DARING FALSE prophets and teachers have sneaked into the church to exploit and lead ignorant believers astray. When Christ-appointed ministers sleep and refuse to preach and teach the truth, Satan plants his false prophets and teachers to flourish. Thus, today, the majority of Christians are unable to distinguish between authentic and counterfeit ministers. They follow just anyone who calls himself Bishop, Apostle or Prophet. But many are fraudsters!
Indeed, only knowledge in the Word of God can expose them. And the time for Christians to seriously study the Bible is now. The church should stop unnecessary showmanship and get grounded in the Bible. We must understand that the Bible was not written for the Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors and Teachers only, but for all believers in Christ to study, meditate on it and live it.
But even though the Bible can be read by all men and women it cannot be understood by everyone. The natural mind, that is, one that is not spiritually renewed by the Spirit of God cannot understand it. This is why I insist that the Bible should not be read and have its contents analysed like a textbook or thesis. A person who reads the Bible without being carried along by the Spirit of God, who inspired its writing will only become a philosopher; but they cannot discern its truth. God is a Spirit and His messages can only be understood by His Spirit (1 Corinthians 2: 14- 16).
The one major problem facing the church today is the proliferation of false prophets and teachers. In Ghana, this problem has irked the sensibilities of heads of several church institutions and organizations, who have been asking the government to intervene. Others have been holding news conferences to expose the charlatans. All these are steps in the right direction, but are there sound biblical steps to deal with the problem?
Well, I am convinced that the best way for Christians to guard against the lies, deceptions and exploitations of false prophets is to know the traits of genuine ministers. You see, unless a believer studies the Bible and becomes familiar with the truth of how and what Christ and the Apostles ministered as recorded in the Bible, we will all be gullible to the manipulations of these fraudsters.
Unless you have studied the Bible, you will never know that you are not required to pay money for consultations, healing, prayers and deliverance. Unless you are scripturally informed, you will never know that a pastor has no duty to bathe you anywhere. Knowledge in the Word of God helps us to understand that a servant of Christ does not give lotto numbers and direct his congregants to whip the devil.
A believer who is grounded in the Word of grace knows how to exercise faith to overcome life's challenges which Satan throws at them through prayer, fasting and patience. But the ignorant rushes to the charlatans for a quick fix and they end up being led astray, exploited and wounded. It is no wonder it is written in Hosea 4: 6 that “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.”
It is when you read the Bible you will discover that the walls of Jericho did not fall by noise but by faith. Excessive noisemaking has no place in the Church of Jesus Christ; faith has. And shouting for joy through praise and worship to God also has a place. But it is certainly not ear-breaking-noise.
So, now, how can today's believers know the truth of the Word and avoid falling prey to the schemes and plots of the wolves dressed in sheep's skin and make their irreligious activities unattractive? As I said earlier, knowledge and obedience of the Word is the answer. Firstly, we should study the Bible ourselves as Paul instructed Timothy (2 Timothy 2: 15).
Secondly, we should be taught the Word by others. Jesus Himself came to teach others, and when they were matured and empowered by the Holy Spirit they began to teach others. A person who claims to be a Christian and refuses to study the Bible, meditate on it and learn to live what it teaches but frequent prayer meetings to find solutions to their problems is a false Christian. Such a person follows Christ Jesus for His provisions but not His person.
To all labour there is a reward. There are great benefits one gets from studying the Bible. It proves that we are true disciples of Christ (John 8: 30), empowers us to detect error, sets us free from sin (John 8: 32), grows us up spiritually (1 Peter 2: 2), equips us for ministry (Ephesians 4: 11- 12), makes God answer our prayers (John 15: 7), gives us light to walk uprightly (Psalm 119: 105) and it is food for our souls (Matthew 4: 4).
In Psalm 19: 7- 11 we learn that the Word of God revives our soul, makes a simple person wise, enlightens our eyes, rejoices our heart, endures forever, and it is righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter than honey and drippings of the honeycomb. Moreover, by them are God's children warned; and there is great reward in keeping them. Evidently, unless we study the Bible, false prophets and teachers will lead us astray.
FROM James Quansah, Kumasi
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