Jesus Christ is Lord of All

Sunday, October 28, 2012

The Spirit of Prophecy

The Spirit of Prophecy
 “The Testimony of Jesus is the Spirit of Prophecy.” (Rev 19:10)
Table of Contents
I.         Introduction (2)

II.        False Prophets (3-4)

III.      The Testimony of Jesus (5-7)

IV.      Communication of God’s Word to Certain People in a Certain Place at a Certain Time (8-9)

V.        Specific Prophecies (10-14)

VI.      Testing the Spirits: Jesus Came in the Flesh (15-17)

VII.    The Life of Jesus Sustains the Spirits of Prophets (18-22)

I.         Introduction
This book describes some of what I have learned in my journey of understanding the gift of prophecy, a gift of grace. I am certain that God will continue to teach me and refine me in my understanding of this gift in the time ahead. The conclusion of this document is that exercising the gift of prophecy is essentially speaking the Word of God [the Holy Scriptures] to the right people at the right time in the right place as the Spirit leads for the purpose of perfecting the saints in the knowledge of Christ and the maturity and stature of His fullness (Eph 4:13). In a sense all believers will prophecy, or speak forth the Divine things of God. As we preach the Gospel, encourage and exhort one another, and testify to the grace that we have been shown, we are indeed speaking forth the Divine things of God. The prophet Joel testified and the apostle Peter preached that in the last days God said that He will pour out His Spirit on all mankind, and their sons and daughters will prophecy, and their young men will see visions and their old men will see dreams…and it shall be that everyone who calls on the Name of the Lord will be saved (Acts 2:17-21). If anyone of us speaks we are to do so as speaking the very utterances of God (1 Peter 4:11). In the Revelations quote above, we read that the Testimony of Jesus is the Spirit of prophecy. Understanding of this statement will cause the dispelling of many false notions of the intention of prophecy and give us gratefulness for the Spirit’s use of this gift in the process of our conformance to His Image.

II.        False Prophets
Many among us are cautious, even frightened at the thought of words of prophecy. Our minds may immediately go to past events where people prophesied the time of the rapture, the end of the world, financial/worldly prosperity, etc. and the prophecies fell through and the prophets were later deemed as false. They are as Jeremiah describes: leading people into futility, speaking a vision of their own imagination, not from the Mouth of the Lord. They speak to people who despise God and promise them peace telling them that calamity will not come upon them (Jer  23:16-17). Our red flags should go up whenever someone prophecies peace. For we know that only if what the prophet who promises peace speaks comes true can he be known as having been sent from the Lord (Jer 28:9). There are many who prophecy falsely in the Name of God and speak about false dreams and their own “oracles” which they call the “oracles of the Lord”. Every man’s own oracle becomes the oracle and they pervert the Words of the Living God. They run forward with their own words when God did not send them. Of their prophecies God says, “What does straw have in common with grain?” God is against these false prophets who lead His people astray with falsehoods and reckless boasting. He will forget them and cast them from His Presence. He will put an everlasting reproach on them and they will experience everlasting humiliation which will not be forgotten. (Jer 23:25-39) Moses told the Israelites that the prophet who speaks presumptuously in the Name of God must die (Deut 18:20). The closing of the Book of Revelations warns of the damnation that falls on anyone who adds or takes away words from the Book (Rev 22:18-19). The judgment of a false prophet is dire, and there were several times in the past year when I was overcome with a fear that caused me to plead with God to protect me from speaking my own oracles rather than the oracles of God.
            So should we disregard all prophets and their words because so many of them speak according to their own thoughts and imaginations? Paul writes to the Thessalonians that they should not quench the Spirit or despise prophetic utterances. But they should examine everything carefully, hold fast to what is good, and abstain from every form of evil. (1 Thess 5:19-22). God tells us that if His prophets had stood in His council, He would have announced His Words to His people through them. They would have turned them back from their evil way. (Jer 23:22) God says, “Let him who has My Word speak My Word in Truth” and that His Word is like fire and a hammer that shatters a rock (Jer 23:28-29). God tells us, “21 You may say in your heart, ‘How will we know the word which the Lord has not spoken?’ 22 When a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the thing does not come about or come true, that is the thing which the Lord has not spoken. The prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him.” (Deut 18)

