What does the term prophetic mean in today’s church?
–John Robert Lucas
The word prophetic represents a prophetic-type message for today’s church. However, in my research I found that the term prophetic means different things to different Christians.
On the Temple Builders website I use the term probably more than I should, but I use it in hopes of attracting segments in the church who I think may be responsive to the Temple Builders message.
pro•phet•ic \pre-“fe-tik\ adjective
1 : of, relating to, or characteristic of a prophet or prophecy
2 : foretelling events : predictive
For a nutshell definition, Webster is not too far off. Simply put, if a minister has a message that is prophetic, they have the characteristic of a prophet. Normally we think of an Old Testament prophet that predicts the future. Thus, a large body of Christians define prophetic as futuristic ministry. End time prophecy fits nicely into this package with authors such as Tim LaHaye (Left Behind Series), Hal Lindsey (Late Great Planet Earth), and Jack Van Impe. We call this type of prophecy eschatology.
Some that teach end-time prophecy declare that they are not prophets, though. However, if one unfolds to others the meaning of obscure scriptures relating to the last days—that person is acting as a prophet—they are prophetic, whether they admit it or not. If they happen to be wrong, God may considered them to be false prophets.
Prophets of the Bible include all prophets, New Testament and Old Testament. Many of these prophets did not prophesy about end-time prophetic events; though, they did foretell what God was about to do in the near future. Also note: some prophets, as John the Baptist, performed no miracles.
In modern times, we witness groups of Christians labeling themselves as “prophetic”, or “prophets.” These prophetic people often encamp together. For some, the term prophetic is defined when thinking of certain ministries from certain movements. Though many of us hate to be classified, we end up in some type of segment of the church anyways. Here are some examples:
Faith movement prophets:
- Hilton Sutton (ABC’s of Bible Prophecy)
- John Hagee (Day of Deception)
- Charles Capps (End Time Events)
Prophetic movement prophets (this is a loose identification):
- Rick Joyner/Morningstar Ministries (Prophetic Vision for the 21 Century)
- Mike Bickle/IHOP (Growing in the Prophetic)
- Bill Hamon (Personal Prophecy Series)
Latter Rain / Sonship movement prophets:
- Bill Britton (Prophet on Wheels)
- George Warnock (The Feasts of Tabernacles)
- William Branham (The Seven Seals)
- Kelley Varner (Corporate Anointing)
Sometimes prophets are carbon copies, but in the case of the Latter Rain prophets, they are similar in just certain aspects. In a way, I can fall into many of these camps on a certain doctrine or style of ministry. One of the things I enjoy, but also called to do is study and understand these different camps, with their associations. This is normal, and what you find is the next generation is always a bit more progressive, though that constraint is self-imposed in most cases. No matter how old you are in age, you can still be progressive.
In my career, I have a network of like-minded consultants, and it is normal for us to help make each other successful. It should be no different in the Church. The danger comes when you can no longer think outside the box, when you cannot break out of your circle of alliances. This limits and at some point can corrupt.
Take note: Some of these prophets now call themselves apostles, but they are still considered prophetic.
Sometimes, we hear of modern-day prophets that predict events that are supposed to occur soon. Obviously, this is the most risky because you can quickly be revealed as a false prophet. Think back to the May 2011 doomsday prophecy by Harold Camping. This is a list of ones that I know about:
- Kim Clement (Sound of His Voice)
- Paul Cain (The Word and the Spirit)
- Bob Jones: Not the university
The Elijah List is a prophetic website that features: John Paul Jackson, Graham Cooke, Dutch Sheets, Rick Joyner, Bill Hamon, and many more. This site is indicative of a segment within the prophetic movement. If you want clarification of this network of prophetic ministers, this site features a few of them.
So what does prophetic really mean?
It simply means any ministry effort that can be compared to a biblical prophet. Note, however, it is not an “office of a prophet” as some call it, but a gift of a prophet. It is not a position one holds; it is an action one does. Sorry to burst any bubble but if you still believe that the 5-fold ministry are offices that you hold, you are still reading that scripture wrong. It is a gift, not an office. I speak more about the difference in the Temple Builders series.
John the Baptist was given a message and mission to prepare Jesus’ way. Today, you may be given a message and mission that God uses to prepare the world for the final coming of Jesus. The preparatory part of that message and mission can be called prophetic. It is futuristic in nature because God is telling you where and how to build, and as a builder you see God’s plan as an architect.
Are you a visionary?
As another example, Agabus the prophet bound Paul’s hands and spoke a personal word to Paul, foretelling Paul’s future. Though there are many counterfeit activities abroad, they are counterfeiting the true prophetic activity of this kind of foretelling. So, personal foretelling is scriptural regardless of other falseness that you may witness. However, not all prophets act as Agabus.
Just observe the Bible prophet example, and the term prophetic is defined. The worse thing you can do is pigeon-hole the term prophetic to mean your favorite Bible prophets, or the current prophets of the day. Even if you once moved as a prophet, that does not indicate that you are still in sync with God. It is unbelievably easy to get out of sync with God. Emotional words, using a prophetic vernacular, maintaining association with other prophets, or experiencing prophetic worship do not guarantee you that your words are present truth prophetic words. If it were just that easy. Instead, God has us go through dry spells where our words drop to the ground in lieu of a character building lesson. And we do not get back a present truth message or fresh manna until we learn it. And, usually, the lesson grinds you into the earth. Sorry, but that is God’s reality.
I perceive God is speaking a preparatory word to His people to prepare His bride. I believe future prophets will not be interested in telling you about ways you can escape impending doom. They will not interested be interested in explaining how all the events of Revelation will manifest themselves. Instead, they will desire to speak a word that causes you to go to God’s next level for your life—in maturity. God’s present truth prophetic word is a word sounding a trumpet; it sounds an alarm to get ready, but also sounds the trumpet for God’s future prophetic festivities.
Though I observe many ministries making loud soundings of prophetic utterance, I perceive God’s true prophetic utterance is much quieter in the earth right now, in 2011. This utterance is heard by those that desire Him, and Him alone. To find God’s prophetic, you must desire to know Him more than anything that can overshadow His voice. It is then—God’s thunderous voice is distinctly heard.
Finally, I think you can expect is a shift away from the most popular ministers selling books, broadcasting to thousands, and who are the most respected. I see a day in the next few years where God is raising up a bunch of unknowns–voices in the wilderness, the most unlikely candidates.
It is how one functions that makes them a prophet, and that functioning is not a switch that turns on 24/7. That means you can be called with a gift of a prophet and only use that gift as needed. Many times end up at a client and play the role of a senior business analyst; at other times, a business intelligence solution advisor, and at other times a project manager. God uses different gifts as He has need, not your need. He is the Client so to speak. We serve His need, not what we want to push.
John Robert Lucas