But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: for to one is given … prophecy. 1 Corinthians 12:7–10
Prophecy is a direct word from God resulting in “edification and exhortation and comfort“ (1 Corinthians 14:3). When someone is prophesying, they are speaking under the immediate inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Those who teach and preach the Word of God in reliance upon the Holy Spirit quite often experience the gift of prophecy in their ministry. Can those who are not in a teaching position receive this gift? Of course. As we have already stated, any believer can potentially manifest any one of the gifts of the Spirit. Prophecy can come through someone simply quoting a Scripture or by passing on a phrase or an idea that God has impressed on his or her mind.
In my own experience, prophecy has often been God’s way of confirming something to me that He has already put upon my heart. Let me give you an example. Some years ago, I felt like I was calling me to take a step of faith that could possibly change the course of my life. I was willing to do it, but I needed confirmation that it was actually God who was leading me, and not just my imagination or desire. One Sunday morning, I felt a decision had to be made, so before I left for church, I cried out to God and said, “Lord, You have to show me what You want to do!“
At that time, we had three services on Sunday morning, and during each of the services, a few people would gather to pray for me while I preached. In between the first and second services, one of the men who faithfully prayed for me approached and asked if we could speak privately. As we stepped aside to talk, he said that he had been struggling during his prayer time for me that morning and that God wanted him to tell me something. He was actually very nervous because he had never done anything like this before. Basically, God told him to tell me to do what He had put on my heart. The amazing thing is that this man had absolutely no idea what I was going through. In fact, after he shared with me, he asked, “Does this make any sense?“ I assured him that it did, and I thanked him for being bold enough to come to me. That was prophecy in action!
In the Early Days of Calvary
Many years ago, my father-in-law met with the elders of a small church called Calvary Chapel in Costa Mesa, California, that had 25 members or so at the time. They were stunned when he told them that the first thing he would do if he were to become their pastor would be to remodel the platform in front of the church. The reason for the surprise and elation was this: prior to him coming, someone had received a prophecy that the pastor God appointed would want to remodel the platform at the front of the church! The Lord also said that this church would relocate onto a black overlooking the sea. That seemed strange because at the time, the church was on a side street about five miles from the ocean.
A few years later, the church outgrew its facility and moved to a building on a bluff overlooking the sea! It was also prophesied that from that little church, the Gospel would be spread all over the world. Forty-five years and 1,500 churches later, that prophecy has proven indeed to have been from God!
Prophecy is an incredible gift, and we can see why the apostle Paul said, “Pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy“ (1 Corinthians 14:1). As wonderful as the gift of prophecy is, there are those in the charismatic movement who have given prophecy a bad name. I would be delinquent in my responsibility as a pastor if I did not address some of these issues, but that will have to wait until next week. In the meantime, pursue love and desire spiritual gifts.