Prophetic Admin - 3
In these exciting end time days with the heightened expectation among believers regarding the return of the Lord Jesus to be preceded by a great revival, The Church needs to remember the restoration of all things that must take place first. Among the many things that will be restored is the prophetic office in its true Biblical fullness and significance as was evident in the early Church. The purpose for the restoration is to assist in the preparation of the bride of Christ to be without spot or wrinkle having great glory and power. The prophetic office being the EYES of The Church will ensure greater clarity of vision for the whole body as well as exposing evil in The Church, both among leadership and within the congregation. Holiness and true discipleship is the pre-occupation of the prophetic and those who are truly the Lord's will be revealed.
In Acts 3:20-21 , it reads, "and that He may send you Jesus, the Christ appointed for you, whom heaven must receive until the period of restoration of all things about which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from ancient times." (American Standard)
"The Lord is restoring that which He took not away" (Paul Cain).
"When declaring events which would signal the end of the age, the Lord noted that these were "the beginning of birth pangs" (Matt. 24:8). The harvest and accompanying events will unfold just as travail comes upon a woman in labor. That is, the contractions begin suddenly but at first are infrequent and relatively light. The closer to the birth, the more intense and the more frequent they become. The first contraction signalling the end of the age actually occurred several hundred years ago, beginning with The Reformation. Over two hundred years passed before there was another, then a hundred years, until now the time between them is down to decades. Soon it will be just years, and each one is becoming more intense.
Beginning with Luther, each spiritual contraction resulted in a major, basic Christian truth being restored to The Church, as well as one of the five ministries given for the equipping of the saints, as listed in Ephesians 4. During the Middle Ages apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers were unrecognised and had generally ceased to function in The Church except on isolated and rare occasions. The church was then dominated by false priestcraft, but with the restoration of truth to The Church, there also had to come restoration of true ministry.
With the beginning of The Reformation, the PASTOR, was restored to recognised ministry. Over two hundred years later, with the Wesleyansthe EVANGELIST was restored and attained general recognition and acceptance. The Pentecostal and Latter Rain revivals began the restoration of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, but it was not until the Charismatic Renewal that the TEACHING was fully restored. Teaching was the primary emphasis, and a much greater anointing came upon this ministry during that movement. Until then most of those with a teaching ministry were relegated to seminaries or seminars. Now this ministry is truly being incorporated into the life of the local church, resulting in the building up of the whole body.
The next spiritual contraction will bring about the restoration and recognition of the PROPHETS. We will see the prophetic ministry become the primary focus of attention during the next few years as a much greater anointing comes upon this ministry than has been seen since Biblical times. Just as there were some pastors, evangelists and teachers in the Body of Christ before their ministries were fully restored, there have been some prophets in The Church; they just have not received the understanding, anointing, and acceptance that they soon will.
The Church has been well prepared for the restoration of this ministry. The Body of Christ is now aware that it must have a much greater clarity of vision and revelation of the Divine purpose in the days to come. The prophet is the eye of the body (see IS. 29:10), and when the eye is single or unified, the whole body will be full of light. We are promised this unity of vision in IS. 52:8, "Listen! Your watchmen (one of the Biblical designations for prophets) lift up their voices, they will shout joyfully TOGETHER; for they will see eye to eye when the Lord restores Zion." Those who are emerging with true prophetic mantle will be joined in a union which is unprecedented in this ministry." (Rick Joyner, 1989, pp 27-29)
In the New Testament, contrary to common belief, there are the names of some TWENTY Apostles (I Cor. 4:6, 15:5, Gal. 1:19, Acts 1:14, 14:14-15, and, Phil. 2:25) and some SEVEN named Prophets (Acts 11:27-28, 13:1, 15:32), NUMEROUS anonymous Prophets (Acts 11:27) and, the four unnamed daughters of Phillip, the evangelist, who prophesied. These were under the new dispensation of the Holy Spirit. It is no wonder in Ephesians 4:11 and I Cor. 12:28-29, the Holy Spirit openly declares that these are vital offices in the Divinely appointed and Divinely established church structure. Any other structure is incomplete and that church is all that much the worse off by the lack of any of these offices.
