God's Prophetic Spirit by Rev. Prof. J.K Asamoah-Gyadu

God's Prophetic Spirit


A number of years ago I attended a "prophetic meeting'' as a research student in contemporary Pentecostalism. I am a believer so even when I am in these meetings primarily for academic reasons, I am also aware that I need to be open to the blessings of the Spirit of God as people minister. On this occasion, as happens in African Christian churches these days, an elderly woman was invited forward. The prophet started praying for her and in the process the woman lost control and started spinning. In some so-called "prophetic revelations'' the prophet accused the woman of being a witch. He proceeded to say so many other things, which in my judgment, should not have been uttered in public. Subsequently I had a meeting with the prophet and expressed concern that even if the woman was possessed of some witchcraft demon, public exposure and humiliation was for me an inappropriate means of dealing with the situation. The woman, who was obviously a mother, had been publicly disgraced through unverifiable utterances that would damage her reputation and even that of her children. lf she was married seeds of suspicion had been sown in the mind of her husband.

The prophet may have been gifted but on that occasion, I thought his ministry had been used just to promote personal credentials rather than bring glory to God and be a blessing to his people. Prophet Jeremiah had some harsh words for such prophets:

This is what the Lord Almighty says: "Do not listen to what the prophets are prophesying to you; they fill you with false hopes. They speak visions from their own minds, not from the mouth of the Lord. … I have heard what the prophets say who prophesy lies in my name. They say I had a dream! I had a dream! How long will this continue in the hearts of these lying prophets, who prophesy the delusions of their own minds? (Jeremiah 23:16, 25-26).

This does not suggest that all prophecy is falsehood. The prophetic ministry is a gift of the Holy Spirit and it is from him alone that gentling prophecy must emanate. My thoughts on the sort of prophecy referred to as "genuine", is guided by the words of Peter the Apostle (II Peter 1: 19-21):

And we have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

A number of things about God as a prophetic Spirit are clear from this passage:

i. Prophecy must generate in us an understanding of God's word. When Jesus resurrected from the dead and revealed himself to the disciples one of the first things he did was to "open their minds so they could understand the Scriptures'' (Luke 24:45). In the passage we just read, Peter begins by saying "You will do well to pay attention to [the word of the prophets] as to a light shining in a dark place" (II Peter 1:19a). In other words, prophecy must illuminate our minds to understand what God is about in the world. Jesus told his disciples: "But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you" (John 14:26).

ii. II Peter 1:19b says: "until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts." The light that will shine in our hearts is one that bears witness to Jesus Christ. In Scripture Jesus Christ is the Morning Star. This means genuine prophecy will be about Christ. Jesus himself said that in John 16:13-14, "But when he, the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak of his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is to come. He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you."

What this means is that the prophetic Spirit never contradicts anything that has been said about Jesus Christ in the Scriptures. He is the Son of God; He is the Word made Flesh; Christ is the Lamb that was slain; Jesus Christ is the Bread of Life; He is the Living Water; and by His stripes we are healed!

iii. The sort of prophecy we are talking about here is inspired only by the Holy Spirit. Here is what Peter says in II Peter 1:20, "... You must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet's own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit."

These are people who waited upon God for him to speak before they told the people what God wanted them to hear. What does God want us to hear?

"Prophetic Spirit" and Salvation

The expression "prophetic Spirit" is therefore used here in an entirely different sense than would generally be understood within the context of the sort of contemporary ministries I have described above. God is the God of our salvation and that is what he is about as far as the destiny of humanity and his world are concerned. This much is clear from creation, through the various covenants to the ministry of Jesus Christ and what happens when the saints appear before his throne in glory. In Revelation 7: 9-10, we read:

After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice:
"Salvation belongs to our God,
who sits on the throne,
and to the Lamb."

"The Lamb" in the passage refers to Jesus Christ our Lord. He was the divine, final and ultimate fulfilment of the Passover Lamb through which deliverance came to Israel in Egypt. This eternal truth was something that was prophetically revealed by John the Baptist when Jesus appeared at the beginning of his ministry: "Look [Behold], the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!" (John 1:29). John the Baptist then proceeds to tell us how he came by the truth that Jesus was the Lamb of God:

I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel. Then John gave this testimony: "I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. I would not have known him, except the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, 'The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is he who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.' I have seen and testify that this is the Son of God" (John 1:31-34).

"I would not have known him", John confesses, "except that the one who sent me to , baptize with water told me, 'The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.'” The Holy Spirit did not only "come down" upon Jesus Christ but the Spirit also "remained" on him. All these came to John the Baptist through prophetic revelation. Jesus Christ is the custodian of the Spirit of God, which makes him the source of salvation and that truth is revealed only by the Spirit. This when Jesus Christ himself had to speak about his mission, he began with the words:

"The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
Because he has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom
for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to release the oppressed,
to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor" (Luke 4:18-19).

