A BORN-AGAIN BELIEVER

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TOUGH AUDIENCE

Jesus was a brilliant teacher, the best who ever was.

Not only did he fearlessly speak God’s Truth, he delivered it in such a way that it made sense to everyone who heard him, whether they had eyes to see and ears to hear, or not.

This is no mean feat, as any teacher worth his or her salt well knows.

At the same time he was teaching, Jesus was also dodging the verbal and physical assaults of people who disagreed with him or wanted to trip him up.

And then there were his hard-core enemies, who just wanted him dead.

A tough audience, Jesus had. Every day for nearly three years he dealt with these people. But he did it because it was his job, not because he enjoyed the harassment and threats. He also did it because he wanted to get his mission over and done with so he could go Home.

You can always tell the ones God sent from those he didn’t send by how they view their time on Earth. The real prophets (that is, those who speak God’s Truth) are doing everything they can to get Home as fast as they can. The false prophets, on the other hand, are doing everything they can to prolong their time here. They have lots of reasons for wanting to stay in their human bodies, but I have a sneaking suspicion the main one is they don’t want to face God. If you know and love God and he’s shown you Heaven, there’s no way you want to spend even one second longer on Earth than you have to. The instant God gives you the signal, you’re off like a shot! Earth is the place of labouring and suffering. Why, given the choice, would you want to labour and suffer in an imperfect body if you could live leisurely and pain-free in a perfect one?

Pay close attention to how preachers and teachers talk about their future. Listen for whether they want to prolong their days here or are eagerly waiting to go Home. Wanting to stay here as long as possible is a big red flag of a false prophet.

Remember how Jesus willingly chose to go to Jerusalem at the end, knowing he would be crucified? Or how Paul willingly chose to go to Rome, knowing he would be arrested and killed? No matter how hard their friends and followers pleaded with them to stay, they were steadfast in their decision. They knew that death was just a “baptism” to get past in order to get Home. Stephen also famously looked past his tormenters to see God and Jesus waiting for him. That sight was enough for him to forgive his killers. None of these men, being close enough to Heaven to taste their reward, pleaded with God for any more time on Earth.

Jesus had some tough audiences, but he didn’t shy away from them. He also didn’t let them bully him or get the last word in. He schooled them in the only way that mattered: setting the record straight on scriptural interpretation. Our time here is short. We’re now in the same situation as Jesus, Paul, and Stephen were 2000 years ago – labouring to finish the work God’s given us and strengthening ourselves for the final tests, temptations, and battles. Whether you face your last days like the false prophets, doing everything you can to prolong your stay, or like real prophets, eagerly looking forward to going Home, is a decision only you can make.

HAVE YOU BEEN DUPED BY A FALSE PROPHET?

It’s easy to fool the gullible, and unfortunately most people who consider themselves Christians are highly gullible. Why is that? Because of those who consider themselves Christians, most are not actually Christian, and of those who are, many don’t know scripture and/or don’t know God.

We, as born-again believers, should be none of the above, and if we are, we need to attend to it immediately.

I do not name names here. God knows who the false prophets are; no need to name and shame them. Suffice to say if they charge you money for books or videos that (allegedly) teach you about God’s Kingdom, they’re false prophets. If they solicit donations for any type of project, they’re false prophets. If they solicit donations for their ministry, they’re false prophets. If they charge you even an honorarium to preach at your church or organization, they’re false prophets.

Many will come with grandiose stories of how they became followers of Jesus. They also come with equally grandiose stories of their sordid past, which they unhesitatingly share in gory detail. Rather than simply to say “I was a sinner”, they provide enough background information to write a novel. It’s as if they’re proud of how ‘bad’ they were. Those who genuinely reborn don’t want to talk about how they used to be. They’re ashamed of it. That part of them is dead and gone and buried. It suffices for the genuinely born-again to say “I did horrible things”, and to let the rest be.

I came across a video yesterday featuring a false prophet. As soon as he opened his mouth, I knew he wasn’t speaking on God’s authority. He claimed to be a former Satanist, and yet I had the distinct impression that he still served the dark powers. Everything he said was like a punchline rather than a revelation. He provided immense detail on his years as a Satanist. This should not be. We do not need to know any details about Satanism, and yet this man’s testimony could easily pique the interest of those who are weak in faith. His testimony was like a peephole into Satanism, whereas if he were genuinely reborn, it should be like a brick wall or a bulwark barring even the mention of the term.

