Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Personal Prophesy and Phariseeism

Prophecy and miracles argue the imperfection of the state of the church, rather than its perfection. For they are means designed by God as a stay or support, or as a leading string to the church in its infancy, rather than as means adapted to it in its full growth. -Jonathan Edwards

A couple of weeks ago, when my husband was still in Florida helping with his mother, I went to the associate pastor after the service to get our gift assessment tests as they were handed out the week before when we did not go but were preparing to leave for Florida to help my mother-in-law after her fall. At that time he told me that he had been given a word about me during the service. The first part is something I have heard many times, from God directly and people. He told me that I was spiritually mature beyond my years. At that point I wondered if the message was more for him than me, but later I wondered if that was to get my attention and be willing to accept the next part.

The exact words escape me, but it the gist of it was that the gift of prophecy would be heightened in me. I wish I could fully explain my deeper concerns and hesitations about prophecy, particularly while we are in this church. First, there are those in the office of being a prophet and then there are those who have a prophetic gift. The first, I believe, speaks with authority (of the good and the bad) to right the wrongs of the church or a nation and it is a necessary but seldom welcomed message. I am thinking of Nathan with David, Jonah with Ninevah, etc.

The prophetic gift is a bit less defined...and yet leave it to people to add definition. The church we are attending has a school and prophecy is one of the courses offered. A few months ago, I sat in on a three-Sunday-mornings introduction to the course and here are some of the things that were told to us that highly concerned me:

  • Personal prophecy is ALWAYS edifying. If it is not edifying then it is not from God.
  • You are to speak in tongues to activate the gift of prophecy.
  • Once you take the prophecy course and are approved, you MUST be on the Prophetic Team in service to the church, with the exception of students from other churches.
  • Parking lot prophecy is NEVER allowed. These are words spoken outside of proper spiritual oversight, namely the church. It must be submitted to church leadership before it is given.

My first thoughts were: "I am just not seeing this list in the Bible."

My second thoughts were: "No. What? Why?" and then "You have got to be kidding, right?"

Even after some prayer, my thoughts were in that same perpetual loop, because I just cannot believe this list is from God. No supportive scriptures were given that specifically addressed these rules. This is church leaders trying to govern men and their sin natures coming through in the name of a spiritual gift. Worse, to me this is modern Phariseeism.

The last Sunday of the introduction classes, some members of the prophetic team came in to give each of us our personal prophecy. They were instructed to pray in tongues and then told when to stop and prophesy. The first woman that called on me said that God wanted me to know He has has hand on me and that He has never left me. I translated that to mean that even though I was finally feeling that all that had been going on with the Princess and our family was calming down and that I had calmed down considerably, I still was dealing with aftermath of the storm. I knew that my expectations of homeschooling my daughter had changed and my trust in and reliance on God was stronger than it had been in the past year.

Another woman came forward telling me not to sit down, She told me that she could see me just warring in prayer for my family and that I seemed quiet but a lot was going on in me. She got the words "quiet storm," and said I was a quiet storm and that I was "dangerous," which made everyone in the class giggle. I assumed that she meant that when I go after something in prayer, I do not let up until the war is won. This was how it had been from September of last year up to just weeks before then.

Now, my first thoughts were that neither of these messages were particularly about my future. They were more about where I was presently and who I am. I would consider them to be more like words of knowledge, but that is just me. Personally, I do not think all messages from God have to be categorized, but again leave it to people....

Putting aside my personal prophecies and going back to the list, I am struggling with the rule that all personal prophecy must only be edifying. I disagree. Nathan approached David quite wisely so that David condemned himself, but it was not edifying, it was to point out his sin, and there was a punishment for his deed, the loss of his first son with Bathsheba. I feel that prophecy, even personal prophecy can be corrective. I think their concern is that personal prophecy has been used abusively: telling a person he should give x-amount of dollars to the church or a ministry, he should take a job that in the end works out disastrously, he should marry a certain person and it is a horrible relationship, and things like that.

I flatly do not believe that the gift of prophecy must be activated whether by tongues or any other method. Now as to preparing your heart to hear the Lord clearly, obviously that is necessary, but I still do not think it is done by any certain method. Some people just walk with God and some people prepare by praying alone in silence and some by fasting and perhaps some by tongues. It is not the method, it is what prepares the heart and there is absolutely no place in the Bible that states tongues is required. How many prophets were there before Pentecost?

I might have been open to taking the course—well, most likely not after I sat in on the three introduction classes—but, after reading the contract for the course requiring the student to be on the Prophetic Team, I definitely was hearing "no" from God. I probably would have not passed anyway, because I just did not believe in the Pharisee-like add-ons that they would teach.

Now the last one, parking lot prophecy, I would get that if someone was given a prophecy for the church that it should be confirmed or one had been abusing the use of prophecy to control people, he should submit to the church's authority for correction. However, a friend of mine, who I met through the church, has this gift and asked if it was considered incorrect for her to give a prophetic word to a waitress as she had done just that week. The answer was that she should have submitted it first. Sorry, but no! God is the authority over the church. He provides the moment of contact. So, if He leads me to give a prophetic word to someone so strongly I have no doubt or it comes out of my mouth without a thought (which has happened a few times), I am not going stop and to take it to a church leadership committee for preapproval!

And...at the same time, we were told that it is okay if we get it wrong, so we should not be discouraged by that or not use it because of that. Isn't this a conflicting message?

I have this gift of just knowing the path a person is taking and of what lies in his future, perhaps it is spiritual wisdom, but I cannot say that is all edifying. It is more one of giving some assurance, pointing out choices, and guiding. I want what God wants for the person and to help them get there, but it is not always a message that gives the warm fuzzies. So, here I am again thinking against the grain of the church, wondering which is right, and what I am supposed to do with it either way, but especially if I am right.

Ironically, only my friend signed up for the course so it was cancelled. I had been given a vision when I first saw the woman leading the class and teaching the course. I would have liked to tell her about it, but I also know she is not open to receiving it yet. I do know that I have been constantly reminded that my ministry, at this time, is not within any church.

My Lord, thank you for keeping Your Hand on me and that You have never left me. All that is good in me comes from You; I can take no credit for it. Guide me continually to use all that I am wisely.

3 comments:

  1. I don't think your church really understands what the prophetic gift is. I have become very wary of *personal words*. Primarily the gift is to line people up correctly with God ~ thus warning & correction are as valid as edification. How that is conveyed is as important as the message itself & often when one becomes aware of another's sin the call is not to confrontation but to intercession for them. If you are going to teach people to prophesy them you must equally teach people how to *test the Spirits* & discern the truth of what has been said. I'm constantly telling people not to accept blindly but to go to the scriptures & see for themselves if what they are being taught or told is true scriptualy.

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    1. Your concerns were briefly addressed and probably would be more so in the course. However, their idea of edifying words would be encouraging "happy words" and ONLY that.

      Weaknesses in the church is where my discernment is the strongest, even though I rather not know sometimes and hope I am wrong. You know how it has been as you have traveled this journey with me for a long time.

      My problem is that I am easily intimidated by church leadership. It is my nature to believe that they know more than I do or are closer with God than I am. Yet, God has been reminding quite a bit of late how I am really a quiet storm, so I guess I should be thinking they are going to get righted or wrecked because God had shown me the rocks they have not seen yet.

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  2. Like you I am shown the *hidden rocks* ~ not to judge but to warn of danger. Most prefer to remain oblivious & then are shocked when the boat gets holed. *sigh*

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Thank you fellow travelers for walking and talking with me along this journey.