Several years ago, I took a spiritual gifts test. I’ve taken others since, and they all reveal the same thing. My spiritual gift is prophet. The spiritual gift of prophet is not so much foretelling as it is forth-telling. The prophet sees a problem and addresses it. Such was the role of the prophets in Israel. The Old Testament prophets called God’s people to repentance, revival, and renewal. They could not and would not settle for status quo.
Manley Beasley once told me the difference between the gift of discernment and the gift of prophet. The person with discernment can tell you what a specific problem is, whereas the person with the prophet gift can tell you there’s a problem, although they may not be able to identify it exactly. This is not natural intuition, but a spiritual inclination.
Being a prophet was never an easy calling, then or now. To be prophetic (And I’m in no way referring to what the new age, pseudo- psychic, television gurus call a prophet – they don’t have a clue.) is to call sin, sin. It is to say, without apology or reservation, “Thus saith the Lord.”
To be honest, it is a tough call…and calling. Yet, there is nothing un-Christlike about being dogmatic. We expect our doctors to be dogmatic in recommending dosages and pharmacists to be dogmatic in filling the prescriptions. We want judges who are dogmatic in upholding law and order. Preachers, whether they have the gift of prophet or not, should be dogmatic. To turn black and white into grey doesn’t honor God, it just makes sinners feel better about themselves.
Amos was the troubler from Tekoa. He disturbed the peace, caused a ruckus, and upset the local denominational leaders. He assumed the right to speak for Jehovah, to judge sin, to call names, and to point out the farce in the worship services. Nobody saw anything wrong with their religion until Amos turned in his sermon outline. Dr. Havner said, “Amos was not a prophet by profession (I was no prophet…7:14), nor by parentage (…neither was I a prophet’s son…v. 14); he was a prophet by providence (…the Lord took me…v. 15).” What better credentials does any man need?
When I get weary of this calling, I have to remember that I asked for it. I told Dr. Havner I wanted a portion of his mantle. He laid hands on me and prayed that it would be so. To be honest, there are some days when I’ve wondered about that youthful request. He told me there was a price to pay – at times, it seems very high. Yet, it is my calling, my purpose, the life God marked out for me. To fall back from such a calling would be to walk out of the will of God.
Read these words by Vance Havner:
“The preacher who jests and jokes with his people all week will soon find that he cannot stand in his pulpit on Sunday with power to reprove, rebuke, and exhort. He may be the life of the party but it will be the death of the prophet. Popularity has killed more prophets than persecution. A true pastor must not only feed the flock, he must warn the flock. He must not only be zealous, but jealous.”
“A preacher should have the mind of a scholar, the heart of a child, and the hide of a rhinoceros. His problem is how to toughen his hide without hardening his heart. Preaching the truth makes people either sad, mad, or glad. Too many people today leave church on Sunday neither sad, mad, nor glad; they go out as they came in. Better go out mad than just go out!”
“The true preacher is best measured not by how many bouquets have been pinned on him but by how many brickbats have been pitched at him. Prophets have been on the receiving end of mud more than medals.”
Our Lord Jesus was the Divine Disturber. He disturbed the status quo, calling self-righteous religious people “children of the devil.” He preached on hell more than anyone in the Bible. He confronted Pharisees and embraced pagans. He upset the apple cart in His Father’s house: “It shall be called a house of prayer.” Religious people will either run from a prophet or try to destroy him – only the remnant receives the prophet.
Isaiah, Jeremiah, Amos, Hosea, and John the Baptist all preached repentance to the church – to God’s people. Their message wasn’t to pagans, but to the priests, Levites, and Pharisees – people who had memorized the first five books of the Bible. The last words of Jesus to His church were prophetic. “I will remove,” “I will fight,” “I will kill,” “I will come as a thief,” “I will spit you out of my mouth” – all alternatives to repentance. His prophetic Word to the church was, “Repent or else.”
Joseph Parker said, “The man whose message is ‘repent’ sets himself against his age, and will be battered mercilessly by the age whose moral tone he challenges. There is but one end for such a man…off with his head! You had better not preach repentance until you have pledged your head to Heaven!”
When America is finally and fully judged, the blame will be placed at the door of the professing church…and gutless pastors. As long as preachers care more about popularity than being prophetic, more about making people happy than calling them to holiness, we cannot point fingers at the President, Congress, Humanists, abortionists, or homosexuals. The problem is within American Christianity. We will not receive a biblically prophetic word. Until the church hears and heeds, nothing will change. To refuse the prophet is to request divine judgment. The prophet’s calling is lonely, sometimes discouraging (read the Old Testament prophets), and usually misunderstood. The only reason a true prophet speaks is he is compelled by God, broken by sin, and he desires God’s people to experience God’s best. Yet, that kind of preaching cost John the Baptist his head. Ouch…