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The Ascension Gifts, also referred to as the 5-Fold Ministry, or the Ephesians 4:11-13 Ministries

“And [His gifts to the church were varied and] He Himself appointed some as apostles [special messengers, representatives], some as prophets [who speak a new message from God to the people], some as evangelists [who spread the good news of salvation], and some as pastors and teachers [to shepherd and guide and instruct], [and He did this] to fully equip and perfect the saints (God’s people) for works of service, to build up the body of Christ [the church]; until we all reach oneness in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God, [growing spiritually] to become a mature believer, reaching to the measure of the fullness of Christ [manifesting His spiritual completeness and exercising our spiritual gifts in unity]” (Ephesians 4:11-13 AMP)

Prophets are, at best, not liked by most of today’s Church – and at worst they are downright feared and often ridiculed and despised.

And this has been so since the days of the Prophets in the Old Testament.

In part it is because by their very calling they are often required to give a message that we don’t want to hear.

And very often that message relates to our sin – individually or corporately.

And/or, it is a message of rebuke or correction that we also don’t want to hear.

Jeremiah 1:10 says: “See, today I appoint you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant.”

Notice how there was twice as much tearing down and overthrowing than there was a commission to “build and to plant”?

No wonder the Church doesn’t like the Prophets.

But make no mistake those Prophets, who are called of God, speak the very words of God.

God puts His Words in their mouths:

God said to Isaiah: “I have put My words in your mouth and covered you with the shadow of My hand” (Isaiah 51:16a)

God said the same thing to Jeremiah.

Jeremiah 1:9 “Then the LORD reached out His hand and touched my mouth and said to me, “I have put My words in your mouth.”

“For they have not listened to My words, declares the LORD, words that I sent to them again and again by My servants the prophets. And you exiles have not listened either, declares the LORD.” (Jeremiah 29:19 NIV)

Even Jesus said that He did “nothing on My own but speak just what the Father has taught Me” (John 8:28)

God sends the Prophets:

“Again and again I sent all My servants the prophets to you. They said, Each of you must turn from your wicked ways and reform your actions; do not follow other gods to serve them. Then you will live in the land I have given to you and your fathers. But you have not paid attention or listened to Me“. (Jeremiah 35:15)

Note in that passage God said that He “sent the Prophets”, yet refers to Himself when He states that they have not paid attention or listened to Me.

The Prophets spoke – but it was God’s message!

I believe that there are three main reasons why the people of God through all ages, and why the Church of today has no time for the Prophets:

  1. Because Prophets often are told to point out our sins – and no-one likes that.
  1. Because we are unsure how to weigh up Prophecy – unsure if this is from God or not?
  1. Because we are warned about “false prophets” and are concerned that what we hear may be false.

Well number one is not a valid reason.

If God is warning us of our sin – and He has every right to do just that – and if we are to foolish to listen then we heap God’s wrath upon us – and rightly so.

Reason number two is also not valid.

God has given us His Word, (the Bible), and He has told us to weigh everything by His Word: 2 Tim 3:16-17 “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

And again: 2 Cor 13:1 “Every matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.”

Likewise, reason number three is also not valid.

We are told that there will be agreement between two or three witnesses, or in other words that other Prophets or Apostles will be in agreement.

And we are also instructed that nothing spoken by a Prophet will disagree with the teaching of Scripture.

God is neither a liar, nor is He double-minded, that He would say one thing in His written Word and then the opposite in His spoken word through His Prophets.

God has also given to us the “gifts of the Spirit” one such gift being “discernment of spirits” – so if we are a Biblical Church we are using these freely God-given gifts – so we have nothing to fear but fear itself.

When dealing with Prophets and prophecy we need to be very careful that we do not fall into the sin of “grieving the Holy Spirit”.

Mark 3:22 “And the teachers of the law who came down from Jerusalem said, “He is possessed by Beelzebub; By the prince of demons He is driving out demons.” ”

And the rebuke of Jesus was: Mark 3:28-30 “I tell you the truth, all the sins and blasphemies of men will be forgiven them. But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; he is guilty of an eternal sin.”

And Jesus explained exactly what is was that “blasphemed or grieved the Holy Spirit” – what this “unforgivable sin” is – in verse 30:

He said this because they were saying, “He has an evil spirit.” The religious folk of the day were saying that the work of God through Jesus was in reality of the devil.

They were attributing the “power of the Holy Spirit” to an evil spirit.

Let us be careful that we don’t make the same mistake about the true Prophets of God in this day and age.

Are you a Prophet?

People who are prophets feel God’s heart.

They are the heart function of the Ascension Gifts.

It could be said, the Apostle is the brain but without the heart function where would compassion, love and mercy be? Luke.1:76-79.

Some Christians wouldn’t agree with compassion, love and mercy being a part of the prophet’s ministry but in actual fact, they can feel great levels of love, compassion and mercy to the point of feeling great empathy for people in general.

