Some Basics About Prophecy

[This article was taken from our book Prophecy: Understanding and Utilizing the Manifestation of Prophecy.]

 

Hearing from God. What could be more important or wonderful than that? Through the ages, prophecy was a primary way that people heard from God. [1] It has been very important to God and His people from Genesis until now, and will continue to be important through the book of Revelation. Prophecy is also one of the ways in which the Lord Jesus Christ works in the Church. Prophecy is one of the spiritual things that we Christians are to “especially” understand and utilize:

1 Corinthians 14:1 (NKJV)
Pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy.

The purpose of this book is to give Christians a basic understanding of the manifestation of prophecy. Therefore, it will focus on things that are usually encountered in corporate (to groups) and personal (to individuals) prophecy, and will not go into depth about things that are more generally revealed to those who have the ministry of a prophet.

What is Prophecy?

The answer to the question, “What is prophecy?” is of utmost importance, and so for clarity it is answered in four parts below.

1. Prophecy is speaking, writing, or otherwise communicating a message from God to a person or persons. When God or the Lord Jesus Christ gives a message to a person to deliver to an individual or group, and he delivers that message, it is prophecy. Although prophecy is usually spoken, it may also be delivered by writing it out and then delivering the written message, or it may be given another way, such as sign language. The point is, when a message from God or the Lord Jesus is delivered from one person to another, that is prophecy. When the message comes to the one who is charged with delivering it, it is “revelation” to that person. [2] It becomes prophecy when it is communicated to others.

Because it is the communication of a message, prophecy can occur in many outward forms as an action or utterance. It is an outward expression of the inner move of the spirit of God. When God communicates a message through people, we describe what the people do as “prophetic.” For example, when God inspires a dancer to dance such that a message from God is communicated to His people, that is called “prophetic dancing.” If a painter paints a picture as God directs or inspires, and that picture communicates a message from God’s heart, that would be “prophetic.” It is sometimes the case that prophets are asked to act out the prophetic message. God commanded Hosea to marry a prostitute to communicate how He felt being “married” to Israel (Hosea 1:2). God commanded Jeremiah to put a yoke on his neck and wear it to communicate that Judah should not rebel against Babylon, but come under their yoke (Jer. 27:1-12). Agabus bound his own hands and feet to illustrate that Paul would be bound when he got to Jerusalem (Acts 21:10 and 11).

To fully understand prophetic action, it is important to realize that “messages” from God can be very subtle, sometimes relating only His love for us, or His greatness. For example, when God inspires a dancer or a painter, there may not be a specific directional message from the Lord that the audience is supposed to understand and act on, although there certainly could be. The message might be more along the lines of God communicating His glory to us.

2. Prophecy is communicating a message that has been received by revelation. Most revelation is for the person who receives it, and is not intended to be communicated to others. For example, God told Abraham to leave Mesopotamia and go to another land (Gen. 12:1). That revelation was from God to Abraham, but was not a message that He wanted Abraham to deliver to others, so it was not prophecy. When God spoke to Moses from the burning bush, it was revelation to Moses but not prophecy because it was not a message that Moses was to deliver to the Israelites (Exod. 3:4 and following). God told Elijah to go hide by the brook and allow the ravens to feed him (1 Kings 17:2-6). This information was revelation to Elijah but was never prophecy because it was not intended to be communicated as a message to others. However, when God gives someone revelation He wants communicated to others, and that person communicates the revelation, it becomes prophecy.

3. Prophecy is communicating a revelation given either at an earlier time or right at the moment the person is speaking, or it can be a combination of the two. Prophecy falls into two basic categories. The first and most common is inspirational and non-cognitive, which we call “inspirational prophecy.” The second is cognitive and deliberate. From God’s perspective, prophecy is simply part of a person’s walk with God, and therefore the Bible does not divide it into these two categories. However, to better understand prophecy and how it works, it is helpful to see the two basic categories into which it falls.

