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Enjoying God Blog


In Romans 12:6 Paul says this about the spiritual gift of prophecy: “Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith.”

Some have argued that the word “faith” (literally, “the faith”) refers to those objective truths embodied in the gospel tradition (as, for example, in Galatians 1:23 and Philippians 1:27). In other words, on this view Paul is referring to the revealed content of Christian truth that is accessible by all believers. Although possible, this would be a rare use of the word “faith.” I think there is a better way of understanding Paul’s language that sheds considerable light on what the gift of prophecy is.

I think Paul is saying that the accuracy of any prophetic utterance will vary in proportion to the intensity of the gift and the faith of the one speaking. In Romans 12:6 Paul seems to be saying that some who prophesy experience deeper faith or trust or confidence that the Holy Spirit has actually revealed something to them. In other words, there will always be greater and lesser degrees of prophetic ability and consequently greater and lesser degrees of prophetic accuracy (which, it seems reasonable to assume, may increase or decrease, depending on the circumstances of the person's life, over time). Thus, the prophet is to speak in proportion to the confidence and assurance he/she has that what is said is truly of God. He is not to speak beyond what God has revealed. He must be careful never to speak on his own authority or from his own resources.

Thus, “if a revelation is made” to someone (1 Cor. 14:30), that person must humbly and carefully assess the degree of assurance or confidence they have that this is truly from God. They should pray, asking that the Spirit provide them with added confirmation. It may even be wise to first process the “word” with others in the body of Christ and invite them to give their insights and analysis as to whether it is consistent with Scripture. Only then, on the assumption that he/she has sufficient “faith” that this purported “revelation” truly came from God and will serve to build up, encourage, and console others (1 Cor. 14:3), should it be spoken.

I realize that for many this is unacceptable. They believe that certainty is required before a word is spoken. They are uncomfortable with the “subjectivity” of the approach I’ve suggested. They virtually demand empirical verification in advance or some sort of scientific precision in knowing without hesitation that God has spoken in precisely the way the prophet claims he has. I would certainly welcome this degree of assurance, if were God were pleased to grant it. And it is comforting to know that we have this sort of rock-solid certainty in the written Word of God, the Scriptures. But as I read Romans 12:6, as well as the instruction about judging, weighing, and analyzing prophetic utterances (1 Cor. 14:29; 1 Thess. 5:19-22), it appears that the spiritual gift of prophecy operates in a different manner. Merely because it is inherently subjective does not make it unfruitful or unbiblical. So let us thank God for this good and edifying gift as we exercise it “in proportion to our faith.”


I agree with your position that there are varying degrees of anointing as it relates to prophecy. In fact, I believe it's true with all spiritual gifts. The fact that we know in part and prophesy in part dovetails nicely with the exhortations to judge prophetic utterances. This has allowed a healthy approach in the churches that I've been privileged to be a part of over the years.

Unreal! Just had an impression a few hrs back and felt led to ask the spirit to confirm it. I'm new to this stuff, do this article was timely!

Dear Sam,
I held your view for many years, but after seeing so many abuses to this view of continuing revelation, I tend to hold to the first view you mentioned (although I'm open to more understanding from the scriptures). Even if prophecy is means direct revelation, I would aim for a very high degree of accuracy, as in 100%. I think it is far more likely that satan is coming as an angel of light to deceive the church with most examples of continuing revelation that I have encountered. Other words given are merely the scripture, which is already infallible. Admittedly, my view is based partially on the kind of results and fruits I've seen from those who hold the continuing view ; I include myself and all the false prophecies I've given as well. Those who do hold the "mostly accurate direct revelation" view of prophecy also tend to be very unwilling to seek discernment as to whether a "word" really does line up with the word of God. I know I am guilty of a lot of generalizing here, but, honestly, this has been my experience. I've never been in any kind of prophecy meeting where someone said, "wait a second, let's examine that by the light of God's word." Not to mention that the character of much of this prophecy does not seem very holy or reverent to me (on the subjective note). Consequently, these objections seem serious enough to warrant my own continuing re-examination of the topic. I still see different problems with both views, however. Blessings.

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