1 Corinthians 12:7-11
Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. 8 To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, 10 to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.
I first came into contact with this scripture in 1973, having given my life to Jesus, and then baptized into His Spirit. It was October of 1973 that I first heard and saw gifts of the Spirit, demonstrated in a church. I was fascinated with Prophecy and how one could hear a word from God, and then deliver it to His people. 39 years later, I am still fascinated with how the Spirit works with us, especially Prophecy.
Actually, there is a lot confusion around this subject. When you hear Prophecy in a local church meeting, you actually are hearing a variety of Prophetic expressions. Word of Knowledge is often confused with Prophecy, but it is gift that describes circumstances and situations from one’s past or present situation. It is supernatural knowledge, given by the Spirit, through compassion and empathy, to the person moving by the Spirit in this gift. Word of Wisdom is a supernatural explanation of how to do or accomplish something. Wisdom is an application gift. A revelation of how to do something is a great heavenly gift, that unlocks Heaven’s Wisdom into our everyday life. Prophecy is actually a forward looking gift. Most Prophecies in the Bible are forward looking. Prophecies in a local church can include Word of Knowledge and Wisdom. It can be general or specific. There is usually a key word that brings breakthrough, repentance, illumination, etc. Prophecy can seem to be a little repetitive if all you hear in your Church is that God loves you. God does love you, of course, but He has a lot more to say. Actually, there are three levels of Prophecy in a local Church.
For simplicity, let’s list them with the passages that talk about them.
- I Corinthians 12. Simple Prophecy: encouragement, comfort, general blessing
- I Corinthians 14. Specific or directional Prophecy.
- Ephesians 4. Prophet and their ministry.
So let’s look at this scripture and see what Paul is saying about these three levels.
1 Corinthians 14:29-33
Two or three prophets should speak, and the others should weigh carefully what is said. 30 And if a revelation comes to someone who is sitting down, the first speaker should stop. 31 For you can all prophesy in turn so that everyone may be instructed and encouraged. 32 The spirits of prophets are subject to the control of prophets. 33 For God is not a God of disorder but of peace —as in all the congregations of the Lord’s people.
First, he says that we can all prophesy, and then he makes a distinction between encouragement and instruction. He says this in 1 Corinthians 12:7
Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. That’s encouragement!
When we first begin to prophesy, we all prophesy out of our maturity (or immaturity). For most of us, we can give encouragement, with the help of the Spirit. These kinds of words are the ones I list as I Cor 12 words. We can all prophesy at this level.
We don’t usually have problems with giving general words of encouragement, but how about words of instruction or words that give specific information or direction to individuals or to the church? This is what I call the 1Cor 14 level, a gift of prophecy. All can Prophesy, but some do it better than others. That usually means that the Lord has given a gift that goes beyond blessings or encouragement. God can give the gift. But we need the character and wisdom to use this directional gift properly. Gift of Prophecy people, need lots of training in what to do and not to do, so they can package what the Lord gives and not hurt or damage His people. I have written a book about this subject called Naturally Supernatural. In the book, I give practical wisdom that helps all to understand the practical boundaries of directional Prophecies.
The third level is the Ephesians 4 Prophet. Sometimes people believe they are Prophets, but many of them are not. They might be a 1Cor 14 gift of Prophecy person, who has some expertise in giving personal Prophecies. A Biblical Prophet has a commission from the Lord and fruit that confirms this. They typically have a national or transnational sphere of work that has been assigned by the Lord. Prophets release impartation and know how to work with the Prophetic gifts. Impartation brings change! That is part of a Prophet’s message. Prophets are designed by Christ to equip the Church in these Spirit manifestations. When you come around a Prophet, you should experience aspects of the presence of God. There are many different kinds of Prophets, but all have a capacity to sense and release Gods Presence. Prophets set kings into offices, spoke directional words to Apostles, and bring impartation. Impartation is a release that comes into you by the power of the Holy Spirit, to confirm or empower Gods call, function, or gift on your life. This is not by the will of the Prophet, but happens as they are carried along by the Spirit. This is a simplistic definition of what they do, and how impartation works.
The point is simple.
- All can prophesy encouragement.
- Some will give specific or directional words.
- Prophets release prophetic impartation.
We need all three operating in local Churches to bless and equip God’s people.