August 21st, 2016 at the First Presbyterian Church of Tucker
Everybody on this planet hears the voice of God speaking to them about His glory.
Psalm 19:1-4 The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. 2 Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge. 3 There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard. 4 Their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.
John Calvin says that we must always consider in what manner or by what means God designs to communicate himself to us. God uses the Creation every day to tell about His glory. God will never stop using the Creation to tell us about His glory. Even throughout eternity God will be speaking to us about Himself through what He creates.
God spoke through prophets. There were Priests, but they were ministers of the activity of worship. There were Kings, but they were ministers to protect the good and punish the bad.
Prophets were the only pipeline of special revelation from God, to Jesus, to the angels through the Spirit anointing of the prophets to the general public.
The ultimate word of prophesy was sent directly by the Father to the world in His Son the Lord Jesus when he became incarnate. Jesus is the fullness of the words about God. Jesus is equal with the Father in grace and truth. To know Jesus is to know all that can be known about the Father.
And God is still using prophets today. God uses prophets to explain the will of God by preaching, or interpreting the Scriptures.
The Apostle says that we must not despise prophesying. There is a whole chapter in the Bible that details this single instruction to the Church. Turn please to 1 Corinthians 14.
There are two ways the will of God comes to the Church through a prophet. Either a prophet is fore-telling or he is forth-telling.
For-telling includes revelations, hidden mysteries, new doctrine inspired by God. For-telling is a supernatural revealing of heavenly truth. Divine utterances became our scriptures.
Forth-telling is the speaking forth of the previously revealed for-telling. Moses brought the people of God new revelation and delivered by the hand of God the Ten Commandments. That’s for-telling. Every prophet since has been forth-telling those commandments. In the 21st Century prophets are known as preachers. We keep proclaiming the same truth brought by other prophets.
This word prophesying in our passage is not fore-telling, but forth-telling.
Apostles were not worried the Church would despise new revelation. That’s exciting. Somebody stands up in church and starts speaking in tongues and someone else stands up and begins explaining what’s being said, that’s cool. That’s a special day in church. Memorable. Your Bible has to have new pages added after that happens.
But how exciting is it when the old revelations are explained . . . again . . . by the prophet?
Let’s say you are in a Church where young elder Timothy, Paul’s assistant is ministering. And week after week all he ever offers in the sermon are the previously written words of the Old Testament, the Gospels and the writings of Peter, John and Paul.
What happened at church today? Nothing special. Timothy only explained some stuff out of Isaiah again. When is he going to be really filled by the Holy Spirit and speak like Peter at Pentecost?!
Hey, hey now. Don’t despise prophesying.
God knows our flesh enjoys the flashing lights of the mega churches, the mega personalities of television preachers. Big crowds are great. Loud rocking music is fun. Some churches are more like a political rally or a rock concert than what we would describe as church.
The Apostles know that certain spiritual gifts had the same effect on people. Healing or speaking in tongues got the crowds all worked up which is why Paul offers so many verses to help us get our minds right on what was important.
We don’t have time for the whole passage in Corinthians. Let’s read the first four verses.
1 Corinthians 14:1-4 Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy. 2 For one who speaks in a tongue speaks not to men but to God; for no one understands him, but he utters mysteries in the Spirit. 3 On the other hand, the one who prophesies speaks to people for their upbuilding and encouragement and consolation. 4 The one who speaks in a tongue builds up himself, but the one who prophesies builds up the church.
Look again at verse 3. Prophets, preachers speak to people for their building up, for their encouragement and for their consolation.
That’s not everything that preachers do in the pulpit, but it’s a good summary.
Prophets, or let’s use our modern term preachers, they are forth-telling from this same book Sunday after Sunday to buildup, encourage and console the congregation.
You are hearing the WORDS OF JESUS, proclaimed again, and explained.
Somewhere in time past the Spirit of God anointed the thoughts and words of a prophet who delivered in word or by pen divine utterances for the first time. And ever since secondary prophets, preachers are repeating those words and making sure they are understood.
