Biblical Truth on the subject of

False Prophets

Let’s set the record straight!

By Pastor F. M. Riley

                          June 10, 2015

 

“Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.

Ye shall know them by their fruits.”Matthew 7:15-16

 

“Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth,”2 Timothy 2:15.

 

Introduction

Dear readers, the Day of Pentecost has come and gone for this year, and even though hundreds of true Bible believing Christians all over this country, and in other countries, were expecting the Lord Jesus to come on this “date” this year, it is now glaringly obvious that it was not God’s appointed time for our Lord to come, Acts 17:26. No one regrets this more than I do, for I am tired of this sin cursed world, and not only ready, but eager, for the resurrection and rapture of New Covenant believers to occur.  But obviously we believers who hold fast “the blessed hope” as a precious truth, have to wait a little longer.

But just as usually happens, many “professing Christians” who never get serious about studying the prophecies of God’s Word in depth, and who do not live daily “looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ,” which “the grace of God” teaches God’s people to do [Titus 2:11-15], are once again coming out of the woodwork, vilifying and condemning those believers who do live daily in hope of our Lord’s appearing.  Just as usually happens, after every “date” proposed by anyone as a “possible” rapture date, has come and gone, these self-righteous, holier-than-thou, infallible and inerrant, [Sic!] “Christians” always show up to label anyone who proposed, even a “possible date” for the rapture to occur, as a “false prophet.” Oh by the way, it was not me who came up with this “possible date.”

After being in the Lord’s ministry for the past 61 years, I have good reason to doubt that most Christians have ever seriously studied what the inspired Word of God has to say about “false prophets,” or even “prophets” in general.  Yet most assume that they know exactly who [or what] is a “false prophet,” and how to identify a “false prophet.” Is it possible that their assumptions are wrong? Let’s see…..

I want to thank these “false witnesses” [Proverbs 6:16-19] for provoking me to write out this Bible study and speak up for the truth of God’s Word, and for those who “love His appearing” with all their heart and soul.  Without being ganged up on by these modern day Pharisees, it probably wouldn’t have occurred to me to write this study in defense of the truth.  Thank you! Now let’s find out what the inspired Word of God really has to say about the subject of “false prophets”…..

Thus Saith the Inspired Word

The very first time the word “prophet” occurs in the Scriptures is found in Genesis 20:7, on the occasion of the Lord God rebuking Abimelech for taking Sarai, Abraham’s wife, into his harem.  The Lord God not only rebuked Abimelech, but, instructed him to go to Abraham who would pray for him, for, the Lord said of Abraham,“he is a prophet.” This is the first time in God’s Word where the word “prophet” occurs.  Notice that the Lord God used the word directly in reference to Abraham, a true man of God.Therefore we can conclude that only true men of God are called to the office of, and can serve as, “prophets” of the Lord God. While some lost people appropriate this title to themselves, such as wicked Balaam did in Numbers 22, only true believers have ever been called by the Lord God to serve as His “prophets.”

The Lord God explicitly instructed the Israelite people in how to identify a “false prophet.”Read very carefully Deuteronomy 13:1-18 and 18:20-22, and pay attention to what you are reading in these passages. These inspired Scriptures tell God’s people exactly how to identify a person who is a “false prophet.” Every “false prophet” will fit these qualifications set forth by the Lord God Himself in these passages. 

The “marks” of a false prophet

In Deuteronomy 13:1-3, the inspired Word says, “If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth you a sign or wonder, And the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them. Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the Lord your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul.”

From these Scriptures alone, the careful Bible student can learn many things about “false prophets,” which are generally overlooked or ignored by those today who are so very eager to label their fellow believers as “false prophets.”

[1] A “false prophet” simply “arises” among the people.In other words, such people are self-appointed.The Lord God, who knows the hearts of all men [Jeremiah 17:9-10], did not and does not call such people into His service. The Lord God obviously permits such people to come in among His people, for the very reason stated in these Scriptures; that He may “prove” those who claim to be His people, or that He may expose the phoniness of the person claiming to be a “prophet.” Compare Exodus 32. 

