In the third part of this series, my goal is to help you understand your role in the Church as it relates to the prophetic ministry.
If you’ve read my first two entries, you know how I believe all believers are able operate in prophecy. In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul describes prophecy as a manifestation of the Spirit. Ultimately, it is up to the Holy Spirit to manifest (or effect) the proper gift among His Church to see that we receive every blessing, command, and need that He wills to fulfill. Prophecy is one of these gifts, and if we are open vessels for the Holy Spirit to operate, He will also bring forth the right gift through us at the right moment. Prophecy is one of these gifts that everybody has the capacity to operate in.
In that sense, the whole Church should become a prophetic family, just as we should become a family that embraces all of the manifestations.
The first two parts of this series should be a good starting point for you if you’re curious for more information on this aspect of prophetic ministry.
While all of the Church is able to operate in the prophetic, certain individuals within the Church body are called to the office (or function) of the Prophet. The easiest reference to this is Ephesians 4:11-16. It is grouped with four other offices, the apostle, evangelist, pastor, and teacher. These are leadership callings within the Church that are specifically given to equip believers for the work of ministry and the edifying of the body. We know that all of these gifts are still in necessary operation today because the Church has yet to attain to perfection in Christ, measuring up to His fullness (Eph 4:13).
Once the Church has fully become perfect just as the Heavenly Father is perfect, you could make a good biblical case for not needing these ministries. Until then, the Prophet is vital to the health, maturity, and testimony of the Church.
You could have been saved earlier today and the Holy Spirit might have you operating in the gift of prophecy before the evening. The office of the Prophet however, requires years of spiritual pruning and character building.
You can look to the Old Testament to get an in depth view of the lifestyle of the prophets. They came from all classes of life, some educated and some not, but all were marked by an encounter with the Father. People like to focus on the fact that the prophets proclaimed God’s judgments (which is true). However, there is not enough focus on the fact that all prophets, Old and New Testament alike, declared the message of the Father’s mercy while prophesying the testimony of Jesus.
We still benefit today from the Old Testament prophets, who sowed Jesus’ testimony so that under the New Covenant we might freely receive what was hidden from them. Some make the mistake of saying that there are no longer prophets today like there were during Old Testament times. Prophets in like manner exist today. The difference is that Old Testament prophets declared Jesus’ testimony in mystery, pointing to a future date when the Christ would come. They did not personally know Jesus as believers do today.
Prophets today declare Jesus’ testimony with clarity, to help the Church see His leadership working among us both now and in the future. Today we do not need prophets to know, hear from, or experience God on a personal level. However, it is also said that we need no teacher but the Holy Spirit and yet the office of the “Teacher” is spiritually ordained by evidence of Jesus’ resurrection (Ephesians 4:4-11). We require these ministries to bring unity to the church on a familial level, and without them we will miss out on entering into the fullness available to God’s family, the Church.
Some New Testament examples of prophets are Agabus (Acts 11 & 21); the daughters of Phillip (Acts 21), and the Apostle John, who is considered by many to have held the prophet’s office as well as apostleship. John was a unique case because he was exiled on the island of Patmos during his revelation of Jesus Christ, but you’ll see in Acts that prophets were typically operating in the plural sense. True prophets will work in unity with other believers and often with other prophets.
I believe it is vital to the health of the Church for prophets to work in unison with the apostolic, evangelistic, teaching, and pastoral ministries. This may not be possible in all circumstances, but it should be the goal and ideal. Even John the Baptist, who ministered before Jesus’ resurrection, traveled with his disciples and eventually yielded to the ministry of Jesus. The gifts and callings of God are rarely given to operate in isolation and require meekness to endure the seen and unseen seasons of ministry.
In conclusion, the ministry of the prophet is alive and well today. While many people operate in the prophetic calling with much honor and conviction, I still believe this is a ministry that is maturing over the course of our generation. God is bringing forth a powerful move among His whole body, including the ministry of the prophet.
I hope this series has encouraged you! Leave a comment below if you have any questions or would like help going deeper on this subject.
-J. S. Marek