Return to Prophecy Menu

About Prophecy
Click here for definitions

Is Prophecy for Today?

Prophecy is to speak or utter by divine inspiration.  Prophecy is to communicate a message
from God to a person or person by speaking, writing, or through other forms of communication
(ie. drawing a picture).

Is prophecy for today or did it end with the Apostles in the first century?
Prophecy is for today!   Our Father still communicates directly with His children today.  He is not
the remote distant God that the world has portrayed Him to be.  He actively communicates
directly with all of His children and with His prophets today.

If prophecy were to end with the apostles, Paul would not have spent much of his ministry
explaining the proper manner for prophets to behave (1 Cor. 14).  The future church would not
have needed this information.    However, Paul took the pains to teach the people and to set a
standard because it is for the New Testament church.  Prophecy was not intended to end with
the ministry of the Apostles, especially since Apostles are not Prophets.  Additionally, Paul
exhorts people to pray for the ability to prophesy.  He would not have done this if God was not
willing to answer this prayer.  Paul would also not have done this if prophecy was only for the
apostles and not the church body.  Paul teaches us that prophecy is for believers and for the
benefit of the body of Christ.  Why would God take away something that He had ordained and
planned to benefit the church?

Keeping this as simple as possible, we will show you the bible accounts and descriptions of
exactly what it is a prophet does.

What is a prophecy and what is a prophet?

The Amplified Bible calls a prophet an inspired preacher or expounder.  A person who expounds
in the office of prophet is one who explains or interprets a message from God.  When a person
who explains or expounds or interprets a message from God it is prophecy.

The Lord inspires the prophet with a message or with revelation which is then relayed to the
person or the people to whom the revelation is intended to benefit.  The prophet receives
revelation but when the prophet communicates the revelation to the recipient it is not revelation to
the recipient, it is prophecy.

How a prophet receives revelation and when the prophet receives revelation differs with each
situation.  A single prophet can receive revelation in different ways and different times
depending on how the Lord chooses to move.  The prophet who receives revelation for a church
service can receive the revelation before leaving home or they can receive it in the middle of the
service right when they are to deliver it.  A prophet can receive revelation the moment it is
intended to be delivered or long before the message is to be prophesied.

Prophesy in Part?

I've heard people make a mistake of this particular verse over and over.  One example was a
person who thought that prophesying in part meant we were capable of getting an erroneous
message or that only part of the message will be correct.  This is absolutely not true.

The above is what a seer might see about a coming situation.  He or she sees two people in
waist-high water.  They also see one building.  But that's all they see.  The prophet prophesies:  
see two people in a flood. There is also a building affected by this flood.

The above picture is the entire event that took place.  The prophet didn't see all five people, nor
did the prophet see a city full of buildings or the hurricane in the background.  All the prophet saw
was a portion of the full picture - he prophesied in part.  Did it make what he saw wrong?  No, it
was simply incomplete.  He prophesied in part.

That's prophecy. Sometimes we don't see the entire picture, but we see some of it.   We don't
get an incorrect message, it's just not the entire picture.

I prophesy in part all the time. I had a night vision (not the same as a dream) about Hurricane
Katrina.  The Lord showed me a hurricane.   The vision God showed me in this prophecy were
delays associated with the hurricane.  I could see ships being tossed around like toys.  What I
didn't see was broken levees, or where the hurricane would hit, or that many people would die.  It
didn't mean the prophecy was wrong, it just wasn't the entire picture, although it was a few pieces
of it.

This never would mean that the piece of prophecy that we get is incorrect, it simply means that
we only see a small part of the picture.

Ministries of Prophecy

There are at least three different ministries of prophecy in the body of Christ.  

The simplest ministry, of the three that I will mention, is when a person who does not normally
exhibit any prophetic gifts receives a Rhema Word to share with another person or the body of
Christ.  They receive a word the moment it is to be delivered.  This is called inspirational
prophecy.  It is the most common form of prophecy.  It is not precognitive, meaning the person
did not get the message ahead of time and the message does not tell of things to come in the
future.  The person giving the message gets inspired by God the moment they are to deliver the
message and has had no information ahead of time.

The second ministry is the simple
gift of prophecy.  This person is not given the office of
prophet, rather this person operates in the simple gift of prophecy.  A person with the simple gift
of prophecy will occasionally share a Rhema Word with another person or the body of Christ.   
They may get the message to share ahead of time, or precognitively, or they may have received
it as inspirational prophecy.  The simple gift of prophecy does not usually tell of things to come or
include the gift of foretelling the future.

