6However, since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to use them properly: if prophecy, in proportion to one’s faith;
6Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith;
The gift of prophesy is one of the most unusual spiritual gifts given by the Holy Spirit. It has been dismissed, over-emphasized, and abused throughout church history. In a sermon on Romans 12:6 titled “Spiritual Gifts (3),” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones illustrates both the dismissal and abuse of this teaching in the church. He does not just give a history lesson on the misuse of the gift of prophesy; he expounds the biblical teaching on it. Walking carefully through each interpretation, he explains various understandings of the apostle Paul’s teaching on prophesy and faith. In the end, Dr. Lloyd-Jones sides with the teaching that says Paul is calling the church to prophesy in proportion to the faith – the objective body of doctrine. He makes a strong and compelling case for the importance of systematic theology in the Christian life. Furthermore, by outlining general principles for discerning prophetic utterances, he assists Christians in applying biblical teaching on testing the spirits. The Holy Spirit will always be consistent with what He has given in Scripture. Finally, Dr. Lloyd-Jones notes the mysterious nature of the Scripture’s teaching on the topic of miraculous gifts. The Spirit is always sovereign of the gift, yet according to Scripture, the Christian can quench the Spirit.
- The apostle Paul is addressing the exercising of spiritual gifts in the church according to Romans 12:6.
- Spiritual gifts must be thought of in terms of the church as the body of Christ. They are for the good and edification of the body.
- There is a danger of overvaluing particular gifts which can cause confusion, unhappiness and sin.
- Gifts differ according to the grace given to each person by God. Each person has a gift and should seek to discover and use it.
- The first gift addressed is prophecy. Prophecy is speaking for God by special illumination and inspiration. It can be done by men or women.
- Prophecy involves an immediacy and directness in speaking a word from God to the church.
- Prophecy edifies, exhorts and comforts. It has a specific purpose and object.
- There are two main views on "the proportion of faith" in verse 6. The first is that it refers to the prophet's own personal faith and sincerity. The second is that it refers to the established doctrines of faith. Both views are likely correct.
- Prophecy should be tested against the established doctrines of faith as given in Scripture. Truth will not contradict itself.
- Examples of testing prophecy can be seen in 1 Corinthians 14:29, 1 Thessalonians 5:21 and 1 John 4.
- The basis of systematic theology is found in testing prophecy against the established doctrines of faith. Systematic theology organizes the doctrines found throughout Scripture.
- Prophecy should be tested especially carefully when it involves directing the actions of others or the whole church. There are examples of errors and near tragedies when prophecy was not properly tested.
- There is no new truth given since the time of the apostles. The faith was once and for all delivered to the saints. Nothing can be added to the foundation laid by the apostles and prophets.
- We should be careful not to base teaching or preaching solely on prophetic utterances. Prophecy illuminates established truth but does not lay down new doctrine.
- Spiritual gifts like prophecy are always given by the Spirit, though we maintain control over their exercise. There should be no confusion or disorder.
The Book of Romans
Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones
Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981) was a Welsh evangelical minister who preached and taught in the Reformed tradition. His principal ministry was at Westminster Chapel, in central London, from 1939-1968, where he delivered multi-year expositions on books of the bible such as Romans, Ephesians and the Gospel of John. In addition to the MLJ Trust’s collection of 1,600 of these sermons in audio format, most of these great sermon series are available in book form (including a 14 volume collection of the Romans sermons), as are other series such as "Spiritual Depression", "Studies in the Sermon on the Mount" and "Great Biblical Doctrines". He is considered by many evangelical leaders today to be an authority on biblical truth and the sufficiency of Scripture.