III.      The Testimony of Jesus
            Exalted far above all other professing prophets and in Whom are all true prophets completely grounded is the Son of God: Jesus Christ. He is the One of whom God told Moses, “I will raise up a prophet from among their countrymen like you, and I will put My Words in His mouth, and He shall speak to them all that I command Him. It shall come about that whoever will not listen to My Words which He shall speak in My Name, I Myself will require it of Him”. (Deut 18:18-19) Jesus Himself is the very Word of God who became flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:14). Jesus said:
24 “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life. 25 Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live.26 For just as the Father has life in Himself, even so He gave to the Son also to have life in Himself; 27 and He gave Him authority to execute judgment, because He is the Son of Man. 28 Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice,29 and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment.30 “I can do nothing on My own initiative. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is just, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. 31 “If I alone testify about Myself, My testimony is not true. 32 There is another who testifies of Me, and I know that the testimony which He gives about Me is true. John 5
            Jesus came to us with the Words of conviction and Truth. He offered to us the message of salvation, warning, and admonition. He did not teach us how to be prosperous in a worldly way or to flee from earthly disaster, but rather He warned us to flee from the coming judgments of God by believing in the Son. He told us that we will have troubles in the world, but that He has overcome the world and thus we may take courage (John 16:33). He did not tell us how to please men in a worldly way, but told us that we will be hated by all men because of His Name, and that we do not need to fear because He will be with us to the End of the Age (Mark 13:13). He taught us to pray; He told us to be watchful and ready for the Lord’s coming. He commanded us to love and to serve. Dear saint, remember the Words of Jesus. He was not speaking to appeal to the desires of the flesh or to attain earthly glorification for Himself, but He spoke only as the Father told Him to. His Words were saturated with grace and Truth. AND THE SPIRIT OF ALL TRUE PROPHECY COMES OUT OF THIS TESTIMONY OF JESUS. Christ’s works testified that the Father had sent Him (John 5:36). For the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner (John 5:19). His testimony was received from the Father and spoken so that we may be saved (John 5:34).
            Though Christ was the King of Prophecy, many did not receive His Words and He was without honor even in His own hometown (Mark 6:4). He says to those religious leaders who did not believe:
39 You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me; 40 and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life. 41 I do not receive glory from men; 42 but I know you, that you do not have the love of God in yourselves.43 I have come in My Father’s name, and you do not receive Me; if another comes in his own name, you will receive him. 44 How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and you do not seek the glory that is from the one and only God? 45 Do not think that I will accuse you before the Father; the one who accuses you is Moses, in whom you have set your hope. 46 For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me, for he wrote about Me. 47 But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?” John 5
            For those of us who feel compelled in our spirits that we have the gift of prophecy, the primary role we have is to seek Christ in His Word and in prayer. An awesome reverence of the just wrath of God should compel us to cry out, “May I never speak a single word unto damnation, but I pray that You show mercy to my soul on Your Day of Judgment because of the Blood of the Lamb!” Above all else we must seek to understand the Gospel and the Council of the Word of God. We must labor in the Spirit to bring holiness to completion in our lives, to be conformed to the Image of Christ, and to be filled with humility and love. In all these things we are contained in the Presence of God and walking by the Spirit. Then, if the Spirit chooses, He will lead us to speak to certain people in a certain place at a certain time. And what He will lead us to say will not convey anything different or in addition to the very Words that we find in our Bibles. The words will never appeal to the desires of the flesh or to desires for carnal prosperity in our listeners. Our prophetic utterances will be the words of conviction, comfort, warning, exhortation, hope, and love that we read in the Bible.

