The Scariest Word in the Bible

I was trying to remember if I had ever heard the word “prophetic” preached from the pulpit during my first fews years of being a believer. Looking back, I don’t think I had.

I attended a church, as young Christian, that was a bit charismatic (if there is such a thing). Some people spoke in tongues and some people had “words from the Lord.” But no one was walking around calling themselves prophets or their “words from the Lord” prophetic.

Fast forward 8 years and I was attending a Bible church where the pastor admitted from the pulpit that he sorta, kinda, maybe believed in prophecy, but that this congregation would never participate in such things.

Fast forward another few years and I found myself in a wholly prophetic church, where it was not only preached but practiced– A church where hearing from God was the norm, not the other way around.

Having spent a few years in a prophetic community and being a part of one currently, the idea of prophecy has been demystified for me. God has so clearly brought instruction, clarity, and understanding to the idea of prophecy.

I understand (sorta) why people find that word to be so scary. Prophecy. 

There is no other word in scripture I can think of that makes people–all people–quite so uncomfortable. It doesn’t matter what your denomination might be, church background, theology, if you’re male or female–almost everyone gets squirmy when the word “prophecy” is thrown around.

It sounds like the end times. Armageddon. Fortune telling. Mysticism. The Unknown.

I’ve felt a pull to write about this topic. To offer the same sort of demystification that was offered to me. So, starting with tomorrow’s post, I’m going to try as best I can in a blog post, to help bring light to a seemingly scary topic for many Christians.

Meaning, I’d like to hear your questions first. Your questions will help shape tomorrow’s post. So, have at it! Ask me anything. Here’s a few questions to get you thinking…

What do you know or have experienced in terms of the prophetic? What would you like to know? Do you find the topic a bit unsettling?

And for fun…what do YOU think is the scariest word in the Bible?


42 thoughts on “The Scariest Word in the Bible”

  1. I’m a little nervous to say this, but I believe that one of the gifts of the Spirit I have is the gift of prophecy. Believe me, I don’t tell people this often. There have been times when the urging to speak has been so strong and came at just the right time. I have a pretty good understanding of why most prophets were martyred. Just sayin’

    1. YAY!! Go for it, my sister! Our Father has much to say, and He taps us to be His mouth, His hands, and His feet! Many parts, yet One Body, indeed. If you weren’t nervous about prophecy, people would wonder if you really have it.

  2. I understand biblical prophecy less as fortune-telling and more as “speaking truth to power” (my favorite academic definition). The books we call “prophetic” in the Scriptures are less about telling people what’s going to happen than warning them to enact justice.

    More Martin Luther King, Jr. than Ms. Cleo.

    In a parking garage once, a friend of mine ran into the head pastor of a large, charismatic church in our town. She didn’t know him, but he “prophesied” over her that she was going to receive a $10,000 check in the mail.

    She didn’t.

    I told her we should go confront him. After all, the bible DOES tell us to stone prophets whose predictions don’t come true :D

    1. I think you’re right — somehow prophecy gets confused with fortune telling, and unfortunately we have a lot of “prophets” perpetuating that misunderstanding.

  3. Okay, I’ll take this Pepsi Challenge.

    1. What’s the difference between prophet and someone who has the gift of prophecy?

    2. Is prophet an equipping gift or a personality trait given by our Father?

    3. Is all prophecy future-tense?

    4. I already know the answers you’re gong to give to these questions. ;)

    Nicole, looking forward to this thread developing. It’s time we had this conversation.

    1. I don’t know you, Unapologetic Prophet, but I like where you’re going with these questions. You don’t have to consider that sentence prophetic though. ;)

      Nicole–KUDOS! I’ve been sensing that the Lord wants this talked about most, but it’s difficult to do from a personal perspective. Your blog is perhaps one of the best platforms from which to discuss this. Bring it, friend. BRING. IT.

      Blessings upon you for boldness and all the right words.

