Monday, December 26, 2011

The Holy Spirit: Power Presence and Purpose Part 140

The Gifts Part 45

Prophecy continued...

Of the three gifts of inspiration namely prophecy, speaking in other tongues, and the interpretation of tongues, the gift of prophecy is the most often mentioned and spoken of gift within the New Testament. There is no shortage of scripture in the New Testament when it comes to the gift of prophecy, but one of the most telling passages as to how pervasive prophecy was in the primary church, and how often this gift operated has been overlooked by many a theologian and scholar.

1 Corinthians 11:4-5, “Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonors his head. But every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head, for that is one and the same as if her head were shaved.”

If we study this chapter in Corinthians, we come to realize that the preceding verses were penned within the context of public prayer, or general worship, and as such we can conclude that prophecy is in fact a major aspect of general worship. When we come together to fellowship, when we come together as brothers and sisters in Christ to bring glory and praise to God, both prayer and prophecy ought to be common things within the household of faith.

Paul never quantified prophecy when he spoke of it, he did not say, ‘every man praying, or on those rare occasions prophesying’, he included both prayer and prophecy as common aspects of our Christian walk, something that ought to be present within the congregation of God not rarely or once in a great while, but often and with consistency.

The gifts of the Holy Spirit were common within the house of God during the days of the primary church, they were not something out of the ordinary or something so rare that men made pilgrimage to see and pray with one who possessed the gift of prophecy. It’s not that God loved the primary church more than He loves this present generation, it’s that the primary church had a higher standard when it came to defining what it meant to be a believer, a Christian, and a follower of Christ.

God’s hand has not grown short over the centuries, He has not become stingy with the passage of time, it is our corrupt hearts, our unwillingness to pursue Him with abandon, our hesitation when it comes to setting aside the things of this earth for the things of the kingdom of God that keeps Him from pouring out the gifts in like measure as He did during the time of the primary church. It has never been, and it will never be a God issue, for God is unchanging in His love, in His mercy, in His righteousness, in His grace, and in His ability to do exceedingly beyond what we can imagine. It has always been a man issue, because as we have discussed on many occasions, God cannot pour that which is sanctified into an unsanctified vessel, He cannot pour that which is holy into something that as yet has not been made holy.

Because we are unwilling to take responsibility however, because we are unwilling to face up to our own duplicity, our lack of commitment, our indifference, and our utter terror of stepping out of our own comfort zones, God withholds the gifts of the Holy Spirit, He withholds the power, because He is holy and just, and not one to be wasteful when it comes to such things.

Another aspect of this scripture passage that is worth noting is that Paul mentions both men and women praying and prophesying. There are some who would have the congregation of God believe that when it comes to spiritual gifts it is one big boy’s club, wherein women are denied entry and subsequently turned away. Nothing could be further from the truth. Our God is not a respecter of persons, our God does not discriminate based on gender, He sees the heart, He weighs the heart, He judges the heart, and chooses what gift and to whom He would impart it based solely on His righteous judgment.

Although some would readily lump the office of a prophet and the gift of prophecy together neither attempting to distinguish or differentiate between the two, there are marked differences between the office of prophet, and the gift of prophecy.

While the office of a prophet was a restrictive group to which very few were called within the entirety of the Old Testament, the gift of prophecy is more wide ranging, and available to a greater degree. There is an immense chasm that separates the office of prophet and the gift of prophecy, one that we can neither dismiss nor ignore. If the office of a prophet was reserved for a few great men such as Jeremiah, Daniel, Isaiah, Elijah, and Elisha just to name a few, the gift of prophecy is potentially available to all believers.

It is with prophetic insight that the prophet Joel foresees the days in which the power of the Holy Spirit and gifts such as the gift of prophecy would grow in frequency and availability. It is these days, the days before the terrible day of the Lord that Joel prophecies about, and foresees a great outpouring of the Spirit of God upon His children.

Joel 2:28-39, “And it shall come to pass afterward that I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young man shall see visions; and also on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days.”

No, Joel does not say that sons and daughters will be prophets, he says that sons and daughters will prophesy, and old men shall dream dreams, and young men shall see visions. I point this out only because I’ve heard it said from pulpits that we shall all be prophets as Joel foretold, and it is not what he foretold. What Joel foretold was the advent of the Holy Spirit, the outpouring of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and an intensification of these gifts during the last and final days before the return of Christ.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

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