Daily Bible Studies & Sermon Notes


They Shall Prophesy
Pastor Steve Schell
Acts 2:16-18
People don’t have to learn to be spiritual because essentially every one of us is a spirit. This is because God made us in His own image. Please notice, I’m not talking yet about people who are born-again. All human beings are spiritual, by virtue of the way God made them. People actually have to be taught not to be spiritual. In the secular western society in which we live each of us is trained to deny our spiritual tendencies from the time we are infants. We soon learn to ignore, ridicule, and even fear our spiritual capacities. This has created an odd culture, very much out of step with much of the rest of the world. Huge portions of the planet consider the spiritual dimension to be as real as the physical dimension, and they engage it daily, one way or another. But not us. Our religious history has soured us, and set us at war with God. Frankly, the most secularizing influence of all has been protestant Christianity. It laughs at the notion that a person today might hear from God. It’s filled with doubt and suspicion when confronted by a healing, a deliverance, or any other supernatural manifestation. All has become rational, psychological, scientific, deductive. It looks for a rational explanation for everything, and this has been going on, and getting worse, for hundreds of years. So, it’s not easy, even for western Christians, to hear Peter quote from the prophet Joel, and realize that we’re included in this promise. When he says, “…and they shall prophesy,” he means us!

Announcing a new era (Ac 2:14-17)
In response to the miracles taking place on Pentecost morning, a huge crowd gathered. Most were frightened and confused, and were asking, “What does this mean?” Peter answers their question with a strong prophetic declaration. He announces that the “last days” have arrived and that God is fulfilling His promise to pour out the Holy Spirit. Basically, he says, “What you’re seeing and hearing is what Joel said would happen. Look, see for yourself, God’s people are prophesying, they’re full of the Holy Spirit, just as the prophet said they would be. The blessings of the last days have arrived because the Messiah Jesus has come and is now at the Father’s right hand pouring out the Holy Spirit on all who will believe in Him. You, too can have this gift, if you’ll repent and believe. He’ll do the same for you and your children and even for Gentiles in distant lands, in fact, He will give this gift to every believer until Jesus comes again to rule the earth (Ac 2:38, 39; 1Co 13:8-12, Heb 6:4, 5).

A new capacity
Because the Holy Spirit is now able to indwell believers, the capacity to prophesy is also present. Whether young or old, male or female, all can “see” and “hear” what the Spirit is revealing, and all can speak His words.
In the Old Testament this ability was restricted to a selected few, and none had the Spirit indwell them. Here is an illustration of this truth:
• Moses’ desire: Nu 11:16, 17, 24-30
“Would that all the Lord’s people were prophets, that the Lord would put His Spirit upon them!” (v29)
• God’s response: Jer 31:33, 34
“I will put my law within them and on their heart I will write it;…they shall not teach again, each man his brother, saying ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them…for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.” (“new covenant,” v31).
Listen to Isaiah, “…the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.” (Isa 11:9).

How does this gift change us?
The indewelling Holy Spirit now joins Himself to our human spirit. There is no sin-barrier separating us anymore. Immediately He begins to show us what God is doing. Suddenly we are able to recognize Him at work in ourselves and others, and if these abilities are not repressed by a hostile religious environment, we will mature in these abilities with time and experience. He also opens our spiritual ears so we can hear His voice. He speaks in a variety of ways, but one way or another He communicates so that we can understand what He has said. At His discretion He will reveal to us hidden things we would have no natural way of knowing, not to satisfy our curiosity, but so we can carry out His will. In this way we become His servants carrying out His wishes as He reveals them to us.
• (2Co 4:18) “We look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”
• (Jn 5:19, 20) “Truly, truly, I say to you, 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. For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself is doing…”
• (Jn 15:14, 15) “You are My friends…No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what His master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you.”
• Just as Jesus responded to the Father’s leading, now we do what we see Jesus doing and speak what we hear Him saying (Jn 20:21). You and I cannot function as God intended us to function, without this.

Practical observations
1) Functioning prophetically is a capacity that must be exercised, or it withers.
2) It is a capacity that must be humbly submitted to judgment by the Word, and tested by others. No one is above being evaluated.
3) It is a capacity that relies deeply on a person’s integrity and courage. Bad character spoils this gift.
• There is a fine line between our flesh and the Spirit, between what we desire to say and what God is actually saying (manipulate, please, make something happen).
4) Learning to recognize the Lord’s leading is the key to every aspect of blessing (healing, health, guidance, protection, family relationships, success at work, all forms of ministry…). It’s when we do what He tells us to do, speak what He tells us to speak, that we see the release of His power.
5) Prophetic revelation is given when a church worships (1Co 12:7-11). When the anointing comes, so does the word of the Lord. The Shepherd is caring for His sheep.
6) Prophetic revelation comes in a variety of different forms:
• word of wisdom (God’s perspective)
• word of knowledge (revealed information)
• guidance in healing
• prophecy (edification, exhortation, and comfort)
• discernment of spirits
• tongues and interpretation
7) God does not restrict prophetic revelation to church gatherings. The same revelation is available whenever we ask (home, work, school)
• “Joseph phenomenon”

Rescuing the prophetic
• This capacity was neglected for over 1500 years, and today is still harshly opposed by certain groups. It’s time to study the Word carefully, and let it be restored.
• This capacity has been abused by immature and dishonest people. It’s reputation is nearly ruined in some sections of Christianity. It’s time healthy, humble people learned to prophesy.
• This capacity has been taken as a mark of superiority and allowed only to those who call themselves prophets. Yes, there are people who have the ministry of prophet (Eph 4:11; 1Co 12:28; Ac 13:1). This is the way God often uses them, but the gift of prophecy is not restricted to such people. It’s time we realize the Giver of all gifts dwells within each of us. We gladly receive the ministry of prophets, but that doesn’t mean we give away our capacity to prophesy. Prophetic revelation should be available locally, as should healing. A person should not have to travel great distances to find someone who can effectively pray for healing, deliverance, or speak the Word of the Lord.

How can I learn to prophesy?
1) Constantly read the Bible. You learn to think the way God thinks.
2) Step out, but be humble in the way you present a word. There’s a great difference between “Thus saith the Lord!” and “I believe I hear the Lord saying…please test this in your own heart.”
3) We all have different “voices” in our heads (the flesh, the enemy…). It takes trial and error to distinguish the Lord’s voice. But this is not a problem if we do this in a community where elders can correct us…and if we remain humble and teachable. Pride stops all growth immediately.

Why should I pay the price to learn?
Because all of us need to hear from God. It’s not enough to just act on Biblical principles or remember great things He did in the past. Every generation needs to know that He is alive and present among them. Every generation needs to see His wonders and hear His voice for themselves. Jesus paid such a price to make this possible, why would we not pay the price to receive it?

Questions
1) Have you received a prophetic word that proved to be true? Can you share it with us?
2) Has God ever spoken His word through you to someone else? Can you share it with us?
3) What are some obstacles that make prophetic words challenging?

 


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