The last ministry of prophecy exhibits many different levels of the prophetic.  It is the ministry of
the Prophet.  A person who operates with a gift of prophecy or who occasionally exhibits a
rhema word are not necessarily prophets.  The person who operates in this prophetic office often
operates with a precognitive gift of receiving revelation in the present for the future.  They may
receive a message to deliver days, weeks, months or hours before it is delivered.  The ministry
of a prophet is a person whose gift regularly operates in and includes the gift of discerning the
heart, regular Rhema for the body of Christ or an individual (personal prophecy), it also includes
revelation knowledge, foretelling the future, and words of knowledge.  If a person has the giftings
of a prophet and not just the simple gift of prophecy it does not necessarily make them a person
in the Office of Prophet.

The Office of the Prophet is a person who consistently operates in the gifts described above.  
Additionally, this person is in the
office of a prophet.   For example, a preacher can have a
preaching gift but not be a preacher.  A prophet can have a prophetic gift but not be authorized
to operate in or placed into the
office of a prophet in their local body of Christ, meaning a
prophet's particular spiritual gift has been recognized by the church and the person is authorized
to engage in open ministry centered around that gift.

Characteristics of a Prophet

The most important characteristic of a prophet's ministry is that the prophet will lead people to
God instead of away from God.  Additionally, the prophet will
never contradict what God has
spoken in the written Word.

Another critical characteristic of a prophet is the fruit of the spirit.  If a prophet that you know does
not operate in the fruits of the Spirit, they are a false prophet regardless if they have true
prophetic gifts or not.  A person cannot be a true prophet of the Lord if they are not led by the
Lord.  Jesus said, "You will know them by their fruit."  Therefore, it's important to know your
prophets.  If you don't know a person, I would be very careful about receiving a prophetic word
from them.

Preaching and Exhortation

Prophets also preach.

The Amplified Bible calls prophets inspired preachers.

John the Baptist  was a prophet and more than a prophet.  Jesus stated that John the Baptist
was Elijah who was to come.  John the Baptist
made straight the way of the Lord.  He preached
the coming of God's kingdom.  

Jonah - Preached a message of doom to the city because of immorality.  

Judas and Silas (Acts 15:32) being prophets themselves strengthened the brethren by a lengthy

Prophets give messages to strengthen and exhort the brethren and these messages do not
necessarily begin with, 'Thus saith the Lord...'  The Lord often will give a theme, or simply the
actual feeling of what is in his heart, to His prophets to understand His heart, who are then able
to share in their own words what the heart of the Lord is.

One element of what a prophet's ministry could encompass is preaching.  Some prophets have
a gift of preaching and/or teaching by prophetic revelation from God but this usually manifests
without the pastoral gift.  In the case of our pastor, Robert Richardson, at Trinity Worship Center,
his high calling is pastoral but he also has a prophetic gift which exhibits revelation knowledge.

Revelation Knowledge and Discernment

In biblical times, it was expected for a prophet to operate in revelation knowledge and

Luke 7:39 tells the story of Jesus reclining at a man's house for dinner when a woman of ill repute
entered and began to worship him.  "The man who owned the house said in his heart, If this man
(Jesus) were a prophet he would know who and what manner of person this woman is who is
touching him, and that she is a sinner."  

This scripture says to me that it was common knowledge in Jesus' day that a prophet was
expected to operate in discernment.

There is another event recorded in which a person in Jesus' time makes a statement which
reflects the abilities that people expected to find in the ministry of a prophet.  It was the story of
the woman at the well.  Jesus told this woman that she had had five husbands and was presently
living with a man who wasn't her husband.  

The woman said, "I perceive though art a prophet," because Jesus was operating in revelation
knowledge.  This woman expected a person operating in revelation knowledge to be a prophet.  

In both these cases it was expected that a prophet would operate in supernatural discernment.

Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians that he preferred that people prophesy because if all prophesy and
an unbeliever enters, the secrets of his heart are disclosed......(1 Cor 14:25)  This exposition of
the secrets of our hearts is discernment.

The scriptures often relate that Jesus 'knew' what was in a person's heart.  Many, if not all
prophets, operate in this gift of discernment, or knowing what is in a person's heart, revealed
intuitively through the spirit.

