Daniel Holland reminds us of the central place of prophecy. Part 2 of 2.



What about prophecy and evangelism? Christians have a range of ideas concerning what unbelievers should be ‘exposed’ to in Church, and whether or not we should water things down for them. Apostle Paul doesn’t share these qualms. He sees the convicting power of genuine prophecy as genuinely evangelistic:

But if an unbeliever or an inquirer comes in while everyone is prophesying, they are convicted of sin and are brought under judgment by all, as the secrets of their hearts are laid bare. So they will fall down and worship God, exclaiming, “God is really among you!” (1 Cor 14v24-25)

 Every commentary I have looked at so far concerning this passage bizarrely changes ‘prophesying’ to preaching. They assume Paul meant the Spirit-filled preaching of the word. Obviously preaching can carry a prophetic edge but this seems a deliberate side-step of Paul’s original meaning and the context of the Corinthian church. Surely this is an indictment of contemporary church practice and the absence of Biblical prophecy as per 1 Corinthians. What exactly did Paul mean?

#1 – If an unbeliever comes in

 Paul assumes that church is a open space and unbelievers, can and should walk in. God can put a magnetic attraction around our gatherings so that people are drawn in without even knowing why. As much as we should go out to the unbeliever we can also expect that they will come into us.

As they do, we don’t have a fainting fit and change everything we were doing, but we trust that God has brought them in, at exactly the right time and they will experience what they need to. I have come across this idea that public services must be ‘sensitive to outsiders’ which normally means ‘no Holy Spirit activity’. Those things are only for ‘in-house’ meetings. It’s almost as if Holy Spirit is some  eccentric uncle sequestered in the spare bedroom until no-one else is around. Paul scotches this idea in Corinthians.


#2 – Convicted of sin (even if it is not specifically addressed)

 This is not because unbeliever’s deepest darkest sins are proclaimed by prophets, but because being in a prophetic atmosphere is convicting, and people sense God can see into their hearts. His presence is palpable,

 And when he (the advocate) comes, he will convict the world of its sin, and of God’s righteousness, and of the coming judgment. (John 16v 8 NLT brackets mine)

 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ. (Romans 10v 17 NASB)


#3 –They are brought under (redemptive) judgement

 The Living Word of God does its work. God is working on so many different levels so that even through something that seems totally unrelated sin is brought to light. There may not be any personal prophecy, but even a general ‘word of encouragement’ introduces an unbeliever to our God who is intimately involved and invested in His creation.

 For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. (Heb 4v 12)


#4 – The secrets of their heart are laid bare

 Many people have mysteries in their lives, maybe they write them off as paranormal activities, ghosts or dead relatives speaking to them in their dreams. They don’t generally have any way to interpret these except to take on occult or new age tropes. As they experience the ‘supernatural’ activity of Holy Spirit they dare to hope, ‘maybe these people can help me find answers for the deep secret questions in my heart?’ We can think we’re so independent, so self-aware! And yet we don’t even know our own hearts – but God searches them out,

The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. (1 Cor 2v10b)

Church should be the fountain of life that people stream to with their spiritual questions (Matt 5v14-16). We see clearly in scripture, and in every culture and community, there is always a contesting between Godly revelation and the enemy’s counterfeit, be it the witchdoctor, magician, shaman, occultist, or wizard. To the victor go the spoils; people will go ultimately to where they find power and ‘healing’. Tragically in the occult there is often an exchange of one type of sickness for another, and ‘revelation’ results in bondage.

Unfortunately due to our ‘Christian’ corporate failings, people have mostly gone elsewhere (Amos 8v12). They have gone searching with their dreams, sicknesses and ‘paranormal experiences’ to the occult and the New Age. This is doubly tragic as often they are looking for the right thing, i.e. truth and love, but in the wrong places. In the following verse, the ‘eye’ and ‘light’ represent our spirit where we receive revelation. If it is from the darkness, this will contaminate our whole being

but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! (Matt 6v23 ESV)

Conversely when our spirits are full of God’s light and revelation, we shine like stars in the sky (Phil 2v15).


#5 – They will fall down

 Having grown up in churches that believed God spoke in a general way through His word, it was a revelation to me that He wanted to communicate specifically to me now, and not necessarily directly using scripture, much as I love and value it. Even small details can supercharge us with the life- affirming reassurance that we are intimately known, and cared for.

This has been an exciting journey of discovery for me and despite having fallen into the classic traps and associated disappointments along the way, I would never want to revert to churchmanship that does not include this at least as a possibility.The unbeliever is brought into the fear of God. When he falls down, surely this speaks of repentance and submission before God (Romans 14v11).

 When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” (Luke 5v8)


#6 – They will worship God

 As sin is cleared out, the unbeliever’s eyes are opened and faith is awakened. Worship is the only appropriate response as he or she perceives their creator .

 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” (Matt 16v16)


#7 – They will discern the presence of God in the context of His children/His church

Personalities vary and not everyone wears their heart on their sleeve, but I have witnessed more passion at a rainswept school football match than in God’s house on a Sunday morning. In churches that welcome prophecy I see energised Christians on fire for God. This is very attractive, there is no advantage in dourness. Hearing God is exhilarating and joyous. The most zealous critics of ‘Charismania’ (Charismatic excess) do not, in my experience, normally evince any joy or excitement, but often demonstrate a lifeless Christianity. Somebody wise said, we do not reproduce what we say but who we are. Despite our hang-ups, foibles and imperfections, God manifests Himself in the gathering of His people.

We need a generation of powerful, passionate, joyful Christians. This exuberant faith means even the lost can discern God’s presence in our presence. New Testament prophecy should exhort, encourage, and comfort (1 Cor 14v3). There’s no substitute for hearing God to stimulate vibrant faith. We should come out of our times of worship together with our hearts and minds on fire.

When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought, “Surely the LORD is in this place, and I was not aware of it.” (Gen 28v16)

I believe these verses can only be understood by people who actively welcome prophecy and have  prophesied themselves on occasion. In one sense prophecy has to be experienced, it’s impossible to have a purely  intellectualdiscussion about it. So in conclusion, it behoves us to love God, to love people and to  earnestly pursue the gift of prophecy, for the sake of the church and the lost.

Worship God! For it is the Spirit of prophecy who bears testimony to Jesus.” (Rev 19v10b)


Daniel Holland is a UK missionary with Through Faith Missions. He wrote “Through The Tunnel – Free at Last” published by PUSH Publishing, as his personal testimony. His second book “Prophetic Evangelism – Kingdom Exploits in the Risk Zone” was reissued in an expanded second edition in August 2021, via Christian Publications International: https://christian-publications-int.com/PropheticEvangelism.html . More recently he has penned 2 short-ish books on Growing As a New Christian and Caring for the New Christian.


Here is a link to a Prophecy Today review of “Prophetic Evangelism”: https://prophecytoday.uk/study/resources/item/2076-review-prophetic-evangelism.html


Here is a link to the preceding article: https://christiancomment.org/2023/04/01/prophecy-a-clarion-call-for-the-church/