Much of the confusion that has existed in the church over the use and misuse of the spiritual gift of prophecy, can be traced to a misguided understanding of the gift. The use of the spiritual gift of personal prophecy, as mentioned numerous times in 1 Corinthians 12-14, differs widely from the gift of prophecy as we see its use by Old Testament prophets and New Testament apostles (see my last two blogs).
As I explained in my previous blog, the Old Testament prophet and the New Testament apostle spoke with the authority of the very words of God. They, in many cases, even wrote Scripture. But with the advent of the Church in the New Testament, and the finished Canon (66 books of the completed Bible), the gift of prophecy has changed. I prefer Wayne Grudem’s definition for personal prophecy as it is used today, “Speaking merely human words to report something God brings to mind.” Wayne Grudem, The Gift of Prophecy. In other words, in his instruction to the prophetically gifted at Corinth, Paul says that every prophecy should be evaluated and “weighed” according to the wisdom of other prophets. (1 Cor. 14:29). It was not to be taken as the very words of God, but rather, each prophecy should be discerned and judged. The Greek word used is diakrino, which means: to distinguish, evaluate, weigh, discriminate and discern. Paul further elaborates, “For we know in part and we prophecy in part.” (1 Cor. 13:9). The emphasis being “in part,” not complete.
The spiritual gift of prophecy today is not some hocus pocus, mysterious revelation that God drops down from heaven to the super-anointed, but rather, the simple speaking of human words to report something God brings to mind. Thus, the more we are reading God’s Word, the more we are thinking truth. The more we are obeying God’s commands, the more God can use us in this awesome gift!
On the Road Less Traveled,
Steve Holt D.D. MA