ANOTHER COFFEE BREAK: UNDERSTANDING PROPHECY II
December 9, 2016
Continuing from last week’s sharing, I’d like to share with you a perspective of prophecy that comes from a lifetime of walking with the Lord. I’d like to share with you many of the different facets of prophecy and the differences between giving prophetic utterances and being a prophet. What I share may sound really different for some of you – perhaps even “off the wall” to others – but for those who’ve experienced the flow of the Holy Spirit in this realm, something that will refresh your spirits.
For those of you who’ve known me over the years, some of what I share will be familiar, and I’ve shared bits and pieces of this in different articles and teaching sessions, but my hope is to put things together in a comprehensive and cohesive picture that will help everyone understand the nature, the character, the purpose, and the end of prophecy.
That’s just today’s preface. I’m liable to be a bit windy with this topic.
When I was Chief Engineer at KTLM-TV and we would have our departmental managers’ meetings, sometimes Bill Jorn or Sam Vale would ask me for an explanation of something that was happening with our transmitter. I would launch into what I thought was a good, logical explanation of a series of technical problems or their resolution. Sometimes Bill or Sam would wave their hands and say, “Stop. The short version, please. Can you fix it?” Or perhaps, “Is it fixed?” Sometimes, Bill would say, “Now, for the benefit of all of us, would you explain that in English, please? The abridged version?”
My wordiness over the years has been both a blessing and an irritation. I guess when you work in a technical realm, and do the normal engineering routine, you keep notes, you analyze, you test and retest, you analyze some more, you make more notes to yourself, and you continue this process until you’re satisfied you’ve resolved a problem or series of problems.
Engineers are like that. They love to explore every facet of an issue so they clearly understand the processes involved. It makes future problem solving and future upgrades a whole lot easier.
When you’re a preacher AND an engineer, you get a double whammy of this proclivity. That’s pretty self-evident.
Got your coffee poured? Ready for a great weekend? Good. Pull up a chair, and let’s get started.
For about ten years or so, I published some lengthy articles – often prophetic articles – that I distributed and called AN OPEN LETTER TO THE EKKLESIA. Each of the articles dealt with issues that the Holy Spirit was addressing in the people of God.
One of the articles was sub-titled, The Midnight Hour. In this letter, I shared how much of an “expert” I used to be in “End Time” prophecy. While ministering at Full Gospel Assembly in Salt Lake City back in the late 1960’s, I was teaching on the “end times” on Wednesday nights.
Waxing eloquent on the topic, I had my charts together, my timelines and my wonderful explanations of “the Mark of the Beast”, the “Antichrist,” and “the Great Tribulation.” I really had it all figured out! It was fun to teach, and our Wednesday night gatherings were almost better-attended than our Sunday services.
One Wednesday night after a wonderful time of “teaching,” I got home and Holy Spirit really pulled the plug on me. He said, “Are you teaching these things because you learned them from me, or because you either read them in books or heard someone else teach them based on their interpretation?”
The question stunned me! When I sat down to analyze it, I realized that NONE of what I was teaching had been revealed by Holy Spirit: that every last shred of it was based on what I had read in books or heard from someone else. That was tough to swallow! I could hear Holy Spirit saying, “I thought we had an agreement that you would ONLY share what I give you and reveal to you!”
I realized that I had grown up listening to Holy Spirit, listening to His voice and being obedient to it – except when it came to prophecy. I thereupon took every book in my library on prophecy, and in particular, “end times,” my charts and timelines – everything – and threw them into the trash bin. The following Wednesday night, I changed the topic of teaching entirely. I was too chicken to tell people at the time what had happened, and weakly explained that I needed to do some more research.
Research? Hahh! Not hardly!
Let me pause momentarily to say that I’m not attacking those writers who’ve done all their books on End Times, the Antichrist, the Great Tribulation, the Rapture, and all of that. They’ve been caught up (pun intended) just like I was in the excitement and the fun of trying to figure things out rationally, logically, Scripturally. The problem is, there is no Spirit of Prophecy present to provide confirming testimony in your spirit to all of this logic.
The fact was that when it came to explaining ANYTHING concerning the book of Daniel or any of the prophetic books, or the prophecies in Revelation, I was about as ignorant as an old shoe. I made a promise to myself and to the Lord that from that day forward, I would never teach or share anything that He did not reveal to me personally, and/or plant a “rhema” in my spirit. (The word, rhema, is the Greek word used in the New Testament to denote a word which is actually spoken aloud.) For more than 25 years, I refused to even engage in discussions on end time events.
Beginning in late 1990, and stretching over a period of nearly seven years, Della and I began to participate in some of the most incredible worship experiences. They exceeded the wildest fancies of anyone we had ever known, and certainly had never heard of anyone having these experiences before.
For those of you familiar with speaking in tongues, you will be able to grasp the phenomenon. You know that when you speak in tongues, it doesn’t come out of any place of learning or education in your past. There are no mental gymnastics you can contrive to figure out how to speak the words that come out of your mouth. You KNOW that the Holy Spirit is simply using your vocal cords to utter the most marvelous praise and adoration of the Lord Jesus Christ, or that He is praying through you with intercession that exceeds natural comprehension.
As a musician with well over 55 years of playing numerous musical instruments, I know that skill comes with an enormous amount of practice. You don’t normally just sit down and begin to play music – especially with other like-trained and practiced musicians – you’ve never heard or practiced, or even have sheet music for.
