Thursday, June 7, 2012

Graham Cooke shares his passionate views about the purpose and role of New Testament prophets.

When you talk to Graham Cooke, you can sense he’s been hanging out with God. He’s at the same time down-to-earth and full of spiritual wisdom on everything from prayer to spiritual warfare to prophecy to intimacy with God. Cooke is well known for his prophetic training programs and has a passion to build prototype churches that can reach our postmodern society. God also uses him to help transition churches into higher levels of vision and ministry.

Cooke is a building prophet. A British native, he is part of the pastoral ministry leadership team at The Mission in Vacaville, Calif. Cooke’s ministry, the Future Training Institute, sends resources to the poor around the world, and his books and interactive journals, including “Approaching the Heart of Prophecy,” “Developing Your Prophetic Gifting” and “Permission Granted,” are helping to equip thousands of believers for the work of the ministry.

The Voice magazine caught up with Cooke to talk about the state of the prophetic ministry today.

The Voice: What should we be doing as prophets in this time?

GRAHAM COOKE: Well, first of all there is a biblical link between apostles and prophets laying foundation in the church. The role of a New Testament prophet primarily is not to prophesy. It’s to teach people how to hear the voice of God themselves because Jesus said “My sheep know My voice.” We actually need millions of Christians released to hear the voice of God for themselves. 

New Testament prophets therefore are essentially prophets of confirmation. They bring new words and so forth, but their role is to teach people how to hear the voice of God, to teach people how to live, find, discover, and live in the will of God and create a church as a prophetic community. In the process of all of that prophets teach people how to handle the different levels of prophecy, like edification, exhortation, comfort, words of revelation, words of warning and so on. Prophets should model how people should prophesy; they model who Jesus is. So we produce this prophetic community that really understands about grace, mercy and reconciliation.

THE VOICE: I’m seeing a lot of curses and judgment being pronounced in prophetic circles. What’s your view on that?

GRAHAM COOKE: John the Baptist was the last of the Old Testament prophets. Jesus was the first of the New Testament. But John had to come and bow the knee, which is the Old Testament model bowing the knee to the New Testament model. So think of it this way: Do you think Jesus was punished enough for sin? Do you think the Father judged Jesus thoroughly? Did He spend every last ounce of anger and wrath on Christ on the cross?

THE VOICE: Absolutely.

GRAHAM COOKE: So then there’s no judgment left, no anger left, no punishment left. God is fully satisfied. Between Calvary, which was judgment on Christ, and the Judgment Day when all the books will be opened, there is no place for judgment in this world. What does judgment look like? We’re not judging humanity. We do sit in judgment on authority over the demonic. We cast out devils. But when it comes to a sin sick world, we are ambassadors of reconciliation. We’re saying a price has been paid. You cannot say on the one hand the price has been paid and be reconciled to God and then be judging people for their sin on the other hand. If all the judgment has been put on Christ, there is no judgment for us to enter into. It’s the goodness and kindness of God that brings people to repentance. We’re ambassadors of reconciliation and we have to move in the grace and mercy of Christ. When we look at a person who’s in sin we are assessing them not about their sin, we are assessing them in terms of Father. We are asking how much grace and mercy do we need to show to this person in order for them to be reconciled?

THE VOICE: That’s beautiful.

GRAHAM COOKE: As the Church we are stepping into the gap with Jesus and we are praying for mercy, not judgment. We want God to rain down mercy so the love that covers a multitude of sin can come into the community and people can see what God is really like and fall in love with Him. That’s our job and I think that’s a huge part of prophetic ministry in the earth. What if the biggest problem in America is the lack of goodness? The Bible says we overcome evil with good. What if the biggest problem in America right now is that the Church does not understand the true Gospel message? And it doesn’t understand the true nature of God. So she is not positioned to pull down favor from heaven because we’re in this other mindset, which is God is wrathful. And He’s not. He vented all of His anger on Jesus.

THE VOICE: I’ve had people tell me I’m a fool for saying similar things. Do you get backlash for this stance?

