“Eagerly desire . . . the gift of prophecy”
1 Cor 14:1
In a previous post, I defined the spiritual gift of prophecy as spontaneous, Spirit-inspired, intelligible speech, orally-delivered to the church gathered intended for the building up of the people of God. Prophecy can be both foretelling; insights into the future plans of God, and forthtelling; God’s word for our present circumstances.
During the church season of Advent, the word of prophecy is important for Advent is the period of the Christian year dedicated to prophetic hope. Prophetic hope is believing and expecting God’s inspired promise of Jesus’ soon return. Advent means confident waiting: waiting on God to fulfill his word that Jesus will return in a physical body to bring his church home and judge the world (2 Peter 3:8-10). Advent is a prophetic season for we wait for the prophetic fulfillment of Jesus’ second coming while marveling at the Old Testament prophetic fulfillment of Jesus’ first coming. The Old Testament prophets spoke of Jesus’ birth, ministry, and death (Gen. 3:15; Micah 5:2; Isa. 7:14. 53:4-7) and years later these promises were fulfilled. Today, we read the prophetic words of Jesus, Paul, John, and Peter concerning the Second Coming (Mark 13:26-27; 1 Thess. 4:13-18; Titus 2:11-14; 2 Peter 3:8-10; Rev. 19:11-16) and with confidence we expect the prophetic words of scripture to be fulfilled again.
The word of prophecy is hope: knowledge that God is aware of our need and actively working to meet that heart-cry. The gift of prophecy points the Church to Christ, calls for obedience to his commands, and brings healing and restoration. The gift of prophecy reminds believers of their call to holiness, their dependence on God’s grace, and the faithfulness of God’s promise. Corporately, the prophetic gift calls forth repentance, restoration, and renewal in the Body of Christ. The prophetic gift builds up the Church in her call to be God’s witness to the world (1 Cor. 12:31, 14:1, 39; Heb. 2:3-4).
During the season of Advent, the church can expect the Holy Spirit to encourage, comfort, and strengthen all believers for the coming year.
True Prophets are the healers, preachers, and teachers who are “binders of wounds,” because they call people to genuine transformation and repentance. True prophetic words point to sin, to what is amiss in a life or in a culture; they warn of the consequences if one fails to repent (here a predictive element can come in); they console; they encourage. They do all this in conjunction with the fundamental truth that the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy (Rev. 12:10).
Leanne Payne, Heaven’s Calling: A Memoir of One Soul’s Steep Ascent (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2008), 116.