The Gift of Prophecy - Part 2
That your Holy Spirit would take the words that you have preserved in this holy book, take them home to our hearts. I pray that your word would find good soil, that it would bear forth much fruit, that it won't be plucked up by the wayside or choked up by thorns, but it would go deep, the good root system bring forth much fruit.
Lord, we've been spending a lot of time on this whole topic of the Holy Spirit, the gifts of the Spirit. I just pray that as we look into your word week by week and build upon that foundation of heart knowledge, that we then be mobilized to exercise the gifts that you've given us as a body. I pray that we would learn what they are, how they work, and then we would step out in courage trusting you. In Jesus' name, Amen.
There's a lady who lives in Washington named Jeane Dixon. Probably most of you have heard of her. She claims to be a prophet, and indeed she has predicted many things that have come true. In the past 20 years, she predicted that John F. Kennedy would be assassinated four years before he was even elected into office. She predicted Eisenhower's heart attack and recovery. Not he-- she. She predicted Gandhi's assassination. She predicted the takeover of communist China, on and on and on.
She says she believes in God, and she says that God has given her a gift of prophecy. However, she is a false prophetis for two reasons. Number one, she uses occultic artifacts in her prophesying, things that a clairvoyant or a fortune teller would use, things that are blatantly against the scripture. And number two, she's wrong and most of the things she predicts. She hits a lot of them right, amazing accuracy.
But she predicted World War III would erupt in 1958. Didn't happen. She predicted Richard Nixon would beat Kennedy in the 1960 election. That didn't happen. And she's made a lot of predictions, more that haven't come true than have come true, and we studied two weeks ago the regulations for a prophet in Deuteronomy 18.
If a person says something in the name of the Lord, if it is according to the scripture and you don't turn away to a false God because of it, and it's also accurate, you can follow the words of that prophet. However, if the words are inaccurate, they don't even say, well, just turn away as a false prophet, you kill those people. Now, we're not in the Old Testament. We're not going to go witch hunting and hunt down Jeane Dixon. But the point is that if God speaks, he don't make mistakes. He's accurate. And Jeannie Dixon is not accurate. She's on the level of the mystic prophets of the occult, like Edgar Casey or Zorro Astor, many like that-- clairvoyance, not really true prophecy.
We discovered last time we met that in the Old Testament the prophets spoke of the future quite a bit. They foretold the events that would happen to Israel. They spoke about the Messiah coming and his kingdom. But much of their prophecy went beyond just the future. They proclaimed judgment, the judgment of God upon a nation or upon a kingdom. They were involved in social reform. They were involved in political reform. So they weren't just predicting the future.
The New Testament, when it comes to prophecy as we have discovered, although there can be an element of foretelling the future, it is by and large forth-telling the word of God rather than foretelling. It is speaking forth a message for the Lord that he gives you at that moment.
Now, in the New Testament, prophecy is on the top of many of the lists of spiritual gifts. Ephesians Chapter 4, for God is given to the church apostles, prophets, pastor teachers, for the edification of the body of Christ. Although it is on the top of the list, New Testament prophecy has limitations and restrictions. Remember last week we read in First-- in fact, here it is in 1 Corinthians 14 Verse 3-- but he who prophesies speaks to edification, exaltation, and comfort to man. Those are the limitations. They have to fall in that line. They can't be condemnation. It's something to build up the body, to stir up the body, or to comfort the body, to cheer up the body.
If someone claims to be a prophet and says, oh, my children, you are a bunch of jerks, thus sayeth the Lord, if he was in my meeting, I'd say, sir or ma'am, you're out of order. That is not edifying, it is not building up or strengthening, and it's certainly not comforting. And so the parameters of the gift are given right there in that verse. There's the limitations.
If we were to tack on a definition of New Testament prophecy, it would be this. It is a special ability to speak forth a message from God. It is when a person, he or she, not just for the male gender, he or she is given a direct revelation by God. However, it can never contradict the written revelation of God that which the prophets have written in the Old Testament, and that was Jesus or the apostles wrote in the New Testament.
There is no more, absolutely no more, written revelation from God after the Book of Revelation. We're not adding new books to the canon of scripture, despite what the Mormons say. And we can't add to it and we can't subtract to it. And if you add to it, it says in Revelation, what will God do? Add to you the plagues that are written in this book. Whoever adds to the words of this prophecy, to him I will add the plagues that are written in this book. To him who takes away the words of this prophecy, I will take his name from the book of life. Don't mess with it.
