A Prophetic Witness to the Church Today
* * *
Are You Resistant to Change?
moves His prophets to instruct and correct, how do you respond? Do you
listen? Do you even recognise when He does so? Half the Church does not, and
half will pay dearly for their resistance to change! In the true story which
follows, when Jesus appeared in vision to a prophet, the rest of the Church
was unaware of His awesome presence. That's why they needed to heed the
prophet's words! Will you?
characteristic of a true Christian is the willingness to seek truth and
change – to seek what is right and live by it. Paul stated succinctly that
those who are led by the Spirit of God are the sons of God (Rom
8:14). This implies that if we are truly following God, we will constantly
be on the move, spiritually speaking. We will not be standing still. Like
Abraham (Gen 12:1), who was told to leave his kith and kin, to leave his
homeland and what he was used to, we must also move on.
however, there are many Christians who have no desire to seek new truth, nor
do they possess the willingness to change if new truth is presented to them.
They are not being led by the Spirit of God to the extent they should be.
They are quite content to stay put; they are content with what they have.
their spiritual state is fine. They think they have all they need. What they
don't realise is the danger in what they cannot perceive – their own
blindness to their spiritual inadequacies and lack of spiritual inertia.
Spiritual Complacency Is
In our work
as a prophetic ministry we have seen this all too often. Laodicea is so
prevalent today! Wherever you care to look in the spiritual arena, Laodicea
is to be seen, true to the prophetic words of our Saviour recorded 19
think they are spiritually rich, have acquired great spiritual wealth and do
not need anything more. They do not receive correction, because they do not
think they need it. They are complacent, self-satisfied and totally
oblivious to the fact that there is much they still need to learn (Rev
3:16,17). They have a great need to change!
Laodicea, but the Sardis element is prevalent in the Church as well. She is
so unaware of her need of reform. She lives on her past but does not
perceive that she has retrogressed spiritually. She desperately needs to
wake up! What little spirituality she still has is about to die (Rev 3:2).
God can only
live in us when we are willing to be corrected. If we resist His correction,
we will kill the process of change which He is encouraging in us. The Master
Potter can only mould the vessels who are pliable in His hands. He cannot do
anything with those who will not comply with His will.
To those who
resist Him, God will send His prophets. They don't always come with long
hair or with a rough demeanour as did some of the Old Testament prophets.
God can use anyone at times to fulfil such a role, if He so desires. If you
need a personal word of correction, it is possible for God to bring this to
you through anyone in the vicinity who is open to God's spiritual prompting.
When a big
move of God is underfoot, however, He raises up a voice to do His bidding.
Prophets of God do not choose their 'vocation'. They are trained through
life's experiences and assigned the task by the Almighty. It is not always a
job to be relished! Most prophets of God receive opposition and rejection
for faithfully administering their function. Many are martyred!
How do you
respond to the words of a prophet? When correction comes via another, what
do you do?
of most is to dismiss the words via the prophet as those of a crank or as
unjustified criticism. Often they are regarded with resentment. Some people
exhibit distrust, suspicion, disdain or ridicule towards the man who has to
convey God's words. Sadly, we have seen this all too often. Such individuals
do not consider that the corrective words are for their benefit, nor
do they consider that the correction does not originate with the person who
I am glad to
say that not all recipients react negatively. Some have the humility to
receive the words – even if they are not palatable – and ponder them
carefully, as Mary did the words of the angel who came to deliver the
startling news that she was to give birth to the Son of God! (Luke 2:19.)
