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-- © GodSpeak International 2000 --
-- Do not republish without written permission from copyright@godspeak.org --

Teresa Seputis ts@godspeak.net GodSpeak International [http://www.godspeak.net/]
Michael Gerner MGerner@aol.com
Editor: Teresa Seputis

Prophetic-School MiniTraining Series

Judging Prophetic Words

by Teresa Seputis

Part 1

The Need To Judge Prophecy


God has been "up to something" the past few weeks, and that is what has orchestrated this teaching series. Let me explain what I mean...

We were supposed to be doing a 4 week series on The Prophetic And Inner Healing starting a few weeks ago, but the leadership core member who was supposed to write that did not deliver it. (He got too busy with other ministry related things.) Our next class (by a different leadership core member) is supposed to start Sept 4, which means the lessons were due over two weeks ago so we could edit/format them, etc. To date, only one lesson has come in on that series, so it will most likely be delayed. I have been asking God what he wants me to do since the teaching series are not coming in when they are supposed to, and this is from people who are normally very reliable and who walk in integrity.

Meanwhile, on Aug 24, a word went out on the prophetic-school list that has been problematic for many. The word comes from someone who is considered "very reliable" and who has shared many words in the past that have ministered to many. Yet this word has caused problems for many people on the list, I have received several private emails of people expressing concern regarding the word. (Others feel this is very much a God word and that it is very relevant to them.)

I expected people would simply judge words submitted to the list for themselves, and accept or reject each accordingly. I am sure that many have done that. However, some of the people are troubled because the problematic word comes from someone with a history of being very reliable. So they are hesitant to judge the word because they feel they will be judging the person who gave it. Others simply are not comfortable with their ability to judge a word ... Yet others have felt a check in their spirit from this word. For instance, I got an email from a pastor (who I respect immensely) sharing how this word raised red flags in him. He has never commented on any words on the list before. Personally I did not have any problems with the message of this word, but it was clear that several people did.

This all drove me to prayer and pondering the situation. While I was seeking God on this, the Lord began to speak to me and put the pieces together. He showed me how there is a very practical need on the list to discuss judging words.. in this case judging corporate words. But that leads to the need to understand how to judge personal words as well.

I suspect that the Lord may have intentionally created a space in the list (late/missing teachings) and at the same time caused an "issue" to arise on the list. After my prayer time, I suspect God intentionally released this seemingly "problematic" word to help people learn to "judge prophecy." God is setting us up with a "problem" because He wants us to learn from it.

So we will embark on an unplanned 5-week series on "Judging Prophetic Words". We had a 4-part series on Judging Prophecy back in September of 1998 that Jane Fitz-Gibbon wrote. It is very good and I recommend people read it. The URL is http://www.godspeak.net/ps_lessons/ms4_index.html

However, we need to revisit the issue of Judging Prophecy again. The plan is to spend the first week looking at some of the issues we've discussed in previous words and apply them briefly to the word that kicked all of this off. Then we will send out a 2-part teaching that Mike Gerner did on "Testing Prophecy" back in June of 1997 when he was on the leadership core. Then I will share my little spew on judging prophecy that we do at our church for those coming to receive ministry from our prophetic teams. I will close with a "case study" ... a teaching/writeup I did a while back on the process I personally went through in judging a rebuking word that was given to me personally.

It is time that we all become skilled and comfortable in prayerfully evaluating and judging prophetic words.

Judging Prophecy

The prophetic-school list is a "training ground" and we do not prejudge words before sending them out .. except running them tough the filters of our list charter.. (does it contradict scripture or is it harsh or judgemental or condemning?) We expect the people on the list to judge the words for themselves.

The scriptural mandate for judging prophecy is found in 1 Cor 14:29. Let's look at two different translations of this verse:

1 Cor 14:29 (NIV)
  1. Two or three prophets should speak, and the others should weigh carefully what is said.

1 Cor 14:29 (NKJV)

  1. Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others judge.

We see that we are to weigh carefully (or evaluate) prophetic words and judge them to determine whether or not they are really a word from God. We will cover these criteria in detail following lessons. For now, I want to call attention to only three of them...

  1. Is it Scriptural?
  2. Does the Holy Spirit bare witness? (or give a check against it)
  3. what do we know about the person giving the word?