The restoration of the Prophetic Office is a RESTORATION and NOT an introduction of something new, as many nervous and insecure church leaders desperately wish to relegate it. They hope, by so doing, they can then use the age-old strategy of branding it as something unscriptural because "it is a new doctrine or teaching not supported by traditional interpretations of biblical scholars". Those who are more willing to sacrifice the truth in order to protect their dead traditions and their status should remember what their church forefathers did to the beginnings of the Pentecostal movement. Indeed, one should remember the unnecessary rejection and suffering that many Revivalists and Reformers, throughout church history, went through from within their own churches. The Church persecuted the restoration of the pastoral office, the evangelist and the teachers.
WILL THE CHURCH EVER LEARN FROM HISTORY - WHAT THEY DID WITH THE GREAT REVIVALISTS AND REFORMERS THAT THEY ARE NOW SO NOSTALGIC ABOUT?
The Lord Jesus spoke these words declaring that God would send Apostles and Prophets. He did not relegate the prophets to the Old Testament as so many Christians today are incorrectly taught. In Luke 11: 49 it reads,
In 1 Cor. 12:28, it reads
In Eph. 4:11, it reads
With these glaring scriptural references it is incredible that Christians should be struggling with the fact that God would be interested in restoring what He NEVER took away in the first instance! It was we who abandoned or lost it along the way, opting for human ordained substitutes rather than Sovereignly appointed ones. Church history is littered with the names of so-called 'prophets and apostles' who were nothing more than either man-ordained or self appointed. No wonder there was such a gulf of a difference between their titles and the supernatural evidence certifying their claims - God is not mocked! The Church world-wide should be thoroughly enthralled at the fact that all the five fold offices will be restored in these last days. We won't have to keep dreaming and wishing we were at the time of the early church for too long, because God will give us the full demonstration as a fully restored church.
Perhaps the greatest paranoia that church leaders have about the prophetic relates to who will be in charge of their church? The real issue should, however, be what are the proper relationships between the pastors, teachers, evangelists, prophets and apostles. It should not be an issue of leadership / control but one of CO-OPERATIVE, HARMONIOUS TEAMWORK for the same ends as spelt out in Ephesians 4:11-16. It, therefore, becomes important that both the Pastor and the Prophet work together. The Pastor being the shepherd and the Prophet being the watchman, unless they are one and the same person. They both have common aims but have different tasks, being different parts of the same body.
'Without Prophets You Losses will be great' (Paul Cain)
It is worthwhile considering the substantial benefits that some churches have enjoyed by having a proven (mature) prophet working closely with the leadership. Satan has his detractors and, too often leadership will listen to their voices rather than humbling themselves before God and crying out "What about my church Lord! Will You not appoint for us a prophet to work with us?" If the leadership are not willing, than the better informed members should intercede for their leaders' change of heart as well as for God to restore ALL the five-fold offices to their local church, in spite of them.
Consider, for example, a church leadership meeting planning for the coming years program. As most such meetings go, you have a few people praying about the proceedings and, the planning gets under way in earnest. A regular, familiar format is followed with attendees throwing in their ideas into the basket of alternative activities. Now, suppose there was a proven (mature) prophet who was INVITED to be a member of the leadership team or simply to participate without being an official member; recognition being granted for his revelatory insight. As each issue is covered it would not be surprising for the prophet to receive clear words of knowledge, words of wisdom, and discernment through possibly; visions, audible voices, inward witness or impressions. Even to the amazement of the committee, prior to the meeting the prophet may have already received trances (Acts 10:10, 11:5, 22:17), dreams (Matt. 1:20, Joel 2:28) and visions regarding different aspects of the program but NOT all issues. He will simply share them with the team and leave it entirely up to the leadership to consider without imposing it on them.
