Category Archives: Prophetic Voice

Reclaiming the Prophetic Voice of the Church (Part 6)

In our last blog we discussed four of the eight essential parts that make up the essence of a prophetic church. Essence is the core—the spirit—the heart—the lifeblood of what something is. God created his people to be prophetic and to establish powerful prophetic churches. But if these things are missing we are not not prophetic, powerful, or in reality, his church.

A prophetic church demonstrates the power of God. This essential element is missing in most churches—there is little or no power present. I know all the excuses couched as arguments. Those arguments go something like this: we don’t need the miraculous, we have the Word of God, or if we had miracles all the time people would get bored or stop seeking after God. Those are nothing more than the excuses of unbelief.  One of the gifts of the Holy Spirit is working of miracles. It seems quite biblical for that gift to be present in every church.

God’s power manifested in a person or group of people is a demonstration of the in-breaking of the kingdom of God. When we proclaim Jesus according to his word powerful demonstration will follow. Miracles are valuable because they are proof that God is present. Where God’s presence rests—his power is demonstrated. No power—no presence. Check out the Scriptures if you don’t believe it and see what it teaches.

We need a renewed awareness of God’s presence and power or churches tend to become museums that memorialize a Jesus who died on the cross 2,000 years ago, instead of a resurrected Jesus who is alive and working among his people at this very moment. The power of God simply proves that the God of the Word is still working in an active, intimate, and tangible way.

A prophetic church nurtures prophetic dreams and visions. Jesus designed the church to be a birthing room, a nursery, and a training school for prophetic people. God continues to raise up people with gifts to see and hear what others cannot. They need a safe place to learn, to experiment, to fail, to find correction, and to succeed in the practice of their gift. All spiritual gifts increase in power and precision as they are practiced.

Most churches are fearful of prophetic people. They are either told they have an over-active imagination or that they are just plain crazy. They are asked to keep silent or told to go somewhere else. These gifted individuals need a refuge to mature in their gifting and we need their gifts to comprehend what God is doing now—in the present! Or, we miss it and we lose something that cannot be recaptured.

A prophetic church is a voice crying out against social injustice. The church is to be the conscience of a nation and a voice for those who have no voice. Presently, the church has gotten amazingly silent. Who will stand for the rights of the unborn if the church keeps silent? Who will stand against the slavery and debauchery of the sex-traffic trade if the church turns her head? Who will stand against poverty and help the impoverished step out of its ravenous jaws if the church does nothing? Who will be the champion of the abused if the church closes her eyes? The answer…no one! Many people wonder why God does not act to stop these things. He did—he created us!

Finally, a prophetic church will cry out for personal holiness and repentance. Sadly, many Christians believe our nation is sliding down the slippery slope to ruin due to the politicians, Hollywood, the music industry, and the special interest groups. They blame “them.” It’s “their” fault. That is a tragedy because as the church goes, so goes the nation. We are responsible—not “them.” As Christians, we have not portrayed a credible image of our Savior. Instead of showing life-changing love of Jesus—we have buried our heads in the sand. Or worse—we have allowed culture to erode biblical values rather than using those values to change culture. A prophetic church calls believers back to repentance and with repentance comes revival. Biblical revival is not a series of evangelistic meetings. Revival is the people of God humble and broken over their own sins and the sins of the nation, crying out for God’s forgiveness and mercy. Revival will happen when we stop blaming “them” and start repenting of our own sins. We must take responsibility for our sin and then awakening will come and change will take place in our government, our entertainment industries, and in our nation.

These eight things are the essential essence of a prophetic church. Check each of them out and evaluate yourself and the church you attend, and you decide whether or not you are a part of a prophetic church…or if you want to be.

A prophetic church:

  • Constantly reveals the heart of God.
  • Continually fulfills biblical prophecy.
  • Consciously provides a prophetic standard from the Scriptures.
  • Consistently moves when the presence of God moves.
  • Celebrates by demonstrating the power of God.
  • Carefully nurtures prophetic dreams and visions.
  • Cries out against social injustice.
  • Calls the church back to personal holiness and repentance.

