Mature prophets understand how to work within the local church. Scripture declares, “Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is liberty” (2 Corinthians 3:17). That is not to say that one has the freedom to do just whatever he or she wants to do during a church service. The Word says, “Let all things be done decently and in order (taxis).” Order, from the Greek word taxis we get our English word taxi.“Taxis” means an ordered flow. Those in prophetic ministry understand the meaning of taxis within prophetic operations. Prophetic operations sometimes occur during church services. Let’s review some suggested guidelines for an ordered flow.
Our society is filled with those that come into our churches who have opened themselves up to New Age mysticism, witchcraft, the occult and spiritualism. Because of this it is important “prophetic taxis” be taught and prophets submit to the order of the house as set by their leaders.
“Wherefore, brethren, covet to prophesy and forbid not to speak with tongues. Let all things be done decently and in order.” (1 Corinthians 14:39-40)
The Apostle Paul taught to “covet prophecy” but urged to do so “decently and in order.” To reverence our God and flow in the liberty of the Holy Spirit I suggest there is a proper order that the Holy Spirit likes to flow. That order we will call prophetic taxis sets the stage for prophecy within local church services. It also helps protect the flock from false prophecy and the working of familiar spirits.
With any move, revival or prophetic voice from the Holy Spirit, it is the responsibility of the local pastor (set-man) and church leaders to set biblical parameters in receiving, judging, encouraging and guiding in the move of God. This includes guidelines for prophecy and order within the local assembly. We do that through such things as study of the Word, prayer, reverence toward the Lord and worship. There are many biblical examples for preparing the house of the Lord all given by the Spirit such as Moses, Exodus 25:40, and David, 1 Chronicles 28:10-12.
As order is established within the local church the Holy Spirit can move freely and minister to the congregation “dividing to every man severally as he wills” diversities of gifts, administrations and operations (1 Corinthians 12). When this takes place the spiritual dynamics within the assembly are amazing as the Holy Spirit empowers believers to grow and mature in the Lord.
With these boundaries rightfully in place, any move of the Holy Spirit creates strong stable Christians, not flaky ones. Therefore, spiritual submission to the order of the house always brings about spiritual stability that guards the flock and allows the Holy Spirit to speak without hindrance. This means that guidelines for prophetic taxis must be set within the local church.
Because of the spiritual nature of our church services mature leadership is a must. We offer the following guidelines for prophetic operations during local church services and give examples of general prophetic error. Again, these are incomplete and suggested. They may change according to your particular church’s leadership and culture.
1. CAREFUL WITH “GOD SAID”
You have probably heard someone preface a prophecy with the words, “God said.” It can be used so often that we become callous to the saying and don’t pay much attention to it. There are times when God speaks prophetically, yet there are other times when God doesn’t say anything. If you are not sure that God said anything then say something like, “I sense that God is saying.” Later in this essay we will give examples of people that used those words, “God said,” inappropriately.
2. BECOME A KNOWN PROPHETIC MINISTER
Become a known prophetic minister within your local church under the approval of the church’s leadership.
David sinned by arranging the death of a faithful servant Uriah and taking his wife Bathsheba. In response the Lord sent the prophet Nathan to tell the king a story of a stingy rich man that robbed a defenseless poor man of his only pet lamb. After hearing this “David’s anger was greatly kindled against the man and he said to Nathan, As the Lord liveth the man that hath done this thing shall surely die and he shall restore the lamb fourfold because he did this thing and because he had no pity.” Nathan responded to David, “Thou art the man” (1 Samuel 12).
This was a dangerous prophetic meeting. Any prophet other than Nathan could have been killed for such a prophecy. Nathan, however, had a personal relationship with David. Because Nathan was a recognized prophetic voice in David’s life he received Nathan and repented of his sin.