In inspirational prophecy, the person giving the prophecy does not know the prophetic message ahead of time. The Lord gives the words to him as he speaks. This type of prophecy is inspirational, non-cognitive, spontaneous, and “in the moment.” In contrast to inspirational prophecy, there are times when God gives a message to someone long before it is ever spoken. The message may come weeks, days, hours, or minutes before it is spoken as prophecy. It is up to the one who received the message from God to hold it in his mind until the time it is delivered. In contrast to inspirational prophecy, this kind of prophecy is very deliberate. Both kinds of prophecy are in the Bible, and most people who have given corporate and personal prophecy for several years or more will testify to having had messages from God both ahead of time and in the moment.

The Bible has some clear examples of inspirational prophecy. 1 Kings 13:21 and 22 is a prophecy by an old prophet to a young one who had been tricked into disobeying the LORD. God energized holy spirit inside the old prophet, and he spoke a prophecy without any forethought. He was simply energized by God and spoke out, with God giving the message as he spoke. In 2 Chronicles 15:1-7, the spirit of God came upon Azariah and he gave an inspirational and encouraging prophecy to Asa and the people of Judah. In 2 Chronicles 20:14-17, the spirit of God energized Jahaziel and he spoke an inspired prophecy to Jehoshaphat and the people of Judah. In 2 Chronicles 24:20, the spirit of God energized Zechariah and he gave an inspired word of reproof to the people of Judah for their sin. In Acts 4:10-12, Peter gave an inspired message to the rulers of Israel. In Acts 13:8-11, the Apostle Paul gave an inspired word to Elymas. These are examples of the people prophesying as they are inspired and energized by God. As they stepped out in faith and began to speak, God gave them the words.

Just as there are clear examples of inspirational prophecy, there are many examples of God giving the person the message by revelation ahead of time. An excellent one is when God told Nathan to go tell David that he would not be the one to build the Temple (2 Sam. 7:4-17).

4. Prophecy is not speaking about information that has been received by revelation. There are times when prophecy is very easy to identify, and there are times when a message is harder to identify as prophecy per se. When God or the Lord Jesus gives someone a message for another person, and that message is spoken, that is prophecy. However, just talking about the revelation one has received is not prophecy. One of the boundaries of prophecy that can be difficult to pin down is when someone is speaking about what he has received from the Lord by revelation, but what he is saying is more along the lines of sharing information than delivering a message. For example, in 1 Kings 18:22-24, Elijah instructed the people how to prove whether Yahweh or Baal was the true God by seeing which of the two would answer by fire. [3] The trial was God’s design (1 Kings 18:36). Nevertheless, what Elijah said to the people was not prophecy because it was not a “message” for them, it was simply his letting them know what God had communicated to him by revelation. Another example is when God told Moses what to do in Egypt, and then Moses told it to Aaron (Exod. 4:28). Even though Moses told Aaron the information he had received by revelation, that kind of communication is not prophecy.

Prophecy as a Manifestation of Holy Spirit

Some prophecy is a manifestation of the gift of holy spirit, and some prophecy is not. Prophecy as a manifestation of the gift of holy spirit occurs when God, or the Lord Jesus, gives a revelation message to an individual by way of the holy spirit sealed inside him, which becomes prophecy when it is communicated to others. Every Christian has the gift of holy spirit sealed within him, [4] which he received when he accepted Christ and was “born again” (Rom. 10:9 and 10; Eph. 1:13). [5] Most prophecy spoken by Christians comes from God via the holy spirit inside them and, because of that, one of the nine manifestations of the gift of holy spirit is “prophecy” (1 Cor. 12:7 and 10).

Although the manifestation of prophecy is by far the most common form of prophecy, it is important to realize that prophecy does not have to be a manifestation of holy spirit. Remember, prophecy is communicating a message that is given to someone by revelation. If that revelation, for example, comes directly from the Lord Jesus Christ, i.e., if the Lord Jesus were to personally appear to an individual and give him a message to deliver, when that message was delivered, it would be prophecy. However, it would not be the “manifestation” of prophecy because the Lord did not speak to the individual via the gift of holy spirit inside him, but instead appeared personally. Similarly, if an angel were to appear to someone and give him a message for someone else, when the message was delivered it would be prophecy, but it would not be the manifestation of prophecy because the holy spirit inside the believer was not energized.

