Proving The Prophets
by Dr. Timothy Hoflund
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In today’s society, the occult religions and activities are more pervasive than ever before in the last few thousand years!
What makes it even more difficult to deal with is that thanks to our modern media, and with the computer age, these demonic activities are more invasive than at any other time in history!
False prophets abound in the land! New Age “channelers”, Television “psychics” and “tarot readers” flood the media and now at least one “necromancer” has a regular television program!
To the knowledgeable saints, these are obvious abominations to God our Father and enemies to faith in Christ Jesus the Lord! These are a threat to people’s eternal existence, a threat to the lost sinner, and to the unfortunately ignorant saints who never bother to read God’s Word.
However, what is the threat to the church?
False prophets in the congregations! Is this issue a real threat - - or is this just sensational, self-serving tripe to the legalistic minded religious fundamentalist?
Let us examine the issue of false prophets … or as I prefer to identify them, prophets of falsehood!
On the surface, these men and women are not practitioners of the occult; at first glance, they appear to be “typical” churchgoers with perhaps a bit of strangeness about them. However, appearances belie who and what they really are, for satan is not stupid enough to introduce a “psychic” into a congregation as being Godly!
Unfortunately, by the time a false prophet is recognized for what he or she truly is, they have already done much damage; the pastor’s authority damaged, church leadership fractured; unknowing sheep are dazed and confused and many times the church is left in rebellion and rejection of Godliness and order.
What makes it so difficult to discern who is a false prophet is mostly: Lack of knowledge and insufficient understanding of God’s Word! The devil is a counterfeiter and his counterfeit prophets are often so close, so parallel to the true Prophets that only true Prophets can rapidly recognize them!
Of course, if the general congregation is in ignorance, the Prophet’s warnings will only appear to be a personal conflict, a “difference of opinions” or even worse a “political power struggle”! Sadly, because many do not exercise the gift of discernment, the saints and/or leaders of the congregation will dismiss the whole matter and both/all parties as divisive and contentious and so reject both the false and the true!
The real tragedy in this is that, by rejecting the true, they leave themselves vulnerable and prey to more and more of the false!
To make things a bit more precarious at times God’s Prophets are instruments of His judgment (or coming judgment) upon a Pastor and/or his congregation! Sometimes the result of a false prophet’s work is secret rebellion either within the congregation, within parts of the leadership and often a combination: If this is the case, then the church may find itself fractured, perhaps losing a Pastor or losing some of the membership or both!
The difference in such a case is that God’s Prophet speaks, and does things intended to motivate others to obey Scripture. Personalities and personal preferences do not play into the issues by the True Prophet (or as I prefer to identify these: Prophets of Truth). Most often, the false prophet makes issue of personality or opinion differences/conflicts as a defense mechanism.
When those in the congregation who have given regard to the words/influence of a false prophet repent from this wrongdoing, the “troublemakers and instigators” will be the ones leaving; the unity of the church strengthens and the effectiveness of the church’s ministry increases!
However, due to the reality and workings of “false prophets”, the churches’ reactions to the idea of modern day True Prophets – much less the presence of a True Prophet – is usually negative.
Strong skepticism exists in much of the Church today which ranges from emphatic denial of the existence of the Ministry of a Prophet today, to believing that there are Prophets in the land, but rejecting the idea that there could be one in their midst! Responses to those who admit to being a Prophet range from saying that the office of Prophet went away when the last of the first Apostles died; to “humoring” one who admits to being a God called Prophet while rejecting his ministry.
Over the last couple of decades, at least in the United States, God has been bringing the Ministry of Prophet back to a place of prominence in the Church. This will continue to occur with increasing intensity as we draw ever nearer to the end of the Church Age. Why? Because of the strength of ability of false prophets shall be increasing in intensity … if it were possible, to deceive even the very elect! What is and always has been God’s chief instrument to expose falsehood? The Prophet!
As clearly as God warns us of false prophets “in the last days”, God also instructs us to “Let the prophets speak …” (1 Corinthians 14) and in fact to “Despise not prophesyings, PROVE ALL THINGS; hold fast to that which is good …” (1 Thessalonians 5).