GRAHAM COOKE: Yes, it’s a good fight though. The fight is to move away from the whole religious mindset and to see ourselves as the beloved of God, that we have favor and God wants to push His favor through the Church to a hurting world. That’s the fight we’re in and that’s what we’re contending for in the prophetic.

THE VOICE: Do you see a time coming when prophets are going to relate to the Lord differently?

GRAHAM COOKE: Yeah...I do know a handful of prophetic people like myself who have been living this stuff for a long time now, but what I see right now is that the tide is turning. There are more and more prophetic people coming under this kind of influence and we’re actually cutting the ground away from the cowboy prophets who are just out there doing all the usual doom and gloom stuff. I’m still waiting for a bunch of prophets to apologize for the Y2K nonsense. Those guys they were so visible and made so much money and then suddenly its like they are denying they had that revelation.

The numbers are starting to grow and there is a measure of accountability coming to the prophetic ministry. We need to get our act together and really look at whom and how are we disciplining and mentoring people. That’s the reason really why I’m rewriting “Developing Your Prophetic Gifting.” Whether or not I get killed, this is what I’m teaching. This is what I believe. This is what I want to be known for.

THE VOICE: That religious spirit is a murderous spirit.

GRAHAM COOKE: Have you ever seen that film “The Apostle”? It came out years ago and some guy was the star of it. He actually grew up in Pentecostal religion. In order to study for the role he attended loads of Pentecostal churches throughout the country. He brilliantly acted and did an astonishing job, but I hated the premise of the movie because it was just all the usual religious nonsense. The deceptions. I remember sitting in the cinema and hating it so much I wanted to climb on the screen and punch his lights out. I was so annoyed. In fact, I got up to leave and the Lord said to me, “Sit down. I want you to see this and I want you to come back tomorrow night and the following night because I want you to know. I want you to see your enemy. I want you to see the religious spirit because that’s what I’ve raised you up to fight.”

Then I went back and took notes. I want to fight this thing so badly, I can taste it. I don’t want to fight it the way that it fights. I want to fight it by living in the opposite spirit. I don’t want to judge it because there’s no judgment. I want to say that there is a more excellent way and this is it. I want to move in the opposite spirit instead because you overcome evil with good.

THE VOICE: Your words are so refreshing. Why don’t we see more watchmen prophets, more prophets to the nations who are really standing in the gap and making up a hedge?

GRAHAM COOKE: I meet a lot of new people on the prophetic scene and I honestly believe that most of them won’t last the distance because they have no eternal rest, they have no place of inner peace or rest. Some of the guys who have been my mentors over the years, the first things they taught me were not about the prophetic. They taught me how to live with God. They taught me how to live from the inside out. One of them taught me that if you want longevity in the ministry you have to spend 80 percent of your anointing on God, in intimacy, in worship, in waiting on Him and in meditation.

Now this is my 33rd year in the ministry and I spend four months of my year in meditation. I look at some of these people coming through and some of them are incredibly busy and they’re marked for ministry, but in the end I’m more about doing than being. I think that there’s no patience in them, all their prophetic stuff is about quick, quick, quick. I think, too, that there is a huge difference between blessing prophets and building prophets. Right now we have way too many blessing prophets and not enough building ones. All the blessing prophets, unless they have adequate training and mentoring, always root their prophetic ability in the Old Testament and not the New. So that’s something we need to correct. I’ll still say I’m excited, Jennifer; it’s a fight, it’s a good fight and it’s one that we’re going to win.

THE VOICE: What would you say to young or unknown prophets to encourage them?

GRAHAM COOKE: Find your tribe. Go through the Scriptures, go through the New Testament, ask the Holy Spirit to speak to you about what New Testament prophesy is and then look for people who have that kind of message, who may be ahead of you. Go join yourself there and build a relationship with those people who will want to set you free. Go and find your tribe and then go to a place where you can be celebrated and you can grow and develop. Don’t stay in a place where you’re merely tolerated and not really wanted. I do believe that the Lord is digging out prophetic wells in various regions around the country. Go join yourself to fathers in the prophetic who can develop you into real sonship.

From The Voice.