Such a humble meditative response ought to be the reaction of all of God's
speaks without good reason!
obstacle for most in receiving the words of a prophet result from the
absence of a close relationship with God. Those who resist or reject a
prophet's words lack the humility to receive them. Because they are
not walking humbly with their God (Micah 6:8), they are not open to
correction. They are not meek and teachable. They might think they are –
and this is the irony of Laodicea's tragic condition, she is blind to her
actual impoverishment. Such people think they are humble, but they
have a false humility and form of worship (Col 2:18). When a prophet is sent
to convey God's corrective words, they resent him and get offended when God
uses him to point out what they need to change!
when we were called upon to go to a meeting in a prominent major church in
the south of England. God spoke to my son, Richard, and told us to attend a
specific meeting at which a well-known American evangelist was to speak. We
had no idea what was in store. We didn't go to the meeting expecting what
was to come. We went to learn from the speaker. (In fact, I had great
admiration for this man. He has a prominent ministry and is well respected
and widely influential in charismatic circles. He has even founded a Bible
College to train others.)
Had we known
what was to follow, we would have been nervous about the whole episode. God
only tells us what is necessary or expedient for us to know. As it was, we
went with positive anticipation, expecting to learn and gain spiritually
from the experience.
meeting progressed, the evangelist delivered his sermon. He has an excellent
speaking voice, a commanding manner and delivery, and a fluent style. He is
interesting to listen to. I was listening attentively, when I received the
word "arrogance" in my mind. I thought about it for a minute and
then dismissed the word, thinking "No, he couldn't be arrogant!" I
didn't want to be critical. Then it came again! This time it was stronger
than before. I thought again, "No, I don't want to believe he is
arrogant. He is a man of God, doing his job." Yet, I could perceive
from what I was hearing in his message, that he was arrogant. He was
constantly talking about himself, his spirituality, his
family, his upbringing, how good he was!
Just as I had
begun to accept this word of knowledge from Jesus, something else occurred,
which we never expected. Richard was sitting two seats away from me, closer
to the aisle. Jesus appeared to him in vision and told him to get up out of
his seat and go over to the speaker. (This was in front of a packed
auditorium of about 1,000 people. Humanly, Richard did not want to do this.
He was only 17 at the time, and relatively shy.)
As he obeyed
the word, Jesus stood behind the preacher, tapping him on the shoulder,
saying repeatedly, "Here I am!" Richard was prompted to interrupt
the man and tell him of Jesus' imminent presence behind him.
all this took place in the spiritual realm and only Richard was permitted to
see it. Everyone else, including the preacher, was unaware of what Richard
stopping to consider what the young man had come to the front to say, the
speaker arrogantly asserted his authority, saying "I'm speaking!
Don't interrupt. We'll speak to you later." And that was the problem!
He was speaking. It wasn't Jesus speaking through the preacher. Jesus
was not being glorified in that meeting. He was not the One who was being
extolled. Christ was not being lifted up. He was not the One to whom people
were being made to look. The minister was hogging the 'show' and drawing the
audience's attention towards himself, instead of toward our Saviour.
whisked off by some dutiful officials to an ante-room where he was curtly
interrogated and told off for his 'insubordinate' and 'silly' actions. He
was carefully observed after that, lest he interrupt the meeting further.
But there was no need. Jesus had said what He wanted to say, and His input
had been rejected!
shuts the door on Christ. He is unable to come in. All He can do is stand at
the door and knock (Rev 3:20).
The next day
I wrote a letter to this evangelist explaining in detail what had transpired
and why. I stated that I had not wanted to believe he was arrogant, but that
God had shown me he was and that he needed to humble himself – not before
me, but before God. (I am a nobody and will continue to be a nobody. If God
wishes to use me for His purposes, then so be it. But I certainly didn't
consider myself anything by comparison with the man to whom I had been sent.
His abilities and 'charisma' far outshone my own.)
I received no
acknowledgement or reply to my letter.
Half the Church Will Not
correction. You don't and I don't. But if we are to live with God for
eternity, we had better be prepared to be corrected, because there is much
we all have to change to bring us into line with God's ideal. He wants us to
become like Him in every way. The Bride must prepare for her imminent
wedding and so must get rid of those spots, blemishes and wrinkles that
disfigure her appearance before the heavenly Groom.
seems, really take the biblical warnings seriously.
