The Gifts Part 46
Contrary to popular sentiment the primary purpose of the gift of prophecy is not the foretelling of future events, but rather something more personal and intimate for the individual believer. It is because the gift of prophecy comforts, edifies, and exhorts the congregation of God that we see its manifestation so much more often than we do the manifestation of the other gifts of inspiration within the church, as it is a gift that edifies the hearer and not the possessor.
1 Corinthians 14:3-4, “But he who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men. He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church.”
The gift of speaking in other tongues edifies the individual. When we speak in tongues, we do not speak to men but rather to God, and in the Spirit we speak mysteries. Prophecy on the other hand, edifies the church, the Body of Christ. It is a gift that God employs to bring both comfort and edification, but also exhortation to a congregation of believers.
In order to better understand what the gift of prophecy is, it would be wise for us to begin a discussion on what the gift of prophecy is not. As previously stated, too often we confuse the gift of prophecy with the office of a prophet, and herein we discover the reason that we so often blur and complicate the lines between these two distinct works of God.
One of the primary differences between an office and a gift, is that one who is given a gift of the Holy Spirit can operate in it from time to time, or even once in their entire life, while when one is called to an office, whether that office is that of evangelist, prophet, teacher, pastor, or apostle, they operate in their calling in perpetuity. There is a constancy and continuity in the offices that Paul outlines in Ephesians, the gifts thereof operating in the individual at all times, while those who are given certain gifts of the Holy Spirit are used as they are needed within the household of faith.
It is dangerous to confuse the office of a prophet, and the gift of prophecy, because we see within the word of God that the prophets of old, those who were called to the office of a prophet, not only prophesied, but also did miracles, raised the dead, healed the sick, had discernment and rebuked in the name of God that which was not of God. The prophets of old were endowed with both power and authority that was not restricted to just prophesying. They rebuked kings, anointed kings, spoke judgment on kings, prophesied the downfall of kingdoms, called people to repentance, being the trumpeters of God’s truth throughout their lives once they were called to the office of prophet.
Although some prophets in the Old Testament operated in the gifting of the working of miracles, or the gifts of healings, what all these great men shared were two of the nine gifts that are prerequisite to the office of prophet, namely the gift of the word of wisdom, and the gift of the word of knowledge. What all the prophets of old had in common, is that they knew past events in an individual’s life, such as the prophet Nathan coming to David and rebuking him for his past sin, and they also knew of future events as God revealed them, such as the prophet Samuel telling Saul that he and his sons would die the next day.
To those that still cling to the notion that God doesn’t know the future, and that He is just as in the dark about tomorrow as we are, I would urge you to read through the Old Testament and see the countless words that God spoke through His chosen vessels of things yet to come, some seemingly improbable if not outright impossible, then trace that word to its finality and see how it was fulfilled.
God is not in the dark, God is not stumbling about hoping to find the light switch, He is not sitting on His throne in heaven, hand to heart, anxious as to what humanity will do next, rather He knows the end from the beginning, He has seen the life of every man play out before that individual has taken his first breath, and sometimes in His goodness, He forewarns His children that they might not be caught unaware.
From Micaiah, who having had the gift of discerning of spirits was able to know the lying spirit in the mouths of all the prophets he stood against, to Elijah who knew the counsel of the king of Syria spoken in his own chamber, to Daniel who foresaw the fall of Babylon, and many more, we see that the prophets of old operated in all the gifts of the spirit at various times, except for the gift of speaking in tongues and the gift of interpretation of tongues.
The reason it is important to make this delineation between the office of a prophet, and the gift of prophecy, is because we have a tendency to slap labels on certain individuals, misidentifying their gifting, making them out to be more than they truly are, and once they don’t live up to our expectation of what we thought they were supposed to be, we either become bitter, or denounce them as having been less than they claimed.
The flipside of course, is men who claim titles and offices to which they have no right, to which they have not been called, and in which they do not operate. Such individuals insist that you call them by the title of their office rather than by their first name, and by knowing the specificities of the office which they are claiming, we can readily deduce whether or not they have been truly called, or are nothing more than pretenders who feel the need to feel superior to their brothers in Christ by laying claim to a title in which they have never operated.
With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.