Strong insight for humble walk with God is inevitable for us all. The exhortation below by T. Austine-Sparks is most timely for the season the Church is at. The excerpt is taken from “The shool of Christ”.
To him who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden manna to eat. (Revelation 2:17)
God always keeps the revelation of Himself in Christ bound up with practical situations. You and I can never get revelation other than in connection with some necessity. We cannot get it simply as a matter of information. That is information, that is not revelation. We cannot get it by studying. When the Lord gave the manna in the wilderness (a type of Christ as the Bread from heaven), He stipulated very strongly that not one fragment more than the day’s need was to be gathered, and that if they went beyond the measure of immediate need, disease and death would break out and overtake them. The principle, the law, of the manna, is that God keeps revelation of Himself in Christ bound up with practical situations of necessity, and we are not going to have revelation as mere teaching, doctrine, interpretation, theory, or anything as a thing, which means that God is going to put you and me into situations where only the revelation of Christ can help us and save us….
Now then, that is why the Lord would keep us in situations which are acute, real. The Lord is against our getting out on theoretical lines with truth, out on technical lines. Oh, let us shun technique as a thing in itself and recognize this, that, although the New Testament has in it a technique, we cannot merely extract the technique and apply it. We have to come into New Testament situations to get a revelation of Christ to meet that situation. So that the Holy Spirit’s way with us is to bring us into living, actual conditions and situations, and needs, in which only some fresh knowledge of the Lord Jesus can be our deliverance, our salvation, our life, and then to give us, not a revelation of truth, but a revelation of the Person, new knowledge of the Person, that we come to see Christ in some way that just meets our need. We are not drawing upon an “it,” but upon a “Him.”
The ministry of the Apostle and Prophet embedded in the spirit of Christ is infused within some parts of His Body even in this 21st century. The parts of His body bearing these gifts are obviously mortal men. They are not angels. There is much for which they can be despised for by those who intently want to do so.
However, the apostles’ ministry has enjoyed some measure of acceptance among other parts of Christ’s body bearing His other ministries and spiritual gifts but it has not been so for the prophets’ ministry and prophtic gift.
In this article, I intend to show how this is the case for the prophets ministry and prophetic gift, the main difference between the prophet and the prophetic gift and finally, exhort you the reader and the Church that God is encouraging a change in this attitude by hastening His workings of love, mercy and grace in the midst of the bride of His beloved Son.
The case for the Prophets’ Ministry and Gift
Firstly, without arguments the prophet and prophetic have been beaten down in the assemblies of God’s people over an immense period of time. It will be needless I think to recount in specific details how it has happened over the years. I have made mention of it that we may repent and stop it carrying-on. That said, it would be unwise not to mention that justifiably, some of the beating down that happened, is happening and will happen is necessary because many who claimed, are claiming and will claim to be Prophets and prophetic were, are and will be mere liars. So, their mouths needed, need and will need to be stopped.
The main difference between the Prophet and the Prophetic gift
It is important to state that the spirit of Christ at work in the prophet(s) is the same spirit at work in the prophetic person(s). The major difference between the two that I have understood through study of the Bible and my experience is this:
Prophets have a prior knowledge of what they have to say. The knowledge is not from what some humans told them, not from analyzing a situation and not from stumbling upon some governmental “white papers”. The knowledge is given to them by God speaking to them like man to man, via visions, dreams, trances, angels and the study of His word (Torah/Bible). Whatever God has said to them by any of these means is crystal clear to them and they say it boldly with gracious faith. All of these means can happen to them instantaneously in the midst of a given situation. Though God reveal things to them by these powerful means, it is still within their control to speak or not to speak. So, though they appear driven by His power and zeal, they are not men out of control. Therefore, it is said, “the spirit of the prophets is subject to the prophet” 1 Corinthians 14:32NLT.
The prophetic gift
Unlike the prophet(s), the prophetic person(s) is or are mostly without prior knowledge of what they say. They can address a situation through utterance (not prophesying) and or action(s) in their own lives or others without even knowing they did. It is mainly impromptu.
