This last week we had Third Thursday at Anthem Church. We’ve been on an incredible journey of learning and understanding how God wants to speak with us as a church and what he wants to use that for. The Scriptures call this prophecy and Paul gives quite a bit of input on what kind of place it has in the church. If you want to listen to the teaching from Third Thursday,you can click here and grab the audio. We did a Q & A time, giving people the opportunity to text in their questions and Bert, Kevin and I did our best to answer them from our understanding of the Scriptures. We didn’t have time to get to all the questions that came in, so we said that we would use the blog as a way to answer some of the unanswered questions.
My one encouragement in this is that we shared repeatedly on Thursday night that we are on a learning journey. We don’t presume to have all the answers, but I would love to give you what I can from how we read and understand what the Bible is saying.
So, here are the questions and my responses.
When (if ever) should we give 'directive' prophecy?
Using the term “directive prophecy”, while not a biblical delineation, is a helpful way of understanding prophecy that is foretelling. The idea of a directive prophecy is one like what Agabus gives to Paul in Acts 21 that gives specific details or instruction about things that may happen in the future. Terry Fouche shared about this and his encouragement was to share the things that you believe that God is saying to you, but to do it with the humility to know that you may be wrong. If you believe that God is saying something to you for someone else or for a group, how you deliver it matters. If you say, “God told me…”, then it comes with an air of authority that can’t be questioned. If you say, “I have something to share with you that I believe God might be saying…” then there’s an opportunity for that person to test it appropriately and weigh the things that you’re saying. So, I would say, give those prophecies if you are hearing them and let the body test them and hold fast to what is good (1 Thess 5:19ff)
Is it possible for a prophesy to come in the form of a vision or is that something different because prophesy is a "regulated message in human words” / What if a word comes in the form of a dream? How are we to weigh its accuracy/interpret it?
Great question…Throughout Scripture we see God reveal himself to people in dreams and pictures. Joseph, Daniel and Peter are three examples off the top of my head that received “insight from God” in the form of a dream or picture. Each of these guys had to explain what they had seen though and that’s where the words come in to play. Peter preached in Acts 2 that “in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams…” While these dreams may come, the best that we can do is explain our dreams/visions to those in our community and, either, we you can give your perceived interpretation or you can ask others what it might mean. I have heard many stories, particularly from the middle east, about people coming to faith in Jesus because of things that they have seen in dreams. I do believe that God still speaks to us in this way, but they still need to be weighed and tested in the community.
Do you think demons can prophesy?
I am struggling a bit to understand this question… Do I believe that demons can give words to the body of Christ for the upbuilding, consoling and encouraging of the church… I am not sure that they would want to. Do I believe that demons can somehow know the future and reveal that to people? I do not believe that demons (even Satan) are all knowing. Angels are created beings with limitations, they are not gods. 1 Timothy 4 talks about the “teachings of demons” and how that teaching will often lead people away from the faith. I do believe that demons have become humanity’s greatest students. They have watched us, our patterns, our tendencies, our weaknesses, etc. for thousands of years. I believe they are probably good at anticipating future events. I do believe that these things are revealed to people. We have seen it in occult practices (ouija boards, tarot cards, palm reading, etc.) where things are accurately revealed. So in that sense, I think they reveal quite a bit to people.
Do you have an example of the type of prophecy we are hoping for done well at Anthem?
My hope would be that Anthem would work hard to honor the Scriptures to the best of our ability. We know that the Spirit leads us, and uses us to encourage on another. One of our elders was talking the other day about how he was driving around for work and he felt the Lord put a certain person’s name on his heart. He prayed for that person and then called them to encourage the person. It was a moment of great encouragement for both men. I would love to see more of that. More encouragement, more building up, more of us listening to God and responding by speaking his heart/word into each other’s lives.
How do you “build up the church”?
The building up of the church (or even, equipping of the saints) is a concept that is referred to a few times in the New Testament (Eph 4:11-12, 1 Cor 14:4). The idea of it is that we are adding to the overall knowledge and experience of God in a variety of ways. I believe prophecy builds up the church in that it adds a layer of personal, supernatural connection. When God speaks to us, it is powerful and encouraging. It strengthens us for the hard days ahead. We may know the facts of the Gospel, but when life gets difficult, it is very helpful to have a personal connection with God to be strengthened by. We are called to stir one another up to love and good works (Heb 10:24), the way that prophecy is used in Acts and described in 1 Corinthians, it would have contribute to this command in a significant way.
I understand prophecy is for all but wouldn't it become a little chaotic if everyone starts to pray for one other all time? Instead of letting the leaders do the praying the majority of the time, since they are leading the church?
The leaders do lead the church, but the commands of Scripture are for the body to minister to the body. The elders are called to shepherd the flock, protect the flock, teach the Word and equip the saints (Acts 20, Eph 4:12, 1 Peter 4). The body is called to stir one another up (Heb 10), prophesy (1 Cor 14), share your gifts (1 Cor 12), speak to one another in psalms, hymns and spiritual songs (Eph 5), and to confess your sins and pray for one another (James 5:16). There are times that we create space for people to be prayed for by leaders, absolutely. But that is not an argument for the elders to be the ONLY ones who can or should pray for people. Paul’s desire is that all may prophesy (1 Cor 14), not just the leaders. I don’t want to put any limits on that aren’t given to us in Scripture. As for the chaos, Paul was concerned with that as well, so he gives instructions for order in 1 Cor 14.
I really appreciate the questions. It’s exciting to be a part of a church that is engaged in the conversation about life, theology, church together and how we go about carrying out life in Christ together. I honestly love it. My hope from this conversation is that a humble, faithful pursuit of prophecy would grow in us as a church.
We want to see Anthem built up. We want to be encouraged and challenged and stirred up by the Holy Spirit and we know that much of that will come through prophetic words to the church.
If you believe that God might be giving you a word of encouragement for someone or for the church and you’re not sure what to do with that, please don’t be afraid to talk to us, talk to your community group, share the things that God is impressing on your heart. Thanks for being a part of this journey with us. Let’s keep learning and growing together!