Certain spiritual gifts carry a tension, a controversy, an uneasiness. Prophecy is one of those gifts. But isn’t it interesting that prophecy as spoken about in the Scripture is a very good and helpful gift given by God. The Bible even says: Do not despise prophecy. This blog edition is not about how to avoid the pitfalls or how to do prophecy ‘correctly’, rather it is to allow us to open our hearts personally to believe the Lord wants to speak through us in prophecy and to believe He wants us to receive prophecy for our good. So here are 7 reasons counting down as to why prophecy is important.
7. IT MEANS WE CAN HEAR FROM GOD
The Holy Spirit is in us. To believe that we can hear from God is to re-orient the way we approach God. He moves upon us to use us to do His work of revealing God’s heart to others. We most often bring words of prayer to God, but what if that prayer was: Speak through me, O Lord. Let me hear your words for that person or in this situation. It reshapes the entire way we can approach our day.
6. IT BRINGS EDIFICATION AND EXHORTATION AND COMFORT TO OTHERS (1Cor.14:3)
To build up, to energize, to set at peace is a powerful gift. How easily we get discouraged, lose motivation, feel lost as we go through life. To hear a word of prophecy, that speaks of God’s unfailing love and faithfulness under the anointing of the Holy Spirit and at just the right time is like a breath of fresh air to the soul.
5. SINCE PROPHESY IS A GIFT IT CANNOT BE EARNED.
Too easily we fall into the trap of spiritual merit: I earned a gift from God because of my spirituality, or my devotion, or my sacrifice. But God’s gift cannot be earned. If something is earned it is called a wage. A gift is unearned, all of grace, and comes from generosity. We far too easily think God is not very generous – a theology of scarcity verses a theology of abundance. But God is generous. The Apostle Paul tells the conflicted and confused Corinthians to ‘Pursue love and desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophecy.’ Pursue the gift!
4. THE PURSUIT OF SPIRITUAL GIFTS KEEPS US IN A PLACE OF ‘GOOD ANTICIPATION’
The opposite of ‘Good Anticipation’ is grumbling. We grumble when we aren’t receiving from God what we want to receive from God – emphasis on what ‘I’ want, what ‘I’ expect. But a good anticipation places our hearts in a spirit of what God wants me to receive, what God is giving me. A heart postured in this way cannot fail to receive.
3. SPIRITUAL GIFTS ARE NOT FOR US BUT FOR OTHERS
In other words, spiritual gifts when properly understood make us generous, selfless, and giving. The gift is given not for our sake but to be given to another. The gift of prophecy (or any other gift – giving, serving, discernment, even tongues! But that’s for another blog) is to be given away to bless others. Our task with the gift is to give it away, to not be concerned with how impressed others are, but to speak it and let the Holy Spirit do whatever He wants to do with it. Prophecy is speaking from a generous spirit in order to bless another person trusting the Holy Spirit will do whatever He wills with it.
2. IT ELEVATES OUR UNDERSTANDING OF THE SCOPE OF SALVATION
We most often view salvation as a personal process: Jesus died for me. Jesus saved me. But the scope of salvation is the whole creation. God in Christ is renewing, redeeming the whole order of what He has created – nations, people groups, government, nature, knowledge, justness. Every crooked thing will be made straight. Prophecy at this level lifts us above our present circumstances or suffering. It gives us a hope – true and steadfast – that is transcendent and transforms the way we live in this world. It reminds us, ‘O yes! God is about a great work.’
And the number one reason prophecy is important is:
1. PROPHECY CREATES A SENSE OF THE PRESENCE OF GOD
For all the problems Paul addresses to the Corinthians about gifts, it is very evident the gift brings a presence of God. Paul writes, “If an unbeliever or an uninformed person comes in [to your worship gathering, and through prophecy] …the secrets of his heart are revealed…so falling on his face, he will worship God and report that God is truly among you.” Paul doesn’t say stop pursuing prophecy because it is being abused. Rather, he is saying use prophecy as it is intended by God and the Holy Spirit will use it to glorify God.
Whether by prophecy or by any of the other gifts, it appears to me that Paul expects that in every gathering of believers there should be some sense that ‘God is truly among you.’