Judging Prophecy

So there I was...trimming my rose bushes the day after Valentine's day when the Lord began asking me questions about judging prophecy. What follows is what I took away from that conversation:

I haven't written a lot of prophetic words. And although I'm hosting a prophetic word thread right now, I don't give or receive many prophetic words. I'm more interested in learning how the process of prophecy works than I am in giving or receiving words.

The bible says that prophecy must be judged or discerned (1 Cor. 14:29).

The question is - how do we judge prophecy?

One of the most common answers is, "Prophecy needs to line up with the word of God."

Although this is one of the most common answers given, it may be the least reliable and the most dangerous way to judge prophecy. That may come as a surprise to some of you, so let me explain why I say this.

There is no place in scripture where we are instructed to judge prophecy by measuring or comparing it with scripture itself. While this might seem like a good idea - it isn't taught anywhere in the bible.

It's true that the Bereans searched the word to see if the things they heard were true - but this passage does not refer to prophetic utterance. It refers to doctrine. It's true that a sound knowledge of the bible can help keep us from error, but when it comes to judging prophecy - there is no instruction telling us to compare prophecy with scripture.

If a prophetic word happens to be about earthquakes in the Pacific Northwest - how exactly is the prophecy supposed to "line up with scripture"?

Does the prophet toss in a few verses from the bible about earthquakes to make his word appear to be more scriptural?

And if he did - would it increase the chances that it was from the Lord and not his own imagination?

There are many people delivering "prophetic words" who are not hearing from God, but Satan. These people know the scriptures well. They have an evil agenda and they know how to couch their agenda in the language of the Christian culture. If their agenda is to bring condemnation on a congregation, all they need to do is deliver prophetic words of condemnation, throwing in scriptural references from the book of Revelation's letters to the Churches of Asia, claiming that the Lord Himself is displeased with their disobedience. The terrified congregation will recognize that these prophetic words, "Line up with scripture" and live under condemnation not from the Lord, but from Satan.

Many true prophets of God have become involved in a kind of 'prophecy for profit' enterprise. There are a number of organizations that engage in a subscription service which delivers regular prophetic words to a reader-base. Prophets write a certain number of words each year and submit them for the reader’s consideration. The subscription service delivers them. And in the process, advertisers pay big bucks to everyone involved. The prophets go on tour, sell books, CDs, DVDs and other goods and services, keeping their itineraries booked and bills paid.

I have no qualms with prophets receiving donations or selling books and other services. But the system they've become a part of is dependent upon them producing prophetic words on a regular basis. If there are no words, there is no income. So the words must be written.

But what kind of words does the system deliver?

I've been enrolled to one of the subscription services for several years. To be honest, about 90% of the prophetic material I've read over the last 4 years appears to be nothing more than the same recycled words year after year with only a few minor changes from the year before.

"New anointings, new assignments, new mantles, a new move of God, a fresh wind of the Sprit blowing, a greater level of God's glory, the bride making herself ready....ad nauseum.

I'm not saying that these things are not coming in the near future. I think many of them are. I am saying that if a prophet wants to, he can throw together a few clichés, a few verses of scripture, and a story about a dream or vision and have their word for the month.

Most of the words being written have become so generic, so repetitive and so cliché, they seem to be of little value. But they're always full of scriptural references, because the prophets know, "Prophecy has to line up with the Word".  So we have a lot of worthless prophetic words that are very scriptural.

Judging prophecy is not a matter of determining whether a prophetic word contains a certain number of biblical references. There is no "Scriptural litmus test" for a prophetic word.

Prophecy is judged by the Spirit.

It is discerned when the Holy Spirit confirms or denies His signature in the prophetic word to our spirit. It is evaluated by whether or not it produces light, life and love in the one who hears it. It is judged by whether is brings comfort, consolation or encouragement. It is accepted as valid when the saints agree that their spirits see the breath of God speaking to His children.

Judging prophecy by such standards may not be easy. We may not always come to an agreement. We may not even be certain that the Holy Spirit is bearing witness to our spirit. But that is what we must do. And if it takes training the saints to learn to hear the Holy Spirit a little better, we ought to get moving in that direction.

Let us learn to discern the voice of God speaking through prophecy in a way that builds up the body of Christ and brings glory to the Father.


2013 Transition

As we leave one season and look forward to the start of another, there is a short time of transition; a bridge if you will, that must be crossed.

There are things from the last season that we should keep and just as many that we should leave behind. Take an inventory. Don't be afraid to leave things behind. You'll be picking up better things, soon.

The assignments of the last season must be forgotten. There are new ones you must learn and be equipped for. Resist the comfortable, familiar flow that would keep you living in the past.

This time can be seen as a bridge.

We are done with the last chapter, but we can't begin the next one. The time has not yet come to enter it. We are now on the bridge between seasons.

The bridge is not really a season itself. It's the time between seasons, when we must move from one, toward another, being 'in' neither of them.

It's a time of having your wounds from the last season healed and a time of preparing for the challenges that lie ahead. The more you allow yourself to be healed from the past, the better you will do in the future.

The challenges and assignments in the next season require you to be re-armed and re-equipped with different weapons, tactics & strategies. What worked in the past will not work in the future. The landscape of the future and and opposition you'll face will be dramatically different. Now is the time to get prepared.

We're on the bridge. Don't set up camp. We're not staying here long. We're just passing through.