Prophets And Teachers
Thank God For Prophecy And Revelation!
I’ve been growing a lot in hearing God’s voice in the last year.
I’ve been giving words of knowledge for healing for a long time, but in the last year I’ve been experiencing an increase in visions and other revelation not related specifically to healing. I’ve also continued to see many people healed through words of knowledge for healing. Most of them aren’t just calling out a health concern in a group, but actually going to an individual, describing a condition, and asking them if it’s what they are dealing with. For example, I passed one lady on the street and asked her about her stomach. She was having Chronic stomach issues exactly like what I described, and the Lord healed her! Those encounters are thrilling.
I have some really cool stories in the last year. I felt like God might be moving a person to Europe and asked her about it. Sure enough, she was praying about moving to Europe.
I told another person that I saw her in a boat going to tell people about Jesus. She was considering traveling with Mercy Ships!
Another friend asked me to pray and I began to describe a house and property with reeds and wetland, near the ocean. I described the house her family had lost!
Among all the spiritual gifts, scripture encourages us especially to seek to prophesy. We thank God for the encouragement and faith that prophetic revelation can bring.
I’ve been exposed to prophetic words for a long time and I’ve been blessed by prophecy and words of knowledge. I’ve also seen Christian prophets disagree with each other. Even people that I still respect today have failed. Big time. Some of them have made predictions of catastrophic events, within a giving time frame, and with the words “no amount of prayer will change this.” That time frame has passed, and they were wrong.
In fact, history is filled with such failed predictions. Many failed prophesies with timeframes for Christ’s return have come from even church fathers and historical Christians that we look up to. Just check out this list of dates predicted for apocalyptic events.
I once read a bestselling book, popular in the Charismatic world, which stated “Anyone who wants to be with the Lord Jesus forever must work hard for his salvation every day for the rest of his life.” Yet my Bible says we are saved by grace, not by works.
I value prophecy and I believe in visions, but I don’t form my doctrine from them. I’ve heard well-known prophets contradict each other.
A certain prophet recently accused a certain teacher of being a “false teacher.” He essentially said “His teaching doesn’t line up with my visions. God told me differently.”
Yet this prophet, by his own admission, is not a scholar and doesn’t have much understanding of the reasoning behind the various theological viewpoints related to the issue, the original language, or the culture. He doesn’t even understand the position or reasoning of the person he has called a “false teacher.” Even scholars, though they disagree on this issue, rarely call each other “false teachers” over this particular issue. They consider it a disagreement within the realms of historical Christianity, not an issue of “heresy.”
I recently wrote two articles presenting a different view than many people have heard on Paul’s Thorn In The Flesh. One person reacted strongly, saying I was giving a false teaching because God told him differently about the passage. I respectfully explained why I see the passage differently.
Does “God told me” end it all?
I’ve been thinking of this for some time. We read about the “fivefold ministry” in Ephesians chapter four. It includes prophets and teachers. Prophecy and good teaching are both expressions of Christ’s grace. They should work together. We need both, and we must not exclude either one of them.
We all know that some teachers have totally dismissed prophets. I’ve also been noticing a tendency for some Charismatics to go to the other extreme of dismissing the relevance of good teaching and reason because of a wrong emphasis on prophecy.
The “Spirit of Truth” isn’t at odds with scholarship and solid exegesis.
Humility Concerning Revelation
I recently purchased and read Shawn Bolz’s book Translating God. I loved this book on so many levels! Shawn is known for giving people’s phone numbers, addresses, and bank account numbers in words of knowledge. He has a reputation for extreme accuracy.
Yet Shawn also is quite candid about how personal issues or theology can affect even well-known prophets. They can be quite accurate in one area yet tend to miss it frequently when it comes to another area. He shared one story of a prophet who tended to give words of knowledge about “father issues.” The truth was that this prophet struggled with hurts in his relationship with his own father, and he tended to project that on people he ministered to. It wasn’t that he was a “false prophet,” but his hearing tended to be colored in that area.
Another prophet struggled with a fear of death and financial problems. That tended to come through in his prophecies, and he often missed it in that area.
Bob Jones warned Bolz about moving to LA. Jones thought LA was about to disappear off of the map. I loved the fact that Shawn Bolz tested Bob Jones’ prophecy and disagreed with it, yet he continues to honor Bob Jones.
So often we either hear that a person is a “false prophet,” or we fail to test everything when we hear a prophecy from someone we already think highly of. The attitude either tends towards “He’s a false prophet because he missed it” or “Everything he says is from God because he is a prophet from God.”
Neither attitude is healthy. Scripture says to test everything.
Shawn chose to make a general statement that he knew would be controversial. He said “Most of the time, prophets who prophesy catastrophes have missed it.” Hearing somebody like Shawn point this out was refreshing.
I’ve given very specific information by word of knowledge, and I know how subtle receiving this information can be. I’ve named a dozen or so physical problems that a person had, all accurately. But I’ve also missed it at times. And I wasn’t even sure if many of the most accurate words were God or just me until I got the feedback of the person I shared with. My word of knowledge is confirmed when I ask the person and they tell me it’s exactly what they are dealing with. Prophecies often confirm something the Lord is already speaking to our hearts, or else they spark something in them. The healthy perspective on prophecy in Shawn’s book “Translating God” removes so much potential for control and abuse with prophetic gifts.
The Charismatic church sometimes goes to the extreme of embracing scripturally questionable beliefs because of a prophets’ teaching, and then reacting as if questioning those beliefs is “dishonoring” the prophet. We need to divide between questioning a belief and dishonoring a person. Instead of accusing a person who disagrees of “dishonoring the prophet,” let’s hear them out with humility and consider what they have to say. After all, God has set teachers and prophets in the church. This doesn’t have to be about dishonoring and bashing people who have a different viewpoint. Let’s test everything as Scripture exhorts us to do, and humbly recognize that we are all growing in Christ and even good prophets have room to grow in understanding and revelation.
Next week I will continue with a few examples of how even experienced prophets with true visions could come up with different interpretations of what they see according to their theological lens.