We have included two sermon outlines by Gerald Rowlands. They are good examples of the kind of sermons that you should preach, because they are:
- carefully organized
- solidly Bible-based
- clearly expressed
Please study these sermons carefully, paying close attention to:
- The Biblical truths they are teaching
- regarding prophecy
- regarding the discerning of spirits
- How the sermons are organized
- use of outline format
- use of definitions
- use of Scripture references
- How the sermons express the biblical truths they are teaching
- various points and principles emphasized
- clarity of words and sentences
Please feel free to use these messages in your personal development and training as well as in your public ministry as the Holy Spirit leads you.
“And moreover, because the preacher was wise, he still taught the people knowledge; yes he pondered and sought out and set in order many proverbs. The preacher sought to find acceptable words; and what was written was upright – words of truth. The words of the wise are like goads, and the words of the masters of assemblies are like well-driven rails, given by one Shepherd” Ecclesiastes 12:9-11.
“TO ANOTHER, PROPHECY”: 1 CORINTHIANS 12:10
1.WHAT IS PROPHECY?
A. A Brief Definition
The meaning of the Greek word propheteia, translated in the New Testament as ‘prophecy,’ is a divinely inspired utterance. Prophecy is as supernatural as the gift of tongues, only it is supernatural utterance in a known tongue. It is a manifestation of the Spirit of God, not of the human mind.
It its simplest form (that is without some other gift working together with it), all who have received the baptism of the Holy Spirit may exercise this gift: “For ye may all prophesy, one by one” (1 Cor 14:31).
The importance of this gift is emphasized by the prominence which it is given in those chapters which deal with spiritual gifts. For example, it is mentioned twenty-two times in Chapters 11 through 14 of 1 Corinthians.
B. The Gift Is Distinct From The Office
The Scriptures reveal obvious difference between the office of prophet and the gift of prophecy. The New Testament order of things is different from the Old Testament. The prophet of the Old Testament differs from that of the New Testament as the priest of the Old differs from that of the New. In the Old Testament, only certain men were chosen by God to be priests, but in the New Testament we are all kings and priests unto our God. Likewise, in the Old only a few were chosen and appointed to prophesy, but in the New, Paul says, “Ye may all prophesy” (1 Cor 14:31).
There is, however, a New Testament office of prophet which is distinct from the gift of prophecy. Although both are called gifts, one is a gift from Christ to the Church (Ephesians 4:8-12), while the other is a gift from the Holy Spirit to an individual member of the Church (1 Cor 12:10). In Ephesians 4, Christ gave some (to be understood) prophets, but in 1 Corinthians 14:31, all may prophesy.
We can see this distinction in Acts 21:8-22. Philip had 4 daughters ‘which did prophesy’ (the gift), but Agabus was a prophet (the office). Using the gift of prophecy does not make one a prophet, but the one holding the office of a prophet does use the gift.
Four Tests Of A Genuine Prophet (The Office)
- Christ has set them in the Church (the Body). (The New Testament does not allow for independent prophets who are not acceptable to other Spirit-filled believers. The prophet is a part of and accountable to the church.)
- Other recognized prophets will endorse him.
- His predictions will come to pass.
- His ministry will be associated with founding churches, equipping saints for ministry, etc.
2. WHAT PROPHECY IS NOT: SOME MISUNDERSTANDINGS ABOUT PROPHECY
A. Prophecy Is Not To Be Confused With Preaching
Many today insist that prophecy in the Bible refers to preaching. This robs the gift of its supernatural character. Preaching and teaching is most usually the result of prayerful meditation in the Word of God coupled with diligent preparation. In contrast, prophecy is often spontaneous and has not been prepared beforehand by the person giving the message.
Prophetic utterance is under the immediate and direct inspiration of the Holy Spirit. In anointed preaching, the natural mind is assisted and inspired by the Spirit. In true prophesy the mind of the Spirit is speaking through human speech organs. However, in the course of anointed preaching the gift of prophecy also may operate during the message.
