WITH THE WASH
There are pastors who have “thrown out the baby with the wash” where prophets and prophecy are concerned. One pastor I know wants nothing to do with prophecy and it is not because he can’t find it in scripture. The reason he wants nothing to do with it (and therefore does not allow it) is because he had a couple come into his church and try to take over the church by manipulating the congregation through so-called “prophecy.” There was a lot of hurt and damage done. One of the problems was that he had done no teaching nor demonstrating of the true in order for the congregation to have the proper comparison. When I was a child I ate at homes of friends who thought their mom’s cooking was just fine. I was barely able to eat it. My taste buds and my stomach were offended. My Mom truly was a great cook and I was hardly able to get down the terrible tasting food other kids thought was just fine. But I didn’t quit eating because some people put food on their table that was offensive.
C. ZEALOUS IN JUDGING
Some folks have gone through great trauma trying to apply the “judging” instruction of 1Co 14:29. “Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge.” There have been well-meaning persons hurt and even churches split over zealous attempts to carry out that passage. I have found that in most cases where the gifts of the Spirit are taught and practiced, that when a word goes forth which is only of that person’s spirit, there is an automatic awareness and acknowledgment by the congregation. The atmosphere will ring with the truth or the falsity of the presentation. Therefore, the type of reaction or lack of reaction is a judgment upon that word. Notice I just said, “upon that word” not upon that person. Our zealousness can sometimes put us in an “attack mode” that serves no good purpose. ( Been there. Done that. Got a T-Shirt.) However, there are times that pastors and elders need to call persons in to wisely and lovingly deal with them. I do not believe a pastor should do that without witnesses such as elders and/or locally recognized ministers.
D. MAINTAINING PROPER FOCUS
John Wesley had seen a great move of God. It seemed to go the way of most moves of God because of the human element that can’t keep its hands off. When it had begun to die down John Wesley prayed, “Oh, Lord send us the old revival, without the defects; but if this cannot be, send it with all its defects.”
In a move of God, especially where it concerns the prophetic, there are those who focus so intently on the possibility of error that they miss the good. There is such a zeroing-in on the tares that the wheat almost goes unnoticed. The pastor at the Airport church in Toronto, John Arnott, has been asked about the “negative aspects” of revival and some of the things he has had to deal with over the last couple of years. “There’s always going to be some fleshly enthusiasm,” he said. “I would rather contend with a little fleshly zeal than carnal resistance.” (Charisma Magazine, Jan.1994)
E. STEADYING THE ARK
Throughout church history whenever the presence of God was not allowed to prevail, men had to come up with ways and means of handling men and “steadying the ark.” Men’s ways and means have historically stifled the move of God. We have it recorded for us that when the Holy Spirit moved powerfully at Azusa street He handled quite adequately what so many churchmen fear – the flesh.
There is a record of that move of God entitled Another Wave of Revival (Whitaker House). Frank Bartleman reports:
“We thought only of obeying God. In fact, there was an atmosphere of God there that forbade anyone but a fool from attempting to put himself forward without the real anointing – and such did not last long. The meetings were controlled by the Spirit, from the throne…. Presumptuous men would sometimes come among us… But their effort was short lived. The breath would be taken from them. Their minds would wander… No one cut them off; we simply prayed – the Holy Spirit did the rest.
“The Spirit allows little human interference in the meetings, generally passing mistakes by unnoticed, or moving them out of the way Himself. Things that ordinarily we would feel must be corrected are often passed over, and a worse calamity averted thereby. To draw attention to them brings the spirit of fear on the saints, and they stop seeking.
“We were obliged to deal firmly with the extreme case, but in the main, the Spirit passed over and moved out of the way irregularities without further advertising them… Meetings must be controlled by way of the throne. A spiritual atmosphere must be created, through humility and prayer, that satan cannot live in.”(Another Wave Of Revival, Frank Bartleman, p.60,61,77,90).
On one occasion Bartleman recalls that an opportunist jumped up during a lull in the meeting and presumably began to deliver a word from the Lord. He had only been going at it for about a minute when an old saint in the room stood up and simply asked, “Brother, what are you trying to do?” At which point he was totally shut down.
F. MOVE WITH GOD AND KEEP THE SHOVELS HANDY
Rather than throw out anything that resembles the prophetic because we have memories which make our spine crawl, let’s become developed in our senses. Heb 5:14 But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.