I attended a special church service with a prophet from our ministry. After service we were invited to a private dinner with some veteran ministry gifts. The prophet with me wanted to share a prophetic word with the leaders at the dinner. I wouldn’t let him for several reasons. First, I didn’t have a witness in my spirit to the word. Second, he was a young prophet in training. Next, the timing was inappropriate and the topic sensitive. Finally, he would not have been received as a prophetic voice since he was unknown to these particular leaders. When it comes to personal prophecy, prophetic ministry gifts are “better received” when they are recognized as from the Lord. This is the lesson we learn from the relationship between Nathan and David.
3. KNOW THOSE THAT LABOR AMONG YOU
As already said if a person is a ministry gift from Christ set in the local church that ministry gift should be recognized by the local pastor or set man. If the local pastor or set man does not recognize a person as a prophetic gift then that individual is not sent as a prophetic voice to that particular congregation. I present this as proper order. Scripture says, “And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you” (1 Thessalonians 5:12). Some come like sheep to our churches acting like prophets who are ravening wolves. We can only know them by their fruits.
“Beware of false prophets which come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits.” (Matthew 7:15-16)
It takes time to know people by their fruit. The only plant that grows fast in a garden is a weed. We are not judging one’s salvation but we are rightfully inspecting their fruit. Pastors are responsible to know their flock. This also includes those allowed to labor prophetically. Scripture confirms this, “Be thou diligent to know the state of thy flocks and look well to thy herds” (Proverbs 27:23).
4. USE CAUTION WITH AMBIGUOUS PROPHECIES
Ambiguous prophecies can be confusing and are open to many interpretations. Use caution with them. Remember not everyone that comes into a local church came for the same reason you did.
“I appeal to you, brethren, to be on your guard concerning those who create dissensions and difficulties and cause divisions, in opposition to the doctrine (the teaching) which you have been taught. [I warn you to turn aside from them, to] avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ but their own appetites and base desires, and by ingratiating (good words) and flattering speech, they beguile (deceive) the hearts of the unsuspecting and simpleminded [people].” (Romans 16:17-18 AMP)
“Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils.” (1 Timothy 4:1)
To manifest the Holy Spirit through prophecy exalts the lordship of Christ and not man. Scripture declares, “For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy” (Revelation 19:10). We urge extreme caution with ambiguous directive prophecy, visions or dreams and encourage you to present them to your spiritual leadership to be judged. Your pastors offer a safety net with their biblical experience and spiritual astuteness.
5. AVOID DARK SAYINGS
I define dark sayings as prophetic experiences, including dreams and visions that are difficult to understand. I am insistent the Holy Spirit is capable of express communication. Christ does not give revelation without the ability to grasp what He is saying. All spiritual experiences need to be judged especially directive prophecy, dark sayings, dreams, and visions.
Some have mystical dreams that are not from the Holy Spirit. Perhaps this is happening to some when they sleep. We willfully choose to serve our Christ each day. When we sleep our will relaxes and we enter a dream-type state as our body shuts down to sleep. Our spirit is like a filter that picks up on things in the spirit realm throughout the day or even around us at night. It is these things that we may dream about in that sleepy realm. If those dreams, however, are only dark sayings that can be interpreted many different ways, they should just be ignored. Wash everything, including dreams, with the written Word of God. Remember our God is not strange, weird or mystical. He speaks expressly.
6. DISCERN HOLY SPIRIT OR VAIN IMAGINATIONS
Mature prophets understand the difference between the Holy Spirit and imagination. Imaginations (images and pictures) form within the spirit of your mind. God created us with a seeing ability. If I were to say, “Dog,” for example, you would see a picture of a dog in your mind. You would not see the letters d - o - g. If I were to say, “Tree,” you would see a picture of a tree in your mind. You would not see the letters t - r - e - e. The point is that people think and see in pictures. That is the way God created you.
