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Thus saith the Lord

March 26, 2010

(Today we’re talking to the Christians. Little family meeting, here.)

You are not a prophet.

I’m taking a gamble with that statement, but for 99.99% of us it’s true, so it’s a good gamble.

It seems everywhere I turn lately, in Christendom, people are talking about how they’re prophets or starting sentences with, “God told me to say …”

It is my understanding of scripture, and correct me if I’m wrong, that there is a massive difference between someone who is a prophet of God – like some people are pastors and some are teachers (according to the five described in Ephesians 4) – and someone with a gift of prophesy (as described in 1 Corinthians 12).

The former is a Moses or a John the Baptist – long, uncomfortable, boring training period in the desert and a clear message routinely verified by signs and wonders. Prophets were rarely excited to be prophets. Moses tried to make excuses. Jonah tried to run away. They were asked to do terribly embarrassing things (walk around naked, marry a prostitute, lay in the street for weeks). In Deuteronomy 18 (v. 20), God and Moses are outlining some basics, and He declares,

“But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in My name, which I have not commanded him to speak … that prophet shall die.”

How do we know if someone has not been commanded to speak something in the name of God? Two verses later He tells us – if he says it and it doesn’t happen. Duh. If he’s wrong.

So let’s, first of all, lighten up a bit on calling ourselves prophets. It’s not as glorious as we’ve made it appear.

That being agreed on, can we go a step further and even be careful about using phrases like, “God told me to say …”? For one, it’s rather presumptuous. And it’s dangerous if you’re wrong. And it’s not even really necessary if you’re right. Can we humble ourselves in our gifts (if that’s even really what’s going on) and qualify our statements with “I feel like” or “Does that make sense to you?” Can we reserve, “God says” for those situations wherein we’re fully submitted to the fear of the Lord?

Because I don’t think the fear of God is a factor at all in a lot of “prophetic” settings. We run to conferences and evangelists and “prophesy” people/teams to get a “word” from God to make us feel warm and fuzzy and valid. I read through Acts recently with that lens on, and did you know that no one in Acts – the model for the Church – ever has a “word” for someone else that that person – if that person is a believer – didn’t already know? (And even then, it’s always bad news.)

  • In Acts 9 Ananias comes to Saul, but Saul’s already seen him coming in a vision.
  • In Acts 11 Agabus prophecies famine. It’s not really a “word” for a specific person like we’re talking about, but I pull it out to illustrate the “bad news” aspect.
  • In Acts 13 Paul has a “word” for Elymas the sorcerer – not a believer, and again: bad news.
  • In Acts 21 several disciples, Agabus specifically, tell Paul not to go to Jerusalem. Paul already knows what’s waiting for him in Jerusalem, and, everybody now, “It’s bad news.”

I think if we really took Acts as a model for New Testament living we’d be terrified if someone came up to us and said they had something to tell us from God. You’re full of the Holy Spirit – the presence of God – talk to Him yourself.

So let’s recap.

  1. You’re not a prophet. Unless profoundly and dramatically proven otherwise. Just play it safe and assume No.

  2. If you do have a gift of prophesy (which you can have without being “a prophet”), be very careful and very humble with it.

  3. Don’t count on someone else to give you a “word” from God. Your identity is written down for you in scripture, and your body is His temple. Be your own conduit.

‘Cause I love you, Church, and I think we need to check ourselves sometimes.

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