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17.12.2019 Feature Article

Prophets: The True And The False

How To Recognize If A Prophet And His Prophecies Are True Or False
Prophets: The True And The False
LISTEN DEC 17, 2019

Another end of year has come. If you are of the Christian faith and a black African, you are gong to hear prophecies. Many prophets are going to speak tabulated prophecies, mostly spells of doom and deaths. It looks as if the God of these prophets is active only on 31st December nights.

Far back in the Old Covenant days, false prophets were nuisance. God said, "The prophets prophesy falsely, ... and my people love to have it so:...” (Jeremiah 5:32)

False prophets are not new. Throughout the history of Israel, false prophets and false prophecies were common experiences. The true prophets in those days spoke against the false prophets and their prophecies. Jeremiah, for example, told the Jews that were carried into Babylon, “thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; ‘Let not your prophets and your diviners, that be in the midst of you, deceive you, ... For they prophesy falsely unto you in my name: I have not sent them’, saith the LORD.” (Jeremiah 29:8-9)

The criterium laid down by Moses to identify true prophets in the Old Covenant was that the prophecy of the prophet should come to pass. If the prophecy of the prophet failed to occur, the prophet was false. Moses said to the people, “When a prophet speaketh in the name of the LORD, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him.” (Deuteronomy 18:22)

That means, a fake prophet might deceive the people for a lomg time, if his prophecy concerned distant events. This criterium was so loosed that it became difficult to identify sorcerers and diviners from true prophets. Apart from someone predicting future events by studying how events unfold in history and in circumstances, people with witchcraft and divine spirits see things far away and can declare them.

When the true Spirit of prophecy came, sorcerers and diviners were stripped naked. A sorcerer called Simeon from Samaria deceived the people with his prophecies, but when Apostle Philip went there with the true Spirit, he was exposed. Simeon used sorcery to bewitch the people and made a name as a great prophet of God. All the people, from the least to the greatest, believed that he was a “great power of God”. (Acts 8:9-20)

There was also a young lady who had the spirit of divination, a fetish spirit, and used her soothsayings to make her caretakers very rich. Apostle Paul cast the faul spirit in her away by the Spirit of God in him, and that brought a great trouble to him before the magistrates of the ancient Macedonian city of Philippi. (Acts 16:12, 16-22)

The identity of prophets in the New Testament is not the occurrence of their prophecies or predictions: it is rather what they say and act. They do not speak fear and uncertainty and leave the people to their fate; they speak comfort and assurance and deliver the people, if there is any threat. Because the Spirit in them has the power to override, cast out and destroy any evil power and their threats, and remit the people from their sins and deliver them.

The Lord told them that whosoever sin they remitted, would be remitted (John 20:22-23), and they would cast out devils and deliver the people (Mark 16:17). The Spirit operating in the prophets of the New Testament is more powerful and mightier than demonic spirits that bring calamity and tragedies on people and nations. These prophets therefore do not wait for evil things to happen, and then take credit and fame for them.

The spirit that was operating in the prophets of the Old Covenant was inferior and powerless. The Spirit, Who is working in the New Testament prophets is superior and mighty; He is not the same as the spirit in the Old Covenant. Two apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ, James and his brother John, asked permission from the Lord to “command fire to come down from heaven to consume” the inhabitants of a village in Samaria, “as Elijah did”. But the Lord rebuked them, and said to them, “You don’t know what manner of Spirit you are of. For the Son of man is not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them. ...” (Luke 9:54-56)

In other words, Elijah was not operating by the same spirit as the Spirit operating in Christ today. The exchanges between the Lord Jesus Christ and the two of His apostles give us the fundamental clue about the differences between operations of true and false prophets. Prophets who condemn and destroy by death and cursing are not operating by the true Spirit. Prophets working by the true Spirit are lifesavers, and not life destroyers.

Prophecies that save lives and bless are of the Spirit of truth. If prophets like Moses, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Elijah and Elisha are to be alive today, they would be false prophets. Because they condemned, cursed and killed the people as prophets. Moses ordered the death of three thousand Israelites (Exodus 32:26-28); Isaiah cursed the Israelites that their “men shall fall by the sword, and their mighty in the war. And her gates shall lament and mourn; ...” (Isaiah 3:25-26); Jeremiah spoke doom on Jerusalem for their sins (Jeremiah 6:1); Elijah Killed false Baal prophets (1 Kings 18:40); and Elisha cursed little children that mocked him “in the name of the Lord”, and “there came forth two she bears out of the wood, and tare forty and two children of them” (1 Kings 2:23-24).

