John Belt: "Honoring Prophets and Embracing the Prophetic"
Prophets and the prophetic can be a controversial subject for many people. While there are legitimate expressions and practices in prophetic ministry, many people have not always had the best of experiences. It can be easy to end up on either end of the stick when it comes to prophetic ministry. With this there can be those who are "whole hog" prophetic or others who don't want to have anything to do with it because of the abuse and misuse.
As it is with anything in regards to the Body of Christ, patience with grace is always needed to see people grow in the Lord. It is by "reason of use" that we can excel in anything that God entrusts to us. With this we should make an effort to give room for others to grow in their gifts and callings. In this article what I'm attempting to do is help others realize that in spite of error, we need to still fully embrace the heart of God concerning prophetic ministry. Just as you would not disown your own child because of immaturity and just as we would not dare throw away the truth that "God heals and performs miracles", in the same way we should not only to accept prophetic expression but pursue it knowing that a life of revelation enables us to be in the heart of God's desires and purposes.
A Prophetic People
Jesus highly regarded "the prophets". More than that, He told us that he who is least in the Kingdom of God is greater than John the Baptist, an OT prophet. This means that anyone that believes in Jesus Christ has the capacity to live in a much higher place than any OT prophet just by virtue of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. By this statement Jesus places us in the category of being prophetic at the very least. Greater than that, we are sons of God.
Prophets are those who live in a place that is very close to His heart. You may live close to God, be prophetic and not be a prophet, but you cannot really be a prophet and not live close to God. God knows who His prophets are. Jesus closely associated Himself with the prophets, He himself being "The Prophet" that Moses prophesied would come (Deuteronomy 18:15).
God Picked You to be Prophetic
Numbers 11:29 Then Moses said to him, "Are you zealous for my sake? Oh, that all the Lord's people were prophets and that the Lord would put His Spirit upon them!"
So why all the talk about prophets? Because God calls every one of us to a prophetic life. By honoring those who walk in the prophetic we receive the blessing of that gift and life.
Matthew 10:41 He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet's reward. And he who receives a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man's reward.
In this verse it is interesting how Jesus brings together the reward of a prophet with the reward of a righteous man. These really go together. Do prophets have to be perfect to be honored? No. We all need to lean on the righteousness of God, that is His grace and what Jesus laid His life down to bring us. We also must realize that this righteousness of God should be working in us a change to reflect the image of God. For those familiar with the "prophetic movement", there has been valid reason to be disappointed at times. At the same time, we must realize that prophets are people that are in process. This is the Body of Christ.
There is more reason to be encouraged through the good and powerful things that have been accomplished through prophetic ministry. Many lives have been positively impacted for the Kingdom of God. God is in process of refining His Body to reflect His image. God works with His people throughout a lifetime here on earth. Paul sets the example, "Not that I've been perfected..." Let me tell you that without prophets and prophetic ministry there will be no open heavens, no power and no glory in the Church.
Whether you consider yourself a prophetic person or a prophet, both of which are in process, you are still a gatekeeper of Heaven that has the grace to open the way for others to have a living encounter with God. In simple terms, those who know the secret place with God are prophetic whether they call it that or not. It is not how we title ourselves, no badges are needed. It is the substance of Christ that God is after. There are many prophets in the earth that are not known, that God respects as such. The bottom line is that we all need to know how to connect with God in the secret place if we are to have any impact while on the earth. Just as Jesus said, "The Son can do nothing apart from the Father." It is the same with us.
John 5:19 Then Jesus answered and said to them, "Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner."
The Validity of Prophetic Life
Jesus connected Himself and associated Himself with the prophets:
Matthew 5:11-12 "Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in Heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you."
Matthew 23:29 "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! Because you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous..."
Prophet, prophets and prophesy are referenced over 500 times in Scripture, not including other variations of prophetic references. Compare that with all the rest of the 5-fold offices (teacher, apostle, evangelist, pastor) and you will see that the times mentioned on this area far outweighs all other Biblical offices. Not that this means it is necessarily more important, although we should give heed to this. All parts and functions of the Body of Christ are important to God. With this it would still seem to be something important, at least in God's eyes. I would venture to say it is because the prophetic office, function or gift very much has to do with intimacy with God, hearing, seeing and speaking on His behalf. Keeping this in mind, what does God look for in those who really walk this prophetic line?