So we don't need, in a general eternal sense of scriptural revelation, any new revelation. But what prophecy does is it applies principles from the old revelation fresh to the heart. It is someone speaking forth a message from God that doesn't contradict the scripture, doesn't add anything new as far as the general principles of the scripture, but it is a fresh word from the Lord to an individual, or to a church, or it could be even to a nation.
The difference between this prophecy, the word of God, and a word from the Lord through the gift of prophecy, the difference is in scope. See, the Bible's scope is universal. It's for everyone of all times everywhere in the world. The gift of prophecy or a prophetic utterance is not. It's generally localized and it's more specific. It's for a specific person or group of people, whereas the scripture is universal and eternal.
And when someone in a meeting, or an afterglow, or a kinship, or whatever the meeting may be, gives a prophetic utterance, you don't take that for doctrine and gospel truth right off the bat, as we're going to see as we get into this chapter tonight. And this chapter will tie all of those loose threads that we've been wondering about when it comes to this gift. You don't base your doctrine on what someone says in a prophetic utterance. Oh, well, you know, I never knew this before, but through this wonderful word of prophecy the other night, I found out that there's four persons in the Trinity. Because he said, thus says the Lord, all my children, you've been wrong for 2,000 years and I've come to tell you the truth.
You base your doctrine-- that's why. The best candidate for someone with a gift a prophecy is someone who's saturated with the scripture, who knows principals, who can discern God's voice as it comes to him. Saturated in the word of God. So doctrine comes from the word of God. A gift of prophecy is a fresh utterance directly from the Lord at that moment for a specific reason, for a specific group of people. See, that would be sort of like what many of these people who believe that Christians can be demon possessed-- where do they get their doctrines? Remember the scripture says, in the last days, people will come and have doctrines of demons?
It's interesting, in some of the books that come out of Christians having deliverance services, they've been delivered from this demon and that, is what the demons have said during the deliverance. And you say, well, how do you know that this is true? Well, during this time of prayer and laying on of hands and during this episode, the demon said this. Well, friend, the devil is the father of lies. And if you are basing your belief on what the demons have said, you have a doctrine of demons, not a doctrine based on the word of God. And you are basically holding up your hand and saying, please deceive me, somebody. And you will be deceived.
So the best candidate for the exercise of this gift is someone who's saturated in the word of God. Now, as we turn to this chapter, 1 Corinthians 14, I'd like you to flip over to the very-- well, the last few verses. Look at verse 37.
Starting from the back. He says if anyone thinks himself to be a prophet or spiritual, then let him acknowledge that the things which I write to you are the commandment of the Lord. So I'm writing to you prophets, to new spiritual people who want to know how this gift works, and indeed he covers it pretty well in this chapter. These are the commandments of the Lord. But he goes on, he says, but if anyone is ignorant, let him be ignorant. Therefore, brethren, desire earnestly to prophesy, and do not forbid to speak with tongues. Let all things be done decently and in order.
The very theme of this chapter-- chapter 14 has a theme. The theme or the main message, the big idea of this chapter, is the need for intelligibility in the assembly-- the need for intelligibility in the assembly. And so he says, when you gather together, the best thing you can do is to speak in an intelligible, understandable manner so that people can understand you and thus be edified, not the gift of tongues, unless there is an interpretation. So in the general assembly there is a need-- and the emphasis here is on intelligibility in the church.
Now, the Corinthian church was a problem church. In fact, we had a tape series on it a couple of years ago called Solving Problems Within the Church. Corinth was a wicked city. They had wicked practices. There were drunk, they had orgies in their religious services, in the temples, the pagan temples. So the background of these people was a background of debauchery and looseness. Also within the Corinthian church, since it was fairly new Christians, they were having problems themselves. There were divisions. There was carnality. There was sexual impurity. They were having doctrinal problems about the resurrection and the second coming.
And so Paul, all the way through the book, takes one problem at a time and deals with it and gives them the solution. One of the problems came in the area of public worship, which chapter 12, 13, and especially chapter 14, deals with. Here's the problem. The church in this time period, in the first century, was the only group that really accepted everybody. Now, when you accept everybody, you're going to have problems, because anybody will show up. In fact, slaves and women who are barred from all of the assemblies in Rome and Greece, public assemblies, were accepted in the church.