This is not to suggest, as many would tend to fear that the shear impact of such revelatory gifting, peculiar to the office of a Prophet would undermine the Pastor's authority. The argument being that, the congregation fascinated by the supernatural would "despise" in their hearts the not so gifted Pastor and would therefore submit more readily to the prophet rather than the Pastor. Undoubtedly, this could occur if the Pastor does not fully appreciate his Divinely given authority over the flock. On the other hand, if the prophet lacks understanding of his role in the body or, has a hidden agenda to dominate The Church for which, in fact, there is no biblically accepted precedent. Working together according to Eph. 4:11-16 should be the aim of all offices.
The best New Testament example of a prophet working in harmony with leadership is Paul who was later appointed by the Holy Spirit to be an Apostle to the Gentiles (Acts 13:1). We know that Paul was a prophet because he received revelations and saw visions (1 Cor. 11:23, Gal. 1:11-12, Acts 27:23-24).
Another concern of leadership is how to distinguish the real from the false prophets. With so few real, bone fide mature prophets recognisable in the world today - how are we going to be able to sift through a deluge and pick out the true prophets? There are few and hard to find literature on how to analyse and recognise a person who has the gifting of prophecy but is not a prophet. Then there is the need to distinguish the immature prophet, who has a definite prophetic gifting but is still very much in the training stage by the Holy Spirit. This category is by far the most vulnerable to being rejected outright, because of the numerous times they will give a false prophecy or misinterpretation of a true prophecy or further still, a misapplication of a true prophecy. Under the New Covenant God expects us to show grace more readily rather than punishment. The immature prophet must be encouraged and given succour to be more diligent about increasing accuracy in his gifting and not 'executed, or banished or excommunicated' as is the tendency. In the Old Testament people were to judge the prophets (Deut. 13:1-5). In New Testament, we are to judge prophecy NOT the prophet for all are in the one Body (I Cor. 14:29, I John 4:1-3)
The Church needs to understand that "Gifts are given (not earned), but fruits are grown (not given)". It is sufficiently clear from the Scriptures that certain offices in The Church were given as Sovereign gifts by the Lord Jesus at ascension. These are given in Ephesians 4:7-11. They are Sovereignly given and not earned through academia, charismatic personality, or even devout Christian commitment. This can be clearly seen by the background of the twelve apostles, most of whom The Church today would have most likely thrown their application forms in the rubbish bin and told them to try another profession! Yet today, in churches there is the presumption that one could earn these offices. This highly competitive approach to these offices is so stifling to the less educated or less humanly gifted that they have a "donkey's chance" of ever being appointed to such offices, try as they may. Even a very simple look at church history would show clearly that a vast majority of the revivalists, reformers and great healing ministries were led by those who would have been rejected outright by the presumed criteria of earned offices.
The only offices in the New Testament church that are earned are those of 'Bishop', 'Deacon' (1 Tim. 3:1-13) and 'Elders/ Bishops' (Titus 1:5-6) appointed according to principles recommended in Exodus 18:21-27 and first mentioned in Acts 6:3-7.
Since gifts are given but fruits are grown, it is no wonder the Lord Jesus could tolerate all the blunderings of His Sovereignly appointed Apostles during their learning period. Moreover, Peter who made the worst recorded blunders was still one of the closest to the Lord Jesus Christ. This is very much at odds with the kind of treatment that those with Divinely appointed Prophetic offices have suffered from The Church. Fruits take time to grow before they reach maturity. They have a period of budding, flowering, being green (a very different colour often from what they will look like when ripe!) and finally turning to the colour that indicates ripening. The Lord gave such grace to His disciples, it is time The Church did for the prophets! Strange, that we should continue to have the offices of Pastors, Teachers, and Evangelists when modern church history is littered with the ruined lives of church members caused by the scandalous lives of those who claim these offices!
Jesus said, "But go learn what this means: 'I desire mercy and not sacrifice.' For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance." (Matt. 9:13)
The best way to monitor the immature prophet in order to determine his progress over time has been suggested by Mike Bickle (Pastor at MetroVineyard Fellowship in Kansas City, Missouri, USA). He suggests among other things: to get the prophet to keep a detailed dairy including the written description of the prophecy and the time it was received as well as the context where applicable. Over a period of time, they should then tick-off those that have come to pass and honestly weigh them against the number of those that did not. This simple procedure is also a very useful tool for the leadership of any church to apply to anyone who comes claiming to be a prophet without any verifiable credentials from other known mature prophets.
