The Gifts of the Spirit (Part III)

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What is an example of the misuse of the Gift of Prophecy? It is easy to spot if we listen to the Holy Spirit and believe in God’s Word as our measure of Truth. A self-proclaimed modern-day prophet may predict the future; specifically, the exact date of the “End Times” and what everyone should do to prepare for them? Jesus and the Apostle Paul warn us about these FALSE prophets.

“No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father” (Matthew 24:36).

“He [Jesus] said to them, ‘It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by His own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be witnesses in Jerusalem, and all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth’” (Acts 1:7-8).

“Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to Him, we ask you, brothers, not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by some prophecy, report or letter supposed to have come from us, saying that the day of the Lord has already come. Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way…” (II Thessalonians 2:1-3a).

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Another example of a FALSE prophet is one who says something like, “If you all have the faith to give this ministry a love-offering of $1,000, God has told me that he will heal all your sicknesses, mend all your marriages, meet all your financial needs and take all your burdens away. I heard Him say this to me as clear as a bell. Will you trust Jesus enough to give generously to His mighty work? Do I hear an Amen?” These False prophets also like to use and distort the Scriptures: “If you give to this mighty work of God, He says, ‘…see if I will not through open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it’” (See Malachi 3:10). Another quote FALSE prophets/teachers like to use is, “It is more blessed to give than to receive”, but they never quote the whole Scripture in context: “In everything I (Paul) did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus said Himself: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive’” (Acts 20:35). If those two quotes don’t do the “trick” they also like to use, “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you” (Luke 6:38). Again, these FALSE prophets/teachers never quote the verse before: “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven” (Luke 6:37). It seems to me that FALSE prophets do a lot of judging and condemning and couldn’t care less for the people who are in real need. I do not see the Fruit of the Spirit demonstrated in the lives of these FALSE prophets/teachers. Jesus and His brother James have warnings for both us and them:

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“Watch out for FALSE prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their FRUIT you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes or figs from thistles? Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit…Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their FRUIT you will recognize them…Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not PROPHESY in Your Name, and in Your Name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from Me, you evil-doers!’” (Matthew 7:15-17, 19-20, 22-23).

“Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly” (James 3:1).

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As Christians, ambassadors of Jesus Christ (See II Corinthians 5:20), our mission is not to become “Prophets of Doom” or to even listen to these “Doom‘s Day” FALSE prophets. Our mission, as believers in Christ, is not to build bunkers and stock up on toilet paper, bottled water and Spam. Our responsibility is not to make rich preachers richer and become a people who “suit their own desires [and] gather around [us] a great number of teachers to say what [our] itching ears want to hear” (See II Timothy 4:3).

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Rather, our mission is to use our Spiritual Gifts “to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ [the Christian Church] may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:12-13), to practice the “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless…:to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world” (James 1:27) and to spread the GOOD NEWS of the Gospel of Jesus Christ: “For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. He died for us so that we may live together with Him. Therefore, ENCOURAGE one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing” (I Thessalonians 5:9-11).

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The TRUE Prophet of God named Micah tells us what God wants from us: “He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly before your God” (6:8). FALSE prophets are everything that is the opposite of justice, mercy and humility. Spirit-filled Christians who have the true Gift of Prophecy (telling forth God’s Truth) may not be famous. A Christian with the Gift of Prophecy walks closely in step with the Holy Spirit and senses what the Holy Spirit senses and obeys His call.. For example, s/he may see a brother or sister who has confessed and turned away from sin and has been forgiven by God, yet is having trouble forgiving him-/herself. The person with the Gift of prophecy will go and encourages that brother or sister in the Lord to accept God’s forgiveness and reassures him/her of the saving grace of Jesus, which will never be taken away.

Finally, the writer of the Book of Hebrews says this:

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“In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days He has spoken to us by His Son, Whom He appointed Heir of all things, and through Whom He made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His Being, sustaining all things by His powerful Word. After He provided purification for sins, He sat down at the Right Hand of the Majesty in heaven. So He became as much superior to the angels as the Name He has inherited is superior to theirs. For to which of the angels did God ever say, ’You My Son; today I have become Your Father…Let all God’s angels worship Him…He makes His angels winds, His servants flames of fire’” (Hebrews 1:1-5a, 6b, 7b).

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Let us join the angels and worship Jesus alone and let Him take us to where He wants us to go. Let us be on fire for Him and listen to His Voice alone! Amen.

But Wait! More Gifts are coming!