Episode 1. The Power of the Prophetic
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A prophet – a prophet is someone who speaks the will of God. So let me ask you something – are there still prophets in this world today, or not? Does God still speak prophetically through some of …
A prophet … a prophet is someone who speaks the will of God. So let me ask you something, “Are there still prophets in this world today, or not? Does God still speak prophetically through some of His people today … or not?” Well, there’s only one way to find out – what does His Word have to say on the subject?
It’s just fantastic to be with you at the beginning of another week and yes, we’re continuing again this week in our look at how it is that God speaks to us today, right here and now in the 21st Century. It’s interesting, way back in the Old Testament God spoke to His people through prophets – Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and all those Old Testament prophets – men who God called to speak His message to His people.
Then in the New Testament He speaks to us, first and foremost through His one and only Son, Jesus Christ, and through the Apostles and the other writers of the New Testament books. And He’s still using those to speak to us today by His Spirit. He speaks to us today through the Word of God. But it’s interesting, the New Testament in particular tells how His Spirit speaks to us today.
Sometimes it’s easy to ignore that. It’s easy to get all dull and boring about the way God communicates with us. But God is a stunningly creative communicator. There’s nothing, absolutely nothing dull and boring about how God communicates with you and me. And one of the ways He does that is through the power of the prophetic. So today, that’s what we’re going to take a look at on the program.
Now in embarking on this today I acknowledge that there are some amongst God’s people who simply believe that there are no more prophets today; that this is something that belongs to the past and not the present.
What’s a prophet? Well, quite simply a prophet is someone who speaks on behalf of God; someone who speaks the will of God into the lives of God’s people. Some people believe there are no prophets today, and yet other traditions and denominations really emphasise the prophetic dimension of God’s communication and sadly some do so to the point of abusing the prophetic. What do I mean by that? Well, I don’t carry any particular denomination baggage or tradition around this whole thing, my heart is simply to open up God’s Word the Bible and figure out what is God saying and go with what God says.
So that’s precisely what we’re going to do today. Let’s take a look. This is the Apostle Paul writing to the church in Corinth, after Jesus has died and risen again and ascended into heaven. This is the fledging New Testament church that the Apostle Paul is writing to. I’m going to read to you from 1 Corinthians chapter 12 beginning at verse 4. Have a listen:
Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the discernment of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues.
All these are activated by one and the same Spirit, who allots to each one individually just as the Spirit chooses. For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.
So here Paul’s talking about supernatural gifts that are given to people in the family of God, and not just the special super-Christian leader people. Have a listen again to verse 7.
To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.
To each person, to each believer is given one or more of these supernatural gifts. Now I’ve heard people say, “Wow, wow, that was for back then not for now.”
This passage, 1 Corinthians 12, rolls straight on into 1 Corinthians 13, that famous passage about love that kind of says, you know you can have all the gifts under the sun, but unless you use them in love those gifts are useless.
Now these same people love to quote 1 Corinthians chapter 13 but somehow, perhaps because, particularly in the west with our western mindset, we’re uncomfortable with the idea that there might be supernatural gifts, things we can’t explain rationally, we sometimes want to deny that this bit of the New Testament actually applies to us but accept other bits that make rational sense to us. I don’t know what it is, but I find nothing – when we say nothing in the New Testament – that tells me that this theme of spiritual gifts, supernatural gifts was meant for then and not for now. Nothing.
And the gifts? Words of wisdom, words of knowledge, extraordinary faith, healing, miracles, prophecy, discernment of the Spirit, speaking in different kinds of tongues, interpreting different tongues. One of the arguments against words of wisdom and words of knowledge and prophecy is that these so called modern day prophets set themselves up above the Word of God. They can say things that don’t agree with the scripture, God’s Word.
So what do we do with that? Well, I have to tell you. Like anything else good that God gives us, you can take it and you can abuse it. Absolutely. I’ve seen it happen in this area, where people go for emotionalism and they go for manipulation where they claim to be speaking on behalf of God but in fact they aren’t. They are just operating out of their own flesh and their own desires.
Is that a reason to believe that God doesn’t use prophets? Just because something good from God can be abused doesn’t mean that it’s not a good thing from God. I mean, back in the Old Testament there were false prophets. Back in the New Testament we see that there were some false prophets. Just because men and women abuse a gift from doesn’t mean that gift doesn’t exist.
There are several times in my life when someone has given a specific prophecy just for me, and all of those barring one, and that exception simply didn’t ring true as being from God to me and to the other people that were there at the time, but the rest of those prophecies in fact, had a huge impact on my life. I look back on them now and they were major turning points. And you know, they weren’t proud people coming to me with a “thus-sayeth-the-Lord” proclamation.
One of the most powerful was from a man called Denis Adams. He works for a large Christian radio network called HCJB. It was at a conference. I had just taken over the reigns at Christianityworks here in this ministry and my predecessor had taken all our radio programs off air. There was almost no financial support and the ministry was almost dead and I didn’t know what to do.
I met Denis for the first time at a Christian Media Conference. He looked at my name tag, we didn’t know each other, but he’d heard some of the short radio messages I’d put together in the past. And almost immediately tears welled up in his eyes, and with such passion and such conviction he said to me. “You have to start doing those radio programs again, you just have to.” Well I tell you, Dennis’ words pierced my heart that day and because of that we spent the last few thousand dollars the ministry had on producing the first series of these programs. At the time we had no idea how we were going to get onto any radio station anywhere.
That was only six years ago, and today these programs are heard by millions of people each around the world. I know with all that I am that those words that Dennis Adams spoke to me that day were from God. That they were a prophecy, that without them I wouldn’t be here today. Should we discern prophecies? Absolutely! Should we think them through and pray them through? Absolutely! Should we reject any that don’t ring true? Absolutely!
But, my friend, God’s Word says that He’s still speaking to us today through prophets. Why, oh why would we want to deny that? Why would we not want to hear when God has something specific to say to you and to me from His heart into our lives?