Now, Jesus said, I have sent you to preach the gospel to the poor, to bind up the broken-hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, the recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed. So the church goes out, Christians go out and proclaim the gospel to the oppressed, to the poor, to the blind, to the lame, to those who are imprisoned, and then all those people get saved, and that's beautiful. But when you get them all together under one roof, you have a mess. All these different people with such diverse backgrounds getting along together, and they're thinking differently, and they're experimenting in their worship, and it got a little haywire.
Now, Paul didn't say, I want to stop worshipping. He said, no, you keep worshipping, but it needs to be done in an intelligible and orderly manner. And remember the last verse we just read? Let all things be done decently and in order. Someone put it this way, that a movement often suffers more from its own disciples than from enemies.
There was a beautiful work of the Holy Spirit happening at Corinth. I mean, there was a fresh wind blowing through their church. And the gifts of the Spirit were being exercised like crazy, but they were being abused, and there was a disorder in the congregation.
I want to kind of flip the coin on that a little bit. Worship needs to be intelligent. It needs to be thought through. God made us intelligent beings. God is intelligent. We use our minds, and we're instructed to love the Lord, our God with all of our heart, mind, soul, and strength. But also, worship goes below the surface of just the mind, just the intelligent, just the cortex of our brains.
Blessed are those people who aren't satisfied with just dry doctrinal formulas or ceremonies, but they cry out like David, my soul thirsts for God, yes, for the living God. I want more than just intelligent worship. I want my intelligent worship to experience God. I don't want just a formula. I don't want just a statement of faith on the back of a bulletin. I want an encounter with God, and that's beautiful. And that's what the Corinthians were after, but there was just a few problems in their assembly.
Chapter 12-- let me just show you how he works this out here, because there's a lot of questions on Corinthians. Everybody's got questions on tongues and prophecy and so forth. Chapter 12, the main emphasis is the fact that there are diversities of gifts. There's not just one gift or one important gift. There's all sorts of gifts. And there's not one manifestation of the Holy Spirit, not one proof that a person has been baptized in the Holy Spirit.
It's not just tongues that chose this person that has been filled with the spirit. But there's teaching, there's exaltation, there's the word of wisdom, there's the word of knowledge, there's the gift of governments, helps, mercy. There's a diversity of manifestations of the Holy Spirit. And so it's wrong to say, if you have been filled with the spirit, the evidence is speaking in tongues. Paul's whole chapter shows that there's a lot of things that can prove it.
Then he goes to chapter 13 and there's sort of a break, but not really, because he speaks about love. And he says, Though you have all of the gifts, no matter how spiritual you think you are, if you don't exercise it or manifest love you are a big zero in God's book. And so the emphasis in chapter 13 is the common good of the assembly-- love. Think about the people around you. Exercise your gifts. Live your life based on them, on love. So have the emphasis on diversity, we have an emphasis on the common good.
Then we get to chapter 14, and there's an emphasis on intelligibility in public worship. And so look at verse 1. Pursue love and desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy. Pursue love, or better yet, keep on constantly pursuing love. It's a perfect imperative. Keep on constantly, as a continual action, pursuing after love. That is, when you guys get together in worship, don't just think about yourself, don't just think I want to get a lot out of it, I want this, I want to be edified. When you come together as a group, think about loving the brethren, corporately edifying one another. That should be the intention. Pursue love and follow after or desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy. For he who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men, but to God. For no one understands him, however, in the spirit he speaks mysteries.
But he who prophesies speaks edification, exhortation, and comfort to men. He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church. I wish that you all spoke with tongues, but even more that you prophesy. You see, there's this emphasis on tongues over prophecy in the general assembly. That's a very obvious point just by reading through the chapter. That in the public assembly, don't worry if everybody didn't receive the gift of tongues, because-- as you're going to read the whole chapter through, and we'll get to it next time, especially when we deal with tongues-- the emphasis here is everybody else, the public assembly, and being intelligible in the public assembly. He says, for greater is he who prophesies than he who speaks with tongue, unless he interprets that the church may receive the edification.
Then chapter 6-- not chapter 6-- verse 6 all the way through the end, he deals with order in the public assembly with the exercise of these gifts. Now, we're going to save the bulk of it for next time. We're going to look over at verse 26. But before we do, let me explain a little background as to the worship system in the city of Corinth.