The truth that the churches are heading nowhere without the operation of Christ’s ministry of apostles and prophets is obvious beyond doubt. The abandonment of these two ministries and the prophetic gift means refusing Christ to reign in His church purchased with His blood. It is a grievous sin! The churches of God are paying dearly for it as we see the devils right in our noses. I am not saying the devils will not try to operate in the assemblies or church but, they shouldn’t operate with the gatherings or church at the very least. For this benefit to come to us we need to grow in honoring Christ’s spirit that laid and is still laying our foundation and building the church Ephesians 2:20.
There are no grounds for competition within the ministry gifts or between the ministry gifts and the spiritual gifts. For clarity and emphasis, by ministry gifts, I mean those referenced in Ephesians 4:11.
The reason for the ministry gifts is firstly, to lay a firm foundation of Christ in the heart of the Church. Secondly, it is to take the gospel to those without God in this world. In the same vein, by spiritual gifts, I mean the different manifestations of Christ’s spirit operating in and from different parts of His body to edify the bride at the different places she gathers.
So, in every sense and way Christ’s ministry and gifts operate in the different parts of His body for one purpose and one purpose alone which is for the bride to exalt the bridegroom (Christ) by adorning herself with Him and glorify God by submitting to the Holy Spirit. This is why, paraphrased “where two or three are gathered in Christ’s name (have Christ in them), they are honored by His presence in their midst (not in them but in their midst)”. Therefore, the importance of community is this: Christ in them evidenced by His presence amongst them.
The logic: The evidence of Christ’s presence is righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Without His presence amongst them, there is no evidence He is in them.
Where there is self (selfish ambition), the person present is full of all manner of evil. Who will that be? Satan. Therefore, He evidences his presence by the manifestation of his evils Galatians 5:19-21.
Whose presence is at work in our gatherings? We know how to find out now by discerning the manifesting presence.
Christ will keep coming to His fiancée (church) through the apostles and apostolic and the prophets and prophetic till the marriage supper (consummation). This keeps the body of Christ alert, exhorted, comforted and admonished.
In this article, we’ll look at the difference between the Old Testament (OT) and the New Testament (NT) Prophets. The aim is to establish that, the New Testament prophets unlike the oldies are not exactly given to loneliness, extreme acrimony and hatred from the majority of the Church “representing the Israel of God”.
For clarity, I am not for replacement theology.
The Church, being those who are circumcised in heart by the atonement of Christ’s blood, have the Spirit of Christ in them. This point is crucial for the positive assertion of the theme of this article.
In the Old Testament, the natural Israel as a nation was unquestionably chosen by God as His people—This, they inherited from their forefathers that had the promise from the faithful Creator of the universe and beyond.
It is interesting and important to note that they did not choose God rather they only inherited His promise to their fathers. This has implications.
One key implication is this: they did not have the faith seed in their lives as their fathers. They were mere men struggling to keep the laws the God of their fathers gave. This had implication on the prophets.
The implication on the Prophets of old
The definition of a prophet elucidates the reason they had to be an extremely set of lonely people in their environment and interaction with this “mere men” who know not the God of their fathers that the prophets represented. The OT prophets had the faith seed in them and were always speaking the things which only faith, not law, could comprehend. See 1 Peter 1:9-25.
In verse 9 of 1 Peter 1, Peter the apostle spoke of, “Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls”. Then, note what he says next in verse 10 regarding the OT prophets, “Of which salvation the prophets have inquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you”.
While the prophets was talking about the salvation of their souls, the Israelites were overwhelmed with desire to be saved from their earthly problems:
*For the God of their fathers to rescue them from physical Egypt,
*Give them cucumber and meat
*Make them greater than other nations they considered better than them because those nations had kings ruling them.
So, the prophets of the OT were prophesying to their people of something to be a gift by faith through grace to a future people in the dispensation of the Church. The prophets talked to a people whose spirit, soul and body was accustomed to naturalism—to only what they could see, feel and touch.
