The Prophetic Office
This particular lesson concerns itself with the prophetic office, what it means to be a prophet, and the unique qualifications of a prophet. I presented The Prophetic Office originally as a Bible study, but decided to include it in this book because we are most definitely living in the last days of this age, and false prophets abound in the thousands, in Africa, the United States, and all over the world.
A True Prophet does not charge fir his prophetic services
Let me say first that a true prophet of God does not charge for his services. A true prophet of God does not charge a fee for prophecies, or for praying for people. A true man of God will not charge a fee for preaching at crusades or revivals. A true prophet of God lives by faith and faith alone. A true prophet of God does not sell water that has been prayed over and call it holy water, nor does a true prophet of God sell Olive Oil that he has purchased and has supposedly prayed over. He gives it away free of charge.
What is a prophet?
A true prophet is the mouthpiece of God. He is God’s spokesman (or woman); he is one who accurately predicts (foretells) the future, and forth tells (communicates the will of God as God has revealed it to him.
The prophet brings revelation and direction to the Church and lays the foundation. The Word of God says, “…which was not made known to men in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God’s holy apostles and prophets” (Ephesians 3:5).
The prophetic office includes at least three spiritual gifts, which are as follows:
- Word of Knowledge
- Word of Wisdom
Two specific characteristics define the prophetic office (without these two threshold requirements one cannot be called a prophet).
- Forth telling
- Foretelling (prediction belongs to the very idea of the prophetic office).
All prophetic revelation must be filtered through the Word of God
Any prophetic interpretation that contradicts scripture must be judged as inaccurate. The Bible is our grounding influence and “baseline” for prophecy. Spoken prophecy should never replace nor supersede dependence on the written Word for instruction and doctrine.
The differences between True and False Prophets
Character Traits of True Prophet
- Called by God
- Their only desire is to bring glory, honour and recognition to the Kingdom of God
- Humility (meek and gentle nature)
- Stands in the counsel of God (knows the voice of God and hears from God)
- Has a genuine burden for the people, and identifies with their failures and shortcomings
- Does not receive compensation for his prophetic services
Character Traits of a False Prophet
- Selfishness (self-willed)
- Pride (arrogance)
- Only concerned about self-advancement
- Receiving compensation (usually money) for prophetic services
- Seeking to please others (saying what people want to hear)
- Uttering deliberate and knowingly false prophecies
- Has not sat in the counsel of God (has not received a word or revelation from God
The fruits of false prophets are division, strife, and discord in the congregations they touch. False prophets may have been originally called by God, but fell into error and subsequent sin, and therefore, outside of the will of God. False prophets may also include those who have been called to the prophetic ministry, or are already operating in the prophetic ministry when they have not been called to such. These individuals have been “taken captive by the enemy.” Their actions have placed them under divine judgment.
It is only the false prophet who dares to take the office upon himself (see Jeremiah 14:14; 23:21).
The Life of a Prophet
Prophets must not only overcome by the blood of the Lamb, and the word of their testimony, but they must also have come to the point “where they love not their lives to the death” (Revelations 12:11).
Prophets function differently from evangelists or missionaries, especially when they go to a nation. They do not go just to have great evangelistic campaigns or build a mission station in a remote village. God sends His prophets not only to churches, but to nations to fulfill the prophet Jeremiah’s commission of rooting out, pulling down and destroying the ruling principalities over that church or nation. They then fulfill the other half of that commission by planting the Word of the Lord in them, and establishing them in those prophetic present-day truth words from the Lord. In the Old Testament, nations rose and fell, succeeded or failed, because of their response to God’s personal Word to them.
Prophets are pioneers. They “boldly go where no man has gone before.” That is one reason why they suffer more persecution and are more often misunderstood than other ministers. None of us in our right minds would want to be a prophet. We would have to be wrapped up, tied up and tangled up in the mind of Christ instead. The faint-hearted and fearful should not attach themselves to prophets or the prophetic movement, for they have now entered a warfare that will not cease until all the “ites” of Canaan have been removed and the kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord Jesus Christ and His Church” (see Deuteronomy 20:8; Judges 7:3; Revelation 11:13).
