Saturday, May 15, 2010

Pitfalls of Prophecy and the Spiritual Gifts

As I thought about prophecy in the church, I realized the two major barriers to incorporating it and the other gifts into our everyday life, are unbelief and fear.

Unbelief is a big problem for many Christians – not just in prophecy! It comes from a number of sources, but ultimately it is the devil trying to tell us that God is not able to do what He says He will in the Scriptures. We often take the doubting Thomas story to the extreme. Trust me, if you were Thomas, you’d have much more faith than the average American Christian. You may remember the story of Lazarus being raised from the dead.

John 11:16 Then Thomas (called Didymus) said to the rest of the disciples, "Let us also go, that we may die with him." 17 On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days.

We all know how the story ends. Lazarus was raised from the dead by Jesus. How about you, have you seen someone raised from the dead – I don’t mean revived at the hospital, but dead four days!? Of course Thomas was there when that Gaterenenian Demoniac was set free, the storm was calmed, the water was turned to wine, and he was one of the guys watching bread and fish multiply before his very eyes as he distributed it on the hillside to 5,000 men and their families.

Thomas heard Jesus prophesy about what He must suffer, and the Kingdom to come.

Unbelief also is a form of pride – “I know more than God,” and “I know more than the scriptures” – it is a form of arrogance. In our lack of faith, quite a few Christians don’t believe that God does much of anything; Many are just hoping they are good enough for Heaven.

Imagine if we had the same kind of doubt about Heaven as we do in the use of prophecy?

I once watched a group of psychics and skeptics on Larry King Live. There was a Rabbi that was convinced that the whole idea of “knowing” anything about a person you had never met, was a random set of leading questions. First he should have known the use of the gift can be powered by the devil which is a form of divination or witchcraft, or God which is prophecy. As a Jew, he would have studied the the law and the prophets in training to be a Rabbi. Religion is confusing, isn't it?

During the show, there was a female caller and the Rabbi started with his leading questions and was quickly at a dead end. No one was impressed. There was a woman psychic on the show who took over, She knew a lot about the caller – number of children, things that she was struggling with and a number of other things. There were no questions, just factual statements made by the psychic. Even Larry King was dumbfounded.

Church, Satan's counterfeit was amazing to Mr. King, just think what might have happened if it was God?

My point is this, this stuff is for real. Prophecy and words of knowledge and wisdom are meant to be part of the functioning of the Christian life (1 Cor 12). Just as the Old Testament Kings, even Saul, had prophets, we should have gifted revelatory folks in our midst.

I know another group of folks that do prophetic dream interpretations at places like Borders. It is their form of evangelism. What they found doing this ministry shocked them. About 30% of the folks that came were Christians from denominations and churches where prophecy was prohibited because of unbelief and dispensationalism. And worse, some of them admitted having success in horoscopes and other forms of divination!

People are hungry for the supernatural, and if the church won't give it, many of them will settle for the devil.

Fear of the supernatural runs the gamut in the church global. I once took some friends to a very intense meeting. The anointing of God was flowing in prophecy, healing, words of knowledge, salvations and the word preached was amazing. Every altar call bore fruit for the kingdom. My friends were taken back by the “not so church as usual” atmosphere. The minister called one of them up to so that she could lay hands on him and pray – he refused.

I spoke to him after, and he said it was just too scary but he said the presence there was so real and that he had never felt that before. My only thought was how do we go to church week-in-and-week-out and not have the presence of God?

If we look at the life and ministry of Jesus, He confronted people. He never said "be blessed, thanks for coming." Whether is was the calling of the 12, the woman at the well, the woman taken in adultery or healing the centurion; after Peter hacked off his ear; the night Jesus was taken into custody. He dealt powerfully and lovingly with those he came into contact with. Prophecy was just one of the ways He did that.

Prophecy is a gift for loving others, and being Jesus to them. It is not for the pleasure of the one that prophesies, nor for the pleasure of the one receiving the word. It is for the pleasure of God, and one of the ways in which He speaks to us. It is directive and personal. Prophecy creates destiny for us. It is a creative word; speaking that which is not, as though it is. How do we live without it?

2 comments:

photogr said...

David:

All I can say is ouch!

Although I have studied about prophesy and the supernatural powers of God by a few authors and the bible, I haven't seen or witnessed such activity since my days of the tent revivals as a child. That was over 50 years ago.

Perhaps it is the church denominations over the years that I have attended did not readily embrace that theology. Although I have an earnest desire to actively seek these abilities, I find the implications and responsibilities of these gifts to be something one shouldn't take lightly or boast about.

It is a divine gift by God's grace and should be held in the highest level of your faith in God. To me, I think it is highly personal and confidential.

I would not want to get up on a stage and profess to heal or prophesize. Perhaps I would want it to be more private rather than in front of an audience. I do realize that this activity does edify God's super natural powers to many at once but I have reservations about it.

However, I do fine it interesting of the stories about Larry King show and the Borders incident.Really makes you think of how do they do that.

Tony C said...

Luke 1:37 states it best- For nothing is impossible with God.

We often fear what we don't understand and based on the aforementioned verse...that's sacrilegious for a Christian. God understands and uses all for His glory. That's all we need to know.

Great post. Yet another box we try to keep God in so we better understand.

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