Please be aware that all prophetic words are to be prayerfully judged. If you have any questions or discomfort about judging a word, I strongly recommend you take the word to your pastor or spiritual overseer and have them pray it through and evaluate it with you. Here are some guidelines...
her fiance would become a musician in 5 years.The marriage did not go well and they separated three years later.. it was invalid to use this word as a basis for marrying this man because she twisted the meaning to fit her circumstances.
He felt devistarted that God did did not keep his word and to make matters worse, his daugher ended up in a life-threatening situation, and he had to spend months nursing her back to health. Finally he confronted God as to why God had not kept His word to him regarding the property. Then God replied the word was never about the property.. it was about his daughter who had nearly died. When he got the word, the circumstance it applied to was not yet in his life, so he assumed it applied to his current circumstance.
Some brief notes on the importance of testing prophecy and guidelines on how to do it.
The Need To Test Prophecy
In this passage the bible commands us to test prophecy. Indeed, it is part of the normal New Testament ministry process (1 Cor 14:29 NIV: Two or three prophets should speak, and the others should weigh carefully what is said.)
Please note carefully the context of this passage in 1 Thessalonians. Firstly, don't have such a negative attitude towards the gifts and moving of the Holy Spirit (specifically prophecy) that the fire of the Spirit is quenched in your life. The Greek word sbennumi (sben'-noo-mee) means to extinguish. The picture is of a fire that has been started but is deliberately put out. How awful a thought, that one can, without proper reason, deliberately chose to put out or damp down something started by Almighty God!
Secondly, don't treat prophecies with contempt. There are two opposite dangers here.
The first and most obvious danger is that we treat prophecy as something which is not of God today. This means that one is treating a precious gift of God sent to edify the church (1 Corinthians 14:4) as a contemptible thing, at best coming from man and at worst from the devil.
The second danger is more subtle: that a prophecy is accepted as being from God yet treated casually. If you were handled an ornate gold jewelled watch worth $1,000,000 you'd be careful how you treated it, wouldn't you? Probably more careful than if you were given a cheap plastic watch worth $1. So it is with prophecy: if what is a precious gift from God is treated in an offhand, casual sort of way then there is a real danger that it will be lost or misused.
So how are we to treat prophecy carefully? The answer lies in verse 21: test it! Make sure that it's the genuine article. If it is, then we hold onto it. If it isn't genuine, then we avoid it.
The Attitude Of The Tester
An often quoted reference about testing by scripture is found in Acts 17, to do with the Jews at Berea.
Acts 17:11 Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.
The argument goes that this proves the importance of examining scriptures, since the Bereans were regarded as having a more noble character for doing so. Actually, that is not the full story: I missed out a bit. Here is the full reference, with the section I deliberately omitted earlier capitalised for emphasis.
Do we get the point? If we have a heart that is closed to new revelation and reluctant to acknowledge that something radical and different may be the truth, we are in trouble. It is probable that no amount of examining scripture (however commendable that is) will ever change our minds. We need both the eagerness to hear from God and the willingness to check things out by examining scriptures. Our heart must be right in this before we can test anything properly.
The Importance Of Scripture
I'm not going to debate hermeneutics (methods of interpreting scripture) here. For various reasons, I believe the bible is the inspired word of God in accordance with its own claim outlined above. It is therefore very important to me when considering how to train myself (or others) in methods of testing prophecy that I base my approach on biblical standards. This I have tried to do.
Please understand that I do not exclude tests of prophecy which are not specifically mentioned in the Bible. But I would weigh up those tests themselves in the light of what Scripture does say!
The tests to be conducted are ranked in my personal order of priority. Your mileage may differ and you will probably think of other tests to apply as well. Please feel free to do so!
Does It Contradict Scripure?
If a prophecy goes against scripture it goes against what God has said. Throw it out.
But be careful: sometimes a prophecy can be against our own understanding of scripture. We need to make certain that our own understanding of scripture is not at fault here. For example, if we believe that scripture says God does not supernaturally heal today (I can't find any references for this one!) then a prophecy that somebody is going to be healed might be rejected by us even though the Lord really has spoken it.
A more subtle situation is that sometimes the prophecy can seem to contradict scripture, but in reality what the Lord is saying through it is in accordance with scripture! Peter found this out in Joppa:
He saw heaven opened and something like a large sheet being let down to earth by its four corners. It contained all kinds of four-footed animals, as well as reptiles of the earth and birds of the air. Then a voice told him, "Get up, Peter. Kill and eat."
"Surely not, Lord!" Peter replied. "I have never eaten anything impure or unclean."
The voice spoke to him a second time, "Do not call anything impure that God has made clean."
This happened three times, and immediately the sheet was taken back to heaven.
The vision was a direct contradiction of the food laws taught in the Old Testament, but the key to the interpretation is found in verse 16 where it was shown three times. Although the vision puzzled Peter, it was not long before he understood the significance of this, when three men visited him:
(By the way, this shows the importance of details in understanding a vision.)
Peter himself explained the vision later, when he spoke to Cornelius, the man who had sent for him, and his friends:
In other words, Peter was given a vision which appeared to contradict scripture. But as he pondered it, the Holy Spirit and events showed him the true meaning.
Did The Prophecy Come True?
If it didn't happen, then it very probably was not of God.
Why "very probably" and not "certainly"?
