God uses prophecy to work in the life of his people in three particular ways.
Fall and Redemption, Our Justification
First, God uses prophecy to justify his people by hearing and obeying the gospel of Jesus Christ.
When the Lord created the heavens and the earth he called them “good”. Likewise when he created man and women, he called them “good”. And they were, at least until the fall. God spoke to Adam and Eve and told them the truth about the Tree of Life and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. He told them if they ate of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil they would surely die. And sure enough, instead of hearkening to the voice of the Lord who only speaks the truth (John 7:18) they believed the Serpent who only speaks lies. (John 8:43-45) So instead of eating from the Tree of Life and having the life of God, the ate of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil and they died.
Christ came to redeem man from the fall of Adam; from the bondage and penalty of sin, which is death, and he has done this through the cross.
And as the cross is the means by which God most glorifies himself in the redemption of fallen men, so his voice is the means by which he makes the dead live. And his voice always testifies of the eternal gospel of Jesus Christ.
25 “Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. 26 For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself. 27 And he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man. 28 Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice 29 and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment. – John 5:25-29
6 Then I saw another angel flying directly overhead, with an eternal gospel to proclaim to those who dwell on earth, to every nation and tribe and language and people. – Revelation 14:6
This again is why the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. The Triune God, in his providential wisdom and according to his perfect will determined the means by which he would glorify himself and save fallen men. And that means is this: He preaches the gospel of Christ crucified and risen for the remission of sin. He graces us ears to hear His voice, repentance for a changed mind and therefore faith to believe and be born again. We are justified before God because we hear and believe his voice proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Adam died because he didn’t hear and believe the voice of God. God grants us life because we do.
Being Made Like Him, Our Sanctification
Second, God uses prophecy to sanctify his people by hearing and obey the voice of the Holy Spirit.
Not only does God grant us his life because we hear and believe his voice he also grants us power over sin as we are being conformed to the image of His Son Jesus Christ. This is our sanctification and it to comes by hearing the prophetic voice of the Holy Spirit.
18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord,[a] are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another.[b] For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. – 2 Corinthians 3:18
But there is still only one way for the life of Christ to be made manifest in the sons of God and that is through the cross. No servant is greater than his master. If Christ was made perfect through suffering we will only share in his glory provided we are willing to suffer with him and for him. (Romans 8:17) And his prophetic voice calls us to take up our cross and die.
10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, – Philippians 3:10
The prophetic gift is often ignored, often rejected, even despised by the Church. It is despised because the voice of God always preaches the cross, it always calls us to die and the flesh of sinful man reviles the cross of Christ for this reason. The pride of life in every man makes the cross an offense to reason and a reproach to the flesh.
16 For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life[a]—is not from the Father but is from the world. – 1 John 2:16
As Christ the Rock was crushed at Calvary so too are we called to sacrifice our flesh on the altar of God. When we hear God’s voice our flesh instinctively knows it to be an invitation to death.
29 Is not my word like fire, declares the Lord, and like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces? – Jeremiah 23:29
But that death does not come without a resurrection by the Spirit of God being birthed in us, the life of Jesus Christ in our mortal bodies.
7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. 8 We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; 10 always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. 11 For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. 12 So death is at work in us, but life in you.
13 Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, “I believed, and so I spoke,” we also believe, and so we also speak, 14 knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence. 15 For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.
16 So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self[a] is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. 17 For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 18 as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. – 2 Corinthians 4:7-18
The prophetic gift is the refiner’s fire for the church of Christ. Always calling us to die to our flesh so that Christ might live in us.
29 for our God is a consuming fire. – Hebrews 12:29
Just as we are justified by hearing and believing his voice, so also we are sanctified and empowered by hearing and believing the prophetic voice of God.
Called Home, Our Glorification
Third, God will use prophecy to glorify his saints on the day of his coming as they hear and obey his voice, they’re last act of faith.
So as our justification comes by faith with hearing and so too our sanctification, finally so will the hope of our glory come by hearing the prophetic voice of God. The redemption of our bodies and our total deliverance from even the presence of sin at the coming of Christ is the great hope of the church of God. The rapture of the saints and the transforming of our bodies will be the last act of faith for all believers and it will come by the prophetic voice of God.
13 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope.14 For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. 15 For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord,[d] that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.18 Therefore encourage one another with these words. – 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
The coming of the Lord will work by faith with hearing. Hearing three things. 1. A “cry of command”, 2. “the voice of an archangel” and 3. “the sound of the trumpet of God”. Three distinct sounds. Three things heard. Our glorification will be predicated on hearing the prophetic voice of God just as our justification and our sanctification came by grace through faith in hearing and believing the voice of God.
50 I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51 Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. 53 For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. 54 When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:
“Death is swallowed up in victory.”
55 “O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”
56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. – 1 Corinthians 15:50-57
Finally, the death that was brought about because Adam did not hear and believe the voice of God will be conquered and defeated because his elect have heard his voice and believed.
This is the purpose of prophecy, to glorify God in the salvation of his elect by grace through faith which comes by hearing and hearing by the voice of God.
17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. – Romans 10:17
We, his people, are justified, sanctified and glorified all by grace through faith in hearing and believing the prophetic voice of God.
And all this is done that God may be glorified.
Next: What Prophecy is Not.