So increasingly, the churches are accepting the existence of Prophets. Many churches have accepted this ministry to a point of tolerance and many have even embraced this ministry for their congregation. However, this growing acceptance is the very groundwork for the invasion of false prophets! I say invasion because that is in effect what it is! See: Matthew 24; Mark 13; Luke 21.
Why is such the case? Why is it that God causing the re-emergence of prominent prophetic ministry in the Church gives opportunity to a flood of false prophets? Because often the people of God are spiritually careless, attracted to the sensationalism of the supernatural much more than they are attracted to what is Spiritual, and so, the – “WE” – do not obey God’s instruction to “PROVE THE PROPHETS”!
So this begs the question: How do you prove prophesyings and prophets? BY USING THE STANDARD OF SCRIPTURE! No standard is valid for use other than what God says – opinion and emotion has nothing to do with it! Popularity has nothing to do with it! In fact, historically, True Prophets have not enjoyed favorable popularity! Celebrity has nothing to do with it! Notoriety has nothing to do with it!
3 TESTS OF A PROPHET
The surest way to determine whether a prophet is God called or counterfeit is to know the genuine so well that the false stands out like a sore thumb!
In both Old Testament and New, God gives very precise tests, which a true Prophet can pass, and to pass means that they pass these tests 100% of the time!
Furthermore, when a man or woman who admits to being a prophet speaks as a prophet, his or her audience – especially those in leadership authority must administer the tests every single time!
Why? Failure to test the prophet opens the door of opportunity that the devil behind the false prophet is looking for to begin his deception! When a “prophet person” knows that they are being continually Scripturally scrutinized by those in authority; when he or she knows that the rule of “the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets”, is being steadfastly enforced, the false prophets will not stand for it and will leave the assembly, usually sooner than later, and often without “confrontation”!
Remember, Scripture has the only prescribed safeguards against false prophets! Personal likes or dislikes are not reliable to prove a prophet. Personality, emotions or any other human standard will not offer protections against false prophets.
Human or social standards will reject a True Prophet nearly every time! Why? God seldom chooses a person that others would choose to be the “package” which the gift comes in and remember a Prophet just like any other Minister is God’s gift to the Church! (Ephesians 4; 1 Corinthians 12-14)
SO WHAT ARE THESE 3 TESTS?
1) MESSAGE = TRUE Prophets proclaim only God’s Word and preach & teach only Truth.
1 John 4 = Prophets ALWAYS declare that people must follow God in Christ Jesus our Lord!
Read all O.T. Prophets = Prophets preach repentance and restoration.
Matthew 3 = WARN of God’s judgment; OFFER God’s mercy
Deuteronomy 18 = True Prophets will not speak presumptuously; nor will they be pressured to speak “Thus says the Lord …” if it is not so – nothing on earth can make them say so!
Deuteronomy 18 = True Prophets will not“forecast” or “predict” presumptuously and no pressure of man can make him do so because the drive to preach God’s Truth is far more powerful than man’s pressure or persuasion.
2) MARVELS, SIGNS & WONDERS = TRUE Prophets emphasize the Message over a Marvel.
1 Corinthians 1:22-24; Mark 16:20 = People want the spectacular, God wants people to have faith in His Son Jesus Christ; so the True Prophet knows his “power” is in the Gospel Message and will focus on the message and let God do the confirming. Even if the Prophet is quite gifted in delivering signs and wonders, he or she will not be pressured to “perform” to make proof of his/her ministry!
Deuteronomy 13 = Signs and wonders are the tool of deception in the hand of the enemy of Christ; in the True Prophet’s mind signs and wonders are usually not important to see happen EXCEPT AS
GOD sees fit.
3) MINISTRY = True Prophets are responsible, accountable to God to safeguard men’s souls!
Ezekiel 3 = True Prophets are like “guard dogs” against evil! God has gifted them with acute discernment and can often recognize the presence of evil, wickedness, sin and that which dis- pleases God far sooner than other saints!
Ezekiel 33 = True Prophets are responsible to minister safety to both: The house of God and to those lost in sin.
Prophets act to establish, re-establish, restore and preserve that which pleases God in the lives of men.