When I was growing up I didn't understand why I was such a sensitive person around other
people.  I knew my feelings were sensitive but didn't understand why I seemed to be affected
more than other people.  After I began to learn about my gifting I realized I was more sensitive
than others because where a normal person couldn't, I was able to easily discern the moods,
attitudes, heart, and integrity of people everyday.


But if there be prophets, and if the word of the Lord be with them, let them now make
intercession to the Lord of hosts......(Jeremiah 27:18)

Prophets are called to intercede, especially with prophetic prayer.  Prophetic prayer is God
giving the prophetic person an urge to pray for a particular situation and gives them the outcome
to pray as well as the situation. In other words, God gives the person praying the need that needs
to be met and the answer to the problem.  The prophet will pray God's will as a solution to the
need.  God will often drop an instant request for prayer into the hearts of His prophets.  These
'prayer requests' are for that instant and according to God's purpose.  They are often very
intense burdens to pray that are all but impossible to resist.

Foretelling the Future

There are many accounts of prophets foretelling the future.  The old testament is loaded with
them.  Since we are discussing the relevance of prophecy today I am including two events from
the New Testament.  In Acts, there are two records of a prophet named Agabus foretelling the

In Acts 11:27, Agabus stood up during a meeting and tells of a coming famine in all the world.

Then, in Acts 21:11, Agabus came to see Paul and took his belt and prophesied that Paul was
going to be bound by the Jews in the future. (Acts 21:11)  

The latter prophesy by Agabus is also an example of an account where a prophet giving a
prophecy makes a mistake but is not stoned for it.  The apparent mistake Agabus made was
that Paul was later bound but it was by the Romans, not the Jews.

In both accounts of Agabus prophesying the future, he did not include a Rhema word from God.  
His prophecy only disclosed a coming crisis.  This is important to some people because they
can wonder why do I have all these prophesies of doom?  God warns His people of coming
crisis because He loves us.  I personally ask God to give me prophesies of good news also
because I believe that it is scriptural to desire to be balanced in all things, and therefore, God
grants the request.

Dreams and Visions

What is the difference between a seer and a prophet?  A prophet can either be a non-seeing
prophet or a seer.

Jim Goll makes a statement which I love:  
All seers are prophets but not all prophets are seers.

A seer is one whose prophetic ministry is largely based in the realm of receiving from the Lord in
the form of dreams and visions.  Seers have a larger percentage of their prophetic gift centered
around vision, receiving messages, and revelation knowledge by dreams and visions.

Do dreams and visions come from God?  Yes.

The bible says:

Indeed God speaks once, or twice, yet no one notices it.  In a dream, a vision of the night,
when sound sleep falls on men, while they slumber in their beds.  Then He opens the ears of
men, and seals their instruction.  Job 33:16

And he said, Hear now My words:  If there be a prophet among you, I the Lord will make myself
known unto him in a vision, and will speak to him in a dream. (Num 12:6)

I have also spoken by the prophets, and I have multiplied visions and used similitudes by the
ministry of the prophets.  (Hos 12:10)

And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out My Spirit upon all flesh;
and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions and
your old men shall dream dreams.  (Acts 2:17)

The difference between a prophet's dreams and those of another person is that a prophet will
receive messages for the future and for the body of Christ.  An individual who is not prophetic will
usually dream of things that God is speaking to them regarding themselves.

Another point to remember with dreams and visions is that the prophets in the bible didn't always
understand what their prophecies, dreams, and visions meant and neither will we always know
what the message is of the dreams and visions we are seeing.  The prophets responsibility is to
be faithful in revealing what we've seen to the proper person or spiritual authority.

Does it make it any less prophetic when our dreams come in forms that are symbolic?  
Absolutely not.  Joseph interpreted Pharaoh's prophetic dream using symbols of cows and corn.  
The Holy Spirit gave the revelation to Joseph that those symbols were symbols of years of plenty
and years of famine.

Joseph dreamed of his future.  His brothers and his father instantly knew that Joseph's dream
symbols of the sun, the moon, and the stars were symbols for themselves; and they were
offended that Joseph's dream suggested they'd be bowing down to him.  His dreams were very
symbolic but undeniably prophetic.

The book of Daniel and Revelation are so full of symbolism that it's nearly impossible for a lay
person to interpret them.

Does the heavy symbolism make those books and those dreams any less prophetic?  No!

Copyright 2008 Mia Sherwood Ministries