Frequently Asked Questions
Is everyone who prophesies a prophet?
No. Paul the apostle lays out that there are three operations of the gift of prophecy.
- 1 Corinthians 12:10- Sign gift of prophecy
- Romans 12:6- Service gift of prophecy
- Ephesians 4:11- Support gift of prophet
The difference between the sign gift, service gift, and support gift of prophet differ mainly in the frequency and function of the gift. Lets take a closer look.
Sign gift of prophecy
1 Corinthians 12:10 …to another prophecy…
The word that is used as “gift” in this text is actually the word manifestation. The sign gift of prophecy is available to all believers who are yielded to the Holy Spirit though they will not operate in this gift consistent basis. This is a spiritual gift that is given through a person in a particular moment to reveal the power of Jesus in a specific situation not a gift that a believer posses on a regular basis.
Frequency– Not a normative experience but according to 1 Cor. 12:11 it manifests as the Spirit wills.
Function- To encourage a person or church at specific moment.
Service gift of prophecy
Romans 12:6 Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith
The service gift of prophecy is a resident spiritual gift in the life of some believers. In contrast to the sign gift of prophecy which is momentary manifestation Christians who are gifted in this way will regularly operate in the gift of prophecy.
Frequency- As a resident gift used in proportion to the faith of the Christian who is prophesying.
Function- Regularly encourages believers and their local church prophetically.
Support gift of prophet
Ephesians 4:11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers.
Unlike the sign gift of prophecy that is given through a believer to another person or the and service gift of prophecy that is given to reside in a believers the gift of the prophet is himself a gift. Like a pastor that “teaches” or evangelist that “reaches” a prophet is not only spiritually gifted to prophesy but is himself a gift to the body of Christ. This is why in Ephesians 4:8 the scriptures says that “he (Jesus) gave gifts to men” meaning that prophets like pastors and teachers are given by Jesus to the Church as an equipping ministry empowering Christians in their spiritual life. Prophets are called to continually strengthen and encourage the believers as well call the Churches attention to God’s righteousness and justice. Prophets carry an intense burden of the emotions of God bringing intense awareness to God’s desires in a present moment.
Frequency- Prophets will regularly operate in the gift of prophecy.
Function- Prophets are called to the Church at large and are distinguished from believers with the gift of prophecy not by the power of their words but the scope of their influence.
What a prophet is not
There are many misconceptions concerning the role of prophet. Rather than devoting an entire chapter to this here a few thoughts in bullet point form.
A prophet is not…
- A prophet is not a psychic.
- A prophet does not have the full picture
- A prophet is not perfect
- A prophet is not to lead a church without accountability
- A prophet is not always right
- A prophet should not control your life with “prophecies”
- A prophet is not to be motivated by money
- A prophet is not to foster codependency
A prophet is…
- A prophet is a communicator of the emotions of God
- A prophet is to be marked by humility
- A prophet is to be a student of God’s word
- A prophet is to work in conjunction with the Church
- A prophet is to be held accountable to God’s word
- A prophet has a deep love for the Church
- A prophet is to train others to hear God’s voice
What about people who seem to be naturally psychic are they prophetic?
Both The Old Testament (1 Samuel 28) and New Testament (Acts 16:16) speak about people who are open to the spiritual realm who are not Christians. However, this sensitivity is never spoken about in positive terms. In light of that there are two things that must be noted. First as humans we are spiritual beings and thus we whether or not we are Christians we still experience and interact with the spiritual world. Secondly, demonic spirits mimic and counterfeit the genuine move of God. This is why Paul commands us to test the Spirit even if it appears to us as an angel from heaven (Galatians 1:8).
What is the word of knowledge and word of wisdom?
In the book of 1 Corinthians chapter 12 the apostle Paul lists nine spiritual gifts, also called manifestations of the Spirit. Three of these gifts are often referred to as prophetic gifts: prophecy, the word of knowledge, the word of wisdom. Each of these prophetic gifts in their most fundamental state is simply perceiving God speaking to you something that you should have no way of knowing for the purpose of encouraging someone else merely differing on how this information is applied.
- Prophecy- Future event or the emotions and perspective of God towards a particular
- Word of knowledge- Past or present situation
- Word of wisdom- How to handle a present situation