The Body of Christ will have to deal with problems, perhaps on a regular basis seasonally, but the gifts of the Spirit are for our profit. 1 Cor 12:7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. Sometimes things can get messy but you have no ox to plow for the harvest if your stall is clean! Prov 14:4 Where no oxen are, the crib is clean: but much increase is by the strength of the ox. We just have to keep our shovels handy! I believe the components which make up our shovels are love, knowledge of the Word and wisdom.
III. REASON THREE: PAUL SAID SO
The third reason we need the prophetic is because PAUL SAID SO. Paul commands us to do just the opposite of despising prophesying. 1Thes 5:20 Despise not prophesyings. We are to actually encourage prophesying. Paul did – in four separate verses. 1 Cor 14:1 Follow after love; yet desire earnestly spiritual (gifts), but rather that ye may prophesy. 1 Cor 14:5 I would that ye all spake with tongues, but rather that ye prophesied: for greater is he that prophesieth than he that speaketh with tongues, except he interpret, that the church may receive edifying. 1 Cor 14:31 For ye may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted. 1 Cor 14:39 Wherefore, brethren, covet [to be zealous in the pursuit of good, to be earnest – Thayer] to prophesy, and forbid not to speak with tongues.
A. THE WAY GOD SET THINGS UP
As far as prophets are concerned, Paul just simply tells us that that is the way God happened to set things up. In God’s Instruction Manual for the proper operation of the Body of Christ, prophets are given to us to help get us to God’s goal for us. Eph 4:8 Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. 11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: 13 TILL WE ALL COME in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:
The only manual that will give us the correct instructions and results is the Word of God. When we try to apply the manual of Personal Preference or the manual of “The Traditions Of Men” we will not be able to service or repair God’s Product.
B. COMPLEMENTARY WISDOM OF GOD
The prophet is not more spiritual than the evangelist or the teacher. They are meant to complement one another. One has a facet of God’s wisdom that the other does not. That is why we all need each other. Together we have the wisdom of God and together we have the Spirit without measure. Therefore, all of what God has given the church must function together in complementary unity.
IV. REASON FOUR: THE PROPHETIC
CALLS US TO PERSEVERANCE SO WE CAN RECEIVE.
A. TO COUNTERACT PRESSURES AND DELAY
When God gives a promise He gives a witness of the Holy Spirit in our hearts. He… put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come (2Co 1:22). We allow pressures and delay to smother the witness, of the Holy Spirit, to promise. When we are on our way to the fulfillment of promise and the wind is not at our backs, the tendency is to turn around and go back so that we are not opposed by the wind. Rowing with the wind is much easier than rowing against the wind. But winds of opposition will come from the enemy because he does not want the promise of God to be fulfilled in us. If it is fulfilled in us it will not only revolutionize our lives but it will also bless those around us. It will advance the Kingdom of God.
Why then do we get discouraged or give up? The witness has not been removed. It is, however, that we are now looking at and listening to that which we perceive has interrupted or canceled promise.
B. TO REMIND US
There seems to exist some perverted rule which says, “That which bullies its way in gets to stay.” Those defeating thoughts and doubts which demand to be considered begin to take the forefront and eventually replace the words and witness of promise. It is that prophetic gift which comes to remind us that God’s Word holds the highest priority of consideration. We must ask ourselves, “What has priority? What is worthy of our focus? What will destroy promise? What will sustain promise? And which am I entertaining?”
We need the prophetic gift around regularly strengthening, encouraging and comforting (1Co 14:3) because the receiving of promise from God does not prevent waves from coming over the side of the boat. But the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it (Mt 14:24). The fact that we have received a prophecy does not guarantee that the wind will be at our backs. The waves coming over the side do not have to sink us. The wind does not have to destroy us. Believe it or not, those things do not even have to discourage us. They should actually build into us determination. They should make us more determined to focus on the goal.
C. BECAUSE AN ENEMY IS OPPOSING US
The prophetic reminds us that if the enemy is opposing us, he must be aware of the reality of our reaching promise, of walking in promise and doing him damage because of promise. Why would he oppose us if the fulfilling of promise would not cause him any damage? Why would he oppose us if there was little value in the promise or if there was little chance of it being fulfilled in us?
If you don’t have a promise then get into the Word of God until one of the eight thousand begins to burn in your heart. In Lk.15 one son received what he asked for from his father. The other son, who griped about having nothing, was told that he would have already received if he would have only asked. If you never talk to your Father or spend time with Him, what do you think the result will be?
