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Prophecy Spiritual Gifts Supernatural Stuff

The Flaw of the Spiritual Gifts Assessment Test

the flaw

Have you ever taken a spiritual gift assessment test? Were you told that God has gifted you in prophecy because you have “strong beliefs and the need to communicate them to others?” Or were you told that you have the gift of administration because you like to “perform menial tasks for the church to the glory of God?”

If you have taken those tests and been told what your spiritual gift is as a result of a multiple choice test, I have some bad news for you.

It’s probably wrong.

And that really matters, so read on.

Faulty Foundations

The problem is that the tests originate from a flawed assumption. Though it may sound good to infer what your spiritual gift is based on a questionnaire, it simply isn’t biblical because that’s not really how spiritual gifts work. The concept of a spiritual gifts test comes from modern psychology, not from scripture.

Ever since mother-daughter team Katherine Briggs and Isabel Briggs Myers based their iconic “Myers-Briggs” personality test on the work of Carl Jung, the idea of taking a test to better understand yourself is deeply imbedded into the American Psyche. I believe the Myers-Briggs test is actually a useful tool to understand yourself better. There are other psychological profile tests that also work well. They work because they analyze the psyche. They look at who you are, who you have been and who you will be for the foreseeable future.

But your spiritual gifts are different than your psyche. Your spiritual gifts are not a part of you, they are a part of God. Let’s look at scripture to better understand.

Biblical Foundations

Follow the way of love and eagerly desire gifts of the Spirit, especially prophecy.

1 Corinthians 14:1

Let’s start here. This is actually very straightforward. Paul tells us to eagerly desire spiritual gifts, especially that we would prophesy. Why? Because when we prophesy, we are receiving direct communication from God through the Holy Spirit for direction, correction and encouragement. If the prophetic word is clear enough, we don’t have to second-guess what God is saying. But at no point is God’s voice a part of our own psyche. It is not something we can evaluate based on a personality test.

By telling us to “eagerly desire” spiritual gifts, Paul is encouraging us to pray for them. To ask God to give them to us. Paul did not say, “uncover the spiritual gifts inside you,” or “find the gifting God has given you.” No, he said desire them. Seek them. Ask God for them.

The flawed foundation people have is that they think spiritual gifts are given to us and are inside us awaiting our discovery from the moment of salvation. This isn’t found anywhere in scripture in relation to gifts. Spiritual gifts aren’t in us from salvation, but they are available to us from the moment of salvation. That is why Paul tells us to seek them. It is also why he is interested in prophecy above all.

So how do people get confused about this? I believe it is because it sounds so logical because we are used to tests like Myers-Briggs. People are also confused about another statement Paul made just two chapters earlier in 1 Corinthians.

Ordained Gifts

27Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. 28And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues. 29Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues ? Do all interpret? 31Now eagerly desire the greater gifts. And yet I will show you the most excellent way.

1 Corinthians 12:27-31

What we have here is Paul explaining that spiritual gifts are given by God’s sovereignty. We are not all prophets or apostles or teachers because God has appointed some to be those. Everyone will not be an apostle. Not everyone will be a prophet.

The difference here is that these are positional gifts. A prophet is someone who has been ordained by God to hear from Him a lot, with great authority. Does that mean that others cannot prophesy? Paul makes it clear that we can, and should, all prophesy in chapter 14. Because some ordained positions contain spiritual gifting does not mean that all spiritual gifts are ordained and set in stone. Paul makes that clear in this very passage by telling his readers to desire the “greater gifts.” He tells us prophecy is the greatest gift in chapter 14.

Stop Finding Your Gift

What does this mean to you? It means your time would be much better spent praying and asking God for spiritual gifts instead of trying to find them within yourself. Do like Paul said—eagerly desire all the spiritual gifts. Start by asking early and often for prophecy, because all the others flow easily from a position of faith in hearing God’s voice.

The gifts are not inside of you awaiting your discovery. They are available to you if you ask for them. They are gifts given freely by God, but He awaits your request for what He has already prepared for you.