The prophet restores truth and brings back divine authority and anointing to the church. The prophet activates the gifts concerning the prophetic, in the lives of God’s people, by the imparting and stirring up of the gifts.
The prophet is the equipper, bringing the people of God into the arena of the prophetic. The prophet prepares himself by praying, fasting, studying the Word of God, and seeking God. It is a preparation of the heart, because a prophet has to prophecy according to the proportion of his faith. Therefore, his faith is kept strong by spending much time with the Lord, and His Word. Thus, he speaks more from inspiration, under the prophetic unction, not from something he may know mentally.
Many times prophets do not know what their subject is until they get up to speak. The prepared sermon is often changed when they begin to be picked up in the Spirit concerning the word they are to deliver to that particular church or group.
The prophet is gifted by God to set the members in their correct ministries in the body of Christ. He is able to discern their gifts and therefore bring direction into their lives concerning their specific ministry.
The function of a Prophet
The prophet can only prophetically decree on earth what has already been decreed by the angels and by God’s divine decree in heaven. Further, the prophet can preach, teach and prophesy a message on earth. However, until it is decreed in heaven and the trumpet is sounded, it will not work. We cannot just bind anything on earth on our own whim and desire. We can only bind what has already been bound in heaven.
The prophet was formerly called a Seer. A seer is defined as a person who must have seen – the seeing prophet must speak out the truth. This is the only way to set free. The seer is one enabled to “see” things that are beyond ordinary human knowledge (1 Samuel 9:9).
Prophets enjoy the secret counsel of the Lord. They stand before men, as a man who has been made to stand before God.
The function and office of the prophet includes an intercessory characteristic. A true prophet constantly intercedes for the people, pleading to God on their behalf.
The prophet calls the bones together through prophecy, each one into place and keeps the body together. “Then He said to me, ‘Prophecy to these bones and say to them, Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord…So I prophesied as I was commanded. Moreover, as I was prophesying, there was a noise; a rattling sound, and the bones came together, bone to bone. I looked, and tendons and flesh appeared on them and skin covered them, but there was no breath in them” (Ezekiel 37:4-8).
The focus of all prophetic truth is Jessus Christ
How does one become a prophet?
A person does not call or appoint himself to any of the ascension (fivefold) callings and gifts of the Holy Spirit that Christ gave to the Church upon His ascension to heaven. This is strictly the personal prerogative and gift of Christ Himself.
Always be prepared
Be prepared in season and out of season to tap into what the Holy Spirit is saying, and in that way you will be able to release what God is saying in basically any situation you may find yourself, whether at home, in a cell meeting, or a church service.
Remember that God wants to communicate, and He is waiting for you to yield yourself as an instrument in His hands.
Many times God may impress (mental impression) upon your spirit just one word.
The prophetic office in historical perspective
Moses established the pattern for all future prophets. He was not left to struggle for the meaning of events as or after they happened. He was forewarned of events and of their significance by verbal communication of God.
Read what God Himself had to say about His relationship with Moses: “…Hear now My words: If there is a prophet among you, I, the Lord, make Myself known to him in a vision; I speak to him in a dream. Not so with My servant Moses; He is faithful in all My house. I speak with him face to face, even plainly, and not in dark sayings; and he sees the form of the Lord” (Numbers 12:6-8). The man Moses certainly enjoyed special favour with God.
Prophecy is simply God communicating with man by using a vessel (a person) to bring forth what He is saying).
Prophecy is not a prepared sermon (although a prepared sermon may contain some prophecy).\
Prophetic utterances can come from five different sources.
- God’s Spirit
- Man’s spirit or soul
- Evil spirits
- Soulish (from one’s mind, which may cause division in the church)
- Spiritual prophecy (which brings unity)
Prophesying is not a skill, aptitude, or a talent. It is performance by the unction of the Holy Spirit.
PROPHETIC INDIVDUALS ARE NOT CONCERNED ABOUT GOING UP, BUT ABOUT GROWING UP INTO THE IMAGE OF JESUS CHRIST AT ALL COST.
