Over the past months there has been a growing scepticism around prophecies because
many well known church leaders made prophecies about the American election and the
results didn’t happen as they said it would. This issue has caused a massive divide in
America but a greater divide in the body of Christ. Many believe that because the
prophecies were wrong, the people who prophesied were false prophets, others believe
that the prophecies are yet to be fulfilled and in time we will see them come to past and
some are now fully convinced that Christians cannot prophesy. How can we truly make
sense of all this? We cannot change what has already been said. All we can do is change
how we react to prophecies the next time we hear them.
The bible tells us in 1Thessalonians 5:19-22 that we must not suppress the Spirit, brush
off prophecies or reject the gift of prophecies but approach them with humility by testing
the spirit they came from and remembering the truth. However, for us to test prophecies
we have to know what they are and what purpose they serve.
A prophecy is a spoken revelation, word of instruction, exhortation or warning given to a
believer by the Holy Spirit. Throughout the entire bible, God spoke to his people the
Israelites through prophets and they were mediators between God and his people. The
prophets warned the people of the exile, they proclaimed the coming of the messiah and
they interceded on behalf of the people. Under the new dispensation, everyone who has
received the spirit of God can prophesy and we are encouraged to do so to edify the
church. Nonetheless, some believers are still called into the office of prophets. These
individuals are usually set apart by God to reveal his heart to the church.
The office of a prophet is important because they are called to speak the heart of God.
The bible tells us to test the spirit behind the prophecies we receive and one way to do
this is by knowing the character of the one who is prophesying. Are they a believer of the
gospel; that Christ came, died and was resurrected? Do they believe in the trinity; the
Holy Spirit is the source of all revelation? Are they a person of integrity; does their
lifestyle correlate with what they are saying? Do they have a heart for people; they love
God and therefore love people? One thing all the OT prophets had in common was that
they all hated sin and injustice, this by far is the clearest indication. You see, a prophet is
someone who hears the voice of God and because we know that the Spirit is grieved by
sin, someone who hears the heart of God is also grieved by sin.
Personally, I believe a trustworthy prophet can get it wrong for a number of reasons,
however this should not be a regular occurrence. The bible says we prophesy in part, we
might get a vision/dream from the Lord but may need wisdom to interpret it. Our
interpretation of what God has said is just as important and the word received. To
interpret a word, we need the help of the Holy Spirit and often times we may want to use
our wisdom and we can get it wrong when we do this. Other times, we get too familiar
with our gift and allow pride to set in; we no long prophesy to reveal the word of God but
we do it to gain recognition and approval from others. Sometimes, prophets are
pressured into saying the wrong to prove they hear from God and sadly a prophet might
be have personal attachments to someone or something and this can cause them to
prophesy based on the desires of their heart. Nonetheless, if we ever get it wrong, our
response should always be repentance because, as we’ve seen, a false prophecy can
lead the church to mistrust in the gift itself.
Being on the receiving end of a false prophecy is usually hard to deal with. Ultimately, our
hope is God, the one who does not lie. Therefore, we make room for human error and
react by praying for the person who brought the word; that the spirit will remove every
scale from their eyes and convict them of the truth. We should pray that the truth will
prevail in the church and that the church will be a beacon of hope and truth in a world
governed by mistrust and lies.
Holy Spirit Kim Walker