letters to surfers

Q. There are many references to prophets in the Old Testament, and some of them were women ...

(Exodus 15:20, Judges 4:4, 2 Kings 22:14).

by Robert Brow  April 1999   (web site - www.brow.on.ca)

 On the Day of Pentecost the prophecy of Joel was quoted "Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy" (Acts 2:17 from Joel 2:28). There were at least four women who prophesied (Acts 21:9). Obviously they must have spoken and not been silent.  But the gift of prophecy is not just giving information about the future. In the New Testament it is defined much wider.

"Those who prophesy speak to other people for their upbuilding and encouragement and consolation" (1Corinthians 14:3). That is what any good preaching is about.  But that does not mean anyone can just stand up in a congregation and spout off whatever he thinks. Paul explains "Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others weigh what is said." What would that mean in a modern church congregation?  Let us assume an ordained preacher speaks, someone leads the prayers, and another makes some announcement. "Weighing" means there should be an opportunity for feedback in every area of congregational life.

There are so called prophets who say "This is the Word of the Lord, and if you think I am wrong, you are of the devil." They are false prophets, and we know that they abounded in every New Testament church (see Acts 20:29-30, and several of the epistles). Similarly preachers and teachers who get angry with those who "weigh" and comment are likely to be badly off track, and they certainly deny what Paul said in 1 Corinthians 14:29. No one is infallible, even the Pope, so that preachers and teachers should admit that they can easily be wrong on some points. I used to tell my congregation that I would turn out to be wrong on twenty per cent of what I taught, and they had better correct me.

When I used to preach every week I always welcomed comments. I would make a point of going round to them at home, listen carefully and explain what I could. If there was a controversial matter, it would be discussed in a Bible Study group.  The best people in a congregation are those who "weigh" the sermon and then comment lovingly. "I liked the way you applied that text exactly my situation." "I found the explanation of the parable very helpful." "Could you elaborate more on what you said about . . ." But remember "A spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down." Harsh unloving comments never help in the long run.

(For a fuller treatment of this topic see the book on this web site :The Church: An Organic Picture of its Life, chapter 8).

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