by Pam Clark

In the five fold ministry (Ephesians 4:11), the prophet carries a very important role. The role is one of bravery and forth-rightness and one of submission. The prophet is called to speak forth what is seen from the Heavenly realm, do it correctly, while submitting to God and to man in His Spirit in His Church.

Because of this high calling, an accountability must come forth, as the error of the false prophet can be not only deceiving but eternally deadly. The job description is laid out in the book of Ephesians, in verses 11-16:

“And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ: that we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: from whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.--[or NKJV: according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.]”

In these verses we see that God’s ministers are called to (1) work to equip others for the work of the ministry, (2) train in discernment of what is true and Biblical, (3) speak the truth in love that causes people to grow in their spiritual walk, and (4) be enablers of growth for the entire Body of Christ. None is an island unto himself!

Each of the five fold ministry has its specific work and each calling is one-fifth of the whole. Each person in the Body of Christ needs all of the five fold ministry to be fully developed. And in these last days, God is more specifically revealing the roles and the power of His true apostles and prophets.

Without a desire to offend anyone, it must be stated that the pastor is not the overseer of all the above gifts. But for those who are coming up in the roles of other ministry, the place of the pastor and ministry leadership should be strongly understood.

Psalm 77:13 says: “Thy way, O God, is in the sanctuary.” God Himself has called forth the gathering of holy convocation. There are appointed seasons and times where His Church is to stand before Him in corporate sessions for His blessing. The fourth Commandment says: “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.” The sabbath day is a day for rest and reflection in the things of God. It is an appointed time for ministry and restoration.

To use a parable or example as Jesus would, Would you let a total stranger come into your home and set up housekeeping without your approval? Most of you would say, “Certainly not!” And why not? Because you are the one who staked out the territory, you are the one who pays the bills, if there is a problem, are you not the one who is ultimately responsible? Of course!

There are many in the five fold ministry who are not pastors who feel that they should just have their way “as the Spirit moves them.” But unfortunately, it is not always the Spirit moving but the spirit of the person, with their well-intentioned zeal. There is a need for self-control and accountability in the Church! Who is the one who is ultimately responsibile for the meeting? Give honor to whom honor is due.

How does one know when the Spirit of God is manifesting? As Jesus taught us, you know a person by their fruits. The Bible defines the manifestation of His Spirit as the fruit listed in Galatians 5:22-23 [NIV]: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” Anything contrary is grounds for doubt.

To some degree, we have had team ministry in the Church. Much more is to come. With the arising of the prophetic Voice, there is a shuffle going on in the structure of the Church. The Anointing of the Spirit is yeilding favor to the prophetic and many have found conflict in this acceptance.

Most people quickly define a pastor as one who has a gathering place and a body of people who meet regularly and the rituals of life and instruction are carried out. Because it is a ministry that hits close to home in many ways, it is readily accepted in its certain rites.

It has usually not been too hard for the teacher to find a place in the Body of the Church, where the evangelist has often struggled more. None the less, in most cases, these three have incorporated in a workable fashion. While the church has not always been as open to the evangelist as one would think should be for the growth of the Church, on the other hand the evangelist has often felt their gift was not understood and it has often been mistreated as the servant of the pastor rather than the servant of Jesus for His Body.

Sadly, many will tell you their gift has been misused, taken advantage of and robbed financially. So many are to be commended for perservering in spite of these abuses.

But many pastors will tell you that some evangelists do not respect their gift! Instead of working together, they almost compete. Some evangelists want royal treatment, big bucks and carte blanche to act anyway they desire rather than being sensitive to the work the pastor is trying to accomplish in stabilizing his flock to the tenets of the faith.

Enter the prophet. Now many are in a state of confusion because rather than calling in the lost, the prophet is focusing on the problems of the Church rather than the lost! The true prophets are troublesome because they carry a power of conviction. The false prophets are troublesome because they are not always discerned before great damage occurs. It will be the true prophets who will displace the false and will set themselves forth as the example.

Most people’s ideas of the prophet come from their Sunday School lessons of Samuel and Elijah and Elisha. These are dramatic prophets who had entrance to kings and spoke for God alone to the entire nation.

In finding the rhema (present day) words of God bubbling forth from within, today’s young prophets often try to emulate these great examples only to find they are not received as such and the effectiveness of their words less than what they have desired for such a cost of dying to self.

Pastors find them pushy and strange, and if the pastor is in sin, he can abhor them. Some prophetic people try to be as dramatic as Ezekiel and the other Old Testament prophets and come across as “out of reality.” But we have a New Testament understanding of prophet that is a bit different from the old. The spirit is the same but the role definition has been redefined.

Hebrews 1:1-2 states: “God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things...” Jesus lives in all of us now who are born again! The veil has been rent and we may all now approach the Throne of grace and hear from God individually.

