It is time to debunk the false notion that prophecy has somehow changed under the New Covenant.
Now in these days prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. And one of them named Agabus stood up and foretold by the Spirit that there would be a great famine over all the world (this took place in the days of Claudius). -- Acts 11: 27-28 (ESV)
While we were staying for many days, a prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. And coming to us, he took Paul's belt and bound his own feet and hands and said, "Thus says the Holy Spirit, 'This is how the Jews at Jerusalem will bind the man who owns this belt and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.'" -- Acts 21: 10-11 (ESV)
The modern Charismatic Church has corrupted so much of what the Bible teaches. I do not say that as being anti-Charismatic. I was saved in a Charismatic church and fully believe in the gifts of the Spirit. Being a responsible Berean however means I am guided solely by Scripture and not hidden gnostic signs, false wonders or tales of astounding spiritual moves. It is always unsettling to realize that you have believed something that is simply not supported scripturally and every time you must come down on the side of Scripture. This is why Experiential Christianity gets so much wrong. Believing God has spoken to you is not a substitute for what we know He has already said in the Bible. The primary defense people have when defending false teachers is "you don't know him -- I do." To which I respond who cares? I do not have to know him or her. I just need to weigh their teaching against Scripture. Dr. Michael Brown defended Bill Johnson to me by exclaiming that he knew him! He defended his heretical school for the supernatural by saying he had taught at it! Those are carnal defenses that rely upon our hearts and how we feel and as we well know the heart is the most wickedly deceitful thing ever made. That is why we must side with Scripture. It is impartial. It is never wrong. It never changes.
One of the primary areas the Charismatic Church continues to butcher is prophecy. We have reviewed this topic before but with each passing day more and more wannabe prophets are coming out of the Pentecostal woodwork. Just review Charisma News for one week and you can get upwards of 20 different, overlapping, and contrary prophecies. Beloved, God is not schizophrenic. The Prophetic Industrial Complex however has made a million dollar industry out of falsifying what God has and has not said. The Bible is the final revealed will of the Lord. He has not forgotten to tell us something that He now needs General Cindy Jacobs or Heidi "Shaka-Baba" Baker to finally reveal to us. Such a premise is fundamentally ridiculous. One of the tell-tale signs of the false prophecy movement is in the complete submersion of any prophecy in confectionary sugar before it is released. Every prophecy is puppies and pancakes for everyone! If anyone dares to have a word of warning, they are rebuked. Most of this disconnect is purposeful because words of warning or rebuke do not sell well. When King Ahab is asked if there are any honest prophets in Israel, he reluctantly admits there is one name Micaiah and his admission is stunning:
And the king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, "There is yet one man by whom we may inquire of the Lord, Micaiah the son of Imlah, but I hate him, for he never prophesies good concerning me, but evil." -- 1Kings 22: 8 (ESV)
There is nothing new under the sun beloved. Man always wants to hear what he wants to hear and not what God actually wants to say to him. Ahab would not listen to Micaiah that day and he went out to war and was killed exactly how Micaiah had said the Lord told him. Diabetic prophecy is never good for us. Besides those who are making merchandise off the sheep through false prophecy there are also those who may be simply taught poorly regarding the true nature of prophecy. Today we will look at an example from the latter group. It is a paragraph from a recent article by J. Lee Grady. For the most part, many of the offerings from Grady seem on point. He still associates with Charisma, where he served as an editor for 11 years which is disturbing. In a recent article he offered the following as one of the rules of personal prophecy:
"Never give harsh prophetic words. New Testament prophecy should encourage, comfort and exhort believers (see 1 Cor. 14:3). That rules out condemnation and harsh criticism disguised as a word from God. Our heavenly Father does not speak to His children in a hateful, scolding tone. He is an encourager, even when He brings needed correction. Remember: Paul said that if you use the gift of prophecy without love, it is useless (see 1 Cor. 13:2)." -- J. Lee Grady
This is the third time in a month that I have seen this defense of diabetic prophecy. So much of the false prophecies are rooted in this poor and inaccurate belief. Let us reason together and go through what is wrong, item by item:
1. Our heavenly Father does not speak to His children in a hateful scolding tone? What about when He was going to wipe everyone off the earth except Noah? What about when Moses had to talk Him out of killing all of the Israelites who would not stop complaining and murmuring? What about when God rebuked David through the Prophet Nathan? We have to stop dressing God up in these false sloppy agape clothes. Love includes rebuke and instruction beloved.