  4. This is going to be fun. I’m glad you’re doing this, Nicole. Especially with your reach.

    I’ve been in churches that operate in the prophetic since I was a teenager but most of it was solely from the pulpit or from leaders. My current church is more empowering in teaching that we “all may prophesy” and it’s not just for leaders. We are all trained to hear from the Lord and speak those out.

    It gets scary because people can start using “the Lord told me” pretty loosely. But just because a gift can be abused, doesn’t mean it should be extinguished. The prophetic is a muscle and only is strengthened when it is exercised. We have to be able to learn and grow…and yes, make mistakes…with this gift.

    I’m looking forward to your thoughts.

  5. As another comment suggests, prophesy is speaking forth God’s word in power. This can apply to a message delivered to the church, it can be an either/or scenario (Do this or this will happen), or it can be a word about a future event, either as warning and guidance. I received a prophetic word some years ago about a certain situation. Two others, who didn’t know the word I’d been given, confirmed it by giving me exactly the same word. I saw the first part fulfilled within days – it was the complete turnaround of a situation I thought hopeless. Over the years I’ve seen other pieces fall into place and I’m still awaiting the last part.

    You’re right that many churches are suspicious of prophesy, despite the fact that Paul says not to despise it. Another disturbing element is that people will frequently fail to recognise how God will use someone. People within a church often can’t see the wood for the trees when something is amiss. God may use someone from outside of their fellowship to speak into the situation. The word will frequently be rejected because an “outsider” had brought it, forgetting that we are all part of one body. When God chose to speak to David He didn’t use someone close at hand, He sent Nathan from the Northern Kingdom.

  6. What should be the consequences of modern day Christianity regarding false prophecies? (the future kind).

    Funny story: one time someone “prophecied” over me for a wife. Funnier thing, my wife was 10 feet away from my left. So, either God wants me to go the multi-wife route, or I should have thrown a chair at him. You be the judge. :)

    1. As to the consequences from The Church regarding false prophecies for the future, I think of Hal Lindsey specifically. No one, to my knowledge, challenged him publicly and forced him to repent. Of course, where is Hal Lindsey now?

      I believe future prophecies for The Body and The World have been spoken, and everything is already set. There is no more to say. Individually, however, our Father has much to divulge to us. Whether what He has to say can be classified as ‘prophecy’ or merely our Father’s daily voice is up for debate. I don’t see a difference, but…well…I tend to see things a bit differently. *shrugs*

    2. Whole-hearted “amen” to this comment. We don’t hold modern-day prophets accountable. Nevermind that many of them spend their time on health and wealth, while across town actual social injustices are perpetrated on people.

      1. Health and wealth? Modern day prophets? Do you have any examples of this? I have yet to meet a prophet who was like that.

        And as to social injustices, where does a prophet fit into that? “..while across town social injustices are perpetrated on people.”…by whom? By those who claim Christ, or by others?

  7. I get very sceptical about prophecy. I have had friends who say ‘everything is prophetic’, others that believe it’s God speaking just through the Bible. I guess I feel like if we have the Bible why would there be extra stuff, that’s not included in it?

  8. Nicole,

    I see a huge misinterpretation of prophecy and how it is supposed to ‘look’. Many believe it must be intense, deep, kinda hush-hush, and of course you need to close your eyes and put your head back to receive it, saying “Thank You Jesus” over and over again.

    Will you be addressing the “mechanics” of prophecy, and the ways it comes to us? Thanks!

    1. I hope to. Although that may be too much to bite off in one post. I’m hoping to persuade Jonathan to maybe write another post on the “how to” of prophecy. He’s really great at the instruction and equipping part.

  9. What does it mean to have the “gift of prophecy”? Does it mean some random thoughts (predictions, etc) just pop into your head and you somehow know it’s from God? Or is it a little more based in logic and common sense?

    What sorts of things typically get prophesied about?