Because God's prophecies are not set in stone: there is an element of personal choice in their application. So sometimes a prophecy may not come to pass because the people involved changed their behaviour. A classic example of this is in Jonah:
On the first day, Jonah started into the city. He proclaimed: "Forty more days and Nineveh will be overturned."
The Ninevites believed God. They declared a fast, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth... When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he had compassion and did not bring upon them the destruction he had threatened.
The LORD Himself explains this principle in Jeremiah:
A second reason why a prophecy from God may not come to pass is because of intercession:
A final point. It may seem strange that this test should be applied when considering a prophecy, because surely the idea is to test the prophecy before it happens? While this is true, often when the Lord gives a prophecy He also gives an immediate lesser prophecy so that the truth of the major prophecy can be relied upon when the initial prophecy comes true. A classic example of this is found in 1 Samuel 10, where Samuel gives Saul a series of relatively minor incidents which were to follow in order to (amongst other things) confirm the truth of Saul's prophetic calling to be king.
Does The Prophecy Uplift Jesus Or Somebody Else?
If a prophecy exalts anybody else other than Jesus (especially if it flatters the prophet's reputation) be on your guard. This is one of the most difficult tests to apply if the prophecy is exalting you (the recipient) or your church! But be especially careful in such cases, as the temptation to pride is real.
The Character Of The Prophet
Look for the fruits of the Spirit in the prophet's life:
Look for good fruits in the prophet's ministry (previous prophecies come true, people turned to Jesus, etc.).
By the way, one of the first tests of a prophet's character is to tell him (or her) that you are going to test the prophecy - if the prophet reacts badly then that's a pretty strong negative indicator!
An Inner Witness Of The Holy Spirit
Be careful with this one. Because the voice of the Holy Spirit is discerned in the inner being, His voice can be confused by soulish things. For example, if manifestations offend you, it is highly probable that an inner dislike of these manifestations could come across as a "check" in the Spirit that what is happening (or being said) is not of God, while in actual fact it is of God! The same thing can happen if the mannerisms of the prophet offend you.
It is important to grow in discernment and walking with the Lord to make it easier to hear His voice on these things. Practice makes perfect - or, at least, better!
The above is obviously incomplete but I trust they will be helpful to us all as we learn together how best to handle this wonderful gift of the Holy Spirit.
This is a fundamental scriptural principal which was obviously greatly respected in the early church (Matt 18:16, 2 Cor 13:1, 1 Tim 5:19). It is a very important test of any prophecy.
If a word of prophecy is given, especially if it is a major lifechanging one, it would seem reasonable to me to "put it on ice" until independent confirmation has been received. Such confirmation could be another prophecy, a bible reading or something similar which clearly reflects the guiding hand confirmation has been received. Such confirmation could be another prophecy, a bible reading or something similar which clearly reflects the guiding hand of God.
One thing to watch out for here is that the other witnesses must be truly independent. This is why a prophecy given by somebody who in the natural does not know anything about a given situation is so powerful.
Of course, the absence of independent witnesses does not necessarily mean that a prophecy is false. But I do feel that there are scriptural grounds for seeking independent confirmation from the LORD on such matters.
One strange thing about false prophecy is that often the devil will generally arrange for some form of seemingly independent witness to it (1 Kings 22, especially verse 22). You see, he knows that these witnesses strengthen his case. However, something about the prophecy will not "ring true" (verse 16) or a small part of the fruit will be bad - it might cause fear, for example (2 Tim 1:7). Which leads onto the next point:
The Word Sets Us Free
Remember, the LORD's will for us His disciples who hold on to His teachings is:
As we seek to obey the LORD and to hold onto His teachings then I believe that we are entitled to live in the good of that promise! At the very least, we have helped create a favourable environment in which to hear accurately from the LORD.
The Prophet Testifies That Jesus Is God In The Flesh
This is the litmus test for every religion or religious group in the world: what do they say about Jesus? Do they acknowldge that He is really God incarnate, fully man and fully God? If there is any wavering on this central point of how we view the LORD, be very careful - something false has got in.
What Does Your Church Leadership Say?
It is a pretty sure principle that those whom the LORD has raised into leadership in the church will have a good insight into your life and can judge a personal prophecy spoken over you. That's NOT to say they are always right (leaders are imperfect too) but a confirmation from a leader can be a pretty strong indicator that a word spoken over you is accurate.
The ideal situation here is for your church leader(s) to also minister in the prophetic, since this will further equip them to judge the prophecy.
Even if a church leader is not a prophet, I do believe that his or her input is valuable in weighting up a prophecy since they are moving in an anointed position (if they are God appointed that is!) and that anointing from the Spirit can show them the truth in matters pertaining to their area of authority (such as their oversight for you):
I have often found spirit-filled leaders who are not in themselves prophets to have real words of wisdom when evaluating prophecies.
What Is The Prophet's Attitude Towards Other Brothers/Sisters?
This point is really a particular aspect of an earlier point, but it has a more detailed emphasis on the prophet's attitude towards others in the church.
It seems to me that somebody who walks around in darkness is not exactly a good person to be relied upon to give me clear guidance from the LORD!
Please understand that the above represents the state of my knowledge on this topic as it stands at the moment. I have much more to learn on testing prophecy and my subsequent lessons may well modify what I have written here, but this is the best that I know at the moment and I trust that it will be helpful.