True Prophet/False Prophet
Ephesians 4:11–16 11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. (ESV)
If Prophets are no longer relevant for today then every ‘Prophet’ is a false Prophet. We must therefore ascertain whether the gift of the ‘Office of the Prophet’ is still valid for today? Once this is firmly established we will be able to look at scripture and see how we, as the Body of Christ, are to determine and establish the difference between a true prophet and a false prophet!
1. Are Prophets Still Valid For Today?
Some Theologians question whether or not there is even a place in the modern Church for Prophets. They believe that we have no use for prophets today because we now have the Bible. The Bible, they say, reveals all of God’s principles, ways, wisdom, word, direction and revealed will for every person, (Logos word). Of course this is true, but it is false to assume there is therefore now no need for the prophet? If it were true that a divinely inspired book of instruction eliminates the need for the prophet, then why didn’t God do away with the office of the prophet after Moses wrote the Pentateuch, (the first five books of the Bible?) Priests and Levites taught the written word of God (logos), while prophets spoke God’s present (rhema) word to specific situations and needs.
The Pentateuch contains the law of God with detailed instructions for every area of human life. Yet even though Israel had the law, God still continued to raise up prophets to give specific messages to leaders, nations and individuals. During this period of time, (dispensation) the law of Moses was the complete revealed word of God to Israel just as the New Testament is for the dispensation of the Church. In both dispensations, God’s prophets are needed.
Some say that we don’t need prophets anymore because the Holy Spirit as revelator has replaced them. Then we wouldn’t need teachers because 1 John 2:27 states – But the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie—just as it has taught you, abide in him. (ESV)
This would be a serious error, as the context does not eliminate teachers as the previous verse mentions - verse 26 says – I write these things to you about those who are trying to deceive you. (ESV) This reasoning would have to replace the Apostle, Evangelist and Shepherd as well?
If the above reasoning is true, then we should just give everyone a Bible and let the Holy Spirit save everyone; the Holy Spirit would give everyone direction, council and shepherd them, personalizing the Bible to every individual? There is a measure of truth to this, but we cannot now remove the gifts given in Romans 12, Corinthians and Ephesians? This would eliminate all the gifts of God and the ‘Body’ is no longer needed and ‘ministry’ (serving) would be obsolete? This is absurd! The five fold ministers are most certainly still needed! There is not one scriptural indication anywhere in the Bible that any of the five gifts mentioned above have been recalled, dispensationally depleted, or removed from their Christ appointed ministry to the Church throughout her existence on earth!
Each age, dispensation and covenant of God has added and dropped terminology concerning certain ministries. First, there was the time of the Patriarchs. Then the law defined priests, Levites, scribes and kings. In the New Testament we have mention of apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, teachers, elders, deacons, bishops and saints. As a matter of interest, the only ministry that is found consistently functioning in every age and dispensation, from Genesis to Revelation, is that of the prophet. Prophet’s are still a valid ministry today!
2. Who Is A False Prophet?
Deuteronomy18:20 But any prophet who falsely claims to speak in my name or who speaks in the name of another god must die.’ (NLT)
Deuteronomy 18:20 But a prophet who presumes to speak in my name anything I have not commanded him to say, or a prophet who speaks in the name of other gods, must be put to death.” (NIV84)
a) A false prophet is someone who ‘presumes’ that they are a prophet! One who ‘presumes’ is proud, arrogant, and audacious and supposes that something is the case on the basis of probability! A person who ‘falsely claims’ to be a prophet, speaking in the name of Christ! God never appointed them as a prophet, they appointed themselves! You can never teach someone to be a prophet, you can teach principles that govern the prophetic, but you have to be called and appointed by God divinely to be a true prophet! There can be no ‘presumption’. In my case, the calling came to me numerous times through personal prophecy, words given by recognized and true prophets and scripture. However, being called to be a prophet doesn’t ‘make’ you one! God came to me in a vision and a door went open for me and He said “And now you can step into the door of the office of the prophet”Anything outside of a divine appointment to the office of the prophet makes one a false prophet.
We must understand that there are three realms to the prophetic:
i) Spirit of prophecy – Rev 19:10b Worship God.” For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. (ESV)
ii) The gift of prophecy – 1 Corinthians 12:10 -11 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills. (ESV)
iii) The office of the prophet – Eph 4:11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, (ESV)
Just because someone prophesies, doesn’t make him or her a prophet! By virtue of the empowerment of the Holy Spirit, ‘all may prophecy’. This happened in both the Old and New Testaments. Often the Holy Spirit would come upon men and woman and they would prophecy. This did not make them a prophet, nor could they presume themselves to be!
