Loading

About Us - Publications - Broadcasts - Audio & Video - Contact Us - Home

- Publications -

Rainbow Divider

Chapter 3

False Prophets

“And Jesus answered and said unto them, take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name saying I am Christ; and shall deceive many. And many false prophets shall arise and shall deceive many.” Matthew 24:4-5 & 11.

Our purpose here is to awaken the seeker of truth to the shocking realization that Christ’s words of warning were not in vain. He knew many (not a few) would come in his name saying he was Christ and would deceive many. In fulfillment of his prophetic foresight, many false prophets have arisen and have deceived many. It is my conviction that most of our religious world is deceived.

In Matthew 7:13 and 14, Jesus contrasted the true and the false way by saying, “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.”

The fact that Jesus was warning us of false prophets who preached a false way is borne out in verse 15 where he said, “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.”

It is also very evident that Jesus knew the vast majority of humanity would enter the false door of religion and travel the broad way to destruction. The few that found the true door to life, no doubt, are the same as the little remnant mentioned elsewhere in the scriptures. Isaiah 1:9, Luke 12:32, Luke 13:23-24, Romans 9:27 and 11:5.

In spite of Christ’s warnings of being deceived by the many false prophets, it is quite obvious that only this little remnant of true believers would escape the snare of deception that leads to destruction. Our purpose here is to set forth characteristics of the false prophet so that God’s people can recognize the wolves who come in sheep’s clothing.

Before setting forth these signs of a false prophet, let me hasten to say that I believe many of God’s servants, basically good men, have been in varying degrees influenced by falsehood. Because of the carnal condition of the Church in general most of the ministry has been very carnal. In this carnal state the ministry hasn’t been able to discern between good and evil. I Corinthians 2:15 and 3:1-4. Also Hebrews 5:11-14.

Although these men have been influenced by falsehood and have consequently contaminated the people, I do not consider them false prophets. Even though their ministries have been clouded with error in varying degrees, there has been some ministry of life and truth through them. However it is God’s will that these brethren be delivered and set free from such spiritual contamination.

THEIR FRUIT

After Jesus warned us of false prophets that come in sheep’s clothing, he said, “Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.”

A man’s ministry is known by the fruit he bears. If he has a true ministry of Christ, he will beget sons and daughters with the spirit of Christ manifest in their lives. This is the reason our religious world today has so little of the life of Christ manifest in it. Much of it has been conceived and brought forth by false prophets who have preached another Jesus, another gospel and another spirit. II Corinthians 11:3-4. As we have said elsewhere, everything has to bring forth after its own kind. You do not get apples from an orange tree nor cherries from a plum tree. The lack of Christ in today’s professing Christianity is because it has been brought forth by another spirit.

The life of Christ cannot be feigned or pretended. There is a difference between people who are naturally nice by reason of temperament and culture and those who have received Christ’s Spirit. Galatians 4:6. Many today mistake culture and religious training for Christianity. There is a vast difference. The Christ life must come from within because the Spirit of God has indwelt the person. This life will manifest itself in the fruit of the Spirit. Galatians 5:22-23. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.”

The fruit of the Spirit that is produced in the life of a true believer will be recognized by those with spiritual discernment. When Jesus said, “Ye shall know them by their fruits ...”, he was speaking to believers for their benefit. Those who are spiritually blind will not be able to tell the difference between the fruit of the Spirit and the natural graces that might be present.

In most cases the fruit of the Spirit can only be proven by close association over a period of time. It is not too difficult to be a Christian on Sunday and on special occasions. But it takes Christ within to be a Christian in the home, on the job, and in the school, Monday through Sunday. The difference in the fruit of the Spirit and the natural graces is the same as the difference between a Virginia apple and one made in a wax factory. From a distance they may both look alike. One is produced by God and the other is produced by man. The fruit of the Spirit will stand up under the heat of trial and testing. The wax apple will melt and completely lose its identity when it is exposed to heat.

