SPIRITUAL GIFTS: PROPHECY

If prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith.
Romans 12:6-8
Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; 7 or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; 8 he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.
The spectacular, but oftentimes misunderstood, gift of prophecy is the first gift listed in Romans 12. This gift is always an interesting one to discuss, but it is also a gift we desperately need in the church today. Please don’t misconstrue the gift of prophecy as something mystic or psychic-like. Today, the word prophecy has evolved to mean telling the future or “foretelling.” However, the way it was originally intended was not “foretelling” but, rather, “forth-telling.” Prophecy was known as vocalizing the words that God gave the prophet to speak. Sure, there were plenty of times when those words from the Lord dealt with the future, but those words were always straight from our Source, the Lord!

Today, one who has the gift of prophecy is someone who is willing to share with others what the Lord has spoken to them. The most common occurrence of this is when one shares the Word of God with someone else at a time that it applies perfectly. For example, a friend counsels his friend through a marriage difficulty by telling him what God said in Ephesians 5. Or, another common occurrence is when someone is in sin and a brother or sister lovingly directs them to God’s Word to show them that their lifestyle is contrary to His will. These faithful friends are forth-telling what God has already put into words. Those with this gift never see the Word of God through the culture, it is always the other way around for them. They tend to be very straight forward, black and white sort of people.

 Now, let’s delve into the second facet. Romans 12 states that the one who prophesies must do so in proportion to our faith. There is some contention here on this phrase, “our faith.” It either is translated directly and means that the person prophesying needs great faith. This is often true because the Word of God is contrary to our flesh, therefore most do not like to accept what it says. It truly takes massive faith to share something you know someone won’t like because you know they need to hear it. Another possible translation for this phrase is, “the faith.” If this is what Paul intended, he was warning those who exercise prophecy not to do so flippantly. He was commanding them to only prophesy according to what is accepted doctrine within the faith. If this is true, then the one who prophesies must be careful to never say, “Thus saith the Lord”, when the Lord hasn’t actually spoken. This will keep one free from manipulating (i.e. using God as a means to get someone to do what you want) as well as speaking incorrectly.

In the end, the one who possess this marvelous and bold gift of prophecy is one who is beautifully passionate about God and His Word and is absolutely willing to share it even if it isn’t well-received (e.g. Jeremiah).

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