How Do You Weigh Up What The Prophets Are Saying? Pt 2: Weighing Up The Prophetic Word

Last week I discussed the need to weigh up prophetic ministry in light of the phenomenon of global prophetic ministry via the use of the Internet.

In times past, the only prophetic words that reached us personally were those of visiting prophetic ministries to our church or area. These were ministries known to us, or known to other leaders that we respected.

However, with the advent of the Internet, social media, Google and email lists, the ability to give and receive prophecy has multiplied dramatically.

To test this, I googled “Prophetic Word For 2011” and it came up with 13,500 results!

Language is no longer a barrier. I notice, for example, that people can view my pages in languages such as French and Spanish using a translator.

Of course this is a blessing, because there is now media available to share God’s word worldwide. I have known some prophetic words to go viral—spreading from inbox to inbox.

Many prophetic words that are circulating are filled with grace and have the ability to bless and instruct.

However, some that have crossed my path (or should I say inbox) recently have caused me concern.

I believe that the Bible teaches us to consider prophecy carefully and test whether or not it is from the Lord.

Last week I discussed some guidelines we can use as we weigh up prophetic ministries.

Today I am looking at what to consider when weighing up the content of a prophetic word or message.


Weighing up a Prophetic Word

Someone sends us a prophecy via email, or a link to a prophecy online that he or she is excited about. Before we hit the ‘forward’ button, here are some things to consider about the prophetic word:

A. Does the Word Reveal the Father’s Heart?

Prophesying Natural Disasters and World Events

In Part 1, I mentioned that some abuse of prophetic ministry today arises from ministries adhering to an Old Testament paradigm of prophetic ministry.

The New Testament ushered in an era of God’s mercy. It is an age in which God’s kindness, not His wrath and judgement, leads to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9)

 

When Jesus announced His ministry, He quoted that part of Isaiah 61 where it says, ‘He has sent me to proclaim… the day of the Lord’s favour.’ He stopped short of quoting, ‘and the day of vengeance of our God.’ (Luke 4:18, Is 61:1-3)

Jesus Himself said, ‘For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.’ John 3:17

God’s judgment on the nations is reserved for a future time. (Rom 2:5; Matt 25:31-46) [1] This being the case, what should motivate a prophecy about future events and trials?

Jesus’ Motivation: Prepare and Protect

A prophetic word warning of pending disasters should reveal God’s heart to save and protect.

When Jesus prophesied concerning the devastation coming upon Jerusalem He included the heartfelt cry:

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing.” (Matt 23:37)

Jesus’ verbally expressed desire was to embrace and save, not to condemn and judge.

In Matthew 24 Jesus warned His disciples of events to come, forecasting the destruction of Jerusalem and the tribulation of end times.

During His discourse, Jesus gave practical advice for protection (Matt 24:15-18), as well as warning signs to watch out for.

He was conveying prophetic revelation of difficult times to come, in order to prepare and protect His people.

A Prophecy that Mobilised the Church to Give

In the book of Acts, Agabus’ prophetic foretelling of a severe famine resulted in mobilisation of resources from the church to relieve those who were suffering. (Acts 11:27-30)

The purpose of Agabus’ prophecy was not to pronounce judgement, and not to authenticate the prophet. Instead, the prophecy prepared the church to express God’s heart towards those affected by the famine. [2]

What if today—instead of prophesying judgement—the church weighed up prophetic words concerning future events and then used those insights to prepare to share the Gospel through extravagant giving and service to those in need?

What if prophetic words, delivered in a spirit of love and concern, helped governments and civil leaders plan for disaster relief?

B. Does it invite consideration—is it open, or closed?

A prophetic word should invite hearers to consider it and weigh up for themselves whether the prophecy is from God.

In the past I had a mistaken belief that prophetic ministries have a ‘hotline to God’ that precludes them from error. I now realise how unscriptural and dangerous this is. [3]

This belief can sometimes be reflected in the language used in a prophecy.

Words of Direction and Correction

All prophecies are subject to testing, and this is especially true of words that give direction or correction.

Even a mature prophetic ministries in the prophetic office should not give directive or corrective words without submitting them in an attitude of humility.

A message that is directional (gives specific guidance) should be framed in an ‘open’ way that gives the recipient room to weigh it up—and if necessary, shelve or even reject the word.