The fruit of the Spirit is decidedly different and will prove itself over a period of time. Its love is greater than natural love. Its joy and peace is different from that the world gives. Its long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and temperance also goes beyond that of the natural man.

The true minister not only will manifest these qualities in his own personal life, but will also produce them in others. He not only will prove himself over a period of time, but he will beget fruit that will prove itself over a period of time. Jesus said in John 15:16, “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain ....” Speaking of his apostleship Paul said, “If I be not an apostle unto others, yet doubtless I am to you; for the seal of mine apostleship are ye in the Lord.” I Corinthians 9:2.

This fruit is lacking in the life of the false prophet. He often comes on the scene with a flourish and much outward show but there is little genuine fruit to show when he is gone. He might even make many great claims and for awhile have many enthusiastic followers but there will be little fruit that will remain and stand the test of trial and time. If he builds a work at all it will be around something other than Christ.

The hireling false prophet, whether he is an independent or a denominational man, is not likely to stay in one place long enough to prove himself. He is always looking for greener pastures. He is more interested in himself than he is in the sheep. He doesn’t like to fight the wolf or the lion that tries to take a lamb out of the flock. Acts 20:28-30.

The false prophets which are produced by the religious systems simply produce more of the same in the people. Being hirelings by nature the denominational false prophets find it to their advantage to remain within and loyal to the system. They like their place at Jezebel’s table. She takes good care of her own. They know where their bread is coming from and which side it is buttered on. I Kings 18:19. Let us consider more specifically the signs of a false prophet, whether he is in a religious system or an independent.

SECTARIANISM

A sectarian spirit is often the manifestation of a false prophet. Although sectarianism is a curse that has contaminated many of God’s people, it is the product of seducing spirits working under the guise of divine inspiration. It is a form of spiritual delusion that literally makes the person or group believe that they only are right.

It only manifests itself by a narrow, sectarian exclusiveness that cannot fellowship anyone outside of its own group. In fact it is often completely intolerant of all others. It occupies itself very much with convincing its converts that it is the right church or group. Likewise much effort is spent proving that all others are wrong. Great stress is also put on certain doctrines and experiences believed by the group or the prophet of such a group. They are almost under a compulsion to convince others of their doctrine or their experience. The sectarian spirit is often so manifest in them until you can identify them after brief contact. The center of their religion is their doctrine, their experience, their prophet or their Church, not Christ. Such groups are also given to quoting much from the teachings and supposed Bible interpretations of their human founders.

BLIND LOYALTY

Another manifestation that is suspect in a minister is blind denominational loyalty. Men who blindly follow the teachings and practices of any group are in great bondage. Men who are not free to search the scriptures and seek light and revelation from above may be false prophets. Beyond doubt there are many denominational hirelings who cater to their movement for advantage sake. These men appeal to the people according to their pet doctrine or experience. They use religious psychology on them. They give the people what they want whether it be tongues, eternal security, predestination, sanctification or glorification of their movement. This is a perfect fulfillment of Paul’s prophetic warning in II Timothy 4:3-4.

These men are not the servants of Christ. This is the type that seek honor from men rather than God. Identification with their movement is more important to them than identification with Christ. They are our modern Pharisees and have the same spirit as those confronted by Christ in John 5:41-44. “I receive not honour from men, But I know you, that ye have not the love of God in you, I am come in my Father’s name, and ye receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive. How can ye believe, which receive honour one of another, and seek not the honour that cometh from God only?”

At the other end of the spectrum there is another group of false prophets that feign belief in any and everything but actually are loyal to none. These are inter-denominationalists that supposedly love everybody and try to cooperate with all. They like to stress cooperation among all churches and all people. They very adeptly avoid issues that might offend. They just try to fit in wherever they are. Neither of these two extremes is representative of Christ but either could be the sign of a false prophet.

