Prophetic Rhema – BT10
Prophesying is the greatest grace-gift to zealously pursue to build the Church
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Paul talks at length about the use of the Spirit’s grace-gifts in church meetings in 1 Corinthians 14:19-25: “In church I would rather speak 5 logos messages by the means of my mind (a) in order to instruct others, than 10,000 logos messages (b) in a [supernatural] tongue . . . [which is] a sign for unbelievers not believers, while prophecy is a sign for believers not unbelievers . . . if, therefore, the whole church comes together and all speak in tongues, and outsiders or unbelievers enter, will they not say that you are out of your minds? But if ALL prophesy . . . that [outsider/unbeliever] person will be convicted by ALL, called to account by ALL, the secrets of his heart being disclosed, and he will worship God and declare that God is really among you.” Doesn’t it sound like Paul hoped they would ALL prophesy in church and that this would have a profound affect, even on outsiders/unbelievers that prophesy isn’t even a sign for? Paul did say in v. 14:5, “I presently/ongoingly supremely-want (c) you ALL to speak in tongues, but more so [ALL] to prophesy . . . so that the church may be built up!” How does Paul “top” even his “supreme desire” for them ALL to speak in tongues? By his “more so” desire for them to [ALL] prophesy! Could it be that so few outsiders and unbelievers nowadays come to realize “God is really among” Christians in church services exactly because so many churches forbid prophecy? Could this be another reason churches aren’t being built up much? It sure seems that the “supreme desire” of many churches is NOT the same as Paul’s! <Notes> a) context: by prophecy, b) context: by the means of the Spirit: 14:2, 14, c) thelo: desiring the best or optimal for another.
Moses had the same desire as Paul but also the same problem with obstinate Jews. In Number 11:1-30, the people complained about not having the foods they ate back in sinful Egypt now that they had followed the Lord through Moses. The dew and manna wasn’t enough! So Moses complains to the Lord that he can’t handle the responsibility of listening to their complaints. So the Lord has Moses gather 70 elders to represent the people, bring them into the Tens of Meeting, and God will “take some of the Spirit that is on you and put it on them and/thus they shall bear the burden of the people with you.” And for their grumbling, the people were made to eat bird meat for a month until they were sick of it! “And as soon as the Spirit rested on them, they prophesied.” That’s what you will often see in Spirit-baptism! “But they did not continue doing it.” However, 2 men hadn’t gone into the Tent, but still “the Spirit rested on them. . . and so they [continued to] prophesy outside in the camp.” Another young man reported this to Moses and a “leader” called Joshua the son of Nun, a long-time assistant to Moses told Moses to stop the 2 men from prophesying. Can you believe that! But you see that in today’s churches all the time! The “leaders” are the first to try to stop the move of the Holy Spirit because “it is out of order!” Nevertheless, Moses nailed it, saying: “Are you jealous? Would that all the Lord’s people were prophets, that the Lord would put His Spirit on them!”
Well, Moses got his wish: The completely different-in-kind New Covenant promises that ALL of God’s people can now be prophets! That’s what Peter declared in Acts 2:17-19 citing Joel 2:28-29 and what Paul declared in 1 Corinthians 14:5 as his “more so than supreme desire” for Christians, and in verse 14:1 where Paul charges them in the imperative case: “Presently/ongoing boil over with zeal (a) for the Spirit-kind-of [things], but especially/more so that you might prophesy.” Paul even tells them to “ALL prophesy one by one, so ALL may learn and be encouraged” in v. 14:31. Just in case, anybody doesn’t understand Paul’s emphasis, he summarizes with another imperative charge: “So, my brethren, presently/ongoing boil over with zeal (a) to prophesy and/coupled do not in possibility forbid speaking in tongues.” <Notes> a) zeloo: be deeply committed to something, completely intent on.
We see the history of the Church bearing that witness: Paul lays hands on people, the Holy Spirit comes on them, and they begin speaking in tongues and prophesying (a). We see woman prophets in the Church (b) as Paul teaches about “every wife who prays or prophesies” (c). Paul teaches “We prophesy in part, but with the perfect comes, the partial will pass away,” but this happens when “we see face to face” and when we “shall know fully, even as I have been fully known” (d). We know from Paul’s other writings that “The Perfect” is Jesus Christ and His coming is our “blessed hope” when prophecy is no longer needed! This has nothing to do with the canon of the NT that wasn’t decided by constantly-disagreeing Catholic Church councils until 367-397 AD. <Notes> a) Acts 19:6, b) Acts 21:9, c) 1 Corinthians 11:5, d) 1 Corinthians 13:9-12.
Paul taught that Christ gave the grace-gifts of prophets to the Church to equip/coach/facilitate the saints for the work of the ministry (a), and in fact are the foundation of the Church along with the apostles (b), as the gospel is primarily made know by the “sent-out missionaries” and prophets (c). Paul and Barnabas were among many prophets (d). Cessationists who deny the grace-gifts for today have to twist the NT writings and ignore Church history! Clearly prophesy was the dominant way God intended to make His will be known to individuals and to the Church, especially to equip them for ministry of the gospel. When we ignore or contradict God, we end up using our own “might and power” instead of the “by My Spirit” tools God has given us to get the job done! <Notes> a) Ephesians 4:7-12; 1 Corinthians 12:28, b) Ephesians 2:20, c) Ephesians 3:5, d) Acts 13:1, 15:32.
As Christian musicians, if the NT and early Church history make it crystal clear that prophecy was the most important gift of the Spirit for the Church, then why are we trying to minister with less than this? Why are we treating it as an oddity or only for a “special” few, when it is supposed to be the norm? How it less important than “Shepherds who teach” when I counted 8 verses where it’s listed next to the grace-gift of apostle that is a church-planting gift?