PROPHETS AND PERSONAL PROPHECIES

PROPHETS AND PERSONAL PROPHECIES
| PentecostalTheology.com

Does the Assemblies of God believe that the church today should have prophets who function like the Old Testament prophets? What is the Assemblies of God position on ministers/prophets who give personal prophecies concerning future events and directions for a person’s life? Does the church believe there is to be a position of prophet within the local church?

The Assemblies of God believes wholeheartedly in the contemporary prophetic ministry. We have some reservations, however, about current emphases that seem to go beyond the biblical description and guidelines for prophets and prophecies.

The Bible characterizes the prophet as a spokesperson for God. One meaning of the Hebrew word nabi, translated prophet, is “one called to speak.” Peter tells us that such speaking was prompted, empowered, and guided by the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:20,21).

A survey of the Old Testament shows that prophets were “servants” of God, calling His people to covenant faithfulness through obedience to the Law and to repentance in the event of sinning (cf., Isaiah 58:6-9; Ezekiel 18; Micah 6:6-8; Hosea 6:6; Amos 2:4; 5:21-24). The messages of Old Testament prophets were more often “forth-telling” rather than “foretelling.” Of course, Old Testament prophets sometimes saw and predicted the future (e.g., 1 Samuel 3:11-14), but the predictive prophecy was focused on God’s will and plan for His covenant people. Consequently, pre-Pentecost prophets were primarily select spokespersons calling God’s people to obedience by appealing to Israel’s past and future (i.e., God’s past blessing and His future judgment of disobedience).

After the Day of Pentecost, the prophet function could be fulfilled by any Spirit-filled believer God might choose. From one worship service to the next, a variety of believers could be channels for the gift of prophecy. The purpose of the New Testament gift of prophecy, like all of the gifts of the Spirit, was to edify and build up the body of Christ through encouragement, consolation, and correction. Peter tells us, “Each one should use whatever gift he has received [including spiritual gifts] to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms” (1 Peter 4:10).

The experience of the Corinthian church gives evidence that abuse and misuse can creep into the operation of the gifts of the Spirit if the vessel is not wholly submissive to the guidance and control of the Holy Spirit. That is why Paul said the message of the prophet spoken in the New Testament church should be judged by all who were hearing the message. The judging most likely was to ask how the prophecy conformed to the whole of Scripture. This was a change from the function of the Old Testament prophet. There is no indication that the message of the Old Testament prophet was to be judged. However, if the prophecy did not come to pass, or urged the people to follow other gods, the prophet was declared a false prophet and killed.

The Assemblies of God believes the four gifts (apostles, prophets, evangelists, and pastors/teachers) were given to the Church, and that none of the gifts has been eliminated. Yet, we do not believe it is necessary to use the titles of apostles and prophets in order for those functions to be active in the world and the church today. Of course, just naming a person an evangelist, pastor, or teacher also does not say that God has made such a call and appointment of a particular person. A person’s ministry confirms which of the leadership gifts one may or may not possess in serving the church.

Prophets in the New Testament are never described as holding a recognized office or position as in the case of pastors and evangelists. They spoke prophetically to the Body for edification and admonition. When they prophesied under the inspiration of the Spirit, their ministry was noted, but they were not ordained to hold a position, title, or office. They could indeed have been called prophets without designating them as filling an office. A self-proclaimed prophet who dropped into a local church setting would certainly have been suspect until he was better known. And to guard against such abuses, Paul taught that all prophetic utterances should be tested by the body (1 Cor. 14:29).

There is sometimes an unbiblical tendency to give final-word authority to the predictions and personal prophecies about what a person should do, whom he or she should marry, etc. A pastor, evangelist, or teacher may at times fulfill the ministry of the prophet, but never as the untested, unquestioned authoritative voice of God. Attempts to correct such abuses are often met with the accusation of quenching the Spirit or despising prophetic utterances (1 Thess. 5:19-20). But Paul, who warned against such restrictions on the moving of the Spirit, admonished in the next verse to test or examine everything and hold fast to what is good (vs. 21). Writing to the Corinthians Paul required that after a prophetic message “others should weigh carefully what is said” (1 Cor. 14:29). Paul’s advice will not quench the Spirit, but it should quench a spirit that might inadvertently hinder what the Holy Spirit desires to do.

Since the New Testament does not provide for establishing the prophet in a hierarchical governing structure of the church, the Assemblies of God disapproves of formally naming or declaring individuals as prophets in the church. Prophecy is a continuing gift of the Holy Spirit that is broadly distributed as the Spirit wills throughout Pentecostal churches. Paul spoke highly of the person who faithfully speaks the mind of the Spirit, “Follow the way of love and eagerly desire spiritual gifts, especially the gift of prophecy” (1 Cor. 14:1). We need the true prophetic word of the Spirit in our churches, but not human words purporting to be the voice of the Spirit.

The above statement is based upon our common understanding of scriptural teaching.

9 Comments

  • Reply November 14, 2019

    Steven Wise

    As a prophet I agree with most of this article. Prophets are separate from a other ministry. Just because a believer has the gift of PROPHECY does not make them a prophet

  • Reply November 14, 2019

    Jim Price

    I understand that there are two main uses of prophecy: that is FORTH telling or speaking strongly and with force and secondly FORE telling or getting insight into what is about to happen. To develop these gifts can be and should be very useful to the body of Christ. In the secular world there are forecasters and futurist and businessmen pay dearly for their information.

  • Reply November 14, 2019

    Varnel Watson

    People who operate in TRUE prophecy are indispensable

    • Reply November 15, 2019

      Jim Price

      When I was 17 and in a revival where the woman evangelist knelt in the altar with me and said God has called you to a special work. Then at the end of the meeting she told to whole gathering what she told me in private. Could this be what you are talking about?

    • Reply November 16, 2019

      Varnel Watson

      Jim Price how could I know something about your life story 🙂 I am no personal prophet as the article implies BUT since you have experienced such Word – could this be what the article is talking about Then AG has really lost it

  • Reply November 16, 2019

    Jim Price

    There are so many things in today’s world that blocks the gift of prophecy. One would be the “smart phone ” this constant referring to what’s on the ph. is a powerful distraction. The parade of voices is similar to what happened after the tower of Babel. One needs to be on the frequency from heaven and without interference from other voices. This is very hard to do, sometimes whole denominations lose their ability hear a clear communication from heaven. Often when one feels a deep sense that a river is about to rise or a mountain is about to give way and cover the village below he or she have a push back from others and so the individual may flee and maybe take one or two with them. Right now I am trying to get a word about what is about to happen and how I should respond to it. I probably will not mention this to anyone else as they would likely be negative in some way.

    • Reply November 16, 2019

      Varnel Watson

      in this case the smart phone matters little in AG prophets are blocked by Resolution 16

    • Reply November 16, 2019

      Jim Price

      Troy Day ?

    • Reply November 16, 2019

      Varnel Watson

      Res 16 is a 2000 AG document that shut down most prophetic among our churches Its mentioned above

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