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#3. HOW TO JUDGE PROPHECY AND PROPHETS
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#3.1 YOU SHALL KNOW THEM BY THEIR FRUITS
15 Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.
16 You shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?
17 Even so every good tree brings forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree brings forth evil fruit.
18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, nor can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.
19 Every tree that does not bring forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.
20 Therefore by their fruits you shall know them.
43 For a good tree does not bring forth corrupt fruit; nor does a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.
44 For every tree is known by his own fruit. For of thorns men do not gather figs, nor of a bramble bush gather they grapes.
45 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth
that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.
Note: The scripture shows that the lives of many false prophets would enable people to distinguish them from true prophets:
(Isaiah 28:7-8) "But they also have erred through wine, and through strong drink are out of the way; the priest and the prophet
have erred through strong drink, they are swallowed up of wine, they are out of the way through strong drink; they err in vision, they stumble in judgment.
For all tables are full of vomit and filthiness, so that there is no place clean."
(Jeremiah 23:11) "For both prophet and priest are profane; yes, in my house have I found their wickedness, says the Lord."
(Jeremiah 23:15) "Therefore thus says the Lord of hosts concerning the prophets; Behold, I will feed them with wormwood, and make them
drink the water of gall: for from the prophets of Jerusalem profaneness has gone out into all the land."
Prophets who are obviously living in sin or error are not to be trusted. This is not to say that God cannot use such a person, because there are examples in the
word of God where people in error did prophesy right. Balaam was a man who used divination for money and was rebuked by God (Numbers 22:7; 2 Peter 2:15-16), but God
used him to bless Israel contrary to the wishes of Balak, king of Moab (Numbers 23:17-24). The old prophet who lied to the man of God (1 Kings 13:18), later
prophesied truly (1 Kings 13:20-22), and it came to pass (1 Kings 13:24; 13:29-30). King Saul and his messengers prophesied by the Spirit of God when they were on
their way to capture David (1 Samuel 19:20-24) to kill him (1 Samuel 19:11). The answer is then to treat the prophesies of these people with caution, and measure them carefully
against the word of God (See #3.2 below; #3.3).
#3.2 ACCORDING TO THE WORD OF GOD
6 The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.
34 My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips.
PROVERBS 8:8 (Solomon)
8 All the words of my mouth are in righteousness; there is nothing twisted or perverse in them.
5 Every word of God is pure: he is a shield to those who put their trust in him.
6 Do not add to his words, lest he reprove you, and you are found a liar.
20 To the law and to the testimony: if they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.
Note: We can see from the above scriptures, that God that every word God speaks is refined (Psalm 12:6). Every word he
speaks is pure (Proverbs 30:5), and that he will not alter what he has already spoken (Psalm 89:34). He has warned us that if any man does not speak according to,
"the law and the testimony", that is God’s word, then they are false. Therefore, when a prophet speaks, and his words contradict the word of God in some
way, then we can know that the prophet is false.
Example 1: " ... for it was not at a moment, that the unexpected, that I came down and troubled the waters, and
those who stepped in were healed?"
This seems to be a reference to the pool of Bethesda (John 5:4), in which case there looks like two errors in these words. First, God did not come down and
trouble the waters, his word says, "an angel". Second, only the first in was healed, not " those who stepped in". Bearing
in mind that God has said, he will not alter the thing that has gone out of his lips (Psalm 89:34), we may judge that this man was speaking from memory, and
prophesying from his own heart.
Example 2: "... for I want you to realize as you’ve come into my presence this morning, that
there is nothing that can separate you from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus, there is nothing this morning that
can separate you from my will and my plan, and my purpose for you. ... I want to tell you this morning that nothing can separate you from my
love, and from my plan, and from my purpose."
"... I have promised you in my word that nothing shall separate you from my love this morning. Nothing, my
people. I want you to realise that this morning, that there is absolutely nothing that can separate you from my love, from my power, and from my
peace, and from my presence."
Both of these prophesies were given by the same prophet, about one week apart. In these short discourses he uses the phrase, "this morning", no less
than five times. Nowhere does any true prophet speak like this with such superfluous words. In fact we have been told by Jesus:
(Matthew 5:37) "But let your communication be, Yes for yes; No for no: for whatever is more than these comes of evil."
