First of all a bit of review of this series on the gifts of the Spirit is in order. We started by being reminded that we must be both Word people and Spirit people. We can’t just be one or the other. Or I should say we must not settle for one over the other. We are not given that biblical option. We must be both committed to the truth of God’s revealed Word and dependent on the Holy Spirit to live out our lives for his glory. Next we saw that the gifts are to be of a variety of gifts, services and activities. This is purposely broad. Paul is trying to make it clear that there are both spectacular and non-spectacular giftings. We saw Paul’s vision for both unity and diversity in the body. We were able to see that there is a way the gifts are to function and that is through love. In the last two sessions we’ve focused on Paul’s emphasis on the gift of prophecy. This last week Ron took us further along in understanding how this is to work in the church service and why we should desire it.
Ron started by emphasizing, like Paul, that tongues is a valid gift and should be desired, but he quickly moves to the reality that the gift of prophecy is what will be the most benefit to the church, simply because it is understandable. The problems that people generally have with the gifts and prophecy in particular, are cleared up by Paul in this passage. Firstly, It’s not authoritative. It is not God’s very words as if on a par with scripture. It’s simply an impression of the Spirit given by the Spirit to encourage and build up the body. At the same time we need to realize that there is a difference between being authoritative and being true. A prophecy may be true without carrying some sense of final authority. It still must be evaluated. It has a very specific purpose. It is to encourage, edify, and comfort. It is not meant to be directive but confirmatory. It is meant to be judged and evaluated according to the revealed Word of God. It’s not meant to be ‘weird’ in it’s application but accessible to people; not causing people to shy away from it.
Finally, prophecy is meant to be desired. Four times in this chapter alone Paul exhorts us to desire the gifts and especially prophecy. When we understand the above things we can be released to seek to prophecy without the feeling that we need to be some kind of expert. We can simply receive something from God that is true for the situation at hand, and give it in a way that people can receive it and benefit from it. We don’t have to operate in it as if “God told me” something that carries some sense of absoluteness. We can be humble and releasing about what we think God is saying and able to let people evaluate it and even expect people to judge it. It’s God in charge, not us!
So...let’s desire to be useful. Let’s ask the Lord to use us. Let’s “desire...to prophecy”. Let’s trust God that he will use us in each others lives and in the lives of unbelievers around us to demonstrate God’s abundant grace and encourage and build one another up.