Someone emailed me recently about people called prophets on some TV programs. As I wrote the response I thought other people might be interested in this too and that I should put this on the blog too.
Deuteronomy gives us some good advice on prophecy:
Deuteronomy 18:20-22 20 'But the prophet who speaks a word presumptuously in My name which I have not commanded him to speak, or which he speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet shall die.' 21 "You may say in your heart, 'How will 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 come about or come true, that is the thing which the LORD has not spoken. The prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him.
Deuteronomy 13:1 "If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, 2 and the sign or the wonder comes true, concerning which he spoke to you, saying, 'Let us go after other gods (whom you have not known) and let us serve them,' 3 you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams; for the LORD your God is testing you to find out if you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. 4 "You shall follow the LORD your God and fear Him; and you shall keep His commandments, listen to His voice, serve Him, and cling to Him. 5 "But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has counseled rebellion against the LORD your God who brought you from the land of Egypt and redeemed you from the house of slavery, to seduce you from the way in which the LORD your God commanded you to walk. So you shall purge the evil from among you.
From this we can make the following observations.
1) People must not claim to give prophecies if they are not really from God.
2) Prophecies must come true, otherwise they are not from God.
3) Even if a prophecy does come true, people should not follow that prophet if he is teaching idolatry.
Obviously today we live under the civil laws of our respective countries rather than the civil aspects of the Old Testament Jewish law, and so we do not kill people who give false prophecies. However we should not follow people who either give prophecies that do not come true, or who lead people into idolatry.There are many instances of both on the TV, and so Christians must be very careful who they watch and listen to.
Paul's advice given to the New Testament church was,
'Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others pass judgment.' 1 Corinthians 14:29
and John's advice was:
1 John 4:1 'Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; 3 and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world.'
With this advice we know that any prophecy needs to be carefully tested. In fact the word for 'test' is the same word used of testing out oxen that have been purchased: So in the same way that we would check out a car before we buy it, we should check out prophecy before we buy it. The way to check prophecy is to see if it fits with the Bible or if it contradicts. If a prophet says something that the Bible contradicts, then the prophet is wrong and must not be listened to. For this reason I often check out what the theology of many popular 'prophets' is. If their beliefs of Christ, or the cross do not add up to scripture, then I ignore what they have to say.
Sadly there are a great deal of popular writers and TV personalities who have heretical views of both who Christ is, and what happened at the cross, but the public are often unaware of this and are easily misled.
It has also become very popular in recent years for people to write books, claiming that their books are transcripts from God, and that their books are similar to scripture itself. The Bible however warns us:
Revelation 22:18 'I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues which are written in this book'
I would encourage any Christian who watches speakers on TV to thoroughly examine the preachers doctrine with regards to the following areas:
1) The nature of Christ i.e. do they believe Christ fully God and fully man.
2) The cross i.e. Do they believe that Christ paid for our sins on the cross.
3) Do they try to add to scripture by implying that their prophecy is as good as scripture, as if it was another book that could be added to the Bible.
4) Do they give prophecies which don't come true.
5) Do they lead people away from focusing on Jesus and into idolatry instead.
Sadly all of these areas are seriously violated by people who have best selling books in Christian bookshops and regularly feature on TV.
Finally, it is important to not despise prophecy, the advice the Bible gives us is:
1 Thessalonians 5:20 'do not despise prophetic utterances. 21 But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good;'
Let's hold fast to what is good, but stay well away from what is bad.