The Prophetic: A Primer

So, you want to pursue the gift of prophecy ... 

Biblically, this is a good thing. In fact, the apostle Paul encourages people to “eagerly desire” this gift of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 14:1). To seek the gift of prophecy – to strengthen, encourage and comfort others (1 Corinthians 14:3)is very commendable.

Ultimately, we all know that it’s the Holy Spirit who decides who gets which spiritual gift (1 Corinthians 12:7–11), but Paul also encourages us to seek God for the gift of prophecy.

But suppose we’re past the point of asking. We feel like we’ve been given the gift of prophecy. Perhaps God imparted a spiritual gift during a prayer time (without or without somebody laying hands on us for that purpose). However and whenever it happened, the gift of prophecy appears to be part of our spiritual tool kit.

So, now what? What’s a newbie prophetic person to do? What are our first steps?

1. Go to a Bible school.
1a. Preferably a non-charismatic one.
Yes, yes, I know – I’ve heard the jokes about cemetery seminary, and the conspiratorial warnings against getting “filled with man’s wisdom.” Sigh ... Frankly, that kind of thinking is a steaming pile of bovine by-products, if you catch my barnyard metaphor.

Here’s the thing: anybody claiming a prophetic gift these days always says “the Bible is our final authority,” and that prophetic words need to pass the Bible Sniff Test.

Fine, we get that. Well said.

Trouble is, everyone says that. And there are some bizarrely unbiblical things “prophesied” by people claiming to strain their prophetic words through a Biblical filter.

(After all, what else could they say? “Actually, we don’t give a rat’s patookus about the Bible. We have The Anointing – Huh.”)
So, don’t go to a “school of prophecy.” At least, not yet. Go to a Bible school that specializes in the Bible. Get a deeper understanding of Scripture first. Learn how to study the Bible. It could be a one-year commitment (e.g., Capernwray) or you could do a whole degree in Bible. Your choice. If neither is an option, at the very least read How to Read the Bible for All It’s Worth by Pentecostal writer Gordon Fee.

A solid background in the Bible is the foundation that keeps your prophetic gift from becoming polluted by some of the wacky “mans wisdom” out there. It will give you a grid for evaluating the teachings of prophetic instructors, and also for wisely using the gift God has given you.

For the sake of your own spiritual growth, for the honing of your prophetic gift, and for the sake of those who will be receiving prophetic words from you: go to a Bible school first. You have many years of ministry ahead of you. Prepare yourself wisely.

“Do not quench the Spirit.Do not treat prophecies with contempt but test them all; hold on to what is good, reject every kind of evil (1 Thessalonians 5:19–22).”

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