[2]A “false prophet” will almost invariably show some “sign or wonder” [miracle; miraculous healing; etc.], or claim to have had some great dream or vision, as proof of his [or her] authenticity.  This should serve as a “red flag” to true believers.  Satan himself is a supernatural creature, and endows all his followers, as he feels necessary, with the ability to work amazing “signs and wonders” in order to deceive both individuals and multitudes, 2 Thessalonians 2:9-10.Just because some supernatural “miracle” has occurred, or someone claims to have had an amazing dream or vision, is no proof at all that the Lord God is the source of it. The real question in these cases is, “Is this sign or wonder inharmony with the inspired Word”?

[3]A “false prophet” seeks to turn the attention of people away from God and the Lord Jesus Christ, and away from the Word of God.  Rather, he or she wants to center the attention upon himself [or herself], or upon some god rather than the God of Israel and the Holy Bible.  This is the origin of the many religious cults in the world today; wicked deceivers desirous of establishing themselves as the one to be listened to and followed, and the object of the worship and adoration of the people.

[4] A “false prophet” always arises among the people of God claiming to be a true believer; one of God’s people, “If there arise among you...,” Deut. 13:1.  This is why the Lord Jesus Christ Himself warned the Jewish people, “Beware of false prophets,which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves,” Matthew 7:15.Yet carefully notice that the Lord explicitly stated of these deceivers, “Wherefore by their fruits [what they produce] ye shall know them,” Matthew 7:20.  God’s people should be very careful to observe the lifestyle and “fruits” produced by anyone’s “ministry” before believing their signs and wonders and dreams, and what they have to say. I urge our readers to compare “the works of the flesh” with “the fruits of the Spirit” in Galatians 5:19-26, then use both the character of the man [or woman], and the actual, literal, statements of the inspired Word, to determine the truth of any person’s message.

Over my many years in the Lord’s ministry, I have repeatedly told individuals and entire church bodies, that if they accept what I have to say just because it is me saying it, they are living in “fool’s paradise.” Truth must always be verified by God’s Word!

[5]A “false prophet” always arises speaking in the name of God, or of the Lord Jesus Christ, using the name of the Lord as his or her “badge of authority” in order to gain the attention of the people. Notice that this is clearly stated in Deuteronomy 18:20, “But the prophet, which shall presume to speak a word in My name, which I have not commanded him to speak….” Compare the statement of the Lord God in Jeremiah 14:14, “Thus saith the Lord unto me, The prophets prophesy lies in My name: I sent them not, neither have I commanded them, neither spake unto them: they prophesy unto you a false vision and divination, and a thing of nought, and the deceit of their heart.” Folks, in studying the Book of Jeremiah, it is glaringly obvious that there were many “prophets” in Israel and Judah, during the ministry of Jeremiah.But only Jeremiah was a true prophet of God. All the rest of those “prophets” were “false prophets.” This is why true believers should always test the claims of any man [or woman] with the inspired Word of God.1 Thessalonians 5:21 is still in the Bible! So is 2 Timothy 2:15.

Accuracy is not Infallibility

Our readers should also carefully notice that in Deuteronomy 13:1-2, the Lord warns God’s people that a “false prophet” may give a “sign or wonder” which actually comes to pass.  This could easily be the setting of a “date” for these “signs and wonders” to occur.

But then in Deuteronomy 18:22, the Lord God warns God’s people about “false prophets” which give prophecies of “signs and wonders” which do not come to pass.  This could easily be setting a “date” for some event which does not come to pass on the specified “date.”

Are these two opposing statements a contradiction in God’s Word?Not at all!Rather, the Lord God is making it clear that the “signs and wonders,” and other prophetic utterances of men, whether they come to pass, or do not come to pass, are not a reliable indicator of truth, and are not what the Lord God is primarily concerned with.  The concern of the Lord in both of these passages, is the attempt of the “false prophet” to turn people away from following the Lord God.  Therefore, looking at the “signs and wonders” proclaimed by the “false prophet,” or even the “dates” for a predicted event,which may or may not come to pass, is not what God’s people are to depend upon for truth.God’s people are always to look to and depend upon the Lord God and His inspired Word, as their source of truth and light, John 17:17. This is why God’s people are admonished in God’s Word to “study” the Word, 2 Timothy 2:15.  Compare also1 Timothy 4:15-16.

