“In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you. If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well.”
Romans 12:6-7 NLT
Paul starts to expand his thoughts about the gifts God gives us. We need to note that God has commissioned us to do something in our service to Him, and, through His kindness and grace, He has given us gifts to do what He wants us to do, so that we are effective. But what is the context within which we are to exercise these gifts? Is it in our church fellowships or in the communities in which we live? There is a clue in who the letter of Romans is addressed to. It is thought that Paul wrote this letter in AD57, while in Corinth, and it was addressed to the Roman Christians, who were experiencing a bit of strife between the Jewish and Gentile converts. So, primarily, the gifts that God supplied were to be used in a Christian fellowship setting. However, that said, our Christian lives, enhanced by the gifts God has given us, will shine like beacons on a dark world, and, who knows, there may well be opportunities to use our God-given gifts to help our fellow citizens in our schools, workplaces, and communities.
Paul starts with the gift of prophesy. Prophesy is, quite simply, a message from God. It can be about something that hasn’t yet happened, or it could be something that is related to a particular Biblical message. Foretelling or forth-telling. But in either case its roots must be in God. There are many examples of prophesy in the Old Testament, and the practice continued in the New. As an example of New Testament prophesy, there was the occasion when a prophet graphically brought a message about what would happen to Paul when he returned to Jerusalem. We read the account in Acts 21:10-12, “Several days later a man named Agabus, who also had the gift of prophecy, arrived from Judea. He came over, took Paul’s belt, and bound his own feet and hands with it. Then he said, “The Holy Spirit declares, ‘So shall the owner of this belt be bound by the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem and turned over to the Gentiles.’” When we heard this, we and the local believers all begged Paul not to go on to Jerusalem”. The prophet’s message, unwelcome to the believers as it was, turned out much as he told it, as Paul was indeed arrested and bound, as we read in Acts 21:33, “Then the commander arrested him and ordered him bound with two chains. He asked the crowd who he was and what he had done”.
An example of forth-telling occurs when a preacher brings a message from the Bible. Through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, he or she preaches from a certain verse or passage of Scripture, that is helpful to the fellowship at that particular time in their journey together. So the message might be about the Gospel and salvation, or about giving and stewardship. Such a message could fall under the category of prophecy, particular if the message needs to be heard, and the preacher doesn’t know the local situation.
How open are we pilgrims to prophetic messages? Sometimes God will bring us a prophecy in answer to our prayers. We might have been praying about moving to another city and, seemingly out of the blue, a prophecy would be given to us that answers our prayer and provides the direction, or otherwise, that we need. At other times a message might be preached that helps us get back on track in our Christian journey, or provides us with a new information to clarify the season ahead. But however delivered we need to wisely evaluate the messages to ensure that they came from God. A prophetic message will never contradict with the Word of God, as written in the Holy Scriptures. And we need to follow the wisdom of the Berean Christians. Acts 17:11, “And the people of Berea were more open-minded than those in Thessalonica, and they listened eagerly to Paul’s message. They searched the Scriptures day after day to see if Paul and Silas were teaching the truth“.
We pilgrims are in a privileged place. We worship a God who wants to helps us and interact with us. Prophesy is just one gift, out of many, that He provides.
Father God. We thank You for this wonderful gift of prophesy, so rich and fulfilling. Amen.