THAT YOU MAY ALL PROPHESY (1)
March 3, 2019 | Steve Pixler
BIG IDEA: The Holy Spirit has given me a clear assignment to “demystify the prophetic and make the supernatural accessible to the average Christian.”
In a moment, we will look at why prophecy is SO important to God’s purpose in the earth. But for now, let’s start by (re)defining prophecy.
1. (RE)DEFINING PROPHECY
The word “prophecy” simply means “to bubble up.” It conveys the idea of thoughts and words bubbling up and pouring out as “speech with unction.” Now, this has nothing to do with the style of speech, how soft or how loud, how fast or slow, nothing to do with religious affectation. Rather, “speech with unction” is simply words that flow from an awareness that the Holy Spirit is empowering us to share the mind of God.
**The best definition I’ve heard is that prophecy is both “foretelling” (predicting future events) and “forth-telling” (calling forth destinies).
Not sure if this is true for you, but, for me, the words “prophesy” and “prophecy” used to convey religious images of Old Testament prophets rising to rebuke the sins of the people or proclaiming esoteric yet powerful predictions of the future. When someone would say to me that I am empowered to prophesy, I would automatically think, “Not me!—I am not ‘spiritual’ enough.” I saw prophecy as what Isaiah, Jeremiah, and maybe even Nostradamus, did! I saw prophecy as something elusive and mystical that only the spiritual elite can do.
(I was also fearful about “getting it wrong” as I recalled the fearful warnings of the Old Testament about “false prophets.” More on that another time.)
But then the Holy Spirit started teaching me a few years ago about how the church is called to be a “prophetic community” where the voice of God speaks easily, normally and regularly to and through believers.
I learned that New Testament prophecy is different from Old Testament prophecy. I learned that the death of Jesus fulfilled the Old Testament prophets (just as it fulfilled the Law of Moses) and thus, “there is therefore now NO condemnation in Christ Jesus!” (Romans 8:1) Prophecy is now given to us all to encourage and build up people.
As Paul said,
1 Corinthians 14:3 (ESV): “On the other hand, the one who prophesies speaks to people for their upbuilding and encouragement and consolation.”
1 Corinthians 14:31 (ESV): For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all be encouraged,
I learned that prophecy is given now to minister the Spirit of grace, not condemnation. Prophecy is simply the Holy Spirit speaking through us to ENCOURAGE others! Prophecy speaks to a person’s destiny and calls their God-given future into manifest existence.
**As Bill Johnson often says, “Anyone can find dirt; but it takes a true prospector to find gold!” Prophecy is not about exposing the dirt in people’s lives; it is about discovering the gold—the potential that God has hidden within them!
**Prophecy is hearing the voice of God and saying what he says.
**Prophecy is a good word from another world.
So: do you think YOU can speak an encouraging word to others? Would you like to be empowered by the Spirit to speak words of life and hope into those around you—your family, your co-workers, people on the street? YOU have been given the Spirit of prophecy so YOU can do just that!
2. PURSUING PROPHECY
I also learned that ALL believers are instructed to pursue prophetic empowerment.
(NOTE: Not all believers are prophets, but all believers prophesy. We will explore that distinction at another time.)
A powerful story in the Book of Numbers foreshadows the universal outpouring of the Spirit of prophecy on the people of God:
Numbers 11:24–30 (ESV): So Moses went out and told the people the words of the Lord. And he gathered seventy men of the elders of the people and placed them around the tent. 25 Then the Lord came down in the cloud and spoke to him, and took some of the Spirit that was on him and put it on the seventy elders. And as soon as the Spirit rested on them, they prophesied. But they did not continue doing it.
26 Now two men remained in the camp, one named Eldad, and the other named Medad, and the Spirit rested on them. They were among those registered, but they had not gone out to the tent, and so they prophesied in the camp.
27 And a young man ran and told Moses, “Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp.” 28 And Joshua the son of Nun, the assistant of Moses from his youth, said, “My lord Moses, stop them.” 29 But Moses said to him, “Are you jealous for my sake? Would that all the Lord’s people were prophets, that the Lord would put his Spirit on them!” 30 And Moses and the elders of Israel returned to the camp.
The prophet, Joel, later promised that this—“that all the Lord’s people were prophets, that the Lord would put his Spirit on them!—would come to pass “in the last days,” and Peter quoted Joel’s promise when he preached the first message on the birthday of the Christian church:
Acts 2:14–18 (ESV): 14 But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them: “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words. 15 For these people are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. 16 But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel:
17 “ ‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; 18 even on my male servants and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy.
**Take note of the direct correlation drawn by God’s promise: “I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy.”
Jesus ascended into heaven and received the promise of the Holy Spirit from the Father and gave the Spirit to YOU. When YOU received the Spirit, you received the Spirit of prophecy.
