[size=large]Levels of Prophetic Gifting[/size]
1. God has commanded us to pursue the gift of prophecy. That means that all of us are meant to prophesy. However, there are differences in the level of prophetic gifting that He will release from person to person.
A. Always remember that the degree of prophetic gift development in a person’s life does not equate to higher degrees of spirituality or “rightness” before God. Rather, it is simply part of God’s intended design and calling in a person’s life, and He shapes us differently according to His purpose.
B. High levels of giftedness and anointing are not signs of high character. Spiritual gifts and fruit develop differently in our lives.
2. The operation of prophecy through our lives is kind of like a swimming pool. There are different depths of giftedness and not all of us are called to swim in the deep end. However, we are all called to get wet!
A. The gift of prophecy is like the shallow end of the pool where everyone can safely jump in and enjoy. It is the inspirational prophecy that works to encourage, build up and comfort others. 1 Cor. 14:1, 5
B. Prophetic ministry is like the part of the pool that gets steadily deeper. In involves a greater level of faith as one begins to trust God for more specific and revelational words. The ministry begins to broaden to affect more people and more situations. Rom. 12: 6
C. The office of a prophet is the deepest part of the pool where only some are called to swim. A prophet has come into the place of regularly hearing from God and serving as His mouthpiece. A prophet will often speak to churches, cities, regions and even nations. Their concern will be for holiness, purity and preparing the Bride of Christ. They will also be concerned with seeing others released into prophetic ministry. Eph. 4:11
3. All areas of giftedness are meant to grow in effectiveness. Often, the key to that growth is training.
A. Training is the difference between someone who just splashes around in the water and someone who can swim.
B. With prophetic gifts, training greatly increases our learning potential, helping us to filter out our own thoughts and the voice of the enemy and to hold on to the word of the Lord.
4. It is important for the Church to note the similarities and differences between Old and New Testament style prophets.
A. The New Testament has a way of taking the principles and teachings of the Old Testament to a new level in order to bring people back to God’s original intent and purpose.
B. OT and NT prophets are similar in the following ways:
– Similar titles.
– Both acts as a mouthpiece for God.
– Both are engaged in “forth-telling” and “foretelling.”
– Both receive and/or communicate prophecy through word of mouth, dreams and visions, actions and symbolic behaviors, deep burdens and by the written word.
– Both are concerned with the morality of God’s people and operate with a strong sense of social justice, speaking out against corruption. They both tend to call all people, everywhere, to repent from idolatry, sin and unfaithfulness.
C. OT and NT prophets have significant differences:
– OT prophets provided guidance and direction to individuals who could not hear from God for themselves; they represented the absolute voice of God to the people. NT prophets do not tell people what to do, but rather confirm what God is saying. There is a recognition that the Holy Spirit indwells every believer and that people can hear the Lord. 1 Sam. 9:4-10,
– OT prophets were very straight forward with rebuking and warning people and were often used to denounce others and their sin. In the church today, prophets minister by exhorting, by example and by confirming. Prophetic messages are tempered by the Gospel message of grace. Rev. 19:10
– OT prophets tended to be eccentric, intimidating, and demanding individuals who were often feared and found to be troubling. They were strangely independent, not easy to receive and typically unpopular.
– Christian prophets, by contrast, must exhibit the fruit of the Spirit with all grace and humility. Additionally, they must be accountable members of the Body of Christ, live under authority and work as part of the overall five fold ministry team. Acts 11:19-30,13:1-3
– OT prophets typically provided either a blessing or cursing ministry in order to keep God’s people in line and under the umbrella of God’s authority and will. In the New Testament, prophets serve as a building and equipping ministry, working alongside apostles, to see that the Church is properly grounded, established and developed. Eph. 2:20, 4:11-16
D. Specific functions of the New Testament prophet include:
– Training believers to hear the Lord for themselves.
– Teaching believers how to find and live in the will of God for themselves.
– Instructing and training others in the gift of prophecy, helping churches establish a proper framework for this gift.
– Bringing forth the word of the Lord through inspired preaching or by supernatural prophetic utterance.