In addition to the above tests, is whether the prophecy complies with the letter and spirit of the word of God (2 Tim. 3:16, 1 Cor. 14:3). This involves judging prophecy by correctly dividing the word- 'correctly dividing' being the operative. Jesus also said, " ....a tree is known by its fruit...." (Matt. 12:33-35) which is a good indicator of the 'prophets' likely motivations for giving prophecies. This may take some time to become clear, suggesting no pre-mature rejection of the 'prophet' is recommended but, rather a close monitoring by the leadership through a close personal relationship in a co-operative environment. The significance of this approach cannot be underestimated. There is a real need for the Leadership to be reassured in order for them to overcome their insecurities. On the other hand, there is also the real need for the 'prophet' to be given a chance of being proven to be genuine and therefore overcome any fear of rejection because of the still widely existing "false prophet and Jezebel" stigma they suffer.
As God sends the prophets "out of the woodwork" to The Church to help in the restoration task it is vital and, will undoubtedly become a necessity for leadership to cross denominational barriers in order to consult with other leaders who have active prophetic ministries that are of good report and growing maturity. A further step can be taken by those in leadership to organise a conference of known prophets from all churches in the neighbourhood and attended by the leadership of the representative churches. This would provide a wonderful and constructive approach to cross verifying the level of maturity of the respective prophets as well as iron out any misconceptions about the proper roles of prophets in The Church. As a spin-off, all prophets will be judged by other prophets as I Cor. 14:29 recommends and, the false or self appointed prophets will be more quickly recognised by the supernatural gifting of the true prophets and the wisdom of the leadership.
The long-term strategy of The Church as a whole should be to establish a School for the budding Prophets. The prophet Samuel was the first to initiate that concept in the Old Testament. The value of this is that, they would get the kind of specialised training peculiar to their type of anointing. The school would enable these immature prophets to be coached by the mature prophets as well as receive teaching on how to operate in The Church environment and in harmony with existing leadership. Moreover, they will be given the opportunity to exercise their gifting among their peers in a workshop environment without fear of being rejected, or humiliated by those who lack an understanding of the gifting that is still developing in them.
1) How did The Church come to lose the Spiritual gifts and offices?
2) Why does The Church or religious establishment tend to be the most violent opposer to new moves of God?
3) Why is God restoring the five major ministries in reverse order of 'importance' as compared with I Cor. 12:28; Eph. 4:11?
4) What practical, godly steps can members of a church take to encourage intolerant leadership to accept the prophetic?
5) How long could it take before a prophet reaches a level of "acceptable" maturity as reflected both in character and accuracy?
6) If you came across a person you can recognise as having the prophetic gifting, how would you go about encouraging them to develop their gifting if the leadership in your church is opposed to the prophetic?
7) What are likely to be the major impacts of the restoration of the prophetic ministry to The Church? Will there be casualties? Where?
8) How many prophets should a local church have? Should they have any at all?
Those in leadership must do all in their power to get the hidden prophets in their congregation to come out in the open and admit it without being ridiculed by the spiritually blind, or worshipped by the spiritually naive. Churches have well-established traditions of "ferreting out” those with musical talents by auditioning the prospectives. Potential Pastors are "discovered" by offering them opportunities in counselling, leading bible studies in small groups. Potential Evangelists are put to the test during street witnessing and major church outreaches. What about prophets?
The first step to "ferret out" the hidden prophets is for the leadership in a normal Sunday service to ask, as an indication, by a show of hands those who regularly saw, what they understand to be supernatural visions, dreams, trances or heard audible voices, etc. I believe most leadership will be shocked by the significant number of people who will respond to this invitation. This is because the Church is meant to be actively prophetic, but for the ignorance and /or prejudice of those in leadership they are only exercised scarcely even among the gifted.
The second step is to get a listing of the names of these people and to begin to compile testimonials on each of them in order to determine whether they have the gift of prophecy or the anointing for the prophetic office. The leadership must continually, throughout this information gathering process, speak strong words of encouragement, exhortation, and comfort to these people in order to get them to develop confidence. For some, who would have come from churches where they might have suffered rejection, this encouragement should not be underestimated.
