Summary: Spiritual Gifts Series - 7 of 13.
THE GIFT OF PROPHECY
INTRO: One night a man was on his way to church when he saw a stranger staring through an open window of the church. The man stopped and invited the stranger to come inside, and that night he was saved! Later he remarked to the kind Christian who had invited him inside: “I’ve lived here for five years, and this is the first time anybody has ever invited me to church. Why, I hadn’t been here a week before delivery men from the newspaper, the dairy, and the cleaners had called on me, but tonight was the first time anyone ever told me about Jesus!”
One of the saddest statistics of our day is that 95% of all church members have never led anyone to Christ. Why is it that so few Christians take the time to invite others to know the Lord? After all, every Christian has been called to be a witness, and some Christians even have the gift of prophecy.
I. A GOOD DEFINITION.
It’s extremely important to carefully define this gift, for it is a hotly debated subject. Most people think of futuristic revelations when the word is used. Today’s “prophets” are usually only fortune tellers whose predictions come true a small percentage of the time.
The word prophecy comes from the Greek word: (ðñïöçôåßí) propheatein which means “to speak in front of,” “to declare openly,” or “to speak for a God.” In the Old Testament a prophet was one who spoke for God. He was God’s “mouthpiece.”
But in the New Testament Paul listed prophecy as a gift of the Holy Spirit. He devoted more attention to this gift than any other and stressed its supremacy over more popular gifts. Prophecy builds up the church and converts the lost. It may be the most commonly available spiritual gift since it is so vital. Paul even encouraged the Corinthians to “earnestly desire” this gift.
II. A GOOD EXAMPLE.
In Luke 13:33, Jesus called Himself a prophet. One example of His prophetic gift was seen at Jacob’s well where He met a sinful woman and “read her like a book.” He pointed to her sinful lifestyle; and she responded, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet.”
ILLUS: Almost everyone has heard of Mr. H. J. Heinz whose “57 varieties” of pickles have distinguished his name. One day after an evangelistic service the speaker turned to him and said, “You are a believer, but with all your energy why aren’t you up and at it for the Lord?”
Heinz went home in anger. That night he couldn’t sleep, however, and at 4 o’clock in the morning he prayed that God would use him to lead others to the Savior.
A day or so later at a meeting of bank presidents, he turned to the man next to him and told him of his joy in knowing Jesus. His friend looked at him in surprise and said, “Because I knew you were a Christian, I’ve wondered many times why you never spoke to me about salvation.”
That gentleman became the first of 267 converts — people of different varieties, from all walks of life — that Mr. Heinz eventually won to Christ!
III. GOOD USE OF THE GIFT.
Since Paul said more about this gift than any of the others, we should not be in the dark. According to 1 Corinthians 14, prophecy has two main emphases:
Yet many self-styled prophets want to sit back, run the church, and offer their latest “revelations” to others. Paul said that when this gift is exercised salvation is the result!
In order to prevent perversion of the gift, Paul said we must use discernment. (ὰíáëïïéáí) analogia means “right relationship.” It is a com-pound word using the preposition meaning “with, together with” and the noun meaning “word.”
Many Christians today are not in a right relationship with God. Possibly that is the reason we do not tell others about Jesus.
ILLUS: Christianity is something which is meant to be seen. As someone has well said, “There can be no such thing as secret discipleship, for either the secrecy destroys the discipleship, or the discipleship destroys the secrecy.” A man’s Christianity should be perfectly visible to all men.
CONC: The test of any prophet’s message is JESUS. According to Hebrews 1:1-2, Jesus is the perfect Revelation of God’s will. Prophets do not write columns on “The World as I See It” or publish charts or write new Scripture. A prophet is simply God’s mouthpiece! I believe that this is the most widely distributed spiritual gift.