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Tests for Prophecy

What are the tests for prophecy, or for any other spiritual gift that purports to bring the Word of God? These questions should be asked:

1. Does it glorify Christ? The prophecy may not mention Christ by name, but does the whole message honor and glorify him? This is always the Spirit’s primary work (John 16:14; 1 Cor. 12:1-4).

2. Does it edify the body of Christ? Seven times in 1 Corinthians 14 Paul emphasizes this point when discussing spiritual gifts, especially tongues and prophecy.

3. Is it in accordance with the Scriptures? If we twist the Scriptures, we do so to our own destruction (2 Pet. 3:16).

4. Is the prophecy given in the spirit of love? This is the hallmark of the Spirit’s presence, even in correction or rebuke.

5. Is Jesus lord of the speaker’s life? A false prophet will be known by the fruits of his or her life, said Jesus (Matt. 7:15:15-20).

6. Does the speaker submit to the church leaders? Strong personalities with independent spirits caused splits and divisions in the New Testament church, and do so today. Paul warned the Ephesian elders about those “from among your own selves” who would draw away disciples after them, and so divide the church of God (Acts 20:29-30).

7. Does the speaker allow others to judge the prophecy? Such weighing should be the rule, not the exception (1 Cor. 14:29).

8. Is the speaker in control of himself when speaking? The speaker may be “taken over” by an evil spirit, but that is never the mark of the Spirit of God (1 Cor. 12:2ff, contrast the passive “moved” and the active “speaking”; see also 14:32).

9. Is the prophecy fulfilled, if it speaks about some future event? Most prophecy is forth-telling, not foretelling. A Christian prophesying will normally “tell forth” God’s word as an encouragement or exhortation for the whole congregation. Only on rare occasions will prophecy predict some future event When it does, the biblical test is in the prophecy: fulfillment, or lack of it (Deut. 18:22).

David Watson, Called & Committed: World-Changing Discipleship, (Harold Shaw Publishers, Wheaton, IL; 1982), pp. 109-110

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