Occasionally, when I was pastoring, I would hear something like this: “Ray, I really believe that in our church God is saying to us that we need to move more and more toward prayer (or whatever). We’re beginning to move away from it and we need to move back towards it.
Do you believe that God speaks through His church directly concerning needs like that? I believe he does. I also believe if a message like that is from God, it will be felt throughout the body. It’s something specific. God will speak to his church, and he will communicate that message through his people – that’s prophecy. That’s all it is – it’s not as spooky as we think.
God Doesn’t Reveal New Doctrine
I don’t believe God reveals new doctrine. Whenever we open the possibility that it might be revelatory, that God might actually speak to the church today, we start to get nervous, thinking we’ve opened the door to new doctrine. No.
Even when the office of prophet existed, the primary function was not to give doctrine. Earlier we made the distinction between an apostle, who was given direct revelation to write scripture, and a prophet, who did not get revelation to write scripture but was given revelation for the application of scripture primarily.
In 1 Corinthians 14 Paul emphasizes that point by saying, if you fancy yourself a prophet, fine, you just make sure that what you’re saying lines up with what I’m saying.
John the Baptist’s Message
Let me illustrate. John the Baptist – remember him? We would call him a prophet. He came and had a message – repent! Ask yourself this question, is what he said scriptural? Yes, it was scriptural. Was it a new revelation? No, it wasn’t a new revelation of doctrine. Repent is a scriptural truth – you need to repent. What was revealed to John the Baptist was not a new doctrine, but the specific message people needed to hear at that time – and he would not have known that any other way.
The Reiteration and Revelation of Prophecy
Prophecy in both the Old and New Testaments breaks down into two categories. The first is reiteration and the second is revelatory.
A simple example of reiteration (repeating) is preaching. The clear reiteration of the revelation of God to God’s people. Prophets did it in the Old Testament, prophets did it in the New Testament, pastors do it now.
It’s possible that I could stand before you and say, “Repent” and it would be scripturally and doctrinally correct, but it could also not be necessarily appropriate at that time for that body.
The revelation of prophecy is not one of new doctrine; the revelation of prophecy is taking established doctrine and knowing that a certain message needs to be heard by God’s people at a certain time.
I believe that one of the main ways that God’s voice, the revealed word, gets to God’s people is that people who are called to the office of being the proclaimer – pastors or evangelists in the church – do what they’ve been called to do. They study the Word of God, dig into the Word of God, find out what the truth of the Word of God is, and then deliver it to the people of God. That is the voice of God in the world. That is one sense of prophecy – it is reiteration of the word of God.
The Alliance is Absolutely Committed to the Word of God
We believe the bible is the sole authority of doctrine. I have a powerful belief the bible is prophetic – the declaration of the word of God – the voice of God to the world.
Guess what happens in churches when we aren’t faithful to that calling or aren’t listening to God, or aren’t studying the word? The people of God become aimless, they lose direction, they become dependent on worldly things to make their little organization run – we don’t know what to do because we’re not hearing from God any more.
The people of God need to hear the voice of God, and one way is through reiteration. Thus, saith the Lord. That sense of having heard the voice of God.
That gives aim, direction and purpose to a body of believers, keeps us on course and moving us away from things we should stay away from, and moves us toward things we should be moving toward.