  10. I’ve thought a fair amount about this as well. I think that there have been too many false prophets who have contributed to the problem. And the claim to have a prophetic voice is a rather bold one for someone to make. From what I’ve seen, real prophecy is pretty involuntary. It’s something that happens to someone rather than something a person is able to do. If that makes sense.

  11. Hello Nicole,
    1st. My question: What would you advise a person that thinks they are a prophet or are used in the gift of prophecy in regards to their spiritual authority?

    2nd. I am a prophet and have over 30 years experience as a Christian Pentecostal. People, in general, are scared, initially, of the miraculous and specifically the ones used as a conduit. Being a prophet is sobering, frightening, humbling and he or she is primarily a member of Christ’s body.
    3rd. The scariest word in the Bible, to me, is Flesh/Carnal. I have watched gifted people get carnal and fall because of the power of their gifts and people’s praises. 1Co 12:1 Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant. Educate properly, Nicole, educate.

  12. Well, I’m pretty quick to admit that the whole concept of “prophecy” really squicks me out. I know that it’s a spiritual gift and all, and I’ve got Pentecostals in my family who believe in this and still behave like otherwise sane people. All the same, I’ve never been able to wrap my head around it.

    I think the thing is I’m pretty scientifically-minded. I know that I can’t apply the scientific method to matters of faith, and I’m okay with that–I just have a big skeptical streak. As such, I do have a major problem with fantastic claims that can’t be verified. It just leaves to much room for abuse to happen. It’s way too easy for a guy to claim “God told me this”–how do I know what he says is true? How can I prove whether or not the guy making this claim is full of it? Well, the answer to that is that I can’t–most of the “prophecies” that I’ve witnessed have a tendecy to be extremely vague and downright unverifiable. It’s all way too unreliable, in my opinion, and bears too many similarities to other forms of hoodoo that people get duped into believing.

    Mind you, I’m not opposed to the notion of spiritual things happening (I believe that I’ve had one genuinely religious experience in my lifetime, which I won’t go into detail here)–it’s just that I figure if God has something really important to tell me, He’ll tell me Himself.

    1. Abby,
      I appreciate your honesty and approach to this topic and “matters of faith”. I backslid for almost twenty years and when I returned to God and Church, I determined to prove as much as possible. A scientific approach to God, his Word and the actions of his people is a perfect way for some to anchor themselves in faith.
      A prophet is God’s speaker on Earth. The OT method of determining a true prophet was he/she had to point people to the One True God, regardless if the spoken items came to pass or not.
      I recently recieved and email from a person I spoke to about five years ago. She confirmed the thing I said to her had just come to pass. When possible, I prefer verification of words I have spoken and occassionally God lets me know.
      A pastor friend was struggling with accounts of people seeing angels. We discussed this and I told him God would grant his request in a way he could verify. Approximately, three years later, he sent word to come visit. He explained an event where he saw an angel that was confirmed by a police officer.
      God bless, ask him what you want, then prepare for the evidence.

  13. When I read the title, the first word that came to mind was “submit”. That one seems to be pretty controversial.

    I have seen a lot of self-proclaimed “prophets” on Twitter and have often wondered, is it “normal” for a prophet to tout themselves as a prophet?

    1. Larry,

      Would you make the same observations about a person who claims to be a pastor, evangelist, teacher, or apostle? Or is there something about prophets that you know and should share with others?

      What makes people think prophets are automatically self-proclaimed if they embrace in fullness the mantle my Father places on them?

      1. Please forgive my ignorance on this. While I’m quite familiar with pastors, evangelists and teachers (and the gift of prophecy), I frankly had never heard anyone refer to themselves as a prophet until recently, when I found what seemed like dozens on Twitter seemingly all at once.
        I think the question I’m trying to ask is (and again, please forgive me if this is comes across as a really dumb question) – is everyone who has the gift of prophecy considered a prophet?
        If yes, this is starting to make sense to me. If not, I’d like to learn the difference.

