So if your gift is prophecy, use your gift in proportion to your faith.Romans 12:6
Let’s deal firstly with the word prophecy and its meaning and then look at “exercising it in proportion to your faith”.
There is much controversy surrounding the word “prophecy” or “prophesying”. There are some who see “foretelling” and others who see “forthtelling” being the primary meaning of this word as used by Paul. In reality both meanings are present in the word. “Foretelling” denotes the idea of predicting or foretelling of events to come; forthtelling denotes the idea of telling forth the gospel or proclaiming the message of the Good News. Evangelism vs the spiritual gift of a word of prophecy or a word of knowledge. The degree to which commentators align themselves either way on this one is determined by their predisposition toward one side or the other. Many are dismissive of the notion of a word of prophecy. Many do not accept that telling someone something that you could never know about them or telling them something that is going to take place in their future is really from the Lord. This could not happen apart from a specific word from the Lord. As a result many dismiss this as being an impossibility and prefer to accentuate the forthtelling meaning. But both meanings are present and God is God of the supernatural as well.
It is clear from Paul’s use of “prophecy” in 1 Corinthians chapters 12 and 14 that it includes the aspect of foretelling. Note also the difference between the lists of gifts in Romans and in 1 Corinthians. Many refer to the list in Corinthians as being the “manifestation gifts”. The gifts that manifest the Holy Spirit being present; those gifts that make it clear that God is present in miraculous ways. It is the kind of reaction that the woman at the well in Sychar had to what Jesus told her about her husbands of the past and her present situation. It was manifestly obvious that the one who was talking with her was no ordinary man. The list of gifts in Corinthians includes those gifts that manifest God’s presence in miraculous ways.
Note in the list in Ephesians that Paul distinguishes between Prophets and Evangelists. There are two sorts of people, two kinds of gifts. If there was just one gift then Paul would only mention the concept once, one or the other. But he uses both words. Both are necessary for the completeness of the body ministry. We need both the prophetic gift (the foretelling) and the evangelical gift (the forthtelling) in our churches. Don’t choose either / or, take both / and for a more complete package of all the gifts.
This brings us to the question of the exercising this gift in proportion to your faith. What does Paul mean by that comment? Well he has said in the verses above that we have each received a different measure of faith we from God. That is inherent in the differences found in the gifts. But if you think about it, there is also a difference in the amount of faith necessary to foretell or to forthtell. Both require faith but in my opinion, the former concept requires more faith than the latter. I think perhaps the latter requires boldness and courage rather than faith. But I won’t argue that no faith is required to forthtelling the gospel. Of course faith is required for both.
I think without doubt Paul is referring to both but I suspect the foretelling sense of the word is to the fore here. But don’t take my word for it. Get the definitive answer from Paul when you see him. Be bold and step out in faith if and when you sense the “Lord has spoken a word” into a situation that leaves you hesitant as to whether this is your thoughts or God’s thoughts. Remember the testimony I told you of Yvonne in Bible Gems 197 and 198. I am sure it took great faith for Yvonne to move beyond just thinking this was a silly notion she had in her mind to the point where she considered that maybe God was speaking and she had to obey. Go and do some foretelling, but only if God is inspiring you to do so. Remember Paul also said “not all are prophets, are they?” Remember He has apportioned the gifts differently, severely as He wills. Just relax in the outworking of it all and trust Him.
All you need is deep within you waiting to unfold and reveal itself.Anon
Blessed are those who can laugh at themselves. They shall never cease to be entertained.Chinese Proverb