In addition to the content of the word (e.g., is it a God originated message), there are some delivery issues we have to consider. Often a God-word can be inadvertently mis-delivered so that it obscures the message or looses it's intended impact. These types of delivery mistakes are more likely to happen to beginners, but even very seasoned prophets can occasionally make a delivery mistake. Here are the most common delivery mistakes:

  1. The the person giving the word communicate it in a manner where the meaning/message is clearly and easily understood?
  2. Did they deliver the word to the correct audience?
  3. Did they add their own interpretation or insights to the word?

The Word In Question

Here is the word that has caused concern for some members of the list...

Mind Me More

I cannot over emphasize that you must test and double test every belief and teaching against the Truth of My Word. The Deceiver is on loose reigns and he is creating havoc upon the spirits of all who do not know the Truth. He is conquering with false miracles, visions and teachings that are very close to the Truth; he might even try to use some of you for his evil purposes. Even some well known writers and teachers are his targets because he knows that once a teacher is accepted, all his teachings are also accepted - even that one thought that the Deceiver has slipped in.

Come My Beloved Ones, come sit and reason with Me. Bring all the teachings you hear, hear of and read about to Me and let's discuss it. Bring that book you are reading into My Presence and I will show you any error. I am not just Lord and King, but I am also Wisdom. Those who fully abide in Me, will not be fooled by the enemy's devices. Here in My Presence you are one with Me, our minds are entwined; My mind becomes your mind and by My Spirit I will hi-light the Deceiver's traps. Prayerfully look for Me and My Truth in what you hear and read. If, by My Spirit, you do not find Me or My Truth there, then I am not there and what you hear and read does not come from Me but from the Deceiver.

Discard that which is not from Me and lovingly and by My Spirit, warn your brethren about the trap.

Put your mind and your focus on Me, lift your eyes and look into Mine. I am the Light and the Giver of light. Yes, mind the Deceiver, but mind Me more!


The Message of the Word

The message of this word is that we need to judge what we read and hear, rather than simply accepting anything because it comes from a source we have considered credible. The admonishment is to bring everything (new doctrine/teachings) to God and ask Him to speak to us about it. The promise is that God will show us clearly, when we ask Him, what is of Him and what is an enemy deception. The word encourages us to be aware of the enemy's deception, but to put our focus more on God and His truth than on the enemy's strategies and deceptions.

So, let's evaluate the message of this word. Is it Scriptural? Matt 24:11 says that "Many False prophets will rise up and deceive many." In fact, we have a lot more scriptural precedence warning us to judge teachings/doctrines instead of blindly believing anything.. here are a few...

Matt 24:24-27
  1. For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.
  2. See, I have told you beforehand.
  3. "Therefore if they say to you, "Look, He is in the desert!' do not go out; or "Look, He is in the inner rooms!' do not believe it.
  4. For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.
  5. For wherever the carcass is, there the eagles will be gathered together.

1 John 4:1

    Love for God and One Another. Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.

We also have scriptural precedence about the Holy Spirit teaching us of God's truth and giving us discerment/wisdom when we ask Him. Here are a few of these...

John 14:25-26
  1. "These things I have spoken to you while being present with you.
  2. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.

John 16:7-15

  1. Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you.
  2. And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:
  3. of sin, because they do not believe in Me;
  4. of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more;
  5. of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.
  6. "I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.
  7. However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.
  8. He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you.
  9. All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you.

James 1:5

  1. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.

The next criteria I want to apply to the message is the confirmation/check of the Holy Spirit. Now, I did not get either on this message, so I took it as not applying to me and did not pay a lot of attention to it (until I started getting multiple emails from people troubled by this word). There were some who got a confirmation in their spirit about this word. One felt it was a confirmation of what God been speaking to him about sounding the alarm regarding some questionable doctrine that was beginning to penetrate his church. God had been quickening it to his heart that he must gently but firmly raise up and share how this was not right and how it was not biblical. So the Holy Spirit appears to have quickened this message to this person.

