We often speak of preaching as if it were some distinct biblical gift. In scripture, preaching is prophecy. The two are near synonyms. Prophecy is more than just preaching, but it is mostly preaching. Prophecy means to "forth-tell" or speak-forth what God wants said.
The prophets of old had a few "future" type forth-tellings in a lifetime. But routinely they were confronting people with the Holy One of Israel and the sin of the people, day in and day out. True and good preachers (prophets) nowadays do the same.
For this reason, they are hated--even to this day. We like teachers much more. They explain things. Prophets speak of eternal realities such as hell.
Thus, we have the command of scripture to thwart the "natural" tendency of the flesh...
1 The 5:20 (NAS) Do not despise prophetic utterances.As to what has become known as prophecy in charismania circles, much of it is little more than speaking "smooth things" and practicing amateur "reading" techniques (more on this later).
We have experienced many real/true prophecies. They cut like a knife and pierce through with holy fear. The smarmy, vague, soothsaying now currently wearing the name is not even close.
Consider, for example, the style of Christ in the directly dictated letters of Revelation 2-3. Are these a bland verbal horoscope? No, they are piercing rebuke and real encouragement that are aimed directly and poignantly towards the problem... or to the Spirit in us.
When I was 16, an armed guard at my high school pulled me aside and told me that he could read palms. He grabbed my hand, and while pointing around at various lines told me that 1) I was from a wealthy family, 2) I was a serious student who cared about my grades, 3) there was a girl that I wanted to date but would not ask, and 4) etc., etc., etc.
All this was true, and I was mesmerized. Then (thank God!) he tossed down my hand, which I was staring at intently to try to see what he saw, and he said "That was all bunk--and you should know better..." "Wait," I said, "It was all true." "Of course it was," he agreed. "Think about it! I see you come and go out of here every day. I see the car you drive. I see that you are always loaded down with books--and how many other kids do you see with books in their hands? Etc., etc. etc." He took my hand again and went on to explain "I used your hand as a distracter. While I was pointing at various lines, you were looking at your hand, and I was looking at you. I threw words out like: 'girls, money, clothing...' and when I would see a strong reaction on your face I stopped and repeated 'girls' and then 'a girlfriend--no, a girl you would like to date...' and would look to see if you blinked or swallowed. Then I would go that direction." He again tossed down my hand and sent me away with a stern--but smiling--warning: "Don't be so easily fooled!"
This man was a good magician, good at the technique of "reading" his audience, and yet honest in the end. Unfortunately less forthright people are now welcomed in some charismatic churches as PROPHETS! Instead of palms, they ask us to "bow our heads" or "close our eyes" while they look on... Later, of course, an offering is taken.
They are making a tidy profit (prophets for profit--see Balaam) of this tomfoolery.
"There is someone out there--the 'spirit' just showed me--that is having some financial difficulty!"
I actually heard this with my own ears not long ago. This is a far cry from "You are the man!" or "Repent or perish" or "the man you are with is not your husband", or even "go, and sin no more."
"The 'lord' has shown me that a person in this audience is having some problem in their marriage."
Should we laugh, or weep?
Many of these "messages" are so bland that they could hardly be called false in message, but I think we can discern the spirit and technique and declare them false in source.
While these fleshly gyrations are indeed grievous, they are no more grievous than a sermon done "in the flesh", or witnessing done without God's leadership, or any other gift attempted not by God's power but in our own strength. Ever hear a sermon not delivered in God's power? But we have certain oratorical "tricks" we can play to simulate and fake it.
Luke 12:1 (NIV) ... "Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy."More dangerous than fake or play-acted prophecies are those that are indeed real but from a dark source and/or with demonic doctrine. The same is true with "signs and wonders". And given our gullibility and lack of TESTING--as the Holy Spirit COMMANDS us to do--such is all too prevalent among us.
Let us pray that God will grant to us, his body, the zeal and grace to make true discernment of spirits--whether of God, of the flesh, or of the devil.
1 Ki 22:7 (NIV) "Is there not a prophet of the LORD here...?"