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... Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions,
    your old men will dream dreams.
Acts 2:17

A prophecy is basically a message from God, of any kind. When we prophesy we speak on God's behalf what God has for us to say. What kind of messages does God give people to speak for him?

Who can prophesy? Look at the beginning of 1 Corinthians 14:31. What does that imply? just like the other anifestations, anyone can prophesy as the Spirit determines.

What is the difference between someone who prophesies, and a prophet? Look at 1 Samuel 9:9 and 1 Kings 22:7. These passages, and examples throughout the bible, imply that a prophet has a role in actively seeking a message on a specific issue, and in engaging in a dialogue with God.

What is the overall purpose of prophecy? What is it for? Think about the purpose of all the gifts and look at Revelation 19:10. Especially in this context, the overall purpose is to make the Spirit known, and through the Spirit the gospel, the testimony of, and about, Christ.

1 Corinthians 14:3
Looking at these verses, what things are prophecies given for? Strengthening - spiritual bodybuilding. Encouragement - motivation and morale. Comfort - hope and consolation when things are tough.

In verse 31 of this chapter, it says that one reason for prophecy is so that everyone may be "instructed." What kind of prophecy (message from God) do you think this refers to? There are two things this could be, teaching - explanation or revelation of biblical truth; and direction - what God wants us to do.

In the previous two studies we looked at two other gifts that can have a prophetic nature - a message of wisdom (such as advice), and a message of knowledge (information, such as news). Look at 1 Corinthians 14:24-25. What type of prophecy is used here, and why is it effective? There could be a few things here, but one of the main ones is a word of knowledge, which is used to convict the listener of sin, and demonstrate the power of God. Its effective because they can't say "I'm okay" and tehy can no longer reasonably deny the power of God.

What other types of prophecy can you think of?

Look at Deuteronomy 18:21-22. What is an important reason for predictions in prophecies? What other reasons do you think there might be for the future to be revealed? The reason in the verses is to confirm the truthfulness of the prophet (in conjunction with acknowledging Christ). Other reasons are to prepare people, to encourage, and to comfort.

We've seen that prophecy is used for strengthening, encouragement, comfort, instruction/direction and conviction. There is one other type of prophecy used for a lot of these purposes. Many of the prophets God sent before John the Baptist had this kind of message, and so do the messages to the seven churches at the beginning of the Revelation of Christ. Can you think what it is? How might this fit with the pruposes of prophecy we've looked at? Rebuke or correction. The message of God does not pull down or destroy. A rebuke from God then is to strengthen, encourage, direct/instruct and to convict. Constructive criticism. If its unduly harsh, or destructive, then it isn't from God. The messages to the seven churches are good examples.


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