The Prophetic Gifts
Previously, we began to discuss the levels or different kinds of prophetic revelation from impressions to being caught up into heaven such as Paul and John were in the New Testament. We will now continue with these. As you have probably picked up by now, it is my style to intersperse practical understanding of the gifts with the character issues that can help us avoid the stumbling blocks and traps that many have needlessly fallen into. The church and the world are in desperate need of true prophetic ministry in these times, and this need is going to increase. We need them to stay on the path of life and to be the trustworthy voices they are called to be.
Generally, it seems to make sense that the more dramatic or high-level the revelation, the more important it is. Others seem to think that the more high-level the revelation, the greater the ministry of the prophet, but neither of these are the case. We have learned that the level of revelation is more related to the difficulty of the task than to the importance of the revelation or the level of the authority of the prophet. For this reason, when we go through seasons of not getting much revelation, especially what we are calling high-level revelation, we should be content. These are good times for sinking our roots deeper into sound biblical truth, searching the Scriptures, and “studying to show ourselves approved by God” (see II Timothy 2:15).
Even so, one basic truth about prophetic revelation that we must always keep in mind is that prophetic revelation is never given for the establishing of doctrine. That is what the written Word was given for, and you will find at the root of many heresies and false teachings that they were received through a prophetic revelation, or we should say, a false prophetic revelation. Prophetic revelation is for revealing the strategic or tactical will of the Lord, not for imparting doctrine. The written Word, which is our doctrine, is finished and no revelation will come from God to add to it or take away from it. Any that would presume to do this, we should immediately judge as false prophecy, and reject it regardless of how it comes. We should have no doubt about this.
We will get into some of these basics a bit deeper in detail later, but for now, let’s go back to what we are calling the lower levels of revelation, starting with impressions. We will also start with the gift of discernment. This gift operates in different ways with different people. For example, Oral Roberts could feel what was wrong physically with another person when he put his hands on their head. Others can just focus on a person and start to feel things. This is especially how the prophetic gifts often work with the gifts of healing and miracles, so when a prophet operating this way focuses on a person, they may start to feel a part of their body hurt, and by this, they know this person has a problem there. This is the way discernment often works with a healing ministry.
Physical healing is the easiest kind of healing, and for moving into the realms of emotional or spiritual healing, the gift of “a word of knowledge” is the knowledge of something we could not know in the natural. With this gift, we could look at someone and begin to remember something that we did not experience, but that person did. If we stay focused, the Lord can give us a word of truth about the situation that can set that person free from the consequences of the event. Many yokes of bondage and demonic oppression enter through traumatic experiences. When these are brought up by someone they are acquainted with, who could not know about these things except that God revealed it to them, imparts a faith and peace that can help bring deliverance.
These are just a couple of ways that the prophetic gifts can operate, and their diversity can be about as varied as there is the number of prophetic people. There are common factors, but the Lord who made every snowflake different loves diversity, and He relates to all of His people in a unique and personal way. For this reason, we may never exactly copy anyone else, but it is the Lord who we must look to for the impartation and development of our gifts. We can learn from others, but must focus on the Lord, not others, to become who we are created to be.
This is a crucial truth. Every prophet in Scripture was different, and so is everyone since. We must honor others and remain humble enough to learn from others, but if we mature into who we are called to be, there are ways that we will be unique. Knowing this keeps us in the proper balance of having right relationships within the body of Christ, but we cannot be properly joined to the body unless we are properly joined to the Head. Neither can we be joined to the Head without also being joined to His body. We need both, but “the main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing,” and the main thing is to worship and draw close to God.