Apostolic Perspectives #15: Prophetic or Pathetic
Prophetic or Pathetic?
This post is for those who wonder about true and false prophets in the church today.
It seems that even unbelievers are annoyed when someone says God has spoken and it is proven to be untrue.
I have not taken a scientific poll but I believe that people everywhere value integrity.
This brings me to the issue of prophetic ministry in the church today.
Obviously there are going to be levels of inaccuracy in prophetic ministry, this is why Paul gives us a four-part instruction in 1 Thessalonians 5:19-22:
(1) Do not quench the Spirit.
(2) Do not despise prophecies.
(3) Test all things
(4) hold fast what is good.
How can we ensure that prophetic ministry is more accurately administered in the church today?
Having looked into this subject extensively, and having practiced prophetic ministry for almost thirty years, I believe that part of the answer is to train people in the prophetic.
We usually don't object to training people to be teachers, pastors evangelists etc. but it seems that we fail to realize that people can be trained in the prophetic as well.
I recently came across the writings of Mike Bickle on the subject of prophetic ministry. He restates in a clear way what other authors have also said.
Bickle identifies four levels of prophetic ministry:
Simple Prophecy,The Gift of Prophecy, Prophetic Ministry and the Office of Prophet.
What I especially appreciate is what he says about the third level - those who operate in prophetic ministry.
They need to be trained before being released into prophetic ministry. Simple prophecy and a prophetic gift are not enough to be considered a competent prophetic minister.
Some level of training is needed. This is a responsible way to release prophetic ministry in the church.
The other options are to quench the Spirit and despise prophecy; all proven ways to have a dead local church.
About False Prophets
Let me say a brief word about false prophets.
The litmus test as to whether a person is a false prophet or not, is not primarily base on whether or not they give accurate prophecies.
This may be shocking for some, but read 1Thessalonians 5:19-22 again. Paul would not have given these instructions if every prophecy was accurate.
What then makes a person a false prophet?
The answer is character.
When a person who is reputed to be a prophet knows that the source of their prophetic word is not from God but uses that word to maintain status, gain money, trust or prop up their own reputation, they have a character problem and they have disqualified themselves as a true prophet.
If a person speak out of their human spirit and credits the Holy Spirit for it, it may simply mean that they are untrained in their discernment.
If their motive was to comfort, edify or encourage a brother or sister, they are not to be considered false, just immature.
If a person claims to be a prophet and has a 90% inaccuracy rate, he is not prophetic, he is pathetic!
Apostle F Wilson.