WRONG EMPHASIS

The most obvious thing about the false prophet and the false way is the wrong or over-emphasis. Although Christ is recognized and used as a figurehead, the false prophet has a message with something else at its center. His main thrust is wrong. It is not Christ-centered. At the center, instead of Christ, is a doctrine, a supposed revelation, an experience, good works, the movement itself, or some human personality. Often the human personality at the center instead of Christ is the founder of the movement or the leader. Many times the center is simply the local assembly with its personal program and ambition.

Although doctrines, revelations, experiences, good works, leaders and the church are important and have their place they must not be allowed to take the place of Christ. He is the head of man and the head of the Church. As the Father pointed Peter to his beloved son on the Mount of Transfiguration, we must forever and in everything point men to the Christ of God. Matthew 17:5.

The over-emphasis on the Holy Spirit that has been the hallmark of some is very wrong also. This scourge of error popularly known as the Charismatic Revival is, I fear, not inspired by the Holy Spirit they are so diligently trying to impart.

The Holy Spirit does not make himself the center of attraction. He does not speak of himself. “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you.” John 16-13-14.

What could be any plainer than those words? You will not find preachers nor believers in the New Testament glorifying the Holy Spirit nor making that the main thrust of their message. I am afraid that there are many false prophets at work in this movement today. Unregenerate man loves the idea of an experience that will fix him up without the necessity of becoming a true believer and disciple of Jesus Christ.

Paul the Apostle, who gave us more truth for the Church and this dispensation than anyone else, always kept Christ at the center of his life, works, and message. Like very few men, Paul knew that our completeness was in Christ who is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption. Colossians 2:8-10. I Corinthians 1:30. This is why Paul said, “For I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.” I Corinthians 2:2.

Christ and him crucified. Christ’s miraculous birth. Christ’s life and works. Christ’s victory over Satan and his evil host by use of the Word. Christ’s resurrection and ascension. The victory of Calvary and the power of the cross. Christ’s advocacy at the right hand of the Father. Christ’s headship over his body, the Church. Christ’s Church which is his body. Christ’s kingdom. Christ come for his Church. These are things the Spirit of God will emphasize when a man is controlled by him. “To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” Isaiah 8:20.

EMPHASIS OF MONEY

Another sign of a false prophet is the spirit that makes merchandise of God’s people by always emphasizing money. This type might be found among the staid, conventional churches or among those who believe in the miraculous for today.

Those belonging to a conventional or fundamental group use a more sophisticated psychology to get their money. They engage in great building programs and find it rather easy to psyche the people into buying bonds or making long range pledges. They wouldn’t stoop to the gimmicks and tricks of the other group to get their money, but they get it just the same and use some of the same psychology, only in a more refined or dignified manner.

The most flagrant transgressors in this area are some of the so-called divine healing evangelists who will stoop to just about anything to get money. It is not uncommon for these men to take an hour or more to raise their offering. Some receive as many as four or five offerings in one service. I have witnessed a general offering, special offering, pledge offering and two change offerings in one service.

Prophecy is also used to get the money out of the people. Sometimes they will prophesy that so many are to give a thousand dollars, others to give five hundred and still others are to give hundreds, fifties, etc. Sometimes the prophecy will tell certain ones who have money laid up for special purposes to get the money and give it to God’s servant. Some are told to give their jewelry, such as watches and rings. Some are even told to go borrow the money if they don’t have it.

All kinds of blessings and prosperity are promised to those who financially support their programs. Salvation and healing for loved ones, new homes, cars, jobs, etc., are promised if they line up behind God’s great man of faith and power. On the negative side, judgment in the form of sickness, financial loss, or even death may come to those who refuse.

This type of minister is often in desperate circumstances and must have immediate help from all of his partners of faith. God’s great plan, given especially to him, will fail if they do not give generously. I have often wondered about these men of great faith and power and why they don’t have any more faith for their finances.

MANY GIMMICKS

Many ridiculous tricks and gimmicks are used to get money from simple souls that will believe most anything: red flannel to pin to the garments of those in need of healing, water from the Jordan river, miracle oil, magic billfolds, mustard seeds in bottles of oil, and handkerchiefs prayed over in Jesus’ tomb if you will send so much money to finance their trip to the Holy Land. Still others are going on a long fast up in some mountain and they will take your request up there with them and pray over it. But be sure to enclose your offering when you send in your request.

