Back in 1991, when I was first exposed to a relatively ‘strong dose’ of the prophetic movement by joining up with the Cambridge Vineyard Christian Fellowship (in Cambridge, Ontario, Canada) for about 9 months, I went through an experience at a weekend camp retreat in which someone — a prophet, he said he was — told me that I was a prophet. That sounded nice to me, so I decided to ‘run’ with it! My first big opportunity to blow it came when one of the young whipper-snapper pastors of the church I was attending decided to purchase a motorcycle. Now you have to know my dad, but my dad was one of those guys who was supremely into safety matters. In fact, he worked for a safety company for I think it was about 25 or 30 long years, and do you think my father would have approved of a motorcycle? You bet he would not have! I certainly ‘picked up’ on my father’s enthusiasm for safety concerns, because it essentially ‘came through’ in my desire not to ever own one of these ‘mean machines’! (I have to admit, though, I did ride on the back of one of them once.)
Now in the ‘fleshly’ realm, what do you suppose was the ‘natural predisposition’ of a man like me with regards to this pastor purchasing one of these ‘mean machines’? Well, if you guessed that I would ‘naturally want to condemn it’, you guessed right! As soon as I found out about this ‘radical purchase’ of his, this ‘new and improved prophet’ took over! After all, had not God chosen me? The time to begin prophesying was now! Or so I thouht. I wrote the man a note, and I am greatly saddened to say that it read something like this: “Dear Andy (not his real name), The Lord has told me that if you purchase that motorcycle, then something bad will happen to you.” Arghhhhh! What a horrendous note to write! The man kept his emotional response all ‘bottled up inside of him’ for weeks and weeks (it must have been months, in fact), until one day he actually came inside where I was living and verbally harassed me in a very angry sort of way! (Some pastor!) Oh, well, I guess he was in learning! It just goes to show you that some pastors make mistakes as severe as the members of the church that they are trying to correct!
Now the story doesn’t end here. If it did, I wouldn’t be writing this article at all. For, you see, what that young whipper-snapper of a pastor came to do was to give me HIS prophetic word concerning MY ‘so-called’ prophetic word to HIM! And, by the way, that ‘prophetic word’ wasn’t the ONLY prophetic word I decided to ‘give’ during those tumultous weeks! For I had ‘taken off’ virtually ‘out of control’, you might say! For there was another occasion in which he, and a group of others, were engaged in ‘praying off’ (and bidding fairwell) to a certain very nice fellow who was going to go on a short term missions trip to Montreal, and, naturally, I condemned that, too. Well, of course! Had I not the gift of prophecy? Was I not God’s spokesperson? And how was this stuff supposed to work, anyway? (I confess, I didn’t really know!) But like the first instance, I ‘wrote it down’ on a piece of paper, and said something like, “John (not his real name), if you go to Montreal on that short term missions trip, something bad might happen to you! God wants you doing such and such instead.” Yikes! Another nasty note! (You can see why the pastor came along ‘beating on my door’ not too long after that! For he had oversight over this man in his congregation.)
Now the awesome part of the story has not been told, yet, for what the young pastor said to me was, “You are WRONG! Those were NOT words from God!” For I had prophesied out of my flesh, and not from the Holy Spirit. When a person prophesies out of their flesh, they may do so for a variety of reasons. The first and foremost reason I can think of is that, although the person may be a devoted Christian and sincerely desiring to do the ‘right’ thing — yes, even believing themselves to be in the ‘right’ — because the person is not entirely yielded to Christ (and who is perfectly yielded to Christ), there is a tendency to want to glorify ‘self’ over ‘God’ — thus to listen to oneself may be more attractive than listening to God! What I prophesied may have even come from the spirit realm, but not from God’s Spirit. I may have been open to receiving it, because of a natural predisposition to wanting to ‘judge’ others. Now that comes with the job, and the prophet needs to know when his judgment comes from God, and when it comes from self. He or she is to avoid, AT ALL COSTS, prophesying from the ‘fleshly’ part of him or her. That is a big ‘no no’! I repeat, it is a ‘no no’!” (And if only someone had told me that before I made those two — or was it three — big blunders! But, then, again, I would have never been able to share this article with you … Romans 8:28, PTL.)
How then is the prophet to know whether what he has prophesied is of God or not? The answer is simple: If the prophet is GENUINELY called of God, he will know, for God will MAKE it known to him. You say, “How can God do that?” I will tell you how it happened in my case, and let you judge for yourself, whether or not God was able to make it known to me. At the very same time as I was going off on a tangent like I was (and this was back in 1991, so I’ve had a few years to think about this), I was also receiving these very fascinating dreams. Now to be sure, I didn’t quite understand what they all meant, but I could ‘tell’ that they came from God — at least, they were so wonderful, and glorious, and yet I didn’t understand them at all. All I could do was to write them down (like Daniel did when he received visions and dreams). I did this for a period of about a week, receiving these wonderful dreams every one or two days. Now when the man of God (the pastor) got all angry at me, I told him that, in all sincerity, I believed that what I was doing was of God. He said to me, “You are WRONG!” I said to him, “But how can I know I am wrong?” (And I was serious! You can see just how impassioned I was to serve God, yet I was sincerely mistaken and misled, even open possibly to a lying, deceiving, spirit.)
The man of God responded by saying, “God will show you!” That is the last thing that he said before leaving the house where I was staying at that time in Cambridge. Then, I went upstairs to my room, and proceeded to open up my journal — you know, the one in which I had written all those dreams. I didn’t even recognize what I was doing, or why I was doing it — you simply had to say, “It was just God taking over from that point on to show me the error of my way.” What followed next was pure revelation from God on high, and this was astounding (and please, take note, for it is awesome!): As I began reviewing the dreams that I had written down, I could see that they were prophetic, coded, dreams, of exactly what had transpired — it was all there in beautiful color! God opened my eyes up, and suddenly I understood. The dreams clearly showed me making a mistake (ahead of time) by giving bad prophetic messages on several occasions (in the near future). There was Andy, in one of the dreams. There was John in another one of the dreams. There was the judgment I had issued to Andy, and to John, clearly depicted, one, two, and even three days before I actually wrote the letters to each of them and before the judgment even came to exist in my heart! It was all there, in ‘black and white’ as they say — except it was more like ‘living color’! Then, I knew, the pastor was right. I was wrong! Man, that was a humbling experience. But again, it was a glorious experience, for … had not God shown me … and he obviously cared enough to do that … a sure sign that he was with me! Praise the Lord!
My friend, don’t ever doubt the capacity of God to correct one of his children or prophets. If God does not correct one of his prophets, they are ‘none of his’. The glorious blessing that I have received through this experience is that far from being ‘none of his’, God has shown me that he cares enough for the messages that I may give, to correct me when I am wrong. And he does so with all his prophets, or they are ‘none of his’ as I say. And he does it in the most convincing of manners! Stay tuned for part 4 (and please read parts 1 and 2 if you have not done so already!). In part 4, I will attempt to dig a little bit deeper still, and give specific reasons why a prophet may be subject to error, and how to avoid falling into those errors. Stay tuned!
“My son, despise not the chastening of the LORD; neither be weary of his correction: For whom the LORD loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth.” (Proverbs 3:11-12)
“And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets.” (1 Corinthians 14:32)