Knowledge Imparted By Revelation
It leads to this second thing in prophetic ministry: By the anointing there comes revelation. We can accept in a general way the necessity of the Holy Spirit's doing everything - initiating, conducting, governing and being the power and inspiration of everything; but oh! that is a life-long education, and it brings in the necessity for everything to be given by revelation. That is why the prophets originally were called "seers" - men who saw. They saw what it was impossible for other people to see, even religious, God-fearing people. They saw revelation.
A prophetic ministry demands revelation; it is a ministry by revelation. Later we shall examine that more closely, but I want just to emphasize the fact at this moment. I am not thinking now of revelation extra to the Scriptures. I cannot take the ground of certain 'prophets' (?) in the Church today who prophesy extra to Scriptures. No, but within the revelation already given - and God knows it is big enough! - the Holy Spirit yet moves to reveal what "eye hath not seen, ear hath not heart." That is the wonder of a life in the Spirit. It is a life of constant new discovery; everything is full of surprise and wonder. A life under the Holy Spirit can never be static; it can never reach finality here, nor come to the place where the sum o truth is boxed. A life really in the Holy Spirit is a life which realizes that there is infinitely, transcendently, more beyond than all we have yet seen or grasped or sensed. People who 'know' who have come to a fixed place and cannot see - let alone move - beyond their present position, represent a position that is foreign to the mind of the Holy Spirit. Prophetic ministry under the Holy Spirit is a ministry through growing revelation.
A prophet was a man who went back to God again and again, and did not come out to speak until God had shown him the next thing. He did not just go on in his professional office because he was a prophet and it was expected of him. There was nothing professional about his position. When it became professional, then tragedy overtook the prophetic office. It did become professional through the 'schools of the prophets' set up by Samuel. We must not even confuse these schools of the prophets with true prophetical office. There was a difference between those who graduated in the schools of the prophets and the true prophets represented by such men as Samuel, Elijah, Elisha. Whenever things become professional, something is lost, because they very essence and nature of prophetic ministry is that it is coming by revelation afresh every time. A thing revealed is new; it may be an old thing, but it has about it something that is fresh as a revelation to the heart of the one concerned, and it is so new and wonderful that the effect with him is as though no one had ever yet seen that, although thousands may have seen it before. It is the nature of revelation to keep things alive and fresh, and filled with Divine energy. You cannot recover an old position by just the old doctrine. You will never recover something of God which has been lost by bringing back the exact statement of the truth. You may be stating the truth of the early days of the New Testament exactly, but you may be far from having the conditions which obtained at such times.
Prophetic succession is not the succession of teaching; it is the succession of anointing. Something can come in from God, by the operation of God; there may be something very real, very living, which God effects through an instrumentality, it may be individual or collective, which is alive because God brought it in under His anointing. And then someone tries to imitate it, duplicate it, or later someone takes it up to carry it on; someone has been appointed, elected, chosen by ballot to be the successor. The thing goes on and grows, but some vital factor is no framework, even of doctrine. We cannot recover New Testament conditions by re-stating New Testament doctrine. We have to get New Testament anointing. I am not dismissing doctrine; it is necessary; but it is the anointing which makes things alive, fresh, vibrant. Everything must come by revelation.
Some of us know what it is to be able to analyze our Bibles and present, perhaps in a very interesting way, the contents of its books and all its doctrines. We can do that with Ephesians as well as we can do it with any other book. We can come to Ephesians and analyze it and outline the Church and the Body and all that, and be as blind as bats until the day comes when, God having done something in us, something deep and tremendous and terrific, we see the Church, we see the Body - we see Ephesians! They were two worlds: one was truth, exact in technical detail, full of interest and fascination - but there was something lacking. We could have stated the truth from beginning to end, but we did not know what was in it; and until we have gone through that experience and something has happened in us, we may think we know, we may be sure we know, we may lay down our life for it; but we do not know. There is all the difference between a very keen, clear, mental apprehension of things in the Word of God, and a spiritual revelation. There is the difference of two worlds - but it is quite impossible to make people understand that difference until something has happened. We shall speak about that 'something that happens' later, but here we are stating the facts. By anointing there is revelation, and revelation by anointing is essential to the seeing of what God is after, both in general and in detail.
So, building up, we arrive at this. A prophetic ministry is that which - although much detail has yet to be revealed, even to the most enlightened servants of God - has, by the Holy Spirit,seen the "purpose" of God, original and ultimate.
(continued with # 3 - "Exact Conformity to God's Thoughts")