Testing A Prophetic Word
Testing prophetic words is essential for handling the gift of prophecy according to biblical standards. To help you build a framework for testing a prophetic word, let’s look at four key concepts.
Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good (1 Thess. 5:19-21).
1. The Word And Character Of God
Scripture is the standard for anything that we sense God may be communicating to us. The writer of Hebrews tells us that God is the same yesterday, today, and forever (13:8).
Because of this, the first thing we must do is test a prophetic word by seeing if it is congruent with God’s word and character.
For example, suppose someone gives you a prophetic word telling you to split a church, to rebel against leadership, or that you have to do something more than trust in Jesus as your Savior for God’s acceptance.
You can be confident that it is not a genuine prophetic word from God.
Although testing prophetic words against God’s character and the Scripture sounds like common sense, I have met many people who have been greatly confused about handling prophetic words that do not line up with the Bible.
Suppose someone gives you a prophetic word that does not line up with Scripture or the character of God, not only should you ignore what they say.
In that case, you should also privately approach the pastor or leader to whom this person is accountable and bring this to their attention. The Bible is clear that false prophets will be active in the church in the last days, seeking to deceive and pull people away from Jesus Christ.
2. Test The Application Of The Prophetic Word According To The Way It Came To You.
The Application of a prophetic word should be very close to the intensity of the prophetic word’s reception. It would be foolish to move to Africa to become a missionary because of one prophetic word from a stranger or a fleeting impression that you have during prayer. Like counsel or advice from a pastor, prophecy is important but not inerrant.
Remember, 1 Corinthians 13:9 reminds us that “we know in part and we prophesy in part.”
The Scripture is the only rock on which we are to build our lives and future.
Prophetic words are intended to strengthen, encourage, and comfort us. They are not the building blocks on which we are to construct our lives.
Prophecy is only one component of a much larger picture of how God guides our lives. Therefore, we must use wisdom in how we engage with the gift of prophecy.
3. God Will Confirm By The Spirit
Not only should a prophetic word bear witness with your spirit, but you should also expect God to confirm a prophetic word over a season of time, often through multiple sources.
Rather than jumping on the first word given to you, use wisdom to see if this is a reoccurring theme that the Holy Spirit is continually speaking to you as he unfolds his continued leading in your life.
4. Use Common Sense But Don’t Put God In A box
Sanctified common sense is essential when discerning and testing a prophetic word.
However, we must be careful not to cut ourselves off from a prophetic word only because it does not make immediate sense to our natural minds.
Because the gift of prophecy delivers God’s perspective, it is possible that the prophetic word you received is about the future and does not mesh together with your present reality or circumstances.
For instance, you may receive a prophetic word about a gift of teaching that is upon your life, and you may be frightened to stand in front of crowds. It is important to remember that grace comes with it to bring it to pass when you receive a genuine prophetic word.
For this reason, we must be careful not to limit God’s ability to work in our lives to our capacity to comprehend his plans. Think about how many biblical heroes started their lives, knowing that God had incredible plans for them. The reality is that most of the biblical heroes began in the opposite direction of where God would ultimately take them.
In short, when testing a prophetic word, be sure to remember four things:
1. Test It against The Word And Character Of God
2. Test The Application Of The prophetic Word According To The Way It Came To You
3. God Will Confirm By The Spirit
4. Test It Against Common Sense, But Don’t Put God In A Box
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