Numbers 11:25 Then the LORD came down in the cloud and spoke to him, and took some of the Spirit that was on him and put it on the seventy elders. And as soon as the Spirit rested on them, they prophesied. But they did not continue doing it. (ESV)
1 Samuel 10:6 Then the Spirit of the LORD will rush upon you, and you will prophesy with them and be turned into another man. Acts 2:15–18 (ESV)
Acts 2:15-18 For these people are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. 16 But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel: 17 “ ‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; 18 even on my male servants and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy.
b) A false prophet is one who speaks in the name of ‘other gods’, or desires to turn you away from God. This is crucial to understand! A false prophet is one who may prophecy accurately and even a true word; even performing great signs and wonders. However, this does not make them a true prophet of God. Their motive is to lead you astray and into rebellion and disobedience.
Acts 16:16–18 16 As we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave girl who had a spirit of divination and brought her owners much gain by fortune-telling. 17 She followed Paul and us, crying out, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to you the way of salvation.” 18 And this she kept doing for many days. Paul, having become greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And it came out that very hour. (ESV)
Deuteronomy 13:1–11 If a prophet, or one who foretells by dreams, appears among you and announces to you a miraculous sign or wonder, 2 and if the sign or wonder of which he has spoken takes place, and he says, “Let us follow other gods” (gods you have not known) “and let us worship them,” 3 you must not listen to the words of that prophet or dreamer. The LORD your God is testing you to find out whether you love him with all your heart and with all your soul. 4 It is the LORD your God you must follow, and him you must revere. Keep his commands and obey him; serve him and hold fast to him. 5 That prophet or dreamer must be put to death, because he preached rebellion against the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt and redeemed you from the land of slavery; he has tried to turn you from the way the LORD your God commanded you to follow. You must purge the evil from among you. 6 If your very own brother, or your son or daughter, or the wife you love, or your closest friend secretly entices you, saying, “Let us go and worship other gods” (gods that neither you nor your fathers have known, 7 gods of the peoples around you, whether near or far, from one end of the land to the other), 8 do not yield to him or listen to him. Show him no pity. Do not spare him or shield him. 9 You must certainly put him to death. Your hand must be the first in putting him to death, and then the hands of all the people. 10 Stone him to death, because he tried to turn you away from the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. 11 Then all Israel will hear and be afraid, and no one among you will do such an evil thing again.
Of course, we are not to stone or kill people – false or true! That ‘method’ is somewhat outdated!
3. Who Is A True Prophet
Deuteronomy 18:18–19 I will raise up a prophet like you from among their fellow Israelites. I will put my words in his mouth, and he will tell the people everything I command him. 19 I will personally deal with anyone who will not listen to the messages the prophet proclaims on my behalf. (NLT)
Jeremiah 27:15 I have not sent them, declares the LORD, but they are prophesying falsely in my name, with the result that I will drive you out and you will perish, you and the prophets who are prophesying to you.
The difference between a true prophet and a false prophet is not whether their words come to pass or not, but whether God has chosen and appointed them or not, and whether they draw you closer to God or further from Him, His will and His way! A true prophet is one who has been chosen, appointed and raised up by God? A person chosen by God or not chosen by God may prophesy accurately or even inaccurately. The key is motive and are they ‘true or false’. God does not say we are to reject or ‘kill’ a true prophet that He has chosen and that prophecies in His name, should their words ‘not come to pass’.
Deuteronomy 18:22 when a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the word does not come to pass or come true, that is a word that the LORD has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously. You need not be afraid of him. (ESV)
It doesn’t say that the prophet presumes to be a prophet, it just means he made a mistake!! Never judge a prophet by his accuracy because satan can also prophesy accurate words, true words and good words! (Acts 16:16) We are to judge a prophecy by its accuracy, but a prophet by their fruits. Why, because a true prophet, chosen by God, who does not prophecy out of evil intention, bad motives etc will always produce good fruit! This fruit we speak of is the product of his or her ministry!
Matthew 7:15–20 15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. 18 A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus you will recognize them by their fruits. (ESV)
In His love,
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