IV.      Communication of God’s Word to Certain People in a Certain Place at a Certain Time:
I have learned some lessons in communicating God’s messages to His people. There were numerous instances where I felt God’s call to proclaim a warning or encouragement to people or groups of people. For those of you who preach sermons or lead Bible studies [or me when writing letters or speaking to the Awana girls] we often find that as we cry out to God on our knees with our Bibles nearby, the Spirit is so faithful to give us God’s Message for the audience of interest. And after we receive the message, we feel a certainty of God’s call to preach on this passage, to proclaim this aspect of the Gospel, to warn the people of this idol, etc. It is a compelling that is so strong that it cannot be denied. Furthermore, God is gracious to confirm this call in various ways. We will hear numerous Bible passages that convey the message during the time period of compellation. We will hear people allude to these topics in their testimonies and prayer requests. We will hear of events which reveal that this message is coming at the opportune time. God will purify our hearts and cause us to exalt His Name as we speak out His Words. After we give the message people will tell us that God has convicted or encouraged them. They will praise God for speaking to them through us…
Without a doubt, we would be right in saying, “I have a message from God for you” just as the good old Testament prophets said, “Thus says the Lord…”. However, there a few reasons why I have decided not to use this statement in my writing or words [though I had a few times in the past] other than with my immediate family and a few close people who know me well. One reason is that we are not to speak anything other than what the Bible conveys and the Word of God authenticates itself ; there is no need for me to authenticate myself by saying, “I have a message from God for you”. The Word of God is living and active and the listener will be convicted by the Spirit inside of them that God has spoken to them without me needing to say that my message is from God.Secondly, there are some God-fearing people whom I know will be immediately turned off by this statement to the point where they will not weigh what is said next. They rightly assume that most professing prophets speak presumptuously or based on a human intuition; they are afraid of or resistant to hearing something conjured in the flesh. Thirdly, there are some instances where we ourselves would be compelled by a self-derived intuition rather than the Spirit’s leading. One important aspect to remember here is that as long as we only convey the Truth of God’s Word, then even if our compellation was based on our own intuition, we will do no harm. And we know that as we speak the Word in faith, His Word will not return to God empty without accomplishing the purpose for which it was sent (Is 55:11). Thus, whatever you feel the Spirit is calling you to say to His people, remain in His Word.

V.        Specific Prophecies
            There are numerous instances in the old testament and a few instances in the new testament where prophets spoke specific messages with regard to impending earthly events. God, after He  spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days [after the outpouring of the Holy Spirit] has spoken to us in His Son, who He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world (Heb 1:1-2). These verses indicate that the primary means by which God speaks now is through the Testimony of His Son. Thus, we are again reminded that the Testimony of Jesus is the Spirit of all true prophecy. So, the question we may ask is whether God will reveal specific earthly details through the prophets who exist among us now. In the book of Acts, a prophet Agabus began to indicate by the Spirit that there would certainly be a great famine all over the world and this took place in the reign of Claudius. The disciples contributed according to their means to provide relief to the brethren in Judea. (Acts 11:28-30) When Paul was to go to Jerusalem, Agabus took Paul’s belt and bound his own feet and hands and said that the Holy Spirit says that the Jews in Jerusalem would bind Paul and deliver him to the Gentiles. Paul responded that he was ready not only to be bound, but also to die at Jerusalem for the Name of Jesus. Those who were weeping and pleading with Paul not to go eventually fell silent, remarking, “The will of the Lord be done!” (Acts 21:10-14). Similarly Peter prophesied the death of Ananius and Sapphira in Acts 5. So it is very possible that God would give specific messages to His prophets today. Let us consider several aspects of such specific prophecy:
Let us remember the sole purpose of the exercising of the gift of prophecy: so that we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ (Eph 4:13). Recall Paul’s words to the Corinthians about the experience of an unbeliever who enters into a gathering of prophesying believers: he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all; the secret of his heart are disclosed; and so he will fall on his face and worship God, declaring that God is certainly among you (1 Cor 14:24-25). The purpose of prophecy is for conviction, exhortation, and encouragement [through the Word] of the believers as they come to the faith, turn back to Him when they go astray, and remain in the faith to the end. The counsel of the Word of God conveys to us that God’s purpose is for His people to learn to be content in whatever circumstances He allows, with humble means or prosperity, in any and every circumstance they are to learn the secret of being filled and going hungry, of having abundance and suffering need. Their knowledge of Christ in His love and their conformance to His Image is to be so great that their hearts say, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me”. (Phil 4:11-13) Even though Agabus prophesied to Paul about the persecution he would face in Jerusalem, Paul still went! He was willing to be bound and to die for the sake of the Gospel.  Thus, even if a specific prophecy concerning a future event is given to us, we are not given freedom to act in accordance to the desires of the flesh for earthly comfort and security. These messages do not give believers a license to escape the persecution and trials that God may be calling them to go through for the sake of Christ. Our goal is to obey and please our master. If He wants us to provide physical relief to the other saints or to go through physical persecution, then we must follow our Lord in these things.
Secondly, if the Spirit of God gives a specific prophecy concerning impending earthly events to a prophet, the message is from God.  This concept is exemplified by Peter’s words, “Whoever speaks, is to do so as speaking the utterances of God” (1 Peter 4:11). Thus, specific prophecies, if they are presented to prophets by the Holy Spirit at the present time, are contained in His Truth. This is not to say that the prophetic discourses of believers [either forth/fore-telling] carry the authority of the Word of God or that they can add to the Word of God. The Word of God is complete and sufficient. The words of good prophets are still potentially fallible; carnality may be interwoven with their messages. (more on this in the next 2 paragraphs)
Thirdly, we are told not to believe every spirit, but to test spirits to see whether they are from God because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this we know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; this is the spirit of the antichrist who is already in the world. We are from God and have overcome them because greater is He who is in us that he who is in the world. They are from the world and therefore speak and from the world and the world listens to them. We are from God; he who knows God listens to us; he who is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the spirit of Truth and the spirit of error. (1 John 4:1-6; see ch VI)
Fourthly, when Paul told the Thessalonians to examine everything carefully, hold fast to what is good and abstain from every form of evil (1 Thess 5:21-22), we understand that even when true believers prophecy, there is a potential for error [I know from experience] and the believers are to weigh what is said in accordance with the Word of God, the ultimate Standard for all prophecy. Paul instructed the Corinthian church to let 2 or 3 prophecy individually and to have the others pass judgment so that all may learn and be exhorted. The spirits of the prophets are in the hands of the prophets. (1 Cor 14:29-33) Even the words of true believing prophets who have the Holy Spirit living in them must be judged by the Word of God. One mark of a true prophet is that when he is confronted by the error of his words with the Word of God [by the Spirit or another person’s rebuke], he will repent and set right before the people of God his error. For example, when Paul stood before the Jewish council and said, I have lived my life with a perfectly good conscience before God up to this day, the high priest Ananias commanded those standing beside him to strike him on the mouth. Then Paul said to Ananias, “God is going to strike you, you whitewashed wall! Do you sit to try me according to the Law, and in violation of the Law order me to be struck? Those watching said, “Do you revile God’s high priest?And Paul said, “I was not aware, brethren, that he was high priest; for it is written, ‘You shall not speak evil of a ruler of your people.’” Thus, Paul submitted to the Word of God over his own.
Finally, the Scriptures are very clear on how we are to prepare for calamity. We are not called to prepare by knowing the future, as those who consult fortunetellers seek to do. Rather Jesus tells us to build our house on the Rock of Christ so that when storms come, we will be upheld (Matt 7:24-25). We are to be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might, to put on the full armor of God, so that we will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil and to resist him in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. (Eph 6:10,13) Jesus told us to pray that we would be able to escape all the things that are to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man (Luke 21:36). In Revelations 14:12 we are told, “Here is the perseverance of the saints who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus.” The way we prepare for the future is by having a pure, patient, enduring, and patient heart…a heart that finds such joy and satisfaction in the glory and love of Christ, that nothing can shake its contented faith. Those who build their lives on His Word are secured.
In the three mentioned cases of foretelling prophecy in the new testament, there was never an emphasis on satisfying personal earthly desires. In the case of Agabus predicting the famine, the people’s response was to gather resources to help the other believing Jews. In the case of Agabus prophesying the persecution that Paul would experience, Paul’s Spirit-driven direction to preach the Gospel was not altered. In the case of Peter predicting Ananias and Sapphira’s death, I imagine that Peter was filled with heartache, reverence, and Godly admonition for the other believers as he spoke. Contrast these outcomes to the purposes of earthly fortune telling for storing up personal riches and protecting self from danger… Remember, the exaltation of Christ and the conformance of His people into His Image for the revelation of His glory to the world is the purpose of all Divine gifting.

VI.      Testing the Spirits: Jesus Came in the Flesh
            The manner in which spirits are to be tested is described in 1 John 4:1-4: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God and is the spirit of the antichrist. The spirits of the antichrist are from the world, speak as from the world, and the world listens to them. These spirits do not listen to us who are from God. By this we know the spirit of Truth and error.
            So, there are two key aspects of testing spirits here. Firstly, the spirit must acknowledge that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh. And secondly the spirit must listen to us who are from God. False spirits deny that Christ has come in the flesh and they do not listen to us when we speak the Word of God through the Spirit.
            The concept of Jesus Christ coming in the flesh encompasses all who Jesus is and all that He did when He came to earth.The Word became flesh and dwelt among us and the apostles saw His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of GRACE and TRUTH (John 1:14). Since we as God’s children share in flesh and blood, Christ Himself also partook of the same, so that through His death He might render him powerless who had the power of death, that is, the devil (Heb 2:14). For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through our flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh (Rom 8:3). Christ told us that He is from above, that He is not of the world, and that unless we believe that He is the One He claims to be, we would die in our sins (John 8:23). He said that if we believe we have eternal Life, and that He is the Bread of Life that came down out of heaven so that we may eat of it and live forever. The bread which He gave for the life of the world is His flesh. (John 6:47-51). Furthermore, He told us that unless we eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, we have no life in ourselves. But if we eat His flesh and drink His blood, we have eternal Life, He will raise us up on the last day, we abide in Him and He in us, and we will live because of Him. His flesh is true food and His blood is true drink. (John 6:52-58)
            In the days of His flesh, Christ offered up both prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears to the One who is able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His piety (Heb 5:7). Apart from His salvation, none of us could ever have been pious enough to be heard by God. On the cross, Christ abolished in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might create unity among His people, Jews and Gentiles, thus establishing peace (Eph 2:15).  Now we have confidence to enter the Holy Place of the Presence of God the Father through His blood by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh (Heb 10:20).
            After He died on the cross, He was raised to Life. His heart was glad and His tongue exulted, moreover, His flesh lived in hope because God would not abandon His soul to Hades or allow His Holy One to see decay. Jesus was raised to life and His apostles are witnesses. (Acts 2:26-32) He told them to see His hands and feet, that He was He Himself. He told them to touch and see Him, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as they saw that He had (Luke 24:39).
            Now, for all those who are regenerated, they live not on bread alone, but on every Word that proceeds out of the Mouth of God (Matt 4:4). They have been crucified with Christ and no longer live, but Christ lives in them; the life which they now live in their flesh, they live by faith in the Son of God, who loved them and gave Himself up for them (Gal 2:20). We who live off of the Bread of Life are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh (2 Cor 4:11). Christ calls us as His Bride to be part of His own body. No one ever hated his own flesh, but nourished and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church (Eph 5:29).
            Thus, any spirit that rejects the components of Christ coming in the flesh is a spirit of the anti-christ. Often these spirits appeal to the desires of our flesh for material gain and various forms of earthly prosperity rather than to the all-satisfying love of Christ. Sometimes these spirits deny the power of the Holy Spirit to work in people to will and to act according to God’s good purpose and to seal them for the Day of Redemption. Sometimes these spirits appeal to the self-righteousnessof people causing them to have a sense of boasting in self rather than in the cross. Sometimes these spirits appeal to the human intellect, thus neglecting the Mind of Christ that is given to the body of Christ. Sometimes these spirits cause dissent and deny the unifying power of the Gospel. The result of the work of Christ to live a perfect life, die, and rise again in the life of true believers is neglected by these spirits. That is, the fullness of joy and obedience in love that are to characterize believers may be de-emphasized by these spirits and replaced for human mechanisms. These spirits not only leave out, or worse yet, explicitly deny, various parts of Christ’s work and Being, but they refuse to listen to those who speak by the Holy Spirit about the Truth.
Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Phil 2

VII.    The Life of Jesus Sustains the Spirits of Prophets
            Being a true prophet is by no means a glorious, prosperous, or immediately satisfying experience in an earthly sense. But true prophets are not looking for these things. Jesus said that He does not accept praise from men and that those who speak on their own do so to gain honor for themselves, but those who speak for the honor of the One who sent them are men of Truth and there is no unrighteousness in them (John 7:18. A true prophet may be without honor in his own hometown (Luke 4:24). Jesus said that we are blessed when we are insulted, persecuted, and spoken evil against because of the Name of Christ for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before us (Matt 5:11-12). The attitudes of the ungodly towards prophets cannot be good and is often murderous.
            There is an image in the Bible given to Ezekiel and John: God gives them a scroll to eat which tastes sweet like honey. However, it turns sour in their stomach [Ez 3:3, Rev 10:9]. I am not sure about the exact meaning of this picture, but it has resonated with my experiences with receiving and delivering the messages of God to His people. When God gives the message, the message is the voice of the Good Shepherd and my soul finds great delight in it. For His messages are loving calls for His disobedient people to return to Him, words of comfort, peace, love, restoration, salvation… Often, I can understand the great hope and prospect of the message for the audience and imagine the outcome of their reception by His Spirit. His messages from His Word also firstly benefit my own heart and soul. As I write the message, the Truth resonates with my new heart and mind. For the people of God are Spiritually discerned to understand what God has freely given His people (1 Cor 2:14). But it is often the case that after the message has been presented, people refuse to accept it. Rejection of the message is manifested in several ways. People may intellectually affirm the Truth, but refuse to be changed in heart. As God told Ezekiel, “31 They come to you as people come, and sit before you as My people and hear your words, but they do not do them, for they do the lustful desires expressed by their mouth, and their heart goes after their gain. 32 Behold, you are to them like a sensual song by one who has a beautiful voice and plays well on an instrument; for they hear your words but they do not practice them.” (Ez 33:31-32) They may disbelieve, ignore, or fail to understand the message. The anguish and despair that comes over the prophet in the face of the hardened hearts of listeners may be the sourness in the stomach that occurs later on. More importantly, if these people refuse to repent, then the judgment of God looms over them, and we see small forms of His judgment even in our lives as those around us face the consequences of their sin: guilt, despair, reckless living, sorrow, anger, etc. And the knowledge of His coming wrath that remains over the unsaved may be exceedingly sour. As the apostle Paul said about his Jewish brothers, “I am telling the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience testifies with me in the Holy Spirit, that I have great sorrow and unceasing grief in my heart.For I could wish that I myself were accursed, separated from Christ for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh” (Rom 9:1-3)
16 Your Words were found and I ate them,
And Your Words became for me a joy and the delight of my heart;
For I have been called by Your name,
O Lord God of hosts.
17 I did not sit in the circle of merrymakers,
Nor did I exult.
Because of Your hand upon me I sat alone,
For You filled me with indignation.
18 Why has my pain been perpetual
And my wound incurable, refusing to be healed?
Will You indeed be to me like a deceptive stream
With water that is unreliable? Jer 15
            In the midst of the anguish of the prophet, there is a quiet relief of the Holy Spirit, the comfort of God’s eternal covenant of love, and the knowledge that He brings justice to victory for His people. We are reminded of Elijah who cried out to God, “I have been very zealous for the Lord, the God of hosts; for the sons of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars and killed Your prophets with the sword. And I alone am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.” (I King 19:20). God did not speak to him through the great and strong wind, the earthquake, or the fire. He spoke through a gentle blowing wind and comforted Elijah that there were 7000 people in Israel who had not worshipped Baal. (1 Kings 19:11-13, 18) One of the greatest comforts for the downtrodden prophet is the presence of the remnant amidst an otherwise idolatrous people.
            The life of Jesus revives the true prophets day after day. Just as Jesus suffered outside the camp in order to sanctify us, we go to Him outside the camp bearing the reproach that He bore. For here we do not have an enduring city, but we are seeking the city which is to come. (Heb 13:12-14) The heart’s desire of the true prophet is that “that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; 11 in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.” (Phil 3:10-11) As King David says, “This is my comfort in my affliction, that Your Word has revived me” (Ps 119:50).
19 Remember my affliction and my wandering, the wormwood and bitterness.
20 Surely my soul remembers
And is bowed down within me.
21 This I recall to my mind,
Therefore I have hope.
22 The Lord’s loving kindnesses indeed never cease,
For His compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.
24 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“Therefore I have hope in Him.” Lam 3
            My experiences in carrying the messages from God’ heart are characterized by a type of reverence for the honor and glory of God that dispels all of my fleshly inclinations for human love and honor. I become blind to all political and relational dynamics of the peoples. My sole focus becomes to uphold the Truth of God’s Word in the hearts of His people. Every other striving is put to rest, as God calls the prophet to wait for His deliverance and to be faithful to deliver His Words to the people. The inner zeal that possesses the true prophet is relentless. The Word of God is like a seal on the heart and on the arm. For love is as strong as death. Jealousy is as severe as Sheol; its flashes are flashes of fire, the very flame of the Lord. (SoS 8:6) The messages of the prophets control their hearts, thus affecting their character, the words of their mouth, their demeanor, and their countenance. Those who look to the Lord are radiant; their faces are never covered in shame (Ps 34:5). God told the prophets to speak worthy, not worthless, words and to make their faces harder than flint and not to turn to the people but to let them turn to them (Ez 3:9, Jer 15:19). They are to be a bronze fortified wall against the idolatry of the peoples. Though the peoples fight against them, they will not be overcome by them for God is with them to save and rescue them. (Jer 15:20)
            God often takes His prophets on a journey during their periods of prophecy in which the aspects of the particular prophecy are manifested in certain ways in the life of the prophet. That is, God gives prophets a taste of their message through experience(s) in their own lives. For example, the prophet Hosea was commanded by God to be faithful and forgiving to his unfaithful wife as a picture of God’s faithfulness to the adulterous and idolatrous Israelites. Similarly Ezekiel was given a strict diet by which he would physically waste away to show that the Israelites were wasting away in their sin. God trains and teaches prophets as He gives them messages for the people. Their experiences refine their character, humble them, conforming them into the Image of Christ. A result is that the prophet’s messages are drenched in personal conviction and depth of insight through the Holy Spirit.
            There is an internal struggle that I have experienced, especially with prophetic warning against idolatry, of maintaining both GRACE and TRUTH. We remember that the King of prophets, Christ, was filled with grace and Truth. The words of the prophets are in many cases words of rebuke, admonition, and calls to repentance and restoration. When a prophet lacks grace he/she will likely have the type of human anger and pride that does not bring about the righteousness of God (James 1:20). If the prophet refuses to speak the Truth, though it brings sorrowful conviction to true believers and anger within the ungodly, then he/she is accountable as the watchman who sees the sword coming and does not blow the horn to warn the people (Ez. 33:6). It is a sin for prophets not to speak words of conviction and rebuke when God commands them to. It is a sin for a prophet to speak even the Truth without love, humility, and grace. I know that any words of conviction or rebuke from me must be preceded by extensive labor in prayer with tears and love on behalf of those whom I would be speaking to. I tell myself not to dare to speak against the actions and heart conditions of the people of God if I have not wept for them and pleaded on behalf of their souls before God and been filled with a deep agape for them. The true prophet must feel and possess the heart of God towards the people.

My conclusion is that the Testimony of Jesus is the Spirit of Prophecy.
More than anything, we strive to obey Him and to love as He did. I want to be like Him, whatever that means I have to do. He is my firstborn elder Brother. 

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