Three people contacted me about concerns/alarms they had gotten when reading this word. One based the alarm on his assumption that the word was telling us to submit to the devil, which he found doctrinely in error and unscriptural. (It turns out that was not what the author of this word intended to communicate, but if that was the intent of the message, this alarm would have been very genuine. In this case, the check was not based on an inner witness of the Holy Spirit, but on judging the word as he understood it against scripture.) The second person had alarms as well, though she was not good at vocalizing them, and she felt some confusion in the situation. She shared how she has been struggling with fear of deception and how she felt this word was unhealthy because it encouraged (increased) her fear of deception. Again, it is not clear whether this was "her own issues" raising up, or a check from the Holy Spirit, but certainly a check was there that made her judge and evaluate this word.

The third person was a pastor who I know personally and consider to be very keen in the spirit. He said that the word did not "set right" with him, and "this one just didn't feel right" and that his "warning flags were really waving." He interpreted the word as giving too much credit to the enemy and having "fear wrapped around them as well." In his case, the Holy Spirit seemed to be giving him a check in his spirit regarding this word. As it turns out, several people from his church are on the prophetic-school list, and have also read this word. God is doing something very specific in their church, moving them from a place of spiritual warfare to releasing blessings on their community and flowing in revival and renewal. Their focus needs to be on trusting God and what He is doing rather than concentrating on the enemy and what he is doing. My take on this is that the Lord was indeed giving him a check in the spirit because this message was not targeted for his church... it sort of moves them the other direction than God is moving them.. even though it is a very valid message for some other churches. I believe that this is why the Holy Spirit gave him a check in his spirit on this word.. because it is not a word that was appropriate to what God is doing in his particular church.

This word is interesting to me because the Holy Spirit appears to have confirmed it to some people, but He appears to have given checks to others. And in my own case, I got neither.

The final criteria I want to to examine regarding the message of the word is the character of the person who delivered it. This word comes from someone who has given many other words to this list. Her previous words had anointing on them, and ministered to a lot of people. Many of the people on this list consider her very credible in the prophetic and have a great deal of respect for her. That is part of why this word was problematic to some people.. they had a great deal of respect for her and her words, but they found the content of this word to be troublesome to them. If the word had come from someone who they did not consider credible, they would have simply disregarded it. But since it came from someone who they respect in the prophetic, it caused them to grapple with it and struggle over it as they judged it rather than simply discarding it. If the "troublesome" word had come from someone who had known character flaws or who was a know flake, it would not have caused them any alarm.. they would have been inclined to reject it outright.

The character of a prophet, or of a believer delivering a prophetic word is an important hint, but it is not the main criteria for accepting or rejecting a word. For instance, the Bible calls Balaam a false prophet in Jude 1:11, 2 Peter 2:15 and Rev 2:14. And yet God spoke true words through him in prophesying God's blessings over the nation of Israel. For that matter, Balaam's donkey was not known for it's character or wisdom, but God spoke prophetically through the donkey (and through an accompanying angel) to Balaam in Numbers 22:23-33. On the other hand, some very credible prophets occasionally make mistakes.. they are usually accurate but are because they are human, they are not infallible. We see a new testament example of this in Acts 15. Some of the church leaders from Jerusalem felt that newly converted gentiles must observe the Jewish law and also need to be circumsised. This was such a strong dispute that it had to go before the Jerusalem council (the apostles and elders) to be settled. These Jews believed they had heard from God but they were in error and had to be corrected. Likewise, even those who are seasoned in the prophetic can occasionally make a mistake, particularly in areas where they have strong personal feelings or theologies. But at the same time, Jesus says that a tree is known by it's fruit (Matt 12:33). Thus, we tend to give the benefit of the doubt in favor of those with known good character/fruit, and we tend to be more cautious with those of questionable character and fruit.

In this case, I personally would give the author of this word the benefit of the doubt, and assume that the message was from God. I believe the problems that some have experienced regarding this word are not due to the message of the word, but due to the delivery. Let's look at that...

The Delivery of The Word

I had listed three areas where delivery can go wrong. Let's briefly look at them.

  1. Did the person giving the word communicate it in a manner where the meaning/message is clearly and easily understood?

    We know for a fact this did happen, because the author did a follow-on post apologizing for the earlier confusion. The author used the phrase "Mind the deceiver, but mind me more." In her local area and culture, that would be understood to mean 'be aware of the deceiver's schemes, but be more aware of God and of His ability to communicate His truth.' Yet we know (due to private emails sent to me) that some people interpreted that phrase to mean, "obey the deceiver." That was not at all what the word was attempting to communicate, but that is how some took it. (No wonder those people had problems with the word... any rational believer would have problems with a word admonishing us to honor or obey the devil!)

