9/14/2005 Written in response to a friend’s question
A friend often sends me prophesies – Is there any sort of official guideline or thought on this? Just curious. Thanks.
My response: I wouldn’t want to just pop off a response to you about this because I have no authority or real experience in this area. You may want to talk to one of the pastors about this topic. There are, however, a couple of things that come to mind, based on a study I did recently on the reliability of the Scriptures. .
In the Old Testament, the people of Israel were given ways to test a prophet. Any person who claimed he was speaking truth from God had to be evaluated. If the person failed the tests of scriptural qualifications, he and his message were to be disregarded. Period.
The first qualification was whether the prophet’s message contained absolutely accurate predictions. This can only be apparent in hindsight. Not 75%, not 90%, but 100% accuracy. Deuteronomy 18:21-22 says, “You may say to yourselves, “How can we know when a message has not been spoken by the Lord?” If what a prophet proclaims in the name of the Lord does not take place or come true, that is a message the Lord has not spoken. That prophet has spoken presumptuously. Do not be afraid of them.” This is to induce caution in would-be prophets themselves, to be sure that they speak wisely and not to impress or presumptuously. It can only be validated after the fact. Hebrews 6:13 says, “For when God made a promise to Abraham, because He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself.” We need to be careful in whom we vest our trust. Only God is 100% worthy of that and He’s quite careful about whom He chooses to speak for Him in the world!
The second qualification was whether the prophet’s message contained absolutely accurate theology. Deuteronomy 13:1-4 says, “If a prophet, or one who foretells by dreams, appears among you and announces to you a miraculous sign or wonder, and if the sign or wonder of which he has spoken takes place, and he says, “Let us follow other gods” (gods you have not known) “and let us worship them,” you must not listen to the words of that prophet or dreamer. The Lord your God is testing you to find out whether you love him with all your heart and with all your soul. It is the Lord your God you must follow and him you must revere. Keep his commands and obey him, serve him and hold fast to him.”
To whom or to what does the prophet or prophecy direct you? If not to God Himself, it is false. And if apparently to God, does it line up with the Scriptures? True prophecy ALWAYS points one to devotion and obedience to the Lord. If it conflicts in any way with the Bible, disregard it. Hebrews 6:18 says, “…it is impossible for God to lie…”
Thirdly, I would say to you that if you yourself are walking closely with the Lord, the Holy Spirit in you will confirm the rightness or wrongness of what you hear. Deuteronomy 18:17 says, “And the Lord said to me, “What they have spoken is good.” His spirit bears witness in our own spirit about the truth.
This gives us some of the strongest reasons to be consistent and sound in our reading of and understanding of the Word, so that we will recognize and reject false teachers or prophets. They may be well intentioned but completely wrong or partly right and tragically being used for deception by satan. Satan can and does often present things that appear true, with just enough truth to draw people into his web, then, at a time of his choosing he distorts and contorts them or their words into something devious for his own uses.
Don’t buy everything that’s presented to you as ‘prophecy’. Sometimes it’s really good intuition or logic or deception.
Many a ‘prophetic ministry’ has gone down in flames and yet new ones spring up all the time. Exercise care that you are not looking to ‘prophets’ for truth. God has made truth clear to each of us in the Word. In Habakuk 2:3 the prophet is told to “write the vision and make it plain on tablets, that he may run who reads it. For the vision is yet for an appointed time; But at the end it will speak and it will not lie.” A true prophet is not seeking to obscure the truth or talk in circles. One would seek to be as clear and unequivocal and straightforward as possible, because that is the way God is. My sense of “he may run” in this verse is for those who are in the race, on the pathway to righteousness, so that they may be equipped to do so with perseverance. Prophecy should do that for us- show us the way, point us in the right direction, keep us hopeful as we are obedient to God.
Hope this helps. Love, Cathy