Two prophets meet on the road. One says to the other, “You’re fine. How am I?” (Go ahead. Take a moment to figure it out. Laugh.)
Prophets, prophecy, and how the prophetic gift functions within the Body of Christ have been much in the Christian news, social media, and congregations lately. No doubt it’s because prominent prophets have proclaimed over the last year President Trump will serve a second term. Personally, “from their mouths to God’s ear.”
However, despite significant questions still lingering over the validity of the November 2020 Presidential election, Joe Biden has officially been declared President-elect according to our Constitution and the legal process. (No, I’m not going to argue that issue. Perhaps later.)
In just under a week, we’ll know the truth of the matter. Either President Trump will remain President or the prophets were wrong. Sadly, some Christians will be greatly disappointed.
I want to share some of my thoughts about this whole prophecy thing. Because the Trump prophecies have HUGE implications, prophetic ministry is again being scrutinized under a microscope. Like it or not, their validity or failure will become reasons to affirm or deny prophetic ministry today. They give us a teachable moment of great value about a big topic.
Let me be clear. I unashamedly embrace prophetic ministry for good reasons – biblical, historical, and personal.
As for biblical and historical reasons, prophets and prophecy were well-recognized in ancient and 1st c. Israel. Prophets are documented in both the Hebrew (Old Testament, Jeremiah 1:5) and Apostolic (New Testament, Acts 21:10) scriptures. Because the core of prophecy is hearing God and relaying His words, the entire Bible is in essence a work of prophecy.
Prophets and prophetic ministry were a function of the 1st c. synagogue and operated alongside the apostolic (emissaries), pastoral (elders), teaching (rabbis), and evangelistic functions (Upon This Rock by the late Dr. Dwight Pryor, The Center for Judaic-Christian Studies With the advent of the New Covenant community and under the directing of the Holy Spirit, these functions continued as before, albeit with greater power and inspiration.
Nowhere in the Bible do I see that God has stopped the prophetic function of His Body. If He has, then that would mean God is no longer speaking to His children since the prophetic is based on hearing God. But if God is still speaking to his children (which He is), then it’s a natural step to the prophetic function, receiving and sharing what God has “spoken” to His child.
Also, God still calls forth prophets (and apostles) as surely as He still calls forth pastors, teachers, and evangelists to do their God-appointed job to “equip the saints for the work of ministry, to build up the body of Christ,” (Ephesians 4:12). Sorry, you can’t have the three functions and exclude the other two without violating the Bible. That’s not your call.
Furthermore, God continues to call forth these functions within His community because we haven't reached His designated goal, "unity in the faith and in the knowledge of God’s Son, growing into maturity with a stature measured by Christ’s fullness" (Ephesians 4:13).
My personal reason is I’ve experienced God speaking to me (in various ways) and what I’ve “heard” has not been just for me, but to share with individuals or groups. My experience lines up with the Bible. No one can convince me God doesn’t speak today.
To repeat, the essence of prophecy is hearing God when He speaks. Accurate prophets hear accurately. Developing prophets are developing their spiritual ears.
While prophetic perfection was required for God’s prophet under the Mosaic covenant (Deuteronomy 18:20), under the New Covenant we don’t hold prophets to the perfection standard. Proof? Because we’re told to consider all prophecies and keep what’s good (1 Thessalonians 5:20-21). The Amplified Bible puts it this way, “But test and prove all things [until you can recognize] what is good; [to that] hold fast.” The implication is some prophecies are good/valid and some are not. We hold the valid and release the “not valid.”
Why is prophesy, hearing, and sharing a word from God, not a perfect art? Because God’s word moves through imperfect (but hopefully improving) vessels. 1 Corinthians 13:9 says, “For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.” Right now, we don’t see with perfect vision or hear with perfect hearing. Our spiritual perception is imperfect.
The fault is not in the speaking. The fault is in the hearing. So, let’s talk about hearing God.
God still speaks today. Yes, the Bible is the inspired, written record of God speaking and acting in human history. But God did not confine His speaking to the Bible. He spoke before the Bible was written (Genesis 1:3; Exodus 3:4) and promised to keep talking with His people, “I still have many things to tell you, but you can’t bear them now” (John 16:12). The solution? God will speak to us through his indwelling Holy Spirit.
Yes, a believer is a spiritual Bluetooth speaker.
Jesus revealed, “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth. For he will not speak on his own, but he will speak whatever he hears. He will also declare to you what is to come” (John 16:13). The Holy Spirit speaks to us. One purpose is to foretell/reveal the future.
Jesus prepared his disciples for persecution by saying, “…don’t worry about how you should defend yourselves or what you should say. For the Holy Spirit will teach you at that very hour what must be said” (Luke 12:11-12). Cool! The Holy Spirit speaks to us and this purpose is to forth-tell, speaking to the present.
