Godís word, the Bible, is complete and perfect Ė but, of course, God still speaks.
Prophecies are the messages from God that his people declare. The people who do that have received a special gift from the Holy Spirit (12:10). They do not speak words from their own minds; they declare what Godís Holy Spirit has put into their spirits.
The purpose of all the Holy Spiritís gifts is to give honour to God (12:3). The particular purposes of the gift of prophecy are to encourage and to teach Godís people (14:31).
Paul encouraged the use of the gift of prophecy, but he taught Christians to be careful about it. Not every message is from God; even sincere Christians are not always right.
There are several different ways to test a prophecy. A prophecy that does not give honour to Christ cannot be from God (12:3). Christians should compare the words of prophecies with what the Bible teaches. The Bible is always right; a prophecy may be wrong. Christians should pray for God to show them whether a prophecy is from him.
Also, Christians must pray that God will help them to understand the prophecy. An interesting example is Acts 21:10-13. There, Agabus gave a genuine prophecy, but everyone present, except Paul, misunderstood it.
Sometimes Paul spoke at meetings that lasted for many hours (Acts 20:7-12). However, clearly Paul thought that church meetings should not usually be so long. Two or three such messages were enough (14:27; 14:29). Paul did not want people to wear themselves out.
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© 2014, Keith Simons.