Paul, the apostle, also teaches us that prophecy is for all believers:
1 Corinthians 12:7 (ESV): To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.
1 Corinthians 12:31 (ESV): But earnestly desire the higher gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way.
1 Corinthians 14:1–5 (ESV): Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy. 2 For one who speaks in a tongue speaks not to men but to God; for no one understands him, but he utters mysteries in the Spirit. 3 On the other hand, the one who prophesies speaks to people for their upbuilding and encouragement and consolation. 4 The one who speaks in a tongue builds up himself, but the one who prophesies builds up the church. 5 Now I want you all to speak in tongues, but even more to prophesy. The one who prophesies is greater than the one who speaks in tongues, unless someone interprets, so that the church may be built up.
1 Corinthians 14:31 (ESV): For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all be encouraged.
Paul instructs us to “earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy.” As believers, we are ALL commanded to “earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy.”
WHY? Why are we commanded to earnestly desire spiritual gifts?
Simply this: the work of God in the earth CANNOT be completed apart from the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus “ascended up on high and gave gifts to people” (Ephesians 4:8) so that the work of God could be done in the earth. The mission of God is a “mission impossible” without the gifts of the Holy Spirit!
3. WHAT MAKES PROPHECY SO IMPORTANT?
Prophecy releases the creative word of God.
God created the heavens and the earth through his word. Adam and Eve disbelieved the word of God and believed the lie of Satan. All creation fell into de-creation through the lie. (A lie only has power when you believe it.) Jesus came as the word of God made flesh, ascended into heaven and sent forth his Holy Spirit to implant his word in each of us. When we prophesy, we are releasing the creative word of God that re-creates the world around us.
Here’s what Jesus taught us to pray:
“Our Father, who is in heaven, holy is your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done in earth as it is in heaven.”
Prophecy hears the voice of heaven, the word of God, and releases that creative word into impossible situations on earth.
Prophecy releases the word of God over:
Our personal life
Are you declaring God’s words over your life?
Prophecy channels heaven to earth. By declaring the prophetic word of God over EVERY area of our lives, we release the truth of God and renounce Satan’s lies.
When we prophesy, we foretell what God is doing and we forth-tell what God is doing. Prophecy actualizes the future here and now.
When we prophesy, we make future realities accessible NOW. When we prophesy, we make impossible solutions accessible NOW. Prophecy releases heaven’s creativity, solutions, strength, whatever is needed to bring our promised future to pass. The word of God carries IN IT the power to fulfill it. It is like medicine: it carries it potency within itself. When you prophesy, you are calling the future into existence! “On earth as it is in heaven!”
**This is why prophecy is absolutely essential to YOUR life! God has a plan for your life, and he brings that plan to pass by speaking the word of his promise through you. You must speak your destiny to realize it!
Jeremiah 29:11 (ESV): For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare (shalom) and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.
As the Holy Spirit taught me about prophecy, I learned that God poured out the Spirit of prophecy on us all, and that his strategy for saving the lost, dethroning the powers of evil and restoring his good creation depends on his people being implanted throughout the nations as prophetic influencers. Prophecy releases the creative word of God to heal a fallen world! I learned that releasing the word of God into the earth through ALL believers was God’s plan from the start.
**Here’s why “demystifying the prophetic and making the supernatural accessible to the average Christian” is so important to me:
I am like a doctor sent to a war-ravaged land with boxes of penicillin and other medications that can heal the people. It would be criminal to know and possess the healing power of medicine and do nothing to share it. (Or withholding essential technology.)
I know the power of prophetic speech. I know what it is to hear the voice of God, declare his promises and watch his word break the power of Satan’s lies and totally recreate my reality. I have the stories, the experience, to back it up. I have a testimony of the power of declaring God’s promises prophetically. And I want to share it with you!
4. MAKING PROPHECY PRACTICAL
What does it look like in everyday life to operate in the prophetic?
ENCOURAGE: First, remember that the Spirit of prophecy is sent to ENCOURAGE people. Ask yourself: would you like to be the one at work or in your neighborhood that is always releasing encouraging words over people?
EARNESTLY DESIRE: Second, remember that we are called to “EARNESTLY DESIRE the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy.” We must deliberately and strategically seek the wisdom of God in receiving and sharing prophetic words with others.
EXPERIMENT: Third, we must be willing to EXPERIMENT with prophecy. We must be willing to step out and release prophetic words to people. (And it is NOT necessary to be “churchy” about it!) What is the worst that can happen—that you accidentally encourage someone?! (Prophecy is to encourage, not control.)
(Some hear, some see, and some feel.)
What’s next? Ask for the release of the prophetic in your life. Ask God to let you hear his voice and speak what he is saying.
James 4:2 (ESV): “You do not have, because you do not ask.“