Prophecy has been a way for thousands of years to call God’s people, the society, or the nations to His Word. The witness of the Holy Spirit enables us to respond to genuine prophecy. For Christians, prophecy is usually encouragement. The bible in fact asks us to test the information that comes at us from various sources.
Before we accepted Christ’s atonement and salvation, we may have been caught up in various aspects of the world that appealed to our sense of need or even at the most, desperation for answers. The way of God however is not one similar to fortune telling or reading tarot or other activities that try to obtain knowledge of people or the future. Such pursuits often come with excitement to our self, rather than trust and joy in God. They become habits for relying on what someone else says for every activity of our lives, rather than the growth and maturity in the Holy Spirit as we learn to follow Jesus and develop right judgement. We learn from God with patience and trust through His Word. From here come answers and His involvement in our lives for change, particularly evident in what we call the struggle against sin, or for the release from the darkness of situations that only God can move us out of.
The limitations of the world’s methods for dealing with situations and the future, often end up as per the experiences given to us from others, of no stability, no sure knowledge, and no helpful way for change. It is disturbing, actually. But we do want answers and so we try to find answers. Prophecy is one way we may be encouraged, but it is not primary. Our focus is on the love of Christ and our love for Him. From that comes the “fruits” of the Holy Spirit and a love of truth. From that place comes clearer insight into situations, the counseling and guidance of the Holy Spirit who is usually ever so peaceful and lovingly quiet within us – a wonderful and polite companion.
One way of examining the validity of prophecy is to see how others respond to the words given. Another way is to examine the prophecy, as opposed to having a critical spirit. For example, a genuine prophecy will not try to destroy you or your free will, it will not leave you wanting to leave the church, or be harmfully downcast and defeated. It will not come with a nasty spirit or heart, and will not use bad or unholy language. We use key things in examining prophecy, namely that it confirms the words and intent of scripture, that it affirms the church, that when asking the Holy Spirit for help we come to an understanding, that it witnesses to our own spirit through the Holy Spirit, that it speaks truth, and that it comes from someone who displays the fragrance of God, and hence the fruits of the Spirit. Two people can say the same thing, but one from a place of God, the other using divisiveness as intention.
What this comes down to is the discernment that the Holy Spirit places inside all who belong to Jesus. Puffed up people try to restrain us from the knowledge of God. They do not like that the Holy Spirit gives us abilities such as discernment from the day we know Him. When we think about it, it is important to have a proper attitude towards discernment, because the world is a complex and rough place. Why should I let someone hurt me with bad doctrine, or ways that take me away from my communion and relationship with Jesus.
The Lord always gives us a word, and always gives a word to His church. This can be quite simple such as encouragement to continue helping one another, to learn to minister to one another just as He did when he was with his disciples. Sometimes the word can be very detailed, such as praying for the protection of the country’s sovereign waters, or that corruption in the nation is going to be exposed at last so that good directions can finally help people in great need.
There are times when prophecy is quite energising, pushing us with a zeal we did not know we had. Today, there are more prophecies making us become alert and aware of Christ’s coming again to the earth. He is always with us, but we refer here to His involvement in the end times, the finishing of unrighteousness, and the changes for nations to come. We are told things like, keep a pure heart, do not be defeated, spend time with me, and so on. These are so helpful for us as they pierce to the inner part of our persons and increase our strength and faith together.