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Seven Tests of a True Prophetic Word

#4: Does it pass the reality check?

A man who believed himself to be prophetic brought a word that a group of men would soon approach me seeking a financial alliance, but that I should not ally with them because it would lead to financial ruin for the church. This “word” failed the reality check in two areas. First, I have refused over the years to treat wealthy people any differently than others. This has actually lost the church a lot of money, so the likelihood that I would make any kind of financial alliance involving the church is remote at best. The second is that this word was given at least 15 years ago and no such group of men has ever approached me.

You’re going to be a great leader? Look behind you. Is anyone following? You’re going to stand in front of thousands and sing your songs, but do you have the skills? Is your voice of star quality? How do audiences respond to your music today?

“There’s great disharmony in the church.” Is there?

“The one world government is just around the corner.” Is it? In reality, the world trends toward fragmentation these days, every ethnic group wanting to become its own nation. Reality check!

#5: Do any concrete realities accompany the prophetic word?

When God called Moses to go to Egypt and tell Pharaoh to let the people go, He gave him a burning bush—a real bush in real flames. When the apostle Paul received his call, he saw a bright light and heard an audible voice. Others saw the light and heard the voice as well. These were real manifestations! As I considered planting the church I now pastor, I sought a concrete confirmation in the form of three months’ income in advance. God miraculously provided!

#6: What is the role of fulfillment in determining the validity of a prophetic word?

It has often been said that a true word will confirm something we are already thinking, considering or feeling. Nowhere in Scripture can such a test be found. Too often the supposed prophet has only sensed what was already in the heart of the one to whom he was “prophesying” and has then reflected it back as a word from God without discerning the difference between what comes from the heart of God and what has its source in the heart of the human being. This is not confirmation. It is rather a reflection.

The defining test in Scripture is therefore always tangible fulfillment. Deuteronomy 18:21–22: “You may say in your heart, ‘How will we know the word which the Lord has not spoken?’ When a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the thing does not come about or come true, that is the thing which the Lord has not spoken. The prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him.”

True prophetic words strengthen us in our relationship with Jesus and in some way reveal who He is. Any word failing to accomplish that purpose must be regarded as false.

Fulfillment can come either in seeing the edifying effect of a word or in actual fulfillment of predicted events.

#7: Whom does it exalt? 

Revelation 19:10: “For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy…”

True prophetic words strengthen us in our relationship with Jesus and in some way reveal who He is. Any word failing to accomplish that purpose must be regarded as false.

Please, brothers and sisters, let’s pursue good discernment!


This article is reprinted with permission from Prophetic Moments 103 (June 2017).

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Category: Spirit, Summer 2017

About the Author: R. Loren Sandford died on September 17, 2021. He was the eldest son of John and Paula Sandford, widely recognized as pioneers in the charismatic renewal, prophetic ministry and inner healing. A graduate of Fuller Theological Seminary, Loren entered full time ministry in 1976 and was the founding pastor of New Song Church and Ministries in Denver, Colorado. As well as traveling internationally as a conference and seminar speaker, he was the author of numerous books, including: Burnout: Renewal in the Wilderness (1998), Purifying the Prophetic: Breaking Free from the Spirit of Self-fulfillment (Chosen, 2005), Understanding Prophetic People: Blessings and Problems with the Prophetic Gift (Chosen, 2007), The Prophetic Church: Wielding the Power to Change the World (Chosen, 2009), Renewal for the Wounded Warrior: A Burnout Survival Guide for Believers (Chosen, 2010), Visions of the Coming Days: What to Look for and How to Prepare (Chosen, 2012), Yes, There’s More: A Return to Childlike Faith and a Deeper Experience of God (Charisma House, 2015), A Vision of Hope for the End Times: Why I Want to Be Left Behind (2018), and The Last Great Outpouring: Preparing for an Unprecedented Move of God (2020). Married since 1972, he and Beth have two daughters and one son who have collectively given them nine grandchildren. Loren was also a member of the Osage Nation, a Native American heritage he deeply treasured. Twitter: @pastorrls

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