~ Agathos Church is a non-denominational Christian Church in Columbus, Ohio. This blog post is an adapted excerpt from a sermon by Peter DeWitt. You can hear the whole sermon, Equipped for Service (Part 5: How to Share the Gospel) by clicking here.
So, who can prophesy? All believers can! John 10:27 says “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.” As a believer, as a follower of Christ, you were made to hear the voice of God!
In Numbers 11:29, in looking forward to the New Covenant, Moses said“Oh, that all the Lord’s people were prophets and that the Lord would put His Spirit upon them!” In fact, in writing to the Corinthian church with instruction about how to administer prophetic words during service, Paul instructed “For you can all prophesy one by one, that all may learn and all may be encouraged.” (1 Cor.14:31) So, who can prophecy within that church? All the believers can!
Acts 2:17-18 (which is a restating of a prophecy from Joel 2) sounds like what Moses cried out for in Numbers 11. It says “And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, that I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your young men shall see visions, your old men shall dream dreams. And on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days; and they shall prophesy.” So kids can prophesy, and in addition to our sons and daughters, our young and old men shall have visions and dreams. We are all servants of the Lord and the menservants and the maidservants – men and women – will all prophesy! Finally, 1 Corinthians 14:1 says “Pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy.” The word for “desire” means to lust after – to earnestly desire! We are supposed to pursue love and yearn for spiritual gifts – but especially that you may prophesy!!! Who is that written to? To the prophets? No, to the believers in the whole Corinthian church!
One helpful clarifying point they make is that OT prophecy is different than NT prophecy. In the NT, we judge words. In the OT we judge prophets, in the NT we judge words. There’s a lot of safety in the body of Christ because we co-discern what the Lord is saying! 1 Cor. 14:32 says that the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets. In the new covenant, we try to share what God is saying as accurately as possible, but we don’t need to be perfect! In fact, 1 Cor. 13:9 makes it clear that until we are in Heaven we will prophesy in part “For we know in part and we prophesy in part.” (NOTE: when prophesying with unbelievers – who don’t have at the Spirit – we should be particularly humble knowing that we have to discern more accurately for them).
It is clear in Ephesians 4 that there is a prophetic, governmental office in the body of Christ. The gift of prophecy (for all believers) is separate of the office of the prophet. All believers can prophecy but not all believers are prophets. To be a prophet is a calling. The big practical difference, is that a prophet can correct and direct because they are actually in the government of God.
1 Corinthians 14:3 says “He who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men.” According to this scripture, we see that NT prophecy speaks three things: Edification, exhortation, and comfort to men. Edify means to build up. The word of the Lord exhorts. Exhort means to call near. Comfort means to “cheer up!”
In hearing God, there is the word that you get from the Lord. Then there may be an interpretation of the word – and sometimes even an application that you will get for the person. So, what do you do? You get the word and give that to the person. IF the Lord gives you an interpretation, add that to it, but don’t add your own interpretation! IF the Lord gives you an application, add that to it, but don’t add your own application. Joseph serves as a perfect example of this. Pharaoh has a dream, calls Joseph in and Joseph says “that means there is going to be a famine.” Then Joseph received a word of wisdom about HOW to prepare for the famine! There was the word – which was the dream. There was the interpretation – which was also from the Lord and from Joseph. Finally there was a word of wisdom (of application) – which also came from the Lord through Joseph.
It is also important to truly consider the covenant we are prophesying within! We have a ministry of reconciliation – not counting their trespasses against them (2 Cor. 5:19-20) We do not have a ministry of imputing their trespasses against them! You don’t use the prophetic to point out people’s dirt; you use the prophetic to call out people’s gold.
Romans 4:17 says our Father “gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did.” Remember He called Gideon a mighty man of valor. It doesn’t take being prophetic to know that someone’s got problems. It takes the Lord to know the divine solution! Multiple years ago Peter went to a gas station and took a $20 bill in to pre-pay for his gas. After Peter walked out of the attendant station and start pumping the gas he had this thought “that guy has a gift of relational reconciliation.” So Peter poked his head back in the gas station and told the attendant what he had heard – that the man had a gift of relational reconciliation. The attendant then responds “this is so weird because I just got separated from my wife.” Do you realize that Peter just walked back in by the lead of the Lord and told a man who just got separated from his wife that he has a gift of relational reconciliation. That’s the heard to the Father! He calls things that aren’t as though they are!
Don’t use your King James English when you share God’s heart with people (when you prophesy). Let your speech be normal! Be humble! One time, Peter heard from the Lord something about “2 years and a girl!”Sure enough, fast forward 5 months and on Peter’s 2nd birthday, at 1am, unsolicited, out comes Andrew! The 2 year part was totally of the Lord! Peter just missed it on the sex of the baby! That taught Peter a lot about humility in the prophetic. Don’t say “just saith the Lord” unless you know “thus said the Lord!” Even so, Psalms 18:30 says “the word of the Lord proves true.” So, you don’t need to say “thus saith the Lord” because the word of the Lord will prove true. So, as you are starting out in the prophetic, as a general rule, don’t say “thus saith the Lord.” Be humble, otherwise you may need to eat crow like Peter!
So, how do you get started in the prophetic? Kris Vallotton tells a story about fishing that shows that when we learn to recognize the nibbles from the Holy Spirit and learn how to set the hook, the words that we used to miss will become words that we give to others.
Obviously you want to be in the Word because all prophecy should line up with scripture. You also want to be in prayer. Prayer is what connects you with His heart. You can give all the right word in all the wrong way and it won’t be representing the Lord well. You have to represent Him in truth and in the spirit of how He operates and speaks.
Also remember that Jesus (the only perfect prophet) said this: “For I did not speak on My own initiative, but the Father Himself who sent Me has given Me a commandment as to what to say and what to speak.” (John 12:49, NASB) If we delight ourselves in the Lord, His heart starts to become our heart and His words become our words! The last piece is to start! When you start trying to set the hook, you will begin to know what it feels like and sounds like to hear the Lord! People are going to be so blessed by you sharing His words with them.