On contrary, the Spirit working in true prophets today gives them power to remit the sins of the people and deliver them from devils and evils. The Lord breathed on the disciples, and said unto them, “Receive ye the Holy Ghost: Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; ...” (John 20:22-23)

He told them, “these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils ...” (Mark 16:17)

That makes the true prophets saviours of life, and not destroyers of life. True prophets do not kill nor destroy (John 10:10). If they have the power to remit sins and cast out devils and evils from the people, their prophecies are not going to be death, cursing and destruction. They would also not speak publicly into the air about impending death, cursing and evil. Because they are the deliverers and the deterrents.

Moreover, all the prophets sent by God before Christ ended their ministry at the time of John the Baptist. The Lord Jesus said, “all the prophets and the law prophesied until John.” (Matthew 11:13)

“The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it.” (Luke 16:16)

if any prophet today brings back the ministry of any of these oldtime prophets, he is awaking dead and obsolete ministry, therefore he is false. False prophets are nuisancie in our days as they were in the olden days. The Bible strictly warns the people of God to beware of them. At the beginning of His ministry, the Lord Jesus warned the believers to beware of false prophets, saying, “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven...” (Matthew 7:15, 21)

He said that in these last days “many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.” (Matthew 24:11-12, 24)

Prophetic ministry and the priest were the first and oldest ministries. The prophets and the priests were in coordination, but used to be different ministers. Abraham was a prophet. In his days was Melchizedek, the king of Salem and the Priest of God. Moses was also a prophet. His father-in-law. Jethro, or Reuel, was the priest of Median. Jethro was initially called "Reuel" (Exodus 2:18) but then as "Jethro" (Exodus 3:1). Moses also later ordained Aaron and his sons as priests of Israel.

In Christ, there are prophets, with the office of prophet, but their office coincides with priest or pastor. A prophet can also pastor a church. In the Old Covenant, prophet did not minister in the temple as priest. God told Moses to ordain Aaron and his sons as priests to serve in the temple.

The function, duty, power and authority of the prophets in Christ are quiet different from the prophets in the olden days until John the Baptist. The prophets in Christ have power to deal with demonic forces, cast them out and destroy their evil plots and plans. Therefore the prophets of Christ do not reveal evil things openly or speak loosely.

Unlike the prophets of the olden days, the prophecies of the true prophets today are handled with wisdom and deep sense of knowledge in all forms.

How Prophecies Concerning Global Events are Handled.

When a revelation is shown unto the prophet concerning a coming global event, the prophet speaks it to the church to enable them pray about it or work toward it. The location is guided in this prophecy. A typical example was Acts 11:27-30. A prophet, called Agabus, came from Jerusalem to Antioch to prophesy concerning a coming global economic crunch, “which came to pass in the days of Claudius Caesar.

The reason why he did not give the prophecy in Jerusalem was that it was the church in Antioch that would support the saints in Judea, and not the Jerusalem church, so Antioch needed the prophecy, and not Jerusalem. And truly, been prepared by the prophecy, the church in Antioch gathered aids and sent to Judea,

“Then the disciples, every man according to his ability, determined to send relief unto the brethren which dwelt in Judaea: Which also they did, and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul.”

How General or Local Prophecies Concerning the Church are Handled.

Such prophecies are spoken openly in the church for all the believers to hear, so all would pray or take the necessary action.

How Prophecies Concerning Individuals are Handled

These personal prophecies are often not spoken openly by true prophets of Christ, unless they are an exaltation, edification or comfort. If they are evil, frightening, threats of death, loses and destruction, the prophets deal with it by themselves or with the leaders of the church without the concern of the persons in the prophecy. The persons in the prophecy may be advised in a way.

An example of personal prophecy was declared unto Apostle Paul. Prophet Agabus met Paul in the house of Philip, (not Apostle Philip, but one of the seven, elected by the apostles in Acts 6:5). Philip had four daughters, who were virgins and did prophecy also. Prophet Agabus demonstrated how Paul would be arrested, if he went to Jerusalem. He took Paul's girdle, and bound his own hands and feet, and said, “Thus saith the Holy Ghost, So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man that owneth this girdle, and shall deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.” So they advised Paul not to go to Jerusalem, but he refused to abide by their advice (Acts 22:5-12). And when he went to Jerusalem, the Jews arrested him in the temple (Acts 21:30).

