Question: What is the gift of prophecy and who can receive this gift?
Answer: Have you ever wondered what the gift of prophecy is? Is it the ability to predict the future? Can anyone receive this gift? Or is it just for prophets?
The president of the Church is the only person who can prophesy for and receive revelation on behalf of the whole Church. However, the Guide to the Scriptures defines prophecy as “divinely inspired words or writings, which a person receives through the revelation from the Holy Ghost...When a person prophesies, he speaks or writes that which God wants him to know, for his own good or the good of others” (Guide to the Scriptures, “Prophecy,” scriptures.lds.org)
Revelation 19:10 defines the spirit of prophecy as the “testimony of Jesus.” In the Bible Dictionary it states, “In a general sense, a prophet is anyone who has a testimony of Jesus Christ by the Holy Ghost...”
One definition of “prophesy” may fit Paul’s use of this term, that basically says it is to seek to develop spiritual gifts so that we can more effectively teach and minister to one another.
* * * * *
1 Corinthians 14:3, 39-40
3 But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification (builds them up, strengthens them spiritually), and exhortation (encouragement), and comfort.
39 Wherefore, brethren, covet (earnestly seek) to prophesy (emphasize orderly bearing of testimony, teaching and ministering in your meetings, under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost), and forbid not to speak with tongues (only when it is needed or when appropriate).
40 Let all things be done decently (appropriately) and in order.
* * * * *
Bruce R. McConkie, Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:
...What is the testimony of Jesus? And what must we do to be valiant therein?
“Be not … ashamed of the testimony of our Lord,” Paul wrote to Timothy, “… but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel.” (2 Tim. 1:8.) And to the Beloved John came this divine message: “The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” (Rev. 19:10.)
The testimony of our Lord! The testimony of Jesus! What a glorious and wondrous concept! It opens the door to glory and honor with the Father and the Son forever! The testimony of Jesus is to believe in Christ, to receive his gospel, and to live his law.
Jesus is the Lord. He is God’s own Son who came into the world to ransom us men from the temporal and spiritual death brought upon us by the fall of Adam. Jesus has bought us with his blood. He is the resurrection and the life. He “hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.” (2 Tim. 1:10.) He is our Savior, our Redeemer, our Advocate with the Father. “There is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” (1 Tim. 2:5.)...
Now there can be no perfect testimony of the divine Sonship of Christ and his saving goodness unless and until we receive the fulness of his everlasting gospel. A testimony of the gospel comes by revelation from the Holy Ghost. When the Holy Spirit speaks to the spirit within us, we then know with an absolute conviction of the verity of the revealed message.
A testimony is to know by revelation that Jesus is the Christ; that Joseph Smith and his successors are the revealers of the knowledge of Christ and of salvation for our day; and that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the kingdom of God on earth, the one place where salvation may be found.
The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. It is a gift of the Spirit. It comes in full measure only to faithful members of the Church. It is reserved for those whose right it is to have the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost. It is the spiritual endowment which sets a man apart as a prophet in fulfillment of the prayer of Moses: “Would God that all the Lord’s people were prophets, and that the Lord would put his spirit upon them!” (Num. 11:29.)
Now what does it mean to be valiant in the testimony of Jesus? It is to be courageous and bold; to use all our strength, energy, and ability in the warfare with the world; to fight the good fight of faith. “Be strong and of a good courage,” the Lord commanded Joshua, and then specified that this strength and courage consisted of meditating upon and observing to do all that is written in the law of the Lord. (See Josh. 1:6–9.) The great cornerstone of valiance in the cause of righteousness is obedience to the whole law of the whole gospel.
To be valiant in the testimony of Jesus is to “come unto Christ, and be perfected in him”; it is to deny ourselves “of all ungodliness,” and “love God” with all our “might, mind and strength.” (Moro. 10:32.)
To be valiant in the testimony of Jesus is to believe in Christ and his gospel with unshakable conviction. It is to know of the verity and divinity of the Lord’s work on earth. But this is not all. It is more than believing and knowing. We must be doers of the word and not hearers only. It is more than lip service; it is not simply confessing with the mouth the divine Sonship of the Savior. It is obedience and conformity and personal righteousness...
To be valiant in the testimony of Jesus is to “press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men.” It is to “endure to the end.” (2 Ne. 31:20.) It is to live our religion, to practice what we preach, to keep the commandments. It is the manifestation of “pure religion” in the lives of men; it is visiting “the fatherless and widows in their affliction” and keeping ourselves “unspotted from the world.” (James 1:27.)
To be valiant in the testimony of Jesus is to bridle our passions, control our appetites, and rise above carnal and evil things. It is to overcome the world as did he who is our prototype and who himself was the most valiant of all our Father’s children. It is to be morally clean, to pay our tithes and offerings, to honor the Sabbath day, to pray with full purpose of heart, to lay our all upon the altar if called upon to do so.
To be valiant in the testimony of Jesus is to take the Lord’s side on every issue. It is to vote as he would vote. It is to think what he thinks, to believe what he believes, to say what he would say and do what he would do in the same situation. It is to have the mind of Christ and be one with him as he is one with his Father.
Our doctrine is clear; its application sometimes seems to be more difficult. Perhaps some personal introspection might be helpful. For instance:
Am I valiant in the testimony of Jesus if my chief interest and concern in life is laying up in store the treasures of the earth, rather than the building up of the kingdom?
Am I valiant if I have more of this world’s goods than my just needs and wants require and I do not draw from my surplus to support missionary work, build temples, and care for the needy?
Am I valiant if my approach to the Church and its doctrines is intellectual only, if I am more concerned with having a religious dialogue on this or that point than I am on gaining a personal spiritual experience?
Am I valiant if I am deeply concerned about the Church’s stand on who can or who cannot receive the priesthood and think it is time for a new revelation on this doctrine?
Am I valiant if I use a boat, live in a country home, or engage in some other recreational pursuit on weekends that takes me away from my spiritual responsibilities?
Am I valiant if I engage in gambling, play cards, go to pornographic movies, shop on Sunday, wear immodest clothes, or do any of the things that are the accepted way of life among worldly people?
If we are to gain salvation, we must put first in our lives the things of God’s kingdom. With us it must be the kingdom of God or nothing. We have come out of darkness; ours is the marvelous light of Christ. We must walk in the light...
* * * * *
Sources: Come, Follow Me–For Individuals and Families, p. 139; The New Testament Made Easier, Part 2, Volume 3, by David J. Ridges, 173, 178; Excerpts from General Conference, October 1974, “Be Valiant in the Fight of Faith,” by Bruce R. McConkie, Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.