Against the above background, only those who by faith yielded to the God of their fore-fathers not just His laws could ever have been at peace with the prophets.
Only by faith did anyone escape the natural realm at their time to worship God in spirit and, it remains the same today. It is only by the means of faith could anyone interact with the great “I am that I am” the Yahweh of Israel and maker of the heavens and the earth!
Therefore, unavoidably, the OT prophets had to have loneliness, extreme acrimony and hatred from their own people because they were neck-deep with a people who had not what they had. The prophets’ only solace was to keep far away from their people and come to them only as the Spirit of Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit moved them to speak out to the people. God kept speaking to the people through the Prophets despite the fact that they were hated.
God kept speaking to the people through the prophets though they were in the dispensation of the law because, He intended for the prophets words to burn in their hearts and ignite faith for their salvation. Even at their time, faith came “by hearing, the hearing of God’s word” Romans 10:17. Praise God the scriptures has record of those who at that time had faith and so, lived beyond the law and gazed at Christ Hebrew 11:17-38. They searched after Him as one searches after a precious city till they died or were taken Heb 11:10.
In each generation of the Old Testament, all who were searching for the City (Christ and His body) whose architect and builder was not man but God never had problem with the prophets. Men and women whose lives were centered around searching for the City no matter what happened to them or trade they engaged in, never joked with presenting their bodies as a living sacrifice to God. They always eventually came to understanding not by some human persuasion and persuaders’ that God, deserves to be loved by being worshiped in spirit and truth—mean, to give God our spirit, soul and body totally and progressively till we’re taken or die Genesis 5:24, 6:9 Hebrews 11: 13-14,39-40.
Prophets in the Church
Having defined the church and the much said above, NT prophets are relieved from the aloofness, loneliness, extreme acrimony and unpleasantness coupled with hatred the OT prophets suffered from their own people. Their people were law en-caged and governed, while the people of the household of faith in the NT are utterly faith and grace regenerated, lead by the Faith and Its grace. This NT peoples (the Church), serve one another by faith and grace in love and honoring one another because they are a spiritual people .
In OT, the people had nothing to give the prophets since they lacked faith while the prophets were motivated by faith. The prophets towered far above them rightly because, faith surpasses law by far! The prophets dealt with the Reality (Christ) while the people followed the shadows (laws). Even the levitical priest feared the prophets and could not really serve them. The prophets walked with God like Adam and Eve did before they fell in Eden garden.
The NT people however, are a royal priesthood headed and lead by only One High Priest, Apostle, Prophet, Teacher, Shepherd and Evangelist from the beginning and so shall it be for all eternity. All the parts of this “many one body” which, the people who lived by faith in the dispensation of law longed to belong and have now belonged as part of the cloud of witnesses above through Christ’s resurrection had their gifts with which they served God and His people.
We in the NT are better advantaged in that, we all have been engrafted by faith as cloud of witnesses on earth, having each our own gift(s) by which we serve God and one another in the different assemblies God has planted on the earth. No gift in anyone is above the gift in another. They just function differently for His vision which is, to glorify Christ in serving one another by the power of the Holy Spirit at work in each part. And together, declaring the manifold wisdom of God to the principalities and power in the heavenly places as we preach the gospel that redeem those outside Christ.
No one should accept to be driven to aloofness because of Christ’ gifting in his or her life and cheated out of the rich life of Christ flowing out from the parts of His body. No gift in the body is unique since, it is in the Body— this body whose origin and all who are in it have the same component (Christ) by faith.
How then, can anyone with the spirit of Christ fear, hate or disrespect any aspect of Christ’ ministry gifted to some of His sheep to serve other sheep and also be served.
Let us view this with respect to 2 Corinthians 13:5, “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!”
For the People of God who love and want the truth, He obligates Himself to give them the truth and they will know what the truth is in living relationship with Him without doubt and confusion.
Those who seek a truth to use for their own kingdom purposes must be astute theological lawyers, authenticating and priding themselves in the knowledge of the law without the expectation of finding the truth in a living relationship with Christ and the Holy Spirit. This is why many of us are unbeatable in theology with our world–wide reputation yet, we remain cessationists which also indicate that we don’t believe in the Holy Spirit at all.
