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.