Ten Marks of A Prophet

The office of the prophet is probably the least-understood and most-neglected ministry office in the Church today. If we refuse to receive an apostle, we refuse order. However, if we refuse to receive a prophet, we refuse destiny. Where there is no destiny there is no future. The Church then becomes relegated to the narrow existence of the here and now. The prophet is the key to the Church’s destiny and power.

The Church today needs to recognize and receive the ministry of the prophet and to pray that God will raise those with the prophetic gifting into their proper prophetic office. Those who hold the office of prophet form a charismatic order to which a recognized position should be given in the Church. A special recognition and authoritative status should be conferred upon those who have manifested certain gifts in a prominent and/or continuing manner. The prophet is the Lord’s instrument, one of several means by which Jesus Christ leads His Church. In the power of the Spirit, the prophet manifests the character of the Lord, who is the prophet of the end time.

The Authority of the Prophet

When a prophet is recognized and comes into his office, he brings with him an authority from God that accomplishes two things in the Church. First, it helps us to realize that God is a God of the now. A prophet is always reminding us that God is, not just that He was; he tells us what God is doing, not just what He has done. Knowing what God has done throughout history is important; it is a powerful legacy for us. However, we also need to know beyond doubt that the God of the Bible is the God of today; that the God who blessed Moses, helped David, and anointed Jesus will also bless, help, and anoint us. Our God is a now God, and the prophet helps us to remember that.

A prophet has the ability to see things that are not seen. He focuses not on the circumstances, but on the God who rules the circumstances; not on the mess of today, but on the solution that God will provide down the road. The office of the prophet is to speak to us continually in the here and now.

The second thing that the authority of the prophet accomplishes in the Church is that it brings back the fear of the Lord. The sad truth is that there is very little fear of the Lord today either inside the Church or outside. There was a time when a church could be left unlocked 24 hours a day, seven days a week without fear of someone stealing the sound system, vandalizing the building, or spray-painting graffiti on the walls. Now many churches have to allot a significant portion of their budgets to security systems and higher insurance coverage. There was a time when only “essential services” were open for business on Sunday. Now our society treats the Lord’s Day as just another day of the week. Gone is the general civic understanding and belief that the nation that honors and serves God will be blessed by God.

Fear of God is lacking in the Church, too. Many believers have only a shallow and immature commitment to God that allows them to constantly rationalize and justify attitudes, behavior, and lifestyles that go against God’s will as revealed in His Word. Because there is little understanding of what God expects and requires, there is little fear and a limited sense of awe and respect for His holiness and glory.

The prophet in his office, however, gets our attention and brings us back to a holy fear of God. The Lord is looking for a holy Church, a pure and spotless Bride of Christ. A restoration of the fear of God in the Church is necessary if the Church is to grow into full holiness.

The Marks of a Prophet

There are at least ten distinguishing marks of the prophetic office; these characteristics in the lives and ministries of believers identify them as prophets. These traits should be evident in varying degrees in the life of anyone with a prophetic gifting who is attempting to grow and develop in that gifting. They are most fully developed in those who have been raised into the prophetic office. Whenever we see any of these qualities displayed in someone’s life, we should encourage that person to grow and develop their gift.