B. Prophecy Is Not To Be Confused With Predicting The Future
To prophesy is not to foretell but to speak for another (in comfort). If some hidden truth is revealed, this is the word of knowledge operating within the prophecy. A word of wisdom also may be contained within a prophecy, giving a form of prediction regarding some event in the future.
C. Prophecy Is Not For Personal Guidance
1 Corinthians 14:3 says, “… he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification and exhortation and comfort.” There is no reason to believe that prophecy characteristically foretells the future or attempts to direct the personal future of anyone, based upon this scripture. It is therefore not wise to seek out anyone to give you personal guidance through the gifts of the Spirit. Ask God and He will give you wisdom (James 1:5) then use your own sanctified judgment and knowledge of the Word.
Even the New Testament prophet made no effort to make people obey or follow his leadings. He left the conclusions and initiative to the judgment of those who heard his utterance. On one occasion a prophet did predict a drought, but he did not offer any advice or guidance about what should be done. On another occasion a prophet foretold the arrest of Paul in Jerusalem and while Paul apparently did not doubt the truth of the prediction, he went to Jerusalem anyway, even against the expressed desires of other disciples. Personal guidance should be viewed as a confirmation of what God has already shown you, and if there is not God given witness in your own spirit, then any proffered personal guidance should be rejected.
3. WHAT THE SCRIPTURES TEACH ABOUT THE GIFT OF PROPHECY
A. For Speaking Supernaturally To Men (1 Cor 14:3)
Conveying the mind of the Spirit directly to the Church, resulting in edification, exhortation and comfort.
B. Prophecy Is Superior To Tongues And Interpretation Because It Is Instantly Intelligible
In a public assembly, the gift of tongues requires an interpreter, but prophecy does not. With prophecy there is also no danger of a message in tongues occurring without an accompanying interpretation, which is unscriptural.
C. Prophecy Convinces Unbelievers (the unlearned or uninitiated) (1 Cor 14:24, 25).
The ‘unlearned’ are those who are ignorant of the truth and the teaching and worship of the Church.
Through the operation of prophecy they will …
- Be convinced of all.
- Be judged of all.
- Have the secrets of their hearts made manifest.
- Fall down before God and surrender in humility.
- Come to worship God.
- Acknowledge that God is among you of a truth.
D. Prophecy Provides Threefold Ministry To The Church (1 Cor 14:3)
- Oikidome – “Edification” is a combination of two Greek words: Oikos (house), and dome (a form of the Greek word for ‘to build’). Therefore, the first of the threefold ministry of this gift is “to help build the Lord’s house” (the Church). The use of this word indicates prophecy aids spiritual growth. The function of this, as with all spiritual gifts, is distinct but complementary to the written Word.
- Parakleesis, translated “exhortation”, means a ‘calling near’. Its use here has the sense of a persuasive discourse, a stirring address, instructive, admonitory, consolatory, or powerful discourse. The exhortation stimulates believers to achieve the height of the theme of the prophecy. It is also significant that the word “Comforter,” referring to the Holy Spirit, is parakleetos, based on exactly the same verb as parakleesis .
- Paramuthia, translated “comfort”, means to speak kindly or soothingly to someone. Prophecy should have the element in it which speaks in order to soothe and pacify, by speaking persuasively and tenderly.
- Prophecy is usually all three of these functions expressed in one message.
The Church today is desperately in need of God given, properly controlled prophecy. Together with the anointed preaching of the Word, it will probably do more than anything else to bring revival blessing and power to the Church.
E. Prophecy Functions So That Believers May Learn (1 Cor 14:31)
This does not refer to doctrine which is ministered from the Word through a teacher rather than a prophet. It functions rather that the believers may learn spiritual truths and things for their edification, comfort and exhortation. Such truth must be tested by the written Word before being digested.