The Greeks and the Romans both had pagan cults that were part of a system known as mystery religions. In fact, I have a little book in my office called The Encyclopedia of Mystery Religions. The mystery religions stemmed way, way, way back in the Old Testament with a guy named Nimrod at a place called the Tower of Babel, and a religious system developed that matured into what was called Babylon that is predicted in Revelation as Mystery Babylon. And we've told you a lot of those elements before, especially around Christmas time with Tamos and Simuramos worshipping of the sun, and cutting down the tree, and decking it with silver and gold as part of their pagan worship.
But in these pagan cultic religions, the mystery religions, which was, by the way, dominant. It was the main religion at the time that Paul wrote this epistle all over the Near East. They had several ceremonies, or several levels of worship. One of those levels was called ecstasea, which means ecstasy. It was the highest possible form of religious expression. It is where you'd work yourself up into a frenzy and basically lose control. It's where a person would, through his chance and through his ceremonies, reach a point of euphoria, oneness with the god or the goddess that he was worshipping.
Now, that's the background of the religious system in Corinth. There people would come, and they would come into a trance hopefully. That was their highest possible expression-- ecstasea, ecstasy. They would want oneness with the gods. So they would chant.
I don't know if you've ever seen videos of Rajneesh when he was up in Oregon in his little commune-- very much like that. They would work themselves into an uncontrollable frenzy. And if you've looked at those videos on TV, or in some of the videos we have in the store, if you'd look at the Rajneesh commune, you think these guys are nutso. They're out of their minds. They're all in this uncontrolled-- [GASPING NOISE] doing that for about an hour. And the normal person walks in and goes, what are they doing?
Precisely Paul's point when he says, if all of you come or all of you are in an assembly, and everyone speaking in tongues, will not the unbeliever come in and go, what are they doing? They're all nuts!
Many of these priests were walking through the streets of Corinth. Corinth was packed full of these people. And when people were getting saved, they came from that religious background. Many of them were thrill seekers. They wanted in Christianity what they had in the pagan religions. And so they wanted the thrill at the meeting-- the hype, the emotion, or the ecstasea that they had at the cultic temples. They wanted to work themselves into a frenzy.
They lacked one foundational thing however, and that is discernment. If a person has a desire for deeper spirituality, but he lacks either a foundation in the word of God or discernment, look out. Because that type of person sees anything dramatic as belonging to God. If anything miraculous happens, it has to be God. If anything out of the ordinary happens, it's got to be the Lord. Using no discernment or not having a foundation of the scripture, they will be led astray, or at least end up like the Corinthians in their catastrophe. And so that's their background.
Look now over at verse 26. How is it then, brethren, whenever you come together, that each of you as a song, has a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation? Let all things be done for edification. You see the point? The point isn't what you have. The point is how well this blessed the whole church. The theme when you get together should be edification of the body, not I didn't put my two cents in tonight. I don't like this place. They didn't listen to me. I didn't get to share a tongue, or a revelation, or a prophecy. Let all things be done for edification.
People will always go to where a bigger fire is burning. That's human nature. Wherever there is a big emotional stir, wherever there's a bigger show or a bigger fire burning, people will go. The difficulty lies is keeping that fire the same or bigger week after week, month after month. Because if a bigger fire's burning elsewhere, let's go jump into the fire over there. Because they, like some of the young Corinthian believers, were thrill seekers without discernment.
Paul says, please, when you get together, let all things be done to build one another up. If anyone speaks in a tongue, let there be two or, at the most, three, not 50, not 100, not everybody in the congregation. I didn't write the book. I didn't write the rules. It says right here-- and I don't have any right to add or take away from this. Two, at the most three. And notice, each in turn, out at the same time, one by one, one by one, each in turn, and let one interpret. If there is no interpreter, what do you do? Just let it go on and just let the spirit move? That is not the Holy Spirit. For it says, let him keep silent in the church and let him speak to himself and to God.
Now, he's covered, in the first part of the chapter up to this point, the real basic problem with the Corinthians, and that is their zeal in the public assemblies to speak in tongues. By the way, I collect books when it comes to the commentaries on 1 Corinthians or the Holy Spirit. I've read about every single thing that's in print. But one of the greatest books, commentaries, at least on 1 Corinthians that you can ever buy if you want to really research the language, the background really in depth, it's by a terrific scholar named Dr. Gordon Fee, Doctor Gordon Fee's Commentary on 1 Corinthians. He comes, by the way, from a Pentecostal background originally. But he's arrived at such a beautiful balance in the scriptures and for the public assembly. Dr. Gordon Fee's Commentary on 1 Corinthians.
