Building People of Substance for Works of Power
When we first got into the Charismatic movement, there was a lady who was billed as a prophetess. She appeared on several Christian shows and had a considerable following. Her meetings were well-attended. At one point she gave a “word” predicting in some detail the imminent destruction of San Francisco: It would literally fall into the sea! When I heard it, something on the inside of me cringed. You know what I mean, I almost felt embarrassed for her. I was very young in these things, so I was hesitant to contradict such a prominent minister, so I just kept it to myself.
Well, it’s been 42 years since I heard that prophecy, and as far as I know, San Francisco is still attached to the West Coast. Whether that’s a good thing or not, I’ll leave to your opinion, but the prophecy was not true. In fact, this lady rapidly disappeared from the national stage as people began to realize she had missed it. The witness of the spirit on the inside of me was correct even though I was a neophyte in these things.
There was a similar phenomenon in 1999. Much of Christian media was in a tizzy about “Y2K,” or “”The Millennium Bug.” Many computers, some in quite essential uses, were supposed to shut down when their internal clock struck midnight on January 1, 2000. This would cause chaos and destruction on a massive scale. There were all sorts of prophecies concerning what the church should be doing. My favorite was that we should store up food, guns, and ammo to hold off the starving hordes when all the food supply went down. I actually had people leave my church because I wouldn’t preach on it and tell people to get ready.
This one was easy. No matter how ominous the situation, I knew God would not drive His people with fear of famine. Neither would He tell us to purchase weapons for the purpose of protecting our hoarded food from our starving neighbors. I know this because I have a Bible. My God is love, and He supplies all my needs. If I have enough for one little boy’s lunch, He can feed 5000. He would never tell me, “Eat the little boy’s food and shoot the rest.”
I could go on. As you can see, it’s important to be able to judge prophecies, or any kind of supernatural manifestation ascribed to the Holy Spirit. People can get confused, or be manipulated, or go home believing a lie. We certainly want to consider the source, there are false prophets and teachers out there. But there are also honest, God-loving people who confuse emotion for anointing and say “thus saith the Lord” with the best of intentions. Fear, moral outrage, even compassion can prompt prophecies that are simply not true. So, in addition to considering the source, there are three basic filters to apply:
- Does it line up with the Bible? We believe that the Bible is divinely inspired by the Holy Spirit. God will not contradict Himself or speak contrary to His nature as revealed in the Word. The more familiar you are with the Scripture and with the God that gave it, the less likely you are to be deceived. Jesus said, “Your word is truth.” (John 17:17 NKJV)
“However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.”John 16:13 NKJV
- What does it say about Jesus? Who gets the glory? God will never exalt a man or detract in any way from the Person and work of Jesus Christ. Be wary of words that elevate a particular minister or a particular ministry as being “the best” or the greatest.” God is not comparing His kids or putting them in competition with one another. The Spirit glorifies the Son.
“He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you.”John 16:14-15 NKJV
- Does it bear witness with your spirit? As a born again believer in Jesus Christ, you have the Spirit of God on the inside of you. If someone gives a word or does something that doesn’t seem right to you, then just put it on the shelf and leave it there unless and until God prompts you to revisit it. God will guide you by His Spirit witnessing with your spirit. Don’t ignore what I call “that little “ick” on the inside.
“And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.”John 14:16-17 ESV
Somebody Said: You have to judge prophecies by the Word of God. If a prophecy is not in line with the Word of God, it is not right. Secondly, you have to judge personal prophecies by what you have in your own spirit. If you do not have something in your own spirit, do not accept a personal prophecy.Kenneth E. Hagin, How You Can Be Led By The Spirit Of God.
Scripture Reading: Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others judge.1 Corinthians 14:29 NKJV
Here’s the point: One of the ways Christian people get deceived or confused is through false or misleading proclamations and actions offered under the guise of the Holy Spirit. This can lead to people becoming skeptical of everything, even the real. Paul was very clear in telling us to assess all such things and hang on to the good stuff. We can do this by adhering to the Word of God, listening for who is being glorified, and paying attention to the subtle guiding of the Spirit in our hearts.
Though every individual is ultimately responsible for judging for himself, part of the responsibility of leaders is to protect the sheep. This can be challenging, requiring wisdom and grace. In our next teaching we will give some advice on how to bring correction when needed.
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Try reading “Is There an Interpreter in the House?” for more on this subject.