F. We Are To Desire This Gift And Covet It (1 Cor.14:1,39).
G. The Person Operating The Gift Is Responsible For Its Use Or Misuse (1 Cor 14:32)
Prophecy is not an uncontrolled utterance. Rather it properly functions under the prophet’s authority. The prophet, not God, is responsible for any disorderly misuse of the gift. All prophecy is suspect unless it has been tested and approved by acknowledged prophets, otherwise it would not have to be submitted to the test. Some persons prophesy in the first person (“I, the Lord, speak unto you …”) unconsciously trying to shift the responsibility of the utterance 100% to God. It is wise to avoid this practice, since prophetic utterance, like the other gifts, is a cooperative effort between God and the prophet, but under the prophet’s control.
H. Prophecy Is To Be Controlled (1 Cor 14:29, 31, 32)
The restrictions set forth in these verses seem to imply that the prophets must speak one at a time, and not more than three utterances should take place in any one meeting. The ideal seems to be two – or at the most three. “All may prophesy [implied: [‘over a period of time’]” doesn’t conflict with the above restrictions. Prophecy is not an uncontrolled utterance, but must function within biblical boundaries.
I. Prophecy May Be Received At One’s Baptism in the Spirit (Acts 19:6), But Does Not Take the Place of Tongues As An Initial Evidence
It may also be received later in one’s experience after having been filled with the Spirit.
J. Prophecy Must Be Exercised by Faith (Rom 12:6).
This is not prophesying by faith, it is operating the gift of prophecy by faith. It Satan can destroy your faith, then he will destroy your use of the gift. It takes more faith to prophesy than to speak in tongues because prophecy is instantly intelligible and understandable by the congregation, whereas tongues are not intelligible until interpreted.
K. Prophecy Must Be Judged (1 Cor 14:29)
Sometimes the discerning of spirits comes into operation in connection with this. There are three possible sources of inspiration for a prophecy:
- The Holy Spirit.
- Evil, lying spirits.
Isaiah 8:19 and 20 speaks of people who have familiar spirits which speak through them. In Acts 16:17 we read of an evil spirit speaking through a girl. What she said would probably have been accepted as true prophecy by some had Paul not discerned the evil spirit at its root.
- The Human Spirit.
A person may prophesy out of his own heart, or allow his own ideas and personal thoughts or opinions to influence his utterance. In Jeremiah 23:16 we read of prophets who ”prophesy out of their own hearts.” They “speak a vision of their own hearts and not of the mouth of the Lord.” See also Ezekiel 13:2 and 3. The spiritual manifestations of the discerning of spirits will enable us to judge the source of an utterance.
- There are several things which will always be true of a true prophetic utterance.
- It will edify, exhort and comfort the Church.
- It will not contradict the written Word of God.
- It will exalt the Lord Jesus Christ, by name.
- It will speak to the Church.
- It will not break the spirit of the meeting in which it occurs, although it may well change the course of that meeting.
- It will be acceptable to the majority of spirit-filled believers present.
- There is also the test alluded to in Matthew 7:16. (“Ye shall know them by their fruits”). It is safe to reject any so-called prophecy coming from one whose life is a reproach to the cause of Christ.
L. Prophecy Is Not To Be Despised (1 Thess 5:20)
The problems which may arise from time to time with any supernatural manifestations in the Church are no reason to quench the Spirit or despise His manifestations. Nor is the fact that gifts are being operated by persons in whom believers do not have wholehearted confidence grounds for rejecting all prophecy.
- It is unscriptural to deny the reality of these gifts.
- It is disobedient not to allow them to operate.
- It is cowardly not to regulate them because of fear.
According to Joel 2:28, prophecy would have a vital and prominent part in the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in the Last Days.
“TO ANOTHER, THE DISCERNING OF SPIRITS”: 1 CORINTHIANS 12:10
Discerning of spirits is a more important subject than we generally realize. If this spiritual gift were used more frequently with its counterpart – casting out demons – many of the problems we face today would be greatly minimized.