1 Kings 18 = True Prophets confront and challenge evil! True Prophets confront and challenge false prophets and false religions, especially in the church!
In this they may appear merciless (although they would prefer to see repentance for God’s mercy); and in such instances they are certainly unrelenting … even if it means their own expulsion from that church!
Why? Simply because they themselves are not willing to personally pay the penalty of compromise! See also: Jeremiah 27; Acts 5; 8; 13
1 Corinthians 14 = The True Prophet always endeavors to preserve and promote Godly authority and proper order. Prophets, although holding spiritual authority, insist on recognizing and being subject to Godly authority, insisting on others doing likewise.
They recognize the “authority of the believer”, but only in proper context. Prophets insist on following the God-given structures (or “chain of command”) of authority. Never make the mistake of trying to engage a Prophet in complaining about a Pastor or any other Church leader as you
will likely find yourself being escorted to the Pastor’s office right then and there! Anything that even hints of “rebellion” (which is the usurpation of proper authority) will be immediately quelled by a True Prophet just as if it were witchcraft – for indeed it is!
See also: 1 Samuel 15; Romans 13; 1 Timothy 5; 2 Peter 2.
MOTIVATION = To please God and to see men have true spiritual freedom and strength!
Motivation is not one of the tests of a God-called Prophet, for motives are hidden in the heart, which only God can see.
Yet, motive produces the visible evidence that may be tested, for as Jesus says: “By their fruits shall ye know them”.
So here are a Prophet’s BASIC MOTIVATIONS:
Loyal to God’s Truth. This loyalty will outweigh and override any loyalty to people, either family or friends.
“Right or Wrong” Value System. There is very little “gray area”, something is either right or it is wrong. The True Prophet will hold this standard to himself and even more doggedly than to others! Even if a Prophet goes through a period when he is not “living right”, he will not deny it, and will still speak the Truth of God … even if that Prophet is under God’s judgment or chastisement at the time! (See Jonah; Elijah; Abraham to name a few.)
Love. Prophets do what they do and say what they say because they love God and love to see people come to know the love of God! However, sometimes a Prophet seems more harsh than loving!
Actually, love is never in question, but Prophets may lack compassion towards unrepentant sinners or saints who refuse to repent from identified sin or wrongdoing! However, compassion does develop as the Prophet matures, for God brings others into their lives to help them develop compassion.
Nevertheless, even with maturity, a Prophet would rather slap hard your hand away from the fire than to stand by and see you get burned! This is why you will often see Prophets in companionship with the more merciful gifted saints.
Humble. Not as in all self-defecating and being soft-spoken, but humility in that the True Prophet is not “self-seeking” nor “self-serving”. Being humble is very high up on a Prophet’s “goals list” and something he or she knows that he or she must strive for since they are in the habit of being right (correct) in what they know, say and answer.
A note here: Prophets are in the habit of being right (correct) not because they know so much but because of the burden that being wrong brings … so, much of the time a Prophet does not speak/answer to an issue until he/she has taken time to check with God or to investigate what the answer should be.
This is not an exhaustive list of a True Prophet’s motivations, but this does include the most notable. Prophets all have various personality traits, varied training, backgrounds, and lifestyles, which influence their motivations.
MANNER of MINISTRY = Some characteristics of HOW True Prophets deal with knowledge!
Regardless of the apparent “function” or “duty” of the person who is a True Prophet, such as Teacher, Deacon, Evangelist, etc., they will almost certainly perform their ministry in certain manners or ways that distinguish them from others!
They always seem intent (actually they are) on pointing people to the Truth of God! They challenge misinformation and false teaching without fail when they see it! They will relentlessly confront the “traditions of man” that are contrary to the Truth of God and thus contrary to the purposes, desires and will of God!
Prophets do and say things that are designed to make people THINK!
Prophets do and say things designed to make people question regarding what is being taught or preached! To question, not resist! To receive with understanding what is “delivered” to them through the filter of Scripture!
True Prophets will insist on Scripture taking precedence over all other information regardless of the popularity or tradition of that other information, or of the person who delivers the information!
