Revision: This revision of the article is to raise the issue that we do need to encourage and pray for each other to step out in faith in the prophetic. Many so called ‘prophetic conferences’ are offering ‘activation’ as a significant element of their conference.
Some conferences invite you to come and the gift of prophecy will be activated in you. It is a bold and assertive claim to say the least!
People DO need encouragement and people have far more potential in God than they could ever dare imagine. Just look at what happens when someone changes career and employs new skills, developing abilities they never knew they had.
We need to, and should pray for each other regularly that we might realise all that God has for us, in all its richness and variety.
The activation teaching is that you can go to seminars, conferences or church meetings where a ministry will pray for you and the gift will be ‘activated’ in you, that is, it will suddenly begin to work in your life.
Two of the Scriptures referenced for this are
• Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching. Do not neglect your gift, which was given you(imparted) through a prophetic message when the body of Elders laid their hands on you. (1 Tim 4:13-14)
• For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. (2 Timothy 1:6)
Having read through John Calvin’s commentary on 1 & 2 Timothy and looked at comments by Gordon Fee and others, I quickly notice that the concept of ‘activations’ doesn’t come up in either historical or modern writings that is, until this present day. I am personally of the opinion that the term ‘activation’ is one that has been taken out of context. It may be just a play on words but impartation seems to be a more biblical way of looking at things. That is, an impartation of what God is prepared to impart!
God gives and imparts gifts…
The gifts of the Spirit, signs, wonders and miracles confirm the gospel and God distributes them according to His will (Heb 2:4). In other words He chooses who has what gifts. We are however, encouraged to eagerly desire the gifts of the Spirit, especially the gift of prophecy.
It’s a heart issue, God warms our heart and we begin to respond to him. A particular teaching of the scriptures is that there can be impartation and we are thankful to God that this is happening in many of our churches. Activation seems to be another issue. Impartation is about God giving (2 Tim 1:6), activation assumes that something is already there, laying dormant and unrealised – it also assumes that you can have whatever gifting you want activated!
It is my conviction that that is what is happening. People are coming to a meeting; they already have
faith for God to use them in a certain area. When they are prayed for encouragement and confidence rises in their heart and they begin to step out. Now that may seem very cynical but I think it is valid, and that it is a good starting point for someone wanting to move out in the gifts of the spirit.
If activation means that somebody has a heart and faith to move in the gifts that God is placing in their heart and wants us to stand with them in prayer then let’s bless them and pray believing God for them to step out into those things.
They are so valuable to the church. “Since you are eager to have spiritual gifts, try to excel in gifts that build up the church.” (1 Cor 14:12)
In the passage in 1 Timothy 4 Paul is talking of how he and the Elders laid hands on young Timothy and set him apart for the duties that he now had. Most commentators agree that it was probably Paul laying hands on Timothy and that the rest stood around him, consenting and agreeing in prayer for God regarding Timothy.
Recognising the call
There was something about Timothy in character and gifting that the Elders recognised as an emerging call to ministry in the local church. It wasn’t a sudden surprise on the day!
The gift, whatever it was, was given through the prophetic message that was shared at that time. Some say that the Greek has the idea that the gift came with the (accompanied) the prophecy.
Whatever happened on that day was an isolated event in scripture and it has to be seen that ‘activation principles’ do not feature in any of Paul’s comprehensive instructions on the gifts of the Spirit when he addresses the church in Corinth . I’m not saying that impartation doesn’t happen, but we don’t chose what to impart, God does, He distributes gifts of the Spirit according to His will.
Step out in faith
‘Activation’ is generally focused on the vocal gifts. I have not yet seen or heard of anyone who ‘activated’ the working of miracles. I do however know people who have prayed and sought after the working of miracles, and seen God wonderfully hear and answer prayer as the stepped out in faith in Him. I also know people who have been around others who minister in powerful ministries and have found faith imparted to their own hearts to step out in the same things. Todd Bentley in the ongoing global outpouring is such an example.
One thing is for certain, activation is not about releasing and activating Ephesians 4 ministries. It would simply be inconceivable that a member of the local church would go away for a weekend retreat and come back as a Prophet or Pastor! Ask someone to pray for you…
It is not for us to determine what spiritual gifts that God is either giving us, or giving to another individual. Personally, it may well be that what is in our heart is what God would like to do, and that is often the case. Ask someone to pray for you today that God will increasingly use you in the way that He has placed in your heart…