Abuses in Prophetic Ministry
The Gift of Prophecy is for Today
God is releasing a prophetic outpouring in our time. But some teach that the gifts of the Spirit are not for today. They argue that the gifts ceased with the death of the first apostles of Christ. However, this teaching, called cessationism is an error. The literal reading of the scripture shows that the gifts will continue until Christ returns. Below, I emphasize some scriptures to show that the gifts of the Spirit, include prophecy, are for today
Plain Teaching of Scripture
1 Corinthians 1:7 So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The Apostle Paul was glad that the Corinthians were abounding with the gifts of the Spirit. He tells them plainly to continue in the gifts, not coming behind in any, as they wait for Christ’s return. We know that Paul corrected some of the activities of the Corinthians in the exercise of the gifts. If the gifts would cease, now he had the opportunity to state it. But instead, Paul is looking for them to lack in no gift unto the coming of the Lord.
1 Corinthians 13:8-12 Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. 9For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. 10But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. 11When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. 12For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
The above scripture in 1 Corinthians 13, the love chapter, was traditionally used by cessationists as proof that the gifts ceased. Today, many cessationists have abandoned using this text. Why? Well, the text “when that which is perfect is come”, was interpreted to mean the completion of the canon of scripture. The canon of scripture is the books that are the inspired Word of God; this is the 66 books of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. With the book of Revelation, the canon of scripture is complete. Cessationists in the past were teaching that since the canon is complete (the perfect to come), the gifts including prophecy are no longer needed. The problem is that “when that which is perfect is come”, is referring to the return of Christ, not the canon of scripture. Evidence that it refers to the return of Christ is found in verse 12, which states, “now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” Then, “when that which is perfect is come”, we will no longer know in part but will know even as we are known. Reference this with 1 John 3:2 which says, “when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.” When Christ appears, we shall see Him face to face, as He is. Then we shall know even as we are known - at Christ appearing. In other words, 1 Corinthians 13 also shows that the gifts will continue until Christ return. To be more exact, when Christ returns, the gifts will cease because they will no longer be needed since our redemption and glorification will be complete. The bottom line is that the expectation in the Bible is that the gifts of the Spirit, including prophecy, would continue until Christ’s return.
Along with the plain reading of scripture that the gifts of the Spirit are for today, the Bible also gives direct commands that necessitates the operation of the spiritual gifts.
1 Corinthians 12:31 But covet earnestly the best gifts.
Prophecy is one of the best gifts since it edifies the church.
We cannot obey this command if prophecy has ceased. We can obey it, because God is still pouring out the gift.
1 Corinthians 14:1 Follow after charity, and desire spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy.
Here we are told to walk in love and desire to prophesy. We all agree that the command to follow after love is for today. Then, the rest of the verse tells us also to desire spiritual gifts, especially to prophesy.
Romans 12:6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith.
Here we are commanded to utilize the gift, including prophecy. This verse was part of a letter to the Roman church. The operation of the gifts including prophecy, was expected to continue.
Abuses of Prophecy by Prophets
While the gift of prophecy is for today, and every believer should covet to prophesy, there are abuses and errors in prophetic ministries that must be addressed. Below are some of the abuses and what the scripture teaches about them.
Whenever a prophet prophesies for gain, he or she has stepped into falsehood. The scriptures rebuke Balaam for divining for a reward. Some so-called prophets give prophecies based on others sending a monetary gift. This is not from the Lord. The gift of prophecy is given by the Holy Spirit to benefit the body of Christ. It does not function based on the demand of men but by the Spirit. Furthermore, the prophet who functions based on monetary rewards has missed the heart of God.
Jude 1:11 Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core.
2 Peter 2:3 And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you:
Tempted by the offer of a reward, Balaam went to God a second time (Numbers 22). Although he seems to have received permission to go, it was not the Lord’s will. God rebuked Balaam by a donkey. Anyone who prophesies in exchange for money is playing the fool’s game, and walking in tremendous error. Those who prophesy based on receiving offerings or prophesy in return of money or purchases are not walking in the will of God. People of God do not need to run down a prophet to hear from God since we all have the Spirit of God living within us. We should not be trying to pay our way to a prophetic word.
Prophecy on Demand
Again, children of God have the Spirit living within them and do not need to seek out a prophet for a word. The Bible even warns that seeking out a prophet can fail to have results.
Ezekiel 7:26 Mischief shall come upon mischief, and rumour shall be upon rumour; then shall they seek a vision of the prophet; but the law shall perish from the priest, and counsel from the ancients.
In the Old Testament, the prophet was sought out for a word because God communicated His will through prophets. Even so, God would hold back his prophetic word when the people were in sin. They would try to seek prophecies then, but there would be no word from God.
The point here is that prophecies come as given by the Lord. Prophecies are not given upon demand. A prophet can refuse to prophecy when nothing is given. The prophet that subjects himself to demands will prophesy falsely.
1 Samuel 15:35 And Samuel came no more to see Saul until the day of his death: nevertheless Samuel mourned for Saul: and the LORD repented that he had made Saul king over Israel.
The above scripture is quite sad. Samuel must have desired to give a prophetic word to Saul. Saul desired to receive a prophecy from the prophet. But it was not the Lord’s will. Samuel did not even go up to see Saul. Although the prophet Samuel desired to continue in a prophetic relationship with king Saul, God had severed the prophetic voice from reaching Saul. God can choose not to give a prophetic word to others.
Ezekiel 13:2-3 Son of man, prophesy against the prophets of Israel that prophesy, and say thou unto them that prophesy out of their own hearts, Hear ye the word of the LORD; 3Thus saith the Lord GOD; Woe unto the foolish prophets, that follow their own spirit, and have seen nothing!
Prophesying out of your own heart and spirit from their own desires and wants. The prophet should take care to prophesy only with 100% clarity that it is from the Lord. Anytime it may be a matter that is of their own desire, then prophets must seek the Lord to ensure accuracy..
Prophets who are not accountable to others will fail. The prophet is a part of the body of Christ, and cannot function well if they are disconnected and unsubmissive to leaders. Furthermore, the Bible commands the church to evaluate and judge prophecies and for the prophet to submit to this.
Ezekiel 13:18 And say, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Woe to the women that sew pillows to all armholes, and make kerchiefs upon the head of every stature to hunt souls! Will ye hunt the souls of my people, and will ye save the souls alive that come unto you?
An abuse of prophecy is when a prophet prophesies from their desire to control and manipulate people for their own goals. They do this to get people to do what they want. They will discourage the righteous to bind them to their agenda and speak well of the unrighteous to gain their favor. This is a trap and a snare.
Ezekiel 13:22 Because with lies ye have made the heart of the righteous sad, whom I have not made sad; and strengthened the hands of the wicked, that he should not return from his wicked way, by promising him life:
The gift of prophecy is for today, but we must ensure to let the Holy Spirit manifest the gift through us, and not be subject to the abuses. God is raising a prophetic revolution across the earth. He is raising an army of lay prophets in every region of the earth. Therefore, we must embrace the true prophetic move of the Spirit, and call out the abuses and errors.