False prophets on the other hand will invariably, almost without fail, do just the opposite! They will call into question and cast doubts and aspersions on Scripture, opting instead for what it popular or traditional or commonly accepted! And when they are “taken to task” for doing so by one in authority, be it a Pastor, Teacher, other Leader or a True Prophet, the false prophet will oppose, even bitterly, being corrected! Plus, in reaction to being corrected, they will “backbite” and secretly malign those who confronted him or her!
MEASURES, GIFTS & CALLING = True Prophets are created and called so by God!
Just as each Pastor, each Teacher, and each Evangelist is different in many ways from all others in like position, so it is with Prophets!
There seems to be a peculiar characterization in many people’s minds, some preconceived ideas of what a prophet should be like. Like some old bard with white hair or with flaming eyes and are all knowing and all wise! Nothing could be more inaccurate!
Prophets differ in not only appearances, but differ in maturity, in life experiences, in church affiliation and many other ways … especially in personality! This author is (according to one type of personality test) a “driver-charger” while one good friend of mine that is also a Prophet is quite the “analytical” type!
Most importantly, Prophets have varying levels of faith! Some Prophets will prophesy “profusely” while others almost have to have it drawn out of them! Apostle Paul speaks to this in Romans 12 by saying: “… prophesy according to the proportion of faith …”
However, all True Prophets have several things in common:
DISTINCT FAITH = Not “better” faith, but perhaps a keener sense of faith.
Prophets have a sharper “faith hearing” sense than some other saints. They “hear” God speak when others around them may not! This is a gift; part of what makes a person a Prophet! It is critical to understand however that all saints in Christ can have this same “gift”. Indeed! God wants all His children to “hear” Him clearly!
DISCERNMENT = The ability to sense good and evil. This gift is essential to a Prophet in order to minister correctly! Discernment is not a form of judging others, but is an innate “knowing” if something is right or wrong; if someone is being truthful or deceptive; if the “flesh” is at work or if some ill thing is
inadvertent due to ignorance; if evil is in control or being an influence. Example: Greeting a good friend of ours one Sunday at church I casually asked, “How are you doing?” to which she replied “fine”. Before I could stop myself, I earnestly asked “really?” She looked almost shocked and managed a smile and said “sure why not?” Later, she came up to my wife and me saying she really needed someone to talk to … I had just suddenly known that there was something very heavy bothering her, not what was bothering her, just that something was being a burden! That was discernment.
Prophets are not the only saints that have this gift, but all Prophets do have sharp, sometimes disconcerting discernment.
VISION = Prophets will see things through “spiritual eyes” at times. A vision is seeing something in the spiritual realm that is not visible in the natural. A vision may be a “fore-seeing” of something yet to come; it may be seeing some “hidden” or “behind the scenes” situation; it may be an allegorical picture to help gain/give understanding to a situation, condition or event, either present, past or yet to come.
EXAMPLE: One morning in worship service while our Pastor was away, I suddenly saw a banner with the word ICHABOD floating over the podium! I immediately whispered this to my wife and said we would not be remaining members at this church.
At that night’s service, some of the church’s pastoral staff made certain proclamations during a called time of prayer that were intended to usurp the Pastor’s agenda and undo his leader- ship! The glory certainly had departed!
The Pastor soon left and within a couple of months that church suffered the first of several splits!
GOD’S CALL = True Prophets are specifically called a Prophet by God! No man can choose to be a prophet and be a True Prophet.
People do not just accept friends, family, elders, Pastors or any other Minister saying they “would be a good prophet” or the like and agree with them and begin calling themselves a
prophet … if they are a True Prophet!
A person is only a Prophet if God calls them a Prophet!
If that is the case, then the Prophet can give you details on when, where, probably even the words God used to make them know that they are a God-called Prophet! They may hesitate, resist even refuse and argue with God about it, but it is inescapable that Prophet is what God calls them! Anything else is to be presumptuous and anything else is false!
My Pastor, certain other Ministers, Godly friends that I admired and respected, began calling me a prophet fully 7 years before I heard God clearly and distinctly say, “See! I have called thee a Prophet!” Up until that time, even though some people I trusted and some I did not called me a prophet, I resisted being called that! I had not heard GOD call me Prophet!
