The Prophetic Church

“And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, that I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your young men shall see visions, your old men shall dream dreams. And on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days; and they shall prophesy.” (Acts 2:17-18)

God was speaking! New Testament Prophetic Ministry shaped the environment and relational culture of the Church, because God is passionate about communicating. The Church’s foundation was laid in the midst of an outpouring that would bear the evidence of a prophetic awakening. He wants us to hear His Voice! No question about it… when you look closely at the Early Church; you see the finger print of the Holy Spirit and the leaders leaning intently upon every word that proceeded from the mouth of God. Should it really be any different today?

Every congregation’s experience was a little different. There was a uniqueness in expression seen among the churches of the New Testament. Consider the different applications of prophecy and prophetic ministry in the following list:

  • The Jerusalem Church had a company of prophets, some of whom traveled, ministering prophetically. (Acts 11:27, Acts 15:32, Acts 21:10) The Prophet Agabus was one of this company. (Acts 11:27-28)
  • In Acts 9, God gives Ananias, who is from the Church in Damascus, prophetic insight into the calling on Saul (later Paul). Its interesting to note that Ananias is not a Prophet, simply a ‘disciple’.
  • In Acts 4, the Jerusalem Church gathers to pray. They are united, praying the purposes of God and boldness against threats that were emerging… a prophetic prayer that God answers.
  • The Church in Phillipi was birthed through prophetic guidance. God gave the Apostle Paul a prophetic dream concerning his team’s immediate call to Macedonia. (Acts 16:9)
  • Prophetic guidance was used of God in evangelism, missionary endeavors and the establishment of new churches. (Acts 8:26, 10:9-23, 13:1-3, 16:9-10)
  • Prophets were included in the leadership team of the Church in Antioch. (Acts 13:1) They received revelation from the Holy Spirit when it was time to release Paul and Barnabas into their apostolic calling. This prophetic guidance launched Paul’s Apostolic church-planting ministry.
  • When the Apostle Paul visited the Church at Ephesus, the believers received the Holy Spirit. Each one of them prophesied as they were filled. (Acts 19:6)
  • In the Church in Thessalonica the Apostle Paul exhorted the believers not to quench the Spirit, and not to despise prophecy. (1 Thess. 5:19-20)
  • In the Church in Colossae the Apostle Paul encouraged believers to include prophetic or spiritual songs in their gatherings… there was a value placed upon songs directly given by the Holy Spirit! (Col. 3:16)
  • Among the Roman Christians the Apostle Paul called believers to embrace and use the gifts given by God to serve the body, including the gift of prophecy. (Rom. 12:5-8)
  • In the Church in Corinth the Apostle Paul instructs in the use of spiritual gifts in their gatherings, with particular emphasis on the gift of prophecy. He encourages every member to eagerly seek the gift of prophecy. (1 Cor. 14:1)
  • The Apostle Paul reminds his “son”, Timothy of personal prophecies received during his commissioning from the church elders. (1 Tim. 4:14) This may have been at his sending Church in Lystra. (Acts 16:1-2)

No “One Size Fits All” Approach:

Some churches sent itinerant prophetic ministers; others received them. Some churches, such as in Corinth; placed a high value upon prophetic gifts and ministry. However, there does not seem to be a standard or uniform approach to prophetic ministry in the early church. Leaders were open to prophetic revelation, but did not rely on it all the time. It was initiated by God and resulted from their relationship with the Holy Spirit.

So what does this mean for us today?

For those of us who are gifted in prophecy, it means not placing expectations on our local church leaders on what particular expressions of prophetic ministry should be operating in our church or meetings. Being prophetic is not about performance, but following the Holy Spirit’s unique direction for our church. For those who lead ministries and churches, it encourages us to have the freedom to explore our own unique expression of prophetic ministry. And most of all – to appreciate and rejoice in the fresh flow of creative expression, as God’s heart is revealed to the Body of Christ.

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