How then, will we not beat down those parts Christ’ ministry is flowing out from.
Have we failed the test…? I fear the subtle sin of being presumptuous therefore, I am examining myself… please dear reader, would you be exhorted to examine yourself too?
To those truly gifted with the ministry of Christ and his spiritual gifts, please come out of the false emotion of being lonely or, confined to walking only with people of similar gifting. Just be wise to know you operate in the gathering or places to which God has set you.
Not as a prophet but, I prophesy this: “We’re in a time for prophets to enjoy. Though, full of heaven’s burden, it shall be lightweight for, the ministries in My Body and the spiritual gifts are about to serve (bless) you greatly by playing their part to you. I the Lord am working in my Body to cause all parts of My Body to function well. Her increase is coming to fullness as each part is releasing My assigned measure. In Her, My banner of “Love” will be seen and Her hidden foundation will remain established as “love”. My glory and peace is with my Body”.
The Jewish leaders began harassing Jesus for breaking the Sabbath rules. But Jesus replied, “My Father is always working, and so am I.” (John 5:16-17 NLT)
A true knowledge of the Lord Jesus will reverse a good many of our ideas, and a good many of our procedures. A true knowledge of Christ and union with Christ, with all that that means, will make us go to work in entirely the opposite way from that in which we have been accustomed to go. We shall come to be governed by this one consideration, that it is not what we would do for the Lord, but what the Lord would do through us, that is alone to rule. It is a very testing way. You can hardly believe, unless you have been the same way, how often and intensely and bitterly the enemy fights and tempts you to come down on to a lower position, and to take up things again for God and launch big schemes, enter upon big undertakings, set up some thing on the earth that can be seen, because all those who are governed by that standard of things seen have said: “You see, you are doing nothing! Show us what you are doing! You cannot show us anything for it all!” Satan does work on that line. To the flesh that is not easy. To go on with God and have nothing to show for it, never to be able to have the work written up in the papers, to publish no reports, nor statistics, and yet to know in your heart of hearts that, although it is hidden, something is going on, and that you cannot do otherwise than you are doing, is far from being a path of ease to the flesh.
It is a testing way, but, blessed be God, if we do endure the testing and go on patiently with Him, in His time, when that flesh has been finally laid low; when the voice of natural ambition is no longer sounding and having influence, and we are now utterly at the place where if things are not going to be of the Lord then there is not going to be anything at all, the Lord has a free way, and He is able to indicate that all the time something has been going on. He shows how He has been at work, and how that in time there will be manifested a work of God, a work that shall have such a large percentage of spiritual value and meaning in it that you are very glad, after all, that you walked with God and not with men in the work of God.
In these days, there is so much strife and division among people that there has been the need to cry out, “Lord, how can these things be?”
The natural, physical body functions beautifully and perfectly, without any single part being against the other. This physical body is a type of the Spiritual Body, therefore, there must be a perfect function of the Body of Christ.
God divides and separates through the working of the Spirit – good from evil, light from darknesss, righteousness from unrighteousness – so that His people can be free from all the works of the enemy, and be separated unto Him in Holiness and Righteousness – PRAISE GOD.
God, the giver of understanding, has been unveiling the mystery.
Deliverance from every situation is in HIS NAME – not name as label on someone or something, but HIS NAME which is HIS NATURE. That nature is love, peace, submission, etc. Whatsoever we ask in His Name.
So many times, believers come together and leave undelivered and unblessed – frustrated and discouraged, not having received from the Lord that which has been promised. The reason is that something is wrong with the gathering or the gathered; it was not in HIS NATURE. There may be unforgiveness, hatred, bitterness, malice, strife, guile, cunning craftiness, and such things that are contrary to the NATURE of Christ. It is like having flies in the ointment. Clean hands and a pure heart is that acceptable offering before God. Remember, God looks at the inner being. He sees light or darkness. Forgiveness and cleansing through the atonement sanctifies the vessel, making way for the greatest blessings.
