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What's Included: Prophecy

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Good morning. Welcome everyone to Church Online. We’re going to jump right into it this morning because I feel like we have a lot of ground to cover!
This morning we are discussing the spiritual gift of prophecy. Now, if you’re just joining us - visiting us for the first time - first, welcome! We’re glad you’re with us online! And would you say “hi” to us as well by filling out a digital connect card on our website? It’s a small way we can get to know you, since we can’t meet in person. We’ll also send you a small gift for taking the time to fill one out!
But again, if you’re new, we’re focusing on Growing in Christ in 2020. And we’re in a series titled, “What’s Included?” looking at the Gifts of the Holy Spirit. And this morning’s gift is a fun, but potentially confusing one.
Most confusion over the gift of prophecy is connected to Old Testament stories found in the Bible. In the OT, there were “prophets.”
They were awesome.
They did miraculous things by the power of God.
And they spoke with divine authority.
What they said was as if God Himself was speaking
That’s why they typically led with the phrase, “Thus says the Lord.”
Many of their messages were permanently recorded in Scripture; again, because it was the Word of God.
And so today, it’s easy to hear “gift of prophecy,” and think, “Oh, the gift of prophecy must be like the prophets in the OT - like Moses, Samuel, Nathan, Elijah...”
Eh… not really. While there is overlap, we’d say those OT prophets held the “office” of a prophet. And that’s different from the church’s “gift of prophecy.”
Let me stop to remind us that I am aware that some of you may not share my perspective on spiritual gifts. That’s okay with me. As long as you can biblically support your view!
And based on my study of the Scriptures, I believe the office of Prophet no longer exists. That it was possibly replaced by the office of Apostle - which also has ceased. However, the spiritual gift of prophecy still exists.
This is how I would define the gift: The spontaneous sharing of revelation, which holds the sense that it’s from God.
What I mean by that is when you have the gift, God reveals something to your mind, unexpectedly, and you sense it’s from the Lord… usually because it’s outside your normal thought patterns. Then, you share that revelation with others… either thru speaking, praying, or other modes of communication.
That might still be confusing… so let me give us 5 ways we can process the gift of prophecy...


1. Prophecy is proclamation.

When someone has the gift of prophecy they proclaim or share the revelation they have received from the Holy Spirit. This sharing can happen in different ways of communication:
It can happen in the act of preaching. God can bring spontaneous revelation to mind that involves Scripture and I preach those words, even if it’s not in my notes.
It can happen by the sharing of a prophetic dream or vision. I’ll share an example of that in a bit...
It can happen when two friends are chatting and one gets the strong spontaneous urge to share something they sense is from the Lord...
Any time we communicate the spontaneous revelation God gives us, the gift of prophecy is likely activated. And for clarity’s sake, let me also add this…
Prophecy can include God’s word but isn’t restricted to the proclamation of God’s word.
That’s because the gift of prophecy is different than the OT office of Prophet. Those who have the gift are not speaking with divine authority like the historic office of prophet.
Of course God’s word has divine authority, just not the person using the spiritual gift of prophecy.
This may seem like a small difference, but it’s an important one!
Those with the spiritual gift can proclaim, but not with, “Thus says the Lord” like those who used to hold the office of prophet.

2. Prophecy brings purity.

One of the outcomes of prophecy is purity.
1 Corinthians 14:24 ESV
But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or outsider enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all,
God is holy. And His holiness demands justice, which means He takes our sin seriously. He’s not up there saying, “Oh that doesn’t matter.” No, it matters when we sin!”
But He’s also not up there waiting to zap us every time we mess up. His holiness includes justice, but it also includes His great love. That’s why He sent His Son Jesus to die on a cross for our sins! Jesus was how He dealt with our sin, satisfied His holy justice, and showed His everlasting love. God’s love casts out sin.
I mention this because we previously discussed how the purpose of spiritual gifts is love. Therefore, the purpose of prophecy is love. And one way prophecy results in love is by purifying our lives.
Now, I’m gonna share a story from the OT that involves a Prophet - a guy who held the office of prophet. A man named Nathan. And I know I said there’s a difference between the office and gift, but I think this story shows how prophecy purifies.
In 2 Samuel, King David sins greatly. He steals another man’s wife and covers up his sin by killing her husband (who was a loyal soldier to the king). And strangely, the great King David - the man after God’s own heart - has no problem with his sin. But God does! So, He sends Nathan to prophesy to David. And in the process, David is convicted of his sin. He says...
2 Samuel 12:13 ESV
David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.” And Nathan said to David, “The Lord also has put away your sin; you shall not die.
The gift of prophecy can work the same way. The Lord reveals something to one with the gift, who then shares it, and which then convicts someone of sin (even secret sin), for the purpose of purity. So the sinner will repent and turn to the Lord for forgiveness.
Prophecy brings purity.