Reclaiming the Prophetic Voice of the Church (Part 5)

When you find the essence of something you find what it’s made of. Essence is its core—its heart and soul—its spirit—the life blood of what makes it tick. Without essence all you have is a façade.

God’s people were created to be a prophetic people. That is our essence in Christ. We are to hear what God is speaking and then speak it to the world in which we live. Being prophetic is not something we do, rather it is the essence of our being—it is our nature.

Well…if that’s the case what should a prophetic church composed of prophetic people look like?

First, a prophetic church reveals God’s heart. “For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy” (Revelation 19:10). Jesus came to reveal the heart of God, and in doing so, he demonstrated the infinite love of God. Our job has not changed.

Does your relationship with God stir up your own passions? Does it cause others to stop and wish that they had that kind of relationship with God? If it doesn’t—something is wrong. It is impossible to lead others into a place we ourselves have never been.

Secondly, a prophetic church fulfills biblical prophecy. Every Christians is the living fulfillment of biblical prophecy (or at least we are supposed to be) spoken thousands of years ago. Our existence, in spite of the devil’s attempt to exterminate us, is God’s promise fulfilled—his word vindicated. We are both living testimony and a prophetic voice crying out.

A prophetic church also provides a biblical standard from the Scriptures. We are the guardians of God’s word and our instructions are to pass it on to the next generation. Our job is to bring it alive as we teach, preach, and instruct. The Bible is not a Sunday school series of lessons or a curriculum for study. The New Testament epistles were written as letters to real people with real problems in real places. If we read them that way, it is easier to connect and understand the conflicts they faced. We are no different from them and the times we live in are eerily similar. We are connected and we must learn to appreciate that important connection as we preserve and accurately proclaim the Word of God.

Finally, a prophetic church moves when the presence of God (the cloud of his Spirit) moves. We are not a monument or a museum to the past activities of God. We are his body right now in the present. We must discern what God is doing…now! The message of his word never changes, but our methods and ministries must. Otherwise we will not reach the next generation.

The Spirit of God uses different means and methods to communicate the infallible message of God. We must join him in doing that. What worked ten or twenty years ago will not work now. The culture we must reach speaks a new language and employs different technology. Also, what works in one area of the country may not work in your area. Just because one church is successful with a methodology in their area does not automatically mean it will work in ours. We must tune into what the Spirit of God wants to do through us in our own community.

We must move out of the past and into the future with God. We carry the lessons of our history, wisdom, experience, and maturity with us, but we must trust the Holy Spirit to lead us or we will fail. God has moved, but most of the church is stuck in the ruts of the past where God once rested. Ruts are nothing more than graves with the ends kicked out. A prophetic church leaves no ruts because they are constantly moving in concert with the Spirit.

(In the next blog we will consider the final four components of a prophetic church.)

Reclaiming the Prophetic Voice of the Church (Part 4)

Whenever God speaks he speaks truth, whether it is in Scripture or through a personal prophetic word. He cannot lie. If a revelation is from God, it is true and we can therefore put our full faith in it. God is infallible, but we are not. Therefore we must learn to test what we think we have heard.

When God speaks we can mess up what we hear if we are not careful. Every prophetic word has three parts: (1) the revelation—what is said, (2) the interpretation—what it means, and (3) the application—what we are to do about it. We can mess up revelation by not hearing correctly or adding to it. We can also mess up the interpretation by not asking God what he meant, choosing instead to go with what we know from past experience or personal knowledge. And we can mess up the interpretation by a misinterpretation of the action God expects or desires.

Let me illustrate what I mean. I love to teach. I enjoy the research and the process of putting together information to share with others through speech or in a book. Over the past few years, God has given me opportunities to teach in Romania, Germany, and Mexico. Often what I teach is new to my audience or the way in which I present it is different from what they are used to. In a sense, I am revealing something they might not have known, and in that sense, it is revelation. My purpose is for them to hear what I am teaching, understand it, and know how to apply it in their lives.

For this to happen, I have to have an interpreter to put it into the language of the people I’m speaking to. I only speak English, and I do that with a deep, slow Southern drawl. Most of my interpreters speak English as a second language. They don’t always understand the nuances, colloquialisms, and southern idioms I use. In other words, some of the things I say just does not translate well—or at all. So it is very easy to say something that is extremely vital to the message and then have it misinterpreted because my interpreter is translating word for word—not interpreting or making the proper application.

