Testing Prophecy

Scripture Reading: 1 Thessalonians 5:19-22

Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not treat prophecies with contempt 21 but test them all; hold on to what is good, 22 reject every kind of evil.

Verse for Meditation: Two or three prophets should speak, and the others should weigh carefully what is said. – 1 Corinthians 14:29

Devotional: The proper comparison for prophecy is not to the writing of scripture but to the teaching of scripture. The perfection of the revelation does not guarantee the perfection of the understanding or communication of that revelation. This is why prophecies need to be tested, weighed, and/or judged. It is also why it is always wrong to communicate a prophetic word as “Thus says the Lord” as if the person prophesying has a word for word revelation from God that is not subject to their own imperfections or errors.

According to 1 Thessalonians 5:19-20 we quench the Spirit when we treat prophesy with contempt. In other words we can extinguish a genuine work of the Spirit by our attitudes and actions that look down on the importance of prophecy. God wants to bless and encourage his people through this gift and if we refuse to accept this gift we may undermine the good work that he wants to do.

Instead of despising this gift we are encouraged to test or weigh each prophetic word. Much like we would do with biblical teaching or preaching, we must always compare what we hear with the Word of God, the Bible. Prophetic words should be subjected to the discernment of mature believers to determine if the word is genuine or not. This is what it means to “hold on to what is good, [but] reject every kind of evil” (1 Thessalonians 5:21-22).

Prophecy, practiced according to biblical guidelines, is a gift given to build up God’s people so that they can grow in him and spread the word of the gospel more effectively. When we embrace the gifts that God gives to his church we are empowered to be more effective witnesses for him.

Question to Consider: What is God calling you to do to be a more effective witness of Jesus Christ?

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