The Seriousness of the Sin of being a “false prophet”

Our readers should carefully notice that in both Deuteronomy 13 and 18, the Lord God did not command the Israelites to simply rebuke these “false prophets,” giving them an opportunity to confess their sin and repent.There is not even a hint of such in these passages.  Rather, it is obvious that the Lord God Himself regarded these “false prophets” as being incorrigible sinners.  What the Lord God commanded the Israelites to do was to put these “false prophets” to death, 13:5; 13:8-11; 18:20. Execute them!Kill them!There is not even a suggestion of giving a “false prophet” an opportunity to repent in these passages.The Lord God, who knows the hearts of all men, passed a sentence of death upon them, and expected His Israelite people to carry out that sentence speedily.

A Dispensational Distinction

If our readers really want the whole truth on this subject, then it is worthy of note that“false prophets,” are repeatedly referred to in the Old Testament Scriptures, but are referred to only seven times in the entire New Testament.Get serious about studying and “rightly dividing” God’s Word, and see this for yourself.  Why the difference?I’m so glad you asked!

The difference is certainly not due to people having changed, but rather because any serious study of the Scriptures will reveal that “prophets” in the Old Testament were specifically raised up by the Lord God to minister the Word of God to the Jewish people.  Their ministry included writing down the inspired Word as God gave it to these Old Testament “prophets,” 2 Peter 1:19-21. Whom did God use to write down the inspired books of the Old Testament? He used the “prophets!

But in the New Testament [New Covenant ] churches, during the first few years under the New Covenant Church Age, [the beginning of the Christian movement],there were some “prophets,” whom the Lord God raised up to minister to His churches and write down the inspired books of the New Testament. These New Covenant prophets were Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Paul, James, and Peter.  But New Covenant “prophets” soon passed completely off the scene.  This truth was clearly predicted by the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 13:8-10. If God’s people today would pay attention to what they are reading, and compare “spiritual things with spiritual,” this truth could easily be seen, 1 Corinthians 2:13.

New Testament Prophets

Let’s read Paul’s statement in 1 Corinthians 13:8-10,

“Charity never faileth: but whether they be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away

For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.”

What Paul is speaking about here are the supernatural “gifts of the Spirit,” 1 Corinthians 12:1.  Among these supernatural “gifts” given by the Lord God was the Divine Inspiration of the Word of God, coming upon each of the inspired writers.

In other words, just as the Lord God raised up“prophets” under the Old Covenant, to minister His Word to the Jewish people, and to write His Word in the books of the Old Testament, which the Lord God gave by Divine Inspiration [2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:21], so…..

The Lord God also raised up New Covenant “prophets” to minister His Word to the early churches, and to write the books of the New Testament as His Holy Spirit inspired them.

Is this process still going on today?It absolutely is not, regardless of what some may claim.  The inspired Apostle stated plainly enough for every reader who wants to deal honestly with the Word of God, that such revelations of the Word would “cease.”

When?“when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.”

Dear readers, I am not responsible for those “professing Christians” today who choose to twist and corrupt and outright deny the inspired utterances of the Scriptures. There are some today who obviously cannot or will not read this passage in God’s Word correctly. The word “that” in this Scripture is not a personal pronoun. It is not referring to the Lord Jesus Christ, who up to this time is the only person who has received a perfect glorified body.  Rather, the word “that” in this Scripture refers to an object. And what is the object being referred to? The object is the absolutely perfect, divinely inspired, totally complete, written Word of God. Compare 2 Timothy 3:16-17. The New Testament “prophet,” James, in referring to the completed Word of God, explicitly stated, “But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed,” James 1:25. James, one of the Lord’s New Testament “prophets,” writing by Divine Inspiration, clearly says that the now complete Word of God is “the perfect law of liberty.” The Lord Jesus Christ Himself plainly stated of His Word, “If ye continue in My word, then are ye My disciples indeed.  And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free,” John 8:31-32.

When the New Testament [and the whole Bible] was completed by the Lord God, in giving to John the final Book of Revelation, the Lord God gave a stern warning about adding to or taking from anything “written in this book,” Revelation 22:18-19.  Why? Because the Holy Bible is the inspired written Word of God, and is absolutely “perfect,” just as the Lord God inspired it to be. Any man [or woman] who adds to it or takes from it, or changes it to “fit” their opinions or theological position, is destroying the perfection of it. Take heed! Don’t mess with God’s Word!

Now Paul was clearly inspired of God to say that “when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away,” 1 Corinthians 13:10. 