  1. Preaching that exhorts and strengthens the disciples. The prophet’s message always builds up the lives of disciples; it never tears down. A disciple is a student; someone who is learning, maturing, and growing up in the Christian faith. These are the ones who are encouraged and strengthened by the prophet’s message. Those believers who have refused to mature, on the other hand, may find the prophet’s message to be harsh and painful. It always hurts to be outside of the will of God. A prophet’s word always builds up those who are striving to grow in Christ.
  2. Character that is true, honest, faithful, and holy. A prophet points to and reminds us of our destiny in Christ. Therefore, his life should display the character of Christ. While this is true of all believers, it is particularly critical for those in the prophetic office. The Old Testament prophets were held to a very high standard, not only by the people but by God. Moses was a prophet (see Deut. 34:10); yet one lapse on his part in representing God before the people resulted in God denying him the opportunity to enter the Promised Land (see Deut. 32:48-52). Character matters.
  3. A message that appeals not to the flesh but to the spirit. Growing disciples want messages that challenge and stretch their spirits. Babes in the faith who have no interest in growth usually don’t like prophetic preaching because it brings them under conviction. They are more interested in gratifying the flesh. The message of a true prophet always speaks to the spirit directly and without compromise.
  4. Prediction and fulfillment of prophecy. In other words, a prophet speaks something concerning the future, and God fulfills that prophecy. It could be a prophecy spoken into the life of an individual or an entire congregation. Whatever form it takes, such a prophecy will be specific in nature with clearly measurable fulfillment. Once the event comes to pass we know that God has raised that prophet into office.
  5. Spiritual discernment in the lives of others. This one sometimes makes people nervous, particularly those who know that their lives are not what they should be in the Lord. A prophet has the ability in the Spirit to discern spiritual reality in the lives of others, good or bad, and speak concerning that reality. This prospect creates anxiety in some people who fear that the prophet will uncover all the mess they have allowed into their lives. Have no fear. A mature prophet will never publicly uncover mess because God does not embarrass people. The prophet may address the problem privately with the person, if the Lord leads that way. However, he is more likely to exhort the person to follow God’s will and obey what God has told him to do.
  6. Declaration of divine judgments when needed. This is another one that makes people nervous. Sometimes a situation is so bad or has gone on so long that the word of the Lord through the prophet is one of judgment. Prolonged rebellion or disobedience to God, or refusal to heed prophetic warnings or respond to calls for repentance, will ultimately bring about God’s judgment. No one likes these kind of pronouncements, least of all the prophet, but sometimes they are necessary.
  7. Willingness to suffer for speaking the truth without saving self. A mature prophet has long since committed his or her life totally into God’s keeping and has recognized that suffering is an “occupational hazard.” Speaking the truth for God is more important than personal comfort. Sometimes suffering comes as a result of declaring divine judgment. Jeremiah spoke the truth about God’s coming judgment on the southern kingdom of Judah and was convicted of treason and imprisoned in a dry cistern. A true prophet is not afraid to suffer for the truth.
  8. A message in harmony with the Word of God and the known will of God. A prophet’s message will never, repeat never, contradict the Word of God. The Spirit and the Word always agree. Since a prophet is a “pneumatic” (Spirit-person), his word will also be in agreement with the Word of God. A message that goes against God’s Word is a sure indicator of a false prophet.
  9. Employment of symbolic actions. Prophets preach with pictures. Jesus used this method all the time in His teaching, painting pictures in people’s minds through the stories and parables He told. Prophets use pictures because that’s the way God reveals His will and His Word to them. A prophet sees how things are done in the natural and applies it to the spiritual.
  10. Ability and authority to judge the manifestations of prophetic gifts. A prophet serving in a recognized and acknowledged prophetic office has the ability and authority to identify and judge the presence, display, and use of prophetic gifts in others. In other words, a prophet has the ability to recognize and identify other prophets (both true and false).

Robert Stone, author of Gifts From the Ascended Christ

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The Gifts of the Spirit: Prophecy

 

Gift of Prophecy

Over the coming weeks I am going to present to you (my readers) a study on the Gifts of the Spirit. We will begin the motivational gifts in Romans Chapter Twelve, followed by the Spirit Gifts in First Corinthians 12-14 and then complete the study with the Ministry Gifts listed by Paul in Ephesians Four.

Dr. Larry Gilbert teaches that the motivational gifts described in the twelfth chapter of Romans impact our relationship with the Lord, with other people, the local church, and the body of Christ as a whole. Because of this, it is important for us to identify, understand and develop the God- given motivational gifts that have been placed within our lives. Let’s examine the motivational gifts, how the Scripture defines them and what we can do to develop more understanding concerning these spiritual gifts.

 

Motivational Gifts usually surface as we begin to grow and mature in the Lord. Just as it takes time for a child to discover their natural talents, it takes time to identify and develop the motivational gifts that God has given to each of us. It is also important to note that there is a distinct difference between having natural talent and possessing a motivational gift. Let me give you a description of the two:

 

Natural Talents:

 

       ·        Their Source: From God through Parents

 

·        Come to Be in Our Possession: In Our DNA Transmitted in Conception

 

·        Their God Given Purpose: To Benefit Others and Ourselves

 

·        Their Development Process: Generally Externally Recognized First then Studied, Practiced, Exercised and Perfected.