It is easy to fall under the spell of someone who claims to have been saved from the clutches of the evil one. We want to rejoice with a newfound brother or sister and to welcome them into the family. We want to share our love of God and Jesus with those who likewise want to share their love with us. And yet our desire to see God’s saving grace working through people in real time makes us vulnerable to deception.

Which is why Jesus warned us that “many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many” and Paul advised us to test the spirits. We should never simply take someone at his or her word, no matter how successful or established the ministry or how sincere the false prophet claims to be. Jesus says that the Way is narrow and few find it, and that we’d know them by their fruit. What is the fruit of the false prophet? Nearly always mammon. Everything they do is done with the intention of gathering more adherents, as more adherents translates into more money.

Too many Christians today are bedazzled by seeming angels of light, but this is not a new phenomenon; Paul was dealing with it already 2000 years ago. Test the spirits. Take no-one at their word; compare their testimony against scripture. If something seems “off” about someone, it’s probably because it is. We live in an age of great deception, and followers of Jesus are the primary targets.

But what is the end goal of false prophets, beyond acquiring wealth and fame? Satan uses them to lure believers into accepting false teachings. He also uses them to lure believers away from reading the Bible for themselves and to focus on the false prophet rather than on God and Jesus. The mission of the deceived then becomes to serve the false prophet and the false prophet’s church or organization rather than to serve God as a follower of Jesus. Ultimately, the purpose of a false prophet is to lure souls away from God, especially born-again ones.

Are you under the spell of a false prophet? I was, years ago, as a very young born-again believer. I bought the books and the videos, I made the “love donations”, I faithfully watched all the programs on TV and attended the daily services until little by little, what I saw didn’t add up (or rather, what I saw added up to something that didn’t align with scripture or my own personal experience as a convert). That’s the thing about false prophets – they’ll always give themselves away, sooner or later. They’re a test as much as a temptation, and it’s up to us to discern them as such.

Don’t be ashamed if you’ve fallen for the wiles of a false prophet. They’re very good at what they do.  Our essential human impulse is to give people the benefit of the doubt, which is why psychopaths have such an easy run. Keep in mind, too, that many false prophets sincerely believe in what they’re doing, not as believers, but as people who are (as they see it) giving hope and spreading joy, using Jesus and God as their shtick.

In the end, God can use anything to our benefit, including false prophets. My firsthand experience in falling for false prophets actually drove me to read the Old Testament for myself (rather than to rely on others to spoon-feed it to me) after I’d realized I’d been deceived. Likewise, I got to know God as my Dad only after I ran screaming from institutionalized false prophecy. It’s as if the devil was betting that he’d get me back and God was telling him to dream on, knowing that my desire for Truth would eventually override my gullibility to snake-oil salesmen. And God was right (when is he ever not?). My personal experience with false prophets became for me a cautionary tale and learning experience that God ultimately used to draw me closer to him and to warn others.

If you’re adhering to a ministry that requires you (or guilts you) at any level to fund it, you’re in the clutches of a false prophet. No genuine minister of God requires anyone to pay money to hear his Word and learn from Jesus. God doesn’t even require “free will donations”, as so many false prophets like to phrase it. If God wants you to sow financial seeds into a ministry, he’ll prompt you to do so in his time and in his way; everything else comes from the devil. It’s not a coincidence that of all the followers who could have been in charge of the money bag, it was Judas Iscariot, who also, according to scripture, stole from it.

As Jesus tells us, you cannot serve God and mammon. Every false prophet serves mammon, and they don’t hide it. Just look on their website and see what you can buy or donate. They want you to buy and/or donate – that’s the whole purpose of their ministry.

“B-b-but they do good work! Look at the orphanage they’re running in [fill in the blank]! Look at how they’re inspiring people to be better [fill in the blank]!” That’s precisely why they fit the definition of angels of light. Jesus talks about those at the judgment who are shocked not to be numbered among the saved, as they’d held and attended services and even performed miracles. Yet despite this, Jesus says he never knew them. God does not know false prophets, which means he hasn’t sent them to preach and teach. “By their fruits shall ye know them.” For false prophets, whether institutionalized or independent, it’s all about the money, and you can discern that just by checking out their website or attending a service. Somewhere, at some point, money will be requested. That is the false prophet’s calling card.

It’s not something to be ashamed of, to have been tricked into supporting a false prophet for a time. We’ve all fallen for the smooth words and soulful confessions of at least one of them. But if you know or suspect that a ministry you’re supporting is a false prophet and you continue to support it, then you’ll be answerable for it.

