In the Church today – at least in the part that I am most familiar with here in North America – there is a serious problem with prophetic words spoken over nations and regions. There are ‘national prophets’, some valid prophetic voices and others simply self-appointed, who speak over the nation or regions of the nations sending their prophetic words around the world via the internet. Many things are spoken of, promised, warned against, and even condemned or blessed in the Name of the Lord (and the Church).
The problem is that people receive these words and assume that because it is a “thus saith the Lord” and from a recognized prophetic ministry or well-known prophet that these utterances are actually from the Lord Himself. There is apparently no TESTING OF THE WORD to see if it is actually from the heart of the Father and thus if it lines up with God’s Word, the Bible, which is our ultimate authority. I am, in fact, astonished and seriously dismayed at the lack of discernment in the Church today – in the lives of believers and leaders alike. The Bible clearly states:
Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 1 John 4:1 (NIV)
We are to test the words that are declared to be from the Lord. Do they line up with our ultimate authority – God’s written Word, the Bible? Are they in line with the character and nature of God as revealed in and through Jesus Christ? Are they in line with what the Holy Spirit is currently doing in the Kingdom and in the Church?
A really good test is to ask yourself: Is this prophetic word drawing our attention to the Lord or to the prophet, the revelation, or some other experience? This is a so important. The Bible states:
For the essence of prophecy is to give a clear witness for Jesus. (Revelation 19:10b NLT)
So, we need discernment when hearing a prophetic word before we receive that word and act upon it. This discernment will only come when believers know their Bibles and know the Lord in an intimate way. This discernment is absolutely essential in those who are senior leaders in our churches as they must protect and guard the sheep against false Christs, false prophets, false apostles, and false teachers.
Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many. (Jesus in Matthew 24:11)
But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves. 2 Peter 2:1
There is a second major issue I believe that needs to be addressed. When a national or regional prophet speaks a word of the Lord – who holds him or her responsible and accountable? For example, there have been a number of prophetic words over my nation of Canada by nationally known prophetic voices (some who call themselves prophets) and they have not come to pass. This is especially true of the ‘national words’ that have specific dates and events connected to them. Time elapses and the word does not come to pass yet no one issues a retraction of the word or an apology. This is especially true of those who sit on national prophetic and/or apostolic councils. In several cases I have written to the prophetic person and questioned them about the word so as to, in some way, hold them accountable. I never receive a response. Prophetic people need to responsible for the words they speak. The Church needs to hold them accountable. The mechanism by which we can do just that seems to have yet to be discovered.
It is up to the individual believer to be discerning and to test each and every word – ones spoken over them as well as those spoken over churches, regions, and nations. Leaders especially need to test and try, judging each word spoken. It is the church’s task to be discerning and to test.
The real test is two-fold: Is it 100% in line with God’s Word and with the revelation we have of God in both the Old and New Testament? And, does it point the believer, the church, and the nation to the Lord Jesus Christ and only to Him?
It is time to stop believing all we hear, to be discerning and to “test the spirits.” (1 John 4:1)