Romans 12:6 starts a short list of spiritual gifts and how each is to be used. It begins with an exhortation.
Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use themRomans 12:6a (ESV)
As Romans 12:3-5 already prepares us for, we are again reminded that each of us as Christians will not be serving in the same way, but rather have been gifted differently from one another. God made the decision when He distributed the gifts among the body. With each gift, He provided the enablement (grace) to practise that gift in a specific manner. Therefore, let us use them. That is a nice inviting way of stating a command. Each of us has been given grace from God to use for the benefit of the body, let us use them. Do not be disobedient, slack, hesitant, or indifferent. Get busy.
Then, comes the list that spans Romans 12:6-8. And first on the list is the gift of prophecy.
Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith;Romans 12:6 (ESV, emphasis added)
Prophecy is the gift from God to select individuals to speak the exact words of God. At times it was to foretell future events pertinent to God’s people, at other times it was to reveal God’s Truth to man regarding Himself, ourselves, and salvation. It is through the gift of prophecy that we received the Scriptures and are informed of our future hope. This gift was very important during the time of the Apostles as it kept each church in line with God’s will for the church while the New Testament was being written.
For those who had the gift of prophecy given them by God, they had to use them in proportion to our faith. This is not some subjective expression of faith in the sense that the more faith the prophet had the better or more prolific his/her prophecy would be. Instead, it is literally in agreement with the faith. Faith here is not the same as in Romans 12:3. In Romans 12:3 faith is measures out to each differently – each Christian has a different level of maturity in the faith and is given a proportionate-to-that-maturity-of-faith gift. Here in Romans 12:6 it is literally the+faith, not each one’s faith. The faith is the entirety of Christian belief and practise. This is in keeping with the rest of the NT where the+faith is mentioned.
That a God-gifted prophet would practise the gift of prophecy in agreement with the faith is indeed the standard for prophets throughout the ages. The two tests of true prophets of the LORD in the OT was very simple: 100% accuracy in fulfilment of predictions made (Deuteronomy 18:21-22), and 100% agreement with the truth about God and the worship of Him.
“If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or wonder that he tells you comes to pass, and if he says, ‘Let us go after other gods,’ which you have not known, ‘and let us serve them,’ you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams. For the LORD your God is testing you, to know whether you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.Deuteronomy 13:1-3 (ESV emphasis added)
The gift of prophecy in the NT churches was in keeping with how the Lord had always revealed Himself to mankind. In each church, those with the gift of prophecy would keep the individual churches fixed on Truth through their spoken Word of God until the written Word of God was completed.
Although we might not have the gift of prophecy functioning in our churches any more, each true church is immensely grateful for the prophets of the NT. According to Ephesians 2:19-20 and Ephesians 4:11, our foundation for truth about God is the ministry of those prophets in the NT time. Thank the Lord for giving the prophets the gift of prophecy so that their words were the actual words of God and that when some of them were appointed to write it down for us, it came to us uncorrupted – as though God Himself had penned every word (2 Peter 1:20-21).
The rest of the list in Romans 12:6-8 calls each of us with our different gifts to apply the same precision and excellence to our service of the saints at church as the prophets back then did.