Many Christian leaders today claim to be prophets or to have the gift of prophecy. In many African cities you may feel inferior if your church doesn’t have a resident prophet. Prophets are forever sharing the visions and messages they have apparently received from God. The increase in the phenomena of prophecy is to a large decree caused by the decrease of sound biblical knowledge and spiritual maturity. What does the Bible says about prophecy1?
Speaking in tongues is probably in the top 3 issues that Christians disagree on. Speaking in tongues, I hope to show you, is not what many Christians think it is and not what is happening in many churches today. The Bible, not our experience, must always be our highest authority in doctrine and practice.
This is article is for Christians, dealing with an in-house issue. If you are not a Christian, you may not know what I’m talking about! Please do read the article if the subject interests you.
According to “charismatic” Christians, tongues is a heavenly or angelic prayer language and is a sign that you are filled with the Holy Spirit. You use this ecstatic prayer language (that you don’t understand) to pray to and praise God (in a language that apparently devil doesn’t understand either). “Charismatic” and Pentecostal Christians view use 1 Corinthians 12-14 as justification for this practice. Here are six simple points I hope will help clarify this thorny issue1:
Have you had a prophecy over your life that you’re not too sure about? Did a prophet say you should take a certain course that you don’t really want to? Are you in a church where prophecies are common, but create anxiety not peace because of the added pressure on believers?
What does the Bible say about the gift of prophecy and other “miraculous” spiritual gifts?
One of the characteristics of the Word of Faith Movement is that it emphasizes physical healing.
According to them Jesus’ atonement not only secured our spiritual healing, but our physical healing too. Christians should simply claim God’s promises by faith and the sick will be made well and the ill restored. Sickness and disease are enemies from Satan and God wants his people to be healthy and prosperous.
If, as a Christian, you are not healed it is because you do not have enough faith or because you have unrepentant sin in your life.
Many Christians as a result have left Word of Faith churches disillusioned and damaged.
There seems to be a renewed interest in the more “supernatural” spiritual gifts among evangelicals. Mark Driscoll, who calls himself a “charismatic with a seat-belt”, is no doubt a contributing factor. I have recently posted about healing, miraculous gifts and speaking in tongues. What remains is prophecy1.
Prophecy in the Old Testament
Deuteronomy 18:18 describes the role of a prophet like this,
“I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. And I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him.”
This gives us a clear definition of prophetic ministry. God put His own words in the prophet’s mouth. The prophet was moved by God and spoke the very words of God to the people of God. From Moses to Malachi, God spoke to his people through the prophets by their spoken and written word, publicly and privately.
I argued in my previous post that the speaking tongues in Acts was not the norm for all Christians, but the very specific and unique plan of God to demonstrate that there was to be only one church. Not a separate Gentile Church. Not a separate Samaritan church. One church made up of converted Jews, Samaritans and Gentiles. The pouring out of the Holy Spirit on all these groups demonstrated by the speaking of foreign languages (like at Pentecost, Acts 2) was evidence of this.
1 Corinthians 12-14 is the only other place in the New Testament that mentions speaking in tongues. (If speaking in tongues was and is the distinctive evidence of being filled by the Spirit, as is alleged by some, one would have thought it would be mentioned more?)
For those who hold the position that every Christian should speak in tongues as evidence of being filled with the Holy Spirit, here is some food for thought:
One man in the choir could not sing to save his life. The choir director suggested that he should leave the choir and several choir members hinted that he would make an excellent sidesman. The choir director and some members of the choir then decided to go to the pastor and complain. “You’ve got to get that man out of the choir people will start resigning and our Xmas cantata will be ruined. Please do something!” So the pastor went to the man and said to him, “Perhaps you should leave the choir.”
“Why should I leave the choir?” the man asked. “Well,” said the pastor, “I hate to say this because I don’t have an ear for music, but four or five people have told me you can’t sing.” “So!” the man snorted, “That’s nothing, 25 people have told me you can’t preach.”
What is the purpose of these miracles? Why did Jesus and his close followers perform them? Was Jesus just being nice? Well, Jesus was being nice but there is more to it than that. Hundreds of years earlier Isaiah the prophet spoke about the new era of God’s salvation that was to come.