Now even though the Holy Spirit actively speaks today, it doesn’t mean His words are being received. Here are three reasons why we don’t hear God speak – we can’t hear, we don’t hear, or we won’t hear. We’re unable to hear, we’re not good at hearing, or we refuse to hear. Which is it?
Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice, I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27; also 8:47). If you’re unable to hear Jesus speak to you, the first thing to do is check is your spiritual state. Are you really Jesus’ sheep (spiritually alive and connected) or not? If you are, you will hear His voice somehow and in some way. This leads to the second reason we don’t hear God.
Some of God’s kids have trouble hearing God. What I have found in teaching on this topic is because His children haven’t taken the time or effort to learn to hear His voice. Jesus speaks in a plethora of ways – to our senses, through events and situations, through other people. The key is knowing God’s voice first so we can identify it when He speaks.
Finally, some people (believers or not) don’t hear God because they don’t want to. When asked by His disciples about why He spoke in parables, Jesus quoted Isaiah, “For this people’s heart has grown callous; their ears are hard of hearing, and they have shut their eyes;” (Matthew 13:15; from Isaiah 6:9-10) It’s like the proverbial toddler who sticks his fingers in his ears, stamps his feet, and declares, “I’m not listening!” As A.W. Tozer wrote, “Most Christians don't hear God's voice because we've already decided we aren't going to do what He says.”
So if God still speaks and people are indeed listening, what do we make of the prophets and their recent prophecies about President Trump having a second term, especially since it looks like it just ain’t gonna happen?
I will say it again, I'm a big fan of God speaking (communicating) with His people and I fully embrace prophetic ministry!
I also affirm God's instruction to Moses about how to determine if a prophetic word is authentic. "You may say to yourself, ‘How can we recognize a message the Lord has not spoken?’ When a prophet speaks in the Lord’s name, and the message does not come true or is not fulfilled, that is a message the Lord has not spoken. The prophet has spoken it presumptuously. Do not be afraid of him" (Deuteronomy 18:21-22).
Simply put, a “foretelling” prophecy is from God only if it comes true.
But what about a “forth-telling” prophecy, a word from God that speaks to the present? “The person who prophesies speaks to people for their strengthening, encouragement, and consolation” (1 Corinthians 14:3). This kind of prophecy is a little trickier. When weighing the word, does it give you strength inside? Does it encourage or console (comfort, support, cheer) you? The first thing to gauge is how it affects you. The second is how the Holy Spirit in you affects you. Does He resonate with His word spoken to you through another? And thirdly, does it sound like the voice of the Lord you’ve learned to hear and understand?
Yes, weighing forth-telling prophesies requires a little more finesse, but that’s the value of having mature fellow believers to bounce things off of.
Apostle Paul’s directive about prophecy is, “If a prophet speaks a message, we’re not to despise it, but test it and hold on to what is good” (1 Thessalonians 5:20-21). On one hand, babies and bathwater, you know? On the other hand, anyone who accepts a prophecy without evaluating it is violating scriptures and setting themselves up for disappointment. Disappointment, by the way, is “unmet expectations.”
And how many are wrestling with unmet expectations about the election right now? Sad to say, disappointment from missed prophecies is sullying true prophetic ministry in the church.
So, I don't swallow a prophecy whole. However, I do give it more weight if it comes through a prophet with a proven track record. But unless I get a personal word from God that sparks faith (trust) in me or the Holy Spirit starts ringing the “authenticity bell” to indicate a sure word, I hold it and weigh it and wait to see if it comes to pass. And I don’t rip the prophet in the meantime.
If a prophecy doesn’t come to pass, it most likely wasn’t from God. I say “most likely” because God has given conditional prophecies that depend on His peoples’ response (Micah 3:12; Isaiah 37:36-37; Jeremiah 26:18-19). Read more If it is clear a prophecy wasn’t from God, then it likely came from a person’s mind, driven by their emotions or desires or even hope. Sadly, we sometimes grab onto what seems to be a prophecy not because we know it’s true, but because it appeals to our desire or hope. If out of hope, then we have a hopecy, not a prophecy.
There is a big chasm between desire and genuine faith/trust. The first is man-based. The second is created by God's word activated in us by the Holy Spirit.
Here’s good news! God still speaks today! Even now, God is foretelling and forth-telling. When it sparks in us that sure “know that I know that I know” trust in Him, hold it fast! If we’re not sure, hold it lightly. Keep weighing it. If it’s not of God, let it go. Let’s press on to develop keen spiritual hearing! Then we will hear and confirm with greater accuracy what the Lord is saying.
Will President Trump remain in office per the prophets? I don't know. I don’t have God’s sure word on it. Only what some prophets have relayed as from God. Either President Trump will be in office on January 20 or not. If he is, that will be a huge affirmation of prophetic ministry. If not, we still have a great opportunity to teach and train about prophets and prophecy.
The next 10 days will be historic and quite possibly, prophetic.
Pastor Jay Christianson
The Truth Barista, Frothy Thoughts