Resource by Jake LeFave
On Sunday, January 9th I preached a sermon that walked through 1 Corinthians 14:26-40. Included in that section of Paul’s Epistle to the church in Corinth are some instructions as to how prophecy is to be practiced, “when you (church) come together…” (1 Cor. 14:26). During our time in 1 Corinthians 12-14, we defined New Testament prophecy as:
Telling something that God has spontaneously brought to mind for the upbuilding, encouragement, and consolation of the church.
Practiced in an orderly way, we are convinced that the gift of prophecy does indeed “build up” (1 Cor. 14:26) the church in her mission to make disciples.
While Paul’s instructions on practicing the gift are not exhaustive, some things are clear for how prophecy is to be used on a Sunday:
- The gift of prophecy is not to crowd out the other gifts of the Spirit given for the “building up” of the body. Paul writes:
“Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others weigh what is said.” (1 Cor. 14:29)
We understand this to mean that if prophecies are to be truly weighed, they can’t be given in unending succession. The church needs time to weigh what is being said. Thus, I don’t understand Paul here establishing a hard rule for the number of prophecies given when the church is gathered, instead, it’s meant to limit how many prophecies are given in succession.
- Prophecy does not happen “uncontrollably”. In the example Paul gives in verse 30, the one prophesying could simply stop their prophesy if another indicated that The Lord had spontaneously revealed something to him or her.
- New Testament prophecy, by its very nature, needs to be “weighed” (1 Cor. 14:29). The whole church participates in the weighing of prophesy, asking:
- Does the prophecy line up with Scripture? The prophecy must concur with the Apostolic tradition handed down to us.
- Does this word tend towards edifying and building up? This does not mean every prophetic word will be easily digestible, but it does mean that its ultimate fruit will be the edification of the body. Slander, malice, gossip, or any other sinful speech will not be permitted under the banner of so-called prophecy.
- If the word is predictive, does it come true?
- Does it pass the “test of love”? Or, is this a power grab by the one prophesying?
- Does it pass the test of the community? Prophets do not rubber-stamp themselves, rather, we discern in community using the questions provided here.
So, what does this mean for Sunday mornings at Christ City Church East Vancouver?
Informed by the Scriptural commands and priorities, below is our best attempt as Elder’s to create a structure where prophecy can be a regular occurrence in our Sunday gatherings.
- Before we gather, ask that The Lord would give a prophetic word to be shared during our gathering for the building up of the body.
- If, during the gathering, you sense you have a prophecy to share with church, come speak to an Elder(s) at the front.
- Not wanting to, “despise prophecies” (1 Thess. 5:20-21), together we’ll discern when is the appropriate time is to share the word, and who is to share the word. The prophesy will then be presented to the church.
- We’ll then spend some time weighing the word.
- Finally, we’ll limit prophetic words to two or three consecutive words in order to be able to truly weigh what is being said.
May God be glorified as we seek to be obedient to His Word in practicing the gift of prophesy in an orderly manner in our gatherings.
On behalf of the Elders,
 For a complete understanding of how we differentiate prophecy in the New Testament from the Old Testament, see the sermon entitled, “Apostles and Prophets” from October 23rd, 2022.
 Limiting prophecies given in a gathering would seem to contradict 1 Cor. 14:31, “For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all be encouraged.”
 In time we hope to raise up a team of spiritually mature men and women to act as the point-people for both those with a prophetic word or a tongue to share with the church.