At Harvest Bible Chapel, we seek to walk a very careful line between avoiding the excesses of much of the charismatic movement and yet not quenching the Spirit of God’s work in our midst. For many years, as both a pastor and a Christian, I avoided any kind of “prophetic” type activity. I have very little experience in this area and am quite cautious about this kind of thing. However, although we are not a “charismatic” church, we also believe that God is big and can certainly speak today if He desires (it will ALWAYS be consistent with Scripture).
Following up on my message this past Sunday on the gift of prophecy, here is some excellent counsel from Pastor J. D. Greear on how to give and to receive a prophetic word:
Ground Rules for Giving Words
- Never claim the authority of God on your words, even if you feel convinced the Holy Spirit might be speaking through you.
- Prophetic speech is strongest when tied to actual Scripture.
- The gift of prophecy has a purpose: building up the church and guiding in mission. Use it only for those things.
Ground Rules for Receiving Words
- It’s okay to be a little skeptical.
- Ask, “Does this word contradict what God has said in the Scriptures?”
- Ask, “Does this word accord with what I know God is doing in my life?”
- Ask, “Does this word glorify God or the one giving it?”
Greear has additional, helpful material under each of these points. It’s all found in chapter 10, (pages 145-149) of his excellent book on the Holy Spirit, titled Jesus, Continued…
This morning at Harvest Bible Chapel of Jacksonville I preached a message from Acts 2.17-18 on the gift of prophecy. The title of the message is “What to Expect in the Last Days, pt. 1.” I shared an amazing story from Pastor Matt Chandler about an experience with the gift of prophecy that he had many years ago. Here is another story from Pastor J. D. Greear’s book, Jesus Continued:
“Justin, a young man in my church, told me a story recently about an Indian woman he observed sitting by herself in a city park. He had never seen her before, but had the inexplicable urge to go tell her that though her brother had recently died, god loved her and would never forsake her. He told me that this kind of thing never happens to him but the impression was so strong . . . still, he just couldn’t bring himself to go up to her to say it! What if he was wrong? So he demurred. Several hours later, he ran into the same woman at a Starbucks in another part of the city, and he considered this to be God gently giving him another chance. So he held his breath, walked up to her and said, “Ma’am, we’ve never met, and I’m not sure why I feel this way . . . but I had the sense that God wanted me to tell you . . .” and he gave her the message.
Justin said that when he finished, she stared at him with wide eyes for several, terribly long seconds. Then she dropped her head and began to cry. She said, “How did you know? I thought no one in this city knew. Actually . . . he was not really my brother, but my cousin, but he grew up in my house and I always thought of him as my brother. I even introduced him to others that way. He died last week.” She was Hindu and had just moved away from her family in India to the United States. Justin told her that he could only guess that God cared for her and had a plan for her and her family. Eventually, through further conversation, the lady came to profess Christ as her Savior.” (J. D. Greear, Jesus Continued…, pages 143-144)
This is the gift of prophecy in operation today. Echoing Matt Chandler, for those who say that this kind of work of the Holy Spirit ended around 100 A.D., I say “If this wasn’t God, then who else can get the credit? Satan? Last time I checked he wasn’t in the redemption business!”