Prophecy—A Christian’s Crystal Ball? Thoughts on Discerning God’s Voice from Among Men

   

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Calvin and Hobbes, Garfield, Marmaduke, Andy Capp, and the Horoscopes. More or less in that order. Was Calvin going to conquer some new universe? Should Garfield go on a diet? Was I going to have a good day? Should I have stayed in bed?

What better way to start my morning than a few laughs, and a blueprint for how my day would go?

If I wanted to get real serious, the night before I could call a late night hotline, and get my palm read through the telephone by a qualified psychic, for a low price. Or, I could go get my future foretold to me via tarot cards, keeping my fingers crossed, and my rabbit foot on hand for extra luck so I don’t get the death card.

Crazy right?

As a Christian you see the humor, while recognizing the danger of Satan and how he misleads. Unfortunately I have seen many Christians who have swapped superstitions and the sources that mislead them, because it appears “Christian.”

I am not writing this article to debate whether or not the prophetic gift is alive and well. What I do want to do is point out some things I have seen, which scare me a great deal. Not only does it scare me, it reminds me of exactly what I joked about a couple of paragraphs above.

Here in Peru, there are many churches that hold prophetic conferences, and create special services in order for people to receive prophetic words. There is a huge push for people to hear intimate words from God. In fact, there is even a Spanish Facebook application you can join that will give you a daily prophetic word.

What I have generally observed is when a person receives a prophetic word, they often re-order their lives according to the encouragement they receive, (which is their personal and intimate decision before God). Then as part of that re-ordering process, they might experience some difficulty, which makes them thirst for another “word from God.” As a result, as they feel more lost, they begin to chase prophets looking for a new Word. This phenomenon is conveniently measurable whenever a special guest prophet comes to a Church because the Church is ALWAYS packed.

My guess is that this sort of phenomenon occurs all over the world.

Why does this happen? Why do we thirst so desperately to know exactly what we are supposed to do with our lives?

As I think through those questions I believe Saul may be a very good starting point for us all.

In 1 Samuel, we can see Saul was made King by God, as the anointed leader over His people. Some of Saul’s blessings are even recorded as receiving the “Spirit of God” which led him to give prophesies and to receive righteous, judgmental anger. (Quite an impressive blessing considering the Holy Spirit was not available to all).

Shortly after his holy coronation, Saul failed in following the commandments of God. He was rebuked by Samuel and his future lineage lost the appointment as King over God’s people. Everything changed “al toque,” seemingly in an instant from night to day. Saul continued to partially “heed” the Lord’s commandments, and as a result he was completely rejected by the Lord as King.

As Saul began to see God’s favor over David, and a clear separation in his own personal relationship with God, there was an extreme amount of jealousy. There was also desperation on Saul’s part, as he struggled to find purpose in a life stripped of meaning. In chapter 28, we see Saul desperately trying to hear from God. Yet God did not respond to his terror filled inquiries. According to 1 Samuel 28:6, the Lord “did not answer him, either by dreams, or by Urim, or by prophets.” So Saul then went to a medium, who was used to bring Samuel back from the dead for a quick conversation. Saul sought answers to the questions which plagued him—what would he do with his life and what should he do about the Philistines who were at the kingdom’s preverbal doorstep.

We may have some difficulty in understanding why God closed the lines of communication between himself and Saul. Yet if we honestly look at the “relationship” Saul had with God, it becomes apparent that Saul was more about Saul than he was about God. This is specifically true in reference to Saul following the will of the Lord.

Interestingly enough, the will of the Lord is how this whole topic can be brought full circle. I am not here to put God in a box and say that He does not give specific encouragement through people for His followers. I have seen it happen in my own life. What I am saying is many people, who are wanting to receive prophecy, do have access to the intimate voice of God, and have decided to listen to man instead because man is touchable.

God is abundantly clear that if you knock, He will answer. If you are in line with His will, you will start to see His answer in His perfect blessing. It is quite natural to want to know the will of God in your life. However, because of our flesh, it can be difficult to patiently wait and listen for His will. Here is where we need to rely upon the Holy Spirit we received when we accepted Jesus Christ; the same Holy Spirit that convicts (John 16:7-11), counsels (John 14:16), guides in truth (John 16:13), produces spiritual fruit (Galatians 5:22-23), and is the giver of spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 12).

We do not need crystal ball speakers. We do need persistent patience and guarded hearts which petition God. In our reliance on Him, we can trust that He will provide encouragement according to His will alone.

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  • Jackw

    Liked this when I read it the firt time.  Liked it even more when reading it again.  Yeah, the thing we really need to tune up on is our relationship with the Spirit asnd moving where He takes us!