Five of the
virgins are wise, but five are foolish (Matt 25:2). From the vantage point
of our own experience, it would seem that the Church is split down
the middle. Half are willing to listen and learn; half are not.
If a prophet
is told to convey something to you, God has considered it so important that
He has moved another person specifically to bring it to your attention. It
behoves you to take heed! He is not playing games! This life is not a game
of hide and seek, but a spiritual preparation for those who will be with God
for the rest of time!
sends a prophet to you, if you receive that prophet, you receive Him (Matt
10:40). If you listen to the words of a prophet – even if you don't
understand his words at the time – God will give you a prophet's reward (v
41). Do you know what that is? It is the value of the prophet's message. You
will understand it. God will open your mind to what He is conveying.
If you resent
another for giving you correction, if you are not humble enough to receive
it, you won't understand what God is trying to give you. You will be blinded
by your own spiritual inadequacies that you don't want to admit to. You will
reject God's words for you and continue on down the path of spiritual
mediocrity which will lead to oblivion if you do not repent.
imperative never to look to the prophet – the man himself. Look past the
human packaging which God decides to use. Listen to the words which are from
God. Seek Him for the understanding and for the will to change.
By Rejecting A Prophet's
Words You Reject
The One Who Sends Him!
In the past
few years, God has brought across our path many people whom God was finding
it impossible to correct by the normal channels (through their own Bible
study and circumstances in life.) Almost without exception, all turned
against us. It began by first resisting the words God spoke through us for
their benefit. They did not want to face up to their own problems and
weaknesses, or do what God told them to do. They refused to accept that God
was actually saying things to us that He was not saying to them (or so they
thought – they had simply refused to hear Him previously).
humility and meekness, they resisted any correction, preferring to continue
on in their idolatry, rather than submit every area of their lives to God.
They soon started to resent us for being used by God. Their resistance
turned into rejection, and their feelings of resentment in some cases
exploded into outright venom and hatred. They refused to see that they
needed to change. As a result, the inexorable process of apostasy set
in. It didn't occur overnight, but encroached gradually, little by little,
day by day, until darkness eventually totally swallowed up what light they
had. They severed their connections and wanted to have no more to do with
us, asserting that we were of the devil and that they were the ones on the
paths of righteousness. This is the depth to which Satan will delude and
trap any who do not submit to the loving correction of God. They become
totally blinded and pulled into the bottomless pit of spiritual darkness.
friends – 'brothers and sisters' – with whom we had willingly shared
whatever we possessed. They stayed in our home, enjoyed our fellowship, and
benefited from our hospitality and generosity. When in need, we had given
them money and provisions, and helped them in whatever way we could – even
when we had little ourselves. Yet they turned on us like Judas (Ps 41:9).
All because they resisted God's loving correction!
God will have
none in His family whom He cannot rule. If you do not submit to the words of
His prophets, you won't submit to Him either.
Christians have the mistaken impression that if the biblical prophets were
alive today, they would be listened to. They surmise that if Abraham, Moses
or Elijah were to speak and correct them, they would heed their words.
Not so! A
person who cannot be ruled does not listen to correction, regardless of the
source from which it comes. If a person rose from the dead, that would make
no difference to those who are destined to destruction. They have a
resistant spirit which they refuse to humble before God.
parable of Lazarus and the rich man, the rich man thought that if his errant
brothers could hear the testimony of a person brought back from death, they
would heed his message of repentance. But he was wrong.
If they do
not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if
someone rises from the dead (Luke 16:31).
stubborn hearts preclude an acceptable response. Jesus warned us to take
heed to our spirit. "I tell you the truth, " He said, "unless
you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom
of heaven" (Matt 18:3).
Will you heed
the words of the prophets? Will you change? Now is your day of
Malcolm B. Heap
* * *
(This article first appeared in
Awake! Awake! 2-10, August 1994.)