Finding Confidence in Your Own Ability Hear the Voice of God
My phone rang and the voice on the other end of the line, in a very emphatic tone, said, “I was lying by the pool meditating and God spoke to me and said, ‘call Eddie Hyatt and tell him to start a church and call it The Gateway to Heaven.’” This person also told me that he had seen a vision of the church building and described it in some detail as a white building situated in a large field.
Some things in life are as obvious as the nose on your face. Some things are so obvious you do not even have to pray about them. This was one of those situations and I said to this “prophet,” “I appreciate you telling me this but just know that I would never undertake something of this magnitude unless God Himself told me that He wanted me to do it.”
Don't be Afraid to Test the Spirits
Some weeks later this brother, who was sincere (but misguided) in his zeal to be a prophet, was still attending our weekly Bible study. In these gatherings we allowed, and encouraged, people to flow freely in the gifts of the Spirit, but also made it clear that we would follow the Biblical injunction to test the spirits and judge prophecies.
On this particular evening, this same individual announced that during a time of prayer that week God told him to tell me that I was not to put down roots in that city because I would be travelling. Deciding to use this as a teaching moment, I stopped him. “Wait a minute Larry,” I said! “What happened to that white church you saw a few weeks ago?” He replied, “Oh, that might be 10 years down the road.” I then asked, “Do you know what they did to people in the Old Testament who gave false prophecies?” With a note of irritation in his voice, he replied, “I know! I know! They stoned them!”
At this point everyone, including Larry, began to laugh. It was a healing moment. Larry suddenly realized that he needed to relax and stop trying to curry favor and impress others with his super spirituality. He realized that I would continue to accept him and be his friend, but I would not accept everything he said just because he prefaced it with a “thus saith the Lord” or a “God told me.” He continued to grow in God and our friendship continued for many years until the time of his death a few months ago.
A Big Difference Between
Old Testament & New Testament Prophecy
I was not susceptible to Larry’s “soulish” prophecies and visions because, even then, I had more confidence in hearing God for myself than I did in someone else hearing God for me. In the Old Testament people did seek out prophets to hear God’s word and will, but there was a big difference between them and us. They did not have the Holy Spirit nor did they have the written New Testament revelation that we have.
In the Old Testament, only certain prophets, judges and kings were given the Spirit of God. The masses did not have the Spirit. But in this new and better Covenant, the Spirit is made available to all of God’s people. This is why, in the New Testament, there is not a single example of anyone ever seeking out a prophet for guidance or direction. In all of Paul’s 13 letters to churches, not once does he exhort them to seek out a prophet in their midst to hear from God. He assumes that they all have the ability to hear God through the Scriptures and the indwelling Holy Spirit.
There is one example in Acts of personal prophecy being given to Paul when he is on his way to Jerusalem. These “disciples” admonished Paul through prophecy not to go to Jerusalem (Acts 21:4). What does Paul do? He goes on to Jerusalem. Paul had more confidence in hearing God for himself than he did in someone else hearing God for him.
Don't Base Your Life on Personal Prophecy
Can God encourage and confirm through prophecy? Absolutely! God often uses Sue and me to encourage others by the ministry of the Holy Spirit. I was launched into ministry when, as a very shy young man, a dear saint of God, Aquilla Nash, spoke to me by the Spirit concerning the call of God on my life, which call I had kept a secret in my heart and not shared with others.
But many people today are in bondage to personal prophecies. They order their lives, not by the Scriptures, common sense and the leading of the Holy Spirit, but by personal prophecies that they seek out here and there. There are people who have collected reams of personal prophecies that they adhere to more than they adhere to the promises of God’s word. They have more confidence in someone else hearing God for them than they have in hearing God for themselves, and this makes them vulnerable to prophetic charlatans and religious hucksters. How sad!
This reminds me of something I heard Freda Lindsay say when she was around 90 years of age. Having co-founded, with her husband, The Voice of Healing and Christ for the Nations, she was no stranger to miracles and gifts of the Spirit. But on this day she stood before the student body at Christ for the Nations and said, “If I had followed all the prophecies that were given to me in my life, I would have been going in circles all these years.” She had more confidence in hearing God for herself than she did in someone else hearing God for her.
No Elite Company of Prophets in the New Testament Church
There is no evidence in the New Testament that there is an elite group of “prophets” today who hear from God more accurately than the rest of us; and to whom we must resort to hear what God is saying. The noted New Testament exegete, Dr. Gordon Fee, makes the convincing argument from the Greek that when Paul says in I Corinthians 14:29, Let two or three prophets speak . . ., he is not referring to a separate, distinct group in the church community.
Fee says that the language is functional and means “the one who is prophesying.” This is confirmed by vs. 31 where, in the same context, Paul says, For you can all prophesy one by one. They all have the Spirit. They all hear from God. They are all prophets.
Because of this evidence, Fee says that those who are referred to as “prophets” in the New Testament are merely those who prophesy more than the other members of the community. This makes sense in light of the fact that the word “Prophet” is never used as a title in front of someone’s name to set them apart from other believers.
In this New Covenant the desire of Moses' heart is finally realized. When a young Joshua wanted to stop two individuals from prophesying and confine that privilege to Moses alone, Moses cried out, Are you jealous for my sake? Oh, that all the LORD'S people were prophets and that the LORD would put His Spirit upon them (Numbers 11:29). That time has arrived! What a wonderful time to be alive!
In summation, be teachable and open to the counsel of others, but never put another person between you and God. Never allow yourself to come into bondage to personal prophecies. You have the Holy Spirit dwelling in you. You have the word of God. Be more confident in your own ability to hear God than in the ability of someone else to hear God for you.
Dr. Eddie L. Hyatt is an author, teacher, revivalist and ordained minister. His latest book, PURSUING POWER: How the Historic Quest for Apostolic Authority & Control Has Divided and Damaged the Church, is available from Amazon and from his online bookstore at www.eddiehyatt.com/bookstore.html.