As we put the proper value on the gifts of the Spirit, and understand their purpose, we might look more closely at the gift of prophecy. The purpose of this particular gift is not to be the last word in directing us, nor do we wait for prophecy to tell us what to do or when to do it. God's Word says the Spirit will lead us. As we have spiritual understanding in what the gift of prophecy is and what responsibility goes with its use, this gift will begin to fulfill its purpose in our gathering. But we do not depend on prophecy to govern or direct our lives.
The genuine gift of prophecy never contradicts the written Word of God, nor does it go further than the Scriptures. Let us first consider Scripture and its purpose, so as not to confuse it with the purpose of prophecy or any other gift. God has given Scripture by inspiration and it is "profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works." (II Timothy 3:16,17) The Scriptures are infallible, but prophecy (the gift) can fail, because of the vessels that are used. This gift operates by faith through a human vessel. For this reason there is always the possibility of a mistake--not that God is ever wrong, but man can be wrong because of different reasons, which we will discuss as we go on to see the proper usage and value of the gift of prophecy.
This gift of prophecy meets a certain need in the body of Christ. Prophecy (the gift) is for our building up, to stir us up and to comfort us (the church). If we make prophecy more than God makes it or use it for a purpose other than what God designed it for, we distort the image of Christ that is being revealed in any particular locality and we move into our own works and knowledge, thus moving out of the will of God. Man's misuse of this gift gives us no excuse or reason not to allow the gift of prophecy to fulfill the function God designed it for. We must allow God to show us, by His Word, its proper use and its responsibility in the church, rather than put our own values on it. Our own values put on anything brings death. This gift must be just what God has designed. Let God place His values on its use. Then it will give life in all areas of His expression through us.
Prophecy is for edification, exhortation, and comfort. Prophecy is not used for judgment. When we see it used for this purpose, we find the expression outside of the love of Christ rather than within His divine order set forth in His Word.
Many give prophecy more value and weight than the word brought for reproof and correction, but this is not according to the Scriptures. When a word is brought forth in God's timing and by His anointing it has value and places responsibility on those who hear it. If we think the gift of prophecy can take the place of or supersede other ministries, or that it has greater value than God's truth brought in some other manner, we have not allowed the life in the Spirit to show us God's values and purposes. We may find ourselves being a judge of God's anointing rather than a partaker of His life. We can never fail to realize that everything the Spirit is doing, in manner or manifestation, is important to the full expression of Himself. Let the Spirit reveal and teach us in this important area of His ministry through and in us.
We must be faithful in moving and declaring God's ways and His word at the time and with the ability that He gives. If we move in ourselves outside of faith in His word, the words brought forth have no life or value in God's purpose.
We cannot say we don't need the gift of prophecy any more than we can say our lives are to be governed by this gift of prophecy. But in receiving the ministry of prophecy to the body, we find there is a need met in the life of the believer. Life is ministered by the Spirit and works in us a part of the divine work that God is doing.