Jesus also said that we will have to give account of "every idle word’s that we speak on the day of Judgment (Matthew 12:36). It is almost as if the prophet
is speaking faster than he can think, and he is putting these words in to give himself thinking space. Sometimes, instead of doing this,
false prophets fumble their words, and change what they have said (See #4.25).
As he said, "I have promised you in my word’s, I assumed that he referred to Romans 8:38-39, where Paul does list some things which
cannot separate us from God’s love, providing that we are faithful and obedient to him. In context he is talking about "God’s elect" (Romans 8:33). He is
talking about, "whom he foreknew", and whom he "predestined to be conformed to the image of his son" (Romans 8:29). So Paul here is referring to
people who are like Jesus, not sinners in the church. When the prophet says, "nothing ... Nothing ... absolutely nothing ..." ,
that is really adding a lot to what God has said. I ask:
What about sin? Can sin separate us from God’s love (1 Corinthians 6:9-10; Galatians 5:19-21; Revelation 21:8)?
What about iniquity (Matthew 7:23; Luke 13:27)?
What about ignorance (Hosea 4:6; Matthew 25:1-13)?
What about disobedience (Ephesians 5:6; Colossians 3:6)?
What about blaspheming the Holy Spirit (Mark 3:29; Luke 12:10)?
I am sure many will see the point. These words were no doubt comforting to some of those who heard it, particularly those who were struggling in sin. But they were
comforted in their sin, and the Holy Spirit comes to convict people of their sins (John 16:8).
#3.3 ACCORDING TO WHAT HAS BEEN SAID BY OTHER TRUE PROPHETS
20 To the law and to the testimony: if they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.
8 The prophets who have been before me and before you of old prophesied both against many countries, and against great kingdoms, of war, and of evil, and of pestilence.
9 The prophet who prophesies of peace, when the word of the prophet shall come to pass, then shall the prophet be known, that the Lord has truly sent him.
Note: Jeremiah made it clear that prophesying peace to people was not normal for a true prophet (Jeremiah 28:8). That
is not to say that a true prophet cannot prophesy peace and good things, but these promises usually come after repentance or punishment:
(Jeremiah 12:15) "And it shall come to pass, after that I have plucked them out I will return, and have
compassion on them, and will bring them again, every man to his heritage, and every man to his land."
(Ezekiel 39:25-26) "Therefore thus says the Lord GOD; Now will I bring again the captivity of Jacob, and have
mercy upon the whole house of Israel, and will be jealous for my holy name;
After that they have borne their shame, and all their trespasses whereby they have trespassed against me,
when they dwelt safely in their land, and none made them afraid."
Therefore it should be a signal to us when prophets prophesy peace and good things, and when the message of prophets does not agree with what has been
spoken before by true prophets, then that prophet may be judged to be false.
Example: " ... I would just remind you, that when I walked through the churches in the book of Revelation, you will discover that as
I walked, I saw, and what I saw I spoke of, and then I asked them to repent. But I am saying to you this morning, that as I walk among you, I am not going to
disclose what I see, I am not going to embarrass you, I am not going to show you up, what I want to do is, I just want to touch you, I want to touch you because I love you. ..."
This seems to me to be totally contrary to the character of God. Jesus didn’t ask the churches in Revelation to repent, he COMMANDED them
to repent, and then threatened them:
(Revelation 2:5) "I will come to you quickly, and will remove your candlestick (church) out of its place, except you repent."
(Revelation 2:22-23) "Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they
repent of their deeds. And I will kill her children with death;"
(Revelation 3:16) "I will spew you out of your mouth."
Jesus didn’t say, "As many as I love I just want to touch", he said, "As many as I love I rebuke and chasten:" (Revelation 3:19). He disclosed what
he saw in the churches in Revelation, and if he had been speaking through this prophet he would have exposed the sins in this church, for they were many.
(Hebrews 13:8) "Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and for the age."
#3.4 ACCORDING TO WHETHER THEIR PREDICTIONS COME TRUE OR NOT
21 And if you say in your heart, How shall we know the word which the Lord has not spoken?
22 When a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the thing does not follow, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord has not spoken,
but the prophet has spoken it presumptuously: you shall not be afraid of him.
Note: A false prophet can be easily detected when he makes a prediction that does not come to pass.
Example: This prophesy was made on the evening of Tuesday 12/9/2000 in Wolverhampton, England, U.K.
