The City

A prophetic mediation on prophecy.

(From Nico Tranchini)

Don´t you find 1 Corinthians 14:1 a little intriguing? Why in the world would Paul say to a group of arrogant and jealous believers to long for THE MOST IMPORTANT of all spiritual gifts (i.e. prophecy)? “Yes, he says in chapter 14:1 you should pursue love. But seek prophecy ABOVE ALL!” (This is when you tend to agree with Festus and scream: “Paul, you are out of your mind! Your great learning is driving you mad.” See Acts 26:24.)
 
Well, before you damn Paul we should ask the question: “What is prophecy?” Rather than giving you a technical definition let me give you a practical example. Lots of people from South America move to Spain in the purse of a good job. Very much like Mexicans move to the US for the very same goal. (Assuming there is no wall in between, of course.) At different times people have told me: “I can´t go to church or attend to my small group because I have to work.” If I wanted to act as a prophet on this person´s life I would say something like this: “Do you really LOVE TO WORK?” (If you ever dare to ask this question you will most likely get a funny Mr. Bean face followed by a prolonged silence.) “Of course not, –they might finally say- but I HAVE to.” Again, a prophet would very bluntly point out: “Let me help you out. I highly doubt that you LOVE working. Let me tell you what you really love. YOU LOVE THE PRODUCT of your work. I.e. you LOVE MONEY!!! (This is when the prophet normally gets stoned.) Then the prophet would problably say, “You love money because of what money gives you. Money gives you prestige. Money gives you comfort. Money gives you security. Money gives you new toys, money gives possibilities, money gives you opportunities to do what you want. That is what you really love!” See? Do you get it now? That is a prophet! A prophet is someone who is not afraid to straightforwardly tell you the truth and confront you with the real desires of your heart. (Not that I am trying to act as a digital prophet implying that you might need this… I am just giving you an example, remember?)
 
1 Corinthians 14:1 says: “Let love be your highest goal! But you should also desire the special abilities the Spirit gives—especially the ability to prophesy.” Why? The answer is on verses 24 and 25: “Because if you prophesy… people will be convicted of sin and judged by what you say. And as they listen, [pay attention here!] the desires of their hearts will be exposed, and they will fall to their knees and worship God, declaring, “God is truly here among you.”
 
Did you pay attention to what just happened? An Isaiah 6 experience!!! (Read the chapter if you don’t know what I am talking about. It is very short.) When someone prophesizes what they TRULY LOVE gets exposed. (I.e. they come to realize that they truly love themselves.) AFTER that happens, they fall to their knees! (I.e. they experience a deep conviction and contrition for their hidden desires and they express it to God with sorrow. Again, ask Isaiah.) Finally, as they receive God’s forgiveness, they stay in AWE (i.e. they worship God) at the amazing reality that the God of the universe still loves them IN SPITE of who they are. Once again, an Isaiah 6 experience! (Be convicted of sin if you haven’t read the chapter by now.)
 
Why is prophecy so important? Because it causes you to experience the gospel one more time! That is why you go to church on Sunday, that is why you go to small group once a week, and that is why you read the Bible every day (James 1:23-25).
 
Experiencing this reality is what 1 Corinthians 14 defines as EDIFICATION. (I.e. true growth.) And that is why Paul wants every Christian to be a prophet… (Go read 1 Cor. 14 and color how many times the word “edification” appears in this chapter. You will see that that is Paul’s ultimate goal.)
 
I could keep going, but (I think it has been convicting enough, plus) I have to go run and teach a Greek class!
 
Be convicted, but more than anything be in AWE of God…

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Libby John

Thank you for this thought provoking article.

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