The Gifts Part 53
Although we are no longer under law, and have entered the age of grace, God is still a God of order, and in His goodness has outlined how spiritual gifts ought to be used within a fellowship. Order neither quenches the Spirit, nor does it despise spiritual gifts, order simply keeps the children of God from sliding into confusion. Order is good, order is God ordained, and anyone who says they do not enforce order in their meetings because they don’t want to quench the Spirit is just excusing the absence of a backbone and a crippling fear of confrontation.
1 Corinthians 14:29-33, “Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others judge. But if anything is revealed to another who sits by, let him first keep silent. For you can all prophesy one by one, that all may learn and all may be encouraged. And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets. For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints.”
By Paul’s account those best equipped to judge prophecy, and those that have the authority to do so, are other prophets. Paul makes it clear, and we can’t twist the passage to mean something that it does not. Yes, those best equipped to judge prophecy, are other prophets. It makes logical sense in a very basic way, because who better to judge a certain thing than another who specializes or is educated concerning the selfsame thing? My little brother Daniel is a dentist, and so every time I get work done, whenever I run into him, I ask him to take a look and see if the man who did the work did a decent job. Because he is well educated on the topic, my brother can take a look and tell me if the work was done right, or if I’ll be needing a root canal sometime in the future.
As we’ve already discussed, there is a difference between one who possesses the gift of prophecy, and one who holds the office of a prophet, and those to which Paul is referring, are those holding the office of prophet, those endowed with a combination of spiritual gifts as opposed to a single one.
Paul is by no means the only one to encourage the household of faith to judge and test the spirits, he is not the only one to exhort us to evaluate that which we hear and receive to make certain that it is of God, and throughout all the exhortations to be cautious and test all things we see that the preeminent reason is because false prophets and false teachers have also gone out, men whose purpose is to deceive the congregation of God.
1 John 4:1, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.”
Just to make everything crystal clear, those whom both John and Christ called false prophets, those of whom we were warned would not only prophesy, but they would also show great signs and wonders.
Matthew 24:24, “For false christs and false prophets will arise and show great signs and wonders, so as to deceive, if possible, even the elect.”
Notice that by Christ’s own definition, prophets, even false prophets, don’t just prophesy, they show great signs and wonders as well, attempting to deceive if possible even the elect. I wanted to reiterate this truth just because there is so much confusion concerning prophets and prophecy, and such great misunderstanding concerning the office of a prophet within the church today.
If another prophet is not present to judge a certain prophecy, those who have been called as leaders of a body, those who occupy the office of elder, deacon, or pastor can likewise judge a word, as mandated by the Scriptures. There is also a third group of individuals who can biblically judge prophecy if another prophet, an elder or a pastor are not present, and that group is made of up believers who know the word of God.
All three, prophets, elders and individual believers must judge prophecy via the prism of God’s holy word, and not their preconceived notions, or denominational guidelines. When we judge a prophetic word by anything other than the word of God, we will have to answer to God for unjustly judging that word.
It goes without saying that in order to judge or evaluate a prophecy via the prism of the word of God, one must first and foremost know the word of God. We cannot have a tangential relationship with scripture; we cannot have a rudimentary knowledge of the Bible, yet still consider ourselves authorities on evaluating prophecy. Sadly there are far too many believers that overestimate their knowledge of God’s word, believers who are neither seasoned nor mature who take it upon themselves to judge one and all. Such individuals by and large are spurned on not by something as noble as a calling on their lives or a mandate from God but rather by their own pride and the overriding need to feel superior or have authority over their fellow brothers in Christ.
When we assume or presume to walk in a calling to which we have not been called, when we take it upon ourselves to perform a certain task within the household of faith without ever being appointed to it by God, we are treading dangerous ground, and sooner or later we will find ourselves slipping and falling along the way.
One of the greatest virtues we can possess as believers in Christ is being content and doing our utmost in the calling in which we have been called. When we come to the realization that no member in the Body of Christ is superior to another and that in doing our part individually the entire body works as it ought to, we will reach that point of contentment wherein even if those around us look upon our calling as insignificant, we will know that we are in the place God desires us to be, doing what God commanded us to do.
With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.