Fire in My Bones, by J. Lee Grady

Want to receive Fire in My Bones by email? Sign up here

Let’s reclaim the simple, profound purpose of prophecy—and reject all sensational substitutes.

When I was a college student, a visiting minister regularly came to preach at our campus meetings. At the end of his messages he would often point at someone in the room, smile and say something like, “You in the blue shirt, I believe the Lord has a word of encouragement for you.” Then he would prophesy.

This freaked me out! How could this man know what God was saying to someone else? What if he was wrong? I loved the gift of prophecy because I had benefitted from it myself. But I remember telling the Lord back in those days that I would never, ever stand in front of a group and prophesy to an individual like that. Way too scary!

If we focus on spiritual gifts as an end in themselves, our distraction will lead us into deception of the weirdest kind. Let’s get our eyes back on Jesus.”

Then, during a trip to China in 2000, an underground church leader asked me to come to a room in the hotel to meet with a group of ministers. When I arrived, the leader told my translator that she wanted me to prophesy over 14 ministers who were already seated around a table. I was cornered! I prayed a desperate prayer—“Help!”—and 90 minutes later I finished praying and prophesying over all those people. The Lord used a scared and insecure American guy to encourage those brave warriors—and I have prophesied to many people since then.

I believe prophecy is a powerful spiritual gift when it is used correctly. Paul told the Corinthians (who had been abusing charismatic gifts) that genuine prophecy has three important functions: (1) edification, (2) exhortation and (3) consolation (see 1 Cor. 14:3). When we give a word from God, it comforts the weary, encourages the fainthearted, propels them toward God’s purpose or breaks spiritual obstacles.

Genuine prophecy is one of the most potent weapons in God’s arsenal. But if we are not careful, the gift can be hijacked—either by devious spiritual con artists or by gullible Christians who don’t have proven character or a solid foundation in God’s Word. This is why the gift of discernment should operate alongside prophecy at all times.

Several people have recently asked my opinion about some of the “prophetic buzz” circulating in churches these days. I’m not the only one who is becoming increasingly concerned about the weirdness that is evident in some charismatic camps. My alarm bells often go off when I read some of the prophetic messages people are claiming to be from God. These messages usually have one or more of these characteristics:

1. Preoccupation with end-time predictions. No prominent prophet in the United States issued a clear warning about the recent earthquake in Japan. But in the aftermath of that disaster, many began to release dire predictions of subsequent quakes—stirring up doom and gloom among the saints. Now some are predicting explosions on the sun that will knock out all electrical power on earth. God never intended prophecy to cripple His church with fear. His word brings comfort, not foreboding.

2. Obsession with numbers. There is certainly a place for symbolic numbers in the Bible. But many prophets today seem to think that every number they see on a clock or a billboard is a message from God. God is not cryptic with His sons and daughters—He wants to speak to us plainly. His will is not a secret code to be deciphered.

3. Overemphasis on dreams. Of course we know God can speak through dreams. But the apostle Paul (whom we are called to imitate) received most of his guidance from the Holy Spirit while he was awake. Some ministers today are spending too much time in the pulpit describing their technicolor dreams—and this could actually lead people into error if the dream has more to do with pepperoni than biblical revelation. Stay focused on the Word!

4. Fascination with exotic visions and manifestations. Our movement has been invaded in recent years by many questionable influences—from New Age spirits to stigmata to a bizarre fixation on gold dust, gems, “angel” feathers and “manna.” In most cases those who claim the substances are real won’t have them verified. In Illinois, a church drew crowds because of reports that giant red and blue gems were falling from the ceiling. The people stopped coming after the guy in charge of the supposed supernatural display ran off with a woman who was not his wife. Please remember that everything that glitters is not gold.

5. Worship of elite prophets. It has become fashionable in parts of our movement today to drop the names of certain prophets in order to establish credibility. After all, if Prophet So-and-So said it, it must be true. Some of these prophets are quoted more often than Scripture—and such glorification of people borders on blasphemy. Groups that focus their attention on hyper-spiritual personalities and their prophecies can quickly drift into cultic behavior.

How do we avoid being deceived by false prophecy and unhealthy spiritual phenomena? The best way I know is to get our priorities in line with God’s Word.

The purpose of any genuine spiritual gift is to edify the church so we can fulfill the Great Commission. If our main goal is to win souls, plant healthy churches, make disciples and advance the gospel around the world, then prophecy can help us do those things. But if we focus on spiritual gifts as an end in themselves, our distraction will lead us into deception of the weirdest kind. Let’s get our eyes back on Jesus.

J. Lee Grady is contributing editor of Charisma. You can follow him on Twitter at leegrady. His newest book is 10 Lies Men Believe (Charisma House).

Draw closer to God. Experience the presence of the Holy Spirit every month as you read Charisma magazine. Sign up now to get Charisma for as low as $1 per issue.

Get to know the Holy Spirit and how to interact with Him on a daily basis. Learn to enter God's presence and hear His voice clearly for yourself! Go deeper in your faith with Life in the Spirit and change your life and destiny. Are you ready to start your journey?

Did you enjoy this blog? Click here to receive it by email.

Your Turn

Comment Guidelines
View/Add Comments
  • Hillary Clinton

    What if Hillary Clinton Wins the White House?

    Polls have Mrs. Clinton leading by 11 points. The church must be prepared.

  • Holy Spirit prophetic

    7 Ways to Cultivate Sensitivity to the Holy Spirit

    Too many of God's people are led by fear, doubt, man-pleasing, presumption, assumption, idols ...

  • Jezebel puppets

    10 Ways to Spot Jezebel's Spiritually Slick Undercover Con Artists

    It's time to stop tolerating Jezebel in all its many manifestations.

  • Highway exit signs

    Prophetic Word: Watch for the Exit Signs to Light Up This Season

    Don't be afraid to get your hands dirty in the harvest fields. The "barnyard anointing" ...

  • Lance Wallnau

    Lance Wallnau Is on Fire and on Target With His Insights on the Culture and This Election

    I'm sickened by the self-righteous, weak-kneed "evangelicals" who want to be liked by ...

  • In October, many things will be realigned in your life, including your vision.

    5 Prophetic Revelations About God's October Surprise

    "The winds of apostolic change are blowing across the land and realigning you."

  • Step into the rhythm of the Holy Spirit to find abundant life.

    Why Many Christians Never Taste the Abundant Life Jesus Promised

    Joyce lost 90 lbs. without dieting after the Holy Spirit revealed this strategy for wholeness.

  • London landing

    Urgent Prophecy: London Is the Landing Page

    The Lord continued to give me downloads about the deeper meaning and even strategy for the ...

  • Continue Your Journey with the Holy Spirit

    Continue Your Journey with the Holy Spirit

    Follow God on the most fulfilling journey of your life with Encounter the Holy Spirit! Break away from past hurts and press into the One who wants a personal encounter with you.

  • Dream the Unimaginable In His Presence

    Dream the Unimaginable In His Presence

    Reach your full potential and be led by His Spirit. In His Presence takes you to a deeper understanding of who God is and how he communicates with us.

  • Set Your Spirit on Fire

    Set Your Spirit on Fire

    Receive the power and gifts that come through the Holy Spirit Baptism. Don’t go empty-handed; accept all that He has for you! His power is available to those who ask.

  • Put on the Full Armor of God

    Put on the Full Armor of God

    Break every stronghold with the power of the Holy Spirit. Use the power of your tongue to declare and decree the Word of God. Witness heaven move on your behalf.

Use Desktop Layout
Charisma Magazine — Empowering believers for life in the Spirit