Several years ago, I was teaching a group of German students about having an intimate relationship with God. I made a statement that communicates well here in the U.S., but when they heard it, they fell apart, laughing hysterically in the aisles. It was not a humorous statement. I was confused—I didn’t know what to do. So, I look at my interpreter with that “please help me—I’m dying here” look.

The statement I had made was: “Too often we don’t share God with others, instead we keep him locked in the closet.” The pastor who was interpreting did it word for word translation, but a closet in German is not a place to hang your clothes, it is the potty—the commode—the water closet. The kids were howling—wanting to know why “my God” was in the bathroom. Needless to say, what I was attempting to communicate was missed. They missed the revelation because my interpreter did not hear what I meant, and thus the interpretation was missed and the application lost.

This happens all the time with personal prophetic words. To fully benefit we must hear the word correctly, interpret the word accurately, and apply the word appropriately. If we hit two out of three—we fail and God’s revelation is missed.

Humility and prayer are the essential tools for hearing revelation, discerning the interpretation, and implementing the application. We have to do the work. We cannot accept a word from someone without humbly asking God, “What does this mean and what am I supposed to do with it.” We must pray over the word to make sure it has been heard correctly, interpreted precisely, and the application is exact—or we miss what God is saying.

The apostle Paul, in the very first epistle he wrote, put it this way, “Do not quench the Spirit, do not despise ( don’t look down on, hold it in contempt, or see it as below your status) prophetic utterances. But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil” (1 Thessalonians 5:19-22 NASB).

Reclaiming the Prophetic Voice of the Church (Part 3)

God is still speaking but we must learn to listen. Scripture illustrates numerous methods God used when talking with his people with his prophetic people. Prophetic people are the ones who will listen and then speak what God said. In our last blog we looked at the Bible, personal visits, angelic visitations, and the audible voice of God. Let’s consider some other examples found in Scripture.

Sometimes God speaks one word or through fragmented words in a sentence that seem to have no clear meaning. He did that with Isaiah and told him to write down the words in a scroll. Isaiah was forced to pursue God to find the meaning. These kinds of words draw us closer to God.

A word from God often has no voice—it is simply something you know all of a sudden that you didn’t know a moment ago. God puts the word in your head and you know that you know without any rational explanation.

He also speaks through impressions. Impressions are a bit less certain than that inner knowing. They are feelings that we should do or say something. God used impressions numerous times throughout both the Old and New Testaments.

God also employs dreams, visions, and trances to speak. Dreams occur when we sleep and our defenses are down. Visions are similar to dreams, but they normally occur when we are awake. Scripture makes no real distinction between them. A trance is a vision in which the person loses the use of their physical sense. Peter and Paul fell into trances. God has promised in Joel 2 and Peter testified that this Scripture had come true in Acts 2 that in the last days all God’s people would speak prophetically. Some would dream dreams and others would have visions. These are commons means by which God speaks.

The Lord also uses nature to speak to us. The analogies he can draw from between the natural and the spiritual world are endless. Those things happening in the natural often mirror what is happening in the supernatural.

God can also use physical manifestations in our bodies to share insight. He often does this when he wants to heal another person. You might feel something in an area of your body that another person is suffering with. Through a word of knowledge—a prophetic word—God may use you to be the conduit for his healing presence and power, if you are tuned in and turned on.

God also speaks prophetically through music and songs. He has even scratched messages in plaster walls.

You may be thinking, “But…but…but…but.” But nothing—God does not change. Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and yes—tomorrow. If we want to hear God speak we have to understand how he speaks. He even wrote these methods down for us so we would not miss the prophetic word when it comes.

Reclaiming the Prophetic Voice of the Church (Part 2)

To reclaim something you must first believe it is has been misplaced or lost. A large number of Christians no longer believe God still speaks through people with prophetic gifts or through people who are passionately pursuing him. Therefore, the only place they believe God speaks is through Scripture. I happen to believe that God does speak primarily through Scripture, but I also believe he speaks present tense to people who are listening in other ways. I also believe if God speaks in a secondary manner apart from the Bible we should check what we hear to make sure it bears witness with his written Word. When God speaks in one of these methods it will never contradict what he has already said in Scripture.