Nevertheless, as we gathered together with other musicians and singers for worship, the Holy Spirit began to give us music – the same thing to all of us at the same time! It is akin to having a dozen or more people speaking in tongues together – all speaking exactly the same words at the same time. In the natural, this is impossible!
For nearly seven years, in worship gatherings from Anchorage to Detroit, from Seattle to Edmonton, we experienced this every time we got together. The Holy Spirit would begin to flow through us with the most incredible worship, and we all played the same thing at the same time as though we had practiced it for many hours. One can sort of explain….well, a part of it, maybe….if all of the musicians were like-trained, and from similar music backgrounds. We weren’t!
Earle Treend, the trombonist, came from a Big Band and jazz musical background. His wife, Marcia, was principal cellist with the Detroit and Spokane Symphony orchestras.
Bob Bartow was a classically-trained organist. Although I had eight years of piano training and could read music to play the trombone, there was no formal training for the classical guitar (which I mostly play).
Della, my wife, had five years of piano and keyboard training, but had not played keyboards since she was a teenager. Charlotte Bartow, Bob’s wife, literally became a harpist in the midst of our worship. She had never played harp before in her life.
Her sister-in-law, Sandy Storer, who played the old English recorder, also began playing it for the first time in her life in the midst of this spontaneous worship. The list goes on and on, numbering from a dozen to as many as forty different musicians and singers gathered together at any given time.
Practice and training had nothing to do with it. When the Holy Spirit began to flow through us, the worship music that emerged spanned the gamut of musical expression, sounding as though it were carefully orchestrated and directed. Well, it was. We just didn’t have a human director in front of us.
So, what’s the point?
As this worship began to flow, revelation likewise began to flow. More times than I can count, we were lifted – individually and corporately – into the heavenlies and allowed to see angelic hosts going forth to do battle throughout the earth on behalf of God’s people.
Correspondingly, we saw the miraculous (I use that word carefully) take place. People were saved, baptized in the Holy Spirit, delivered from evil spirits, healed, made whole – you name it – as we worshipped. It happened without laying hands on anyone. It happened without being preceded by prayer, or teaching, or anything.
So what has this to do with prophecy? Just this.
The longer we spent in the presence of the Lord, the more revelation flowed. I don’t mean revelation in the sense of foretelling. This was a revelation of the person and nature of Jesus Christ, who He is, what He is, His plan and purpose for His people, etc., etc. It was, to say the least, revolutionary!
The ongoing revelation made Scripture alive! It began to leap to life within our beings in a way I really struggle to describe. John the beloved wrote in Revelation 19:19…”for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” That testimony is the revelation that began to flow in our beings in the midst of the worship – dwelling in the presence of the Lord.
Now, let’s get to the core of this. Let me ask you a few questions so we can lay some groundwork.
Why did Jesus come in the first place? If your answer is, “to save us from sin,” then you’ve really missed it. He had to save us from sin as a tiny, little part of the overall package. Salvation is a piece of the plan, but it is hardly the plan. Let’s go back a little farther in time.
Why are we here on the earth? The Apostle Paul wrote (see Ephesians 3:8-9), “I … preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ…to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ..”
John wrote (see Revelation 4:11), “..for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.”
Let’s get a little more specific.
Again we read from the Apostle Paul, (Ephesians 1) “Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: That in the dispensation of the fullness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him: In whom also we have obtained an inheritance..”
And the other side of this picture is (continuing in Ephesians 1), “Wherefore I also…..cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers; That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints..”
The picture in these four passages is staggering.
First, Jesus Christ created us. Secondly, we were created for His pleasure. Third, we have an inheritance in Him. Fourth, He has an inheritance in us. Fifth, Jesus Christ has a calling, and that call is us!
Are you beginning to see the picture?
Jesus Christ created us for union with Him! We were created for fellowship with Him. We were created to become one with Him. His objective from day One was to have a people with whom He could be complete. We all know that we are called to Him, and that we have an inheritance in Him, but that is only half the picture.
His calling to us is in us, and His inheritance is in us. Without that being achieved, Creation becomes an empty exercise.
Without both halves of this picture, any testimony of Jesus Christ is incomplete. Without His purpose integrated into this Plan, any revelation of Jesus is incomplete.
If, therefore, the testimony of Jesus Christ is the spirit of prophecy, then it follows that prophecy – all prophecy – must lead us to His receiving His inheritance in us.
The spirit of prophecy, therefore, is the testimony and revelation of who Jesus Christ is, what He is in us, what He is doing, and where He is taking us as a people.
Buckle your seat belts! We’re just getting started. Next week, we’ll tackle the topic of Prophecy’s purpose.
I remind those of you in need of ministry that our Healing Prayer Call normally takes place on the first Monday of each month at 7:00 PM Eastern (4:00 PM Pacific). Our call-in number is(712) 775-7035. The Access Code is: 323859#.For Canadians who have difficulty getting in to this number, you can call (559) 546-1400.If someone answers and asks what your original call-in number was, you can give them the 712 number and access code.
At the same time, in case you are missing out on real fellowship in an environment of Ekklesia, our Sunday worship gatherings are available by conference call – usually at about 10:45AM Pacific. That conference number is (605) 562-3140, and the access code is 308640#. We hope to make these gatherings available by Skype or Talk Fusion before long. If you miss the live call, you can dial (605) 562-3149, enter the same access code and listen in later.
Blessings on you!Be blessed in the city, blessed in the field, blessed coming in, and blessed going out!
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