V. REASON FIVE: THE BOAT NEEDS STABILIZING
A. IN SPITE OF CIRCUMSTANCES
In Matthew, the disciples were terrified because they had no point of reference for what was happening. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear (Mt 14:26). They did not see the circumstances allowing anyone, including Jesus, to walk on the water. They considered these circumstances as those that take you down and never let you up. These men of God had heard the heart-wrenching stories of fishermen suffering disaster at sea. Each of them could vividly tell a story of a relative or a friend who had not been able to attain the goal of “the other side.” Nerve-testing reports of failure to “reach the other side” had settled upon their ears and they had used them as foundation stones to build a point of reference which, at this point, filled their hearts with terror..
Victory was not on their minds. There was absolutely no thought of nor any faith for victory over this situation. Perseverance was no more than an idealistic point made by preachers on land, in the safety of storm-free weather. They hunkered down and just got ready for anything this set of circumstances wanted to throw at them. That is not how you make it. That is not how you persevere. That is not how you receive the promise. The prophetic gift always, annoyingly refuses to let us simply “grab a root and grunt.” Prophet Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” (v.27)
“It is I.” It is Jesus who has given the promise and it is Jesus who will make good on it! Just look at who has given the promise. Jesus had far better transportation than a leaky old boat. The safest place on this occasion was not in the boat but on the water! Faith is for the purpose of getting out of the boat, not for asking Jesus to get into the boat.
His command is His guarantee. Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. (Mt 14:22) The very command or promise of Jesus to do something is our guarantee that it can be done. Jesus told the disciples to go to the other side of the lake, which means that they would reach the other side of the lake. It does not mean that they would not encounter any opposition. It does not mean that they would simply sit down in the boat, put the oars in the water and a mere few moments later find themselves in safe harbor on the other side of the lake.
Jesus’ command for them to go to the other side of the lake was their guarantee that they would get there. His involvement in the venture was their assurance that His help was available and ever-present. There was no concern on the part of Jesus that the newspaper might report a sad story the next day about a disaster befalling a radical religious group, e.g. “Religious Leader Gets Group Up Creek Without Paddle – Now Must Start Over – Looking For New Members And A Good Used Boat.”
What God puts in the Son’s hand is safe. However true that may be, when men start to walk in promise but find the wind and waves are against them, they turn their back to the wind and begin rowing in the opposite direction of promise. When waves come over the side of the boat and those inside lose heart or allow themselves to be distracted, others view the situation and say, “I don’t blame them. The person who gave them that so-called encouragement should be stoned.” There will always be someone who will sentimentally remind you that there is no need in your suffering hardship. Frail human sentiment will always be willing to offer, “If it’s difficult, just do something different.”
A prophecy is set down deep into an immovable foundation through a process called “endurance.” Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience. (Js 5:10) The prophets endured while their skulls were being split with stones and we tend to give up when 30 days have gone by and we aren’t sitting on the porch of our cabin in the Promised Land. Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy. (V.11) Endurance will bring us the end of the Lord. Cf. For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. (Jer 29:11)
If there is anything the church needs today it is the determination to persevere. We live in a no-pain society that has taught us that we don’t have to persevere. Men don’t have to persevere through a prison sentence for heinous crimes against society. People don’t have to persevere in education. They don’t have to apply themselves to make a living. Some are simply handed an income.
Lack of perseverance is rewarded in an easy-way-out society. Greed in the upper echelon has taught people, low on the financial ladder, that those who have will get more and those who don’t have will not have. We don’t have to persevere for meals. Just pop one in the microwave and in a couple of minutes its ready. Restaurants advertise that your meal is free if you don’t get it in five minutes. You don’t have to persevere for things you want. Just fill out an application and while you pick out things which will wear out before you can pay the interest on them, your credit check will be done by computer in minutes.
If you don’t want to persevere for promise, for purpose, for the Kingdom of God, there are churches on every corner and you will be able to find people who are disgruntled and disillusioned who will talk like you and tearfully hold your hand while they pray for the rapture in order to get out of this cruel old world that doesn’t want Christians to prosper. But right in the face of so many condoning attitudes of forfeit and surrender and “legitimate excuses,” the Word of God calls us to perseverance.
Peter saw Jesus. He wanted to be where Jesus was, doing what Jesus was doing. As long as Jesus was in it, it was possible. Peter said, “I want to come to you on the water.” Jesus simply replied, “Come.” Never at any point did Jesus withdraw permission or authority. Peter went down into the water because he focused on the circumstances. Jesus didn’t leave or lose one ounce of power. He didn’t change his mind about Peter walking on the water. Peter could have walked on the water to Jesus even if there had been a tornado. Wind and waves were already all about them before he ever stepped out of the boat. But he had his eyes on Jesus before he stepped out. Conditions do not have to be ideal for you to make it. The power of God to make it work has got to be present and we have got to keep our eyes on Him who calls us.