Now, after covering all of this problem of their emphasis on wanting to stand up and all speak in tongues, he now talks about order in the assembly. And he speaks about tongues, and this is how it should be done-- two, at the most three, and each in turn, not at the same time, so that you don't stand up and do it together, with an interpreter. Otherwise, nobody's going to be edifying. Then he gets to prophecy and he says, verse 29, let two or three prophets speak, and let the others judge. Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others judge. But if anything is revealed to another who sits by, let the first keep silent.
Did you notice that? Let the others judge. Do you recognize that the scripture nowhere tells a person to blindly follow someone who says, thus sayeth the Lord? Never. The scripture says you discern it, you judge it. I like what the New American Standard Bible says, this translation. It says, Let him pass judgment.
You see, there is this nonsense that's not based in the scripture that Christians are not to judge. I've heard that so often. Christians aren't to judge. You bet your life you are. Otherwise you will be an airhead. You must judge. Yeah, but Jesus said judge not lest you be judged. Do you realize that he wasn't talking about using your brain or making decisions? It means don't hypocritically condemn or self-righteously condemn a person in their relationship with God. That's what it means.
Because right after, it says, don't throw your pearls before pigs or your bread to the dogs. Now, you have to use discernment to discern who is a pig, who's a dog, right? You have to do that. Beware of false prophets. You have to use your noodle to find out who is a false prophet or not. And to say, well, you know, that's wrong, or, you can't judge. You can judge. And if you don't judge you're in hot water. Let them pass judgment it means. Let them discern.
The Greek word is [GREEK]. It means let him weigh it out and pass a strict judgment on it based on what is right. Let him speak and then let the others judge.
I was once asked to do a meeting in California. I was pastor here and I went out to visit. And I preached Sunday morning, and then I was there Sunday night. And the church is a beautiful church. I know many of the people there. It's a smaller fellowship, and they're very dear to my heart. I asked the pastor before he left and I took over, I said, would you mind if I instructed people on worship and we had sort of an afterglow and just waited on the gifts of the Holy Spirit? I'd just like to, if you trust me, instruct your people in that. He said, sure, go for it.
It was a neat evening. We began with a Bible study and ended with worship, instead of beginning with worship and ending with a study. I just wanted to teach on some fundamentals and then swayed on the Lord and see how the Holy Spirit would move. And it was so sweet. The Holy Spirit was just like a gentle breeze blowing through the congregation. People who were very stiff and unable to do it in the past just began by praying. A few people would pray publicly, and they weren't used to doing that.
And there was, after a while, an utterance in prophecy. Oh, it was edifying. It was so wonderful. It was comforting. It was exhorting. And the ice was just starting to get broken. People were just starting to let their guard down and really feel good about it. And I think, all right, Lord, we're just humming along.
Just then-- see? It always happens. That's the risk you take. This lady stands up, thus sayeth the Lord, oh, my children, Ronald Reagan is Antichrist. And I say unto you, flee America. And everybody turned as white as a ghost. Now, that's what quenching the spirit is. Now when we talked to her, she said, you're quenching the spirit. We said, yes, your spirit.
It just put a damper on the whole meeting. They were just starting to loosen up. After that they just went, forget it, I don't want this. This is too wild for me. Now, at that moment the pastor's gone, I'm in charge. Everybody's looking at me. What are you going to do?
First of all, I said, well, you know, I really like Ronald Reagan. I voted for him. Secondly, I said, now, the elders who are in the back of the room, I'd like you to come up, and I want you to discern this and pass judgment upon this prophecy. I myself feel like it's not from the Lord, but you are the leaders, you are the elders. Do something. At that moment she turned around and she split out the door. I'll finish up her story in just a minute as we go down a few more verses.
Verse 31 says, For you can all prophesy one by one, that all may learn and may be encouraged. You may all prophesy one by one. Now, that doesn't necessarily mean that every single person in the congregation has the gift of prophecy. The emphasis in this verse is the appeal for edification so that people won't stand up simultaneously, or two or three at a time and say, you can all do it, but just wait your turn. One at a time. So it is an appeal for self-control-- self-control so people don't stand up at the same time.
Now, in the next couple verses-- and follow this thinking-- he says, you can all do it, but he says, prophesy one by one that all may learn and may be encouraged, and the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets. And then verse 33, for God is not the author of confusion, but of peace as in all the churches of the Saints.