The most tragic thing about these wolves in sheep’s clothing is that much of their appeal is to sick people, depressed, lonely, aged, and those in trouble. Along with this there are some false prophets who use orphan’s homes, missions, old folk’s homes and other supposed benevolent works as a facade to get people’s money.

SELF EXALTATION

Another sign of a false prophet that is very prominent among some is self exaltation. He often points to his great experience with God or what God showed or told him while on a long fast. His unusual gift is referred to by his associates who exalt him as “God’s great man of the hour.” His associates are careful to introduce him with high sounding phrases such as, “Brother Tremendous, God’s great man to this generation.” Much reference is made to the mighty signs and wonders that take place under the ministry of God’s mightily anointed servant, Brother Tremendous. It will be noticed that very little of the word is preached by some of these supposed Samsons of faith and power.

Many of these men, some of whom claim to be prophets and apostles of Christ, have never established a local church in their life. They come in with a lot of flourishing fanfare, work the people up to a high emotional pitch, take their money and depart, leaving them to shift for themselves. It is characteristic for a false prophet to be more concerned about himself and his ministry than the poor sheep. His great concern is his own welfare. “Yea, they are greedy dogs that can never have enough, and they are shepherds that cannot understand; they all look to their own way, every one for his gain, from his quarter.” Isaiah 56:11. Read also Ezekiel 34:1-10.

BROAD WAY

Legion are the preachers in most religious movements who preach a gospel that does not bring conviction to the people. Consequently they join the church without repentance and faith. Their gospel is a wide gate and a broad way. They do not guard the way to the tree of life with a flaming sword. Instead they offer them a wide, easy gate that leads to destruction. It is indeed a wide gate that the unrepentant can walk through.

These men do not challenge the people by telling them the truth about what it means to come to Christ and serve him. Matthew 10:34-39. They do not preach the Lordship of Christ to the people. Some actually teach that a sinner can be saved without receiving Christ as Lord. This is a complete contradiction of the scriptures. God will not come into a human vessel that refuses to bow to him as Lord. I Corinthians 12:3.

These no doubt are the false prophets Peter was speaking of in II Peter 2:1 where he said, “But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who (secretly) shall bring in (destructive) heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.”

This, I believe, is the most subtle form of denying the Lord that bought us with his precious blood on the cruel cross of Calvary. This is why Paul said, “For ye are bought with a price; therefore, glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.” I Corinthians 6:20.

This gospel (which is not the gospel) is false and could be the sign of a false prophet. Today’s “easy believism” or “proof-text salvation” that does not really bring men to Christ is the result of such false teaching. This gospel is the wide gate of Matthew 7:13 that allows most everyone to get in without regeneration. But the way to the tree of life (Christ) is still guarded by a flaming sword (the word of God) that turns every way. Everyone that partakes of the tree of life must go through the sword and be slain.

Other movements that afford another type false prophet a good hiding place are the supposed peace organizations, civil rights groups, the hippie movement, the Jesus Freaks and various anti-Communist organizations. Although these false prophets may not be classified as ministers in the usual sense, they have taken the place of spiritual leadership over millions of people. They sit in Moses’ seat and are leading the people to destruction instead of the promised land.

There is a great shaking going on throughout the whole earth at this time. False prophets of every hue and stripe are coming forth to take the people in tow. It is a time of decision with men choosing for time and eternity. Only lovers of truth will escape the dragnet of the false prophet.

All false prophets have some truth. Satan himself uses the Bible. Matthew 4:6. Many false prophets will say Jesus is the Christ. Many will be very successful in building great churches and religious works. The most successful false prophets are intense, talented men who fully believe in what they are doing. They are inspired by the power of darkness and think it is God. Only the elect of God can tell the difference. Matthew 24:24.

Return to Library of Articles