Purpose of this Session
In the New Testament all believers are invited to prophesy. There is also a specific gift and ministry of prophecy given to build up the Body of Christ.
Christ, the Prophet
As with all the ascension gifts in His Body, Christ is the model prophet.
“…Jesus of Nazareth, who was a Prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people,” (Luke 24:19 NKJV)
The New Testament Prophet receives its calling, purpose and anointing from the ascended Christ, the Prophet.
Jesus Christ is the promised Prophet like unto Moses who was prophesied centuries before by Moses himself. Undoubtedly Moses was the greatest of all Old Testament prophets, and all other Old Testament prophets and prophecies were measured by the words he received from God.
“I will raise up for them a Prophet like you from among their brethren, and will put My words in His mouth, and He shall speak to them all that I command Him. And it shall be that whoever will not hear My words, which He speaks in My name, I will require it of him.”
(Deuteronomy 18:18-20 NKJV)
Just as the prophet Moses mediated a Covenant with God’s people, so Christ became the mediator of a New Covenant: Moses brought the law, but a Covenant of grace and truth came through Jesus Christ (John 1:17). Not only did He speak the words of God, He was the Word made flesh, the perfect representation and spokesman for the Father (John 1:14). Jesus Christ Himself is the prophetic in its fullest manifestation.
· Jesus was recognised as the Prophet promised by Moses (Acts 3:22; John 1:22,25;7:40; 4:19; 6:14; 9:17)
· He was the mouthpiece of God (Heb 12:1-2; John 4:19; 12:49; 14:10,24; 17:8)
· Jesus also moved in the realm of prophetic prediction (Luke 11:49; Matt 24:3-51).
The New Testament Prophet
Under the Old Covenant the Holy Spirit was not yet made available to all people. The Prophet was used as God’s spokesman to bring direct guidance to God’s people. Mankind did not have direct approach to God but were dependent on the priests with Urim and Thummin (used to determine the will of God), and prophets to relate the will of God.
In the New Covenant however, each believer has personal contact with God, and the Holy Spirit has been given to all believers to guide them.
“For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.”
(Romans 8:14 NKJV)
The prophet is no longer a mediatorial ministry standing between the believer and God, needed to provide guidance. Although the prophet still acts as a spokesman for God and at times will be used of God to provide clear directional insight, his or her word most often will powerfully confirm what is already known and revealed by the Holy Spirit. Similarly, many of the Old Testament prophets were used to utter and record infallible words from God. This is no longer the case. All prophecy is now subject to those very Scriptures that were recorded, and to the inner witness of the true infallible Guide, the Holy Spirit.
Under this new dispensation the great privilege of communion with God is given to all, and the ability to hear God’s voice and prophesy, is given to all flesh.
“And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your young men shall see visions, Your old men shall dream dreams.” (Acts 2:17; Joel 2:28)
These are the days in which we now live. Just as each and every believer is part of God’s apostolic company, so each and every believer has a degree of prophetic anointing because the Prophetic Spirit now lives in them. This does not mean that every believer is a Prophet as spoken of in Ephesians 4, but it does mean that every believer can receive from God in visions and dreams, and can hear from heaven and prophesy (for edification, encouragement and comfort).
Levels of the Prophetic
1. The Spirit of Prophecy (Rev 9:10)
This is a prophetic anointing of the Spirit that can come upon anyone, enabling them to prophesy what the Lord is speaking. This person does not necessarily need to be one who regularly prophesies (1 Cor 14:24,31). At times the prophetic anointing can be present in a gathering making it easy for all to prophesy. King Saul was an example of the Spirit of prophecy at work when he came into contact with a group of prophets. In that prophetic atmosphere and anointing Saul himself began to prophesy (1 Sam 10:10;19:20,21).
2. The Gift of Prophecy (1 Cor 12:10)
Listed together with other gifts of the Spirit this endowment of God can be operated in by anyone in the Body of Christ. It is however according to the will of the Holy Spirit, who distributes His gifts according to His own wisdom and grace. This gift however is one that we, as believers, are encouraged to pursue (1 Cor 14:1). The exercise of this gift is limited to edification, exhortation and comfort, and is extremely powerful to build and encourage the Body if Christ (1 Cor 14:3). Operations of the Spirit beyond this are another level of the prophetic granted to those who are called to a prophetic ministry in the Body of Christ. The gift (and ministry) of the prophetic also has levels of anointing within the gifting, and the Scriptures make it clear that although we can all prophesy to some degree, we should do so according to the faith and grace that has been granted to us, and not beyond this (Rom 12:6).
3. The Ministry of the Prophet (Eph 4:11; 1 Cor 12:29)
The gift of the Prophet to the Body implies a life calling upon the one called into this five fold anointing. It is not limited to edification, but includes fore telling as well as forth telling, and can include confirming guidance, rebuke, judgement, correction warning and revelation. It is this ministry that we are now considering in more detail.
4. The Prophecy of Scripture (2 Pet 1:19-20)
Peter makes it clear that however spiritual an experience or an encounter may be, however prophetic something is, there remains a ‘more sure word of prophecy’. In times past certain prophetic utterances and inerrant writings were inspired by the Holy Spirit and recorded in what has become the canon of Scripture. This form of prophecy in no longer in operation and nothing needs to be added to the Word (Rev 22:18-19). All other prophetic utterance and experience is judged and measured by this perfect revelation of God’s mind and heart, and must agree in spirit and doctrine to be considered valid.