The Gift of Prophecy
What exactly is the gift of prophecy? The Word of God explains it clearly. “But everyone who prophesies speaks to men for their strengthening, encouragement and comfort” 1 Corinthians 14:3-NIV).
Prophesying is speaking in order to strengthen, encourage, and comfort others. However, prophecy is not merely speaking human encouragement. It is speaking the mind of God. It is speaking under the unction and direction of the Holy Spirit. It is therefore speaking divine encouragement. In simple terms, prophecy is “hearing” from God and speaking out what you hear in order to build up, comfort and encourage someone. To prophesy is to hear from God and speak to men.
The gift of prophecy is primarily for strengthening, encouraging and comforting, although it can be directional, i.e. used for guidance (see Acts 13:2).
The gift of prophecy is a sign for believers: the evidence that God is present and it convinces the unbelievers by disclosing the secrets of their hearts.
Your Level of Faith
Another parameter to abide by when prophesying is NOT TO GO BEYOND YOUR LEVEL OF FAITH. Paul exhorts us to this end in his epistle to the Roman Christians. “And since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith” (Romans 12:6).
There are two different issues that we need to understand regarding ministering according to our level of faith. First, although God may use us prophetically on any level He chooses, we generally grow gradually in any area of grace. We should be comfortable to begin moving prophetically in a manner consistent with our faith. As a rule, we should not expect God to give us the intimate details of someone’s life history when we first begin ministering prophetically. We will probably begin on a decidedly lower level and this is quite okay.
Be careful not to try to emulate or copy someone who has been in the prophetic ministry for years. You may only embarrass yourself, and at the same time, receive a negative reputation. Once you receive a bad reputation, it is nearly impossible to overcome such a negative image that people have developed concerning you and your prophetic abilities.
The second issue involved in ministering prophetically is vitally important. While we must always prophesy according to our level of faith, we should also prophesy in faith. For example, if God shows you through Word of Knowledge that someone is sick, then you should not simply tell them, “The Lord has shown me that you have an illness” and leave it at that. We must understand God’s heart and that He desires to heal. We then can pray in faith and see people healed of their diseases.
All prophecy must always be tested according to scriptures.
Prophecy can come in words, pictures or action.
NOTE: A prophet who bases his ministry on personal prophecy instead of preaching or teaching the Word, will get into error and become weak in the body of Christ. One who prophesies according to 1 Corinthians 14:5 is greater than one who merely speaks in unknown tongues (meaning genuine Holy Spirit inspired tongues, not memorized tongues).
Do not look for clues
Those functioning in the prophetic office MUST NOT LOOK FOR CLUES before prophesying. Outward appearance can be very deceiving, but God sees the heart. See as God sees. Learn to “see” with your spiritual eyes, and “hear” with your spiritual ears.
Be sensitive in how much you can share with a person. Speak only that which God has given you and nothing more.
It is especially not appropriate if you, for example, are prophesying a word of encouragement, to bring it in a harsh tone of voice. Remember, GOD IS LOVE. Even though the prophetic message may stress the need for repentance, it must be brought across as good news, with the person’s well-being in mind. The person receiving the prophecy must realize that God is for him.
Do not be super spiritual!
There is no need to act in a strange manner and be super spiritual in the delivering of the Word. You must speak like you normally speak.
YOU ARE ACCOUNTABLE AS A PROPHET!
As prophets, we are accountable to the following:
- To God
- To the Word of God – (does the prophecy line up with God’s Word)?
- To the Holy Ghost (not flesh)
- TO THOSE WHO OVERSEE, AND ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR US – Humble submission is a must. “Obey those who have the rule over you and be submissive” (Hebrews 13:17). Remember, disobedience is the same as rebellion and rebellion is the same as witchcraft. (see 1 Samuel 15:23).
- To one another
Prophesying Under Pressure
This is absolutely forbidden! If you are pressured to prophesy due to a person or circumstances – DO NOT DO IT! This gift is not for show! It is for equipping, instructing, building, direction, etc. You may give yourself a negative reputation, and even worse, bring reproach upon the Kingdom of God, by prophesying under pressure. Prophesying under pressure many result in a prophetic word out of the flesh.
