I was reading through the book of Acts, going over every single prophetic word that was given. The Church is in a season of reevaluating prophecy and the best example we have of this is Acts. As I went through them, I noticed something very interesting: there was no prophecy of someone’s personal breakthrough or promise of prosperity or blessing. But there were several common themes. Take a look with me.
Peter and John
The first prophetic word given, post-Pentecost was Peter and John. They confront the Pharisees. Just as Jesus had prophesied, the Holy Spirit gave them the words. They tell them:
“Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, make your own judgment; for we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.” (Acts 4:19-20)
This boldness would eventually get them, and the apostles, jailed, flogged and beaten severely.
Ananias and Saphira
The second one is when Peter prophesies to Ananias and Saphira that they were going to die because they lied to the Holy Spirit. Peter says, “You have not lied to men, but to God.” (Acts 5:4b)
Angel frees the Apostles
The Third is when an angel got them out of jail and said, “Go, stand in the temple courts,” he said, “and tell the people all about this new life.” (Acts 5:20) To be clear, this act would get them arrested again and threatened with execution!
The fourth one is when Steven looks up to heaven and sees Jesus giving him a standing ovation as he is about to be martyred for the kingdom.
“Behold, I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” (Acts 7:56)
Simon the Sorcerer
Next Peter rebukes Simon the sorcerer for thinking he could buy the gift of God.
“May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could acquire the gift of God with money! You have no part or share in this matter, for your heart is not right before God. Therefore, repent of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, the intention of your heart will be forgiven you. For I see that you are in the gall of bitterness and in the bondage of unrighteousness.” (Acts 8:23)
This was indeed prophetic as he says, “I see that you are …”
Paul and Ananias
Paul then has an encounter with Yeshua that leaves him blind. A terrified Ananias is told to prophesy over him. Paul was a known killer of Messianics. But he goes to him and gives him the word of the Lord. What was the word?
“Go, for he is a chosen instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel; for I will show him how much he must suffer in behalf of My name.” (Acts 9:15-16)
Talk about a downer! Who wants to hear about suffering? YUK! Nothing about prosperity, breakthrough, favor or a TV ministry.
- No jet, just a boat that nearly sinks.
- No meals at Michelin restaurants, but days without food.
- No five-star hotels, but nights without sleep.
- No massages, but beaten with rods.
And yet, many years later Paul is talking about sharing in the sufferings of Yeshua. (Phil. 3:10)
Are you starting to see a theme? I’m not saying that God cannot speak words of blessing or that it is a sin to enjoy life. I love my life! And I am very blessed! I am simply saying that the theme of Acts contradicts much of present day teaching in the prophetic, charismatic world—which focuses on mystic experiences, formulas and the accumulation of wealth and secret knowledge. Very little Galatians 2:20.
“I have been crucified with Messiah and I no longer live, but Messiah lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
So far there are a few themes that we see in these words.
- The proclamation of the gospel.
- And the suffering we must endure to get that proclamation to people.
- Without the fear of the Lord, you may be judged.
- God will indeed give us everything we need when we need it, whether words to speak or an angel getting us out of jail.
We could continue throughout Acts and we would see the same thing:
- Peter rescued from prison by an angel. (Acts 12)
- Peter having a trance about Gentiles being made clean and able to receive the Jewish Messiah in Acts 10. The Holy Spirit confirms this in Acts 15.
- Agabus prophesies a worldwide famine. (Acts 11:28)
- Paul and Barnabas are sent out as missionaries after a prophetic word, where they would be stoned and beaten amongst other indignities. (Acts 13:1-2)
- Paul prophesies blindness to a false prophet. (Acts 13:8-11)
- Paul has his Macedonian vision, “concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.” (Acts 16:10)
- Agabus prophesies again, this time saying that Paul was going to be put in chains by the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem. Paul himself already had confirmed this word in Acts 20:22-24.
“And now, behold, bound by the Spirit, I am on my way to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit solemnly testifies to me in every city, saying that chains and afflictions await me. But I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, so that I may finish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify solemnly of the gospel of God’s grace.”
- And lastly, Paul is visited by an angel, in Acts 27, to tell him that not one of those sailing with him will die.
What an Awakening!
I am writing these things as I am going through them myself. I had a suspicion they would be as they are, but I am truly blown away that not one of them is very positive. And the ones that are slightly, have to do with people being broken out of jail by angels or saved from shipwreck. And they were there, because of the gospel.
- No one is promised prosperity.
- No one is told they are going to get a new jet for ministry (or ship, or latest model camel).
- No one is teaching on formulas to release their heavenly inheritances.
It is so different than what we see today. Just about all of the supernatural activity is connected to preaching the gospel and winning souls. Maybe this is one reason we see so little of it in the west.
I am aware of 1 Corinthians 14:3 ,”But the one who prophesies speaks to people for their strengthening, encouraging and comfort.” I have to wonder if our idea of “strength, encouragement and comfort,” is different from that of those 2,000 year ago.
Visits to heaven?
The only one who actually visited heaven, Paul, is embarrassed to even mention it, much less go on a speaking tour or write a book about it.
I know a man in Messiah, who fourteen years ago—whether in the body I do not know, or out of the body I do not know, God knows—such a man was caught up to the third heaven. And I know how such a man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, God knows—was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which a man is not permitted to speak. (2 Cor. 12:2-4)
Paul says he heard things “which a man is not permitted to speak.” But we have people giving detailed descriptions of their journeys to heaven (and hell) in books and interviews. And then telling us what God is saying prophetically today.
Have you noticed? It is very hard to disagree with someone who claims to go back and forth to heaven. Forgive me, I love the supernatural and I love the gifts of the Holy Spirit, but I fear that we have been duped into following a version of New Covenant faith that is very different than what we see in Acts.
The Elephant in the Room
Can I ask the question that many are thinking? How can it be that you spend time in heaven, like here or here but you got the election wrong? Seriously, I am not trying to be condensing or mocking. I just don’t understand.
We have to get back to sacrificial New Testament faith. Look at the example of Acts: People risking their lives to reach others with the gospel, taking care of widows, making clothes for the poor, cheerfully giving financially and paying close attention to the apostles’ doctrine.
This is the only way to make the true Jesus attractive again to the lost. It is through love, kindness and sacrificial devotion that we can reach them. Not through sensationalism.