[size=large]Judging and Weighing Prophecy[/size]
1. Prophetic ministry is meant to release strength, encouragement, direction and focus right from the heart of God. To ensure that this is done well, all prophecy (and prophectic ministers) should be tested. 1 Thess. 5:19-22, 1 Cor. 14:29
A. We may need to retrain our thinking concerning judging and weighing prophecy.
– It is scriptural and right to do so.
– No one’s ministry is exempt from the judging process. God wants all of us to be accountable.
– It is not disrespectful or disloyal to weigh the words of others.
– Local leaders need to submit themselves for judgment even as traveling ministers are required.
– The judging process is vital because it removes any enemy influence and helps to firmly establish God’s purposes in our hearts and minds.
B. Where someone is resistant to this kind of accountability, there is a problem.
2. Guidelines for prophetic ministers:
A. The prophetic minister is a member of the Body of Christ; he or she is not an isolated figure. Therefore they must function in fellowship and co-operation with other members of the Body.
B. Prophetic ministers must be accountable for their gifting.
– Are they rooted in a local church? Are they submitted to the leadership in the church?
– Are they endorsed by their local body to minister away from home?
– What remedy have we got if things go wrong?
– Do they present themselves as a superstar, or a small part of the church as a whole?
– Do they work in partnership and agreement with other prophetic ministries?
3. Criteria that should be considered when judging prophecy:
A. Decide if it strengthens, encourages and/or comforts.
– If the effect of the prophecy is to bring confusion, condemnation or discouragement, it should not be accepted, and sometimes may need to be forcefully rejected. 1 Cor. 14:3
– The final purpose of prophecy is always positive, not negative. A fully negative prophecy has either been tainted by human influence or has been given prematurely. Jer. 1:5-10
B. Test the spirit behind the prophecy.
– Every prophecy has three possible sources: the Spirit of God, the spirit of man or an evil spirit.
– We should discern the spirit behind the prophetic word, even before the words, because prophecy communicates “spirit to spirit” as well as into our mind and intellect. Even if a word contains some inaccuracies, we can still receive the spirit of it.
– The testimony of Jesus is the spirit, or the essence of prophecy. The spirit behind the prophecy should lead us to the feet of Jesus. Rev. 19:10, Acts 16:16-18
– Remember the Holy Spirit makes His presence felt by His fruit. Love, joy, peace, goodness, etc., will be present when He is moving.
C. Determine if the prophecy conforms to Scripture. Is. 8:20
– We must always build our lives on Scripture, not on prophecy.
– Prophecy must never be used to establish doctrines that can’t be fully found in the Bible alone.
– Sometimes prophecy may address an area not clearly addressed in the Scripture. Then we must be very careful not to violate the principle of scripture in a given area.
D. Be sure the prophecy glorifies the Lord Jesus. 1 Cor. 12:3
– Because it is of prime importance to the Holy Spirit to bring glory to Jesus, any prophetic word, dream, vision, revelation or impression will work toward that end. John 16:14
– If the prophecy ultimately creates a dependency in people to rely on the prophetic minister instead of hearing from God for themselves, it has a wrong focus. It exalts man instead of Jesus.
E. Consider if the prophecy is manipulative or controlling.
– With the immature and with those with impure motivation, prophecy can be unjustly used to make others do something they otherwise wouldn’t, to get people to take sides on an issue, and/or for dishonest gain.
– Prophecy can be wrongly used to build a following that points to the one ministering instead of to Jesus.
– Control and manipulation are rooted in witchcraft. The nature of witchcraft is to control and dominate through mystical or spiritual means. Gal. 5:16-21
Signs that we could be dealing with manipulative or controlling prophecy:
– It usurps the will of others.
– It works to pull rank. “Don’t question me, I’m the man (or woman) of God!”
– It allows for excessive flattery and the crossing of ethical boundaries.
– It carries severe warnings of dire consequences if the prophetic minister is not heeded.
– It will resist outside perspective and accountability.
– Overuse of the phrase, “The Lord said,” “Thus saith the Lord,” or “Well, the Lord told me.”
– There is a hyper-spirituality that strives to make everything mysterious and mystical, keeping the flow of prophecy away from the “common people.”
F. Distinguish between false prophecy, poor prophecy and weak prophecy.
– False prophecy is centered in deception. It engages in a subtle, and often deliberate, attempt to lead people away from the Lord by elevating individuals, ministries, and/or revelations. False prophecies are to be rejected.
– Poor prophecy is that which mixes human thoughts and motives with an actual word from God. Poor prophecies should be corrected with the Bible. 1 Thess. 5:19-22
– Weak prophecy is that which is given too soon. Speaking is chosen as the first option instead of prayer, reflection, study, submission to others, etc. Weak prophecies should be returned to the incubator of intercession.
4. If all of us are going to eagerly pursue the gift of prophecy, then we must all eagerly pursue a life of accountability, humility and love. 1 Cor. 14:1
A. The accountable heart willingly submits itself to times of testing without regard for status or reputation.
B. The humble heart will gladly receive correction without taking offense, becoming defensive, or coping an attitude.
C. The loving heart will hold people more dear than giftedness and not allow mistakes, discrepancies and disagreements over prophecy to interfere with loyalty, commitment and compassion toward one another. There is no room for bitterness or anger concerning these matters in the heart of the mature believer.