I had heard Him call me to preach and about other things in my life. But until I heard HIM call me Prophet, I was un-willing to assume that title or responsibility! Perhaps many things in my life would have been better if I had agreed years sooner, but I was not willing, I didn’t want to be a Prophet! So, for all those years I tried to be something other than a Prophet … an Evangelist! But when I heard God call me Prophet, then I accepted the responsibility. I am much more concerned with the DUTY and FUNCTION of the office than I am with the title of the office. I have found that many people want the title and the prestige that goes along with the title, but not many want the function and what accompanies that!
Again, the foregoing is not an exhaustive list of what gifts Prophets may have, but these are ones that all True Prophets are found to have.
INCREASING MINISTRY = The numbers of God-called Prophets are on the rise!
Although some seem to think that, the “office” of Prophet was abolished during the first couple hundred years after the Church began, this author does not and never has. The New Testament does not say nor even infer that the office of Prophet was ever abolished indeed the Prophet was instituted as a part of Christ’s Ministry throughout the New Testament!
Granted there has not been a preponderance of Prophets in recent history, nevertheless God is raising up Prophets in greater numbers than ever before!
Why? Well, look in the Biblical history and you will see that when wickedness infiltrated the House of God, God raised up Prophets to deal with it!
Today, as never before, wickedness and all manner of evil abound infiltrating the Church as never before! Churches that in the 19th century were sound, biblical churches striving for holiness are today allowing homosexual pastors and same sex marriages! Some of these same churches are no longer holding to Jesus Christ as being the only way by which men must be saved! Some of the ages old denominations no longer teach that the Bible is the Word of God!
Not to mention the infiltration of people who privately follow psychics, astrologers, monthly prognosticators and all manner of the occult.
False prophets have indeed come in wearing sheep’s clothing while inwardly they are ravenous wolves desiring to consume the sheep to fulfill their own wicked appetites!
Whenever before there was such a situation in the land and in the Household of God, God raised up His true and faithful Prophets to confront and remove the false prophets … so now in these latter days God is doing so again!
WHAT PROPHETS ARE NOT! Or evidence of a false prophet!
As mentioned earlier, the devil counterfeits everything created by God. To finish this study and to help you recognize those who may be false prophets, please remember the following:
Prophets are not psychics! Prophets do not “act at will” but act as God wills!
Prophets are not self-serving! Prophets want people to follow Christ, not build their own following! False prophets want others to follow them down their pathway!
Prophets want the Truth to be heard! False prophets are always trying to get people to listen to THEM! True Prophets want people to hear the truth by any Godly means if they will not be heard!
Prophets let God “prove their ministry”! Usually it is the false prophets who are always trying to get people to see what “marvels” they offer!
Prophets call sin, “sin” and evil, “evil”! False prophets say, “God understands” + no consequences!
Prophets always support Godly authority! False prophets will usurp, undermine and cast doubt
on those in authority!
Prophets NEVER know everything! False prophets want you to believe that they always know
hidden truth and facts!
Prophets readily admit their own faults, sins and when they are wrong! Even when it is ugly
or, when they have fallen they will be honest about it. False prophets would have you to believe that they are not guilty of, or have “conquered” sin! Rarely will they admit to having serious faults!
Prophets are content when they have no message from God!
False prophets always seem to have a “word from God”!
Again, this is not an exhaustive list of what to look for, but if you know these you know, much of what is common to look for! But to this list is one more thing … and it is VERY IMPORTANT! It is perhaps the strongest evidence of a false prophet . . . TRUE PROPHETS WELCOME BIBLICAL SCRUTINY!
The key word here is “Biblical”. True Prophets will only get rankled at personal opinions or emotional reactions, but never with Biblical proving.
FALSE PROPHETS DETEST BIBLICAL SCRUTINY! Again, Biblical being the key word here. False prophets know that Biblical standards will show them for what they are … so they attempt to gain emotional affinity and positive personal opinions to the neglect of the Bible!
Until He Returns,
Be Blessed in Christ Jesus our Lord!
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