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!

  1. Gifts For The Church

    1. 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.)

      1. How do believers get to this goal? (We are instructed
        for “works of service.”)

        1. Does that seem odd – that teaching us how to
          work increases our faith, knowledge and

      2. What is the goal for the church? (“The body of Christ
        may be built up.”)

      3. If the first goal is unity, if the goal is to build
        the church, why would different people be given
        different gifts?

        1. Would different gifts foster competition and
          jealousy? (That seems to be the way of the

    2. 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.)

      1. What mental attitude is key to making this work? (Not
        to have an exaggerated view of your own gift.)

    3. Read Romans 12:6. How are our gifts determined? (Not by
      us. They are “gifts” and they come by God’s grace.)

      1. 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?

        1. 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.)

  2. Gift of Prophecy

    1. 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.)

    2. 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.)

    3. 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.)

      1. 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.)

    4. 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?

      1. Would it mean that you could be a partial or
        “sometimes” prophet because of limited faith?

      2. 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.)

    5. 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.)

  3. False Prophets and False Gifts

    1. 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
      even exist?

    2. Read 1 Corinthians 12:1-3. Does this suggest that a
      “spirit” can speak to us that is not the Holy Spirit?

      1. 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

      2. 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
        true prophet?

    3. 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.)

      1. 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.)

    4. 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.)

      1. 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.)

      2. Would this gift build up the church? (Of course. It
        helped many people to understand the disciples’
        gospel message.)

    5. Read 1 Corinthians 12:7-10 again. Is this gift of tongues
      speaking in a foreign language?

      1. If it is speaking in a foreign language, why would
        you need a spiritual gift to interpret?

        1. 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?

    6. Read 1 Corinthians 13:1. Which foreign language is the
      tongue of angels? Would this be Italian? French? Spanish?

    7. 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
      God] understands.”)

      1. What does it mean to “utter mysteries” with your

    8. Read 1 Corinthians 14:3-5. Is this gift of tongues
      understood by others? (No. This gift “edifies” the person,
      not others.)

      1. If I started speaking Italian with no Italians
        around, would that edify me?

    9. Read 1 Corinthians 14:13-15. What does it mean to pray in
      the spirit and not the mind?

      1. 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.)

    10. 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.)

    11. Friend, will you ask God to give you faith and spiritual
      gifts so that you can bless the church?

  4. Next week: The Gift of Prophecy and God’s Remnant.