Building up believers and the New Testament church

Spiritual Gifts

"...To another prophecy..."

The gift of prophecy is a divinely inspired and anointed utterance. It is entirely supernatural, as are the other utterance gifts that we will discuss. Prophecy is a supernatural utterance in a known tongue. It is the manifestation of the Spirit of God and not of the human mind. It is a divine act straight from heaven. We will see that the human will and faith are active in the working of the gift of prophecy, but not the human intelligence. Its pronouncements come with the same authority and power regardless of whether they are spoken by a peasant or by one who is very learned. Whether peasant or learned, both are only mouthpieces for the expression of God's divine words. We must not confuse the gift of prophecy with the office of a prophet. The office of a prophet is inseparable from a person, but the gift of prophecy is only an instrument. This instrument, the prophetic gift of the Spirit, does not qualify a man for the prophetic office. Greater gifts than the gift of prophecy are needed to make a man a prophet.

There is a great mistake made by many who reason in the natural, saying that the gift of prophecy is prediction of future events. When we examine the gift we will find that it does not in itself convey the power to predict the future. The fourteenth chapter of I Corinthians in no way leads us to believe that it is used to foretell or predict the future. The gift of prophecy, as we have stated, is simply a divinely inspired anointed utterance. The word "prophecy" does not mean to foretell but simply to speak for another.

Prophecy is confused many times with preaching, and if we allow this gift to be defined as preaching, we allow it to be robbed of its supernatural character. We can see a distinction, for in true preaching the natural mind, with its expression in words, is operated by the Spirit. In prophesying the mind of the Spirit is speaking through natural speech organs by divine inspiration. Heavenly preaching is a word, divinely inspired, but not supernatural. Prophesying is entirely supernatural. Let us say right here that a good deal of what passes for preaching today is neither prophecy nor preaching in any scriptural sense.

Prophecy is for speaking unto persons supernaturally. In tongues men speak to God supernaturally, and in prophecy God speaks to men supernaturally, through the speech organs of men. The gift of prophecy is to edify the church. The prophetic word is intended for and should be confined to the church, which is a body of believers. It is used to exhort the church. As one writer put it, it is "a calling near, to comfort the church and to give consolation and solace in time of trials or distress."

In I Corinthians 14:24-25,31 we see that prophecy is used in the church that believers may learn, and to convict the unbeliever and make manifest the secrets of his heart. The possessor of the gift of prophecy is responsible for its use. We see in Romans 12:6 that as in the rest of the gifts, faith must be exercised in prophesying, and we should prophesy according to the measure of faith that we have.