Making a Prophetic Word Profitable

Making a Prophetic Word Profitable
Pastor Stephen Chitty
Christian Life Church, Columbia, SC

I am a fourth-generation Pentecostal, and I have served my entire adult life as a shepherd who believes and practices what that implies. I believe in dreams, visions, prophetic words, and the various manifestations of Spiritual Gifts.  So, you can understand how puzzled I was when I first began to deal with these two scripture passages:

“Therefore, my brethren, desire earnestly to prophesy, and do not forbid to speak in tongues.” - 1 Corinthians 14:29 NASB

“Do not quench the Spirit; 20 do not despise prophetic utterances.” - 1 Thessalonians 5:19, 20 NASB

As a seminary student, I wondered how Paul could possible think any leader in a Pentecostal church could be displeased with a genuine prophetic utterance or forbid the use of tongues. But then I began to pastor those utterances and messages, and the people who championed them. Let me say it plainly ─ Pentecostal services are beautiful, but they can also be messy. Very messy!

When the Spirit is allowed to lead, I have seen supernatural manifestations change lives in meaningful, lovely ways. I have also seen people try to carry baggage into their ministry, and the result is almost always counter-productive. There is no way to achieve spiritual results using carnal means. Sometimes the vessels being used may be well-intentioned, but untrained. 

Let’s be honest - sometimes it’s easier to “forbid and despise” than it is to mentor young prophets, dreamers and visionaries!

There are three options the leader has in dealing with difficult manifestations (and sometimes difficult people).

First of all, you can allow mistakes to go on uncorrected, and justify your decision by saying things like “Wildfire is better than no fire” (patently untrue). If you choose this path, you will scar many seeking hearts and destroy the true beauty of Pentecost. The problem, however, will continue to get bigger, more out of control, and more damaging.

The second option is to simply not allow prophetic utterance or messages in tongues in a public setting. This is by far the easiest thing to do. Probably this mindset was behind the situations Paul addressed in Corinth and Thessalonica. An appeal to “decency and order” always wins friends and seems sensible, but the problem is found in the tremendous loss of benefits that come from the manifestation of the charismata. There are few things in church life as beneficial as properly manifested spiritual ministry. To ignore these gifts cheat us out of so much God intends for us.

The third plan of action is to shepherd the gifts by controlling them under the leadership of the Holy Spirit. This involves consistent teaching, loving correction, and exemplary demonstration by mature leaders. Admittedly,  we must be careful not to quench the Spirit or put out His fire, yet Paul reminds us that the spiritual gifts of the prophet are subject to (under the control of) the prophet. There is no room for anyone being out of control. In my opinion, this third approach is by far the best. It is also the most costly, the most time-consuming and the most difficult. But the treasure is worth it!

What are some of the things Believers should be taught in such a “School of the Spirit?” Topics of discussion and training might include:
    •    submission to spiritual authority
    •    an understanding and discerning the "voices/directions" we encounter
    •    prophetic protocol
    •    avoiding ministry burnout
    •    a strong systematic teaching on these subjects from the Word of God
    •    the timing and presentation of sharing a prophetic word
    •    the definition and demonstration of the gifts
    •    avoiding prophetic pitfalls
    •    and many more how tos dealing with the nature of spiritual gifts…

Perhaps one of the most important things we need to master can be defined as the elementary steps of receiving and delivering a prophetic message.  Space constraints demand that I bring this to a close, but I’d like to say to anyone who hopes to be significantly used in dealing with the prophetic ministry that you should understand there are four basic components that we must get right in order to help people and honor the Lord:

                                                 Hearing    Interpretation    Application    Timing  
Hearing… Believe it or not, I have found this to be the easiest part of the prophetic experience. Whether it is an impression, an inner voice, a dream, or an open vision ─ it seems to me that “seeing” or “hearing” is the easiest part of the process. Don’t get puffed up because it may appear that God is about to use you. We learn from Balaam that even a donkey can prophesy when the Hand of God is upon him!

Interpretation… Once you have clearly “seen” or “heard,” take time to prayerfully consider the meaning of the revelation. By the way, I encourage you to write the revelation down in detail in order to accurately recall significant facts. Remember─ “The shortest pencil is better than the longest memory.” Another caution ─ I tend to question those whose interpretations are based on rigid meanings and formulas. For instance, a color or number doesn't necessarily mean the same thing in every dream, and a lion may represent Satan (our roaring adversary), or it may represent Jesus, the lion of the tribe of Judah. God may indeed give you a prophetic or dream vocabulary, but I think true understanding comes as we humbly approach The Lord, asking for explanation. I know dozens of horror stories that are the result of someone hearing clearly, but then misunderstanding the meaning of what they saw.

Application… Once we understand the word, what is to be done with it? Is it a warning or a command to act? Is it encouragement, or is it directional? Is it about literal things, or spiritual principles?

Timing… If the message is for someone else, when should we deliver it? Should we deliver it at all? I find two things to be generally be true when I have a word to deliver. I usually need to wait until God opens an easy door (a well-timed opportunity). Then I wait for His confirmation to deliver it. If He spoke to me about the message once, He is certainly willing to speak to me about the timing!