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Thursday, 14 October 2010

Prophetic Ministry In These Last Days. How to Recognise True And False Prophecies

Originally Posted September 2010, Now Showing as 14 Oct 2010 But Revised and Updated 29 Oct 2010
Please checkout a newer article dated 15 Oct 2010 which is like a supplement to this article. Please click on this shortcut link to read it   Qualities Of True Biblical Leadership Compared To the False Teachers 


We are living in days where Prophecies of all sorts abound!  Many of these prophesies are weird or fanciful (wishful thinking) which are leaving people confused about prophecy - especially as most prophecies contain predictions which do not happen. They are asking WHAT IS GOING ON? It is because of the confusion and because of my many recent email correspondents that I feel it right to write an article on this.


Before I say anything please listen to this audio from Chuck Smith (Calvary Chapel), first. It is an excellent exegesis (exposition) of what prophecy is:
http://blb-ra.blueletterbible.org/smith_chuck/Holy_Spirit/shs318.mp3 


I will now highlight some areas which were not covered within this audio and will also reveal the hallmarks of false prophets, false leaders and false teachers.


There is one aspect of prophecy revealed in the Scriptures (which Chuck only partially mentioned) which I feel I should elaborate on. It reveals another side of God's purpose for prophecy.

Chuck reminds us that Agabus (a NT prophet) is mentioned twice in Acts. These are the only examples recorded in the book of  Acts of predictive prophecy being given and were both distinctively directed towards the church (believers) and NOT to the outside world.


The purpose of the first prophecy was so that the Antioch church would send relief to the church in Judea. It was not used for any other reason.  So I do believe (as does Chuck Smith) that predictive prophecy IS still applicable and is for the purpose of building up and protecting the church, BUT it is very rare and usually comes in extreme or dire situations to protect believers. The second predictive prophecy was also from Agabus and was directed personally to Paul.


We say that the OT teaches (and it DOES) that if a prediction does not come true then that prophet is a false prophet. Actually there are at least two examples in the OT which show that this is not always true.


Let us consider Jonah (re Ninevah) in book of Jonah and Isaiah (re Hezekiah) in 2 Kings 20:1-6. Their prophecies were not fulfilled but   
we certainly cannot call them false prophets, because they were declared as TRUE prophets of God.

Neither Jonah nor Isaiah were told that their prophecies were conditional. . God simply told Jonah to preach judgement over Ninevah FULL STOP! So he preached judgement over Ninevah: "Forty more days and Nineveh will be overturned." but it didn't happen! Ninevah repented and were not judged (at that time). So Jonah's prediction of judgement DID NOT take place after forty days! That did not make him a false prophet.

With Isaiah  "In those days Hezekiah became ill and was at the point of death. The prophet Isaiah son of Amoz went to him and said, "This is what the LORD says: Put your house in order, because you are going to die; you will not recover." 

Unlike Ninevah, verse 3 tells us Hezekiah did not need to repent but he sought the Lord in prayer with tears and was spared: 
"Go back and tell Hezekiah, the leader of my people, 'This is what the LORD, the God of your father David, says: I have heard your prayer and seen your tears; I will heal you. On the third day from now you will go up to the temple of the LORD. I will add fifteen years to your life."

Could it be that some predictive prophecies are designed to lead us to repentance or to get us serious with God, so that a bad thing like JUDGEMENT is not fulfilled?

For Jonah, nowhere does it say that God told Jonah that if they repented there would be no judgement! These are the only words spoken by God to Jonah BEFORE Jonah preached:

Jonah 1:1
" The word of the LORD came to Jonah son of Amittai: 2 "Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me."

Jonah 3:1-2
"Then the word of the LORD came to Jonah a second time:  "Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give you."

Then Jonah preached:

Jonah 3:4
He proclaimed: "Forty more days and Nineveh will be overturned.". So Jonah had not been told directly that there was an "if" involved.

Point I am making is that not all predictions happen exactly as forecasted or immediately.  God sometimes changes things if people respond in the right way to the warning.

It seems that the real distinguishing mark of a FALSE prophet is that  the prediction has not happened, neither has anything changed in the people. Maybe it was taken as read in Israel that a prophet giving a warning is designed to lead the people to repentance, so that God would relent and if they do not repent the consequences DID happen. It seems that most prophecies carry a condition. 

Is that not what Moses taught the people and what God told Solomon in 2 Chron 7 "............ IF my people who are called by my name .........." . 

Also, I guess (reading between the lines) that Ninevah must have realised "if God was going to judge us He would have done so without telling us. The only thing that makes sense is that God is giving us a chance first to change our ways before destroying us. Therefore if we change our ways maybe God will forgive us and change His mind". Clearly that is what they thought. So, it seems that God warns first to give the people a chance to repent. If they do not repent then they HAVE to face the music.