God cannot bless while the contrary nature is encouraged in the soul. All the sacrifices and necessary preparations were made in the Outer Court so the services of the tabernacle would not be hindered in any way, hence the needs of the people were met. When Israel made the perfect sacrifice, God was pleased and they were blessed to the fullest. Their enemies could not stand before them; they had complete victory in all areas. When they transgressed, they fell prey to their enemies, even to the bondage of slavery.
The fruits of the flesh (anger, wrath, malice, strife, envy, bitterness, etc.) are all works of the evil one, works of darkness – where Satan presides as lord. When we therefore entertain these, we fall into the realm of darkness where Satan has power over us. We only have power in Christ; we have no power in darkness.
“Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with ALL malice: And be ye Kind one to another, TENDERHEARTED, FORGIVING one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath FORGIVEN YOU.” Ephesians 4:31-32.
There should be no place given to the devil, or he will take advantage of every opportunity to rob and destroy.
PRAISE GOD. WE ARE MORE THAN CONQUERORS, because God made available to us, His People, every necessary piece of armament to insure us the victory.
His active presence can be experienced in the fullness of His revealed character. His NAME is linked with His righteousness, faithfulness, holiness, goodness, mercy, love, truth, etc. – that is His NAME. Since the assembling of believers forms the basis for spiritual unity with Christ, for participation of His bounties and viewing of His Sovereignty, believers must, through the divine power, rise from the lower realm (which is the opposite and contrary nature) to partake of that DIVINE NATURE.
God will not share His Glory. There must be a rejecting of one nature in order to receive the other nature. Self takes the place of Christ in the soul – the more self is rejected and cast out, the more of Christ we can have.
Times without number in the scriptures, this principle is seen in operation of someone calling on the name of the Lord:
“I WILL CALL ON THE NAME OF THE LORD.” 1st Kings 18:24.
Elijah had faith in God; he knew God’s divine purpose. It was a time when Israel should halt no longer between two opinions: they had to make a decision between God and Baal. Though there were four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal, Elijah knew His God whom he served. Baal was stilled before the Almighty. God answered not only by consuming Elijah’s sacrifice with fire, but licked up all the water that was poured onto the sacrifice and the very stones also. PRAISE GOD.
There is record of priests going to offer sacrifice in disobedience and rebellion – they were consumed.
Some went to cast out devils – instead the devils turned on them and tore them.
The spirits of darkness will only recognize the power and authority (which is the nature) that accompanies the NAME OF JESUS. This NAME is not enshrined in a system, doctrine, external influences, church organization or men’s ideas, but in righteousness, truth and holiness, because He is Saviour – the giver of inspiration. This living stone rejected of men, but to God’s elect, precious. See 1st Peter 2:4-5. All who are enjoined to this LIFE become lively stones, building up the spiritual house, each stone maintaining its proper relationship to the other, permanently connected with Christ, furnishing a habitation for God. Great and wonderful mystery – Praise God. A branch connected to the vine will bring forth fruit of its kind (of the vine).
Where two or three are gathered together in His name (NATURE), He is there in the MIDST to bless and to do THEM GOOD. Praise God it is TWO OR THREE – it does not have to be a large congregation with all the trappings of organization, just two and three gathered IN HIS NATURE. The grounds for the blessing therefore is basically:
“GATHERING IN HIS NAME (NATURE).”
Christ is identified with the Church – HE IS HEAD, and must be recognized as such. He is the vine; we are the branches. See John 15:1.
This dynamic power, working through submitted vessels, produces the impossible: revealing to us and renewing in us the lost image and likeness of God, being in us that all-sufficient source of PURITY AND POWER.
Christ is not content to be represented by His people in words; He wants to reign in and be Himself in His people. God has given man the capacity to rise far beyond the limits of his own individuality.
When we gather together in HIS NATURE, He is in the midst to BLESS AND DO US GOOD. He expresses Himself when there is submission to His Nature.