A Word for Today (1)

Posted: Wednesday, March 5, 2014 in Scripture

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. (1 John 4:1)

The first thing we need to know is what spirits we should test.  John mentions, “many false prophets have gone out into the world.”  Contrary to what some believe, all who claim to be prophets today are false prophets because the prophetical office no longer exists.  Prophets, together with the apostles, were the foundation of the church, not in themselves, but in the truth that they spoke as the mouthpiece of God.  Their message as given by God is the foundation for truth.  In 1 Timothy 3:15 Paul called the church “the pillar and support of the truth.”  The prophets and apostles received direct revelation from God, which was written down for us in the Bible.  The canon of Scripture is now closed.  No one is to add to it or take away from it.  It is fully authoritative, inspired, inerrant, infallible and sufficient. Further, it is not a matter of private interpretation (2 Pet. 1:20) but is interpreted as the Holy Spirit, “the Spirit of truth,” illumines it.  Therefore, anyone who claims to be a prophet (or apostle) today should be rejected.

However, we still need to heed John’s warning concerning preachers and teachers because they are the one’s who today are called to proclaim that which is complete and true in the Scriptures.  They are called to be the heralders, the messengers, of God’s truth.  They either speak as the mouthpiece by the Spirit of God for God, or they speak as the mouthpiece of the spirit of antichrist against God.

Deuteronomy 18:18-22 – 18 “‘I will raise up a prophet from among their countrymen like you, and I will put My words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. 19 It shall come about that whoever will not listen to My words which he shall speak in My name, Myself will require it of him. 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.”

This is certainly a useful test.  Early in the life of the people of God, God called for discernment.  Of course, the problem is that it couldn’t be applied at the time the message was given.  That is why earlier in Deuteronomy it is the content of the message that is emphasized:

Deuteronomy 13:1-5 – 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.”

We are reminded of this time and again in Scripture that it is truth, biblical truth, that must be the foundation of the message.  Does it lead one to worship God and obey God?  Does it magnify Christ and His person and work?  Or does the message lead one away from truth to idolatry?  So our first responsibility is to examine carefully what is said and then further to ask what spirit lies behind what is said.  Is truth being spoken, or error?

We should continue today to hear Jesus warning, “Take care how you listen” (Lk. 8:18).  Is what you are hearing truth or error?  This testing is the responsibility of every Christian.  All believers are to have the Berean spirit, who, as they heard Paul teach, “received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so” (Acts 17:11).  They listened to what Paul said, and tested what he said against the Word of God. This is what it means to “test the spirits.” 

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