SCHOOL OF THE PROPHETIC—
Stephen A. Hanson
Week Two: Prophetic Order and Protocol in the Church
God is a God of order and not of disorder. Every gathering, whether it is secular or non-secular,
needs to have some type of order or structure to it. Otherwise, there is free-flowing chaos, and
chaos cannot benefit anyone.
Paul outlines in I Cor. 14:20 some of these guidelines to us. Paul begins with telling us the need to be able to hear what is being said in a church gathering. 6Now, brothers, if I come to you and speak in tongues, what good will I be to you, unless I bring you some revelation or knowledge or prophecy or word of instruction? 7Even in the case of lifeless things that make sounds, such as the flute or harp, how will anyone know what tune is being played unless there is a distinction in the notes? 8Again, if the trumpet does not sound a clear call, who will get ready for battle? 9So it is with you. Unless you speak intelligible words with your tongue, how will anyone know what you are saying? You will just be speaking into the air.
26What then shall we say, brothers? When you come together, everyone has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. All of these must be done for the strengthening of the church.
(We see here that any of these messages are for the strengthening of the church. Otherwise, what is being said would not be good.)
27If anyone speaks in a tongue, two—or at the most three—should speak, one at a time, and someone must interpret. 28If there is no interpreter, the speaker should keep quiet in the church and speak to himself and God. 29Two or three prophets should speak, and the others should weigh carefully what is said. 30And if a revelation comes to someone who is sitting down, the first speaker should stop. 31For you can all prophesy in turn so that everyone may be instructed and encouraged. 32The spirits of prophets are subject to the control of prophets. 33For God is not a God of disorder but of peace.
*We see here that there may well be more than one that gives forth a
prophecy or message to the church. The one that is sitting down who has been
given a message is allowed precedence over the one that is now speaking. I
wonder how often this type of thing goes on? It becomes very important for the
others within the assembly to judge the words that are being spoken. If one has
a check in their spirit because of the message being said, then it would be
wise for that to be said then. However, because of basic protocol, it seems to
be the best procedure for the pastor to voice his or her concern at the time,
rather than a member who immediately stands up and voices his or her concern.
37If anybody thinks he is a prophet or spiritually gifted, let him acknowledge that what I am writing to you is the Lord's command. 38If he ignores this, he himself will be ignored.[i] 39Therefore, my brothers, be eager to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues. 40But everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way.
Here we see that everything must be done decently and in order. Those giving prophetic words need to be able to follow the flow of the service. Consider what the message that you are to be giving. Does it build-up the church? Would it benefit those who hear it? Would it bring edification or would it bring condemnation? Paul also tells us in this passage above that we are not to think of ourselves too highly than we ought to. It is the Lord’s command for us to speak, so the glory is to be given to him and him alone. Lastly we see that God has given us self-control. So, as a word is welling up within us, it need not be said right then, we can wait until the right timing of the service to give it. “The spirits of the prophets are subject to the control of the prophets.”
Who is the word for? When to share it? How to share it?
(Is it for the church, yourself, someone else or who?)
Now, that is not to say that the Lord has not given me something or shown me something, while in the midst of a service--He has. One needs to be sensitive to what He is speaking and sharing with you at the time. Is it something personal which concerns only you, or is it something which would benefit the body of Christ? These are important considerations to make, and ones which perhaps, are learned over time, through trial and error. Also, is this word specifically for that particular church, or is this something for the body of Christ at large? Obviously, there may well be something in every word which has application to the body of Christ at large, but is the real "meat" and content for someone or some church only? Also, and perhaps, finally, how does one then conduct themselves in giving personal words from the Lord to those in their midst at a church? Here again, I believe, wisdom is key, and important. Obviously, if someone is praying for you, and suddenly has a word from the Lord, and then speaks it out, this is something which needs to be weighed carefully. There may be other times when He speaks to you in the midst of a service concerning someone there in your midst. I usually then ask Him when would be a good time to share this with the person, and He will let me know. (These then, are just simply some good rules of conduct for those involved in the prophetic, and hopefully, helpful guidelines to follow. Remember that He is a God of order and not disorder, but that there is also freedom where the Spirit is, and He is also a creative God, and doesn't always do things the same way. He wants us to grow in our ability to trust Him, and not lean unto our own understanding.)
During this time, I want you to find a quiet place in the room. It needs to be free of distractions and anything that may keep you from hearing that still small voice of the Lord within you. You need to have a pad of paper with a pen or pencil with you at this time. I now will offer up a prayer that I want you all to pray and listen with me: “Father, we know that you have said that we are your sheep and that your sheep hear your voice and that they do not listen to another. You have also said that we can ask seek and knock and that the door would be opened unto you. We come to you Lord asking that we would hear from you now. Amen”
Now, close your eyes and let the spirit speak to you. As He does, then begin writing down what you sense that He is saying to you now. Write down each word or phrase that comes to you. Don’t worry about writing too much or too fast. Just simply keep listening and write what you sense that He is saying. Now, I will ask whoever wants to share these things that you’ve written down to share them as you feel free to.