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At a church that I was once a member we were regularly hearing prophecy from folks who claimed the Gift of the prophetic. There were even "classes" to train others in this Gift (as if one can earn that Gift.) I have always had a problem with modern day prophets. My questions have always been these:
I always found it interesting that none of these "prophets" in my former church ever attached "Thus sayeth The Lord" to their utterances.
No. But not all healings are due to a "gift of healing" either. If I pray for your healing and it you get better, that is no evidence of some personal gift. If I ;ay my hands on your stump of an arm and it grows back or raise some woman with terminal cancer back to perfect health, that would be a different story entirely.1) Were healings and miracles only 'signs'?
2) Weren't others besides OT prophets, Jesus and the apostles used in these?"Used in these"? Can you clarify?
3) ... And interesting one can only fake something that can actually happen.This is getting murky, but I think it is easier to fake something once it has been redefined to become something else. Today, we often confuse/equate an answer to prayer as a spiritual gift of healing. An edifying or enlightening interpretation of Scripture becomes a "revelation" or "prophesy". And some prayer language or utterance during worship is seen as a continuation of the ability to speak known languages that you've never studied. So we have two different things going on. When we play word games and change it into something else, it becomes something a lot easier to fake. I'm NOT suggesting that those that pray in tongues or give an edifying word to the church are fakers. I want to make that real clear. My point is that when we have miraculous signs in the Bible, like what happened on the Day of Pentecost when everyone from multiple cultures all heard in their own languages, that wasn't something that could be easily dismissed with an alternate non-God interpretation. It definitely pointed to God. But when we reinterpret the "gift of tongues" to mean something else, it becomes something a lot easier to counterfeit. In fact, I've heard stories from two different missionaries of being in a church where "tongues" were being spoken and they knew what was being said - and it wasn't edifying God. In one case, this "tongues" episode wasn't translated at all. In the other, the "translation" was some phony "prophetic uttering" kind of thing that had nothing to do with the blasphemy kind of stuff that was actually said. Satan trying to counterfeit what God can do goes all the way back to staffs-into-serpents. With something that is just verbal and there is an element of trust and desire to believe in it, it is a whole lot easier.
4) Ok, charging a fee on some of this might seem weird. But let's ask this, as I did earlier - why is it ok to pay to be trained as a pastor or to pay to do an evangelism course, but not on how to grow with gifts of the Spirit?Maybe because it of that gift part of it. The analogy isn't really/only one of why does one pay pastors. It's more of why do pastors pay for seminary while church members pay for gifts than come with salvation. Smacks of selling indulgences. I don't have an issue with someone like a Michael Patton charging for a seminar on "How to understand your Bible" or "Effective speaking techniques". In the context of prophesy described in 1 Corinthians 14, I can see where that would come in handy. Where I have an issue though is that for the low low price of $39.95, you too can learn how to heal people. That is akin to paying for language lessons in some foreign language and then portraying that as a divine gift of "tongues".
5) On this 'normative' thing, remember the book of Acts records about 30 years. Were these 'amazing' things happening every moment? No.Seems to me that would kinda argue against these churches where tongues and prophetic words were a every-single-Sunday occurrence or the Benny Hinns of the world where every single crusade has even more miraculous stuff than the one before. Just saying....
I know what you are saying. I've taught in church before. I'd hope that what I said would fit the 1 Corinthians 14:3 kind of description of prophesy. But that is totally different from my Africa experience. When I was in Ghana, I had this overwhelming urge not not only tell people this "word", but to do so boldly and without fear almost as if it were a test of my faith. Having never experienced anything like that before, and being with others that, like I, were not "continuationists", I didn't express this to others as "Thus saith the Lord!". I did, however, not wimp out with a "I think this is what we should do". Rather, I expressed it as "I strongly believe that God wants us to do X". I wasn't really thinking of the incident in the context of "prophesy" or "being a prophet" or something like that. At the time, I was thinking of it more in the context of not just an answer to prayer, but a very direct communication while in prayer. But I'm not even sure if any of this makes sense, much less if it addresses the topic.One thing that I forgot to add--I really have a problem with anyone who claims the mantle of a prophet but who is also unwilling to say with certainty "This is what the Lord says.." or something similar.
One thing that I forgot to add--I really have a problem with anyone who claims the mantle of a prophet but who is also unwilling to say with certainty "This is what the Lord says.." or something similar. Saying "I believe this is what the Lord says..." or "I think that the Lord is telling me..." seems like a cop-out, a way of hedging one's bet in case the prophecy is not true. It really seems that the title "prophet" means that you are speaking in the Lord's name and that there is no middle ground or wiggle room.
They don't have to be. But why do the modern day versions of it seem to be limited to things like invisible pain going away and not the undeniable in-your-face visible stuff?Why do healings have to be raisings from the dead or regrowing a limb?
You seemed to imply major healings and signs are mainly connected to OT prophets, Jesus and the apostles. I am challenging the assumption that they are the only ones who did such. At least the Scripture I usually interact with tells me otherwise.I'm not explaining it well. It isn't as if only a prophet or someone had a particular gift. The distinction that I'm trying to make is that God seems to work differently outside the church to reach people in spectacular ways, and the gifts inside the church are not these same kinds of signs and wonders but more edification, education, service, and so forth. CMP does a good job of laying it out in a chart.
