To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills. -- 1Corinthians 12: 7-11 (ESV)
Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret?But earnestly desire the higher gifts. 1Corinthians 12: 29-31 (ESV)
One of the growing trends in false beliefs these past ten years has been the proliferation of the false signs and lying wonders network of churches. Once considered more on the fringe, we have seen places such as Bethel and IHOP grow among the impressionable and biblically illiterate youth to the point that now there is a generation of 30-somethings that have been raised on this radical distortion of God and His Word. Anyone who dares point out the unbiblical nature of these teachings is branded as a legalist who needs a deeper revelation of the Spirit of God. To which I would respond no, you need an entry level revelation to the Word of God. But the Word is secondary to this crowd. Bill Johnson is proud to preach that he does not worship the Bible, even though it clearly says that Christ is His Word. Now I understand why someone as unbiblical as Bill Johnson would choose to not worship the Word of God. The problem is he is raising up an army of like-minded biblically indifferent "Christians." As is Mike Bickle and the International House of Prayer (IHOP). Please do not confuse this with the pancake franchise which has far sounder theology and tastier waffles.
Within this network, we have seen the growth of the false notion that the gifts of the Spirit are easy to manipulate by man. Bethel started their own "School of the Supernatural"; where they teach people the gifts of the Holy Spirit. This notion has caught on and spread because there is money to be made from gullible Christians. It is fully supported by the growing network of false prophets such as the Kansas City Prophets, General's International, the Council of Prophetic Elders, New Apostolic Reformation and the gaggle of false prophets found on Charisma News. They have constructed a massive network designed to protect the brand, sell their prophecies, and make some coin. Thus we turn to a new article on Charisma News written by Adam Wittenberg. Don't know who he is? Neither did I until this morning. Turns out Adam works for the Marketing Department of IHOP. Yes, the Marketing Department. You must understand beloved, when you do not preach the Gospel you are forced to "sell" God. Let us reason together and use the Bible to show how wrong Mr. Wittenberg is to believe God needs marketing and that the gifts can be manipulated by man. Here is a link to the article:
"It might surprise you, but prophesy is for all believers. Paul encourages us to desire the spiritual gift of prophecy, which is entirely different from the office of prophet. God continues to speak today, and He wants to use you to strengthen and comfort others (1Corinthians 14: 1-3). -- Adam Wittenberg
From the start we see the false underpinnings of the thinking of Mr. Wittenberg. Now keep in mind we can expect no more from him as his four years of ministerial training were provided at IHOP, a virtual cesspool of false teachings and heresy. One might wonder why this article at this time. Skipping to the end we discover this is not just a random article but it is actually a giant promotion for an upcoming eight day teaching conference called "Immerse" at IHOP. For only $199 you too can sit in to learn how to prophesy and avoid pitfalls in prophecy. Remember, it is a network and a racket. It generates revenue. Hallelujah, pass the offering plate. Back to the quote however, does Paul encourage us to desire prophecy?
Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy. -- 1Corinthians 14: 1 (ESV)
Yes, the Word does say that we should earnestly desire all of the gifts, but especially prophecy. That does not however mean that prophecy is for everyone. The desire of the spiritual gifts is for everyone. Paul is actually encouraging believers to be more mature in desiring prophecy over tongues because tongues builds the self up whereas true prophecy is edifying and encouraging for others. It is as if Paul could see into the future and our present day "look at me" Pentecostal experience where it seems everyone wants to shout out incoherent babble during church services. In many ways the gift of tongues draws attention to the speaker but true prophecy redirects people back to God. So it does surprise me that someone like Adam Wittenberg has been so poorly taught to actually believe that every believer can prophesy, especially since all he had to do was read the rest of that chapter he referenced, from which both of our key verse sections have been taken.
Verses 7-11 make it abundantly clear that the gifts are given for the common good. That one might get wisdom while another gets the utterance of knowledge. One might be given the gift of faith while another might receive the ability to work miracles. Another receives prophecy while someone else might receive tongues. The language is unmistakable. Individuals receive different gifts. Not all of them. The concluding line here is what destroys this silly notion about being able to teach the gifts. They are apportioned as the Holy Spirit wills. Not as Bill Johnson wills. Not as Mike Bickle wills. Not as Adam Wittenberg markets. To claim to be able to teach something that only the Spirit wills is to usurp God Himself. This is common among most false teachings in the church. When you peel away the human wisdom and logic, you usually arrive at man wanting to be God. As if Paul knew that this kind of false teaching would arise, he goes on later in the chapter, in our second set of key verses, to make it even clearer. Within the original language there is an implied answer to these questions and that answer is NO. Are all prophets? No. Do all speak in tongues? No. Now, the followers of these heresies have tried to parse out that the prophecy part is only forbidding that all are not prophets and the office of prophet is different than the gift of prophecy. By their twisted logic, then everyone can be an apostle and everyone can be a teacher. Clearly Paul is not changing what he intends to say in mid-sentence. So, should we desire the higher spiritual gift of prophecy over that of tongues? Absolutely. That does not mean however that the Spirit wills prophecy to everyone. Wittenberg would continue:
"He created us to be a prophetic people, and the Word says it it's for all flesh." (Joel 2:28). -- Adam Wittenberg
Wittenberg engages in the same error that the false prophets use to defend things like the schools for the supernatural and a prophet on every street corner. Does the Word actually say that prophecy is for all flesh? Let's refer to the scriptures in question:
"And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions.Even on the male and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit."And I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and columns of smoke. The sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood, before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes. And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be those who escape, as the Lord has said, and among the survivors shall be those whom the Lord calls. -- Joel 2: 28-32 (ESV)
The first problem that Wittenberg faces is that this is referring to a time that has yet to come. The term "afterward" means in the last days, which clearly we are in but will not end until the second coming of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. How can we know that is when Joel is referring? The immediate context. Sure verse 28 alone looks tempting to support a present dispensation but has the sun turned to darkness? The moon turned to blood? Are we actually at the great and awesome day of the Lord? Of course not! That would be Judgment Day! Some false signs and lying wonders will point to Acts 2, where Peter refers to the Joel prophecy as being fulfilled that very day in the explosion of foreign tongues that preceded the Pentecost sermon. That however does not quite hit the mark either. As John MacArthur says, "He's poured out His Spirit, right? On all flesh, wrong." Remember that God sees all time simultaneously. A day is like a thousand years. We think in finite terms with our finite minds. The immediate context of Joel 2:28 however reveals clearly that we are talking about the Day of the Lord and the immediate time leading up to it.
If that is too close for you, the second problem is the actual verse does not claim that everyone will prophesy. It says the Spirit will be poured out on all flesh but Wittenberg automatically correlates this to everyone prophesying. Yes it says your sons and daughters will prophesy but not your old men! They will dream dreams. So is it an age thing? Not at all because then it says that your young men will see visions. When you step back objectively you must conclude that the only thing promised to be poured out on all flesh is the Spirit. What that manifestation is per person is still decided by the Holy Spirit in synch with our key verses. Perhaps the most glaring problem is Wittenberg's assertion that God created us to be a prophetic people. While it may sound grandiose or even partially pious, it is unbiblical. Nowhere does the Bible suggest that God created us to be prophetic. Wittenberg continues:
"Prophecy scares some people, but it doesn't have to. When we give ourselves to hearing God's voice and humbly and obediently speak what He says in His timing, the whole body is built up. And all throughout Scripture, God speaks to people in different ways. Sometimes it is through a quiet whisper, or other times a voice like rushing waters, or even through the mouth of a donkey. But the Bible is clear -- our God speaks, continually, and He is still speaking today! -- Adam Wittenberg