It is the presence of the Holy Spirit in the lives of believers that makes prophecy a possibility. When John in Revelation gave the prophetic words to each of the seven different churches in Asia Minor there was one common message to every member of every church: “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” (Rev. 2:7&17 &29 etc) The essence of prophecy is the Holy Spirit speaking to his people.
Jesus told his disciples that it was better for him to return to the Father because if he didn’t go the Advocate (The Holy Spirit) would not come, but if he goes the he would send the Holy Spirit. Jesus said; “But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you.”(John 16:13-14) The Holy Spirit is passionate about glorifying Jesus. All true prophecy will be focused on the Person of Christ Jesus the Lord and will ignite this passion for His glory in the church.
John starts off this letter by telling us he was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day. He was a man who knew the anointing of the Spirit. Humanly speaking he was powerless and in exile. Yet the anointing of God’s Spirit was unlimited by these circumstances. The result in John’s life was the reality that by the anointed neither was he limited by the present circumstances when it came to bringing glory to Jesus. There is no way to talk about being prophetic without talking about receiving the Holy Spirit’s anointing. T. Austin-Sparks said that the anointing is that ‘first-hand touch with God’. It is only by the anointing of the Spirit that we can know this holy passion for Christ, it is only by the anointing that we can fan that flame in the hearts of others.
Let’s consider how John’s prophetic visions are fanning the flame of holy passion to see Jesus glorified among his people.
In the first vision John records in Revelation he hears a loud voice like a trumpet coming from behind him. When he turns to see the one speaking he sees seven golden lampstands that symbolize the seven churches he is writing to. There in the middle of the lampstands is Jesus(Rev. 1:12-20). Later, in another vision John see Jesus upon the throne in heaven surrounded by magnificent heavenly creatures, multitudes and angels receiving worship from all the hosts of heaven[See Rev. 5]. But, in this first vision here is the risen and glorified Christ in the middle of congregations of ordinary believers here on earth with all their battles, warts, troubles and sins. He is dressed in high priestly dress, a full-length robe with a golden sash around his chest. Immediately we are all reminded that our great High Priest sympathizes with our weaknesses and struggles, who through his supreme sacrifice of himself on the Cross has put an end to the need of any further priestly sacrifice for sin. Now because of him we can come boldly into God’s holy presence to find grace and help in our need. His head and hair are white like snow-white wool. He is without sin, pure in every way, full of wisdom and righteousness. His eyes are like blazing fire. His gaze both penetrates into our core being and purifies us. As John continues to describe Jesus there among the believers, this amazing vision causes every member of each of the churches to become conscience, in an eminent way, of his presence there among them. The only way they will be able to influence the cities and regions they are in towards God and his Kingdom is by his presence among them. By means of prophetic revelation passion for Jesus is being rekindled in the congregations.
True prophetic ministry in the church will bring a renewed passion for Jesus again and again among God’s people. A characteristic of prophecy is that it issues a call to the Church to keep her eyes fixed upon her beloved bridegroom. The writer of Hebrews tells us to lay aside every encumbrance or entanglement, fixing our gaze upon Jesus, on whom our faith depends from start to finish (Heb. 12:1-3). The Spirit of prophecy flowing in the church will call us to this single-eyed gaze upon Jesus, which will help us avoid entanglements with nonessential things as well as entanglement with sin.
One of the things that can extinguish true passion for Jesus in the Church is to become overly focused on secondary or nonessential things. It may be an inordinate focus on having success and recognition in ministry, or becoming totally consumed by project fund-raising or rallying the church to political activism (left or right wing), or overindulgence in countless other ‘special interest’ causes. There is no end to the potential list. When these things are allowed to become the sustained, primary focus in the church, passion for the Person of Jesus will be crowded out and the Church will loose her prophetic influence in the world in which she lives. The light of her lamp is taken away.
The Church can never reflect the beauty of her Bridegroom, as she is called to do, without her glorious Head being the center of her attention in all that she does. Let’s rejoice in the prophetic voice of God’s Spirit among us that brings our gaze back upon His magnificence and glorious purpose again and again.