Why do we feel the necessity to split healings by immediate declaration of healing in Jesus' name and healings by prayer through Jesus' name? It is not biblical.I think Michael's chart shows the distinction I was trying to make. If I pray to a saint and get healed, the RCC would see that as worthy of sainthood. Focus goes to the saint. That isn't what happens if I pray to God for my back pain to ease up and I get better. I'm not a focus. He is. I think the gifts that were signs in the Bible validated a person and their message. I don't think we have that in that same way today. I'm listening to a book right now called "The Sign". In it, a controversial religious leader this inexplicable symbol show up over his head as he is about to speak to an audience. It had an effect of elevating him as an authority that even those that opposed him minutes later suddenly were receptive to. I think the sign gifts in the Bible were the same thing. I think the supernatural signs (as CMP categorizes them) reflected the authenticity of the person doing it. That isn't the same thing as what I see when the church gets together and prays that someone's pregnancy goes OK.
I think that would be ok, right? I'm not talking about what you are talking about.Yeah. That's OK in my book and not the kind of thing I have a concern with.
For we know in part and we prophesy in part,
This about sums it up.
The church is supposed to be Royal priesthood, a holy nation. This indicates that the ministry of the Spirit is NOT meant to be in the hands of a professional or specialist few at the front of the church.
It is probably closer to God's design, to think of the church as a bunch of amateurs, all learning by doing and making mistakes along the way.
Do we honestly think that the disciples got it all perfectly right when Jesus anointed them and sent them out. " O you of little faith, have you not understood anything? I seem to recall at least one time when it didn't work out and they had to call Jesus in!
Many years ago, my boss had a big poster on the wall of the workshop.
"THOSE WHO MAKE NO MISTAKES USUALLY MAKE NOTHING."
I loved it, and it worked. It encouraged people to always try. I have always thought it should be in the book of proverbs, and so I acted as if it is!
Sadly, fear of getting it wrong, destroys most people's willingness to risk anything in God.
2Tim1v7For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. This is what God says, yet fear is a real issue in the church, because people have little idea of God as loving father with his little children, learning as they grow.
If I give anyone a "word from the Lord" I always advise them to check it out with others and with the Spirit of the Lord. If anyone gives me a word I likewise check it out. I want people to take personal responsibility for their own walk. Sometimes I am extremely confident in a word, other times a little tentative, so I might test the water first. Even Gideon had this problem so God sent him to listen outside the enemy camp for encouragement that the word he had heard was right. The more experience I have, the more confident I become in my hearing of the Holy Spirit. The issue is always my flesh/mind getting in the way, and that takes experience to deal with it.
We all need to grow in this area and take responsibility. However until the church takes the crushing weight of criticism away, the prophetic ministry and the gifts will always be stunted, deformed, and fearful. The church as a whole seems determined to prevent it growing properly.
When I bought my preschool children their first bikes, for the sake of safety, I decided they should never ever get on them- until they learned to ride!
Doh! They still can't ride, and they are over thirty years old! Of course this is a joke, but as far as the safety officers of church are concerned the prophetic ministry shall never be allowed off the ground in case anyone falls off and someone gets hurt.
Jim, you are never going to find a perfect prophet ministry anywhere in the church system, because we are all scared of people like you who will burn us at the stake as heretics if we get it wrong. Sorry pal.
It is apparently OK for the pastor to bring "The Word of the Lord", each week without fear. Yes, that is the description THEY can get away with, even if "the word of the Lord" is just their own puffed up intellectual prowess, and nothing whatsoever to do with the Lord. When was the last time a church debated whether to accept the sermon?
So why do we not put the same efforts of judgment into eradicating erroneous Pastors? The idolatrous attitude of the average pew filler will happily listen to legalistic or other nonsense each week, and yet still want to see anyone responding to the spirit stoned or burnt. The FIVEFOLD ministries of the spirit were, yes five. Pastor/teacher is just one of the five. Apostle, prophet, evangelist, the others. Why do we exercise such angst about Prophet and not pastor/teacher? I would point out that the latter can do his work with mere training and without any anointing at all. Don't even have to know Jesus as long as he can keep an audience. I know this is insulting but this is a proven fact.
Most congregations will tolerate this with stoicism because we don't even know what the difference between entertaining and anointed actually is. It is widely believed and upheld by the pastors themselves that BECAUSE THEY HAVE BEEN ORDAINED, THEY MUST BE ANOINTED, AND IT MUST THEREFORE BE THE WORD OF THE LORD. With immaturity like this we have no basis for ever judging prophecy.
1Cor14v26 speaks of church meetings where it wholly consisted of the ministry of the spirit being brought by ALL the members, not the pastor. The idea of one special person having charge of ministry has no basis in scripture, for a normal church meeting. The main point of the meeting was that the church was a body ministering to itself and to the Lord. Any judging of prophetic words etc was done by ALL those present because they could undoubtedly relate to it. This indicates an air of maturity within the whole body.
Having been amongst prophetic christians for over thirty years, I have watched the value of the gifts of the spirit at work. Yes there are horrendous mistakes made, but rarely anything to do with prophetic inaccuracy. In fact very little of prophetic ministry has been foretelling, rather it has 99% been edifying the members of the church.
I have held or participated in perhaps thousands of house meetings, which have been loosely along the lines of 1Cor14v26, where each member is free to speak as the spirit leads. It still amazes me how, after various good and encouraging words have been given, there is suddenly a key given in a prophetic word, vision, scripture etc, which ties everything as a whole. Everyone suddenly sees the purpose of God at work using ALL the body to reveal it. Awesome stuff.
Jim Zeirke said:One thing that I forgot to add--I really have a problem with anyone who claims the mantle of a prophet but who is also unwilling to say with certainty "This is what the Lord says.." or something similar. Saying "I believe this is what the Lord says..." or "I think that the Lord is telling me..." seems like a cop-out, a way of hedging one's bet in case the prophecy is not true. It really seems that the title "prophet" means that you are speaking in the Lord's name and that there is no middle ground or wiggle room.
I had the pleasure of seeing Sam speak at our church about 12 years ago. He does give a wonderful and balanced approach to questions regarding how churches address the Gifts.
Brian Leffert said: