We need to go back to basics with prophetic protocols. Really! We have to revisit the simplest aspects of revelatory experience. A season of maturing must come, and we must begin a proper dialogue of how prophetic ministry functions. We need to get a basic discussion going about the intentions of God in revelation, the differences between spiritual awareness and revelatory legitimacy. We also need to redraw the finer lines that exist between revelatory experiences and prophetic function.
Every Believer Hears God’s Voice
So, let’s begin with the distinction that every believer has the wonderful privilege of hearing the voice of God, but Christians hearing God’s voice and prophecy are not the same thing. Every believer does not, necessarily, prophesy because he is hearing God’s voice or when he is hearing God’s voice.
Prophecy is more than hearing God’s voice. That is pretty basic, I think, but not abundantly clear. I am not being overly technical about this either. There is marked difference between spiritual awareness and revelation, between hearing God speak to you and prophesy, between revelatory experience and prophetic function. To ignore the distinctions is to create and embrace malfunction and dysfunction.
Every believer has ears and eyes in their spiritual head, so to speak, and should cultivate spiritual hearing and seeing. I am certain millions of believers are immature or simply deaf and blind, seldom experiencing God’s voice and failing to recognize when He speaks. To be sure, believers must learn to give spiritual attention to God, expand their spiritual attention spans, and mature in spiritual communication.
Still, hearing and seeing revelation are not “prophetic,” they are revelatory and normal to people who live “spirit first.” Prophetic function involves communication on the part of the prophetic person, and prophetic communication should always occur with prophetic protocols in place, protocols guide the prophetic process in order to maintain the integrity of prophetic ministry. Prophetic protocols involve what to do with revelation once it is received more than developing the ability to receive revelation, which is relatively easy.
It is easy to activate the prophetic gifts, teach people to hear God’s voice, and even show them how to communicate what they hear. Easy. And, we have been so zealous to prove the validity of the prophetic that we have left the weightier matters of what to do with revelation behind.
We are left with an immature prophetic movement at a time when we should have an established, foundational prophetic function available to the ecclesia.
The Kingdom is a Prophetic Culture
Remember that God wanted every Israelite coming out of Egypt to hear His voice. The people were afraid of hearing God’s voice and sent Moses to speak with God. “You go talk to Him and come back and tell us what He says,” they said. Tragic dysfunction occurred while Moses was doing this, of course, because God wants every believer to hear His voice; that is, the Israelites volunteered to be deaf and dumb! Moses was left with the burden of hearing, interpreting, applying, and implementing God’s ideas and instructions for the whole nation.
God gave Moses 70 elders to assist with the burden of leadership, Joshua was concerned that Moses’ light wouldn’t shine as brightly with so many voices speaking prophetically. To Joshua’s concern, Moses says, “Would God that all the Lord’s people were prophets and the Lord would put His spirit upon all of them!” [Number 11:29]
This doesn’t mean God’s highest ideal would be for every believer to function in the office – that is a completely false conclusion. Nor, was Moses teaching that each believer should live without leadership, prophetic leaders, or the functions of gift of prophecy and prophets because they can hear God for themselves! We have a pandemic condition of the “just Jesus and me” method of Christian living. We also have a rampant super-saint malfunction that says, “If God has anything to say to me, He’ll just say it. I don’t need anyone else to hear God for me” error and rebellion.
God’s kingdom is a prophetic culture. In a prophetic culture, the more prophetic we become, the more leadership we require. This is a basic of prophetic protocol. We move into deeper revelation and higher levels of revelatory responsibility as we grow and mature. There is much more at stake as we mature, so we need a higher level of leadership for the protocols of our revelatory experiences.
Most people assume the opposite: that the more mature prophetic ministry becomes, the less leadership is required. Yet, the more mature prophetic people and prophets become, the more they see the revelation that the higher level of their prophetic experiences requires a higher standard of personal purity and integrity! Beware any reasoning that brings you to say, “Well, I’m hearing God for myself now, and I don’t need to be accountable. Now that I’ve grown up, I am directly accountable to God.” You have one foot dangling off the precipice!
God designed His kingdom to function as a prophetic culture, a cultural setting governed by revelation of God’s mind, heart, and intention! The spiritual kingdom has a spiritual culture. Culture for a group is the same as behavior or lifestyle for an individual. So, a prophetic culture is about corporate behaviors, and God has designed protocols to guide and govern these corporate behaviors.
Beware the conclusion that the validity of “personal prophecy” creates the validity of “Jesus and me” prophetic function. “Personal prophecy” does not mean that God speaks to each of us as individuals, so we don’t need to function with a corporate setting. Beware the error of the phrase “I am not accountable to anyone but Jesus.” Beware the compounded error of saying, “God told me and that settles it.” Why? Because God is One who set the protocols of kingdom behavior! He isn’t functioning as if His protocols don’t exist!
Within the kingdom of God, the ecclesia is called together by God wherein the voice of God is readily, consistently available to God’s people. Gifts of Holy Spirit function widely, openly, consistently, and authoritatively within the ecclesia. Prophetic protocols do not seek to limit this revelatory reality but to maintain its constant flow and integrity, to keep it pure of human manipulation and intimidation, to ensure that what the ecclesia hears and sees is very Word of the Lord, demanding that we take the good and dispense with the bad so that we do not come to despise prophesying. [1 Thessalonians 5:21-22.]
We are responsible to avoid despising prophecy. We are responsible to establish a culture in which prophetic function is properly valued and respected as a foundational leadership dynamic. God gave us protocols for prophetic ministry to maintain this proper value and respect for prophetic behaviors. When ignore these protocols, we limit or destroy prophetic function because people stop listening, rejected prophetic become more shrill, then eventually silent, and the kingdom culture substitutes a different communication system for the one designed by the King.
Prophecy is Communication
1 Peter 4:11, “If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God.” People can speak God’s oracles! The norm, the baseline, the reality of speaking for God should be speaking God’s oracles, a short speech from God. The most common form of prophecy involves communicating a speech or message from God. A message spoken or written that arrives via revelation must be communicated in a revelatory manner. It is not the product of good thinking, a conclusion reached by reason, but a message received from outside you from God Himself speaking into history. It is not God’s voice being heard, but yours.
Oracle, logion, means ‘to speak on the behalf of another.’ An oracle of God means to speak on His behalf, a word that originates with God that is spoken or communicated by man.
God communicates to you in many legitimate ways. Everything God has ever used to communicate throughout history as a method of communication is available today in some form or other. God isn’t thundering from a mountaintop as He did at Sinai, but He is speaking through chosen, sent, and positioned leaders, who can see and hear, experience, taste, and smell, and communicate what God is saying. So, revelation comes to people so God can release revelation through people. And, God often communicates through code, symbol, impression, picture, full-color video, and revelatory experiences – all of which require prophetic processing.
Examine the first steps of Jeremiah’s prophetic leadership. God speaks to him by showing him a picture that suggests something through word association. “What do you see, Jeremiah?” God asks. “I see an almond branch,” young Jeremiah replies.
Was there an almond tree nearby? Or, did Jeremiah see a vision? Did an almond branch drops at this feet? Or, did Jeremiah’s spiritual eyes see an almond branch? It doesn’t matter. The point is that God revealed the branch a particular tree to him, and the Hebrew word for almond sounds like the Hebrew word for another activity.
God still speaks and reveals in this way today. He doesn’t just say things in sentence form with proper punctuation and paragraph indentations. He still communicates the way He has been communicating since the beginning, and He likes to have people experience something natural in order to give them a revelation of something spiritual. While what is spiritual is more real than what is physical, it is our ability to experience things physically that dominates our lives, and God uses what is physically real to reveal what is spiritually real.
I mention this because the process of the prophetic is both a wonderful way to more effectively and efficiently release revelation and a fault line for pride, flesh, and impure motivations to subvert the process of communicating spiritual things. God doesn’t desire to communicate through automatic, robotic means. He wants to communicate through real people, real experiences, and real words. The process is more effective and efficient this way, but it also depends upon the people involve following proper protocols and maintaining personal purity.
I am answering the question, Why doesn’t God guarantee that His Word will be communicated perfectly in prophetic ministry the same as He did with the Bible? To be sure, we can know that God has preserved through centuries of contrary challenges a written record of His Word that is without error. We have a perfect Bible. No prophetic ministry operates at the same level of that revelation because it is perfect, inerrant, immutable, eternal, and finished. We aren’t writing more books to the Bible.
Prophetic ministry is not the same thing at all. I recently read a blog by some poorly informed young man who was making a ridiculous case for the idea that “no prophetic word needs to be judged because it is God’s Word and judging the prophetic word would be the same as judging God.” Duh! Why do people insist upon saying something about things they don’t know very much about? Obviously, he is having experiences where people are properly judging his errant words and isn’t enjoying those experiences! Everything he says needs to be judged, or more likely, he needs a leader to help him sit down and be quiet for a season until he learns the protocols of the prophetic.
I am not joking about that. Part of the protocol is to stop the communication that doesn’t fit the protocol. The protocols will be challenged by people who see their right to speak as authorized directly by God because they think they have a revelation directly from Him.
The Bible is perfect. While it is obvious that each writer communicated in his own style, consistent with the period of history in which that writer lived, that no writer of Scripture was robotic in his expressions, we do know that every writing of Scripture was “God-breathed.” We know that every word of God will not pass away. We know that the Old Testament wasn’t destroyed by Jesus but brought into fullness so it can be fulfilled. We know that God cannot lie. And, we know God has intervened in history to preserve and purify this Bible so that we have full confidence that every human error in copying or even the subtle shades of meaning in translating have not diminished the complete accuracy of what God says in Scripture.
Prophecy is not perfect. The Bible tells us so. “We prophesy in part…but when that which is perfect arrives what was imperfect gives way to the perfect.” We don’t remember the incomplete when the complete arrives. We understand the incomplete when the complete arrives. The fulfillment of the anticipated gives such a greater understanding of the anticipated that we realize the prophetic is not intended to be exhaustive.
While prophetic ministry is amazingly powerful, it is not everything nor intended to be everything. In one sense this is true of the Bible: Scripture isn’t exhaustive. The Bible doesn’t tell us everything but what it does tell us is totally accurate. Prophecy doesn’t tell us everything but what it does tell us requires a prophetic process totally different from our interpretation, application, and implementation of Scripture. Prophecy is a different form of communication. Preaching is another form of communication. Teaching another. While our speech should be seasoned with grace, everything a prophetic person says isn’t prophetic.
Basics of Prophecy
God’s oracles will be spoken through people. That is, God has thoughts for you, about you, and concerning you that He wants you to know. Prophecy communicates these thoughts as God shares them with other people so they can share them with you.
Personal prophecy is a message for a person from God spoken with God’s heart in God’s time for God’s purpose. The prophetic gift allows the expertise of God to be available to God’s people. Holy Spirit searches the Father’s heart and searches every human heart. He then reveals a word or way that gets the two hearts together. Without the prophetic, we may be giving people what we can give them. With the prophetic, we may be giving them what God can give them!
The prophetic process is revelation, interpretation, application, and implementation. Each step of the process is revelatory. Receiving the revelation is only the first, easiest step. After that, people who don’t follow protocols and work at the process may turn a nearly perfect revelation into a messy distraction or destructive delusion.
Protocol number one – communicate with permission.
Just because you discern, hear, see, or sense something about another person does not mean that you are required to speak or communicate it. What you know or think you know arrives with or without permission to communicate it, and that permission includes timing, setting, interpretation, and judgment.
Simply discerning a spiritual condition is not permission to verbalize what you discern to a person you feel is carrying that spiritual condition. Having a word of knowledge, a particular of information, about a person does not mean that you need to share it. Having a word of wisdom, a strategic detail or response that you feel applies to a certain person does not mean that you are being asked to prophesy that revelation to them.
Beware the tendency to think what you have from God arrives with an inherent license for you to do with the revelation whatever you think best. With the ability or capacity to receive revelation comes another dynamic of what to do with revelation.
God simply sharing His secrets with you; God pulling back the curtain of spiritual reality to teach you how to hear and see better; God assigning you to pray an accompanying strategy about the revelation; God giving a portion of the revelation you will share later when the rest of the revelation arrives.
These are a few possibilities to consider and learn to apply to your revelatory experiences.
Protocol number two – communicate proper content.
We should encourage personal prophecy! Holy Spirit will be sharing God’s heart, secrets of people’s hearts, and words that comfort, encourage, and exhort to people.
Oikodome – edify, build up, promoting growth and stability, health
Paraklesis – exhort, admonish, refresh, console, comfort
Paramuthia – persuade, stimulate, motivate
Note that correction, judging, condemning, directing, opining on God’s behalf, charging, imparting, or creating are not included in this list! These are gift of prophecy parameters. Prophets can do these things but prophetic people do not function in the same way as prophets.
We would understand this prophetic function to apply to the gift of prophecy for two reasons: 1) God wants everyone to prophesy but not everyone is a prophet; 2) Paul is speaking about desiring spiritual gifts, the function gifts, specifically, a comparison of languages and prophecy.
We can conclude from this that Paul is discussing the gift of prophecy operation within the ecclesia. Since we have examples of how prophets function in the New Testament ecclesia, we can understand that prophets have authority and power in that positioning to speak beyond these three parameters. A prophet functions as a leader, and his prophetic gift and leadership function combine to speak greater than the scope set by these three words. It would also seem that the scope of these three words concerns prophecy spoken in a specific setting within the ecclesia although the prophecy may also communicate to someone who “comes into the ecclesia, those that is inexperienced or unbelieving.”
These protocols do apply to public meetings in specific but serve to provide us strong insights into prophetic protocols because they tell us how the gift should operate. We see that prophecy occurs in a way that allows for leadership, judgment, order, interpretation, faith, and response. It operates openly. When the gift of prophecy and personal prophecy occur, as well as words that edify the whole ecclesia, publically. This is not the only insight we receive about prophecy and prophetic functions, of course, and we must include everything we learn from Scripture as the highest and first revelation of prophetic protocol. We don’t add Bible to our prophetic experience; we start with Bible as the textbook of life, living, spiritual reality, and gift function. Nothing is valid that counters what Scripture says.
So, this instruction from Paul is not so exclusive that we err to do or say or act in any other way. Nor does Paul prescribe this as an “order of service” as if any kind of strategic gathering of saints that doesn’t follow this specifically misses the commands of Scripture. Prophetic operation doesn’t turn on when the ecclesia gathers and shut off when it goes home.
There is a place for prophetic operations and a prophet’s function outside the assembled ecclesia. That said, we should take care that we apply the same principles to other expressions of the prophetic. For example, prophetic words should all stand the scrutiny of judgment by prophetic leadership; we should ask for prophetic insight and interpretation no matter how prophetic communication comes into our lives.
To this point, email and Facebook words should be put through the same process. In our ministry, I have created prophetic groups on Facebook so that revelations can be shared and the whole group of prophetic people and prophets can process these revelations. I would even go so far as offer a rebuke to those who are casting off prophetic protocols in the way they give and receive prophetic ministry in ways that short-circuit the process and protocols.
I read posted prophetic words that come out of nowhere and go nowhere but are passed around by people by sharing. I don’t know the sources, the people speaking them, nor do these words even make a lot of sense sometimes. Frauds copy something they read on a prophet’s website and pass them on Facebook as if they heard God speaking to create the impression that “they hear from God,” hoping to attract people to themselves because of a personal desperation for meaning and recognition. Well-meaning people then encourage them because of the tendency to “high-five” people who are listening to God and contending for revival.
While I understand the pattern and how it plays into our “everybody can do the stuff” thinking, I would caution that we are opening the door to abuse, fraud, silliness, and watering down the proper protocols of the prophetic.
Let’s say a couple things out loud. I used to say that Sunday School classes were the source of more false doctrine than the devil because we would encourage discussion and allow people to say the craziest things, high-fives all around because people participated in the process. The same thing can happen with prophetic operations and functions in this new world of communication.
I would never allow a man addicted to pornography to prophesy. But I saw a guy I asked to step down from ministry prophesying on Facebook the other day. His word was warped, and he has never be restored to leadership or function by anyone but himself. At the same time a woman’s husband called him to tell him to stop texting his wife and demanding to know her dreams and prophetic revelations so he could mentor her.
My point is that there are protocols for the prophetic. When a leader who is accountable to leaders prophesies, communicating via internet, I listen because there are protocols in place for his life, leadership, and function. Outside of that, getting personal words from strangers is just a crazy idea. While I receive prophetic words from people in many nations who are my friends, leaders I know, and leaders who have an accountability process in place, every person who is interested in the integrity of the prophetic should simply refuse to receive things prophetic operations that do not have recognizable protocols surrounding them.
I have people show up at the ministry to prophesy, people I don’t know, who just walk in and plan on speaking life or death to God’s people. I do not allow them to do so. I do not allow them because I am controlling or afraid of their revelations. I do not allow them to speak because they are not operating according to protocols. While there might be an exception that proves this rule, it would be so rare that people in our house would be extremely surprised!
Recently, some woman watched a silly DVD teaching that accused revival leaders of releasing some demonic spirit from India to everybody they touched. She came into the meeting to set us all straight about our worship, my preaching, our spiritual atmosphere. She was really full of herself. She couldn’t speak to everybody so she wrote me a corrective email “to be faithful to the Lord.” I asked for the phone number of her leader so that I could speak about her activities and get some clarity on her behavior. She didn’t have leader, of course, because she is “taught of the Father in Heaven and needs no man on earth to tell her what to do.” So, I told her that I wouldn’t be opening any of her emails and she would not be welcome to speak anything in the ecclesia. She broke so may Bible protocols that I couldn’t find a basis for a discussion with her. The DVD is so obviously a hatchet job on good people that it is not worthy of analysis.
Protocol number three – We never prophesy in a vacuum.
We commonly call these things “parking lot prophecies” because they occur outside the setting where we can most safely receive personal prophecy. Or, at least this is an example of possibly prophesying or receiving prophecy in a vacuum.
So, if we receive a word from someone, however that word is received, or however trustworthy the person prophesying may be, we cannot properly interpret and apply that word without involving other people, especially leaders, in the process.
Now, I didn’t say that we wouldn’t receive communications via internet, phone, written notes, and spoken messages. I said that we never prophesy in a vacuum: we assume the involvement of other people, especially leaders, in the process of prophecy. Doing this is grounds for being “sat down” and our prophetic voice silenced, our gift function invalidated. Not because we don’t hear or see correctly, but we function improperly, dangerously, and recklessly. People come to despise prophecy because of improper function that assumes every word of every prophetic communication is good just because the prophecy came by revelation. What I mean is that if we receive words outside the protocols, we cannot be allowed to communicate prophetically because we are creating the impression that the prophetic process isn’t that important by our own actions.
Note the language of 1 Thessalonians 5: “Don’t suppress the Spirit, and don’t stifle those who have a word from the Master. On the other hand, don’t be gullible. Check out everything, and keep only what’s good. Throw out anything tainted with evil. May God himself, the God who makes everything holy and whole, make you holy and whole, put you together – spirit, soul, and body – and keep you fit for the coming of our Master, Jesus Christ.” [The Message]
I have received hundreds, even thousands of personal words, and I have given thousands of personal words. I will continue to receive and release personal prophecies. However, in both receiving and releasing, the words have not been 100% pure-oracle of God. Some mixture is possible, even probable. By mixture I mean that the oracle of God may have an accompanying communication or subtle rewording and a commentary that includes the gift of teaching or exhortation in such a way that the prophecy and the other are not noted or distinguished.
Add to that the motivations of people who hear and see revelation, put into the situation a desire to be heard or seen, add a pinch of people having been taken less seriously than was appropriate or what they desired, and then note that people are perfect in their communications. You get a situation in which leadership is needed 100% of the time!
Protocol number four – We prophesy in part.
Beware the thought, “That’s it. I said it all! Everyone note this powerful revelation I’ve spoken, the end-all of the matter.” Beware such thinking that measures the value of your revelation or prophecy by the fact that you heard and saw and spoke. The value of revelation is equal, but we can measure its import by our level of trust with the person who communicated it. It is the level of trust we have in the one communicates that measures the purity and power of the word, not the revelation itself.
Let me tell you that I have seen and heard some things that were very accurate in detail and specificity that looked and sounded a lot different when they came to pass than I thought they would because the interpretation and application of the very pure revelation was bigger than my ability to receive the revelation.
I have heard prophetic words turned into something they never said, implied, or communicated by the assumption that the word settled it all. Perhaps a word is a confirmation in a stream of revelations. Perhaps a word is an expansion of revelation from things a person has heard or seen privately. Perhaps a word is a piece of revelatory puzzle that outlines what needs to be filled in. In no way does the “prophesy in part” make prophecy less valuable when it is an oracle of God.
Therefore, we never assume that we don’t make decisions on our own, that people don’t make decisions on their own, that prophecy is required as a basis for making decisions. This thinking leads to several different kinds of error including the silly idea that “if we hear God on everything we will never make a poor decision.” That is a premise that encourages false prophecy or prophetic dysfunction.
Beware the tendency to “take that word to the bank” as a “jumping to conclusions” knee-jerk reaction to words spoken. Beware the error of putting your own timing on God’s revelations or interpreting a word into another framework of expectation so that the final picture looks like what you had in mind.
The prophecy doesn’t do the dishes, as I like to say. It isn’t all that and a bag of chips, so to speak. God isn’t going to turn prophecy into a horoscope or psychic reading so you can decide whether or not to get out of bed, brush your teeth, get married, or buy a car. Most certainly, God isn’t going to speak to you every week and tell you whether or not you should tithe or pray or fast or worship or kiss your spouse because these decisions do not require a daily word, a momentary revelation, a confirming oracle.
We prophesy in part. We have a part. We speak a part. We fit the part into a process.
Protocol number five – Prophecy confirms God’s directions.
If you get a prophecy to divorce your spouse, you know that is not a word from God anymore than a prophecy to rob a bank as long as you tithe what you steal or a directive to sell drugs to support world missions is a God-word. Prophecy confirms what is going on in a person’s life that is God-directed.
God could do a shocking shift but it would not be prophecy that shocked and shifted you in the sense of that word being directly opposed to what God has already spoken. God isn’t going to prophesy through someone that you should sin, get angry, break your word, steal money, or tell a lie. I know you are laughing but I am not because I have experienced the silliness and tragedy of such prophetic dysfunctions.
God tells someone to make a commitment to ministry leadership, then three weeks later God rescinds that order and tells them to do something else, close that door, or “run as fast as you can.” One of those prophetic words wasn’t from God! By the way, God isn’t into the “forget what I said yesterday, I changed my mind.” [I am, unfortunately, quoting someone who spoke this to someone in my hearing.] God gets the blame for lots of stuff He didn’t have anything to do with!
On the other hand, I have to question the statement: “every prophetic word confirms something you have already heard from the Lord.” There isn’t a good Bible premise to make this a rule, and the statement itself begs the question of whether or not prophecy is less valid that what a person hears or sees on his or her own. While there are many experiences, even most experiences, in our spiritual walk that mirror the sentiments of this statement, we cannot really make it a rule that God has to speak to us personally before a prophecy can rightly arrive that confirms something of which we are already aware. It just doesn’t happen that way every time in Scripture or life.
However, confirmation isn’t a bad word! No, confirming words are more common than any other because many confirming words are actually the witness of Holy Spirit within us. In other words, when we hear any prophetic word, we usually have some sense of its authenticity when we hear it. Not always as strongly every time, but we commonly recognize God in prophetic words because of an immediate response of spirit. Other words confirm what we have already heard or something we have experienced privately.
Confirming words are often the awaken of things hidden within us, so when they are awakened by prophecy from apostles and prophets, they seem to confirm some inner inclination. When this occurs we may be surprised because what we had a hint about can appear different when actually set in place to function in our lives.
There are words that surprise us. These are the words of prophets and apostles in my experience, but even then they bring immediate witness and confirm something that causes us to see what we already know in a new way. It can be shocking because it brings together some pieces of revelation in a new way that astounds us, but in one sense the word is confirming that the pieces were God’s oracles even though we couldn’t see the fullness of the revelation until the last piece or new piece was given.
Expect confirmations. It is a pattern of prophecy. But don’t limit the words of prophets to confirmations, and don’t automatically reject a word because you don’t immediately see where it fits as a confirming word. After all, the first indication of a revelation isn’t a confirming word since it is the first piece of a prophetic puzzle.
Don’t give the time of day to contradictory words, goof-ball words, and words that attack the whole tenor of your spiritual experiences. In addition, recognize that confirmations will often come through your spiritual leaders. The judgment of prophecy is a form of confirmation: that is, those sitting around listening and judging prophetic words are either confirming or not confirming the words when they properly judge them for content and motivation.
Protocol number six – Prophetic words are always subject to judgment and prophetic functions are always subject to correction and training.
If you aren’t teachable and submissive, just don’t say anything prophetic at all. No matter how well you hear and see revelation, just keep it to yourself if you are unwilling to submit to leaders as a person and your prophecies for judgment. As I said before, I actually read a statement on the internet that said, “No prophecy is subject to the judgment or correction of any man because it is the word of God.” I didn’t know whether to laugh, weep, or be sick!
If that guy had walked on water and relieved his arm of ten deadly snakes with fangs sunk into the flesh without dying, I would not listen to a word out of his mouth! (A little hyperbole there!) Perhaps I should say that such a statement is so blatantly unScriptural and practically unrealistic that it should be categorically dismissed.
However, people often include a bit of that sentiment with the words they speak. A bit of excess here. A hint of “this word is a for sure deal” there. A little too much stress on how they hear clearly or how clearly they heard, even a subtle hint that you better take this seriously or else. People will also take strange postures and make flourishing gestures with acrobatic spittle included at no extra charge to convince you of the word’s validity.
This usually means people have suffered rejection and/or been misunderstood, but sometimes it means they have not been submitted to correction, avoided training, and don’t intend to have their gift or message questioned. Pride. Arrogance. Fear. Ambition. Control. Unfortunately, each of these maladies has been exhibited in the name of prophecy. Good prophecy. Impure delivery.
You need to function in a place where someone can be firm in correcting your excesses, be specific in helping you share what you’ve seen and heard, and walk you through the times you miss it or add to what you’ve received from God.
Prophets and prophetic people who have no accountability are dangerous. So, don’t be dangerous! You never outgrow the need for accountability, and the higher and deeper you go in revelation experience and prophetic ministry, the higher and deeper your leaders should be, the more accountability is needed because of the serious nature and trust level of your revelation. We cannot purchase or earn the gift or office but we most certainly must experience training that includes correction and teaching so that we can better communicate with accuracy and precision what God is saying through us.
Here in MinistryMatrix and AMP, we are learning to function as a company of prophets, and in prophetic teams. I am so sorry to tell you that some of those who started didn’t continue when they were corrected in the presentation of prophecy or in their personal lives. Some didn’t pass the test of using revelation to create a need for themselves, making people feel dependent upon their insights. Some were quitters. They just didn’t want to make the effort that true prophets must make to function as prophets. They wanted it to be easy or easier – “I just want to hear God and speak what I hear.” It isn’t that easy or simple. Nothing else is that easy or easier.
For a long time, the idea that there should be order and decency got a bad name. “Decent and in order” in the ecclesia when spiritual gifts and functions were available to the Body came to mean that leaders were “shutting down freedom” and “quenching the Spirit.” The purpose of leadership isn’t to determine what God is doing but to protect the situation so God is the One doing it.
Prophetic Protocol number seven – prophetic people judge prophetic words.
While this protocol makes perfect sense, I am personally amazed how little it is followed in prophetic process. It seems to me that people judging prophetic experiences, words, and prophetic process are, more often than not, people with little prophetic function or experience. The obvious intent of Paul’s order and decency for prophetic operations in the ecclesia is that prophetic people, the ones who prophesying, are the one judging the words spoken. Prophetic order in a public setting should be done with one than one person prophesying; while one is speaking, others are judging what he says.
Leaders who function prophetically should judge prophetic words, people with prophetic experience. While it is true that teaching and activating people to prophesy is possible and actually not that difficult to do, providing for prophetic function involves a bit more than giving people with a word the microphone and giving them a high-five when they are done!
This “just do it!” attitude isn’t consistent with the order of prophetic experience and function, and releasing people to speak their prophetic minds without proper protocols and training always produces perversions of the purpose of prophetic ministry.
I would include in this discussion every aspect of revelatory experience so that we get a clearer picture of how leadership functions in the ecclesia, how humility secures our destinies, how submission and obedience shelters us from traps of offense, flesh, and darkness. I would include dreams, especially dreams that are interpreted as directional, that are used to make decisions and direct people’s lives. More on this later.