    2. That’s like asking if it’s okay for a pastor to declare that he’s a pastor or a teacher to declare that he’s a teacher.

      Prophesy is about speaking into situations and this issue is about judging the word given. In an age where the church is riddled with false teachings God has not left us without a remedy. Prophesy is a part of that remedy. The issue is really about whether people want to listen.

  14. Nicole, You are so brave. I so admire you for tackling potentially controversial topics head on with such grace.

    I believe the prophetic gift is for the Church today. But much of the teaching out there seems to be only loosely based on scripture. People seem to be passing around the same man-made teachings that have become “truths” only because they’re repeated in so many circles. What’s left apart from that is a bare bones outline with many missing pieces.

    I’m hoping your explanations will fill in the gaps and be solidly backed by scripture.

  15. This gift has been thoroughly abused in recent years to manipulate and scare people. That is the real shame. I do contend that Bob Marley had a deep gift.Read some of his lyrics and then read the news.

    1. Bob Marley was a Rastafarian – hardly a prophet of God.

      This post really reveals the misunderstanding about prophesy. People of vision can observe trends and accurately speak into situations. Only someone who is filled with, and inspired by, the Spirit of Christ, can accurately speak God’s view into those situations. This is what prophesy is really about – expressing God’s vision.

  16. My question(s):
    What do prophets or those with the gift of prophesy need the most? Or, in other words, which of the other gifts (apostling, teaching, pastoring, evangelizing) should they desire most for equipping them in their gift of prophecy or functioning as a prophet? — I hope that makes sense!

    And, what does it look like to value, create space for, and release these kind of prophetic leaders?

    1. Ryan,
      Great question! Prophets actually need other prophets most, probably. The Bible says prophets test other prophets. They need one another to test their words from the Lord, for accountability, and reproof, in needed. I find that prophets also need other prophets because they share a unique spiritual bond that only they understand–a feeling of being half-in and half-out of this world.

      Other than that, I would say many prophets also need to know someone with a mercy gift. Mercies offer a heart of compassion and well, mercy, that some prophets lack. Prophets tend to be so black and white that they forget about other’s feelings instead focusing on how God feels–which isn’t wrong, but can make them appear hard, cold, or unloving, at times.

      Now, all that to say, prophecy is available to all believers. The gift or label of prophet is a spiritual gift administered by the Spirit–but the gift of prophecy is a manifestation gift of the Spirit and is open to all. Make sense?

      As for your second question, which is also so good…It’d be a long answer, I think. So I’ll give the short answer. It requires an environment that values the prophetic, meaning where it is practiced regularly, with expectation and in the parameters laid out in 1 Corinthians 14. Also, it takes practice. Lots and lots of practice! Check back next week because I’m writing a post on how to hear from God, practically. I think it will help answer the question more fully.

      Thanks Ryan for adding to the discussion!

  17. Great topic, I think a good question to talk about would be what the distinction is between being a prophet and prophesying, or getting/giving words of knowledge. From the verse “my sheep hear my voice” I take that God speaks to all His children, so what makes a prophet a prophet?

  18. For me the scariest word in the Bible would be blasphemy.

    The word prophesy in the Bible
    for me is a good word because it is truth. Some of the truths may be scary but not the word itself.(speaking only for myself)

  19. God, if he was a real entity, would be nothing more than a hissy-fitting , war mongering, egocentric, infanticidle, homosexual scientoligist who raped some poor woman 2000 years ago and then didn’t even bother to pay child support…and look what happened him… Go Fuck yourselves religion! Honestly though, there is no such thing, obviously I was being a bit over the top and slightly provocatively sarcastic in my depiction of your fantasy superior leader, but seriously, stop being delusional, everybody is equal, you worship a “god” meaning you have an inferiority complex of yourself and humanity. Evolution is real transcendental super beings to whom we must pay homage are not… your worship is no more than a cult.

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