"... I can still send my word, and I can solve the problems of mankind, but I tell you I’m not going to do that this time,
but I am going to bring you to that place of trust again my people ..."
This was spoken at the very height of a national petrol dispute. Some petrol stations were closed, with no fuel, others had long queues. People at work
were discussing not being able to get to work, and the situation looked extremely bleak. Everybody was talking about it, so there seemed no doubt
that this is what the prophetic word referred to. However, after seemingly telling us that the dispute would continue, it ended in less than two days,
by the Thursday morning everything was on its way back to normal, and it didn’t flare up again.
There is however an exception, where the prophet is not false, even when the prophesy does not come to pass.
(Jeremiah 18:7-10) "At what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, and to pull down, and to destroy it;
If that nation, against whom I have pronounced, turns from their evil, I will repent of the evil that I thought to do to them.
And at what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it;
If it does evil in my sight, that it does not obey my voice, then I will repent of the good, with which I said I would benefit them."
(Jeremiah 26:12-13) "Then Jeremiah spoke to all the princes and to all the people, saying, The LORD sent me to prophesy against this house and
against this city all the words that you have heard.
Therefore now amend your ways and your doings, and obey the voice of the LORD your God; and the LORD will repent of the evil that he has
pronounced against you."
(Jeremiah 26:18-19) "Micah the Morasthite prophesied in the days of Hezekiah king of Judah, and spoke to all the people of Judah, saying, Thus
says the LORD of hosts; Zion shall be ploughed like a field, and Jerusalem shall become heaps, and the mountain of the house as the high places of a forest.
Did Hezekiah king of Judah and all Judah put him at all to death? did he not fear the LORD, and besought the LORD, and the LORD repented of the evil which he
had pronounced against them?"
One example was Hezekiah (Isaiah 38:1-5; 2 Kings 20:1-5). Isaiah told him he would die, so he prayed to God and wept. God heard his prayer and added fifteen years to his life.
Another example was Jonah, who preached to Nineveh, "Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown."(Jonah 3:4). The result was that they all
prayed, fasted and repented (Jonah 3:5-9), and God saw it, and did not destroy the city (Jonah 3:10).
An example where good was prophesied to someone which did not come to pass was Josiah. It was prophesied to him that he would go to his grave in peace
(2 Kings 22:20; 2 Chronicles 34:28), but he died in a war (2 Kings 23:29; 2 Chronicles 35:24), because he meddled in one that he was warned not to (2 Chronicles 35:20-22).
Another example is when God promised Joshua that he would be with him wherever he went (Joshua 1:9), but God temporarily forsook him because of the sin of Achan (Joshua 7:10-12).
#3.5 ACCORDING TO WHETHER THEY WILL CONFESS THAT JESUS CHRIST "IS COME" IN THE FLESH OR NOT
1 JOHN 4:1-3
1 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.
2 By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ is come1 in the flesh is of God:
3 And every spirit that does not confesses that Jesus Christ is come1 in the flesh is not of God: and this is
that spirit of antichrist, of which you have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.
2 JOHN 7
7 For many deceivers are entered into the world, who do not confess that Jesus Christ is come2 in the flesh.
This is a deceiver and an antichrist.
Note: The word translated is come1 (Gr. ἐληλυθότα,
Gtr. eleluthota) in both of these verses is the accusative, singular, masculine, perfect, active participle, of the verb "erchomai",
"I come". The perfect participle refers to a current state, simultaneous with the main verb (here it is "confesses"), which has resulted from
action prior to it (DFH p57, JWW p153, WP p96). The word translated is come2 (Gr. ἐρχόμενον,
Gtr. erchomenon) (2 John 7) is the accusative, singular, masculine, present, active participle, of the same verb "erchomai",
"I come". The present participle generally refers to a current state, simultaneous with the main verb (the main verb here is "confess") (DFH p57, JWW p152, WP p96).
Thus these scriptures mean that Jesus Christ did come in the flesh in the past, and is still here in the flesh now. He is inside every born again believer:
(Romans 8:9) "Now if any man have not the spirit of Christ, he is not his."
(2 Corinthians 13:5) "Do you not know your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you except you are reprobates?"
(Colossians 1:27) "Christ in you, the hope of Glory."
Every spirit that will not confess that Christ is in us is not of God, and is the spirit of antichrist. For Christ to be in us he must have been raised from the dead.