Why is There Prophecy?

The origin of prophecy is the loving heart of a Father God. God loves His people and wants to have a relationship with them. He wants us to walk and talk with Him and live blessed lives. Prophecy demonstrates God’s love for us in a very tangible way. Furthermore, God wants healthy relationships between people in the Body of Christ and in the world, and prophecy helps build such relationships.

As any loving Father would speak to his children, God speaks by prophecy both to His children and to other people. He gives them words of blessing, encouragement, comfort, and hope; He directs us in the way we should go; He says things that build our faith and gives us confidence in His presence and love. He also exhorts us when we need to “get up and get going,” and He gives us warnings when we are straying or when something is coming in the future that we cannot foresee. God also knows that prophecy builds relationships in the family of God. He gives messages that allow us to help each other in meaningful and beneficial ways.

When prophecy is not present in the Church, many blessings are missed. Proverbs 29:18a says that when there is no revelation from God, the people are “let alone.” [6] Good parents know that letting children alone is a formula for disaster. Proverbs 29:15b says, “…a child left to himself disgraces his mother.” It is never God’s heart to leave us alone. He wants to communicate His love and bless us. Prophecy is a major way that God speaks to us to bless us and build our relationship with Him, which then helps us be more Christ-like in our relationship with other people.

The fact that relationship with God is the underlying theme of prophecy helps explain why He gives prophetic information in so many ways. While it is certainly true that the majority of prophecies can be taken at face value and understood by the most unlearned believer, anyone who has dealt with prophecy for a period of years has encountered prophetic messages that are unclear, as perhaps in a dream or vision.

If God’s purpose in prophecy were only to communicate a message, He would speak clearly and simply all the time, which He is certainly capable of doing. But giving us information is not all that God wants. God is not just a dispenser of information. The ultimate purpose of His communication is to establish loving relationships with us. By occasionally speaking in ways that are not immediately clear, God pushes us into a deeper relationship with Him. He compels us to go to Him over and over asking Him for more, while also searching our hearts about the message. We ask ourselves, “Would it be clearer if I were closer to Him? Or more godly? Or hadn’t lost my temper and cussed yesterday?” We ask Him, “God, what did you mean? Please, say it again. Say it clearer.” Sometimes we ask, then find ourselves having to pray and ask again, then perhaps even fasting and praying and asking again. We examine our lives, hearts, and relationships, and ask again. Meanwhile we know that God is always beckoning, and is always there, loving us and giving us help and hope.

Because everyone who deals with prophecy will eventually experience it being unclear, it is important to understand that God purposely communicates it that way. This point is made several times in Scripture. In Numbers, God says He communicates in “riddles.”

Numbers 12:5-8a
(5) Then the LORD came down in a pillar of cloud; he stood at the entrance to the Tent and summoned Aaron and Miriam. When both of them stepped forward,
(6) he said, “Listen to my words: “When a prophet of the LORD is among you, I reveal myself to him in visions, I speak to him in dreams.
(7) But this is not true of my servant Moses; he is faithful in all my house.
(8a) With him I speak face to face, clearly and not in riddles; he sees the form of the LORD…

Seasoned prophets can recount many times when God has communicated to them in “riddles.” Proverbs also says that God sometimes communicates in obscure messages:

Proverbs 25:2
It is the glory of God to conceal a matter; to search out a matter is the glory of kings.

God communicates many “matters” in ways that take diligent searching to discover their full meaning.

Like his Father, Jesus often spoke in ways his audience did not understand. For example, he spoke in parables to the crowds, knowing they did not understand what he was communicating. After Jesus told the parable of the sower and the seed, the disciples realized the audience did not understand it, and asked Jesus why he spoke in parables.

Matthew 13:10 and 11
(10) The disciples came to him and asked, “Why do you speak to the people in parables?”
(11) He replied, “The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them.

