Be Eager to Prophesy!
The one who prophesies speaks to people for their strengthening, encouraging and comfort…the one who prophesies edifies the church…Therefore, my brothers and sisters, be eager to prophesy… (1 Cor. 14:3,4,39)
Chapters 12-14 of 1 Corinthians are Paul’s amazing treatise on spiritual gifts. Unfortunately, much of the work of the Holy Spirit and the reality of spiritual gifts have faded from view for many modern Western Christians whose approach to Scripture and discipleship is more intellectual than Spirit-led.
Among these lost gifts is the gift of prophecy that is often misunderstood and sorely needed in our churches today. When many hear the word “prophesy” they define it in the modern context as one who can foretell the future. But in the New Testament context, prophecy refers almost entirely to the early church practice of speaking a word of encouragement and comfort to the saints on God’s behalf. The prophet, does not speak or interpret from his own perspective, but learns to listen and hear God speaking, and shares those rhema revelations with his/her brothers and sisters (1 Cor. 4: 3-4, 39; 1 Peter 4:11).
This is, of course, a sobering and solemn responsibility for any who aspire to, or engage in this spiritual gift. It requires sensitivity to the Spirit’s leading, a deep and authentic humility, and a commitment to knowing and using the Scriptures and the spiritual sensitivity of other mature believers in affirming the legitimacy of any “word” offered to the congregation. In the church context, prophesies of accusation, judgment, or blame originate from the flesh and those who wield the power of God for their own purposes. But true prophesy encourages, uplifts, blesses, supports, nourishes, and gives grace to those who hear (Eph. 4:29-32).
Paul ends the chapter with the admonition to all Christians to “be eager to prophesy…” For the Corinthians, and in our modern cultural climate, Spirit-led encouragement is a very welcome and needed stream of refreshment. I encourage you all to listen for God’s voice, and in bold humility seek to share His word of comfort, hope, and strength in our church assembly when moved by the Spirit to do so.