Better to stand alone and true to God than to sit in the congregation of the deceived.

TEN SIGNS OF A FALSE PROPHET

I wrote a while back about YouTube preachers, calling what they do “spiritual porn”, and so it is. They want to titillate in order to gain clicks and subscribers rather than to genuinely inform God’s people. As a follow-up, I’ve made a short list of the main signs to watch for when you’re discerning whether or not a preacher or teacher who claims to be sent by God (that is, inspired by God’s Holy Spirit) is in fact a false prophet. These are by no means the only signs, but they are the key ones.

Here they are, in no particular order of importance (because they are ALL important):

1. A false prophet conflates God and Jesus. This is huge. The claim that Jesus is God rather than the son of God is one of the main signs that you’re dealing with a false prophet. Jesus never referred to himself as God, saying only that God was in him through God’s Holy Spirit. If you’re genuinely born-again and you know God as your Heavenly Father and Jesus as your Messiah, then you know they are two very separate beings. I’ve written before about why this push to conflate God and Jesus is growing stronger. It has to do with the false prophet who will sit on a throne in the third temple in Jerusalem, claiming to be Jesus and demanding to be worshiped as God. This is scriptural prophecy. Jesus sits at the right hand of God, having lordship over creation, but he is not God.

2. A false prophet asks for financial donations. Like Judas, false prophets love money and are driven by it. All professional preachers (that is, preachers who get paid a salary to preach) are false prophets. For unsalaried independent false prophets, I guarantee you that somewhere on their website or YouTube account is a “Donations” button. I have yet to see a false prophet who hasn’t asked for money in exchange for preaching. And yes, I realize I include every professional minister, pastor, priest and dime-store preacher in this sweeping condemnation, but I stand by it.

If you genuinely love God, genuinely follow Jesus, and are genuinely born-again, you will NEVER ask for money to preach and teach the Word. Nor will you ask for money or suggest a donation for praying for people or ministering to their spiritual needs. “Render unto Caesar those things that are Caesar’s, and unto God those things that are God’s.” Jesus accepted donations, but he never solicited them. If someone wants to give you money with no strings attached, take it. It’s a gift from God meant for your use, and you will bless the giver by taking it. But soliciting money or charging for your services as an alleged minister of God is a big red flag that you’re not what you say you are.

3. A false prophet preaches that Jesus is coming back soon to set up a worldly kingdom. I’ve written on several occasions about this. God’s Kingdom was set up by Jesus 2000 years ago and is a spiritual kingdom, not a worldly one. When Jesus comes back in glory (oh, what a sight to behold that will be!), he will not be hanging around to set up a worldly kingdom. Scripture says he’ll be sending his angels to the four corners of the earth to gather together the last of the faithful. There is no word about Jesus touching down on Earth, let along settling in for an extended stay.

Remember that Jesus has a glorified body now. He lives entirely in the heavenly realms. He told us he will appear in glory, which means he will appear in his second coming as he appears in Heaven. He will be in his heavenly glorified body. These bodies are not the same as flesh and blood bodies. They are not made for Earth. Are we to expect that Jesus gives up his glorified body for an earthly one? Scripture says nothing about Jesus doing that.

4. A false prophet over-quotes and misapplies scripture. Just before beginning his ministry work, Jesus was tempted in the wilderness by the devil. One of the main tricks the devil and false prophets like to do is throw reams of scripture at you, usually citing chapter and verse to dazzle you with their knowledge. The truth is, however, that most of their quotes are misapplied and sometimes even shortened or cobbled together with other shortened quotes to change the context, giving them the opposite meaning to what God intended. Jesus easily dealt with the devil’s misapplied quotes because Jesus knew scripture. Most Christians these days don’t know scripture, which makes them easy to deceive. The better you know scripture, the less likely you’ll be able to be deceived by those who misapply it.

5. A false prophet has the whiff of BS. Like a slick snake-oil salesman, there’s something vaguely off about false prophets. You can’t quite put your finger on it, but they’re trying too hard to sell you something they can see you’re hesitant to buy. Something just doesn’t add up, regardless of how many Bible quotes they throw at you to convince you of their sincerity or legitimacy. As a woman, when I hear a false prophet, I’m reminded of some men I used to date before I was born again. After they’d dropped me off at my door at the end of the evening, they would use every line in the book to get me to invite them in. False prophets have the same slimy aggression, saying whatever it is they think you want to hear in order to get what they want. A prophet from God gives you the sense that Truth is being spoken, not lies. It may be uncomfortable at times to hear the Truth (because it convicts you and forces you to re-examine and re-evaluate your choices), but you still have the sense that it is Truth. This sense of Truth does not come from false prophets.