2. Never give harsh prophetic words? Really? Has everyone forgot the entire Old Testament? Were there any glowingly positive prophecies? It sure seemed like everyone was a call to return to the Lord, stop sinning, and get right. Before people start insisting the Old Testament means nothing to them, this pattern did not abate in the New Testament. What was the message of John the Baptist? Was it "relax because God loves you" or "repent for the kingdom of God is at hand?" The first word Jesus ever uttered in ministry was not love but repent. Here are two more New Testament prophecies:
Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: "This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too." -- Luke 2: 34-35 (NIV)
Peter replied, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off--for all whom the Lord our God will call."
With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, "Save yourselves from this corrupt generation."Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day. (Acts 2: 38-41 NIV)
The first was a prophecy about the unborn Jesus. Was it, "This child is destined to make everyone love each other?" No beloved. He will cause many to rise and fall. He will be spoken against. He will reveal the hearts of many. And a sword will pierce your own soul as well. I can only assume J. Lee Grady must think this prophecy was not from God? Of course not. What about Peter's prophetic word to the people of Israel? Repent for the forgiveness of your sins! Save yourself from this corrupt generation! Hardly puppies and pancakes yet 3000 were saved! This is a huge point that Grady and the false prophet patrol always forget. What they have deemed as negative or harsh might be exactly what someone needs to hear in order to come to Christ! Not convinced? Read the two key verses today. These are two different prophecies offered by Agabus, a man identified clearly as a prophet in the New Testament church. One tells of a coming famine that would indeed cover the entire land. The second is telling Paul what fate awaits him, which would lead eventually to his death. Both of these words would not be allowed in most Charismatic churches today and that simply means that they do not to actually want to hear what God might be trying to say.
3. Separating the agape from the sloppy. Yes it is true that in 1Corinthians 13, Paul exhorts believers to understand that love binds the gifts, including prophecy. The problem is that Grady and company seem to think that love means being dishonest. That love must always be deemed positively in the eyes of the recipient. That is not agape love. Telling someone they need to repent and seek the forgiveness of God is not harsh. It is in fact more loving than turning a blind eye to it. If you see someone driving off a cliff it is not loving to hold their hand on the way to their death while telling them everything is going to be OK when quite obviously it will not.
4. Correctly understanding 1Corinthians 14. I have seen verse three offered multiple times as the basis for saying that prophecy in the New Testament has now somehow changed to be this puppies and rainbows slop. When one views the entire context of this portion of Scripture however is that the purpose Paul was seeking? Was he trying to redefine prophecy as it has existed for thousands of years or was he trying to outline the basis for an orderly church service while guiding people towards the gifts of the spirit that would be most beneficial to the people? Within these parameters, let us reason together for two vitally important points:
Point One -- The context reveals that Paul is concerned that too many were chasing after tongues instead of more useful gifts such as prophecy. It seems that the same showy, "look at me" spirit that infects charismania today may have been at work in Corinth as well. To take one verse from the midst of a different conversation and undo millennia of understood theology is not responsible hermeneutics at all. For contrast, God wanted everyone to understand that under the New Covenant, we are not bound by the same dietary restrictions that the Old Testament followers were. So he provides an entire story about the dream Peter had to teach that what He has made should not be declared unclean. That we were free to eat once again. He further supports this new teaching throughout the New Testament, especially when He teaches about not causing a brother to stumble because one thinks you should not eat meat sacrificed to idols. That is how clear God is when He is trying to make sure His people know that something important has changed. Not a random verse in the middle of a discussion that is completely different. The truth is that God has never changed beloved. Prophecy is still the same. God can use people to speak for Him but if they are not pointing people back to the final revealed will in Scripture I would stay far away.
