Could it be that people get so obsessed with ominous end-time signs that they completely ignore the many good end-time signs in Scripture? Let’s work on changing that.
Peter tells us that the best end-time sign was “spoken by the prophet Joel: ‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people’” (Acts 2:16-17; cf. Joel 2:28). The mark of the “last days” is an unprecedented downpour of God’s Spirit in both magnitude and intensity (cf. Is 32:15; 44:3). The outpouring empowers all who believe in Jesus to testify of his mighty works (Acts 2:11). By openly and unashamedly exalting “another king, namely Jesus,” we “turn the world upside down” (cf. Acts 17:6-7).
Along with testifying to the nations, God’s people would also “prophesy.” Peter continues his quote from Joel: “‘Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy … even on my male servants and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy’” (Acts 2:17-18). Everyone will prophesy regardless of their gender, age, or social status (e.g., Acts 21:9-11). What does it mean to prophesy?
Prophesying never adds to Scripture, never contradicts Scripture, never replaces Scripture, never becomes Scripture, and never includes “thus says the Lord” (it is not like OT prophecy!). Notice how Paul defined it: “The one who prophesies speaks to people for their upbuilding and encouragement and consolation … the one who prophesies builds up the church” (1 Cor 14:3-4).
No wonder Paul tells us to “pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy” (1 Cor 14:1; cf. Num 11:29). Prophesying is a very special way for you to love the church!
Prophesying occurs when the Holy Spirit impresses on our heart words of comfort or encouragement for someone. It’s “a word fitly spoken” (Prov 25:11). It’s “good for edifying, as fits the occasion, that it may impart grace to those who hear” (Eph 4:29).
Think about all the “prophesying” going on before, during, and after Sunday worship services. We may not call it “prophesying,” but the Spirit will often speak through us when we express words of comfort or when we encourage each other to trust in the Lord or to step out in faith any given Sunday (cf. 1 Cor 12:11; 14:31; Acts 13:1-3). We all need people to prophesy into our life! In fact, “you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all be encouraged” (1 Cor 14:31).
We will always prophesy in part. We will always deliver, receive, and understand words of encouragement imperfectly because “we see in a mirror dimly”—until the perfect comes and we see Jesus face-to-face! Then we will understand everything as clearly as we are fully known to him (1 Cor 13:9, 12).