Building People of Substance for Works of Power
Many years ago, at the church where I pastored, a fella uttered a prophecy to me in a service. The gist of it was that my church, his church, and one other church in the area were going to be at the forefront of a great revival. It said God had seen our faithfulness and would soon reward us with great blessing. We were, in fact, “the best” churches in the area, and the “only” pastors sensitive to the Spirit. I immediately relegated this to the trash heap of personal prophecies run amok. How did I know? Because this so-called “word” seemed to indicate that we were better than the dozens of other honest and godly churches and churchmen in our region. God is not in the business of comparing His kids. Though my ego wanted to believe it, my heart screamed, “Caution!”
The capacity to hear from God through personal prophecy is one of the great blessings of the Spirit-filled life. Part of preserving that blessing is evaluating prophecies to determine if they are of God or not. We do that by comparing them to the Word, submitting them to our spiritual authorities, and assessing the reliability of the source. In addition, I like to apply the “Who’s benefitting” filters.
1. Who gets the glory? If this Word is from the Lord, then who is going to be exalted? Does it appeal to my ego? Does it make other hearers think what a great guy I am? If so, it’s probably not God. Jesus said the Holy Spirit would glorify Him. If it makes me feel puffed-up rather than awestruck and humbled, then I must leave it alone.
2. Who stands to benefit? If I accept this “Word” and order my behavior accordingly, what is the outcome? I know God wants to bless me, and He will guide me into things that help me. However, the purposes in that blessing are Kingdom progress, growth in Christ-likeness, or enrichment for others, not just more great stuff for me. Along those same lines, is this prophecy a masked manipulation to further the ministry of the prophet and control the hearer under the guise of “thus saith the Lord?”
Somebody Said: “When you read the New Testament, you see the Holy Spirit was supposed to change everything so that this gathering of people who call themselves Christians had this supernatural element about them.” Francis Chan
Scripture Reading: “However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you.” John 16:13-15 NKJV
The manifestation of the Spirit in personal prophecy has been a huge blessing to me. Three of the major moves we have made have been confirmed and encouraged by personal words given through wonderful men of God. On the other hand, I have had many “words” spoken by sincere people that were simply not accurate or helpful. If we don’t learn to discern the difference, we will be misled and disappointed. We will be tempted to despise all manifestations of the Spirit. Don’t cheat yourself of this gift of God. Learn to discern.
Pastor Virgil Stokes
3141 W. Ironwood Hill Dr.
Tucson, AZ 85745