If you are ordained by God to be an apostle, prophet, teacher, etc., it won’t be because you took an assessment test. It will be clear because God would have made that known to you through prophetic words and encounters. Please, please do not claim to be a prophet because an online test told you that, but please, please do ask God to speak to you prophetically every day.

It’s time to stop looking for your spiritual gifts and time to start asking for them.

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Prophecy Spiritual Gifts Supernatural Stuff

Why Is the Testimony of Jesus the Spirit of Prophecy?

testimony

Near the end of the Bible an angel, of all things, says something very peculiar. Overcome by everything he had just experienced, the Apostle John falls at the feet of this angel to worship him. The angel quickly rebukes him and tells him to worship only God. Then he adds that peculiar phrase.

“…The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”

Revelation 19:10

What an odd little phrase. I have often wondered why he said that. What it means. Why it was even a part of the angel’s rebuke.

Emotions

But then I began to think about all the times God has spoken prophetically to me over the years. I remember the many times I shed tears when God spoke, tears of mixed emotions: joy, fear and injustice. I have shed tears of joy at the thought that God knows me, loves me and cares enough for me to speak to me how He has. I have shed tears of fear and injustice at the notion that God would speak to someone as broken and unworthy as me.

But the emotions and tears have always led me back to one place. It is unjust for God to speak to me. It is unjust for Him to love me. I don’t deserve it, but through Jesus’ blood, I have been redeemed to God. When I consider the wonderful things the Lord has done for me, I am overcome and I collapse under the weight of His great love and redemption. In short, every prophetic encounter I have had brings me to the foot of the cross. It forces me to recount that I am unworthy except for the blood that was shed for me.

Eternity

The testimony of Jesus is the foundation of all prophecy. His love has bought me. I am worthy to receive it by His will alone. All revelation, biblical and contemporary, is rooted in that testimony. Every biblical prophet and every modern prophetic voice hears God’s voice only because of Jesus intervention for our sake.

Several times in Hebrews 11 we are told that the patriarchs looked forward to an eternal home. John was being shown the drama that would reveal that eternal home. All of human history will have its culmination on the day that God reveals His eternal city to man, and He will do it under the auspices of Jesus’ redemption of us.

Samuel, Elijah, Elisha, Isaiah, Jeremiah and Daniel all prophesied by the power of the testimony of Jesus, the very one who is preparing  this eternal home for us. They all looked forward to the eternal redemption that the Messiah’s blood would give them. We look back at Jesus’ act of redemption. All prophecy points us toward it, forward or backward.

The Testimony

I spent over three years studying Revelation intensely. I read it once a week for those three years and I experienced something deeply profound in doing so. I expected to discover more about heaven, eternity and the end times. While I did gain understanding and knowledge of that, the overriding experience I had was that I saw the cross in everything I read.

Every time I read about the eternal city God has prepared for me, I saw the cross. Every time I read about God punishing those who killed His people and rejected Him, I saw the cross. Every time I read about the angels and other beings, I saw the cross.

The Cross

Every prophetic experience, biblical or otherwise, points me to the cross. They stir me up to remember that I am unworthy but that Jesus is. They cause me to see that Jesus sacrifice for me, and His sacrifice alone, has given me access to Him, His voice and His eternal destiny for me. I have become so convinced of this angel’s statement that now, if a prophetic word doesn’t cause me to fall at the foot of the cross, I evaluate it carefully as to whether it is prophetic at all.

Let me say that again: if a prophetic word does not thrust you to the foot of the cross, to consider who is truly worthy and the price that was paid for you, it probably isn’t prophetic at all. But if you are one day caught off guard by something simple, like the beauty of a field of flowers, and they cause you to remember the price that was paid for you on Jesus’ cross, then you have had a prophetic experience just as profound as God speaking to you through a prophet.

If a prophetic experience does not bring you to the testimony of Jesus, throw it away, because it isn’t worthy holding on to.

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Prophecy Spiritual Gifts Supernatural Stuff

3 Steps To Administering The Prophetic Ministry

Prophetic administration

Administering prophecy in church services and in church life is such a large topic, an entire book could be devoted to it, so this short post will not be exhaustive by any means. I do want to lay out some helpful guidelines, however.