Now he says, exercise self-restraint, self-control. You know, that's part of the fruit of the spirit. For the spirit is love, peace, joy, blah, blah, blah, self-control. It's an appeal to don't flip your lid and don't jump up and get all ecstatic necessarily. Wait your turn because the spirit of the prophets is subject to the prophets. In other words, you have control. You should be self-controlled for two reasons he says, one in verse 31, one in verse 32.
The first reason you should be self-controlled in this area of prophecy is, number one, when God gives you a gift-- faith, miracles, tongues, prophecy, word of wisdom-- he doesn't steal your personality away and he doesn't take your control away. He doesn't take your control. The spirit of the prophets is subject to the prophets.
Let me read it in two translations. One translation says this-- and the gift of prophecy does not take from the prophets the control of their own spirits. The Living Bible, or Taylor, says, remember that a person who has a message from God has the power to stop himself and wait his turn. Remember that a person who has a message from God has the power to stop himself and to wait his turn.
You know what that means? That means the tone, the pitch, and the volume are in your and my control. So when someone is totally out of control and asks so ecstatically, and they're totally out of control, and they're just at the top of their lungs, don't blame that on the Holy Spirit by saying, he was just anointed. That's the anointed.
You see, this is why, folks, because of some of these abuses, that other Christians have seen supposed moving of the Holy Spirit and said, nope. Lord, that's it. Don't get near me, all right? That's why there's a lot of closed hearts to it, because people see someone standing up and prophesying like that and they say, oh, Lord, please, please, please don't give me the gift of prophecy. Give me the gift of helps. I'll go turn on the air conditioning in the back. How's that?
Because people who are supposedly exercising these gifts don't realize that they have the control. Spirit of the prophets is subject to the prophets. Why did Paul even mention this? Why did Paul have to use this argument in speaking about prophecy? Because remember, one of the breaking point marks of the false cults in Corinth was that they would work themselves into ecstasy and lose control. It's out of my control. I just can't help it, man. It's just-- I can't help it. That's why Paul said it-- the spirit of the prophets is subject to the prophets. You have control.
Question, however, before we even move on. Why is it then-- because let's be fair-- why is it that when certain people do exercise spiritual gifts, they have a different tone of voice and maybe a louder pitch and heavier breathing and so forth? There could be two reasons. Number one, it could be just very innocently that's their reaction to the movement of the Holy Spirit in their life. Hey, when the Holy Spirit, especially at first, moves on you and you're not used to it, you get excited. And it could just be your natural, normal reaction to something beautiful that is happening, and you're all excited and emotional, and that's all right. You can't condemn that. That's beautiful. That person is experiencing a touch from God, but it doesn't mean he's out of control or he should get out of control.
Number two, and perhaps more often than not, this is the reason, it is a learned response. It's a conditioned response. I've seen other people do it. Thus, I think that's the way it should operate. Thus, that's how I will operate it if I ever operate that gift. It's learned response. It's learned behavior. This happens quite frequently. When a person believes that that's how everybody does it, that's the way it works, and I've seen it by experience, not necessarily read it in the word of God, if they ever get close to operating that way, they're going to probably act the same.
I'll never forget at another church in Southern California where I was interim pastor between this guy and this guy, two different people, I was in my office one evening and there was a guy, a couple of guys, who had been trafficking with the group, who were in the deliverance circles of Christians have demons of this and that, and they were regurgitating demons. And they came into my office and said, Skip, Skip, Skip, this guy has a demon. You've got to come.
I said OK. I ran. I went, man. I want to see what's going on, see where the fire's burning. It was burning in my foyer. Here was a guy who had been saved two weeks. He was a foreigner from another country, made a commitment to the Lord. I saw him make a commitment to the Lord. I saw his life be transformed. But someone told him that he had a demon, and he watched how they were in a frenzy. And this guy started shaking. He was like in a convulsive-- and I said, you're not demon-possessed. Stop. And he went.
And I sat him down and I explained his covering, his protection and the Lord. Greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world. Satan has limited power. God is a mission, on and on and on, and we prayed for him. He's been fine ever since.
So it could be a person's reaction to the Holy Spirit. It's innocent, they get excited, that's fine. Or, it could be conditioned response. Paul says when you worship God, it can't be out of control. You have to give preference to the other people that are in your assembly.