Here are some foundational characteristics:
1. Avoid a man-pleasing spirit.
2. Refuse to compromise, but speak the heart of God.
3. Embrace a spirit of honor that comes from a pure heart vs. gossips and backstabbers.
4. Committed to a close place of intimacy with God.
5. Walk with a consistent track record of faithfulness to God.
6. Disengage from a territorial and religiously competitive spirit.
7. Are quick to turn to righteousness when wickedness is revealed.
8. Are humble enough to admit it when they miss it.
The Holy Spirit Releases the Prophetic
Because intimacy with God is at the very core of being someone who sees and hears from God, it is only normal for prophets to operate in dreams, visions and revelation. In Acts 2 it is clear that when the Spirit is poured out prophetic life is released. An evidence of the Holy Spirit's work is the eyes and ears seeing and hearing in the Spirit.
Acts 2:17-18 "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. And on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days; and they shall prophesy."
To be prophetic is to be a normal Believer. No one needs to make an effort to be strange, but to simply see and hear in the Spirit. When we read the letters of Paul, even though he had been taken up in the Spirit to see things unmentionable, he does not come off as a man from outer space or on dope. He comes across as someone normal. A mature vessel should be able to communicate what they have experienced in a way that is not overly-dramatic, drawing attention to themselves, but rather in a way that communicates the truth of the prophetic experience in a way that others can connect with.
Understanding the Prophetic
If people do not understand or are afraid of the prophetic they can shut themselves off to this aspect of God's way of speaking to them. Fear is a thief, but with understanding of the truth fear can be removed and revelation can be received. Paul prayed that we would have the Spirit of Wisdom and Revelation. Revelation is the prophetic. When God opens our eyes to see and hear His heart and desires this is revelation given by His Spirit. We need to be completely open to how God would speak to us in His own ways.
1 Samuel 3:1 Now the boy Samuel ministered to the Lord before Eli. And the word of the Lord was rare in those days; there was no widespread revelation.
Amos 3:7 Surely the Lord God does nothing, unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets.
It is important that we have the Spirit of Revelation, for apart from God we can do nothing. We need to welcome the Spirit of Wisdom and Revelation. This is nothing far out, but is very much part and parcel of the work of the Holy Spirit. Clearly in this verse above God shows us that His pleasure is for us to be connected with Him in such a way that His words are ringing clear in every person. He created us to be a prophetic people.
When people do not understand where others are coming from in regards to prophetic experiences they can be offended. When people are offended in the natural mind or jealous because they don't have any revelatory experiences, they are tempted to persecute and mock these experiences. Nothing will cut you off from a personal experience with God quicker than mocking another person's experience with God. You may even pray for revival your entire life, praying God would use you in it, but if you mock others you may never see revival in your life, much less a bigger breakthrough in your region, beyond yourself.
What Really Matters
It is not important that people are part of a church that magnifies "the prophetic". Jesus is the one Who is to be magnified. He is the center. But at the same time we should be a part of a Body of Believers that embraces the prophetic. Ignorance in understanding God's relationship to the prophetic is not an excuse to speak against it. Ignorance just means to "ignore" something.
Hosea 4:6 "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being priest for Me; Because you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children."
What is also not acceptable is when people do have understanding and speak against it anyway. Jesus said that there is a prophet's reward when we receive the prophet. No reception, no reward (Matthew 10:41). In rejecting the prophet, you reject God's appointed blessing. You may even be rejecting God as well.
2 Chronicles 20:20, "Believe in the Lord your God and you shall be established; believe and remain steadfast to His prophets and you shall prosper."
Through simple honor, we receive reward from God and God Himself. Learn to see a person by the Spirit, rather than through natural eyes. If you have rejected the prophetic or prophets in any way I would encourage you to repent, changing direction, so that your life does not become a hinderance in God's purposes, but rather be a vessel of honor prepared for noble uses for the Kingdom of God.
God does not want His people to be ignorant of how He speaks. The prophetic, as it is with all the promises of God, and other important Biblical topics should not be ignored. As we grow in understanding the call to live close to God in this way, we will experience a greater clarity in our spiritual senses. Clearly, Jesus is "The Son of God" before anything else. But He is very much associated with the prophetic life. He connected Himself and associated Himself with the prophets. Can we?
John 1:50-51 Jesus answered and said to him, "Because I said to you, 'I saw you under the fig tree,' do you believe? You will see greater things than these." And He said to him, "Most assuredly, I say to you, hereafter you shall see Heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man."
In His Great Love!
Overflow Global Ministries
John Belt: "Honoring Prophets and Embracing the Prophetic"