Prophecy could be defined as inspired utterance. It can contain the revelation gifts mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12, the word of wisdom and/or the word of knowledge. That is, it might contain supernatural revelation of something in the past or present, which would be a word of knowledge. And/or it can contain supernatural revelation of the future, which is a word of wisdom. But prophecy in a simple form, as explained by the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 14:3, can simply be for edification, exhortation, and comfort. Later in 1 Corinthians 14, it is given that all believers can prophesy. This is more clearly understood in connection with Revelation 19:10 which says that the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. When given from the heart, by the unction of the Spirit, even in the simplest form, the testimony of Jesus comes from the same unction of divinely inspired utterance, the spirit of prophecy. On the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2:17, the Apostle Peter quoted from the book of Joel when he explained that by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, sons and daughters would prophesy. Whosoever will receive Jesus is included.
Spirit-filled believers may know something about speaking in tongues, which should be divinely inspired utterance. But fewer, it seems, understand much about the interpretation of tongues. Indeed, as a prayer language to God, when not a message to the church or in ministry to a person, it’s likely that the speaking in tongues would not require interpretation. It’s a powerful form of prayer and praise and worship, but unless it’s a message from God, the interpretation might not be necessary. But even so, many Spirit-filled believers know something about tongues and interpretation. However, there’s more to the Spirit-filled life. The Apostle Paul said in Ephesians 5:18-19 to be filled with the Spirit, speaking in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. This is not just for those in the ministry, that is, what we might call the five-fold ministry. Rather, every believer can be filled with the Spirit and have divine utterance, including psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. This doesn’t mean you quote one of the 150 psalms in the Bible, from the Book of Psalms. But a new psalm would come forth by inspiration. In services, while under the anointing, I sometimes am inspired to speak or sing in psalms and spiritual songs. Sometimes when simply by myself and all alone, I encourage myself by speaking in psalms. I find that often, mine rhyme or sound poetic. Psalms, hymns, spiritual songs, prophecy, tongues, and interpretation are all inspired utterance. As a message and ministry to the church, not all would have the gifts of tongues and interpretation. This is explained in 1 Corinthians 12:29-30. Every believer can receive the gift of the fullness of the Spirit and speak in tongues as another means to pray, praise God, and edify himself. However, this isn’t a ministry gift as mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12:30 that is only given to some. All Spirit-filled believers can speak with tongues in their personal spiritual lives. This edifies them individually. And all believers can prophesy. This edifies the church, which is of greater importance. When prophecy comes forth, it might not rhyme, though it could. It might not have an obvious poetic style to it, or it could. But it will do one or more of three things. It will edify, exhort, and/or comfort. Another important facet of prophecy is given in 1 Timothy1:18. Though it should never take a place higher than the written Word of God, as inspired utterance, it is also a weapon, with which we can war a good warfare.
Prophecies should be judged. Maybe a personal prophecy, that which is specific to you and your life, should more closely be examined. It should bear witness with what you already know in your spirit. It should confirm or be in line with what you already have in your heart, be in line with the Word of God and the will of God for you. If it’s new and something you’ve never heard before nor even considered, maybe you should be slow and cautious to act on that. But when it confirms what you were already hearing from God in your heart, then it’s a powerful weapon against discouragement and it gives you clearer direction in the way you were already prayerfully considering.
But all prophecy should be judged. It will never distract from Jesus. It may not always specifically contain the Name of Jesus, but it should always be consistent with the plan of God, be in line with His Word, and bring blessing to people. On occasion, there may be warnings and judgments given, but more often, prophecy is given to encourage and uplift the hearer. It can be misused and it should be judged. We’re taught in the Bible to try the spirits and to prove all things. Let the prophets speak and let the others judge. Is it in line with the Word? Does it glorify God and exalt Jesus? Does it bring blessing to people? Does it edify, exhort, or comfort?
The following is a prophecy that came forth during praise and worship, April 1, 2012. At the end, my wife, Susan walked past me while leaving the platform and she said, “That was for you.” I didn’t know all that I had said until I listened to the recording. At the time, I didn’t know what I was going to say next, but afterwards I did remember some of it. But it wasn’t until I listened to the recording that I realized, yes, God was encouraging me. But I believe this same truth can also encourage you. You might want to listen to it while you read it:
Timing With God
There is a timing with God, there is a timing; yes, it’s so.
Some things are hidden. They’re not yet for you to know.
But the timing of God will come into full fruition and then it will show.
And then … then that essence, that presence;
That unction … that motivation in your heart says it’s now time to go.
So, move. On occasion, be slow.
Wait upon the Lord and know;
It is His timing and it’s when He says to go.
This way, that way, but yet your eyes look right on;
Following God; walking in the Light of the Son.
Performing His Word and His will on this earth;
Letting others realize His value and His worth.
It is the testimony of Jesus in your heart mixed with praise;
And you’ll see hearts and lives changed; from spiritual death, they are raised.
So, be faithful to listen, to hear, and to do;
What the Lord God, your Father, by His Spirit and Word has for you.
Prophecy given by Tony McCanless