Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes, nor figs from thistles, are they? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit; but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So then, you will know them by their fruits. -(Matthew 7:15-20)
Ultimately, truth is an elusive quary. People have do and will always debate it ad nasium. The search is painful and claims of short cuts are plentiful. One only need look at the plethora of claims of religious truth to know:
It's all too easy to believe someone who claims to have a direct pipeline to God. After all, it would go so much quicker to be able to get a straight answer from God for our situation in the 1990's with out having to wade through the bibles accounts of who begat who and who slew who. It's a fad for people to sell a short cut to truth Just look at the money being raked in by channelers, alleged pphacthics, new cult leaders, crazy new age books, etc. Do we need to trust any of them?
Perhaps we should learn a lesson from those who decided to believe David Koresh, Jim Jones, Rev Moon, Charles Manson, Father Devine (actually, "Devine" claimed to be God) , or many others.
Jesus said "false Christs and false prophets will arise and show great signs and wonders, as so to mislead, if possible, even the elect" (Matthew 24:24). We all agree this has happened all through history.
Theologians tell us how we should discern prophets:
Mel White author of Deceived, says:
He knew how to inspire hope. He was committed to people in need; He counseled prisoners and juvenile delinquents. He started a job placement center; He opened rest homes and homes for the retarded; He had a health clinic; He organized a vocational training center; He provided free legal aid; He founded a community center; He preached about God. He even claimed to cast out demons, do miracles and heal.
any rational person could have easily tried to apply biblical principals to Jones and end up paying with their life (ditto for Koresh):
Steven R. Reed of the Houston Chronicle said, "The beginning was innocent enough. A charismatic young man named Vernon Howell embraced God's word, sought God's will and worshipped God's Son." Reed also says: "Called to serve Christ, Howell-Koresh instead had tried to supplant Him." Tragically for many, what appeared to be a man seeking to serve God was instead a man deceived and deceiving others.
Jesus once told a parable which has come down to us as the "parable of the sower." The parable is repeated in Matthew 13, in Mark 4 and in Luke 8. Here is Luke's account of the parable and the explanation which was given by Jesus.
"A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering
the seed, some fell along the path; it was trampled on, and the birds of
the air ate it up. Some fell on rock, and when it came up, the plants withered
because they had no moisture. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew
up with it and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil. It
came up and yielded a crop, a hundred times more than was sown. . .
Focus here on the seed sown among weeds. The weeds are analogous to false leaders who can end up choking us. Also check out 2 Peter 3:15-16, 2 Corinthians 11:13-15, John) 4:1-3
"Again I plead, don't think that I have lost my wits to talk like this; but even if you do, listen to me anyway while I also boast a little as they (false teachers) do. Such bragging isn't something God commanded me to do, for I am acting like a brainless fool. Yet those other men keep telling you how wonderful they are, so here I go. You think you are so wise - yet you listen gladly to those fools; you don't mind at all when they make you their slaves and take everything you have, and take advantage of you, and put on airs, and slap you in the face. I'm ashamed to say that I'm not bold and daring like them!" - 2 Corinthians 11:16-21
"For what is really sad is you and your lying. You are twisting My words and inventing 'Messages from the Almighty' that I didn't speak." - Jeremiah 23:9-36
"Do not listen to your false prophets, fortune-tellers, dreamers, mediums and magicians.... for they are all liars!" - (Jeremiah) 27:9-10
"The ancient prophets who preceded you and me spoke against many nations, always warning of war, famine and plague. So a prophet who foretells peace has the burden of proof on him to prove that God has really sent him." (Jeremiah) 28:8-9
"But they won't get away with all this forever. Some day their deceit will be well known to everyone...." - 2 (Timothy) 3:1-9, Now when you read early Christian history, the beginning of what they would call the "Jesus movement", there were lots of Christian groups claiming to be followers of Jesus. In fact, the false writings can make a book ten times the size of the New Testament writings. There are all kinds of gnostics, epionites, judaizers, montanists, marshanists— God knows what wasn't existing then at that time. It was not at all the case that all the Christians were happily in One Holy Church and all believing everything and doing everything the same. Absolutely not. If you read the New Testament you have these expressions— "false apostles", "false prophets", "false brethren", "false teachers". Read the pastoral epistles— two of Timothy and Titus. Read Jude. Read Second Peter. Besides St. Paul, read St. John's first letter: "They went out from us for they were not of us. Had they been of us, they would not have gone out from us". And then he says the anti-christs are already appearing. Well, the anti-christs didn't appear outside the Church, the anti-christs appeared inside the Church. They were false brethren within the Church.
Excuse me for begging the question: How can we make sure we don't miss a true prophet or get faked out by a false one:
One approach is to look at the costs of not following what could
be a true prophet: If you don't follow a claim because you reserve judgment,
what would be the worst that could happen? And contrapositively, if you
do follow a false one, what could be the worst that could happen. For most
prophets out there So if a false prophet appears to be a true prophet and
a true prophet appears to be a true prophet, how are we to know the difference?
If we cannot rely upon outward appearances, upon what should we rely? The
key is looking deeper. The key is seeing past the outward appearance. The
key is to unzip the sheep's suit. Jesus tells us that we will know the
true prophet from the false prophet, not by appearances . . .
Other areas of interest are: John 15:8, "By this is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be my disciples." Galatians 5:22-23 tells us that "the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control."
It's important to stay connected to a local church. Perhaps your pastor could help you determine if Dennis's words are worth following.
Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing,
but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits.
None of these questions are unreasonable. Churches should ask these kinds of questions when making any decision.
Did Jesus endure crucifixion for salvation or for Multi Level Marketing?
3 For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself.
4 But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another.
5 For every man shall bear his own burden.
1 Thessalonians 5
21 Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.
22 Abstain from all appearance of evil.
Eric's guide for spotting cult leaders
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