Point Two -- Understanding what upbuilding, encouragement, and consolation mean. Remember, the point Grady and others make is that this verse says these three things are the reasons why we prophesy and therefore there never should be any harsh prophecies. But is that true? These three outcomes are also what we expect from the Word of God and that makes perfect sense. Prophecy is also the word of God. It should always edify, encourage and console. That does not mean however that God never is going to have corrective words for His people. In fact, the fallacy Grady is involved with here is that corrective words are somehow by nature a negative. Sure we may not want to hear repent but that is not the point. The point is DO we need to hear it? The word Micaiah had for King Ahab may not have seemed encouraging to him but did he NEED to hear it? Of course he did because it was from God and therefore true! Grady is ascribing negativity or harshness based upon how the word makes us feel instead of whether it is correct or not. To be built up is to be edified. Sometimes the building up process is not exactly painless. Think of the purification process beloved for silver. Sometimes the Lord needs to remove the dross from our lives if we are to continue to be built up in Christ. The fact that I didn't want to hear it, or found it painful does not negate the fact that it was encouraging, consoling and edifying. Here are the notes from the Matthew Henry Commentary for this section of Scripture:
14:1-5 Prophesying, that is, explaining Scripture, is compared with speaking with tongues. This drew attention, more than the plain interpretation of Scripture; it gratified pride more, but promoted the purposes of Christian charity less; it would not equally do good to the souls of men. What cannot be understood, never can edify. No advantage can be reaped from the most excellent discourses, if delivered in language such as the hearers cannot speak or understand. Every ability or possession is valuable in proportion to its usefulness. Even fervent, spiritual affection must be governed by the exercise of the understanding, else men will disgrace the truths they profess to promote. -- Matthew Henry Commentary
First of all, prophecy is as it says here, explaining Scripture. Secondly, Henry correctly points out the self-serving nature of tongues that we still see today. The final note here is almost prescient of what we see today in Charismania. The overhyped nature of being fervently affectionate towards God without actually abiding by what His Word says. Instead we end up watching the prophet brigade disgracing the very truths they profess to promote. This is reminiscent of Jesus bemoaning why people bother calling Him Lord if they refuse to do what He says.
Beloved, usually J. Lee Grady is better than this. The problem is that when you get involved within a denomination you tend towards what the denomination is accepting of regardless of what the Scripture actually says. Prophecy is not as complicated as we make it out to be these days. It is essentially is still man speaking on behalf of God. Revealing what the Lord has said. In the Old Testament days that revelation was given to the prophet directly from God since there was no set Bible the people had for themselves. The only difference in the New Testament church is that we have the revealed will of God found in the inspired Scripture. Does that mean that it is not fresh? Of course not! God is constantly revealing new things to us all through His Word! I am sure most of us have experienced looking at a verse we had seen before but this time the Holy Spirit leads us into a deeper truth regarding that Scripture. That is revelation beloved. We must as a church move away from the spirit of Ahab that only wanted to hear what he deemed positive instead of what God actually wanted to say. It seems today that the modern day wannabe prophets simply take the Bible dip it into a cotton candy machine and call it prophecy. Nonsense. If God wants to say I love you, He will. If He wants to say repent, He will. No matter what He has to say it is worth hearing without the diabetic filter of the False Prophet Industrial Complex. Keep your sneak squid spirit prophecies! Give me Micaiah! Keep your "Increase, shifting atmospheres, new seasons, expanding territories" clairvoyantly demonic words! Give me Micaiah! Give me the straight Word of God. Hold the sugar please.
Reverend Anthony Wade -- July 28, 2017
Credentialed Minister of the Gospel for the Assemblies of God. Owner and founder of 828 ministries. Vice President for Goodwill Industries. Always remember that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.