‘Do not quench the Spirit. Do not treat prophecies with contempt but test them all; hold on to what is good, reject every kind of evil.’ (1 Thess 5:19-22, also 1 Cor 14:29)
The Apostle Paul indicates that we have a duty of care to consider prophecies carefully, and to ‘hold on to what is good.’ One of the characteristics of New Testament prophecy is that it is subject to being tested and weighed up. 
Today I want to consider the question, ‘How do those of us who are in leadership weigh up a prophecy that has been submitted to us privately, or shared publicly in a church meeting or group?’
Can I Test Prophecy if I do not Have a Strong Prophetic Gift?
Sometimes leaders feel inadequate when it comes to addressing prophecy, especially if they do not have a strong gift themselves. If you can relate to this, be assured that God has given you a leadership responsibility to protect those you lead—and that He has equipped you accordingly.
‘Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers.’ (Acts 20:28)
The ability to weigh up prophecy is not dependent on whether or not you have a prominent prophetic gift yourself. Leadership, Biblical knowledge, wisdom and discernment are all invaluable when it comes to weighing up a prophetic insight. Above all, you can rely on the anointing of the Spirit within you to be the witness to what is of Him. (1 John 2:27)
5 Questions To Help Leaders Weigh Up Prophecy
A prophecy may be clearly confirmation, encouraging, and you have a strong witness that it is of the Spirit—in which case, you can receive it immediately without reservation. However there are also going to be occasions when a word needs to be considered more carefully.
Here are some questions to keep in mind as you weigh up a prophecy that is brought concerning yourself, your ministry or the church that you want to take time to consider:
1. Is it Consistent with Scripture?
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.’ (2 Tim 3:16)
A prophetic insight is going to align with God’s Word and the principles and values laid out in Scripture. This relates to the prophetic revelation, and also the way it is interpreted, handled, delivered and applied.
Prophecy is going to be consistent with God’s heart and purpose for redemption, and the nature of the Father as expressed through Jesus in the New Testament.
This also means that a prophetic word is not going to be brought from an Old Testament platform of judgment, but from the grace of God expressed through the cross of Christ.
2. What is the Fruit of this Prophecy?
‘But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.’ (James 3:17, NIV)
Good fruit means fruit that characterises the very nature of God. ‘The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.’ (Gal 5:22-23)
Good fruit has to with Godly outcomes. What is the outcome of this prophetic insight that I foresee as a leader? This may also relate to where it is shared, how it is shared, to whom it is shared, and how and when (if at all) we respond to it.
A word from God will not result in confusion, manipulation or control. Manipulation means that the recipients of the word or the church oversight feel that the word applies pressure to respond or do something that they do not feel comfortable with.
Protecting the Unity of the Church
‘Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.’ (Eph 4:3)
A prophetic insight that projects a different vision, direction, mission or values from that which is being led in the church needs to be handled with care. To protect unity, we encourage anyone who feels strongly that God has spoken to them to bring this kind of message privately to oversight—and leave it there without expectation of it being responded to. This doesn’t mean it is not of God—in fact, it may concern a future season, or even be confirmation of something being discussed privately at leadership level.
3. What is the Attitude of the Person Bringing the Word?
Attitudes are vital in prophetic ministry. If a person’s attitude is unhealthy, it can affect and infect the prophetic word and those who hear it.
- Is the person open to having their prophetic insights weighed up, and has their word been presented in such a way that leaves room for the church oversight, and anyone it is addressed to, to weigh it up?
- Is their attitude towards leadership one of honour? Are they free of pride, or judgments and criticism concerning the church or ministry—if not; are there issues that need to be addressed?
Sometimes when weighing up a word, the word itself may be a true (or partly true) revelation from God, but there is something in the attitude or spiritual life of the person that has affected the delivery of the prophetic insight negatively.
If a word is not of God, or is not brought in a Godly way, that does not mean that the word is demonic in nature. It may be that the person sharing it is immature, or misguided and needs to be taught more about prophecy. They may have unhealed hurts, or need to be adjusted in a loving and caring way.
4. Does the Prophetic Insight Fall into the Category of ‘Encouragement, Exhortation and Comfort?’
‘But the one who prophesies speaks to people for their strengthening, encouraging and comfort.’ (1 Cor 14:3)
The Apostle Paul’s general guideline for prophecy in church life is that it strengthens, encourages and comforts. This should be the chief characteristic of prophetic ministry in church life, as well as those who are maturing in prophetic ministry.
‘Judas and Silas, who themselves were prophets, said much to encourage and strengthen the believers.’ (Acts 15:32)
The Apostle Paul also makes the statement, ‘the one who prophesies edifies the church.’ (1 Cor 14:4b) The word ‘edifies’ means to build. The purpose of prophecy is to help grow, edify and build the church.
5. If a Prophetic Insight Falls Outside of this Guideline, has it Been Brought in a Fitting Way?
Examples of prophetic insights that fall outside of ‘general encouragement and exhortation’ include words concerning guidance, direction and future vision, words of adjustment (correction) and prophetic warnings. 
What constitutes ‘an appropriate person’ and the ‘fitting way’ is determined by those who have a God-given mandate to protect the church and provide a safe place for its people—that is, church oversight. (Acts 20:28)
Guidelines and protocols concerning prophetic ministry are unique to each church and situation. 
An appropriate person to bring these kinds of insights may be someone who is appointed or received by leadership in the role of ‘Prophetic Office’. However it may also be a person who is a member, intercessor or leader in the church who submits in the proper way, with an attitude of honour and humility.
The appropriate way to bring a word that goes beyond general encouragement may be to share it privately with leadership so that it can be weighed up before it is shared with others.
© Helen Calder Enliven Blog – Prophetic Teaching
On team with David McCracken Ministries: Prophetic Ministry That Empowers The Church
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