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