To hear God speak we must learn to listen. One of the best ways to do this is to simply look at the ways in which God speaks. We have a record of the various ways God communicates in the Bible. Being aware of these will help us tune in to God’s wavelength and enable us to hear his voice.

When God speaks we call it revelation. He reveals who he is, what he is doing, or what he wants us to do. Revelation is God making something known that we did not know or could not know through our natural senses. Revelation comes in a host of different ways. People are different and they hear God communicate differently. Why? I don’t know, but God will communicate with you in way you can hear if you will learn to listen.

As I said before, God speaks primarily to all believers through his written Word. The Bible is God’s authoritative word to all people no matter where or when they lived. If you want to hear God speak—read the Bible. Learn the tenor of his voice sound and immerse yourself in the makeup of his will. Develop a sensitivity to the things that please him. This will help you hear him when he speaks to you through a secondary method.

Another way God spoke in the Bible is through a personal apearances. Sometimes it was in a vision or dream, but he also appeared in physical form. I believe those personal appearances in the Old Testament were made by the pre-incarnate Jesus. He did not have to appear—he could have sent angels—but he did come. If he appeared this way in the past, there is nothing in Scripture that says he can’t do it again if he wants to. Many Muslims in the Middle East are reporting visitations of Jesus, which are resulting in their turning to faith in Christ.

The Lord also sends messages by his angels. This is a common method he uses. The Greek meaning for the word angel means messenger.

God also speaks audibly. He did so throughout Scripture to individuals, groups, and even the nation of Israel at Mt. Sinai. He spoke to Moses, to Jesus (at his baptism, transfiguration, and before his crucifixion and others heard it), and to Paul. He has not suddenly gone silent. He can use this method if he chooses.

God can also speak audibly for your ears only. Samuel heard God speak, but Eli did not.

There is also the internal audible voice of God that you hear, not with your ear, but with your heart. Many of the prophets heard this as the word of God came to them.

Next blog we will look at some other ways God speaks.

Reclaiming the Prophetic Voice of the Church

Where has the prophetic voice of the Church gone? Why has it grown so eerily silent? Has God nothing to say?

These are important questions that must be answered. The body of Christ—the Church—was created to be a prophetic voice to world. In her divine design, she was to express his heart of encouragement, strength, and comfort. For many who are outside or even inside the Church, she has become known for all the stuff she is against rather than the things she represents. Tragically, many people view the Church as condemning and judgmental rather than loving.

Why? The answer rests in the absence of her prophetic voice. Many seem to believe that if one stands in the pulpit and delivers a sermon that word is prophetic, which means it is from God. Sadly, that is not always true. God is often blamed for things he did not say. Too often the greatest love story of history is degraded into condemning diatribes of shame, manipulation, and guilt. This is the ditch on the right side of the road. Jesus never resorted to those techniques in drawing people to himself. He expressed the heart of the Father and people flocked to him in droves.

There is also the opposite extreme of standing for nothing—that is, anything goes. Don’t ask—don’t tell. It’s the idea that what’s right for me may not be for you—so let me do my own thing. This is certainly not biblical Christianity either. Instead it is the ditch on the left side of the road. Jesus never condoned sin nor did he disobey the Mosaic Law. Love does not look the other way—it steps up and confronts, but it does so in love.

The Church is drawn to extremes. We preach grace but demand lives lived to the letter of the law. Or, we disregard the principals of the law fulfilled by grace and refuse to step up or stand up for what’s right and against what’s biblically wrong. We have no prophetic voice.

What does God have to say about things? Well, most certainly God has not stopped speaking. He is still talking to those who are listening—the problem is very few of his people are listening. In fact most have no clue he even wants to talk with them. God is looking for men and women who will listen for his present-tense voice and speak what he is saying—in the workplace, at the market, in school, in the halls of government, and in the church. God is looking for people who will prophesy—who will stand and declare what he is saying to this generation.

But to do that, we must reclaim our prophetic voice, which means we must come to the place where we can once again hear God speak clearly and be willing to speak what he has said. Our future of our culture and our world hang in the balance.