Many more scriptures show that God and Jesus communicate in ways that require thought, reflection, and diligent searching, but the point is that God has a reason for communicating as He does. He wants people to have a relationship with Him and with each other, and occasionally communicating obscurely helps accomplish that purpose. He also wants His people to value each other and work together. When an unclear prophetic word is given, it often occurs that people work together to pray and seek its meaning.

The purpose of prophecy is clearly revealed in prophecy. The prophecies in the Bible and those given today reveal the heart of God. God expresses His love and thanksgiving to His children. He speaks words that edify and comfort us. He exhorts us to more and more godliness in our walk with Him, and more and more love and commitment toward other people. He directs us in our lives so we can be blessed, and can clearly see how loving and caring He is, and then thank and love Him in return. As God’s love pours out to us via His prophetic word, then we, receiving that word and the love that is behind it, are then able to love God and one another to a greater degree, just as Scripture says, “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19).

Is Prophecy Always About the Future?

Prophecy can be about the past, present, or future. Sometimes we need to be reminded of a past event so we can think clearly about the situation we are in and how we are behaving. At other times we need to hear from God about the present situation so that we can know what is happening from His point of view, and know what we should do. Prophecy about the future is the most well known aspect of prophecy, and the Bible contains dozens and dozens of examples.

A good example of God giving a prophecy about past events to get the Israelites to think clearly about their situation occurs in Judges.

Judges 6:7-10
(7) When the Israelites cried to the LORD because of Midian,
(8) he sent them a prophet, who said, “This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: I brought you up out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.
(9) I snatched you from the power of Egypt and from the hand of all your oppressors. I drove them from before you and gave you their land.
(10) I said to you, ‘I am the LORD your God; do not worship the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you live.’ But you have not listened to me.”

The information in this prophecy is about the past, to remind the Israelites how good God had been to them. It contains nothing about the future. Also, it has no instructions telling the people what to do—how they were to behave was obvious from the Mosaic Law, so it was not necessary for God to say anything.

Another reason God uses the past in prophecy is so that we recognize that He knows us and has been involved with our lives. Hearing from God through prophecy establishes a connection and confidence between Him and us that may not have been there before. Jesus used this to good effect with the Samaritan woman he met at Jacob’s well when he told her that she had had five husbands (John 4:18). She immediately realized he was a prophet, and was soon connected with him to such a degree that she went into town and said to others, “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did…” (John 4:29a). Of course, Jesus had not told her “everything” she ever did, but his prophetic word to her produced a heart connection so strong that she felt like he knew her intimately. Many people who have suffered in life are very comforted when they hear prophetic words showing conclusively that the Lord has been with them through their trials, and understands what they have been through.

Prophecy also addresses present situations, and there are many reasons why, but the most prevalent is to tell people what to do or not to do. God cares very much for His people, and He wants to participate in their lives and help them succeed. Because of that, many prophecies deal with current situations. Deborah told Barak to take 10,000 men and go to Mount Tabor (Judg. 4:6). Samuel told Saul that people will tell him that his donkeys have been found and his father has started to worry about him (1 Sam. 10:2). Gad told David not to remain where he was but to go into Judah (1 Sam. 22:5). Elisha told Naaman the Syrian wash in the Jordan seven times to be cleansed from leprosy (2 Kings 5:10). An unnamed prophet, at the direction of Elisha, declared that Jehu was anointed king and that he was to destroy the house of Ahab (2 Kings 9:6 and 7).

Prophecy can also be about what is coming in the future. For example, there are many prophecies in the Old Testament about the coming Messiah. Often the Lord will tell us what is coming so we can prepare for it. For example, in Acts 11:28, the prophet Agabus warned the Church that there was going to be a famine. The church responded by preparing for it, and sent help to those who were hardest hit (Acts 11:29 and 30). Often, prophecy is a combination of past, present, and future. For example, the prophecy of Nathan to David after David said he wanted to build a Temple for God contained all three elements (2 Sam. 7:4-16).

When Christians operate the manifestation of prophecy and give a message to a person, Scripture notes that, “…the secrets of his heart will be laid bare…” (1 Cor. 14:25a). The message does not have to be about the person’s future. God is working to establish a personal relationship with the individual, and His revealing the secrets of his heart helps to do exactly that.

