SUNDAY, JULY 8, 2012.
THE MINISTER AS A PROPHET
‘The Lord God will do nothing, unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets’ (Amos 3v7).
PART of the charge given to a minister during ordination is ‘to do his prophetic ministry’. The Church, already, is aware of the importance of the prophetic side of ministry, for people perish where there is no vision or knowledge (Hosea 4v6).
The word ‘prophet’ is derived from the Greek ‘prophetes’. It means: ‘one who speaks forth’ or ‘a proclaimer and interpreter of divine revelation’. He is also one who acts as God’s spokesman. At times, a prophet may be looked upon as a ‘seer’ or ‘inspired person’, bearing a connotation of a predictor or revealer of future events.
In the Old Testament, the prophetic formula remained: ‘thus says the Lord’. The prophet gives the authentic message of the Lord as received. A minister who is called and sent forth to perform the prophetic ministry is under obligation to convey to God’s people the undiluted mind of God at any time or circumstance.
It is true; some so-called men of God have abused this aspect of ministry. They resort to use of this prophetic medium as means of deceiving gullible members instead of conveying the mind of God to the people. They are not afraid of the Biblical warning: ‘Whosoever shall offend one of [these] little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea’ (Matt. 18v6). Or ‘Who can speak and have it happen if the Lord has not decreed it?
(Lamentation 3v37, New Living Translation). Who has spoken and it came to pass, unless the Lord has commanded it?’ A day is coming when the Lord will rescue His sheep from the mouth of devourers and self-styled prophets.
Let it be noted that a minister, under prophetic anointing, should receive messages from God whether they are palatable or not. As long as they proceed from the mouth of the Lord, such must be conveyed to a congregation or gathering of God’s people. Agabus was one of such prophets who spoke the mind of God: ‘And there stood up one of them named Agabus, and signified by the Spirit that there should be great dearth throughout all the world, which came to pass in the days of Claudius Caesar’ (Acts 11v28). You wonder, in our day, whether things people speak under the guise of prophecy actually come from the Lord?
Tools that can enhance the prophetic ministry include first, the vocal gift of prophecy, which is the most obvious. The main purpose of prophecy is to encourage and edify the body of Christ. How can prophecy bring this? It is by a prophetic word. A word that tell believers how much God loves them and how valuable they are to Him will certainly bring them closer to the Lord. But sometimes prophecy can be a word of wisdom that needs to come to pass. So, the prophet needs to do more than prophesy; he needs to send forth a prophetic decree, so that whatever the Lord is planning for the individual or the body of Christ comes to pass. The prophet can do this while ministering directly to a person or in prayer. By sending forth a prophetic decree, the prophet becomes part of the solution of whatever the person is expecting.
Secondly, the gift of revelation, one of the main functions of the prophet, is to equip saints for the work of ministry. To fulfill this, the prophet needs to help them identify their gifts and ministries. The main tool is the gift of the word of wisdom. With this, the prophet can, not only reveal what ministry they are called to, but give direction regarding how to grow in that ministry. Often, believers have revelations or impressions regarding their calling, which they don’t understand. The prophet can use the word of wisdom to bring a confirmation. When the prophet does this, he builds hope in the life of believers and provides something to hang onto and live for.
Thirdly are the power gifts. At this level, the prophet operates with the eye of faith. Without this gift, the prophet cannot function properly. He is called to be part of the solution to whatever problem God reveals. He does this through prophetic decrees. It is when the prophet decrees that what he has predicted or revealed come to pass. But the decree itself is not enough. What makes the decree effective is the gift of faith. It is the spiritual force, which when released into the earth, accomplishes the will of God. As the prophet decrees, the gift of faith is released to accomplish the will of God. The prophet fulfils this function mainly through intercession. The prophet is a specialist in intercessory prayer. More so, he is aware: ‘The Lord God will do nothing, unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets (Amos 3v7).
Thus, God reveals His plan and purpose to the prophets so that they can pray forth His will into the earth. It behooves the minister who will function under the unction of the prophetic ministry to ensure that he is wise and sensitive to the Holy Spirit in order not to fall into excesses and deceit. Let us be encouraged that from generation to generation, God will raise ministers who will act as spiritual watchmen for His people.Ven. Ernest Onuoha Rector, Ibru International Ecumenical Centre, Agbarha-Otor, Delta State.