I want to share about something that troubles me deeply about prophecy. Let me say at the beginning that I love it when God speaks. I would encourage every born again christian to listen for the voice of the Lord. In fact I believe it's a sign of salvation that we hear and recognise the voice of the Holy Spirit. "My sheep know my voice", said Jesus.
What concerns me, though, is that there is a tendency by some people to elevate their revelation to the same level of authority as scripture (sometimes even above scripture). Believe me, this is a dangerous place to be.
On a couple of occasions lately, I have heard people give prophetic words, or descriptions of revelations that they've had, and when a person comments on them and says, "This bit doesn't agree with scripture", or "I don't see that", the response is "But this is a revelation from the Holy Spirit. How dare you disagree with this?"
I just want to throw in a couple of pointers here that will help people work out what is from the Lord and what isn't, so that we will all move in to a closer appreciation of the truth.
1. We are told by Scripture to test all prophecy. 1 Thess 5:19-21:"19 Don’t quench the Spirit. 20 Don’t despise prophesies. 21 Test all things, and hold firmly that which is good." See also 1 Corinthians 14:29. Even the most experienced and accurate of prophets occasionally gets it wrong. Just because someone says "Thus says the Lord" doesn't necessarily mean that the Lord said it! Genuine prophetic words of God will stand up to scrutiny and questioning.
2. No genuine prophecy contradicts scripture. Obvious when stated but not always followed. A so-called prophetic word may quote a scripture and seem to be in agreement with that scripture, yet contradict the overall message of scripture. Remember also that the texts of Scripture were written in Greek and Hebrew not in 16th Century English, or even in 21st Century English and a particular translation may not always be the word of God.
3. Your revelation or prophetic word may be for you or your cell group or your church. It may even be for your nation. That doesn't mean it applies to the whole world! If God tells you to keep on running the race, it is not a contradiction if he tells me at the same time to sit and rest. Openheaven.com, for example, has people reading from all around the world. We should not be surprised if God has different plans for different people in Australia or Zimbabwe as opposed to those in the U.S. If people read something there and they don't receive it, well it's possible that the word is not meant for every living human being.
I don't want to quench the Holy Spirit or anything like that. I really believe from decades of experience of walking with the Holy Spirit that we need to honour the Lord by being honest and mature in the way we deal with all manifestations of the Spirit, including prophecies, revelations, teaching. We need to honour one another also by being honest and gentle with one another.