The Nature of the Prophetic Message

Biblical prophecy is often misunderstood in the world today. Most people think of prophecy as God making known His unchanging purposes through a prophet. In other words, God speaks, then what He says comes to pass at some later date. Although that certainly is one aspect of prophecy, it is by no means all there is to prophecy. We have seen that the reason God gives words of prophecy is that He loves us and wants a relationship with us. When we understand that, we are in a position to understand more about the nature of the prophetic message.

We have just seen above that prophecy can be about the past, present, or future. A large part of God’s prophetic word is His working to build relationships with His people: communicating His love, fighting for their love, trying to get them to turn from evil, drawing them to Him by His care and kindness. This fact becomes very clear when we consider the entire Bible as prophecy, which, of course, it is. Prophecy is not “in” the Bible, it is the Bible. The entire Bible is a message from God brought to us through His spokesmen. How many verses of Scripture, brought to us by God’s messengers such as Moses, Samuel, Isaiah, Paul, Peter, etc., express God’s love? How many express His forgiveness and mercy? How many exhort us to righteousness? Hundreds? Thousands? Certainly a lot.

Once we consider that the Bible is prophecy, we are in a position to ask, “What is the nature of the prophetic message?”, and properly answer it. Prophecy spoken today can have as many purposes as the prophetic message that makes up the Bible. Obviously, one of the things God does in prophecy is foretell the future so that when it comes to pass we know He is God (Isa. 41:21-24, [7] 42:9, 44:7, 45:21, 48:3-5). However, that is only a very small part of the wide range of prophetic messages.

It is important to understand the wide range of prophecy because when a person receives a prophetic message, it may contain nothing about the future. It may simply be an expression of God’s love and care for the person. An uneducated person might think, “That was not a real prophecy,” based on his belief that a prophecy should have something about his future. However, receiving a message about God’s love can be prophecy, and should never be discounted. Of course, given the scope of subjects that prophecy could cover, a person might receive blessings, direction, warning, or any number of things about his life.

Prophecy in the Bible, and the prophecy spoken by the individuals in the Church who have the specific ministry of a prophet, can cover any subject God wants to. However, when a Christian who is not a prophet gives a prophecy that is a manifestation of prophecy, the prophetic message will almost always fall into one of the following three categories: edification, exhortation, or comfort (1 Cor. 14:3-KJV). [8]

Is All Prophecy From God?

Both the true God and the Devil give prophecy. True prophecy is a message from the true God, and false prophecy is a message from the false god, who is the Devil. The Devil always works to thwart what God is doing. The Devil counterfeits God’s prophetic message to further his devilish purposes, to defame God, and to procure worship for himself. Because prophecy is important to God and His work, the Devil works hard to denounce it and promote his own means of speaking from the spirit world. If there is one thing that the existence of the Devil’s counterfeit shows, it is that there is a genuine! Sadly, some people are so aware of the counterfeit, or afraid of it, that they will not seek the genuine for fear of operating the counterfeit. We believe it is a huge mistake not to seek the genuine manifestation of prophecy. It is very valuable to the Lord and to the Church, which is why there is prophecy in the first place.

True Prophecy
False Prophecy
Lord Jesus

Prophet

Person
Demon

Psychic

Person

 

There are many ways that information from the Devil and his evil kingdom come into our world. Usually a demon that the Bible calls a “spirit of divination” (Acts 16:16-KJV) enters a person and gives him information. [9] In Jeremiah, God said that “…The prophets prophesied by Baal…” (Jer. 2:8) meaning that the prophets were bringing a word from a demonic source. False information comes directly or indirectly. An example of directly getting satanic information is when a false prophet, medium, or psychic hears directly from a demon (although they usually think it is from God or a “good spirit”). Examples of indirectly receiving satanic information include divining with such things as tarot cards, tea leaves, Ouija Boards, dice, knucklebones, crystal balls, etc. In those cases, a demon influences the environment to produce the satanically inspired result.

