“11 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, 13 ’til we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; 14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, 15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ— 16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.”
I believe in the modern-day, God-given gifts of the Apostle and Prophet. I have seen the effectiveness and city-shaking power that is stored up in these gifts. I have seen individuals set free, given direction, and granted renewed hope by the prophetic word.
I become concerned at times, however, with the way many in the church view these gifts, specifically the modern-day office of Prophet. Ephesians 4 :11-16 makes us aware that the purpose God gave the church the ascension gifts is for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry. Then, once every believer is equipped, they must be faithful with a believers ministry that edifies the body of Christ.
Though 5 fold ministers will by their very nature edify the body, that is not their primary purpose. The primary purpose of these gifts of God is to equip the believers, then the believers have the responsibility of doing the work of ministry, and as a result they edify one another. This edification is so vital to the kingdom that it is directly connected to the development of unity, faith, knowledge, perfection and fullness in Christ in the Church. Edification is potent stuff. Don’t take lightly what God wants to do through you. This is the way God builds his church, through each one of us, every joint supplies.
The danger is when we relegate ministries to just one aspect of their calling. Are Prophets called to prophesy? Absolutely. Prophets should maintain a revelatory ministry worthy of having others want to emulate it, but that is only one aspect of the Prophets ministry. In fact, Ephesians tells us that prophesying is not even the most important operation of the true 5 fold Prophet.
The Prophets main function is simple. He releases revelatory grace. It is built-in him to be imparted to others. So the office of Prophet is evident not by how often the minister shares visions, or how many dreams he has, or not even how well he can “read your mail.” Ephesians tells us that you know he’s the real deal when simply by being around him (or her) you become more prophetic. If someone is operating in the office, their gift will rub off on you.
I have seen this error in many places. “If you need direction, go to the Prophet”. The statement would more correctly be stated as “If you need to learn how to hear the voice of God, go to the Prophet”. I am not saying that God doesn’t use Prophets to give us direction, I am not even saying it’s wrong to inquire of one. But if you are inquiring, seek for confirmation of what you have already heard, not for the Prophet to hear God for you. In doing so you are failing to reap the true benefits of having a Prophet in your midst.
So often people just don’t want the responsibility of hearing God for themselves. I wish I could say that in a nicer way, but I know human nature. I also know that it is often difficult to hear Him, especially with all the active voices we have around us clamoring for our attention. It’s a supernatural event, this hearing from heaven. It requires faith, dedication, prayer, and sometimes tears and frustration. I sometimes wish it were easier, but then again “wrestling with God” produces something in us. Like Jacob it changes us for life. Even though it seems like there must be an easier way to hear Him, it’s not the “easy way” that transforms us.
The 5 fold ministry is about maturing the saints. Then let’s have an expectation of maturity on those who would see themselves as Apostles and Prophets. Men and women assigned such a nature of the Christ are not going to charge you for prophetic words, or create an unhealthy dependence upon their ministry. This is the behavior of insecure, childish ones. The voice of the Prophet builds maturity and a strong foundation so we are not tossed to and fro by any wind of doctrine. True five-fold ministry gives you the strength to make a stand in Christ for yourself, it creates a responsibility in the believer to be something more than they were before they came in contact with the Prophet.