The Word says the nine gifts of the Holy Spirit are given to profit us. To one is given the word of wisdom and to another the word of knowledge (1 Corinthians 12). It does not say, to one is given the manifestation of a picture of knowledge or a picture of wisdom. This means we receive a word but that word is seen through pictures. Some, however, are not hearing anything from the Holy Spirit but only seeing pictures formed in their own imagination. The danger is when they tell others God told them something when He didn’t say anything. It may be nothing more than pictures seen inside one’s own imagination. Again, discerning the voice of the Holy Spirit or vain imaginations is important. Here are examples of people wrongly prophesying.
a. CHANGE OF MIND
One person told me that God sent them to the grocery store to buy a certain product. On arrival they found the store out of stock. They told me God spoke again saying, “Now go over to the other store and they will have it.” Was God unaware the first store didn’t have the product? Did God just simply change his mind or did this person never hear from God to start with? I hope you chose the latter.
b. THUS SAITH THE LORD
A pastor in Amsterdam, Holland told the story of a person standing up in church declaring, “Thus saith the Lord, just as Noah led the children out of Egypt” ...silence…. “Thus saith the Lord, I made a mistake…. Just as Moses….”
c. GOD TOLD ME TO TELL YOU TO READ THIS
I was standing on the platform worshiping the Lord during a service with my eyes closed. A woman left her seat heading toward me. She plunged her Bible into my stomach startling me saying, “God told me to tell you to read this Psalm right now!” I responded, “Not now, go and sit back down.” She was offended and left the church. Did God really speak to her?
d. YOU’RE GOING TO DIE
A certain man was not acknowledged as a prophetic ministry gift at our church, Spirit of Life Ministries, Hallandale Beach, Florida. He said to me, “Thus saith the Lord, because you have not accepted me as your personal prophet you will die in thirty days.” This was a sad day for me. I was forced to deal sternly with this man.
e. YOU DON’T HAVE TO WORK
Another said that “God told him” not to get a job and work because he was to live a total life of faith. We found that he was around fifty year’s old living off his mother’s social security and had put his foreign wife out to work on his behalf. This man was using “God said” as an excuse for laziness.
f. THROWN OUT
Another person wanted to give a prophecy not in the right flow (taxis) of the church service. When not allowed to deliver it right then he stood and began to cast the devil out of the pastor. He was thrown out of the church by the ushers.
g. REBUKE YOUR PASTOR
A man showed me a video of a prophet telling him to rebuke his pastor and set him in order. He asked me to judge the prophecy. I told him he did not have any authority to rebuke his pastor and the prophecy was not from the Holy Spirit. The man got angry with me and said I needed deliverance. If I would have agreed with the prophecy, however, then surely I would not have needed deliverance.
All of these are real life examples of Christians that violated prophetic ministry. We love them but must uphold an atmosphere of prophetic taxis in our churches and ministries. Our God is not a flake. By keeping the right order in the house of God we raise mature prophets.
7. STAY CONNECTED DURING SERVICES
Some groups are notorious for having their own thing going on during a church service. During services it is important to get into agreement with your pastor. Don’t lay hands on, pray for, or prophesy to someone while the church service is in progress. No private ministry please. Keep an atmosphere of faith, reverence, worship, intercession, agreement, and expectation.
During some services deliverance takes place. During times of deliverance stay in your seat and don’t touch people who are being prayed for unless asked. We had a woman in our church that was slain in the Spirit and laying on the floor. A friend started to pick her up and escort her back to her seat. The ushers saw her and stopped her because they knew the Holy Spirit was not finished ministering to her. A few moments later the lady was delivered from the hold of an evil spirit. Had her friend succeeded in taking her back to her seat it’s likely she would have been robbed of her deliverance. As already said, “Let all things be done decently and in order (taxis).”
- The Greek word taxis means an ordered flow (2 Corinthians 3:17).
- The Apostle Paul taught to “covet prophecy” but urged to do so “decently and in order.”
- prophetic ministry gifts are better received when they are recognized as being sent from the Lord. If a person is truly a ministry gift from God, set into a local church, that ministry gift must be recognized as such by the local pastor or set man.
- If the local pastor or set man does not recognize a person as a prophetic gift then that individual is not sent as a prophetic voice to that particular congregation.
- “The Holy Spirit speaks expressly” (1 Timothy 4:1). To speak expressly means in a plain and definitive way.
Go deeper into the prophetic ministry, check out the Apostolic Equipping Institute’s online Extreme Prophetic Ministries Training Course.
(c) Jonas Clark