Introduction: Have you ever considered that “prophecy” is a spiritual
gift much like teaching? We see all types of teachers, from poor to
great. Do only great teachers and great prophets have the spiritual
gift? Or, is the gift something given in different amounts?
Sometimes a person with a great gift knows it and wants to do things
their way. Is that how the church should operate? If the Holy Spirit
is speaking to them, shouldn’t we follow? How can we even tell the
difference between spiritual gifts and natural gifts that might not
be so spiritual? Let’s dive into our lesson and see what we can learn
about spiritual gifts and prophecy!
- Gifts For The Church
- Read Ephesians 4:11-13. As you look at these verses, what
seems to be the goal for each believer? (Three goals are
mentioned: a)Unity in faith; b)Unity in the knowledge of
Jesus; and, c) Maturity.)
- How do believers get to this goal? (We are instructed
for “works of service.”)
- Does that seem odd – that teaching us how to
work increases our faith, knowledge and
- What is the goal for the church? (“The body of Christ
may be built up.”)
- If the first goal is unity, if the goal is to build
the church, why would different people be given
- Would different gifts foster competition and
jealousy? (That seems to be the way of the
- Read Romans 12:3-5. What operational model does God give
us for our church? (The parts of the human body. He says
the unity of the church comes from each member using his
gifts in cooperation with everyone else.)
- What mental attitude is key to making this work? (Not
to have an exaggerated view of your own gift.)
- Read Romans 12:6. How are our gifts determined? (Not by
us. They are “gifts” and they come by God’s grace.)
- Let’s be honest here. Do most of the leaders you see
have natural gifts instead of spiritual gifts? That
is, are the leaders in your church also leaders in
their place of work?
- Is this an important distinction? (Who gave us
our natural gifts? God! How many deserved to be
born smart? Musically talented? Gifted in
speaking? All of our gifts, whether natural or
spiritual, come from God and are given by grace.
Thus, there should be no pride connected with
the gift – just a sense of obligation.)
- Gift of Prophecy
- Let’s assume that you do not seem to have been born with
too many natural or spiritual gifts. Can you get more
spiritual gifts by asking? (Read 1 Corinthians 14:1. We
are told to “eagerly desire” spiritual gifts. If we could
not obtain them (or obtain more), there would be no reason
to desire them.)
- Notice that the gift of prophecy is a gift of high
importance. What is the prophetic gift? If we are
supposed to desire it, how do we know when we get it? Is
it telling the future? (What we have seen in the last two
lessons is that a human relays a story or a message from
God. The message could be anything – including a statement
about the future.)
- Read 1 Corinthians 14:2-4. How does this help us to
understand the gift of prophecy? (It seems to be a very
broad gift. The prophet gives messages to strengthen,
encourage and comfort the church.)
- Does this sound like a preacher to you? (If your
church leader is inspired by the Holy Spirit, then
this is an exercise of the gift of prophecy.)
- Let’s explore this more by looking again at Romans 12:6
where it says that if you have the gift of prophesying,
you should use it “in proportion to [your] faith.” What
does that mean?
- Would it mean that you could be a partial or
“sometimes” prophet because of limited faith?
- Would a “low faith” prophet have low quality
prophecies? A “high faith” prophet have gold
standard prophecies? (We learned last week in our
discussion of Moses, Aaron and Miriam, that there are
different quality levels of prophets. That quality
level reflected the level of their walk with God.)
- Look again at Romans 12:3. This is a warning against
conceit, but it also seems to indicate that our spiritual
gift(s) grow with our faith. Does this support the idea of
a “partial” prophet or “low faith” prophet? (Yes. Acting
in accord with our level of faith keeps us from being
conceited. If we are growing as a prophet, we need to
refrain from claiming to have more than we are given.
Listeners need to understand that growth will come.)
- False Prophets and False Gifts
- If we are right to understand the Bible as allowing for
“low faith” prophets, how can we trust them? How can we
distinguish a low faith true prophet from a false prophet
or false gift? Do false prophets and counterfeit gifts
- Read 1 Corinthians 12:1-3. Does this suggest that a
“spirit” can speak to us that is not the Holy Spirit?
- What is the test for determining who is speaking
through the prophet? (It seems to be a pretty low
test – whether the prophet uplifts Jesus. If they
uplift Jesus, then they are reflecting the Spirit of
- Does this mean that you can be a “low faith” part-time prophet, with sometimes jumbled, but
nevertheless “pro-Jesus” statements and still be a
- Read 1 Corinthians 12:7-12. Is there another way to
determine true from false prophets and gifts? (Notice that
verse 10 tells us that distinguishing “between spirits” is
itself a spiritual gift.)
- What does that suggest we should do when we are
uncertain about the origin of a prophecy or gift?
(Make our own judgment based on whether it promotes
the cause of Christ and find someone in the church
who has a gift for distinguishing spirits.)
- There is a debate in the Christian church over whether the
gift of tongues, other than speaking in a foreign
language, is a counterfeit gift. Let’s decide this by
simply looking at the Bible. Read Acts 2:1-4. Is this the
gift of tongues? (Yes.)
- Read Acts 2:5-8. Was this gift of tongues the ability
to speak in a foreign language? (This is clearly
speaking in foreign languages.)
- Would this gift build up the church? (Of course. It
helped many people to understand the disciples’
- Read 1 Corinthians 12:7-10 again. Is this gift of tongues
speaking in a foreign language?
- If it is speaking in a foreign language, why would
you need a spiritual gift to interpret?
- Why interpret at all? If you are speaking to a
group, and not all speak the same language, if
the gift of tongues is speaking so that each
person would understand his language, no
interpreter would be needed, right?
- Read 1 Corinthians 13:1. Which foreign language is the
tongue of angels? Would this be Italian? French? Spanish?
- Read 1 Corinthians 14:1-2. What language does God speak?
Was this the language spoken at Pentecost in Acts 2? (It
cannot be the Acts 2 gift because it says “no one [but
- What does it mean to “utter mysteries” with your
- Read 1 Corinthians 14:3-5. Is this gift of tongues
understood by others? (No. This gift “edifies” the person,
- If I started speaking Italian with no Italians
around, would that edify me?
- Read 1 Corinthians 14:13-15. What does it mean to pray in
the spirit and not the mind?
- If you spoke a foreign language, would that bypass
your mind? (No. Just because your speaking comes out
in some other language does not mean your brain is
not working to communicate a certain message.)
- We previously learned that spiritual gifts are intended to
build up the members of the church and the church in
general. How could an “unknown” tongue, that is not
understood by others, and not really understood by the
person, build up church members? (Read again 1 Corinthians
14:2-4 and 1 Corinthians 14:14-15. I do not know how to
understand these verses other than to mean that there is
some sort of prayer language between our spirit and God.
This gift is for the personal benefit of the believer.)
- Friend, will you ask God to give you faith and spiritual
gifts so that you can bless the church?
- Next week: The Gift of Prophecy and God’s Remnant.