But His Body still needs ministers and as given in Ephesians 4: 7,8 &11: “But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ's gift. Therefore He says: ‘When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts to men.’ ... And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers...” and then gives their job description.

The leadership gifts are defined here, for those who are called to the full time ministry, and the other giftings in the Body can be found described in Romans 12 and I Corinthians 12 as well as in other places--giving example of how all are needed and are to work together.

The apostolic gift is not so much one of ranking as ability. They are sent from God to promote order in the Church, as last days ministers who will be strong in signs, wonders and miracles and establishings as well as in resurrection power--not only raising lives from the dead but also in restoring the dead form of religion to one of life and unity.

They will work closely with the prophets, who receive the visions and inspirations from God for the well being of the Church in a way that will give them insights into their work. The pastor, evangelist and teacher will be delighted when seeing this new life and energy pouring into their church and into the lives of their people, finding in fact, some of their spiritual workload lifted and their call more effectual.

The future of the Church will see much more team ministry than it has in the past.

The purpose of this article is to write about prophetic accountability. I Corinithians 14 gives us much instruction:

[14:1-3] Pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy. For he who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God, for no one understands him; however, in the spirit he speaks mysteries. But he who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men... [v. 27-32] If anyone speaks in a tongue, let there be two or at the most three, each in turn, and let one interpret. But if there is no interpreter, let him keep silent in church, and let him speak to himself and to God. Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others judge. But if anything is revealed to another who sits by, let the first keep silent. For you can all prophesy one by one, that all may learn and all may be encouraged. And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets.

What is a prophet? The first reference in the Bible to the word is Genesis 20:7 where God says to Abimelech of Abraham: “Now therefore restore the man his wife; for he is a prophet, and he shall pray for thee, and thou shalt live...” We really do not see record of Abraham prophesying so much as he is one who walks and talks with God and is a friend of God’s. In this way, all who are born again are prophets for they have knowledge of God and the ability and power to witness and pray for others with His power.

But then we see that there are those throughout the Bible who have the role of prophet as His spokesperson, to deliver His words and messages. These are those who foretell and forthtell under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit for the purposes of God in His people.

All may prophesy for edification, exhortation and comfort, as people with God’s Spirit inside, but there are those with the ministerial call of prophet who have an office call, just as that of pastor or evangelist, and these have a more defined role.

There is a word going around that “If you are a prophet, you shouldn’t say you are a prophet,” but there is no Biblical ground for that. If that were so then a pastor or a teacher would be under the same mandate and that is absurd.

Many of God’s prophets over the centuries have been very low key to their wisdom--doing prophetic works to strengthen the Body, but without a lot of fanfare. There is much prophetic work to be done in the Church.

Many prophets are “local prophets” who minister righteousness in their local congregations and most all would know that this brother or sister will demand righteous accountability and they are looked up to in this purpose and character.

They will have visions and dreams and words that they will share with others that edifies and lifts them up and gives people greater understanding in Spiritual things.

A true prophet is not just one who operates in words of knowledge and revelation, but also is one who vocally upholds the righteousness of God in right living. In this way you can discern true prophets of God from the psychics.

But God also raises up “trans-local prophets” who will travel in their ministries from church to church with a greater notability for His purposes. God will equip them with greater insight and powerful abilities to communicate His messages.

Rather than just nurture and comfort and train and evangelize as a pastor and evangelist would, these prophets speak a forthright message in edification and exhortations of correction and warning, and in hope-filled visions and insights of the future in God.

They have an anointing to do this, just as a teacher or pastor or evangelist or apostle would to fulfill their callings. Because these five fold ministries have power with God in the sight of man, they are recognized among the people as set apart ones.

Because of the difference of the Old Testament prophet and the New Testament prophet, there is much confusion in the churches that needs to be set in order. In pre-Christ time, prophets were spokepersons for God to the nation. He singled out several with a high cost for a high calling to give forth His rhema (present day spoken) words. It is these individuals over the centuries that He used to found His Holy Scriptures, what we call today, The Holy Bible.

These individuals carried the burden for the Logos (or written) Word of God. God established it and has honored it throughout the centuries. The sum of the Word points to Jesus, not to human individuals and thus the Canon is closed in “Even, so, Come Lord Jesus!”

Since Jesus is the honored One, we must not ascribe to any human a power that is above or equal to His. He is God--come in the flesh to sinful man, paying the price to redeem him and by His power, He was resurrected from the dead and ascended on High to sit at the right hand of God the Father Almighty.

We are joint heirs with Christ, as receivers of divine destiny, being given all His power that we need to carry out His Plan.