Folks, it was God’s inspired Word which was given to mankind one book or “part” at a time over many centuries. The last book given was Revelation, and God plainly warned mankind not to add to it or take from it, 22:18-19.  All of the “parts” of God’s Word were completed when the final Book of Revelation was given, and there will be no more additions to the Word of God. It has been completed!

Therefore, there was no more “prophets” after John the Revelator.  No more “prophets” are necessary, and no more will be raised up to add to or take from the Divinely Inspired Word! All revelations being given today come strictly from the inspired Word already given. This is why every true believer should get serious about dedicated Bible study. I would emphasize to our readers that the inspired Word of Paul in 1 Corinthians 13:8-10 has been fulfilled to the letter!

The fellows [and gals] who “arise among” New Covenant believers today, claiming to be “prophets” of God, are liars at their worst, and sadly in error at their best.  However, under this present dispensation of the grace of God, we who are true believers today are not told to kill or execute these “false prophets,” but rather to “reprove, rebuke, and exhort [them] with all long-suffering and doctrine,” 2 Timothy 4:1-4. How very grateful every one of these Scripture corrupters, claiming to be “prophets” today, should be that they are living in the “dispensation of grace,” rather than under the Old Covenant dispensation of Law. Under the Law Covenant they would be stoned to death without mercy, Hebrews 10:26-30. Think about it!

Another Clear Distinction

What, or who, is it that New Covenant believers today have to be on guard against? Listen again to the inspired Word in 2 Peter 2:1-2, “But there were false prophets also among the people [the Jews or Israelites], even as there shall be false teachers among you [the Lord’s churches; Christians], who privily [secretly; subtily] shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.

And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.”

Folks, it was the Israelite people to whom “prophets” were sent by the Lord God.  They expected the Lord to raise up “a prophet” unto them [Deuteronomy 18:15-19], and having rejected the one“true prophet” whom God sent to them, because of their unbelief, therefore to this day they are highly vulnerable to being deceived by “false prophets.”

On the other hand, we who are New Covenant believers today have the complete revelation of the inspired Word of God, and have no need whatsoever of “prophets” arising to give us more revelations. The Word of God itself forbids such additional revelations, Revelation 22:18-19.

However, we certainly need to be wary of “false teachers” arising today in the churches and the ranks of Christianity. The churches and the ranks of Christianity today are filled with such Scripture corrupters.  This is why it is absolutely necessary to check out the teaching of every “professing Christian” today, by the actual and literal statements of God’s Word. This is why 1 Thessalonians 5:21 and 2 Timothy 2:15 were placed in the Bible. Take heed!

Applying these Truths

Now that the truth of God’s Word about “false prophets” has been set forth in this study, another truth becomes glaringly obvious; many, or perhaps even most, of God’s people today do not apply these truths about “false prophets” correctly. Most true believers today assume that if any man or woman sets a “date” for some prophesied Biblical event to occur, and it doesn’t occur on that “date,” that person is automatically a “false prophet.” Hogwash! It isn’t so! God still looks at the heart [motivation] of men.

Setting a “date” for an event that does or does not come to pass on the specified “date” is not all that is said about “false prophets” in Deuteronomy 13 and 18, and every honest reader knows it.  Is this commonly held assumption about a “date” all that is taught about “false prophets” in Deuteronomy 13 and 18? Answer the question honestly! Every honest reader knows that there is much more said about “false prophets” in these passages, than merely making an error on a “date.”

Is the person who made the error a true believer, or just a lost “religionist”?

Is the person who made the error called of God into the Lord’s ministry, or did they just “arise among the people”?

Is the person who made the error seeking to turn people away from the Lord God, or are they sincere in seeking to warn and prepare God’s people to meet the Lord at His coming?

Is the person who made the error showing contempt and disrespect for God’s Word, or do they sincerely love God’s Word and display their love for God and His Word by trying to share its truths with others?

What are the “fruits” of the person’s life, whom one is labeling as a “false prophet”?

Since no man [or woman] has the ability to look into another person’s heart, then we have to examine the “fruits” displayed in their lives. Hello!

Folks, all of these questions need to be considered before a true believer runs off at the mouth and labels a fellow believer as being a “false prophet.” While dogmatically setting a certain “date” is never the smart thing to do, and likely will prove to be an error, such an error does not take away the salvation of a true believer, and it certainly does not take away that believer’s love of the Lord God and His Word. Therefore labeling a fellow believer as a “false prophet,” in view of what the Bible says about “false prophets,” is not only unscriptural judging, but amounts to consigning the believer to hell fire and damnation. Just when did God appoint any of our readers to that position?

