First Part: Prophecy is Natural (pt. 1)
In my first post by this title, I described one meaning of the title subject ‘Prophecy is Natural.’ In that context, I actually gave some definition for what prophecy is, marking the essential understanding that to prophesy is to use natural communication to convey spiritual Truths; I took the example of Jesus, Who used His very life to prophesy the identity of the Father – we also looked at a couple of Old Testament types that have passed away for the purpose of revealing how, why, and in what manner prophecy passes away. (I hope this has helped to shed some light on the oft-misinterpreted passage in 1 Corinthians 13, which speaks of ‘prophecies/ prophecy failing,’ or passing away. See also: The Year of the Lord’s Favor (or ‘The Most Basic Appologesis for Pentecostalism You’ve Never Read’).)
The Truth of the Word is spiritual, but it had to be communicated using natural means. The Israelites were called to be a kingdom of priests who prophesied the Truth of the coming Messiah to the nations around them. In following the carnal commandment (as often as they did so), they communicated the True essences of the coming Christ.
As the Israelites were to be in fellowship with God, their lives should NATURALLY be communicating the Truth of God. So it is in our day, now that Christ has come once, and given us the Spirit of prophecy – Christians are to be filled with the Spirit of God. We should be naturally demonstrating the character of Jesus Christ. All of our dealings and communications with other people will have to be natural, because an unsaved person without the Spirit of God needs us to interpret spiritual Truths to them in a way they can understand.
Here is my secondary defining statement for the phrase ‘Prophecy is Natural’: Prophecy is a natural working of God within all Christians. All those in whom He abides have the Spirit of prophecy dwelling within them. Broad theological paintbrush?
How could I say such a thing when the bible plainly states that the Holy Spirit divides the gifts to every man severally as He will (1 Cor.12:11), and that prophecy is only ONE of the nine gifts mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12:7-11, and not everyone has the gift of prophesy?
I won’t here discuss the standard interpretation of 1 Cor. 12:11, but I will stand on the statement that prophecy is a working of God within all believers.
Unfortunately, most Christians do not believe that they can hear God for themselves, however, prophecy – specifically the ability to hear from God ourselves – is a working which is given to EVERY CHRISTIAN (don’t worry, I will begin proving this with scripture in just a moment); there certainly are higher degrees of it, or levels which work beyond the natural degree that all Christians may naturally possess – which is where the taught ‘gift’ of prophecy comes in to play (said gift is also a standard gifting for those who are Christ commissioned ‘office’ prophets (1 Cor. 12:28; Eph. 4:11).)
Contrary to the popular belief among Christians that most cannot hear from God for themselves, Jesus declared plainly that EVERYONE who was His (all Christians) in Truth can, and do hear His voice (say: ‘prophecy’).
John 10:14 & 27
14 I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine.
27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me
According to this word from the Master, Himself, all those who are Truly His sheep (Christians), not only can, but actively DO hear His voice.
If this isn’t enough, let’s look at another, which Jesus declared – this time of the coming Holy Spirit. Just before His crucifixion, at Jesus final corporate gathering with His disciples, this is one of the things He declared unto them:
John 16:12 & 13
12 I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.
13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.
Notice He uses broad blanket statement that the Holy Spirit would speak to them (prophecy) ALL when He came. He did not say the Spirit would speak to some whom He had gifted to hear, but declares that (blanket statement) He would speak whatever He heard from Christ, AND that He would quote: ‘show you (plural; that is: ALL OF YOU) things to come (foretelling prophecy).’ (Perhaps I should also point out that, in context, it was not only the twelve apostles who were in the upper room, but ‘disciples’ in the broader sense of many people who were following Jesus were there (just for example, John 14:22 declares that a disciple named Judas, who was not Judas Iscariot – the betrayer – was not only present, but asked Jesus a pertinent question; this Judas was not listed with the twelve, but was present in the upper room).
According to Jesus in this passage of John 16, it seems that prophecy (both declaring the mind of Christ, and of foretelling future events) is a work that the Holy Spirit is to work in all believers who have received Him, not only those who are specifically commissioned, or gifted as ‘prophets.’
In fact, way back in Numbers chapter 11, the prophet Moses declared the mind of the Lord for all His people. In Numbers 11:29, Moses prophesied these words: ‘Would God that ALL the Lord’s people were prophets, and that the Lord would put His Spirit upon them.’
Centuries earlier, Moses had prophesied this concept, now Jesus was prophesying it to all of His disciples. All Christians know His voice – further, they all would receive the Spirit of God, and prophesy.
But is this valid? Is this an accurate interpretation of these plain, scriptural, statements? What happened on the day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples who remained in the upper room (120 of them)?
In Acts chapter 2, the Holy Spirit was initially poured out upon the believers, the Apostle Peter, who had received it in full, himself, stood and declared publically what had happened to the on looking masses, in explanation of the event, Peter quoted the prophet Joel. Let’s look at what he said:
Acts 2:17 & 18
17 And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall PROPHESY, and your young men shall SEE VISIONS, and your old men shall DREAM DREAMS:
18 And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and THEY SHALL PROPHESY:
Now let me point out that the word declares four signs that will follow when the Spirit is poured out upon all flesh. What are they? They shall  PROPHESY,  SEE VISIONS  DREAM DREAMS,  umm… PROPHESY (again). Every one of the sings mentioned in Joel chapter two, and quoted by Peter on the day of Pentecost was PROPHETIC. No other signs are SPECIFICALLY mentioned, except prophetic ones; no mention of healing miracles, no mention of dead raised, or anything else. The following verse says there will be wonders in heaven, and signs on earth below (v.19), but no mention in this prophecy of specifics regarding those, just some generalizations. The central message of the prophecy was the same concept that Moses prophesied in Numbers 11:29 – that when the Spirit came ALL of God’s people would have His Spirit, and PROPHECY.
If you do a serious study (or even a cursory reading-over) of 1 Corinthians 12-14, you will find that Paul clearly stresses prophecy as the most essential of all of the nine gifts of the Holy Spirit. Why? Because communication is the primary essential element in making any relationship work. God wants to speak with His people – He wants us to listen, and to obey.
Prophecy is natural:
(I have a lot of clippings for tangent thoughts, and this didn’t fully get me through to some points I’d like to make on the topic; will add a link here once I have completed some form of sequel post – if interested; feel free to follow my page for updates.)