When Can We Say Prophecy Is From The Holy Spirit?

Prophecy Holy Spirit‘Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy.’ (Acts 2:18)

In the book of Acts, prophetic guidance and prophecy are continually attributed to the Holy Spirit. Here are a few examples:

  • ‘While Peter was still thinking about the [prophetic] vision, the Spirit said to him, “Simon, three men are looking for you.”’ (Acts 10:19)
  • ‘One of [the prophets], named Agabus, stood up and through the Spirit predicted that a severe famine would spread over the entire Roman world. (This happened during the reign of Claudius.)’ (Acts 11:28)
  • ‘While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.”’ (Acts 13:2)
  • ‘We sought out the disciples there and stayed with them seven days. Through the Spirit they urged Paul not to go on to Jerusalem.’ (Acts 21:4)

Give the Holy Spirit Credit for Confirmed Prophecy and Guidance

Prophecy and the Holy SpiritIn Acts 13 a group of prophets and teachers were meeting when the Holy Spirit directed them to “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.”

This piece of prophetic guidance launched church planting amongst the Gentiles. History was being made!

Which prophet came up with the initial revelation? Or did they receive it all at once? Luke, the writer of Acts, doesn’t tell us. The spotlight is not on a person; it’s on the Holy Spirit.

In Acts, the ‘Big Name’ in prophecy is not that of a prophet. It is the Holy Spirit. He is in the foreground, not in the background.

Luke, who was used by God to write the book of Acts, was a scholar and a man of the Spirit. As he wrote, he was reflecting back upon past events. In doing so, he identified and emphasised the ministry and voice of the Holy Spirit.

When a prophecy has been weighed up and has resulted in supernatural fruit, what is our language? Are we reporting a prophet and focusing on a name? Or are we giving honour where it’s due—to the Holy Spirit and His operation?

Understanding this principle will not only encourage us to give credit to the Holy Spirit when we are reflecting on prophecy that has borne great fruit. It will also encourage those of us who are in prophetic ministry to pursue an intimate relationship with Holy Spirit.


Attribute Prophecy to the Holy Spirit Once it has Been Tested

Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies. Test all things; hold fast what is good. 1 Thess 5:19-21

The reason for weighing up prophecy is not only so that we can sift out what is not from God. The greater purpose is that we can identify what is of the Holy Spirit, and attribute it to Him.

Does the need to test prophecy devalue it? No! Just as particular attention and importance is paid to weight of gold and precious stones, so that it even has its own measuring system—the carat—weighing up prophecy demonstrates the value we place upon the ministry of the Holy Spirit.

Testing prophecy also has the benefit of fostering humility and facilitating growth in those who are operating in prophecy.

It is a great temptation of prophetic people to resist having our prophetic insights, guidance and prophecy tested by oversight. It can be uncomfortable at times, but don’t resist accountability—embrace it and seek it.

Unconfirmed prophecy and guidance that has not been submitted to oversight should not be attributed to the Holy Spirit.


There is Room for Boldness with Accountability in the Prophetic Office

 ‘Coming over to us, he [the Prophet Agabus] took Paul’s belt, tied his own hands and feet with it and said, “The Holy Spirit says, ‘In this way the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem will bind the owner of this belt and will hand him over to the Gentiles.’” (Acts 21:11)

When we are teaching on the operation of prophecy, we advise those who are beginning and growing in the gift of prophecy not to take a ‘Thus saith the Lord’ approach to operating in the gift.

This allows for prophecy to be weighed up before it is declared to be of God—and as I state often, humility does not diminish God’s power.

However, there is clearly a place for bold declaration in the prophetic office. Regarding this, Prophet David McCracken says:

‘Having our gift submitted to the authority of an apostolic figure in our lives and/or the oversight of a local church where we are attending, creates boundaries that release us to be extremely bold with our prophetic initiatives.’

It is important that we understand the difference between New Testament and Old Testament prophetic ministry. The Prophet Agabus, for example, was one of a company of prophets from the Jerusalem church—flourishing in his ministry within the context of community and accountability. (Acts 11:27-28)

Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies. Test all things; hold fast what is good. 1 Thess 5:19-21

Test all things.

Being recognised in prophetic office does not rule out or preclude the need to weigh up a prophecy. So we need to be careful in our language, especially where guidance is at stake, that we are not indicating an infallibility that makes weighing up our prophecy—and adjustment, when necessary—difficult.

We recommend using expressions such as,  ‘I believe the Holy Spirit is saying…’ That way, you are indicating your conviction that the word is from God, whilst also allowing for it to be weighed up. Then afterwards, once the word has been tested and the fruit seen, you experience the joy of seeing a prophecy and its outcome attributed to the Holy Spirit.


Related Posts:

Differences Between Old and New Testament Prophetic Ministry

How to Check Your Prophetic Insight is From God

The Prophetic Ministry of the Holy Spirit


© Helen Calder   Enliven Blog – Prophetic Teaching

Enliven Ministries: in the David McCracken Ministries Family

13 thoughts on “When Can We Say Prophecy Is From The Holy Spirit?

  1. Gloria

    I am even more encouraged that prophecy is still for today. And the guidance given on how to prophecy. Thank you for writing this article!

  2. Pst.Friday Moses

    I have following several topics from you, I am a Pastor from Nigeria. I desire through the help of the holy spirit the gift of prophecy. I want every spiritual blindness to be destroyed. Please I need your assistance

  3. Susan Stiles

    “Hear the word of the LORD, ye that tremble at his word; your brethren that hated you, that cast you out for my name’s sake, said, Let the LORD be glorified: but he shall appear to your joy, and they shall be ashamed.”- Isaiah 66:5

  4. ROCHELLE

    Wow!
    I praise the Father, Son, & Holy Spirit for allowing me to come across you’re ministry. I have often wonder how will I get trained in the prophetic. Had talk with my daughter’s this week concerning training on Prophecy and the Holy Spirit heard our heart. I praise Him for you’re ministry. May the King bless you and keep you is my prayer.

    1. Helen Calder Post author

      Hi Rochelle, thank you for leaving the note here, I’m glad you’ve come across our ministry too!
      Be richly blessed. 🙂

  5. Teresa Maru

    Hello Hellen,
    I often hear alot of prophecies that talk to people’s personal situations like where they live; number of family members; what they do etc. When I read in the bible most prophecies were instructional in nature and so often times I wonder what value a prophecy on location or number of family members adds to one’s faith. What are your thoughts?

    1. Helen Calder Post author

      Hi Teresa,
      Those words, which are sometimes called ‘words of knowledge’ (as distinct from ‘prophecy’, which concern Father’s intention), act as a ‘sign’ that the holy Spirit is at work, revealing knowledge to the person ministering. It is often to build up faith in those listening, for what God intends to do.
      As with all spiritual gifts and words, we check that the fruit (outcome) is good and brings honour to God before we attribute it to the Holy Spirit. Hope that helps.

Comments are closed.