Discerning of spirits is the third of the revelation gifts: the word of wisdom and the word of knowledge are the other two. It is a divine ability imparted by the Holy Spirit so we can penetrate the spiritual realm and distinguish between the spirit of Satan (evil spirits), the Spirit of God, and the human spirit. By it we can discern the origin of certain actions, teachings, circumstances, etc., that have been inspired by spiritual beings.
This gift is more limited than the other two revelation gifts. The revelation given in this instance is limited to the origin of the behavior in question. Nonetheless, the discerning of spirits is just as supernatural in its operation as are any of the other eight gifts. It supplies the Church with information available no other way.
1.DEMON ACTIVITY AND THE CHURCH
A. The Nature of Demons
To deny the existence of demons is to refute the Bible. Throughout its contents, demons are named, described and taught about in both the Old and New Testaments. There are many and varied views with regard to their origin. The New Testament doesn’t teach about their origin; it only presents examples of how to deal with them.
- Demons are spirit beings without bodies of their own.
- Demons are limitless in their capacity to indwell other objects.
In the Scriptures, demons are said to dwell in the heavenly realms, the air, on the earth, in the sea, in humans, in animals and in inanimate idols. (Job 1:7; Matt 8:32; 12:43; Mark 5:13; Luke 11:24; Eph 2:2;6:12; Jude 6; Rev 16:14)
- Demons are inherently evil.
It is important we know this because it isn’t always obvious that demonic spirits are incapable of anything good or constructive. Anything they inhabit or influence is spiritually defiled.
- They can produce serious physical and mental derangement (Matt 9:32; 15:22; 17:15; Mark 5:1-13; Luke 13:16)
- Demons often influence our thoughts and speech though wholly unsuspected and undetected by us (1 Timothy 4:1,2).
B. Demon Activity Among Christians And In The Assembly
In certain of the grosser manifestations of demonization, little discernment is required to identify the hellish source of the activity involved. However, in the context of the Church it is quite a different thing. Here, demonic activity is veiled and subtle, insinuating evil into the life of the Church by counterfeiting God’s activity. Entering the gathering place through either an unfortunate, unsuspecting victim or a compliant agent of evil, demons seek entrance into many Christian gatherings with the aim to disrupt, hinder, confuse or render a meeting powerless.
C. The Problems With Demons Among Christians And In The Church
Demons are intelligent, personal spirit-beings. They think, know, and remember. We err if we think of them as “things.” Although Jesus Christ has given us the power and authority to trample demons without feet, they aren’t to be trifled with or made fun of. They are responsible for countless incidents of harm in the Church.
The most serious difficulty with demonic activity is that it is impossible to see it by natural means. Since demons are unclean, evil spirits, only one sensitive to the spiritual realm and knowledgeable of spiritual things can deal effectively with them. This is why God has equipped the Church with the Holy Spirit’s gift of discerning of spirits.
2. THE GIFT OF DISCERNING OF SPIRITS
A. The Function Of The Gift
The gift of discerning of spirits gives one a supernatural understanding of the nature and activity of spirits. It enables him to distinguish between the divine, satanic and human origin of spiritual activity and reveals the nature of the spirits themselves.
It is easy to confuse the works of the spirit of Satan with those of the Spirit of God: Satan always tries to counterfeit the works of the Holy Spirit. Satan is known as the deceiver, the father of lies, and the serpent. All these titles signify the subtle, crafty deceptiveness which he uses to bring about evil whenever he can. Many times his counterfeit is so plausible that one will be entirely deceived unless someone is present who functions with the supernatural gift of discerning of spirits. If demon activity were always so obviously reeking with evil and wicked intent as we tend to imagine, there would be no use for this gift of the Spirit.
In the account of the girl with the spirit of divination in Acts 16, Paul challenged the spirit which might easily have deceived other servants of God. The girl gave a perfectly true statement when she said, ”These men are servants of the most high God who show to you the way of salvation,” but the spirit speaking was an evil spirit.