First, we have to lay down the fear of the unknown. Because allowing prophecy to function in your church is possibly one of the most uncomfortable unknowns out there. It’s not so much the fear of what God will do, but what people will do thinking they speak for God. If you are a pastor, set your mind from the beginning that you will have some messes to clean up—but know that what you gain from the messes can be worth the trouble (Proverbs 14:4)

Next, have a plan in place to gently and lovingly correct and mentor people who take the risk to step out in prophetic ministry and miss it. Use the least public way possible to correct them so they don’t shy away from trying again. If you don’t have a plan in place beforehand on how to deal with problems, then prophetic ministry can become an unmitigated disaster. I’ve seen it—it’s not pretty.

Third, learn from mistakes in administering prophetic ministry. Don’t be so bound by the original plan on how to deal with things that you don’t adapt. Each church, each small group and each ministry will be different. What has worked for others may or may not work for you—after all, you are inviting God to directly speak and lead your group, right? Let Him do it.

Ask God to guide and direct your prophetic ministry. If He can (and He can) speak to you, He will definitely help you learn and grow in administering prophetic ministry. Be firm, but don’t be rigid. There is a difference—and that goes for everyone involved. All too often people who are open to the notion of prophetic ministry lay aside all diligence and discernment. Everyone involved needs to be willing to embrace prophetic ministry while lovingly and honestly throwing away things that aren’t God.

When we “call a spade a spade” things go much better. It helps pastors and it helps everyone else to confidently know when God has spoken and when He hasn’t. It takes humility on the part of the pastor and everyone else to admit when they miss it, either in what they heard from the Lord or in administration of prophetic words.

In the end, everyone gets humbled, everyone grows and God has an open door to touch and woo the hearts of a congregation or ministry.

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A Diary of Dreams and Visions (Video)

This is a brief explanation of my new book, A Diary of Dreams and Visions.

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Prophecy Spiritual Gifts Supernatural Stuff

What Should You Expect of Prophets?

expectations

I have read several books that establish different and higher standards for prophets than anyone else in church. I have heard sermons where prophets and prophetic people face a much stricter judgment than those who teach Sunday School to children.

 

But this isn’t biblical, it is a reaction to intimidation. Intimidation of people who can “read your mail.” Intimidation of people who can disrupt the delicate balance of church complacency.

Teachers, not prophets, are biblically liable to stricter judgment before God.

Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.

James 3:1

Most of the time we assume this is only speaking of pastors, but that is not what James says. He says teachers. That is Sunday morning sermon pastor all the way “down” to the kindergarten teacher. In fact, Jesus has even stricter things to say to those who would lead children astray.

If anyone causes one of these little ones–those who believe in me–to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.

Matthew 18:6

Those are Jesus’ words. If you lead a child astray, you’re better off dead. Digest that for a while. That’s harsh.

Proper Expectations

But we choose to be much stricter on prophets and prophetic words, something Paul instructed us all to seek. Why? Because most people are afraid of prophets and prophetic words. They are afraid their secret sins will be revealed.

If you are afraid of that, I have some bad news for you: all your secret sins will be revealed. When we enter the light of eternity, God will expose and judge all the works of darkness we have in our lives. Everything we have kept hidden will be exposed (1 Corinthians 3:13). But those things that we have confessed to God are lost forever as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12).

I’m not saying we shouldn’t carefully consider and weigh prophetic words. No, Paul tells us to do just that in 1 Corinthians 14. What I am saying is that we should treat prophecy without the fear it normally carries. We should be more interested in controlling what is taught in our church than controlling what a prophet might say. Or even what an assuming prophet might say.

Proper Grace

The proper expectation of prophets is not to be more sober, more self-controlled, more theologically trained or more humble than anyone else, but to be held to the same standards we would expect of anyone else in the church. Often the problem is that we don’t uphold biblical standards for anyone BUT prophetic people.

Prophetic people will stumble just like any other believer. They will sin. Not maybe: they most certainly will. And when they do, we should extend to them the same grace that God extends to each of us through the blood of His Son.

I don’t know about you, but for me that has been a LOT of grace.