The Roman Catholic Church went a little too far by claiming that the Pope speaks inerrant and inspired words every time he speaks equal to the speaking of Jesus, but they had the right idea. Hear this in the non-Roman Catholic way. Jesus speaks through a sermon.
It’s not as exciting as a healing. It’s not as exciting as someone speaking in tongues. But it is the long term plan of God for getting the message of this book heard by His people.
I need to hear preaching too. I heard a great sermon this last week.
About three years ago my dad sponsored a church planter out of the Woodstock Baptist Church who wanted to plant a church in downtown Woodstock. Woodstock Baptist is on highway 92 and not very far from where my parents live in Roswell.
The minister was very successful. Their first Sunday was on Easter Sunday and they had over 600 people attend their launch. They are averaging about 300 every Sunday right now and expanding into a third Sunday morning service to accommodate the crowds.
This last week Keith sent an email through me to my dad thanking him for his help. I pulled up their church website http://www.thefactoryministries.org and listened to his latest sermon.
God spoke to me. God speaks in the Creation, but God spoke to me in the sermon.
The words of prophesy were anointed. The minister’s words were God’s words to stir up the fire of faith in my soul. I was convicted, consoled and challenged by the Lord.
It would have been easy for me to despise that sermon and miss the Spirit’s blessing.
He did his sermon from a chair, not from behind a pulpit. He only wore a t-shirt and blue jeans. He held a microphone the whole time while walking all over the stage. More than once he admitted he was getting off message and took an hour to make his point.
The church uses the rock and roll concert style of worship. It’s really cool. Hip. Modern.
I could have despised his prophesying. His forth-telling wasn’t in a worship atmosphere I have the liberty to use for the Lord.
None of that mattered. He was forth-telling the Word of God and the Spirit of God used that sermon to speak to my heart and to stir up my faith. I was teary as God opened up my heart to let me know He was there speaking to me, from the video on YouTube.
Isn’t that amazing? It’s supernatural. Jesus spoke words to me I needed to hear. God connected His Spirit to my spirit and I heard the voice of the Lord telling me how to live in His will.
Despise not prophesying.
Preaching is the ordained office in the Church declaring the timeless voice of God. It is the permanent prophetic work of God. God infuses into preaching the power for salvation to those who hear God’s words.
God spoke and those words were good enough for David to stay right with God. God called Samuel as a young child. Joseph bet his whole future on the words of the Lord to him. Noah banked the welfare of his family on the words of God.
These are powerful words. By the words of the prophet God parted the Red Sea. God built the nation of Israel from Abraham. God tore the nation of Israel down and replaced it with the Church Age by the word of the Lord.
These old words of the prophets are still alive and powerful. In this book are the words of life. Everything we need to live Godly in Christ Jesus is in this book.
How dependent are you on the words of God to you?
Jesus lived dependent on the words of this book. One day he was worn out. He was tired and hungry. He needed sleep. And the disciples came to Jesus to offer Him some food and try to get him some rest.
And Jesus responded with a quote from the Bible saying, (Deuteronomy 8:3) Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.
Are we as dependent on the Scriptures as Jesus? We should be. We CAN be!
We must immerse ourselves today in the Bible. We need to go to church. Not so that we can be blown away by the music. Not so that we can be amazed by the healings or tongues. Jesus had people come to Him looking for more miracles and healings and Jesus told them no. He would not help them seek Him only for the bread that perishes. Jesus would not do any more miracles while people were seeking Him for the wow factor.
Those are fleshly and carnal reasons to seek after Jesus. People who seek God for those reasons tune out during the sermon. They despise that slow part of the service. They hear Paul and gossip that he is weak and unimpressive. 2 Corinthians 10:10 they say, “His letters are weighty and strong, but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech of no account.”
The message to the church is clear. Do not despise prophecies. It is the moment God is speaking to us. He opens our hearts and teaches us His ways so that we might become more like Jesus.
We need to value preaching. That’s the point of this passage. We need to listen for the voice of God when His words are proclaimed.
Is God speaking to you today? I pray that you have ears to hear His voice.