    Thus the author of this word found a way to express it that was misinterpreted by some. It was not clearly and easily understood.

    Also, I would say the tone of the word was alarming to some. It gave them the impression that the enemy had a lot of power (the "big devil, little God" orientation). The mood of this word could be considered fear-inducing to some. That was clearly not the intent of the word.. the closing phrase was meant to mean that God has a lot more power than the enemy, and that the enemy could not deceive those who sought God for His truth, so be wise and cautious but don't be afraid or crippled.

    Yet that meaning was obscured for some because of way in which the message was comprised and worded. Some people took out of it the exact opposite of what the word was really trying to communicate.

    This is an indication that the delivery was a bit weak on this word and could have been improved to communicate the message more clearly.

  2. Did they deliver the word to the correct audience?

    Some words are general, and applicable to vast portions of the body or Christ. Other words are very specific and targeted to a certain group or target.

    In general, corrective and/or warning words are usually applied to a specific audience, not to the church at large. This is because there is a lot of variety in the state of the body of Christ in different churches and in different areas. Typically correction and warning or even direction are not a "one size fits all" type of word. A word does not have to be corrective or warning to be tailored to a specific target audience. God will frequently customize words for specific groups of people, or for specific churches or specific denominations or specific cities or sometimes for specific nations.

    We see that Jesus Himself did that in the book of Revelation. He had specific words for each of the 7 churches, and He addressed each word to the church for which it was intended. For instance, the corrective word for Thyatira (the corrupt church) in Rev 2:18-29 did not apply at all to the Ephesean church, which was doing all the right things but had lost their first love (Rev 2:1-7). Likewise, His words of encouragement to the persecuted Symrnian church (Rev 2:8-11) was not to fear the things they must suffer because they will receive the crown of life. That word did not apply at all to the lukewarm (and unpersecuted) church of the Laodiceans in Rev 3:14-22.

    Likewise today, when a person gives a prophetic word, they need to understand God's intended target for that word. Let me give you an example from the United States. There are a lot of excellent churches in many different parts of the states. But when a church "falls into error," different geographic areas tend to have different characteristics of "error" for that area. For instance, the churchs in the deep south tend to be more prone towards legalism and/or a religious spirit. Churches in California and the west are more likely to error towards over-tolerance of sin or towards new age philosophies. So if I live in the West and God wants to speak a corrective or warning word, He will probably call the churches in my area to walk in personal holiness and obedience to Him. That word may not apply at all to the churches in the deep south.. perhaps there He wants to deal with legalism and calling them back to a deep and intimate walk with Him. A word that is "right" for certain California churches would be "in left field" for many churches in the deep south.

    I believe we are seeing this dynamic operating on this word. Some denominations tend towards experiencing God and moving in His power and anointing. They tend to error on the side of sound doctrine and a solid knowledge of scripture, but walk in close relationship with God and are getting to know Him intimately. Other denominations are very solid in their doctrines and the members tend to know their bibles well. Their weaknesses tend to be in the area of experiencing God (as opposed to head knowledge about him) and in the area of moving in God's power and anointing. Of course, God's desire for all of His children is a balance of these two areas. But if a group is strong in one area and weak in another, then He will bring correction in the area of their weakness. Thus a word like this one (Mind Me More) might minister deeply to certain churches or denominations where they need to be more firmly rooted in doctrine and theology and knowing the word. However, people from churches that are deeply rooted in these areas may not relate at all to this word because it is not an area that God wants to address in their lives... He may have a totally different concern that He wants to address for them.

    The prophetic-school list spans a wide scope of nations, cultures and denominations. The thing we share in common is a commitment to God and a desire to know His voice more clearly and to understand how to move effectively with His Holy Spirit in the prophetic. There will be times when some of the words released on this list simply won't be targeted at everyone on the list. The Lord will quicken the word to some because He is addressing it to them. But He may not quicken it to those who are not a part of the intended audience.

    I believe we saw this dynamic on this word.. where the Holy Spirit quickened the word to some but gave checks to others on the same word.. because some were in the intended audience and others were not.

