Contempt for Prophecy
Contempt for Prophecy
Words of Faith 4-9-19
Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2019
Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL
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1 Thessalonians 5
 Do not put out the Spirit's fire;  do not treat prophecies with contempt.  Test everything. Hold on to the good.  Avoid every kind of evil.
There is a personal type of quenching of the Spirit's fire. There is also a corporate quenching of the Spirit's fire related to public ministry. One of the ways Paul saw a quenching of the Spirit was concerning prophetic utterances.
The gift of prophecy was undoubtedly active in the early church. Prophecy was the communication of direct revelations from God (1 Cor. 13:8). The New Testament was still in the process of being written by inspired Apostles such as Peter, Matthew, John, and Paul as well as other inspired figures such as Luke and John Mark. While the Book was being finished, God was actively guiding His people through prophetic utterances in the congregation of believers, and some of the utterances were being written into the Book. What an exciting time in God's history!
We know that prophetic utterances in the early church sometimes concerned future events (Acts 11:28), but often they dealt with the present (Acts 13:2). They were directive exhortations for the people of God at that moment. Out of a very balanced sense of concern, Paul shared a dual warning and concern regarding this sort of prophecy.
Prophecy should never be treated with contempt, but, it also should be carefully tested. Prophecy was to be lovingly tested by leaders who had the spiritual gift of discernment and also measured against the witness of Old Testament scripture. God would certainly not contradict Himself. These prophetic utterances would also be tested against the teaching of the Apostles even though this body of teaching had not yet been codified into a New Testament collection.
It appears that there may have been a tendency in the early church, and perhaps in the Thessalonian church, in particular, to underrate the value of prophetic utterances. It is possible that people who had not received prophetic revelations were teaching their own views of such things as the Second Advent, with the result that prophetic revelations tended to be evaluated on superficial terms such as the eloquence of the speaker instead of on the basis of their intrinsic authority. Paul was clear that while they should be tested, such utterances should never be treated with contempt.
How do we apply this today? We live at a very different point in history because we do have a New Testament that was codified and closed. There is a body of 66 books of scripture against which we can measure and evaluate every teaching, preaching, leading or utterance that we might feel is of the Spirit. Here are a few applications to the prophetic expressions alive and well today.
1) Christians should never disparage any revelation that has come to the church and has been recognized as authoritative and is preserved by the Holy Spirit in Scripture. The primary prophetic word among us is the Book, the Bible itself. There is a temptation to put the ideas of men on an equal footing with the Word of God. This shows contempt for His Word.
We also see regular efforts to undermine the authority, validity, and veracity of Scripture. There are "loose interpretations" and a "low view" of scripture that have swept across much of the church as preachers embrace pop-culture or use Newsweek as the text of the day. Popular movies and books boldly despise the witness of scripture and accuse God of falsehood. So-called scholars are featured annually in the media to tell us that scripture is a myth, folk story or fairy tale. All this show contempt for the prophecy of God.
Paul is clear. We are not to treat scripture with such contempt. We are not to "criticize" scripture. It exists to criticize us as well as to encourage and enlighten us. Do not treat the Word of God with contempt. All scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness (2 Tim. 3:16). We should take care not to preach, teach or observe only our favorite scriptures and despise others.
2) Christians should be careful to test anything that claims or purports to be a prophetic utterance among the people of God. While the Bible is a complete revelation of everything that we need, such utterances may still come from God, even if they are not as common as they once were. There is no convincing argument that God cannot or would not communicate directly with His people, but such utterances never rise to the authority of scripture and should be carefully tested using the gift of discernment and the measure of the 66 books of the Bible.
Anything that is proclaimed announced or professed to be from God should be measured and evaluated. But we should be careful not to despise or treat such utterance with contempt. This is difficult because prophecy can be easily abused among the Body of Christ.
3) Another prophetic ministry is that of Inspired Preaching. This is perhaps the most common expression of prophetic utterance among the people of God today. Preaching is different from teaching. Teaching draws out the truth of scripture in systematic ways that reveal precepts that can be applied to life. Preaching is the proclamation and exhortation of scriptural truth under the unction of the Holy Spirit. Preaching should never be treated with contempt, but, it should be carefully tested against the authoritative measure of scripture.
Preaching should never be judged based on its eloquence or its emotional fervor. That is where we get tricked sometimes by the flesh. Our flesh can be drawn to a preacher who makes us "feel good" but who is not preaching a scriptural message.
There is a tendency in our modern consumer culture for the Preacher to pander to the likes and dislikes of the people. There is also a tendency for believers to "church shop" until they find a comfortable and pleasing message. All of this shows contempt for the prophetic work of the Spirit among us.
How can God ever challenge us, sand us or shape us if we show contempt for any message that does not massage our viewpoint or justify our lifestyle? We should instead "shop" under the leading of the Spirit for a house of integrity and a place to serve.
There is also a trend to reject preaching altogether as a part of the "institutional church" and focus only on "homegroup" or teaching settings. While this may appear to make sense, it shows contempt for prophetic preaching which God uses to exhort and challenge his people.
Are you receiving the prophetic Word of God? Are you receiving all of Scripture? Are you open to the carefully tested utterance among the people God? Are receiving the inspired exhortation of God that He is providing through a preacher He has called into your life?
Father, help me to be part of the Body of Christ that hears You clearly, trusts You wholly and obeys You consistently. In Jesus' name.