For those who desire to understand prophecy, whether receiving it or delivering it, a key principle is to understand that there is a spirit behind all true prophecy. This should not surprise us because prophecy is essentially the receiving and communicating of God’s will, and God himself is spirit (John 4:24). Furthermore, understanding what the spirit of prophecy is will also help us weigh or test prophecy (1 Corinthians 14:29).
The power of testimony
When we talk about a testimony in a Christian context we often mean ‘my personal story of how I came to accept Jesus as my Lord and saviour’. But a testimony can also be about other experiences of Gods divine intervention too. For example, for a transformed life, a healing miracle or for any unexpected blessing. A testimony is something we may share in public, in front of an audience, but it can also be shared with an individual in a simple everyday way.
In The book of Revelation the apostle John tells of an amazing prophetic experience. He is shown the end of the age and the beginning of the one to come by an angel. At one point he is so overwhelmed by the glory of the angel that he falls down to worship it, but the angel quickly stops him:
And I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, “See that you do not do that! I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren who have the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” Revelation 19:10
What did he mean by that? Well, putting it very simply, the testimony of Jesus is that he died and rose again to make all things new (Revelation 21:5). He is the saviour of the world (John 3:16). And this testimony is at the heart of all true prophecy.
Getting back to our testimony or witness to the work of God in our lives, the act of testifying to Gods goodness has the essence of prophecy within it because every time we honour Jesus like this we are releasing the power of the gospel; to save, heal and deliver. Let me explain…
The Ark of the Covenant
Part of the root Hebrew word for testimony means to be a witness but it also means ‘to return, repeat, do again’. That’s why one of the names for the ark of the covenant was also, ‘the ark of the testimony’ (Exodus 25:16), because it contained elements which testified to Gods promises made in the past (Hebrews 9:4). But also it was the place of present and continuing encounter (the place of meeting). It was where God would ‘return, repeat and do again’ the miracles and wonders that he’d done before.
The power to overcome
Every time we testify to the reality of the power of God in our lives it contains the testimony of Jesus and therefore the spirit of prophecy. And when we testify like this it releases present and future power to save again, heal again or deliver again…
That’s why in revelation we are told that the saints overcame their enemy, the accuser, “by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony” (Revelation 12:11). Because testimony (about the work of Christ in our lives) releases the power of God.
This doesn’t mean that every time we testify to Gods goodness in our lives we have to explain the whole gospel message, any more than it does when we prophesy. We may prophesy over someone’s life, “God loves you and has great plans for you”, or “I see you going to the lost, to the dark places and ministering in healing”. We don’t explicitly explain the gospel, but the reality of it is behind or within the words.
You may not think of yourself as being ‘prophetic’ or having ‘prophetic gifting’ but if you speak to others of God’s goodness in your life then you are already operating according to the spirit of prophecy. The testimony you release is prophetic in nature because it releases the power of God to ‘return, repeat and do again’. I’m not suggesting that prophecy ends here (with testimony) but that the testimony of Jesus is the source, the spirit, the very beginning of the prophetic flow. So the next time you speak of the goodness of God in your own life to others, whether great or small, miraculous or commonplace, remember that you are releasing the power of God to bless others too, and that is the spirit of prophecy; the testimony of Jesus.