3. Prophecy encourages praise

Check out this verse...
1 Chronicles 25:1 ESV
David and the chiefs of the service also set apart for the service the sons of Asaph, and of Heman, and of Jeduthun, who prophesied with lyres, with harps, and with cymbals. The list of those who did the work and of their duties was:
Isn’t it interesting that the Bible describes worship leading as a type of prophecy. But if you think about it, it makes sense.
Whether it is a song-writer who is stirred to write a song that glorifies the Lord, or a worship leader led to pick certain songs, there is an element of prophecy being engaged. Anyone ever feel like Jon “happened” to pick just the song you needed to hear?
…Might be the gift of prophecy at work!
There’s a cool prophetic story a worship leader named Matt Redman shares...
He talks about being invited to lead worship in Norway. And the trip was not going well. Everything failed. No ministry was working. Nothing reached the people.
But as he was spiritually pouting, he writes...
Suddenly, a song entered my mind. But it wasn’t the sort of thing I was wanting to hear I was wanting to hear at the moment. Instead of hearing a fresh, spontaneous line that would miraculously draw everyone together in worship, all I could think of was Michael Jackson’s song, ‘You are not alone,” which was currently in the charts.
I thought I sensed a little whisper telling me to sing this song in the next worship time. I am not doing that!
He goes on to say how embarrassed he was at the thought. Michael Jackson during worship! That’s like saying “Yeet!” in the sermon! But he couldn’t shake it. He sensed it was from the Lord. So, during the next set, he step out in faith and sang the chorus, “You are not alone. I am here with You!”… and then finished, just waiting for lightning to strike him.
But.... afterwards, a group of non-Christian kids - Michael Jackson fans - came up and hung out with him. Something finally reached them! And he thought, “Thank you Lord.”
But the story doesn’t end there. After the kids left, a lady came up and started sharing her story with him. She said that life was terrible. She felt so alone. Like God had abandoned her. She traveled 6 hours to this conference as a last resort. The whole time crying out to God, “Why have you left me? I need to know I’m not alone!”
And the moment Matt sang, “You are not alone, I am here with you,” she instantly recognized God was speaking to her!
Matt did not know her story.
Matt was not speaking words with divine authority.
But he received spontaneous revelation that he sensed was from God and he shared it. And it led to praise!
When the gift of prophecy is being used, it encourages others to praise God.
1 Corinthians 14:24–25 ESV
But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or outsider enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all, the secrets of his heart are disclosed, and so, falling on his face, he will worship God and declare that God is really among you.
And next time Jon repeats the chorus… adds a verse… goes off-script, just think… maybe God is speaking to a broken heart that needs it!