Everything Below Here Has Been Added To Or Edited Between 27- 29 Oct 2010
When it comes to latter day prophets, do they give conditions? Do they speak condemnation without compassion (most actually predict fame and fortune for the church) and are the words scriptural (more on this below). It seems (when I look at their prophecies) that there is either little compassion or no conditions attached and it is generally directed universally rather than to mobilise the church into action and is often unscriptural.  Surely, the main purposes of prophecies is to change us, edify us, equip, mobilise, motivate us into action?  So whether a prophecy is predictive or not predictive, that purpose should still be the same.

God spoke to us in times past by the prophets but NOW we have the whole Bible (it is now the completed inspired Word of God). God will never inspire a prophecy which contradicts the Bible. All prophecies must mirror the exact teachings of scripture. Those who say "but God is doing a new thing in our day", must consider the words "Jesus is the same yesterday, today and FOREVER". He will Never contradict His Word. That is why John told us to "test the spirits, to see whether they be of God" and Paul wrote that we should "weigh up the things that are said". We weigh these things up through checking the scriptures. By the way, many prophecies DO contain scripture verses, but that doesn't make it scriptural. It is only scriptural when taken into the whole Bible context. Many times leaders will quote scriptures WAY OUT of context, deliberately twisting them.

This brings me onto the next issue 

The Fruit Of False Prophets
Jesus said that we would know them by their fruits. Some say that He is referring to the fruit of their nature. For example are they practising the fruit of the Holy Spirit, ie love, joy,peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control? Galatians 5:22-23.

In the context Jesus does not seem to be referring to this type of fruit but to the words spoken by false prophets. In any case,  the fruit of the Holy Spirit is very difficult to measure from a distance  and very subjective, unless you actually know the person well or live with them. Also note the letter to the Galatians was written much later. The context is surely referring to the words False Prophets speak. For instance, Jesus said that "out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks" in Matt 12:34  and in Hebrews 13:15 it says "by the fruit of lips" which reinforces the point that fruit can be spoken words.

 However, even if it was referring to their nature it certainly is not referring to Galatians 5 fruit. It is probably referring to the way the message is presented and the attitude behind it. I have observed the following which comes from false teachers, false leaders (apostles?) and false prophets. These tend to be some of  their fruits or hallmarks. They:

- have a craving for: power, fame, ambition (megalomaniacs?)
- desire to: have riches, seek out experiences, follow the dramatic (supernatural), seek goals and achievements
- love: sensuality
- are full of self importance, arrogance, pride, insincerity, dishonesty and inadaptability
deliberately misquote scriptures, twisting or distorting the Word of God
- lack: humility, brokenness, gentleness, purity and lack a zeal for the truth, unwilling to give up on their faulty theology

As an example of  how false prophets behave and what God has to say about them please read  Jer 14:13-16 and Jer 23:9-40 

MORE TO FOLLOW later........   But for now, please check out my older article by clicking on this shortcut link:

List and Details On Other False Teachers and Prophets   because I have recently added a lot more material there.  Bearing in mind what is written on this article and the changes made on that article it may help you to recognise more accurately who the true and false prophets/teachers, really are.

6 comments:

Expected Imminently said...

John

I have come to recognise that when you go quiet there is more going on than meets the eye.

Still waters do indeed run deep! :)

Sue

John Chingford said...

Hi EI

I am unsure what you mean. Please elaborate.

Thanks

Expected Imminently said...

I was saying well done, good job!
You quietly get your head down before The Lord and come up with the goods! Praise the Lord.

John Chingford said...

Thanks EI, bless you

Expected Imminently said...

Hi John

I have just had a minor drama to sort out and I cannot remember if I posted here or not?

As far as I am concerned, the 'fruit' of a false teacher are the words that come out of their mouths. The main difficulty being they are usually very nice people, and may even comply with the fruits of the Holy Spirit in their lives, publicly, at least.

My son said to me of Simon Jarvis “He really is a very nice man”. My answer had to be “I don’t doubt it, I am not saying anything about him as a person; it’s what is coming out of his mouth that is so wrong”.

Far too many believers want to be ‘spoon fed’, as they are too busy living to seek The Lord for themselves. They are Biblically illiterate; they see the open Bible in the hands of the 'teacher', they hear words of Scripture, and assume all is well and are prime targets for deception.

It is more an unravelling of what teachers say, in what order, emphasis and above all the context that gives them away, and not necessarily at the time. It has taken me several days or even weeks before the penny has dropped that I had been duped with false teaching.

Simon and Elli Jarvis of Robinswood ‘One church’; are not just false teachers and deceiving their ‘flock’, there is a good chance they too are deceived as a result of their own Biblical illiteracy. They may use the words written in the Bible, but the bad fruit comes as a result of THEIR slanted interpretation, or the one they have been deceived into believing.

Maranatha!

Sue

John Chingford said...

Here is a link to an excellent article, which says much more about the nature and practices of false prophets and how to recognise them.

http://freedomfromwolves.blogspot.com/2010/12/seven-rules-for-testing-prophets.html