The Prophet and the Prophetic
The Infilling of the Holy Spirit
Here at CalTab we believe in what is known as the “infilling of the Holy Spirit.” We believe that this can and should be a separate and individual experience after salvation. The Holy Spirit is God and as such has as His purpose, the mission of God. The Holy Spirit does not come upon me or enter me for the purpose of my entertainment or so that I can simply get lost in some kind of Christian version of an “out of body” experience. The Holy Spirit has come from Heaven to build His church and empower His mission. He does this by giving us spiritual gifts.
These gifts, once received, are to be used for the glory (honor, fame and mission) of God. Not my glory, not my fame and certainly not my mission.
Now, if we live a life that honors God, makes Him famous and which furthers His mission, we will feel good about our faith. Our witness will have integrity and our lives will be fruitful for His kingdom. Note that the Holy Spirit has not come to make me feel good. He has come to empower us for His mission. The feel good part comes when we live a life that is fruitful for God. The fruit of the Holy Spirit is not barking, it is love. It is patience and kindness. The anointing of the Holy Spirit does not teach or require us to live in rebellion to the authority of God’s leaders. That is another spirit. The fullness of the Holy Spirit in my life produces good fruit just as sure as the sun rises after the night. So when we have had a good prophetic time, we should look for the lasting fruit of a transformed life. God knows us by our fruit not our experiences.
In the process of producing good fruit, He (the Holy Spirit) will work in me to challenge me (bring conviction) and change me (make me a disciple.) If this is true of our lives, we will therefor make progress as Christians. If we continue to claim to have experienced the power of the Holy Spirit but am neither convicted nor changed, our experiences were carnal or in the flesh, meaning the experience had more of me in it than God.
Prophets have one primary responsibility; a prophet is one who brings understanding.
In Israel prophets existed to describe a future that was inevitable based on the actions of the people in their present. It seems that many people are unable to connect their present choices with future consequences. So a prophet was in many ways a declarer of the obvious. Obvious to God and His prophets anyway. If a nation sinned, it would reap the judgment of God. If a nation repented and turned to God and did righteous things, it would be blessed. Not that complicated. A prophet was not a person with a crystal a ball knowing the unknowable. Yes God would “show” prophets things hidden to the average person, but the purposed was always for them to find and enter the purposes of God.
In the early church, there were prophets in the churches in Jerusalem and Antioch (Acts 11:27 and 13:1). In one case they knew that a famine was coming and they warned the churches to prepare. This is an instance of foretelling although we have no idea as to how they came by this knowledge, so we assume it was by divine revelation. This is one instance in the early church and the Bible does not make this a significant pattern of prophetic ministry. In the other instance (Acts 13:1) the knowledge of the will of God for Paul and Barnabus came through prayer and then revelation. Yet we should note that the prophets worked in conjunction with teachers.
What then do we mean by the word “prophetic” – when we use it in the local church? This refers to a ministry environment or meeting in which the Holy Spirit is at work. In these meetings many of the gifts may be at work.
The Holy Spirit works through the gifts, and here we have to recognize, for example, gifts such as a “word of knowledge” (Acts 13:9-12). In this passage we find a very good example of a prophetic moment leading to a clear missional experience for a Roman government representative. In everyday evangelical language, he got saved. This is again a clear example of the missional purpose for which the gifts were given. Jesus had told the disciples to go to Jerusalem and wait for the Holy Spirit. Once received, they would become gifted witnesses (Acts 1:4).
Returning to CalTab
As a church we desire the presence, ministry and power of the Holy Spirit. To understand how we are to proceed, experience and keep ourselves from error in this, we need to turn to other scripture for some guidance.
- Gifts flowing in a meeting can be impressive (or disturbing), BUT love remains more important than gifts.
- If I speak in the tongues of men or angels, but have not love, I am a noisy cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 1 Corinthians 13:1-2.
- Consideration for one another remains a reflection of love.
- So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Philippians 2:1-3
- Submission to those in authority remains a key kingdom operating requirement.
- Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you. Hebrews 13:17.
To Be Practical
- When it comes to the “laying on of hands.” Men pray for men and women for women. An exception to this is that elders and those properly approved by the elders may pray for people of the opposite gender. Another exception may be when a group prays for a person. Visitors are asked not to lay hands on anyone during the moving of the Holy Spirit. There is deep spiritual significance in the laying on of hands and this is for the protection of our members. The apostolic authority of leadership is used by God to impart gifts.
- Do not be hasty in the laying on of hands, nor take part in the sins of others; keep yourself pure. 1 Timothy 5:13.
- Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you. 1 Timothy 4:14.
- Then they laid their hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit. Acts 8:17.
- Should a person become in some disruptive sense, ‘out of control’, elders may remove that person to different environment for further ministry.
- Therefore, my brethren, desire earnestly to prophesy, and do not forbid to speak in tongues. But all things must be done properly and in an orderly manner. 1 Corinthians 14:39-40.
- We believe in being open to the leading of God. Nevertheless, order is also a biblical value. This includes the arrangement of our time into a schedule or liturgy. God detailed the entire set up of the Tabernacle and the orders of the priesthood. It was while Zechariah, John the Baptist’s father was serving with his “division on duty” (Luke 1:8-9) that the Lord spoke to him about the miracle that would be his son. Routine, planning and regularity of divine service are not God’s enemy and certainly do not work to dampen the Holy Spirit.
- The perception that to plan a service is somehow unspiritual is proof that one has not read the Bible.
- What then, brothers? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up. For God is not a God of disorder but of peace–as in all the congregations of the Lord’s people. 1 Corinthians 14:26 and 33.
We desire God’s presence and leading in our meetings. Our elders will be intentional about being sensitive to this. They will also be mindful of the purpose to which He has called us as a local church. The Holy Spirit will not work contrary to God’s purposes for us. It is the task of the elders to discern the connection between these two.
March 10 2014