Peter could have made it all the way to Jesus. He was walking with nothing but a promise under his feet. He did not have to go down. Jesus wants us to be water-walkers. “Lord save me” is very acceptable communication between you and Jesus. You are going to make it all the way! You will make it with nothing but a promise under your feet.
Water is too thick to breathe but too thin to walk on. If you are going to make it, your trust and your measurement is not on the water. It is on the Master of the sea.
The Master of the Sea can command the sea to hold your weight or He can command it to part and form a wall on the right and on the left and let you pass! If you have to walk through the sea, know this: He has already walked through it ahead of you. According to Ps.77:19, God’s footsteps were already in the bottom of the Red Sea although Israel did not see them! Water is not the substance that roadways are typically made of but it is possible to get to the other side when Jesus commands us go or come. Perseverance involves not taking our eyes off Jesus even though waves are splashing all around us(cf.Heb.12:1-3). Where is the answer when focusing on the waves and the wind?
WHO WOULD HAVE SAID?
God told Abram to begin calling himself Abraham (“Father of a multitude”) ten years before he ever had a single child. It was God’s calling and God’s power that would get 100 year old Abraham to promise. Abraham’s power, ability and resource could not cause his 90 year old wife to have a baby.
Not a single person on earth would have said Sarah would nurse children! “Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? Yet I have borne him a son in his old age.” (Gen 21:7) Whose opinion has delayed the promise in your life? Whose opinion are you waiting for? The Word is enough! How many must say, “You are going to make it” before you believe it? No one has to say it. You have to say it. For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God. (2Co.1:20). You are the one who says “Amen” to the promise.
Faith is the evidence of things not seen. Perseverance is the evidence of faith. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. The Word you are hearing today is stirring faith in you. Stand on that word. Use it to fight with. Say “Amen” to it. Sing it, say it or shout it while you are rowing the boat. The louder the opposing wind gets, the louder we profess the promises of God!
Faith is the evidence of things not seen. Perseverance is the evidence of faith. And praise is the evidence of perseverance. Praise says that the God who gave the promise is going to fulfill it. Praise says that no matter what the wind and waves look like, God is still able. Praise says that adversity and opposition cannot change the promises of God and cannot hinder His bringing them to pass. Problems don’t change God. They prove God!
Fill in the blank: (Write the appropriate answer in the blank.)
1. Prophets are brought in by the local pastor to ______________ his or her ministry.
2. The main reason we need the prophetic is because ______ said we need the prophetic.
3. Another reason we need the prophetic active in the Body of Christ is because _________ said so (Matt 23:34).
4. In order for false ________________ to exist in the last days, _________ prophets would have to exist.
5. One thing that has caused problems with prophecy is that some leaders have done no ____________ nor demonstrating of the true prophetic.
Multiple choice: (Write the corresponding letter of the best answer in the blank.)
6. There are those who focus so intently on the _______________ of error that they miss
A. rightness B. possibility C. impossibility D. odor
7. Men’s ways and means have historically ____________ the move of God.
A. stifled b. monumentalized C. denominationalized D. capitalized
8. The gifts of the Spirit are for our _____________. (1 Cor 12:7)
A. in-laws B. enchantment C. fame D. profit
9. The third reason we need the prophetic is because Paul _______ ____.
A. likes it B. left town C. said so D. didn’t vote
10. The five-fold ministries of Eph. 4 are meant to __________________ one another.
A. brag on B. carry C. complement D. debate
True or false: (Put a “T” in the blank if the statement is true or an “F” if it is false.)
___11. The fourth reason we need the prophetic is because it calls us to persevere.
___12. The fifth reason is the boat needs stabilizing.
___13. A prophecy is set very shallow into most any old foundation through a process
___14. Perseverance is the opposite of faith.
___15. Praise says that the God who gave the promise is going to fulfill it.
TO STUDY QUESTIONS — Volume 1
Prophetic And Ministry Training Manual
Instructors may duplicate the questions from each lesson for testing students. If students are to be tested, as in a classroom situation, the instructor may desire to remove the answer key from each student’s training manual.
LESSON ONE ——————————————————————————
4. prophets, true