“Dr. Livingstone, I presume?”
Many of you have heard the story of Henry Stanley, the ambitious American reporter who went to the Dark Continent in search of Dr. David Livingstone, an 19th-century missionary who explored sub-Saharan Africa.
When Stanley finally tracked down the famed evangelist, his first words when approaching the only other white man in Ujiji, Africa, were, as the story goes, “Dr. Livingstone, I presume?” The white man’s identity may have seemed like a no-brainer to the young journalist, but if he had been a prophet, Stanley’s presumption would have landed him in a heap of trouble. That’s because presumption is on God’s blacklist.
What does it literally mean to presume? And what exactly is presumption? Webster defines presume as “to form an opinion from little or no evidence” and “to take as true or as fact without actual proof.” Presumptuous is defined as “to overstep due bounds” and “to take liberties.” Those definitions outline some critical prophetic dos and don’ts.
First off, there is no room for personal opinion in the prophetic. Our “proof” must come from the Holy Spirit, not our own spirits or some other spirit. As mouthpieces for God, others take our words and insights very seriously, and we cannot abuse the grace people perceive on our lives.
We must not fall into the trap of filtering prophetic utterances through our own biases and in doing so deceive the hearers. What would cause the prophet to think anyone wants his opinion, anyway? (We’ll get to that in a minute.) The function of the prophet is to reveal the mind and will of God, not the mind and will of the prophet.
Second, prophets must recognize boundaries and not take the liberty of overstepping their prophetic authority. Yes, where the Spirit of the Lord is there is liberty, but not the liberty to speak outside our God-given spiritual jurisdiction.
That jurisdiction begins in the local church and expands as the prophet matures. Even the president of the United States, with all his authority, would be presumptuous to issue a decree over another nation. His words would fall to the ground because he would be overstepping his bounds.
Doubtless, God hates presumption—and He has good reason. There are several variations of the Greek word presume. Typically, the word portrays insolence (insultingly contemptuous speech or conduct), pride, arrogance or audacity (bold or arrogant disregard for normal restraints). Considering that the Lord includes a proud look and a false witness among the seven abominations, presumption is not something to be taken lightly.
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SOURCE: Charisma News