Tag Archives: doctrine

How to Spot a False Prophet and Teacher

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Bible-1.png

Jesus warned us that “false Christs and false prophets” will come and will attempt to deceive even God’s elect (Matthew 24:23-27; see also 2 Peter 3:3 and Jude 17-18).

The best way to guard yourself against falsehood and false teachers is to know the truth. To spot a counterfeit, study the real thing. Any believer who “correctly handles the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15) and who makes a careful study of the Bible can identify false doctrine.

Charles Ryrie

For example, a believer who has read the activities of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in Matthew 3:16-17 will immediately question any doctrine that denies the doctrine of the Triune God. Therefore, step one is to study the Bible and judge all teaching by what the Scripture says.

Jesus said “a tree is recognized by its fruit” (Matthew 12:33). When looking for “fruit,” here are three specific tests to apply to any teacher to determine the accuracy of his or her teaching:

1) What does this teacher say about Jesus? In Matthew 16:15-16, Jesus asks, “Who do you say I am?” Peter answers, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God,” and for this answer Peter is called “blessed.” In 2 John 9, we read, “Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God; whoever continues in the teaching has both the Father and the Son.” In other words, Jesus Christ and His work of redemption is of utmost importance; beware of anyone who denies that Jesus is equal with God, who downplays Jesus’ sacrificial death, or who rejects Jesus’ humanity. First John 2:22 says, “Who is the liar? It is the man who denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a man is the antichrist—he denies the Father and the Son.”

2) Does this teacher preach the gospel? The gospel is defined as the good news concerning Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection, according to the Scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). As nice as they sound, the statements “God loves you,” “God wants us to feed the hungry,” and “God wants you to be wealthy” are not the complete message of the gospel. As Paul warns in Galatians 1:7, “Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ.” No one, not even a great preacher, has the right to change the message that God gave us. “If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned!” (Galatians 1:9).

3) Does this teacher exhibit character qualities that glorify the Lord? Speaking of false teachers, Jude 11 says, “They have taken the way of Cain; they have rushed for profit into Balaam’s error; they have been destroyed in Korah’s rebellion.” In other words, a false teacher can be known by his pride (Cain’s rejection of God’s plan), greed (Balaam’s prophesying for money), and rebellion (Korah’s promotion of himself over Moses). Jesus said to beware of such people and that we would know them by their fruits (Matthew 7:15-20).

For further study, review those books of the Bible that were written specifically to combat false teaching within the church: Galatians, 2 Peter, 1 John, 2 John, and Jude. It is often difficult to spot a false teacher/false prophet.

Satan masquerades as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14), and his ministers masquerade as servants of righteousness (2 Corinthians 11:15). Only by being thoroughly familiar with the truth will we be able to recognize a counterfeit.

Do Not Add to God’s Word

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Bible-1.png

“For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book.” (Revelation 22:18)

This very sober warning right at the end of the Bible was given by Christ Himself (note verse 20) to indicate that the written Scriptures were now complete, and it would be a serious sin for some pseudo-prophet to come along presenting some alleged new revelation from God. That this warning applies to the entire Bible, not just to the book of Revelation, should be obvious but is made especially clear when it is remembered that Jesus promised His chosen disciples that the Holy Spirit “shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance,” and furthermore, that “he will guide you into all truth: . . . and he will shew you things to come” (John 14:26; 16:13).

This special revelation to the “apostles and prophets” of the New Testament would constitute the “foundation” of the church, and would be complete when the last of these “holy apostles and prophets” were gone. (Study carefully Ephesians 2:19–3:11.) When John completed the Apocalypse, he was very old; all the other apostles and prophets of the New Testament had already died (all by martyrdom), so God’s written Word was now complete. No new revelation would be needed before Christ returns. We shall do well if we just learn what we already have received from His holy apostles and prophets.

Note also the emphasis on “the words,” not just the concepts. God was able to say what He meant, and we are wise if we take His words literally. Jesus warned about “false prophets” who would come after He left (Matthew 24:24), and there have been many of these through the centuries. The Bible as we now have it is sufficient for every need. HMM

How to Know the Truth

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Bible-1.png

“If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.” (John 7:17)

The apostle Paul, in his last epistle, wrote about certain philosophers who would be “ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (2 Timothy 3:7). In the next verse, Paul makes it clear why such people, no matter how scholarly or well educated they seem to be, are still incapable of accepting real truth. “So do these also resist the truth,” he says (v. 8). They could not learn the truth because they were not willing to believe or obey the truth when they learned it.

For example, a very vexing controversy among modern Christians is whether or not the Genesis account of six-day creation can be so interpreted as to accommodate the billion-year, geological-age system of Earth history.

Perhaps the difficulty, in this as well as in other such doctrinal controversies, is a basic unwillingness to believe doctrines plainly revealed in God’s Word when they conflict with doctrines based solely on human reasoning. When the Lord Jesus spoke the words of our text, He was speaking to arrogant religionists who regarded Him as nothing but an itinerant preacher, rejecting His teachings, even though they knew these teachings were fully biblical.

His rebuke of these hypocrites is truly a timeless criterion for recognizing God’s truth and knowing His will. Such a heart does not try to twist God’s Word to accommodate a human philosophy, nor does it try to accommodate one’s personal will by persuading himself that it is God’s will. God’s will is always consistent with God’s Word, which is written to be easily understood by anyone who is willing to believe His Word and do His will. HMM

Many False Prophets

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Bible-1.png

“Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.” (1 John 4:1)

There is an unusual emphasis in the New Testament about false prophets. The Greek word pseudoprophetes appears 11 times and has no corresponding word in the Old Testament.

Of the 298 usages of “prophet” in the Hebrew Scriptures, eight of them are connected to “false” prophets, and only in relation to visions and dreams. In the New Testament, the pseudoprophetes are workers of “miracles” and “signs and wonders.”

John gives the warning to “try the spirits” because many false prophets are now here. Prior to Christ’s coming, the false “dreamer” (Deuteronomy 13:1-5) would readily be exposed when his prophecy did not come about. Such a false prophet was to be executed!

But the prophets of the “last time” (1 John 2:18) will perform great wonders (Matthew 24:24) and can “seduce . . . even the elect” (Mark 13:22).

Here’s the problem: They come from among Christians! Peter warns us in 2 Peter 2:1-3 in five ways:

• They come from a “Christian” background.
• They deny the biblical Lord Jesus in some way.
• They will become very popular, especially with emotionally motivated people.
• They will degrade doctrines of the Bible.
• They will stimulate greed to attract followers.

We are warned to test every one of them, and when they do not abide in the doctrine of Christ, we are to reject their teaching and not have any fellowship with them (2 John 1:9-11). They are dangerous (Matthew 7:15)! HMM III

Copyright © 2019. Powered by Reagan Communications & John 3:16-17.