The recent Strange Fire conference (and book) has attempted to restate an old argument of cessationists re the gift of prophecy, that there was only ever one type, and that it was inerrant and totally authoritative and the basis of the Word itself, and therefore all other prophecy is false and such prophecy and people uttering them should be rejected.
The problem with this view is that it totally ignores the fact that there was prophetic activity of what might be called a secondary nature in the Old Testament. Such prophecies didn’t find there way into Scripture (apart from the mere reference to it’s activity), and they weren’t considered inerrant and totally authoritative, i.e. the Spirit coming on the 70 in Numbers 11: 24–27 with the result that they prophesied, plus the two who weren’t in the right place (Moses response interestingly was that he wished that all of the Lord’s people were prophets); the schools of the prophets mentioned in Samuel and Kings, and Saul’s particular experience, and then we have Joel’s prophesy (inerrant and authoritative and part of scripture) that the Spirit would be poured out on all flesh and they would prophesy.
Turning to the New Testament we find second level prophecy as a very real and necessary part of church life. It’s there in the book of Acts, and in the letters we find Paul writing to the church in Corinth and strongly encouraging them in it, and again in his writing to the Thessalonians he tells them not to despise it.
Though it is to be encouraged and not despised nevertheless Paul makes it clear that all prophecy is to be weighed, meaning that it may not all be of the Lord, but in doing so, in no way does he suggest that if turns out not to be of the Lord and therefore not to be accepted should the person giving it be rejected or stoned. And even if it were accepted as from the Lord, the individual still had the choice as to their response, i.e. Paul’s response to the word not to go up to Jerusalem, but he went.
Even so the fact that it is ‘second level’ doesn’t mean that when it occurs it is any less ‘of God.’ This is truly an activity inspired of the Spirit and is to be treated as such, and for this reason Paul writes, “Don’t stifle the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies,…”
In my own personal experience I have been blessed, encouraged, helped and guided by the prophetic word, churches that I have been involved with likewise, and I can’t imagine a Christian and Church life without it. Hearing God is vitally important. Taking heed to the prophetic word is as well. Too many churches are living in the past because they are not willing to hear God today.
If you are someone who has been thrown off course on the things of the Spirit due to Strange Fire (the conference or the book) I would encourage you to go back to the Word to see whether these things are so, and also to find out and talk to those who are experienced and have integrity in these things. Please don’t allow the enemy to rob you of the gift(s) that the Father gives through his Spirit for the benefit of his people.
Have you ever been blessed by the gift of prophecy?
Have you ever prophesied?
How seriously do you take prophecy?
When was the last time you responded to such a word?