We will develop that thought and build support for it as we progress. Because of the popular misconceptions of the prophetic ministry, some may initially find this definition too narrow. They may struggle with the idea that all prophetic utterance is Christ-centered. For instance, what about all those end time events in the Book of Revelation? Some of them do not seem to directly speak about Jesus. Are they not prophetic? This objection is easily overcome, but before we can overcome it, we must recognize one supreme, central, eternal truth: that everything God has done, is doing, and will do is connected somehow to bringing Christ more fully into view. Everything that God has said, is saying, and will say (prophetically or otherwise) is related to Christ: either directly, or indirectly, it all points and leads to Him. We can safely discard as “interesting, but not prophetic” anything that claims to be prophetic but does not reveal or declare something concerning Christ.
The Book of Revelation does not contradict our narrow definition; it supports it. Indeed, the first verse of the Book of Revelation confirms that the entire writing is “the revelation of Jesus Christ.” Christ is indeed revealed in the midst of the Ekklesia with awesome titles that include “Ruler of the Kings of the Earth” (one of my personal favorites)… Faithful Witness… Firstborn from the Dead… The Lord God… The Almighty… King of Kings… Lord of Lords… Faithful and True… The Lamb… The Lion… The Root and Offspring of David… He Who Was, And Is, and Is To Come… the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and End, the First and Last…” and so on. Christ is the Subject of the Book.
So while The Book of Revelation says a great deal about the end of the world, that is not what makes it prophetic. Its true prophetic purpose is not to reveal things happening in the last days, but to reveal the preeminence and victory of Christ in the last days. John gives us the Key there in the very first verse, and with this Key you can unlock the meaning behind all that is revealed in the Book of Revelation. Christ is the Key. Without this Key, all attempts to interpret and understand the Book of Revelation are futile.
So the Book of Revelation not only reveals Christ, it reveals that Christ is the purpose and intention of all Spirit-inspired prophetic utterance: “The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy” (Rev. 19:10b). Here are some other translations of Revelation 19:10b that are worth looking at:
“The essence of prophecy is to give a clear witness for Jesus” (NLT).
“The substance (essence) of the truth revealed by Jesus is the spirit of all prophecy (the vital breath, the inspiration of all inspired preaching and interpretation of the divine will and purpose, including both mine and yours)” (AMP).
The Amplified is good, but it gives the impression that prophecy is general “truth” that Jesus reveals. This is incorrect. It is not truth revealed by Jesus; it is the truth concerning Jesus. Jesus is the Subject of prophecy. Christ Himself is the purpose of all prophetic revelation and declaration. Knox is the most accurate:
“It is the truth concerning Jesus which inspires all prophecy” (Knox).
“The truth concerning Jesus” is a fair translation of “The Testimony of Jesus.” The prophetic ministry is zealous for the truth concerning Jesus, and it finds itself opposed to all falsehood concerning Jesus. This is the foundation of all prophetic ministry and the basis of all spiritual conflict, since the spirit of Antichrist obviously has the exact opposite goal.
We will have more to say about the Testimony of Jesus in due course. For now, it is enough if we simply settle upon this one principle forever: the prophetic word (and therefore, the prophetic ministry and the prophetically gifted person) has always been, is, and forever will be, the primary means through which the truth concerning Jesus (The Testimony) is revealed and declared to the world.
If that seems far-fetched, take a step back from the Book of Revelation, and look at the entire Bible. Where did it come from? How did it get here? Why has it persisted against all efforts to destroy it? It has endured because the Bible is a prophetic book, written by prophetic people who were inspired by the Holy Spirit to prophetically declare the Truth concerning Jesus: either openly, in parable, in proverb, or in prophecy. Christ is the central theme of God’s eternal Purpose, and so He must, of course, be the Subject of God’s written revelation to man. Jesus declared that “the Scriptures testify of Me” (Jn. 5:39). And so they do. Those who know how to rightly divide the Written Word can find Christ the Living Word in every book, in every chapter. Some revelations of Christ are in plain sight. For example, Jesus is easily seen and met in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. The Old Testament prophets declare Him in types and shadows, while the rest of the New Testament declares Him more clearly in this age and in the age to come.
From Genesis to Revelation, the Bible contains the revelation of Christ. It is the Testimony of Jesus in written form. How the Spirit of Antichrist has tried to destroy this written Testimony of Jesus! All attempts to destroy this Book have failed. Today, the preferred method of the enemy is not to destroy the Book, but to get us to destroy ourselves by ignoring the Book. This has worked remarkably well. “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” (Hos. 4:6a).
The fact that we can casually accept so many words, visions, dreams, teachings, and experiences as “prophetic” when they do not reveal the truth concerning Jesus reflects the lack of knowledge that this book seeks to correct. Prophetic utterance does not deal with “things,” but with Christ. When the prophetic revelation is genuine, we will be able to answer the question: “What about this tells me something about Christ?” If we cannot find something of Christ in it, then whatever it is, it isn’t prophetic. May God show us the difference.