The third step is for the leadership to designate a team of mature Christians to begin a serious Bible study, with the help of published books on the subject of the prophetic ministry in today's setting. Those prophetically gifted people, who have been selected after preliminary vetting, will be encouraged to attend so that they can be taught what the Bible instructs on the conduct of the prophetic in all areas of the local church ministry. It is not appropriate for these potential prophets to begin to minister publicly immediately they are recognised as having the gift, any more than you would allow a child with a musical talent to go and perform at a major concert of mature musicians. A prescribed learning period is recommended with the leadership closely monitoring progress of the accuracy of the gifting as well as the character of the prophetic individual.
In Chapter 26, we look at some helpful ways to develop a prophets' school / workshop to assist in the restoration of the prophetic ministry. This preliminary effort will provide the necessary boost to the ministry it so desperately needs.
I. Signs of a True but Immature Prophet
(a) Signs of a true prophet
He will quickly identify good and evil and tell you so. This is part of his gifting - the gift of discernment (I Cor. 12:10)
He sees things as black and white without compromising on what he receives from God and what he says - A Lion Roaring (Amos 3:7-8); A Prosecutor in the Heavenly Court (Jer. 11:20; Micah 7:9).
He is a stickler for the word of God more so than anyone else - Bread and water (Isaiah 3:1-2).
He perceives the character and motives of people. To him its the most important thing- A Watchman (Isaiah 21:6,11; Ezek. 3:17; 33:2).
He likes to see outward manifestation of spiritual events.
He personally operates on totally spiritual principles to ensure that his equipment works effectively - A man of the spirit (Hosea 9:7; I Cor. 14:37).
He is frank, open, and outspoken and does not mince his words - A Trumpet blowing (Isaiah 58:1; Jer. 6:17; Ezek. 33:3-7; I Cor. 14:8).
He is very persuasive in speech because of the supernatural demonstration that accompany his message, and is deeply committed to holiness as a lifestyle - Anointed one (I Chron. 16:22, Psalms 105:15).
He spends a lot of time alone with God because he must deliver to the people what God has to say regarding a matter - A Seer (I Sam. 9:9, II Sam. 24:11; I Chron. 29:29; II Chron. 29:25; Amos 7:12).
He comes with the mood, the character, the unction/anointing and power that follows as signs to prove the prophecy - a messenger of the Lord (Haggai 1:13; II Chron. 36:15-16; Isaiah 44:26; Malachi 3:1)
He is eager to help others see their sins and so help them overcome - The stay and the staff (Isaiah 3:1-2).
He desires to see outward evidence of inward convictions in people.
He is more concerned with God's plan than people’s goals - a servant of God (II Kings 9:7; 17:13; Jer. 7:25; Ezek. 38:17; Zech. 1:6).
He identifies and grieves over the sins of others - a shepherd (Isaiah 56:11; Ezek. 34:2-8).
He is Kingdom of God minded.
b) Signs of Immaturity in a prophet
Wants to dominate the meeting because he feels he has "a word from God" and has the most powerful anointing that everyone needs to listen to and observe.
Incapable of preventing personal hurts and wounds to affect the delivery of the prophecy.
Unwilling to take counsel from leadership or other more mature Christians, especially if they do not have a prophetic gifting like himself. This is having an unteachable spirit, and the Lord regards such persons as being stiff-necked or rebellious.
Lacks a balanced knowledge of all other areas of the Christian lifestyle.
Unduly dramatic when giving a prophecy in an attempt to convince people that he has received a "powerful" word from God.
Unwilling to pay the full price for the call of God on his life to come to full maturity. Alternatively, he is lacking in knowledge regarding God's standards of Christian lifestyle that is required of a prophet and so tends to operate often in the soulish realm.
Lacking in spiritual diplomacy so that he is destructive even though he is giving a true prophecy.