Why would an evil spirit advertise the apostles in that fashion? Because it was of no credit or help to the gospel or its ministers to have such a person following them and no doubt causing many to think she was one of them.
B. Incidents Of The Gift In The New Testament
- Acts 8:23 – The incident of Peter and the other apostles dealing with Simon the Sorcerer. Peter’s ability to look at the source of Simon’s desire to have their power as evil was an example of discerning of spirits.
- Acts 13:8-12 – Paul discerns and defeats Elymas’ attempt to dissuade the governor from interest in the gospel.
- Acts 16:16-20 – Paul and the girl with the spirit of divination.
- 1 Timothy 4:1,2 – To expose plausible error in the Church.
C. The Operations And Need For The Gift Today
The gift of discerning of spirits is experiencing its own revival in much of the world today. It can be seen in action in the ministry of many men of God in the present renewal. It is absolutely essential that this gift operate if the Church is going to accomplish her full mission and destroy the works of the devil. There are as many demons in the world today as there were when Jesus walked the earth and in the days of the early Church. Their purpose is as avowedly evil. This supernatural gift is especially necessary for missionaries and workers in heathen lands where Spiritism, Satanism and occultism abound.
D. How The Gift Of Discerning Of Spirits Operates
The first and most obvious function of this gift is to reveal the presence of evil spirits in the life of people or churches. However, it also functions to evaluate the source of a prophetic message, a particular teaching, or some supernatural manifestation. The person functioning with this gift will be able to tell whether the source of the message or act is demonic, divine or merely human. If the source is discerned to be demonic, the person functioning in this gift will also usually be able to reveal.
- The nature of the demon.
This is what his work is, whether lying, causing infirmity (such as cancer, blindness, dumbness, etc.), unclean behavior and the like.
- The name of the demon.
This is usually revealed with the nature of the demon, although it isn’t at all uncommon to reveal a demon’s proper name.
- The number of demons.
As in the case of “Legion”, or Mary, out of whom Jesus cast seven devils, it is not at all uncommon for a person to be demonized by more than one spirit at a time. This is part of the information revealed by the gift of the discerning of spirits.
- The strength of particular demons.
Often during an encounter with an evil spirit, the one who functions with the discerning of spirits will know by revelation which of several demons is strongest and has greatest authority.
- About getting information.
Often, demons will give much information verbally themselves to one they know has supernaturally discerned their presence and who has power to cast them out. However, since demons can be counted on to lie, it is a good idea to treat the information they give with suspicion and count on information supernaturally given by the Holy Spirit.
E. Discerning Of Spirits Doesn’t Always Involve Faith To Expel Demons
Although the gift of discerning of spirits is essential for effective deliverance, it is not sufficient by itself. It must work in concert with the gifts of faith and effective miracles. It is those who function with those gifts that usually have the greatest success in casting out demons.
F. Other Means Of Discerning Of Spirits (Trying The Spirits)
Although without the gift of discerning of spirits being in operation it is nearly impossible to assess the presence of demon spirits in their most subtle workings, there are other ways the Scriptures give us to judge whether the source of teaching or behavior may be demonic.
- Judging “by their fruits” (Matt 7:15-18).
“By their fruits… a good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.” Any form of behavior which is manifestly evil is suspect and possibly rooted in demon activity.
- Conformity to the Word of God.
It is a basic rule of the Christian life that the Word of God, the Bible, is the only norm of faith and practice. If that conformity is conspicuously absent, the possibility of demonization exists.
1 Corinthians 12:3 says, “Wherefore I give you to understand that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord but by the Holy Ghost.” To say Jesus is Lord doesn’t mean simply to pronounce the words, but to give heartfelt submission, obedience and allegiance to Jesus’ sovereignty.
- Heretical Christology.
“Every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God” (1 John 4:3; 2 John 7). One of the chief attacks upon the Church by spiritual wickedness is upon our understanding of Who Jesus is. Most cults which claim Christian origins deviated from truth in their belief about Jesus.