C. Is It Redemptive?

A prophecy should reflect the truth of the Gospel; that God’s desire towards people, His church and the nations is always to restore and redeem.

Jesus used prophetic revelation in His discussion with the woman at the well to point out her sin; however, He did not condemn or judge her. Instead, He showed her truth and grace and led her to faith in Him. (John 4)

Does the prophecy bring with it faith and a sense of expectation? As God says in Jer 29:11,

‘ For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”’

D. Is It Biblical?

Most of us know that prophecy should not contradict scripture. However, a prophecy can be Biblical and yet be imbalanced, or take a point out of context.

Prophetic ministry should reflect the whole counsel of scripture; for example, Old Testament truth is balanced and explained by revelation in the New Testament.

E. Is It Empowering?

‘Judas and Silas, who themselves were prophets, said much to encourage and strengthen the brothers.’ Acts 15:32

A prophetic word should empower the church and our individual Christian life. A word that brings conviction, for example, should lead to freedom and to intimacy with God.

Prophecy should be concerned with changing our heart first and our behaviour second. We need to be wary of a performance focus in prophetic ministry.

F. Does it Resonate with the Spirit of God Within Me?

The Apostle John said,

I am writing these things to you about those who are trying to lead you astray. As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit-just as it has taught you, remain in him. 1 John 2:26-27

A good question to ask about a prophecy that is aimed at us personally is, ‘Where does the prophecy lead me?’ As John said, we can discern a ministry by whether it keeps us in fellowship with Jesus.

I need to be on the alert if a prophecy leads me into fear, condemnation, criticism, or an unhealthy focus on supernatural experiences.

We need to be careful about a sensational word or a word that feeds our sinful nature (greed, need for affirmation, etc). Ask, ‘What in me is responding to the word?’

Finally, unless I am convicted that the word is pertinent and have gone through a process of weighing up the ministry and message, I am very reluctant to pass on a prophetic word, especially by email.

I would love to hear what others think about this topic. To view or contribute to this discussion, leave a comment below. If the comments box is not visible, click on this link and scroll down.


[1] This is a big subject. I highly recommend Ps Mark Conner’s response to a so-called ‘prophecy’ that fatal bushfires were a result of God’s judgement for sin in Australia. You can find his discussion here:

 

http://markconner.typepad.com/catch_the_wind/2009/02/are-the-bush-fires-the-judgment-of-god.html

[2] Agabus’ later prophecy concerning Paul’s upcoming arrest allowed both the church and Paul to come to terms with and prepare for what was to come. (Acts 21:10-14)

[3] I warn of a ‘hotline to God’ philosophy that bypasses Godly wisdom and accountability in my book, ‘Prophetic People In A Changing Church.’

See also the following blog post: Not Word Perfect: Understanding How Prophetic Ministry Works In The Church Today


This article should be read in conjunction with Pt 1:

 

How Do You Weigh Up What The Prophets Are Saying? Pt 1


© Helen Calder   Enliven Publishing Blog   http://enlivenpublishing.com/blog/

 

Now on team with David McCracken Ministries

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4 thoughts on “How Do You Weigh Up What The Prophets Are Saying? Pt 2: Weighing Up The Prophetic Word

  1. Honey this is such an empowering Word. This is soooo needed for us who live in a day where there are so many voices being proclaimed. Your “What if” question is extremely exciting…….an opportunity for an alive Church (the whole Church) to be a force that brings peoples and nations to Faith through truth and compassion….Wow!!!!

  2. Yes these questions are challenging me deeply.

    Our quest in prophetic ministry should be to ‘attain to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.’ (Eph 4:13) both in our own ministry as well as in equipping the church…

    I believe a big part of that means, ‘be Jesus’…the expression and voice of Jesus to the nations, as well as to churches and individuals.

    Meditating on what that looks and sounds like is mind-blowing.

  3. Glory!!
    am a bit disturbed by the trend that we see the around these days: a supposedly Prophet of God telling those in attendance of how so and so has bewitched them, planted charms in their homes etc

    Are these truly the true prophets?

    • Hi Stanley, I haven’t come across it, but it does sound like the focus is more on what the enemy is doing than what God is doing…the question is, what is the fruit? Is it causing people to love Jesus and rejoice in His salvation, or is it resulting in suspicion and fear?