    Sometimes the question is not "is this a word from God?" but "Is this a word that God is speaking to me?"

  3. Did they add their own interpretation or insights to the word?

    I am not reviewing the word (Mind Me More) in this area, I just wanted to throw this in because it is a common mistake. For instance, one time a prophetic trainee at CI was ministering on a team to a couple in their fiftys. The couple had come for ministry because they desired to know God's will for a business venture, whether or not to start this new business. This young man had not been told why they were coming. He heard the Lord say that they were pregnant and were about to give birth. If he had simply shared this, it would have been an encouragement to them. They would have understood that to be figurative for this business venture. But the young man felt a need to put the word in context, so he told the woman that she was going to have another child. You could hear the couple gasp.. this was not good news at all for a couple in their fiftys who had already raised their family and did not yearn to do so again. It was also not correct... he had taken a good word he had heard from the Lord and changed it to make it "fit" into his context or frame work instead of simply delivering it. In the process, the meaning and blessing of the word were lost. He had heard right, but because he tried to put his own interpretation on it, he delivered a bad word.

    Many who are younger in the prophetic will sometimes make this mistake.. where they will hear God correctly, but will flavor the meaning of the message as they try to understand or interpret it.

Closing Thoughts

I know the author of this word and overall I think highly of her. I have seen her walk in great integrity in some pervious situations. She is one of my personal intercessors, and from time to time has shared insights with me that were very much the Lord and an indication of her ability to hear God clearly and well. She has posted corporate words to the list in the past that have been very anointed and have ministered to many. I do not consider her a beginner in the prophetic.

Yet in this case, which I think God orchestrated on purpose, she has made some delivery mistakes. I believe the message of the word is a God-message, but that the manner in which it was delivered caused there to be confusion and misunderstanding of what the word was communicating. I think God did this on purpose to give us "hands on" practice and expertise in judging words. In fact I do believe God's sense of humor is shining through on this one.. since the gist of the word itself is about bringing things to God to judge them! It looks like the prophet here is not only delivering a word, but is being given the opportunity to be the vehicle through which many of us walk out the message God was intending to communicate through that word.

Remember, when we judge a word (and the delivery of the word) we are not judging the person who gave the word.. just the word itself. We must always have grace for those willing to serve as God's messengers... and we must be careful not to judge or reject the person if we reject a given word they are delivering.

I am reminded of an experience I once had with John Webster. John is known for his keenness and accuracy in the prophetic.. he tends to give very detailed words with lots of specific and accurate facts in them that there was no way he could have known in the natural. He is in full time ministry as a prophet, and travels internationally to teach and prophecy. John has spoken to heads of Government in different nations and he is widely known and respected as a seasoned and mature prophet.

Yet one time I saw John make a delivery mistake. It was an online ministry time, and John was leading a team. He was typing the words that his team gave into the chatroom as well as giving words of his own. One of John's team gave a word of warning/comfort about a person's son. The word implied the son was in great danger but that God would protect him. The people receiving this word were very upset and concerned, and wondered if the prophet had possibly spoken a curse over their son. There son was a worship leader in their church and very committed to serving the Lord. Concern of this incident disabled their ability to receive any of the words given by this team. We later debriefed by telephone (John, myself and the couple who had received the "alarming" word). John had talked with me prior to this debriefing, and explained how it might indeed be a God word about his protection and watching over the son, despite the enemy plans to attack him. However, the way in which the word had been delivered painted a different picture in the parent's eyes, so that they viewed this "ministry" as highly inappropriate and potentially releasing a curse over their son. John apologized for the situation and admitted that he probably should have filtered out that word. (He was typing into the prophecy chatroom as the folks on his team were verbally saying the words to him. On retrospect, he decided it might have been better to not type that word rather than to give it, since it did have the potential of alarming the parents.)

John is a seasoned and gifted prophet. If someone of his caliber can occasionally make a delivery mistake, then that means that none of the rest of us are exempt from accidentally making them either.

[Please Note:
This is intended as a discussion series. Please feel free to send your discussion (comments or questions) to prophetic-school@godspeak.net. ]

-- © GodSpeak International 2000 --
-- Do not republish without written permission from copyright@godspeak.org --

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