Happy Monday! Yesterday we had a guest speaker at TGP. Eva Dooley has a travelling prophetic ministry. She gave a message and prayed for prophetic words for people. You can hear the message here (Sept. 15, 2019). Today I’d like to share about how prophecy benefits the church. In today’s reflection, I will focus on the corporate aspect of prophecy’s benefits. Individualized benefits stem from the corporate aspects and are specific. Today, I will discuss three aspects of prophecy benefitting the church.
1. God Speaks to the Church’s Current Situation(s)
2. Prophecy Shows God Loves the Church and Is Still Active
3. Prophecy Benefits the Church Through Truth and Direction
So let’s set our minds for a positive reflection on prophecy in the church.
God Speaks To the Church’s Current Situation(s)
The first benefit of prophetic ministry involves knowledge. Our Lord reveals knowledge involving the church’s current situation(s). Each individual community faces internal challenges. Groups of regional churches face the same regional difficulties. Through a Christ-centered prophetic voice, the Lord identifies with those situation(s).
In the bible we see this exemplified in Paul’s letters and in the introduction of Revelation. All Paul’s letters (minus the Timothys, Titus, and Philemon) address specific churches. Each faced particular issues. Through Paul, Jesus addresses situations in the church and shares his heart about what to do. We don’t consider the Pauline letters to be “prophetic”, yet they are. They speak God’s heart and directions to churches. Early churches struggled to understand New Covenant living. The introduction to Revelation fits what we imagine prophecy to be. It contains intense visions with symbolic imagery. It also contains “Thus saith the Lord” types of statements. People may be drawn or averse to this style of prophecy. What is im to examine the content and message. God’s heart for his church is that it succeed in holiness, righteousness, truth, and love. If prophetic words violate that premise, it is not of God.
In both styles, God tells the church He is aware of their situation(s). He has not forgotten them. He is with them. The gift of prophecy is a powerful tool for revealing the Lord’s mindfulness of his church.
Prophecy Shows God Loves the Church and Is Still Active
From Jesus’ closing statement in Matthew 28:18-20, He promises the church His presence. “Lo I am with you always, even until the end of the age.” God is alive and active in the world and in his church. He knows a local church’s struggles and difficulties. He knows it’s heartaches and imperfections. His hand is at work in it. From dreams and visions, to helping a broken marriage come to restoration, God’s hand is at work. Prophecy plays an integral part of it all.
Many churches reject the “full gospel” practice of prophecy. Others redefine “prophecy” as “preaching the Word.” Yet even in churches who opposed to “prophecy,” it is present. God is always active in his church. Sometimes prophecy lacks the characteristics typified in “full gospel” environments. They don’t use phrases like “visions, dreams, etc. Prophecy shows up in as insights or wisdom in dealing with an issue. Scripture says the “spirits of prophets are subject to the control of prophets.” Whether a church welcomes the gift of prophecy “full gospel” style, God still speaks to it. He’s still active and will see his church cared for. He uses prophecy to express his love and activity in the local body. Throughout the New Testament, the biggest issues was building a holy unified church. The challenges today involve holiness and unity. The threat of division and defilement are focal points for the church.
Prophecy Benefits the Church Through Truth and Direction
In Scripture, God refers to his people as sheep. From in the Psalms through the Gospels, sheep are as an analogy for Israel and the Church. Why refer to us as sheep? Domesticated sheep need a shepherd, otherwise they would be easy prey. They are able to thrive because the shepherd provides and protects them. Shepherds can think with independence (sheep have herd mentality), and see potential dangers. Likewise, God can see across time and space and even into human hearts. He is able to guide us with accuracy.
As God’s flock, the church benefits from prophecy. Through it, the Lord can offer reminders and revelations of truth. Prophetic voices also offer direction. Sometimes local bodies become gridlocked. A prophetic voice can offer a new way of looking at the situation from the Lord’s perspective. Achieving difficult solutions with divine insight is definitely praiseworthy.
Truth and direction both honor God. When we invite the Holy Spirit, he guides our reasoning and perspective to direct his church. Throughout the history of God’s people, He uses human agents to carry out his will. Sometimes they are aware of it and in agreement (Paul and Peter), sometimes they are not (Cyrus and Xerxes). The church benefits when God uses prophecy to reveal truth and direction.
Those are three aspects of how prophecy benefits the church. It offers direction and encouragement as well as expressing God’s love for his church. In congregations that reject “full gospel” prophetic styles, the Lord still uses prophecy. How can I say this? John 10:27-30 “My sheep know my voice.” The biggest contention with prophecy is associating the term with certain behaviors. Many expect it to be bizarre or dramatic. People embrace or reject this expectation. Doing so means reacting to a false reality of prophecy. Prophecy doesn’t have to be bizarre and dramatic. Nor must it be subtle. God knows how people respond. Thus he speaks in different ways to different people?
I hope today’s post encourages you this week to experience God’s