  • F474L3RRoR

    I think pastors and the bible are a bigger idols in Christianity than the prophetic movement. I fully agree we need to rely solely on the presence of God inside us,  but how can people rely on the presence of the Spirit of God that they may or may not have received (Acts 8:14-17) (Acts 19:1-6)? 

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    I guess it depends on where you are in the world doesn’t it?  Depending on the Church, location, culture, etc. there can definitely be different expressions of idols.  Because of the five leadership roles given to the Body in Ephesians 4, wherever the Body puts unbalanced focus, there is the potential for idol worship. I am not sure where you live, but based off of your statement my guess is in the U.S.   In regards to the U.S., I completely agree about the Pastor worship.  (In select cases).   

    I am curious about your statement in reference to idolizing the Bible, so maybe you could go into a bit more depth on that one?  Just so that way I can understand a bit more what you mean.

    I do want to rephrase something that you wrote.  I do not believe that we need to soley rely on the presence of God inside of us because God makes it clear that,” all Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.”-(2 Tim 3:16-17).  According to those verses, we are not expected to rely soley on the Holy Spirit, the Bible was given to us for a reason, as explained above.  The Bible is also the provision for which we check to make sure that the Body is in line with God.  God speaks just as powerfully in His Word, as He does with the Holy Spirit, because it is God breathed.  However,  I do believe that if a person is pursuing God, and they don’t have a Bible, God will not leave them lacking.  He will provide, and He will probably do it in a way that blows away the box we put Him in.

    In reference to your question, “but how can people rely on the presence of the Spirit of God that they may or may not have received (Acts 8:14-17) (Acts 19:1-6).” 

    I don’t know if it is rhetorical or not, but I thought it was good to answer.  It is a deep question, and one that requires a long response. So I will try and keep it brief…

    Acts 8:14-17–>  When reading the verses in full context of the Scriptures, before verses 14-17, we can see that the author of Acts takes the time to talk about Simon, a sorcerer.  Simon was a person obsessed with showing power in his magic.  Philip comes around, Simon hears about Jesus, confesses that Jesus is who He says He is, and then gets baptized.  Simon even sees Philip doing miracles and signs as a result of being the conduit for the Holy Spirit inside of Him.  Then verses 14-17.  The specific word used in reference to the Holy Spirit is “fallen.”  If you look up the Greek, it does not refer to “inside of them,” but it is reference to the external falling (http://www.biblestudytools.com/lexicons/greek/nas/epipipto.html).  Additionally, when it says that they were “receiving” the Holy Spirit it is reference to the word “take” or “lay hold of.”  Which is different than the idea presented in Romans 8:9 when the Holy Spirit is referred to as “dwelling.”  Furthermore, there is a distinguishable difference between the expression of power with the miracles done before, and the giving of the Holy Spirit.  I feel comfortable with this interpretation, because shortly thereafter in verse 18, Simon (a guy in his flesh obsessed with power), is trying to buy the gift of giving the Holy Spirit.  Simon didn’t appear to be as concerned with doing the miracles as he was with being the one that would give the power, that would give other the powers (or manifestation).  For this Simon was rebuked, because he wanted to be like God.

    In your question you appear to be suggesting that the manifestation of the Holy Spirit in these verses is the same thing as receiving the Holy Spirit at salvation, which seals the person into salvation.  (I am trying to point out, it is not the same thing).

    Acts 19:1-6–>  I would suggest for you to look at the above versus in reference to Apollos.  I do not find it coincidental that the exact thing that Apollos struggled with, God then had occur with Paul in Ephesus.  The Bible says that Apollos had the Holy Spirit, because he was fervent in it.  However, the Bible distinguishes between that, and the Holy Spirit that “came on” them.  The same word “lambano” is used in both Acts 19 and Acts 8, in reference to the Holy Spirit and receiving.  Again this was different than the word used to describe Holy Spirit that dwells in us.  

    The Holy Spirit is that what seals our salvation, AND it is outwardly expressing, manifesting, Power (with a capital P).

    So by distinguishing what is referred to in those verses concerning the Holy Spirit, we can see that a person can rely on the presence of the Spirit of God, because even if a person may have never experienced an outward expression of the Holy Spirit, that can most certainly know that they have the Holy Spirit dwelling inside of them. The same Holy Spirit which convicts (John 16:7-11), counsels (John 14:16), guides in truth (John 16:13), produces spiritual fruit (Galatians 5:22-23), and is the giver of spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 12).  Scripture clearly points to the fact that we can rely on the Spirit of God.

    Hopefully that helps!   

  • F474L3RRoR

    Cool man thanks for your perspective. 

  • Absolutely! 

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