Releasing the Prophetic

A few days ago I sat in a hotel ballroom with 178 pastors of some of the largest churches in America–we had gathered to pray and petition the Lord to send revival and a new awakening in our churches and our nation.  On several occasions preachers stated that if revival is to come we must release the prophetic.  As I listened I was not sure if the speaker or the audience understood what was being said and the ramifications if the prophetic were released.

I grew up in a very lost environment.  I went to church often to find sanctuary and escape away from my abusive stepfather.  The little Baptist church I attended left a window open allowing me to come in and I often slept in the sanctuary.  I filled my time preaching to the empty room and the pews.  One day when I was thirteen my pastor approached me and said they had heard me preach and wanted me to enter a preaching contest for boys my age in an organization we had in that church.  I first refused but then I learned that there was also a monetary reward and I agreed to preach.

I won that contest and for the first time at that age I preached to a large gathering of the denomination I belonged too. At that time I knew nothing about preaching. Knowledge about topical or expository preaching would not come to me until years later in college.  But, I do remember one thing a pastor told me after I preached that day–“that was a great prophetic message.”  I did not have a clue what that man said to me that day.  But, as I have grown and now over fifty years of preaching and ministry have elapsed in my life I have tried my best to understand the prophetic and that gift of the Holy Spirit that the Apostle Paul teaches us is “the greatest gift given by the Holy Spirit.”   It is the ministry gift given to me by the Holy Spirit.  I have been like the bovine in the pasture with the God given need to ruminate–time after time bringing up what they have eaten to chew and chew on it until they receive all they can from the food.  I have tried to discern under the leadership and tutelage of the Holy Spirit this gift given to me by Him.  I want to use it wisely and with power.

As these years have passed by my attention is often directed to 1 Corinthians as the Apostle Paul in this letter begins to teach the Church about spiritual gifts.  In Chapter 12 verse 1 the Apostle tells us that: “Now about spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you ignorant.”  This immediately tells us that if we are not careful we can be ignorant–unlearned about this vital subject.  Then Paul immediately tells us there are many “kinds of gifts” the same Holy Spirit, the same Lord and the same God.  Then Paul teaches us that all these different gifts are to function as a unit called the Body of Christ.    Then in between Chapter 12 and 14 that are the primary teachings about gifts Paul reminds none of these teachings will work if we do not love one another.
Then He talks about the two gifts that will allow the Body to communicate and teach one another where they can be better in the service to the Lord.  The gift of tongues Paul reveals a gift that allows us to communicate with ourselves.  But the gift of prophecy is a gift that allows us to communicate with other men the revealed truth they must learn and change as they grow in relationship with God.  The whole thing is summarized in Chapter 14 verses 4 and 26 when he concludes:
“……………he who prophesies edifies the church.”
“……………All of these must be done for the strengthening of the church.”

So, if there is going to be a releasing of the prophetic I have learned that if it is from God I must:
1.  I must educate myself about the gift and not be ignorant.
2.  Recognize there are other gifts.
3.  My gift must function within the Body of Christ.
4.  All the gifts must be used and motivated out of love .
5.  My role is to edify and strengthen the Body of Christ–the church.
Over these years with these lessons guiding me I have tried to gain perspective about how my prophetic gift will be used in these last days before He returns.  Ironically when you study the New Testament there are not any real role models of what a prophet does and how he functions in the Body of Christ.  We turn to the Old Testament it is full of “prophets” doing “their thing” inside the confines of Judaism.  They were men chosen by God to foretell what was going to happen, give direction and bring judgment.  Their assignments did not endear them to the people.  The people for the most part did not like the prophet.  On one occasions they needed a prophetic word and they said let’s send for the prophet.  The response do not send for that prophet because all he prophesies is bad.  They were men that came from places where no one was looking for them  They had no fame or fortune.  They were rugged and often misunderstood men.  But, they brought the Word of the Lord to Israel.  They brought forth the announcements of what was to come and they made the most important announcement–a Messiah was coming to redeem the World.   Their homes were outside the city gates.  Symbolically it showed the people’s dislike and distain.  When they were called they had to be summoned.

But, what about today what is the role of the prophet.  There is no more forth telling.  God’s revelation is complete.  The Word of God is complete. But, in the New Testament processes are introduced to the believers.  Justification, sanctification and being perfected.  These are processes started at a believers salvation moment.  But, these processes will not be completed until the saint dies or Jesus returns.  So, all believers are because of the finished work of Calvary sanctified, justified and perfected and then “sealed unto the day of redemption.  But, while this is absolutely true the processes go on–the saints are being perfected, being justified and being perfected.

So, in order for these to work there has to be revelation of what in the life of saints are not yet justified, sanctified and perfected.  This is the primary role of the prophet.  I believe this is why it is the greatest gift given by the Holy Spirit.  But, the backlash those words intrude, they are offensive, they cause division and cause people to stumble in their walk.  They have what we perceive not helpful consequences; but, ones we do not like.

So, in a church today where the pastors in control of the churches they have become more and more isolated and insulated in order to survive the prophets are relegated outside the “city gates” and seldom let in because the consequences like the Old Testament will reveal the sins in the pulpit as well as the pews demanding change and repentance.
But, if like my fellow pastors proclaimed in the meeting a few days ago the prophetic is released there will be change and consequences that will bring change in every facet of our churches.  I believe the prophets are ready.  But, are we ready for what happens when they are summoned?