Now that we have looked at all nine manifestation gifts I would like to talk about the correct use of these gifts, especially the spoken gifts. I will start with the seven tests for any spoken word that is claimed to be from God as implicit in each test is the correct usage of these gifts.
Seven Tests for any word.
Paul says in 1Thessalonians 5:19-21, “19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not despise prophecies. 21Test all things; hold fast what is good.”
We are not to quench the moving of the Spirit through us by despising and avoiding prophecy. However, we are to test prophecies and make sure they align with God’s standards, holding on to the good ones. The seven tests are:
1. Does it agree with Scripture?
In Galatians 1:8 the Apostle Paul writes, “But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed.”
The word spoken forth must agree with the whole counsel of the Word of God. For example, if someone stands up and “prophesies” that God has said He wants us to be rich by robbing a bank tonight then we can categorically say this is wrong as it is against God’s command in the Bible “You shall not steal” (Exodus 20:15).
2. What are the fruits in the person’s life?
In Matthew 7:15-20 Jesus says, “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them.”
Look at the character of the person prophesying and determine if they are displaying the fruit of the Spirit or strange, false fruits.
There was once a self-proclaimed prophetess who came to speak at a church I was assigned to whilst in Bible School. She was teaching very strange things like saying a comet that was then approaching the Earth (Hale-Bopp) was actually the New Jerusalem. Then, in the middle of her preaching a baby started crying and she pointed at the baby and said, “I rebuke you in the name of the Lord!” She had strange fruit that was manifesting in her life and was clearly not a true prophetess as she claimed.
3. What is the prophetic track record in the person’s life?
Deuteronomy 18:22 says, “When a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the thing does not happen or come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him.”
If a person comes to prophesy whose previous utterances have not come to pass, then this person’s ministry should be looked upon with great caution. A true prophetic ministry will have testimonies of people being blessed and encouraged and a track record of predictive prophecies that came to pass and were in accordance with the Word of God.
4. Does their ministry glorify Christ?
In John 16:13-14 Jesus says, “However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you.”
In Revelation 19:10 the Apostle John records: “And I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, “See that you do not do that! I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren who have the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”
The main ministry of the Holy Spirit is called the ‘spotlight ministry’ by J.I. Packer in his book “Keep in Step with the Spirit” as He shines the spotlight on Jesus, glorifying Him and Him alone.
The Holy Spirit is not in the business of drawing attention to Himself by miraculous signs and spiritual gifts but drawing attention to Christ. The Holy Spirit is constantly putting the spotlight on Christ for Christians to see, love, and serve Him.
This should be the same for those who minister these gifts in the power of the Holy Spirit. They should not draw attention to themselves but give all glory to the Lord. A true prophecy will make God look good and not the one who speaks it.
5. Does the prophecy lead towards God?
In Deuteronomy 13:1-3 we read, “If there arises among you a prophet or a dreamer of dreams, and he gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or the wonder comes to pass, of which he spoke to you, saying, ‘Let us go after other gods’—which you have not known—‘and let us serve them,’ you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams, for the Lord your God is testing you to know whether you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.”
Prophecy and Interpretation of Tongues should always lead people into a deeper relationship and understanding of God, not away from Him to other gods. According to the Scripture above false prophets can even perform signs and wonders, but they are ‘lying signs and wonders’ (2 Thessalonians 2:9).
Even signs and wonders can become a ‘god’ if the people focus on them and adore them instead of God Himself. That is exactly what I witnessed in 1995 when I experienced a very real touch from the Lord that was part of the ‘Toronto Blessing’. I was teaching a course in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia but was feeling dry spiritually. The group I was teaching were from England and had just come from there and experienced a touch of the Lord in the form of Holy Laughter. They prayed for me to have a time of refreshing from the Lord and I was suddenly overwhelmed by Father God’s love, imparted by the Spirit. I fell to the floor and cried for almost an hour receiving His love. Then for another hour I was laughing in the Spirit for the simple joy of being loved by the Father. All the others were being ministered to by the Lord in similar ways.
When I went back to Singapore the Lord led me and another Pastor to have regular Thursday ‘receiving meetings’ where people would come and be touched dramatically by the Lord and many signs and wonders were seen. This was glorious for about three months, but the meetings began to change. People started to come for the signs and wonders, literally worshipping them instead of God.
After realizing this we closed the meetings down and never started them again. Instead of leading people to God these so-called ‘prophetic’ meetings were leading people away from Him to seek experiences and not seek His face.
6. Does the word bring liberty?
Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 14:3, “But he who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men.”
And in Romans 8:15 he writes, “For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.”
If a prophecy or Interpretation of Tongues leaves the people feeling condemned or in bondage, then that word is not from the Lord or the way it is being delivered in not in His Spirit.
One time I had to step forward in my Church to correct a sister who had come forward with a condemning word that was not edifying, exhorting or comforting and brought fear and bondage. Many people said they felt dragged down and condemned by the word. It was seemingly scriptural but came forth from her hurt spirit rather than from the Spirit of God.
True prophecy will set people free, dispelling bondages and fear and building the people up for the ministry.
7. Is there an inner witness?
In 1 John 2:20 the Apostle John says, “But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you know all things.”
In 1 John 2:27 he further says, “But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him.”
In Ephesians 1:17-19 the Apostle Paul says, “That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power.”
