Some people may find the following notes on the prophetic ministry useful. I put this together a few years ago: as far as I remember, it was gleaned from various sources:it’s not just my teaching. Apart from these notes, the other posts in this section are from specific school of prophesy sessions that we have held at Wildwood Church.
“There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord.”(I Cor 12 4-5)
The Gift of the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit distributes gifts AS HE WILLS. Anyone in a meeting can bring a prophesy (1 Cor 12:10)
Although a prophesy can refer to the future, a Holy Spirit gift of prophesy usually refers to His heart and desire for the church at the present time.
“For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit.” (1 Cor 12:12)
When did you last drink of the Spirit? How well do you know Him? 1 Cor 12 vs 7-11 describes the activity of the Holy Spirit in the church. He is like the central nervous system, sending different types of signals round the body. Where the nervous system isn’t working this leads to loss of feeing and paralysis.
A church, or an individual, that is paralysed and lacking in compassion is one that is not open to the signals of the Holy Spirit. So how do we recognise the “signal” that comes as a gift of prophesy?
A person bringing a prophesy is not necessarily a prophet. In the same way someone who cares for another isn’t necessarily a pastor; someone sharing the gospel with their neighbour isn’t necessarily an evangelist. But just as we are all called to love one another and to share the gospel, we can all be expectant of receiving a word from the Holy Spirit that will edify the church.
Paul tells us:
“Pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy… He who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men. He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church.” (1 Cor 14 1-4)
To edify means to build up. Jesus said “I will build my church, and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18). It is the same Greek word as the one Paul uses. Each time we bring a prophesy by a gift of the Holy Spirit, Jesus is building His church.
Types of “Signals”
A “picture”. A mental image, that can be very clear and detailed, or may be more like a simple diagram. A picture is usually symbolic to some degree or another: God may give one person the picture, and somebody else the meaning.
A word, phrase or sentence that just comes into your head. Sometimes it is incomplete: the Holy Spirit gives you the rest of it once you have opened your mouth in obedience.
A Bible verse that just comes to you.
All these “subjective” signals will not follow logically from what is being said. God’s thoughts are not our thoughts. When He speaks to us it usually cuts across our train of thoughts. If someone gives “a word from the Lord” that follows logically from something that is being said it is likely to be from their own thinking rather than from the Lord.
Sometimes the Holy Spirit speaks to us through our senses. Something we see, or some words of a worship song, just resonates with our Spirits, and God will use it to bring a message to the church. For example – Paul probably saw a Roman soldier, then gave us the message about the Armour of God. The bible is full of symbols and imagery: symbolic language can create a bridge between the spiritual and natural realms. Talk to the Lord about what you see around you, and ask Him to speak to you through it. Eg Amos 8:2 – “What do you see, Amos?” He asked. “A basket of ripe fruit,” I answered. Then the LORD said to me, “The time is ripe for my people Israel; I will spare them no longer.”
Be aware that God speaks through dreams. The Bible is full of them. His dreams are usually particularly vivid and coherent, and linger in the memory a bit longer than others. But you need to write them down, or you will forget. If you have a smartphone keep it by your bed and use either the audio recording or the dictation function to record any dreams as soon as you wake. They are usually full of symbols: talk about it and pray about it with someone else if you feel God is speaking through a dream but you can’t make sense of it yourself. If we ask God for wisdom He promises to give it. The more you pay attention to your dreams the more you are likely to find God speaking to you through them.
An “open vision” is much more rare. It is likely to have heightened significance for the church, or even beyond the church. A vision can be associated with a time of prayer and fasting, and is often (though not exclusively) given to a more senior minister. Example – Peter, “Kill and eat!” (Acts 10 :9-16)
All the above must “exhort, edify and comfort”
All must be in keeping with the Word of God
All, even admonishments, must be a clear expression of love.
Weigh everything, especially if it is directional.
The Ministry Gift of the Lord Jesus
Jesus gave ministry gifts to the church : Ephesians 4 :11-16
“And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers”
A prophet is somebody whom God has raised up to be available to bring His word to the Church with a degree of authority that isn’t usually present in the operation of the Holy Spirit gift of prophesy. For example, a prophet might
Call the church to repentance
Receive words of knowledge and very specific words of encouragement for particular individuals
Bring strategic words to the church or church leadership requiring decisions and action
Expose falsehood and works of the flesh hiding behind a mask of religion
Discern the strategy of the enemy and point it out to the church
Encourage the body into more freedom and depth of worship
Make connections between people and ministries
“Prepare the way of the Lord” – just as John the Baptist came in the spirit of Elijah to prepare the way for Jesus of Nazareth, so today’s prophet prepares the way for the returning King.
Equip and be used in raising up other prophets
Bring revelation and encouragement to the church in the operation of the gifts of the Holy spirit, particularly the gift of prophesy
Declare future events, sometimes with attendant confirming signs – Luke 2:12 “ And this shall be a sign unto you; You shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.”
The purpose of the prophet and the goal of the prophetic ministry is always “the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ”
A prophet will either have a leadership role within a church, or his ministry will be recognised and endorsed by the leaders. An individual cannot operate in the authority of the prophetic ministry without being in submission to leadership. “Everything must be done decently and in order” (1Cor 14:40). An individual cannot be used to build the body of Christ if he or she is broken off from it.
“The gifts and calling of God are without repentance”… however, to function effectively in this calling, a prophet needs to
Know God’s word. Not just read it, but try and memorise sections if the Holy Spirit highlights them.
Spend time in “the fellowship of the Holy Spirit”. The Holy Spirit is the one who brings us the words from the Lord. The prophet needs to cultivate His presence, be sensitive to His voice, and seek His company, even more than other people.
Be a worshipper. Worship is crucial to developing intimacy with God.
Spend time in intercession. If God is going to trust us with words for His people, we need to committed to praying for them. This doesn’t mean He will only give us words for the people that we pray for; it means that if we pray for people our love for them will grow, and love is the foundation for all ministry.
Allow God – and people – to work on his character
Have a servant attitude. In the world system the person who leads others, brings wisdom and gives direction is given status and promotion. However in the Kingdom of God we are a) all one body, so no single member has dominance over another; b) servants of one another “He who is greatest among you shall be your servant” (Matt 23:11), and c) “unprofitable servants” of the King (Luke 17:10) who are doing no more than carrying out our orders. We will receive our reward in Heaven; we are not to expect it on Earth.