It has come to my attention that there is a lack of plain basic knowledge of
the structure of the First Century Church. The full Gospel churches being
set up in foreign lands today seem especially vulnerable. Because of the
lack of missionaries willing to go into harsh or dangerous countries, there
seems to be a bit of an influx of the Christian lunatic fringe. Most of
those dear ones who are begging Gospel teachers to come, are innocent and very
child-like in their faith. In many places, the missionary is welcomed and
treated like royalty. It can be a real ego trip, to those who desire
We certainly are not immune to this element here in America. There are a few of these Elmer Gantry type preachers who run from church to church, calling themselves prophets, and flim-flam the gullible. They have no proven ministries, but tickle the ears of the Biblically ignorant. They have a silver tongue and can talk birds out of the trees, sell ice to the Eskimos, and manipulate hard working people out of their paychecks. They show little mercy to the poor and elderly and will con even these out of a big chunk of their meager incomes. They have developed the art of "fleecing the sheep" into a science. I have heard of some selling so-called holy water, cut pieces off their own necktie in exchange for a "gift to God," and in rare cases, set up their own websites. They will hock "a personal Word from the Lord" much like physics, but "for the Lord's ministry" of course. Incredibly, some have even made it to television! May the Lord help us all.
I once had a vision of sheep who were standing upright in a long line. All of them were wounded. Some had blackened eyes, some walked with canes, others with casted legs on crutches, some with arms in slings, and every one had been sheared down to the skin. They were waiting for a TRUE shepherd who would love and heal them. Thank God there are true and faithful shepherds who are more than willing to fill the pulpits. There are also some wonderful prophets in the churches in America, and in the rest of the world.
In the Old Testament days, prophets played a different role than the prophets
of today. They were the link between God and men. Before Jesus died
and rose again, the everyday person had no access to God the Father.
People had to go to an earthly man/woman: Abraham, Moses, Judges (Deborah
was a judge), Priests, Prophets, and Holy men, in order to hear from God.
We see in the Word that when Jesus gave up His Spirit on the cross, He breathed, "It is finished." At this time, the Temple curtain (a high, heavy tapestry) that separated the inner court from the Holy of Holies, was torn in half from the top to the bottom. This signified that GOD had personally ripped it, and that through Jesus' death, man would have individual access to the Father. We now can spiritually go into the Holy of Holies anytime we choose to talk to God.
The Apostle Paul, who was the preacher to the Gentiles, told us that we have no need to go to people (prophets included) to know what God wants to say to his children, since we each possess the Holy Ghost within ourselves.
I believe in the prophetic ministry, because the Bible tells us about the Divine Order of the Church.
I have walked with the Lord for 48 years and served Him to the best of my knowledge. I have seen a misunderstanding of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and ignorance of the office of Prophet. It has been my experience that God seldom uses DIRECTIVE prophecy to the individual. If that were so, anybody could call himself a prophet, and set up his own little kingdom, and make the people afraid to ever disobey him! God forbid that there should be such an abuse of that calling and gift.
Most of the time, the gift is used for individuals, but you will see an important truth here.
Personal prophecies are never to be used to DIRECT a person to do this or that, but rather to CONFIRM what the Lord has already shown that person! We need to remember this difference. Sometimes when a personal word is needed, it falls under the gift of the Word of Knowledge, and not a prophecy at all. (Read 1 Corinthians 12:4-10).
Prophecy does not lead, but merely confirms the leading God has already placed in our own heart. We need to remember this difference.
There are those in the Body of Christ who desire power. Some may use the Gifts to manipulate others to do their bidding. Of course, PRIDE is at the root of it all.
When the gift is used for the Church body as a whole, it is usually to encourage a group, or to correct the Church, to inform of earthly happenings about to come, and in the case of Apostles, to set a local church in order (setting certain persons in their offices, such as the Prophet, Pastor, Teachers, Deacons, Elders, etc.) The Apostle is to be a mature man of God, with a PROVEN ministry, who operates at one time or another in all 9 Gifts of the Spirit and who is also full of the 9 Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22, 23).
When the gift of Prophecy is spoken out to the Church, it is for everyone who hears it. Anytime the Lord rebukes a church, He also encourages it before the prophecy ends. Remember, it must be in balance. God never just harshly rebukes, nor does He flatter a group or an individual. That is a man's thoughts, and if he is speaking as if it comes from God, it should not be considered.
The Apostle is the highest office in the New Testament Church, and very few today are TRUE Apostles. Of course, like Paul, they are to be church planters, and watch over all their churches, like a father.
Not everyone who calls himself a Prophet or an Apostle, IS one! The Apostle must know his churches, and sets in their own individual prophet. This must be someone who is truly gifted and called to the prophetic ministry, and the Apostle must feel safe that the Prophet will not try to manipulate that local church, or prophesy a false doctrine.
Paul set all this up as our example. The Church is to follow Paul's teaching and example. If Paul doesn't teach something, then throw it out, because it is error. Every single book of the New Testament that Paul himself wrote, he tells us that he wrote it. If he doesn't say so then he didn't write it. Most people think that he wrote Hebrews, but Paul didn't sign it.
Hebrews is a mix of Paul's teachings of grace and also Jewish law. Paul always tried to steer the church AWAY from the law, so for those are the 2 reasons, I do not feel he wrote the letter to the Hebrews (it always sounded like James' writings to me, or perhaps Peter, but that is just my own opinion, because the writer did not identify himself, for some reason).
As for more about prophecy... this is a gift that we must check against the Word, as with all the gifts. Again, I have noted that when God rebukes a church, He does it in love, and always gives hope in the midst of rebuke. When the devil is talking, the people walk away feeling condemned, and hopeless. That is the difference between conviction and condemnation. GOD convicts (giving hope) but the devil condemns (giving no hope for change, just judgment).
I have also noticed that in a personal leading, God's voice is peaceable and quiet and calm, but the devil doesn't whisper... he SHOUTS and gives fear.
God LEADS... the devil PUSHES!
Remember not to allow yourself to be pushed or rushed into decisions, but rather wait and let God lead you. Leaders in ANY office need so much wisdom from God, which is separate from the gift of the WORD of wisdom. God's wisdom is an abiding thing that we use all the time. Much of His wisdom is gained from studying His Word... the rest comes from discernment and experience, and from others who have true teachings.
I was reading a website one evening and I saw the Word mixed with a man's opinion that had no basis in the Word. It got to be a real job separating the truth from the trash. I finally left the website, but I worry about the innocent ones who listen to this stuff, and get a perverted doctrine.
One thing that was said was that there are 4 angels assigned to each child, and after the age of accountability, if the child doesn't ask Jesus to come into his or her heart, the angels depart from the child and he/she is left on their own. WHERE do people get this stuff? If someone prophesied it, then where is this found in the Scriptures?! The truth is, it ISN'T.
God never gives a prophecy that can't be backed up by the Bible. He is not confused, and does not say one thing in His written Word, then the opposite through the gift of prophecy!
Today's church leaders must ask God to guide them as to who they should allow to speak to their people, be it preacher or teacher or so-called prophet. They can do such damage to the people, if they teach error. Pastors must do whatever they can to protect their pulpits... they are GOD'S pulpits, and He will help guard them.
God Bless You All,