True Spirit-filled believers have an anointing from God to discern when a word is from Him or not. This could be linked with the gift of Discerning Spirits, available to all Spirit baptized Christians. When a word is spoken in Church, most believers, especially the leadership, should discern if it is from God or not. Generally, if it is from God, there will be a corporate witness and a ripple of agreement is sensed.
Instructions for using the Vocal gifts.
1. The person should be in control.
1 Corinthians 14:32 tells us, “And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets.”
A person who prophesies will not be so out of control that they go into a frenzy and start speaking words they are not aware they are saying, like in some other religions. They will speak in an orderly manner (1 Corinthians 14:40).
2. They should use their natural voice and not some spooky spiritual voice.
3. They should speak in contemporary language, not King James English that many cannot really understand.
4. It should not be delivered with extreme emotions that distract from the people clearly hearing what is spoken.
This happened in 1 Kings 18:26; “So they took the bull which was given them, and they prepared it, and called on the name of Baal from morning even till noon, saying, “O Baal, hear us!” But there was no voice; no one answered. Then they leaped about the altar which they had made.”
I once saw a woman shaking all over and violently moving her head from side to side screaming out a so-called ‘prophecy’. She then leapt around like the prophets of Baal. The problem was no one could understand her prophecy.
Moving in these gifts does not mean we become creepy ‘spiritual types’. We will still be a normal human being, speaking in a normal manner with no fancy language or crazy antics that actually hinder the message, if it is from the Lord at all.
5. They should refrain from nervous repetitions.
Jesus taught in Matthew 6:7, “And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words.”
Often nervous repetitions come due to a person moving in their own spirits not in the Holy Spirit. One may start a prophecy in the Spirit but then continue in the flesh. Once you are aware the flow of anointing has stopped you should cease prophesying instead of continuing in the flesh.
I once heard of a lady who prophesied saying something like, “Just as I preserved Moses and his family from the flood in an Ark, so I will preserve you. Oh, oh…sorry. The Lord says he meant Noah!” – don’t assign to the Lord what is actually from the flesh.
I believe the best way to prophesy is to start by saying “I believe the Lord is saying…” and just speak out what God clearly gives, adding nothing and taking nothing away.
6. They should not go beyond what is given.
When a person speaks forth a prophetic word or gives an interpretation of Tongues there can be a temptation to add in their own thoughts. They should only speak out what they really feel God is saying and no more.
7. They should not use the name of the Lord in vain.
Avoid using “Thus says the Lord”. Only one moving at the level of a real Prophet has the authority to say this. Many times, we use this formula to “name drop”, showing off that we have had a private audience with the greatest celebrity of all time. It is better to say something like, “I feel that the Lord is saying this” or “I have a word for you…” to avoid throwing out God’s name with a hidden agenda of making yourself look good. The truth is that all of us can hear wrongly and get it wrong sometimes, allocating to God a word that is not from Him and thus we bring His name into disrepute.
Instructions for responding to the Vocal gifts.
1. Test with the seven tests as given above.
2. If the utterance passes the tests, do not leave it on the shelf but pray it through until fulfillment. Paul told Timothy that “according to the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you may wage the good warfare” (1 Timothy 1:18). He encouraged Timothy to take the prophecies spoken over him into spiritual warfare, praying them through to their fulfillment by faith.
3. If the prophecy or interpretation fails the tests then the Church leaders need to act accordingly, approaching the person to lovingly correct them.
9 Guidelines for receiving and moving in these nine gifts:
i. Enter into the supernatural realm through the Baptism with the Holy Spirit. Stay in that realm by praying in tongues daily and continually seeking to drink from the rivers of living water.
ii. Desire and seek the gifts, waiting on the Lord in prayer and desiring to be used to minister in the Body and outside the walls of the church (1 Corinthians 12:1).
iii. Search the Word to know and understand how the gifts operate. There is no virtue in ignorance .
iv. Believe! Have faith that God will answer your prayer and believe what the Word says that the gifts are for all believers.
v. Have an attitude of expectancy. Open your heart to the Holy Spirit and be ready to receive whatever He would bring to you.
vi. Seek further help and understanding as to when and how to move from the leaders. Be teachable and learn when and how to move and how to test what you receive. If any inspiration involves ministering to others and you are not a recognized minister in the Body, share what you have received quietly with the leaders and allow them to direct you.
vii. Never be discouraged by guidance and correction from the leaders. Keep trying; it is the only way to grow.
viii. Do not quench the Spirit. When the anointing and inspiration come, move in faith. If in prophecy and tongues you only have the first word and feel the anointing, step out in faith and believe God to receive more as you speak. If you have a word, a picture or the general sense of what the Lord desires to say, step out in faith, believing for the words to express it.
ix. Give the glory to God. Keep a balance between resisting and traces of pride that may try to creep in and a false humility which is an attempt to avoid pride and can prevent us from doing anything.
Why don't we see these gifts more in the Body of Christ? Because we do not earnestly desire spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 14:1)! If someone desires something, he is going to make an effort in that direction in order to see what he desires comes to pass. The word 'covet' means earnestly desire. Many are not very earnest about making sure their desires are fulfilled. Start praying for the fullness of these spiritual gifts to be manifest in and through your life and you will find God is only too willing, and has even been waiting, to pour out these gifts to accomplish His will.