Making such a false accusation against a fellow believer is deadly serious, and the accuser will give an accounting for it when they stand before the Lord, Proverbs 6:16-19. This passage tells us that the Lord God “hates” false accusations being made against His people. Are you listening?

The Current Situation

Yes, many of God’s people were anticipating being taken home to glory on the Day of Pentecost this year, but it didn’t happen.  Did that change those expectant believers into God hating, Christ denying, unbelievers? Of course not! Such an idea is ridiculous!

All such true believers are still true believers, and are still looking for “that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ,” Titus 2:11-15. Just because they were wrong about the “date” of the Lord’s coming, did not transform them into wicked, unbelieving, “false prophets.”

Those true believers who make such accusations against their fellow believers, should hang their heads in shame. In making such wild accusations against their fellow believers, they are not showing forth the love of Christ, but rather are sitting in judgment of their fellow believers, and condemning them, a practice strictly forbidden by the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, Matthew 7:1-5.

If one’s profession is genuine, then every true believer is instructed in the Word of God to pray earnestly for their fellow believer who is in error, James 5:16. In so doing, we show forth our love “for the brethren,” 1 John 3:14-16. We also accomplish a whole lot more than we can ever accomplish by making a railing accusation against a fellow believer. Comprehende?

Conclusion

Dear readers, I am sick and tired of the “Laodicean” brand of “Christianity” being practiced in the churches and the ranks of Christianity today. I hear lots of blabber, but I see very little of the genuine love of Christ being practiced by many who “profess” to be Christian believers. 

In 1988 the Rapture 88 movement occurred, exactly as was prophesied in Habakkuk 2:1-4. That movement was started by a man who was absolutely dedicated to the Lord God and to His Word, Brother Edgar Whisenant.  But after the Lord did not come in 1988, exactly as prophesied in Habakkuk 2:1-4, “professing Christians” all over this country labeled Bro. Whisenant a “false prophet.” He was falsely accused, lied about, and treated worse than some would treat their dog. Bro. Whisenant died a year or two later of a broken heart, literally grieving himself to death for the way his fellow believers had treated him. If any reader took part in that condemnation and persecution of Edgar Whisenant in the late 80’s, don’t break your arm patting yourself on the back. That entire movment was ordained of God in Habakkuk 2:1-4 if some would take the time to seriously study the passage.

I am now 81 years of age, having been in the Lord’s ministry for 61 years, and I have yet to meet another human being, believer or non-believer, who has reached perfection and makes no errors or mistakes.  “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us,” 1 John 1:8. Read also Ecclesiastes 7:20 and Romans 3:23.

Since we are all “in the same boat,” figuratively speaking, is it unreasonable to expect a little compassion and understanding and genuine “love” from those “professing” to be our fellow believers, when a believer falls into error, or even into outright sin? Well…??

I am sure some readers will not like what I have said in this study.  Folks, I have no apology to make! Our Lord Jesus is coming SOON for His people.  Isn’t it about time that our “professed” Christian love becomes a reality, rather than simply an empty claim? I have written bluntly and to the point! The Lord knows that I have not defended nor condoned“false prophets” and their wickedness in any way, but neither have I defended nor condoned the wicked practice of God’s people placing a blanket condemnation upon every believer who is excited about the coming of the Lord and is earnestly watching for His “glorious appearing.” Let some true believers today fill their lives with a genuine love for other believers, even those in error, instead of filling their mouths with nothing but hostility and condemnation.  Selah!

 


Permission is granted to any true believer or Bible believing Christian ministry to reproduce this study to share with others, or to quote from it in context as written

Thank you again, dear brothers and sisters, for your help and encouragement, and for your prayers.  We will meet in glory REAL SOON for a time of rejoicing and worship before the throne of our Heavenly Father, and our dear Savior.  You need not mark your appointment calendar.  The Lord Himself will remind us all. Just keep looking up and listening for His shout!

Please address all questions, comments, and correspondence to: Pastor F. M. Riley, Last Call Gospel Ministry, 184 County Road 108, Harrisburg, Missouri 65256, or I can be contacted by email at:  fmr7sngn@centurylink.net

 

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