Do not add to, make up (create) a prophetic word
Do not misrepresent God by telling people what you think they want to hear. You may find favour with them, but not with God. If you say something that God is not saying, it is false prophecy. The Word of God strictly warns us: “See to it that you do all I command you: do not add to it or take away from it” (Deuteronomy 12:37).
All Gifts must be motivated by love
All spiritual gifts, including prophecy, must be motivated by love. The Apostle Paul states, “And if I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing” (1 Corinthians 13:2).
While prophecy entails bringing a message from God, we must also never forget we are speaking to His people. We should always minister prophetically, motivated by God’s love. God probably does not appreciate anyone being harsh with His children.
Some people have communicated the gift of prophecy while miscommunicating His heart. God does not want to destroy people through the gift of prophecy – He desires to build them. As Paul spoke in his first letter to the Corinthians, “love builds up.” As we minister prophetically in love, people will be built up, not destroyed or torn down.
Minister in humility
Those blessed with gift of prophecy must minister in humility. It is incumbent upon us to recover the spirit of prophecy, which is love expressed with humility.
If we use Isaiah’s prophecy and description of Christ as our model for ministry, we will not only administer prophecy correctly, but we will bring healing to those who have been wounded through improper prophetic ministry performed in the past.
“Behold, My servant whom I uphold; My chosen one in whom My soul delights. I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the nations. He will not cry out or raise His voice, nor make His voice hear in the street. A bruised reed He will not break, and a dimly burning wick He will not extinguish; He will faithfully bring forth justice” (Isaiah 42:1-3).
To not break a bruised reed means we are not to be rough with those whose lives have been devastated in the past. To not extinguish the dimly burning wick means we will not put out the weakly burning embers, which are the only remainder of what was once their spiritual life. To be like Jesus, we must prophesy life to those are at even the lowest point, not simply tell them how far they have fallen.
Remember, we must never intimidate anyone in a ministry situation.
The prophetic ministry must become a way of life to which we are called. As we walk in the prophetic ministry, God will use us in an increasing measure of prophetic grace.
In conclusion, I have provided a list of selected words and/or terms related to the prophetic office that may assist you in better understanding the prophetic office and the gift of prophecy.
- Forth tell – to bring forth; to communicate the will of God
- Foretell – to predict the future
- Clairvoyance – the power of seeing in the mind, either future events, or things that are happening or existing out of sight (2 Kings 6:6).
- Telepathy – the communication from one mind to another, without the use of speech, speech writing, or gestures. Prophets possess extraordinary detailed telepathic and clairvoyance abilities.
- Prophetic Transmission – special or direct communications from God; the inspiration of the prophets by the Holy Spirit, was, and is to render them infallible as vehicles of the Divine message.
- Non-Predictive Prophecy – the declaring of truth on any given subject received by direct inspiration from God.
- Predictive – the declaring of the future as is impossible in the unaided wisdom of man, and which can only come from direct inspiration of God.
- Man of God – the term “Man of God” was intended to express the difference of character between the prophet and other men of Israel, such as when the Shunammite woman said, “I perceive that this is a holy man of God” (2 Kings 4:9)
- My Servant – a term used, in addition to the “Man of God,” and applied to a prophet, was God’s use of “My servant.” God often addressed His prophets as “My servant” (Joshua 1:1, 2).
- Word of Knowledge – a supernatural revelation of facts about a person or situation, which is not learned through the natural mind, but is a fragment of knowledge freely given by God, disclosing truth, which the Holy Spirit desires to be known about that person or situation.
- Word of Wisdom – an utterance by God, through an individual; seeing what God sees in a particular situation, and applying God’s judgment and discernment to that situation to resolve it.
- Gift of Prophecy – a supernatural ability that God gives to members of the body of Christ to communicate an immediate message from Him to His people, in groups, or to any of them individually, through a divinely anointed utterance, for purposes of comfort, strengthening and encouragement.