My previous discussion focused a great deal upon the negatives of prophetic dysfunction, perhaps better labeled “pitfalls of internalizing,” especially addressed to prophets. Prophets have their unique spiritual, kingdom function and position, and the term “internalize” has unique application according to the discipline in which it is used. There are very few sources of discussion for the psychology of the prophetic ministry, so I am interested in how this prophetic office affects the behaviors of prophets and how prophets, unique in personality, background, and operation, are shaped by who they are, how they are gifted, and what they experience.
The positives of functioning as a prophet surely outweigh the negatives! I addressed – in a glimpse – the negatives first because they can empty the prophet’s life of the greater influences of God’s call, gifts, and functions in the prophet. When the negatives are minimized and surrendered through humility, a great grace flows into and through God’s prophets that marks their lives in eternal ways.
Internalizing God’s revelations through humility opens the prophet’s life to amazing levels of grace. Note the experience of Apostle Paul with respect to his revelations as a backdrop. Certainly Paul was never a prophet, but apostles experience prophetically and speak prophetically. I am drawing attention to Paul’s revelatory experiences to highlight principles that apply to all believer but particularly give us insight to this amazing grace flow.
First of all, I want to emphasize that the primary source of a prophet’s internalized input from God is from the written Word, the Bible. A prophet’s textbook is the Scriptures, and a prophet should continue to develop expertise in knowing and understanding what the Bible says. The pandemic of Bible illiteracy is doing the whole kingdom harm, but even more so, the foundations are honeycombed when prophets do not know the Bible.
While I am honored and humbled by the way God speaks into and through my ministry, the reality is that God speaks to me more through the Bible than in any other way. Additionally, when I hear Him whisper a word, concept, or give me a download, I first go to the Scripture to relate what He is saying with something He already said or did, with a Bible situation that gives an even deeper sense of what God means by what God says to me.
I know that some leaders say that once Holy Spirit finished the Bible, He stopped talking and everything we receive now comes directly from reading, hearing, or meditating upon Scripture. I am not saying that. I also know no revelation that any person has right now has the same level of revelation as the Bible. No person now prophesying has legitimate claim to an eternally inerrant word, for example; nor do I think that any person has a word so new and novel that it sets the whole of what God has said and has been restoring since the Reformation on its ear.
God spoke through prophets before the New Testament was revealed and written in ways that give us surety about the New Testament. The “more sure word of prophecy” from God’s voices, secured and available in completion and inerrancy, grounds every part of the Bible together. Prophets who neglect consistent study of the Scriptures are handicapped with revelation deficiencies that no amount of hearing and seeing in the Spirit will replace – a very strong statement I worded exactly as I intended.
God will refer me to Scripture by verse, chapter, and book. God will refer me to a story, an incident, an encounter, a detail of how He deals with nations, individuals, and generations. God will whisper a Hebrew or Greek word that appears in the Bible. God will use a principle from Scripture as a presupposition for a revelation. God will use symbols, colors, types of people, and codes He used first in Scripture to speak to me in dreams, visions, impressions, and prophetic words.
Let me say here that I am appalled at the lack of basic Bible understanding reflected in some prophetic operations and functions that go unchecked, corrected, or discussed, and I believe this is a big reason for the slow rate of maturity we face in the function of prophets. When someone, beyond this simple protocol, to insist that their revelation is inconsistent with the Bible but is “an update” or “expansion of the Bible” or even a “clarification of what the Scriptures say,” we should put that kind of prophecy down the list several notches, and it should be scrutinized closely, as well as the person who makes such a claim should be called to account for their motivations and commitment to prophetic purity.
To allow “prophets” to so poorly apply legitimate revelation, so improperly interpret and implement so inaccurately speaks to the heart of our issues of immaturity. I recently heard a prophet misuse a Hebrew word, misdefine the term, misapply the meaning, and claim that Holy Spirit had shown him that all the experts were wrong about that Hebrew word and its meaning. In doing so, he completely changed what a verse of Scripture says in order to declare what that Scripture means. Bad form!
The idea that the less a person understands of the Bible, original languages, exegesis, and basic principles of interpretation, the better they can hear Holy Spirit prophetically is ridiculous. To act as if a person getting a valid revelation who doesn’t have a clue about the Bible has received a better word because they were ignorant of Scripture is a comical and convoluted view of spiritual things. I was asked once in a conference setting if I agreed with the idea that prophetic people shouldn’t read Scripture so when they heard from God they wouldn’t confuse the Bible with their prophetic words! That would make you scratch your head ’til you are cranial shrubbery challenged!
I am emphasizing a point and making clear what I mean by what I don’t mean. If you are called and function as a prophet, get your nose in the Book! Start there and study. Work hard, consistently at increasing your expertise.
Internalize the Bible! You need a Biblical worldview and mindset, void of superstition, cultural myths, false doctrinal systems, and unBiblical thoughts about “how things work in the spirit.” You need to know the Scriptures, memorize the Scriptures, read the stories, know the history, understand the use of inspired words, and be able to quickly locate books and verses God brings to your attention.
The Bible reveals God and His ways. God introduces Himself and how He deals with people, nations, and generations so you will recognize Him when He gets involved in your world! Internalize His thinking by reading His thoughts. Internalize His character with your awareness of when and how He manifested His character.
“Internalizing” could be a way of expressing one sense of the Bible phrase “renew your mind,” but the process is different because the source is spirit. Paul says, “Be renewed in the spirit of your mind.” Paul also contrasts being shaped by the world’s mold, “internalizing” the beliefs, values, and behaviors of the cosmic system and its cultural expressions, with “be transformed by the renewing of your mind to prove the what-God-wants that is good, acceptable, and complete.”
Psychology certainly has a different way of explaining the process because it fails to understand or include in its presuppositions the God of the Bible and lacks the spiritual and revelation sources of Truth necessary to spiritual understanding. Psychology defined simply as “way we do and why we do it” runs through several schools and incorporates an overwhelming overbalance of the spirit of this world. Psychology from God’s point of view is clear in Scripture, however, as a means of understanding what people do and why they do it. Understanding human behavior and cultural norms without words like “sin” or “darkness” at the root of your philosophical mindset is impossible.
That said, the psychology of prophets is even more complex because of the special nature and function of the calling. What I am saying is that the prophets and the prophetic movement should be a stellar example of Bible-centric thinking, action, and communication. Prophets should move deeper into Biblical expertise. Just one glaring example for me is the weakness of understanding The Revelation properly if the commentary and exegesis is done by someone not functioning as a mature prophet. Interpreting prophetic language into timelines and static scenarios leaves a lot to be desired.
God has provided a fullness through Jesus Christ of Law and Prophets. We hear more about the fullness of grace than the fullness of revelation.