These words which emphasize the fact that "salvation belongs to our God" were prophetic because they were uttered by Jesus in fulfilment of Isaiah 61:1-3,

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
To preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the broken-hearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
and provide for those who grieve in Zion-
to bestow on them a crown of beauty; instead of ashes,
the oil of-gladness; instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise; instead of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness.
a planting of the Lord
for the display of his splendor.

This is the Holy Spirit prophesying through Isaiah about God's salvation as a destiny changing process. When Jesus quoted the first part of these words in Luke, he left out one expression that Isaiah used and that was: "the day of vengeance of our God". God came down in Christ to comfort those who mourn and restore the joys of those who weep and not to seek vengeance. In the words of Charles Wesley:

No condemnation now I dread;
Jesus, and all in Him, is mine!
Alive in Him, my living Head,
And clothed in righteousness divine
Bold I approach the eternal throne.
And claim the crown, through Christ my own.

God's Holy Spirit, I seek to make the point, is a prophetic Spirit in the sense that he addresses all the issues that relate to salvation in Christ. The prophet Spirit of God is the primary source of inspiration for that which he wants to reveal to or tell his children about. Paul therefore makes it clear that even in the worship life of the church, prophecy must fulfil certain specific purposes:

But everyone who prophesies speaks to men for their strengthening, encouragement and comfort. He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church (I Corinthians 14:3-4).

The prophet Spirit of God comes among his people to affirm the lordship of Jesus Christ; to assure us of the faithfulness of God; and to strengthen us to continue to live for him. That his why Christ is "Living Water" and "Bread of Life" and why none who believe in him will be put to shame.

Inspired by the Spirit

It is now clear that when I talk about the "prophetic Spirit" my focus is on the way in which the Holy Spirit of God ministers to God's people. The focus of such ministration is God's salvation that encompasses the following:

Salvation from sin
Deliverance from affliction
Healing from sickness
The power to overcome emotional pain
Power to overcome those circumstances of life that seek to keep us down.

The only way in which prophecy can be edifying is when it is inspired by the Spirit of God; this much is clear from the words of Peter to the Christians who under persecution had scattered in then known world:

Though you have not seen him, you love him; even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls (I Peter 1:8-9).

In the passage that follows this one, Peter explains how the prophets who brought such good news spoke by inspiration of the Holy Spirit:

Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with greatest care, trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow (I Peter 1:10-11).

I suggest that the critical phrase here is how the prophets "who spoke of the grace that was to come" to God's people "searched intently and with greatest care" trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when this Spirit predicted "the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow." In other words the focus of the revelations and predictions of the Spirit was Jesus Christ. The Spirit spoke about his "sufferings" and that means the Cross. He also spoke about his "glories" and that means the Resurrection. Today all that has come true and Christ sits in glory. All the angels stand around his throne. They are before his presence with the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders. They fall down on their faces before the throne and worship God saying:

Praise and glory
and wisdom and thank and honor
and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever. Amen!

The prophetic Spirit reveals that salvation indeed belongs to our God who sits on the throne and to the Lamb. Here I would like to quote Peter again who brings together the relationship between the prophetic truth about Christ as the focus of salvation and the Holy Spirit as the one who reveals this truth to the prophets:

We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased" (II Peter 1:16-17).

Once again Peter is clear that these revelations about who Jesus Christ was and what his ministry of salvation was about originated in prophetic declarations by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit: "You must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit" (II Peter 1:20-21).

Rescue: The Focus of Spirit-inspired Revelation

A classic example of the ministry of the prophetic Spirit of God is found at the beginning of the Gospel according to St. Luke. This concerns the events surrounding the Incarnation or the birth of Jesus Christ and his forerunner, John the Baptist. In the anxieties and confusion surrounding the births of John and Jesus Christ, Zechariah, we are told, "was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied" (Luke 1:67). The single most important element in the proclamation of the prophetic Spirit is God's rescue mission in Jesus Christ our Lord. Here is what Zechariah, inspired by the Holy Spirit, prophesied:

Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel.
Because he has come and has redeemed his people.
He has raised a mighty horn of salvation for us
In the house of his servant David …
Salvation from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us -
to show mercy to our fathers
and to remember his holy covenant
the oath he swore to our father Abraham:
to rescue us from our enemies,
and to enable us to serve him without fear
in holiness and righteousness before him all our days (Luke 1:68-75).

The important prophetic utterances for me here are first, that this is promise first made to Abraham; second that the promise made to Abraham included a "rescue" mission from our enemies; and third that it entailed the fact that we are rescued to "enable" us serve God "without fear and in holiness and righteousness before him all our days." In Christ God is on a rescue mission to deliver his people. In Christ and by the power of the Spirit God enables us to serve him and to do so in "holiness and righteousness"!


Indeed "bold I approach the eternal throne and claim the crown through Christ my own."