“For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.” -2 Timothy 4:3
This is what I thought was going on in Nashville (regarding teaching on prophetic ministry such as that being given at Emanate). However, through much mediation, study, and discussion, I am both glad and humbled to find out that I was in fact wrong about that. As it turns out, those teachings are compatible with the truths I used to challenge them; just in ways I had not previously understood. As I stated in my last note, most of my arguments were based on personal misconceptions or ignorance of what was being taught. Unfortunately, I assumed…and we all know what happens when you assume. But fortunately, I take comfort in knowing that my God can use an ass – Balaam’s even prophesied 😉
I’ll share some of what I’ve learned.
- The Bible only allows for 2 kinds of prophets; true and false. Yes, but what is a false prophet?
“When David had settled into his palace, he said to Nathan the prophet, “Look! I am living in a cedar house while the ark of the LORD’s covenant is under tent curtains.”
So Nathan told David, “Do all that is on your heart, for God is with you.”
But that night the word of God came to Nathan: “Go to David My servant and say, ‘This is what the LORD says: You are not the one to build Me a house to dwell in. From the time I brought Israel out of [Egypt] until today I have not lived in a house; instead, I have moved from tent to tent and from tabernacle [to tabernacle]. In all My travels throughout Israel, have I ever spoken a word to even one of the judges of Israel, whom I commanded to shepherd My people, asking: Why haven’t you built Me a house of cedar?” –1 Chronicles 17:1-6
Here Nathan initially speaks a message in the Lord’s name that He did not command him to speak. Does that condemn him to death as a false prophet, according to Deuteronomy 18:20?
“who dares to speak in My name a message I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods—that prophet must die.”
God apparently didn’t think so, and Nathan was not killed or even discredited. Never caught that before. What gives?
Well, I believe the context of Deuteronomy 18:15-19 is talking about Christ…so verses 20-22 seem to refer to the occultists and diviners in 9-14, but are also compatible with Jesus’s warnings against false prophets, false messiahs, and anti-Christs in Matthew 7:15-23 & Matthew 24:11;24 . It is a matter of properly defining the term, “false prophet”. A false prophet, like the anti-Christ, is a poor copycat of the real thing. False prophets are either making it up, deluded, or demonically-powered — and their fruit will show that.
Nathan was not in the company of any such evildoers, but was called and empowered by Yahweh, so he was not a false prophet. He just made a human mistake. The test of a prophet is his fruit and to which god his message leads.
- “No prophecy ever came by the will of man; instead, moved by the Holy Spirit, men spoke from God” (2 Peter 1:21). Yep, but “the prophets’ spirits are under the control of the prophets” (1 Corinthians 14:32).*
Prophecy, the Word of Yahweh, is totally inerrant. The problem is: He uses fallible humans to convey His Word to the world. Why? That’s my question…but isn’t it wonderful? We can only attribute that to His grace. A bit more on that later.
I find it interesting that even Moses — perhaps the highest-regarded prophet – was apprehensive about his call because of his speech impediment. But God still sent him, and He didn’t take it away. Instead, He sent Aaron along to help Moses. Isn’t that good stuff?
Anyway, when a prophet makes a “mistake”, it is never prophecy which is to blame, but human error or misinterpretation. The Lord gives divine revelation, but many times it’s up to us to ask Him for the interpretation and what to do with it. This is exactly why we are instructed to test and weigh “what is said” in both the Old Testament and the New, such as in 1 Corinthians 14:29.
This is also a great reason not to boast or focus upon any person but Jesus Christ.
In Acts 10 Peter initially misinterpreted his vision, thinking it was contrary to Scripture — just like I did with this teaching on prophecy. As it turns out, the meaning of his vision was about men, not food. As it also turns out, this teaching is compatible with Scripture, just in a way I had not previously understood. Cue Princess Bride quote, “I do not think that word [false prophecy] means what you think it means”.
*sidenote: I know the context of 1 Cor. 14:32 really refers to speaking (or not speaking) a message, but I believe it shows the human element, so I think it fits here.
- “According to Scripture, prophecy is Yahweh speaking through the mouth of the saint.” Right-o, but sometimes directly, sometimes indirectly.
Just like with Peter’s vision (and so many other examples like Ezekiel, Daniel, John, etc), revelation does not always come in clear sentences. Yahweh reveals Himself and His truth to His people in many different ways. Sometimes visions, sometimes feelings, signs, angels…whatever He wants to use, really – because He is sovereign! The beauty of that is: He leaves it to interpretation so that we must approach Him for the meaning. Prophecy requires relationship. We’re not just puppets. We’re His children. Somebody shout! We goin’ have some chu’ch!
- “What teaching is needed, and who taught the unlearned apostles on and after Pentecost? You may bring up Paul’s discussion of the use & misuse of prophecy and tongues in the Corinthian church. However, he was not teaching them how or how NOT to prophesy or speak in tongues, but about the appropriate settings for each.” Yeah, pretty much.
I really jumped the gun on this one. From what I can tell so far, Paul’s teaching is exactly the nature of that at Emanate. Although, Alyn’s focus is hearing the voice of God. Awesome.
- “I have had prophetic knowledge and have spoken prophetically into other believers’ lives, but it is always the Lord’s idea, not mine…1 Corinthians 14:1 says we are to ‘desire earnestly spiritual gifts, especially to prophesy’…He will respect our desires (because they’re His, he gave them to us) as it says in Matthew 7:9-11, but will do so in HIS timing and by HIS sovereignty!” Like I said a couple points back, yes…but we’re already called to minister and to step out in faith.
It’s probably easy to see the Reformer in me here. The thing is: theology only goes so far. It serves as a foundation, but there’s more. Faith without action is no faith at all. We serve a loving, active, and powerful God who wants to use us to accomplish His purposes. John 14 says a lot to this. Ministry – like the prophetic – is not done by the saint’s own will, but by the Father’s love (1 Corinthians 13). If a prophet compelled by the Lord’s love for a person opens his mouth to deliver an exhortation (in faith), the Spirit will back him up. See, Jesus’s commands for us to be His witnesses and proclaim Him are open calling to “go”! The Sovereign King does deliver specific messages, missions, and callings, but also has already dictated for us to make disciples, serve, organize, heal, teach, evangelize, pray, cast out demons, raise the dead, prophesy……
“I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father. You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father. Yes, ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it! – John 14:12-14
“Heal the sick, raise the dead, cure those with leprosy, and cast out demons. Give as freely as you have received!” – Matthew 10:8
“Jesus came and told his disciples, ‘I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.'” – Matthew 28:18-20
Funny how He also continually reveals new things to us in Scripture, no matter how many times we read it. Let’s boast in Jesus and make much of Him!