It is important to understand that much of the information that comes from satanic sources is true. If it were not, even unbelievers would very quickly dismiss it as false or unhelpful. The Devil is a crafty fisherman, and as a fisherman hides a hook in a worm, he hides lies and deceit in the midst of truth. He gets a person to the point that he trusts what the false prophet or psychic says, and then gives a piece of false information that will turn him away from God, truth, or deceive him in some other way that will eventually lead to his ruin. A Christian should never seek information from a demonic source. It is a sin against God (Deut. 18:12) and will eventually end up in his ruin. The wise Christian knows the Devil’s tactics and is not fooled by the truth that a psychic, medium, etc., learns from the spirit world. Sooner or later, the hook will be revealed.

The Adversary’s counterfeit prophecies have kept many Christians away from prophecy altogether. From God’s perspective, this is tragic. God gave prophecy to be a great blessing and, used properly, it can accomplish many wonderful things. The way to avoid the counterfeit is by knowing how and why both the genuine and the counterfeit work.

The best way for a Christian to avoid receiving counterfeit prophecy is to stay away from obvious counterfeits (like psychic hotlines) and make wise choices about the people from whom to receive a prophecy. Since demons almost always work to disrupt a godly lifestyle, one of the wisest choices a person can make is to not receive a prophecy from someone who has an ungodly lifestyle (and remember, some “religious” people are ungodly). They could be right on the money with what they say, but then again, they may be being led by a demon, and their words may not be pure. Also, it is always good for a person to get some godly counselors to listen to any prophecy he receives.

One way that the spirit of divination gains access to an individual is by his asking for information he has no business knowing, or does not need to know. A spirit of divination will gladly give information that God will not give. When King Saul sought information from God, and He would not answer, a demon was more than happy to accommodate Saul through the medium (technically, “necromancer”) who lived at Endor (1 Sam. 28). It is very important to know the written Word and have a feel for the heart of God. Asking for details about someone’s life that you have no business knowing can invite a demon into your mind. For example, when God forgives someone, He forgets his sin. Do not ask God any details about past sins that have been confessed. He will not reveal anything, but a demon will.

Having honest and godly motivation for the things one does is a great key to keeping demons out. If a person is motivated by fear of failure or of doing something that is not God’s will, he will be tempted to ask God about every little thing and be afraid to move forward until he gets an answer. God gives each person the ability to think and make decisions, and He expects us to use what He gave us. Both God and the Lord Jesus Christ want an intimate relationship with each Christian, and want us to talk to them and seek them out each and every day. However, the wise Christian knows that if his gas tank is on “E,” although he may ask God if he should stop and get gas now or later, God may not answer that, expecting him to use wisdom and make the choice himself. Demanding that God give an answer for things that are knowable in the senses world, and refusing to act until He answers is not wise, and can invite a demon into your life. The demon will be more than happy to gratify your desire to feel directed by God.

God will not answer a request to help someone participate successfully in ungodly activities. Someone may ask God, “Tell me what house on this block has an open door and no one inside so I can get some money and pay my bills,” but He will not answer. If a person keeps asking for spiritual guidance to accomplish ungodly goals, a demon may enter into his life that will help him accomplish what he wants to do. James 4:3 says that people who ask God with wrong motives do not get what they are asking from God, and that is true. They might, however, get it from a demon. Christians need to check their motives with the written Word and get wise counsel from other mature Christians if they are in doubt about whether or not God will answer a certain request.