Prophets do not rule the Church anymore than pastors or evangelists do. Theirs also is a servant work to serve His Kingdom. They have a more specific role of correction and warning and inspiration toward future events, but these revelations are to be worked out in the life of the Church.

Prophetic correction and warning comes in a submission to God--a prophet does not speak for himself! If judgment comes, it is God who brings it. A prophet’s job is to speak forth the divine judgments of God, not as it applies to the prophet but as it applies to those who reject the fulfilled Plan of God.

Jesus loves the Church and gave Himself for it--He is not in the business of destroying it and tearing it down. But prophets and apostles do have the abilities to see through Scripture the foundations that will cause it to stand through adverse times and experiences. They will discern faulty foundation and work to correct it.

Because Jesus is the epitome of the five fold ministry in leadership and example, His Spirit within each one of us is in there enough that we should eventually discern His workings in our individual lives as Christians. And He will use these ministers to perfect His Plan that all may come to love, obey, live for and serve Him.

The Bible says in I Corinthians 14 that prophets will speak and that there is more than one prophet in the Body. In these last days, God is raising up a company of prophets consisting of men and women. (Acts 2:17-18) All will be speaking of the coming of the Lord and the need to be prepared Spiritually for Him. It will be a unifying voice declaring His soon return!

Prophets who cannot work with other prophets have a problem. It is questionable if they are operating in the Holy Spirit of God. (Remember how to discern the fruit?)

Prophets who do not want their words and actions held in accountability with others also may have a problem. In these New Testament times, the Scriptures say in I Corinthians 14:29 that prophets are to judge prophets. Prophets are held to the same accountability measure as any other Christian.

If a prophet has a lifestyle that is contrary to the written Word of God, particularly the Commandments of God, you have every right to question that prophet’s authenticity. Jesus said, “If you love Me, keep My Commandments,” and a prophet, or minister, who truly loves God, will.

In a gathering or meeting where prophets are there and are able to participate, the spirit of the prophet is subject to the prophet, meaning that unless they are in charge of that meeting, they do not have the carte blanche or free ticket to act any way that they would feel led or desire.

The more Godly the gathering, the more liberty is given to all ministry if things are done decently and in order. In a church gathering, it can be open for prophetic words to come forth from the congregation, but the Biblical order for this would be “Let the prophets speak two or three.” In order to avoid confusion in that type of appointed gathering, the pastor is at liberty to limit or refuse all prophecy.

Some may feel that the pastor has quenched the Spirit in so doing, and in fact many have, but it does not change God’s divine style of order. There may be great reasons for a pastor’s doing so, as he sets the order against unruliness or the measure that his flock can all comfortably and safely receive, but as head of “his house” he has the God given right to order it and in so doing will answer to God for it right or wrong.

Any prophet who gives a public word is subject to public correction by the pastor or whoever is in charge of the meeting. I would like to assume that most would do this as kindly and in as Godly a way possible, but prophets are not exempt from being corrected.

The price a true prophet must be willing to pay is to have the word of God but yet endure rejection for His Name’s sake. A wise prophet will seek to develop a relationship that the word God has given might be received.

The prophetic word is not about the prophet being right, but the Body being edified. There are many judgment prophecies that offer no recourse and speak only of doom without hope of restoration and these are to be highly suspect as authentic words from God.

Since the prophet is to fit into the Body as well, words that isolate the prophet apart from the Body and hold an unequal accountability for the prophet versus the other people could be considered suspect as well.

Many a prophet grieves over not being received with their words from God but I want to offer you hope! Jesus also had to fight and resist the traditions of the established heirarchy. There can be two reasons for your not being received.

One can be that the people are rejecting God. Realize this breaks the heart of God more than it does your heart! But God does not lose His “cool” for He is the Holy Spirit of self control (or self discipline). God does not react irrationally.

Another reason you may not be finding favor with your words is that God wants you to go out and do another work. He may feel that the work He has established in that area is sufficient and that another area may need ministry more. He also may be developing character in you and be demanding that you wait upon Him.

God calls His ministry out of the Church so you should not be surprised when this does happen. John the Baptist and Paul the apostle is an example of men who was raised in the ways of the established Church, yet God separated them for a season to refine and define His work in them. Both came back into the Church in their defined call in the Body. It is the Spirit of God Who must give authentification to this set apart calling. In the meantime, we are not to forsake the assemblying of ourselves together.

God has called more than one prophet in the Body that there might be balance. He has also called more than one pastor, teacher, evangelist and apostle too! We are not bound by individuals and institutions but by the Spirit of Christ.

“Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” II Corinthians 3:17

If you have any questions or insights you would like to share, I would be happy to receive them. It will take me much longer to respond to and to read long articles as it will to shorter points well made as my time is limited. But I am interested in your feedback and look forward to hearing any comments you would like to make! God bless you, Pam Clark

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