It’s what drives them to intercede for those in trouble, or in need of healing, etc.

The Prophets attributes are as follows:

  1. a) They proclaim the revelations of God
  1. b) They bring the blue prints of God’s plans and relate them to divine priorities. Amos 3:7
  1. c) They generally have the Motivational Gift of Governments
  1. d) They are used in the gifts of Word of Wisdom, Word of Knowledge, Prophecy and Healings. They will often manifest these gifts in preaching or teaching, as well as spontaneous prophetic utterance.
  1. e) They are, or can be, very sensitive and show great levels of mercy. Luke 1:76-79
  1. f) They are very judgemental on themselves. 1 Kings 19 (Elijah the Prophet)
  1. g) They feel the heartbeat of God.
  1. h) They are at times very quite people, almost withdrawn (Elijah the Prophet)
  1. i) At times they can fall into great periods of depression (Elijah the prophet)
  1. j) At times they feel misunderstood and can be misunderstood in the things they say.
  1. k) Their prayer time is often spent in intercession (Jeremiah and mostly all of the Prophets.)
  1. l) Their major concern is holiness unto the Lord (Isaiah The Prophet) A prophet can be a leader but can be just as hard on people as they are on themselves.

Note: They are genuinely concerned for people’s well-being.

They live the life of a Prophet and breathe God’s breath daily.

It’s simply, in them; they don’t know any other life, everything has a God meaning.

When they teach or preach, they are the message and their life is a living witness to what they preach and teach.

Because they are quiet and withdrawn people, God uses them at times in background ministry, (this however is not true in all cases).

Prophets can make good leaders but need to rely on the other Ascension Gifts to fulfil the function of Pastor, Teacher, etc.

They need the working energy of the Apostle; that’s why God often puts these two ministries together. (Acts 15:22-35; Ephesians 2:20)

Leaders need to understand how the prophet thinks, so they’re not misunderstood in the things they say.

Some leaders shudder at the thought of meeting with prophets, thinking they can see right through them.

Unfortunately, some leaders won’t even invite prophets to preach behind their pulpits.

This is a grave mistake because prophets add to the churches foundation.

Listening to God’s “Prophets”:

In 2 Peter 1:19 it states; “And we have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.”

God warns us to listen to His prophets; not blindly but with a discerning heart. God will speak His plans to His prophets and the prophets will relay God’s divine plans back to the church.

“Indeed, the Sovereign LORD never does anything until He reveals His plans to His servants the prophets.” (Amos 3:7 NLT)

We have a responsibility to listen and discern these plans.

If we don’t listen and obey the voice of God through His prophets, the group in which you lead, or are a part of, will become blind and deaf. Let’s choose to listen today with a discerning heart and see the group you are a part of grow.

A quote from A. W. Tozer: “We are not diplomats but prophets, and our message is not a compromise but an ultimatum.”

Let me finish with some quotes from rabbi and theologian Abraham Heschel:

“To a person endowed with prophetic sight everyone else appears blind; to a person whose ear perceives God’s voice, everyone else appears deaf. No one is just; no knowing is strong enough, no trust complete enough. The prophet hates the approximate, he shuns the middle of the road. Man must live on the summit to avoid the abyss.” – rabbi and theologian Abraham Heschel

“The prophet disdains those for whom God’s presence is comfort and security; to him it is a challenge, an incessant demand. God is compassion, not compromise; justice, though not inclemency.” – rabbi and theologian Abraham Heschel

“The prophet’s word is a scream in the night. While the world is at ease and asleep, the prophet feels the blast from heaven.” – rabbi and theologian Abraham Heschel

“The prophet faces a coalition of callousness and established authority and undertakes to stop a mighty stream with mere words. . . . The purpose of prophecy is to conquer callousness, to change the inner person as well as to revolutionise history. The prophets remind us of the moral state of a people: Few are guilty, but all are responsible.” – rabbi and theologian Abraham Heschel

“It is embarrassing to be a prophet. There are so many pretenders, predicting peace and prosperity, offering cheerful words, adding strength to self-reliance, while the prophet predicts disaster, pestilence, agony, and destruction. People need exhortations to courage, endurance, confidence, fighting spirit.” – rabbi and theologian Abraham Heschel

“To be a prophet is both a distinction and an affliction. The mission he performs is distasteful to him and repugnant to others; no reward is promised him and no reward could temper its bitterness. The prophet bears scorn and reproach (Jer. 15:15). He is stigmatised as a madman by his contemporaries.” – rabbi and theologian Abraham Heschel

“The prophet is a lonely man. He alienates the wicked as well as the pious, the cynics as well as the believers, the priests and the princes, the judges and the false prophets. But to be a prophet means to challenge and to defy and to cast out fear.” – rabbi and theologian Abraham Heschel



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