I Thessalonians 5:20: “Despise not prophesyings.” We are living in the Laodicean age, and there is a de-emphasizing of Bible preaching. There is a soft selling of the Gospel, of Christianity, and the fear of offending in the pulpits of churches today. In this Laodicean age, the priority is not teaching, the priority is programming. It is not exhortation, it is entertainment. Oft times the priority is not prophesying (preaching), instead, it is what we might call a “pep rally”. Having genuine spiritual emotion during a church service is wonderful, but if it is programmed, that is a different story. In this particular passage of Scripture in I Thessalonians, the word “prophesying” does not mean “foretelling” like most of the Old Testament prophets did. It is forth-telling. We would call it preaching or proclaiming the truth.
Whether it is in the Old Testament and it is foretelling the future or it is in the New Testament and it is forth-telling the Word, it is still prophesying! The word prophesying means “to forth-tell”. Why does the Holy Spirit give us this list in the benediction in Thessalonians chapter 5? I Thessalonians 5:16-22: “Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. Quench not the Spirit. Despise not prophesyings. Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. Abstain from all appearance of evil.” Why would God give us this list if there were not a danger of these things actually happening? We can get so discouraged that we forget to “rejoice evermore” or to “pray without ceasing”.
We can be tempted not to be thankful in everything, and we can quench the Spirit! We can see that it is possible for us to despise prophesying. Once, while on a Gospel singing cruise, I heard a man saying, “I just come for the singing; I get enough preaching at home. I don’t need it on a cruise ship.” Would that not be despising prophesying? The New Testament is clear that prophesying or preaching the truth of God’s Word is His plan and His purpose. In fact, I Corinthians 1:18 says: “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.” And the last part of I Corinthians 1:21 says: “…it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.” God has chosen preaching from the Bible as the method for telling us what He wants us to know. II Timothy 4:2-3 says: “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine…”. We are to preach no matter what may come.
Prophesying can also be dishonoring to God. It must be done the right way. I Corinthians 11:4 tells us: “Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonored his head.” Now, this is not talking about his physical head. We will put it into context. We will go back up to I Corinthians 11:3: “But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ…”. When a man preaches or prays while wearing a hat, he is dishonoring Christ. In today’s world, men will preach and pray while wearing their ball caps! This casual attitude about preaching is not honoring to God. Prophesying is the primary spiritual gift, and prophesying should bring new life to dry Christians, to dying churches, and dying sinners! The Lord tells Ezekiel to prophesy to a bunch of very dry bones in Ezekiel 37:4 & 5: “… Prophesy upon these bones, and say unto them, O ye dry bones, hear the word of the LORD. Thus saith the Lord GOD unto these bones; Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live:”