Well, we have finished, for now, looking at the ministry of the apostle. He is the leader of the fivefold ministry team. And, along with the prophet they form the foundation for the Church that Jesus is building (1 Corinthians 12:28; Ephesians 2:20).
Two prophets were walking toward each other. The one stuck out his hand and said, “I see that you’re doing okay; how am I doing?”
This humorous interaction communicates how prophets tend to hear from the Lord for others better than they hear for themselves!
One of the best definitions of a prophet is: “Someone who sees what others do not, who hears what others cannot, who speak what others will not.” A prophet is someone who has the ability to consistently speak forth God’s heart to His people. The prophet sees the real issues and priorities. He calls us to action and points the way. A prophet is one who speaks forth God’s heart and mind maturely and who has a proven record of accuracy.
We are told by the Scriptures to seek the prophetic word of the Lord. The Bible tells us in Matthew 10:41 that if we welcome a prophet and receive him, we will receive a prophet’s reward. This is saying, at the very least, that if we are open to the prophetic gift and the ministry of a prophet, we will receive a blessing from God.
The prophet is an extremely important gift to the Church, especially in the way he relates to the apostolic gift in helping to lay a foundation for churches to build and to expand according to Ephesians 2:19-20…”So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone.”
Prophets are in place in the Church to bring supernatural revelation and insight so that believers can receive direction from the Lord. In other words, prophets guide. Amos 3:7 says, “The sovereign Lord does nothing without revealing His plans to His servants the prophets.” A prophet see the picture through God’s eyes and helps to open up our hearts to hear God.
We need to look at and understand Old Testament prophets and New Testament prophets. There are some substantial differences.
The Lord spoke to His people in the Old Testament through the prophets. They needed to be infallible in their ministry (if their words did not come true, they were stoned) and they were used to give guidance and direction to God’s people.
While the Old Testament prophets were the direct mouthpieces of God, today they are often used to confirm the Word the Lord is already speaking to the hearts of individuals (Hebrews 1:2; 2:1-4). This is because every believer can hear the voice of God and recognize that it is His voice (John 10).They may also be used by the Lord to ignite a vision or a calling in an individual.
This must also be confirmed by the witness of the Holy Spirit in an individual’s life and/or the affirmation of his church leadership. Every believer has an “anointing of the Holy One” and can hear from God for themselves (1 John 2:20). So, the role of the prophet and even the prophetic should move from announcing to confirming. However, because most believers have not practiced hearing God they still need the prophets to announce God’s plan and purpose for them. They usually hear it for the first time through the ministry of the prophet. Sad, but true.
Part of the nature of the prophet is that he will not only confirm what God has spoken to us but he also takes us into the realm that will stretch us by calling us to deeper things and a closer walk with the Lord. We do not just follow the prophetic word but the witness of the Holy Spirit in our hearts.
God enables His thoughts to be clearly verbalizes through a Spirit-inspired person … “God shares His thoughts about a given situation by inspiring one of His Spirit-filled servants to speak these thoughts to the appropriate person or persons in understandable language and in the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Earnest Gentile)
We must remember that it is the written Word of God, the Bible, that is our plumb line. Every word must measure up to the written Word of God. If someone gives you a prophetic word that is contrary to the Word of God, throw it out. It is not the Lord speaking because He will never contradict His written Word.
The Bible is clear that we should be willing to die for the written Word of the Lord but not the prophetic Word. However, Scripture does tell us in 1 Timothy 1:18 to wage the good warfare according to the prophetic words that have been spoken over us. We must endeavour to secure the victory for the prophetic word to see it become a reality, but it is only the written Word of the Lord that we lay our lives down for.