A life style of holiness (set apart/devotion) unto the Lord. The prophets/prophetesses in the Bible are well known as holy men/women whose pre-occupation was keeping the people of God in, or bringing them back to a life-style that was holy unto the Lord. Any 'prophet' that does not have this as their personal aim in their private life first is deceived and will eventually be proven to be so.
Prophets have a life of intercession, prayers, supplications with fastings on behalf of God's people continually. Since they must tell the people what God is saying it means they have to spend a considerable amount of their time before the Lord in prayers and fasting. They must do whatever it takes to be able to receive, on a very regular and consistent basis, revelations from the Lord for the people. We so readily accept the regular, consistent teaching weekly, from the pastors what about the prophets? They also have a ministry gift like the Pastor. The pastors' commitment, consistency and fruitfulness should be a clear example to the prophets of what God is requiring of them.
The prophets must sow in the spirit with much perseverance and be prepared to do so for a length of time before they see any results just as the Pastors, teachers and evangelists have so faithfully done. They must get away from the "Fast Food" mentality where everything comes quick and easy without much labouring. Pre-mature inheritance leads to spiritual poverty because there is not the character to handle the inheritance so it gets wasted - The prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32).
The prophets must be diligent in reading and meditating on the word of God to ensure that they have the Scriptures deeply rooted in them so they will be able to test all the revelations that they receive. It is their spiritual sensitivity that is vital for the protection of the church from both satanic attack and deception. A poor knowledge of the Scriptures is an unacceptable standard for a prophet. Moreover, one has to know both the Old and New Testaments, not just their favourite books of the Bible.
Even the most gifted are of not much use unless their gifting is evident in actual ministry. The regular exercise of the gift is a must both within and outside the formal church services. Prophets should not be hung-up about the pulpit ministry and being before large numbers of people. They should seek to operate in all situations whether at their place of work, at home, at church, in other social occasions because they have the anointing to operate at any time just as a pastor or evangelist is able to.
Humility and servanthood are the hallmarks of those with the ministry offices. Prophets should, therefore, be totally committed to ensuring that they don't neglect this all too often forgotten area. The temptation is ever so strong, especially after a powerful revelation, or prophetic word that comes to pass and all the people are very impressed. The prophet must be very quick to give all the glory to God and shy away from flattery because 'they remember from whence they have come'.
Accept correction with gladness (Psalm 141:5; Isaiah 50:4-5; Prov. 15:31-32). This has to do with having a teachable spirit without which it is impossible to learn the will of God and true standard for one's life and ministry.
Discipline in what they say, hear and see. Whether in casual or serious conversation - bridle the tongue so that it does not become an instrument of unrighteousness. This is made more effective through the bridling of what they hear and read, watch and meditate on. A corrupted mind will develop a corrupt picture language library making it very difficult, if not impossible, to get pure unadulterated visions and dreams.
Need to rest in quietness (Isaiah. 28:12; 13:15) so that they can give themselves a chance to hear the Lord speak. The Lord is always speaking; it is we who hear Him intermittently because we are too busy.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom for the prophets (Prov. 15:33).
Prophesied false revelation (Jer. 14:14; Ezek. 22:28).
Drunkards (Isaiah 28:7).
Wicked (Jer. 23:11).
Conspired to deceive (Ezek. 22:25; II Peter 2:3).
Defrauded others (Ezek. 22:25).
Committed adultery (Jer. 23:14).
Liars (Isaiah 9:15; Jer. 23:14,32).
Supported other evildoers (Jer. 23:14).
Practiced divination (Jer. 14:14; Ezek. 22:28).
Evil speaking (II Peter 2:12).
False doctrine (I John 4:1-2).
What do you think would be the most difficult obstacles that an immature prophet faces? In what ways can you assist them overcome them?
Is it possible for some one to be a born-again, Holy Spirit baptised believer and yet also be a false prophet?
What did Jesus mean by Matt. 7:22-23? Did he mean only the prophets?
How do you, as person not in leadership, deal with an immature prophet who is unwilling to take advice?
Do you think when a false prophet comes into the fellowship they will be easily identifiable? Why or Why not?
What attitude should one have towards recognised prophets? Are they any different from those towards pastors, teachers, evangelists, and apostles?
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