Verse 33, look at it again. For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace as in all the churches of the Saints. His second reason is a theological reason. First of all, you should have self-control when you exercise these gifts of the Spirit, because number one, God has given you the control. He hasn't taken away your personality. By the way, remember that God doesn't take your personality from you when you exercise a gift. If you don't speak King James all day long, you don't have to do it in a prophecy. You can if you want, but you don't have to. You can just be you. If you speak NIV 10 days a week, you don't have to speak King James when you have an utterance from the Lord.
And depending on your background and personality, you're going to be different. If you are an ex-motorcycle gang member from New York, you might say, doth sayeth the Lord, hey, you guys, knock it off, right? I don't know. Maybe if you're a hippie you'll say, oh, wow, oh, my children, you blow my mind.
I'll tell you, I have been around lots of meetings where people exercise spiritual gifts. And you know what's beautiful to me? That God gives people the freedom to be who they are and who he made them. And I've watched people who are just really hippies who just got saved be filled with the spirit and give utterances and are so innocent, but it's them. It's not polished. It's just them. It's just water pouring out of their lives, the water of the Holy Spirit.
OK, verse 3e, the theological reason-- remember the Corinthians were having this problem losing control, speaking simultaneously in tongues and prophecy, and he's giving this order here. And he says, God is not the author of confusion, but of peace. In other words, the character of one's deity should be reflected in one's worship. The character of the God you worship should be characterized or reflected in your own worship. That is, if the God you worship is a God of frenzy and confusion, that should be reflected in your worship. If you have a God of peace and security, that should be reflected in your worship.
That's a biblical premise, not just found here. David, in Psalm 115, says, look at the gods of the heathen, how empty they are. Eyes they have, but they can't see. Ears they have, but they can't hear. Mouths they have, but they can't speak. Hands they have, but they can't handle. They have feet, but they can't walk. And it says, he who worships that God becomes just like the God that they worship and serve. In other words, you will become like the God you worship. If you worship money, you're going to become very materialistic-oriented. If you worship yourself, you'll be very selfish. If you worship, God you will become more like Him. God is not the author of confusion, but of peace.
Now look at verse 41. Let all things be done decently and in order. Is God ever out of order? Is God ever out of control? Then your worship should reflect the character of God. Don't get out of control and say, it's just the Lord, don't quench the spirit. Because God is not out of control and God is not disorderly. All things can be done, but they can be done decently and in order. And when all things are being done and it is decently and in order, it reflects the glory of God. It's so beautiful. And people aren't afraid to enter into that and experiment with the Lord and what he has for them. The wisdom of God, the scripture says in James, is first pure, peaceable, easy to be entreated-- easy to be entreated.
OK, I want to sum up by giving four tests, four two ways to test the gift of prophecy, if it's right on or not. Now listen up, all you kinship leaders, all you afterglow leaders, are you potential pastors-- four ways to tell. By the way, there was a book written in the early church called the Didache. It was a manual written by the apostles on how to tell false prophets. They had more than four. They had pages filled.
But four ways from the scriptures, since this is our manual, to test prophecy. Number one, the theological test. Does it match the scripture? If what a person says-- thus sayeth the Lord, blah, blah, blah-- does it contradict the word of God? If it doesn't, great. If it does, question it. Test it. Pass judgment upon it. It needs to pass that test. Does it match the scriptures?
Remember, Paul told Timothy, all scripture is God-breathed or inspired. The Greek word is Theopneustos. It means it's breathe in and maintained by God. That is, this book, you can read this book without a filter. You don't have to say, maybe this is inaccurate here. Now, if you go out and buy a book in our bookstore, you have to put your filter on. It's not the word of God. It contains the word of God, and it quotes scriptures, but you may not agree with their evaluation of the text. You don't have to have a filter on when you read the Bible, because the scripture has no pollutants. This revelation has no pollutants. You cannot say the same for someone who gives a prophetic utterance. There could be a mixture of flesh and spirit. That's why you need to judge it. That's why you need to test it and see if it matches the scripture, lines up with the word of God.
So if someone comes into your kinship and says, thus sayeth the Lord, oh, my children, I am the Lord, I am coming back next Tuesday, 3:30 in the afternoon. Get off work early, come and sit and wait. Are you going to say, well, we better be open to this? We can't quench the spirit, because this might be a word from the Lord. Well, don't I remember a scripture that says no one knows the day or the hour, not even this person who just uttered the prophecy? So I would say that guy's a false prophet because it contradicts the scripture.
