From the Preacher’s Pen…
Once human beings came into the world it didn’t seem to take long before lies and sin came on the scene. Once Moses led God’s people out of Egyptian slavery it didn’t take long before they began to turn back to the false gods of their past. Likewise, once the Lord’s church begins on the day of Pentecost, it doesn’t take long for God’s people to begin perverting the teachings of their Savior and trying to change His church. And today’s world is not any different. So let’s consider a bit about those we meet of the…
False Prophets and False Teachers
Here’s a question for you to think about: If someone is actively teaching error on several Biblical subjects and happens to make a statement that is Biblical, do they magically become a teacher that you should quote and honor?
There are several examples from popular “big name” preachers of today that many Christians like to quote as authorities on spiritual matters. In many cases, those denomination preachers have actually admitted that they are not teaching the truth of the Bible but their own opinion.
Perhaps unsurprisingly to those who seriously study God’s word, the Apostle Paul faced similar challenges in the New Testament world. Consider his words to the Christians at Corinth: But what I am doing I will continue to do, so that I may cut off opportunity from those who desire an opportunity to be regarded just as we are in the matter about which they are boasting. For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, whose end will be according to their deeds. (2 Corinthians 11:12-15)
Not only will Satan’s servants disguise themselves as being servants of God but Paul says that his (and our!) job is to cut off their opportunity to teach error. According to God’s will, we MUST speak out against them or be just as deceitful as they are! We are surrounded by many who claim to be Christians but, in reality, they are Satan in disguise. Now at this point, you may feel that is a harsh statement but bear with me for just a moment.
One of the most popular false teachings is, of course, fake methods of salvation. Can someone who teaches salvation by chewing a particular brand of bubblegum actually be worthy of our adoration in their other teachings? Of course, that’s ridiculous! So how can we listen to and not condemn the false teachers of “send me money to be saved” or “just pray the ‘Sinners Prayer’ to ask Jesus into your heart and be saved”?
None of those teachings come from God’s word. Not a single one of them will actually lead to salvation. And not a single person who teaches them will be from God!
Let’s also check another one of those false claims: knowing how to read the Bible and know exactly when Jesus is going to return. Hardly a week goes by without at least one claim of such special knowledge.
Such claims must either be true or false. They cannot be half true. Jesus (Matthew 24:24) warned of false Christs and false prophets and Paul rather bluntly calls their works “lying” or “false” wonders (2 Thessalonians 2:9). If they are false, then we must realize that it is Satan that’s at work in the disguise of Christianity.
Several years ago while we were living in New Zealand, one man prophesied that a major earthquake would strike the Taupo region on a given date. A short time before that date a denominational paper ran an explanation of why this great proof prophecy might go wrong… just in case it didn’t happen!
Other similar “prophets” proclaim that God has revealed to them that some worldly event or other is the “sign” of Christ’s return. Many of them set dates (usually several years in the future), others are busy trying to explain why their previous dates were wrong, and others have never been heard from again once their prophetic date has passed.
The result of all this has been seemingly a lot of interest in Christianity, but it is, in reality, a shallow faith and interest that disappears once their particular prophet is proven wrong. Such a reaction is exactly what we would expect of the work of Satan. Think for a moment about those prophecies. Since they are made in God’s name, the prophet must be judged by God’s standard. In the book of Deuteronomy, God sets forth the definition of false prophets.
To begin with, if a person should make prophecies that come true but the prophet counsels rebellion or disobedience to the revealed word of God, then that person is a false prophet (Deuteronomy 13:1-5). The first standard for prophets is their consistency with what God has already told us. Therefore our first line of defense is to know God’s word and use it as our standard.
The second test is then whether or not the prophecy comes true. Deuteronomy 18:22 says, If what a prophet proclaims in the name of the Lord does not take place or come true, that is a message the Lord has not spoken. That prophet has spoken presumptuously. Do not be afraid of him! (NIV). Notice that there is no room for second or third chances and no excuses.
So what about those ongoing predictions of the signs of the end? God’s already revealed word says that it is not for us to know the times set by God, that no man does know when that time is and that when it does come, it will come “like a thief in the night” (see Matthew 24:36; Acts 1:7; 1 Thessalonians 5:1-2; 2 Peter 3:10). Furthermore, it will not be a secret when Christ does come, rather everyone, both living and dead, will know it (1 Thessalonians 4:15-17; Revelation 1:7).
So what response can there be by God’s people to false teachers and prophets? When God speaks, He is right. When man speaks presumptuously for God, man is wrong. The world does not need “well-meaning” false prophets. The world does desperately need the pure truth of God’s revealed word that can save souls. We are not to be concerned about things that He didn’t tell us; rather, our responsibility is to spread the true Good News of salvation in Jesus Christ our Lord. Doing that will build true faith in the God who is always right and will brand the false prophets for what they really are!
— Lester P. Bagley