Prophet is “nabiy” in Hebrew, meaning “a prophet or (generally) inspired man”. In Greek, it is “prophetes”, meaning “a foreteller ("prophet"); by analogy, an inspired speaker; by extension, a poet:--prophet.” Both Hebrew and Greek acknowledge a prophet as an inspirer, a motivator or an encourager, and not as a discourager, a disheartening or deadener.

To inspire means to excite, encourage, or breathe life into someone. Inspire comes from the Latin word that means to inflame or to blow in to. When you inspire something or somebody, it is as if you are blowing air over a low flame to make it grow; something that put confidence in someone, and not doubt, fear and uncertainty.

A true prophet therefore, gives hope, delivers and brings life. God said to Abimelech, Abraham “is a prophet, he shall pray for thee, and thou shalt live” (Genesis 20:7). The Prophet in the body of Christ “speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort”; he “edifieth the church” and speaks revelations.

“... he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort. ... he that prophesieth edifieth the church. Even so ye, forasmuch as ye are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church. And thus are the secrets” of hearts “made manifest” and prove unto the world that God is in the church “of a truth.” (1 Corinthians 14:3-4, 12, 25)

Everyone prophesying by the Spirit of truth comforts and exalts or inspires. To comfort, assure and build others in faith are the functions of a true prophet. True prophets are orderly, humble and childlike; they are meek. Meekness does not mean weakness, it means restrained strength and might.

“... If any thing be revealed to another that sitteth by, let the first hold his peace. For ye may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted. And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets. For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.” (1 Corinthians 14:30-33)

The Prophets of Christ are differentiated from those of the Old Covenant in that the Prophets of Christ comfort, exalt and edify, the ultimate goal of their ministry is to bring comfort, that “all may be comforted”. The prophets of Christ do not condemn, frighten or threaten with fear, death and destruction. If they see evil thing, they communicate it in the Spirit of comfort, and not in the spirit of fear and threat of evil, because they have power to destroy the evil activities and plots of the evil spirts and cast them out.

If evil thing is revealed unto them concerning the saints or the church or the nations and the people, they have power to destroy them and cast the evil spirits away. So, unlike the Old Covenant prophets, the Prophets of Christ do not say things to frighten and put the people in disarray and fear, neither do they threaten to destroy life nor kill. Therefore, they do not report evil things they see to the persons or the public to create fear and panic.

If they have the Spirit of Christ to cast out devils and destroy satanic works as their duty, why should they broadcast fear to the public and wait for the evil to happen, and then say to the public, “I said it, didn’t I say it?”, to clam fame as some persons are doing in the name of Jesus? If anyone is of Christ, he or she has the power to cast out devils and destroy evil plots. Why then should such a person with such power wait for the evil event to occur and then claim fame by it? No true prophet of God in Christ does that.

In the Old Covenant, a prophet was adjudged to be a true prophet when what he spoke came to pass. God said to Moses, “the prophet, which shall presume to speak a word in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die. And if thou say in thine heart, How shall we know the word which the LORD hath not spoken? When a prophet speaketh in the name of the LORD, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him.” (Deuteronomy 18:20-22)

But in the New Testament, a prophet is adjudged instantly by the church. No one among the saints is greater than the other by gifts nor exercise authority over the church. In the body of Christ, Christ is the head, and all are parts of the body, everyone is important, even the unimportant parts of the body have more honour than the most important parts. (1 Corinthians 12:14-30)

The church does not wait for the events revealed by the prophet to unfold before they authenticate his word. The criteria of judgement is based on the prophet’s own word. The prophet in Christ can only speak to edify and comfort, and not to frighten, threaten, create fear and panic, or destroy the peace of a person, which is the fruit of the Spirit in the person or to confuse.

“Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge. If any thing be revealed to another that sitteth by, let the first hold his peace. For ye may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted. And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets. For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.” (1 Corinthians 14:29-33)

The spirit of fear is a demonic spirit, and not from God. “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind" (2 Timothy 1:7). Therefore, no fear is entertained in the church, except the fear of God.

The Lord destroyed this spirit of fear when He died, so we shouldn’t allow anybody to bring it back to the church. “Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; and deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.” (Hebrews 2:14-15)

Edward Bamfo-Darko
Edward Bamfo-Darko, © 2019

The author has 18 publications published on Modern Ghana. Column Page: EdwardBamfoDarko

Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author(s) and do not neccessarily reflect those of Modern Ghana. Modern Ghana will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article."

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