4. Prophecy guides us into God’s plans

On one of the apostle Paul’s journeys to start churches, there was a point where he had no idea where to go next. It even says the Holy Spirit was blocking everything he tried! I mean, what can you do when GOD is blocking you?
When I coach 3rd & 4th grade basketball, one of the fun things to do is block their shot. For the most part, they have no ability to shoot over me. No matter what they try, I take the ball and swat it into the stands. I grab it mid-air and chuck it the other direction.
I think that’s what it’s like when God’s blocking you. There’s nothing you can do. But then check out what happens to Paul next...
Acts 16:9–10 ESV
And a vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedonia was standing there, urging him and saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” And when Paul had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go on into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.
Paul gets spontaneous revelation through a dream/vision (sometimes it happens that way!) an d he shares it with the rest. He’s like, “Guys, I sense God wants us to go that way!” So, they do! Prophecy can guide us into God’s plans.
Maybe this sounds weird to you. Too spiritual. Too charismatic. Too supernatural. But that’s how God works. He does supernatural things!
And prophecy has a supernatural aspect to it. Therefore, we shouldn’t suppress or ignore it just because it makes us uncomfortable or seems a little weird!
I’m personally a middle-of-the-road guy when it comes to the gifts of the Spirit. I definitely don’t think they have ceased. But I’m also not overly expressive about them. But some people are! And sometimes their use, even when I believe they are for today, weirds me out...
My first trip to Connecticut I went to a worship conference at a very spiritually expressive church. At the end, they had a prayer session and there was a lot going on that I wasn’t used to. Honestly, some of it made me uncomfortable. But in the midst of it, a young man came up to me and began praying for me.
Then, he said, “I sense the Holy Spirit wants you to be so familiar with God’s voice, that you instantly recognize it, whenever He tells you to turn to the right or left. Because He is going to lead you and provide for you in the most unorthodox ways.”
That sounds kinda weird, right? Like, “You don’t know me homie!” But I also sensed this revelation was from God. He was prophesying over me. And I can tell you, TO THIS DAY, this revelation perfectly describes my journey in moving to CT, starting TRC, and leading this church as pastor.
The gift of prophecy played a major role in starting our church! And I wonder how many other AMAZING things God wants to do in our lives and church thru prophecy!
Let’s be listening and ready to receive them!

5. Prophecy activates miraculous prayers

There’s a story in Acts chapter 12 where the apostle Peter is arrested for being a Christian. And he’s sitting in a super maximum prison awaiting death… but look what it says...
Acts 12:5 ESV
So Peter was kept in prison, but earnest prayer for him was made to God by the church.
Let me frame this a little:
Peter was heavily guarded in prison and awaiting death.
They had just killed the apostle James, so this was serious.
The church had no political or military power to stop it.
Pretty much, Peter is a dead man. It’s an impossible situation.
But then there’s a stirring… maybe a revelation that God can do the impossible… a sense they should make a ridiculous prayer request. I believe that’s what we see here - prophetic prayer. When God spontaneously reveals a need which is shared thru prayer requests. And remember...
There was no, “Thus says the Lord we should pray.”
There was no guaranteed formula, “If we pray, then God will release Peter.”
There was only a sense that the church needed to pray for the impossible.
And when they did, it led to a miracle!
Look what happens...
Acts 12:6–11 NLT
The night before Peter was to be placed on trial, he was asleep, fastened with two chains between two soldiers. Others stood guard at the prison gate. Suddenly, there was a bright light in the cell, and an angel of the Lord stood before Peter. The angel struck him on the side to awaken him and said, “Quick! Get up!” And the chains fell off his wrists. Then the angel told him, “Get dressed and put on your sandals.” And he did. “Now put on your coat and follow me,” the angel ordered. So Peter left the cell, following the angel. But all the time he thought it was a vision. He didn’t realize it was actually happening. They passed the first and second guard posts and came to the iron gate leading to the city, and this opened for them all by itself. So they passed through and started walking down the street, and then the angel suddenly left him. Peter finally came to his senses. “It’s really true!” he said. “The Lord has sent his angel and saved me from Herod and from what the Jewish leaders had planned to do to me!”
Prophetic prayers led to miracles.
I wonder what impossible things God is stirring in us to pray about?
What revelation is He bringing to mind right now that needs to be shared with others, so we can pray about it?
Maybe the miracles we’re all desiring to see is simply awaiting those gifted with prophecy to share that revelation!


I know we discussed a lot. And I feel like there’s so much more to be said. Prophecy is a huge gift! And it plays a huge role in the church! That’s why Paul says...
1 Corinthians 14:1 ESV
Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy.
Let me end with this summary:
Prophecy is the gift of sharing of spontaneous revelation that we sense is from God.
1) It’s an important gift we want the church using in the freedom of the Spirit, even if it feels uncomfortable.
2) Therefore, the church should build an environment for prophecy to be used which includes:
Not suppressing the gift.
But also making sure it is used biblically and accountable to the Word. Prophecy cannot contradict Scripture!
Let’s also ensure it’s accountable to the church! There shouldn’t be rogue prophets. It’s got to be controlled and orderly. Paul said...
1 Corinthians 14:29 ESV
Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others weigh what is said.
3)Prophecy must be a blessing!
The point of the gift is so others can experience the love of God.
And it should build the church up in the faith!
1 Corinthians 14:31 ESV
For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all be encouraged,
Let’s pray...
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