Comparing Prophecy and Teaching

Scripture Reading: Romans 12:3-8

For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. 4 For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5 so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. 6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; 7 if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; 8 if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.

Verse for Meditation: Therefore, my brothers and sisters, be eager to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues. 40 But everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way. – 1 Corinthians 14:39-40

Devotional: Many people fear that the belief that prophecy comes from a revelation of God will undermine the Bible. This is based on a critical misunderstanding. When we understand this rightly, the spoken prophetic word should be linked to the TEACHING of scripture, not to the WRITING of scripture.

Consider for example that godly men and women who study the scriptures diligently, have deep faith in Jesus, and well developed prayer lives, still come to different conclusions about the meaning of certain scriptures and doctrines. Whether it be spiritual gifts, the mode of baptism, or the how the end times unfold, godly and mature believers study the perfect and complete Word of God but come to different understandings on these subjects.

The issue is not due to any imperfection of the Bible but to human limitations and errors in interpretation. This includes all of us. In the same way, when someone gets a revelation from God that forms the basis of a prophetic word, that word is perfect but the interpretation, application, and communication of that word is subject to error. Like the preacher or teacher, the prophet communicates the revelation but may do so imperfectly.

Some will say that this invalidates prophetic communication. But is that really so? Because preacher, teachers, and Christian authors may have some error in their understanding of the Bible does that mean we should not listen to them? I don’t think so. Much can be learned from those who communicate biblical truth but we should always check what we are learning against the Bible itself.

Question to Consider: How does the comparison of prophecy and teaching help you to better understand both the blessings and the limitations of prophetic words?

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