 

·        Their Function in a Christ-follower’s Life: Dedicated to God for His Glory

 

 Motivational Gifts (listed in Romans 12):

 

       ·        Their Source: From the Holy Spirit Independent of our Parents

 

·        Come to Be in Our Possession: By the Will of God and According to the Grace Given Us

 

·        Their God Given Purpose: To Bring Glory to God and to Add Value to the Body of Christ

 

·        Their Development Process: Internally Recognized, Developed and Exercised Externally

 

·        Their Function in a Christ-follower’s Life: To Be a Blessing to the Lord and Others

 

Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully. Romans 12:4-8

 

The motivational gifts that are mentioned here are from the Greek word charisma. The “gifts of charisma” is best translated as “grace or gifts of grace.” These gifts possess, denote and demonstrate extraordinary powers when correctly developed and manifested. These graces distinguish certain Christians from others and enable them to serve the body of Christ in a better or dynamic way; the reception of which is due to the power of divine grace.1

 

These motivational gifts serve to reveal the desire that our Heavenly Father has to see people blessed and for all people to become a blessing to others. These gifts are generally practical in nature and for the purpose of encouraging, comforting, and serving the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

The gifts listed in Romans 12 describe the “by grace” motivations placed in the Christian believer by the grace of God. These gifts grow and develop as we continue “to present our bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is a beliver’s reasonable service. They are best exercised when we are not conformed to this world: but when we are being transformed by the renewing of our mind” (Romans 12:1-2). These gifts are a practical expression of the grace of God under which the church stands, making the whole life of the church, not just the ministry of the church, “by grace.”

 

Most of us have a “gift-mix.” What does that mean? It means that each of us have been given a primary gift, generally speaking. This gift has a tendency to flow in our lives so naturally that we feel energized as the gift operates. The secondary gifts are generally more demanding or draining when they are in use. The people who excel in a certain gifting can rarely tell others how they use the gift or “how it works.” The things we desire to accomplish for the Lord as well as the things that reveal our deepest passion gives us a clue to our gift-mix. Let’s examine these marvelous grace gifts by beginning with the Gift of Prophecy.

 

The Gift of Prophecy or Preaching

A person with the motivational gift of prophecy has the ability to utter forth the mind and the will of God. These utterances are seldom direct messages from the voice of the Holy Spirit. These gifts tend to encourage application of the Word of God. Such prophecy is inspired. It gives information, instruction and illumination. When exercised and released by faith the motivational gift of prophecy empowers faith in people so they can accomplish the plans and the purposes of God.

 

When the gift of prophecy is in action, the person manifesting the gift will retain reason and consciousness, making the person responsible for rendering the revelation, illumination or instruction to others. In a general sense; most Christian leaders identify this gift as preaching.

 

Therefore, the believers who manifest prophecy generally have a strong sense of right and wrong. They feel compelled to “speak up.” This is especially true when he or she is speaking out against compromise and evil.

The Apostle Peter appears to have manifested this gift of prophecy. We see it manifesting several times in the book of Acts. The gift empowered Peter to play a significant role in the early church as its spokesman. Peter is the one who stepped up to address the crowd on the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2. In that address Peter instructed and encouraged men and women to believe in Christ, repent, and live according to the truth of God’s Word. Then Peter said unto them, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation” (Acts 2:38-40).

 

Like Peter, believers who have the motivational gift of prophecy must accept the responsibility of the message they preach and declare. It is unacceptable to “place blame” on God or anyone else when or if the audience to which the gift is being exercised refuse to receive it.

The motivational Gift of Prophecy is quite different than the Spiritual Gift listed in First Corinthians or that of the Prophet, which is listed in Ephesians 4. The motivational gift is a gift that enables the arrangement of information as well as the transmission of it. The information of which I speak can be taken from: the Scriptures, commentaries, Bible dictionaries, etc. It also may come directly as inspiration from the Holy Spirit. People who have this gift generally love to study and share what they learn. The messages that they present tend to overlap the message of the Encourager (Gift of Exhortation) and the Teacher (Gift of Teaching).

Most people would call the execution of this gift a “sermon or message.” People who function in this gift do not see themselves speaking “for God.” They see themselves speaking “from God” or “from God’s Word.” Their message can provide information, instruction, inspiration and correction. 

Next week we will be discussing the Gift of Service.

God bless you.

Robert.