Endnotes

[1] Throughout this book, “God” refers to God, “the Lord” refers to the Lord Jesus Christ, and “LORD” is the English translation of the Hebrew “Yahweh,” which is the personal name of God used in the Old Testament. In some places it has been difficult for me to decide whether to use “God” or “Lord,” because they both give revelation and both inspire prophetic messages. To use only “God” or only “Lord” is to exclude one, but to use “God or the Lord” seems too wordy. By using “Lord” many times in this book, I have tried to recognize the Lord Jesus as head of the Church, and recognize the fact that he does inspire prophecy. I am certainly not trying to dishonor God in any fashion, but recognize that “…He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him” (John 5:23b).
[2] For an explanation of “revelation,” see Appendix D: “Revelation: What It Is and How It Is Received.”
[3] Yahweh” is the personal name of God. It first occurs in Genesis 2:4 and then more than 6,000 times in the Old Testament. It is translated “Jehovah” in some versions, but in most versions it is translated “LORD.” The word “lord” is a general title for any lord, master, owner, or overseer. In contrast, “Yahweh” is God’s personal name; it is not a title or general term. Always translating “Yahweh” as “LORD” is very much like always calling someone “Sir” or “Mister,” and never using his real name. In the contest between Yahweh and Baal, this distinction becomes very important, because in Hebrew, “Baal” is both the name of a specific pagan god and a general title meaning “lord, owner, husband, ruler.” Translating “Yahweh” as “LORD” in this context can reduce the contest to simply which “lord” will be the one worshipped by Israel.
[4] “The Holy Spirit” (capital “H,” capital “S”) refers to God. At the time a person becomes saved, he is given God’s divine nature (2 Pet. 1:4). Because God is holy (Isa. 6:3), and God is spirit (John 4:24), His nature is “holy spirit.” Throughout Christian history, much confusion has been caused by not understanding the difference between the Holy Spirit (God, the Giver) and holy spirit (the gift, the divine nature). The gift of holy spirit inside an individual cannot be detected by the five senses. However, it can be “manifested,” brought to light. Prophecy is one of the nine manifestations listed in 1 Corinthians 12. For more on the difference between the Holy Spirit and holy spirit, see our book by Mark Graeser, John Lynn, John Schoenheit, “Chapter One: It’s Greek to me (Why we use both Holy Spirit and holy spirit)” and “Chapter Two: The Giver and the Gift,” The Gift of Holy Spirit: The Power To Be Like Christ (Christian Educational Services, Indianapolis, IN, 2006).
[5] People have argued for centuries about what makes someone a “Christian.” Biblically, a Christian is one who has obeyed Romans 10:9. He has confessed Jesus as his Lord and has believed that God raised him from the dead. At that time God places the fullness of holy spirit, His divine nature, in the person, and he becomes a Christian. Going to church, doing good deeds, being immersed in water, believing in God, etc., are all good works, but they do not make one a Christian because they do not result in his having the fullness of holy spirit sealed inside him. A Christian has holy spirit on the inside, and thus can hear from God. For more information, see our booklet Becoming a Christian: Why? What? How? by Christian Educational Services.
[6] The NASB translation of Proverbs 29:18a says, “Where there is no vision, [i.e., no revelation from God], the people are unrestrained….” The phrase “are unrestrained” does not quite communicate the full meaning in this context. The Hebrew word means, “let go, let alone” (Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew And English Lexicon). It is used of “uncovering” someone or something by taking off clothing; making naked; and “letting go” of wise counsel by refusing or ignoring it. When people walk without God to the end that there is not prophetic vision, they are, in effect, “let go” by God. At that point, of course, many of them follow their fleshly desires and act in an unrestrained fashion. However, some “perish” (KJV), and of course, without God’s provision and covering, they are all “naked” (YLT) and exposed to the tricks and traps of the Adversary.
[7] These verses in Isaiah 41 make the point that idols cannot tell the future. God is contrasting these idols, which cannot tell the future, with Himself, who can, and shows Himself to be the true God by doing so. The fact that idols cannot tell the future exposes them as false gods. Scripture says we should know God is God because He accurately foretells what is coming in the future, which of course, He does. This one clear evidence for God’s existence exposes the folly of those people who refuse to believe in God.
[8] These words are defined in the Glossary, and more will be said about them later.
[9] The NIV says the slave woman had “…a spirit by which she predicted the future….” Although this was true, a spirit of divination can give all sorts of detailed information about people, not just their future. Usually, it is this detailed information that “hooks” people into following the advice of the demon. The actual demon in Acts 16 was “a spirit of Python” (Greek text), the Python spirit being the symbol of Apollo, and the spirit inhabiting the Oracle at Delphi in Ancient Greece.

2 comments

  1. Thank you for posting this informing. very helpful.

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