Now, what did Paul saying Galatians 1? He says, I am amazed that you are so quickly removed from the gospel unto another gospel. For some are perverting the gospel of Christ, but if we the apostles or an angel from heaven preach any other gospel than what you have received, let him be accursed. The Greek word is anathema. It means let him be cursed below the lowest hell. Would you say that's strong language for Paul to use? That's how much of a caretaker he was of the revelation of God. And if you let people speak for God and it's off the wall, you're not being a good steward of the word. It has to pass that test.
Number two, test of emphasis-- what does it emphasize? Is it emphasizing this person? Is it emphasizing the Lord? Does it display the character of Jesus Christ? Is it something that Jesus would say or do as far as you know in the scripture? Remember, the Bible says in Revelation the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. So the test of emphasis.
Next, moral test-- a moral test. What did Jesus say in the Sermon on the Mount? Beware of false prophets, for they come to you and sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their what? Fruits. You're called to be a fruit inspector. If someone says, thus sayeth the Lord, what's their private life like? If they're living in sin and coming to church to prophesy-- that's why even on communion nights if someone comes up and says, I really want to share something, I don't do it unless I know who they are, I've spoken with them, I've seen their walk. Or, if I know their kinship later, or if I don't, I'll say, do you go to a kinship, or how long have you been going to this church, or I'll question them. It needs to be tested, a moral test.
I think also, in the same category, does that person submit himself or herself to a local church, to a body of Christ? Or, is he one of the wandering prophets, the Inspector Clouseau of Christians? By the way, this girl who spoke in the meeting I was talking about in California that said Ronald Reagan was the Antichrist, after the service I spoke to some of the leaders. They said, Skip, this lady has no church. She floats around all over San Bernardino and Orange County, Riverside county, and gets an audience wherever she can get one. She's not locked in. She's one of the people who doesn't need a local church, she thinks. She's not connected anywhere. If someone is a roving prophet, has no accountability, they have flunked the test, the moral test.
Four-- the test of accuracy. If they say anything that is futuristic-- thus sayeth the Lord, you're going to go to do this, or this is going to happen if it doesn't come to pass. And I've seen that. Somebody asked me a question a few weeks ago about somebody in a church they went to who gave a prophecy, and they gave three or four, and it didn't happen. Inaccurate. Test of accuracy.
You can take any of these and take any other religion or cold and see if it matches up. Look at the Jehovah's Witnesses. Let's take the accuracy test. They said Jesus would come back in 1914. Did he? 1925. Did he? 1931. Did he? How about 1941? They kept changing it all the way through, 1975 and on. Inaccurate, false prophets.
Now, I just want to close by giving you a word of encouragement, because I believe God is raising up people with this gift in this body. The more we teach on this, the more of you are experimenting or leaving yourself open to the Holy Spirit, going to afterglows, going and trying them out of kinships-- you can prepare for this gift if you believe God has given it to you. Just like I prepare for a teaching, and I study and I prepare and I pray, you can prepare in spiritual gifts. You can prepare.
Number one-- saturate yourself in the word of God. Know this book, because prophecy comes out from the heart of the word, the principles of the scripture. Number two-- fasting and prayer are great ways to prepare yourself. Denying some of those physical things, that you might focus on the spiritual. And number three-- worship, being before the Lord and just beholding his beauty.
How about Isaiah? He was a prophet, wasn't he? Remember before he was commissioned, do you remember what he was doing? He beheld the Lord high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. And it was in that period of worship that God commissioned Isaiah to be a prophet to the nations. How about Acts 13, and as they've ministered unto the Lord, the Holy Spirit said, separate enemy Barnabas and Saul for the work that I've called to them. And they were sent out by the Holy Spirit.
So you can prepare by saturating yourself in the scripture, fasting, prayer, and worship. Let's pray.
Heavenly Father, we thank you that we have in this book accuracy. We don't need a filter. It is inerrant. It has no error, no flaw, no pollutant. Lord, it's so beautiful at the same time that you have chosen to take these principles and enlivened them through the gift of prophecy to edify, to build up, to comfort, your body, us, your people. And to even, in some cases, speak of future events in people's lives. Thank you, Lord, for that gift. Raise up more with this desire to edify and to use this gift in the assemblies. Bless our kinships with him, Lord. Thank you for the beautiful things that have occurred at afterglows, the healings that we've seen, the direct prophesies and words of knowledge and wisdom. Thank you, Lord.
We seek to glorify you, Lord, and do all things, that you are a God of order, you are a God of control. I pray, Lord, that we might follow in your footsteps and emulate your character in Jesus' name.