So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
In the last year or so I have discovered an entire breed of people I didn’t know existed before: prophets. I first stumbled upon them when searching for teaching on a specific demon, because, well, who else is teaching on that other than a bunch of warrior prophets?
I mean, I knew about prophets because most of the Old Testament was written by them, and Paul lists both the office of prophet and the gift of prophecy in 1 Corinthians 12. I am also quite familiar with prophecy – I have heard loads of teaching about how prophecy is about speaking out what God is saying for the building up and edification of the church (1 Corinthians 14:1-5), and how it isn’t really about foretelling the future. I’ve used the gift of prophecy quite a lot myself. And I haven’t heard any teaching that says there is no such thing as a prophet today, but the church circles I have moved in seem to just turn a blind eye to the possibility. I just assumed a prophet was someone who uses the gift of prophecy a lot.
But then when I search deeper, that understanding is challenged. In Acts 11:26-30, a prophet from the Jerusalem church named Agabus travels to Antioch. There, he stands up in the middle of the believers and prophesies that a severe famine will spread over the entire Roman world. He also has a very tough personal prophecy for Paul in Acts 21:11. These are not ‘nice’ prophecies for building up and edifying the church, and they result in serious action.
John the Baptist was acknowledged as a prophet by Jesus – admittedly he was ministering before the outpouring of the Spirit at Pentecost, but his prophecies were also not enjoyable to listen to.
Jesus himself is our prophet, priest and king – he regularly prophesied, including prophetic weeping over Jerusalem in Matthew 23 and Luke 13. One particular occasion he speaks to Peter in John 21:18, telling him something very difficult about his death.
If the gift of prophecy is solely for comforting and ‘nice’ words – for the edification of the church, who then has the job of pulling the church up when it goes off the tracks? Who will notice when we are not aligned with Christ, and say the strong and difficult word to bring us back? Who will warn us of the plans of the enemy so we can prepare and be on guard? Who will warn us of coming famines and times of change?
That is the office of the prophet – different to the available-to-all gift of prophecy. God releases his Word particularly strongly to those called to this office, and their job is to spend time in deep prayer, learning to steward his gift.
Time and again this year my attitudes and understanding have been challenged by people who have taken on this mantle. And I have to say – it hurts. It is so hard to hear a word that confronts you with your own failings and ungodly mindsets. It is horrible being kicked out of your comfort zone.
Prophets are not easy to be friends with, but it is so, so worth it.
Seek prophets out at your peril. And ignore them at your peril – they will show you where you are not aligning with Christ, reveal the darkness in your heart, and give you the application of the Word to help you move forward in Him. They will also show you the true beauty of the heavenly realm, and point you to Jesus in all his glory and splendour.
And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honour except in his own town and in his own home.” Matthew 13:57
“Whoever welcomes a prophet as a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and whoever welcomes a righteous person as a righteous person will receive a righteous person’s reward.” Matthew 10:41
Global Prophetic Alliance: https://www.propheticscots.com/
British Isles Council of Prophets: https://www.prophets.org.uk/