6. A false prophet will guarantee you’re going to Heaven just for “having faith” or “believing”. There is no greater reward than Heaven. Imagine saying to an athlete competing in trials to qualify for the Olympics that he’d won a gold medal simply for showing up at the trials. You’d be laughed to scorn if you claimed this, and yet false prophets have no problem handing out spiritual gold medals to anyone who shows up to listen to them. For a false prophet, the reward of Heaven is so cheap and easily achieved, all you have to do is “believe” and “have faith” and you’re in.

When Paul argued the primacy of faith and belief, he was using it in two ways: 1) in contradistinction to the Law (meaning that, since Jesus’ sacrifice, simply fulfilling the 600+ dictates of the Law was not enough; you had to be washed by the blood of the Lamb Jesus, that is, be born again and receive Jesus as your Messiah), and 2) in showing that gentiles, not just the children of Abraham, could enter the Kingdom. Gentiles entered God’s Kingdom by faith (that is, rebirth through God’s Holy Spirit) rather than genetics (that is, as children of Abraham).

Yes, having faith in God and believing that Jesus is the Messiah are necessary mindsets for admission to Heaven, but they’re not all we need. Jesus tells us that we’ll be held accountable for our every word and every thought, and that he will “give every man according to his work”. False prophets deny this, claiming that belief and faith are all we need to get into Heaven. Genuine belief and genuine faith do not come solely from doing God’s will. In other words, you don’t gain belief and faith simply by doing God’s will. That is the realm of the Law, and we are no longer in that realm as born-again believers. We are in the kingdom, with admission by spiritual rebirth only. If faith and belief came solely from doing God’s will, demons would be in the kingdom and on their way to Heaven, because they do God’s will. They have no choice. But clearly, demons are not going to Heaven.

The truth is that you do God’s will because you believe and have faith, not the other way around. Your belief and your faith come from God, not from your works. Even so, if you genuinely believe and have faith, you will be obedient to God and do his will because you love him and cannot conceive of doing anything except what pleases him, like Jesus did. So if you say you have faith and believe but at the same time do things that are contrary to God’s will, you’re lying about your faith and belief: You’re lying to yourself and you’re lying to others. Your acts (that is, your words, thoughts and deeds) show your faith and belief, and you can’t fool God. He knows exactly who genuinely believes and who doesn’t.

But you can fool people, and that’s what a false prophet does in claiming that all you need to do is believe in Jesus and off you go to Heaven. Don’t be deceived.

7. A false prophet preaches the importance of family. Jesus was not a family man. In fact, he said that those who are worthy of the Kingdom neither marry nor are given in marriage, that they become “eunuchs” for the Kingdom of Heaven’s sake. Eunuchs don’t have a wife/husband and kids. They give up having those relations. Jesus also said that his family were not blood relatives but those who did God’s will. These statements were as clear as Jesus could make them, and yet false prophets surround themselves with family members working in their ministry, especially their spouse, and pride themselves in their children and grandchildren.

Consider also that none of Jesus’ disciples and pre-resurrection followers were his family members. He had been rejected by his family as resoundingly as he had been rejected by Nazareth. He said that a prophet was not honored in his own family or country. Even John the Baptist was not a follower of Jesus, and Jesus did not choose him as a disciple. And he said that those who do not hate mother, father, sister, brother and children and spouse are not worthy of the Kingdom. I’m not sure how he could have made this any clearer.

8. A false prophet is surrounded by worldly wealth. This goes hand-in-hand with asking for donations, but a false prophet is easily spied by how much wealth he or she is surrounded by and how much store he or she puts on that wealth (including preps – I’m talking to someone here). Followers of Jesus are to live as Jesus lived, which is being constantly on the move, beholden to no-one, owning no property, and having no worldly ties. Followers of Jesus should live “with loins girded” and always ready to leave at a moment’s notice with nothing but the clothes on their back. God will provide for all needs. Prepping, unless directly instructed to you by God, shows a lack of faith in God’s ability to provide for you. Surrounding yourself with worldly wealth does not reflect the gospel message to live like Jesus and his disciples.

9. A false prophet has a YouTube channel. I wrote here before about people who host YouTube channels being false prophets, every last one. I stand by that assertion. I don’t include videos that have been posted by a third party without the knowledge or permission of a preacher or teacher; I mean videos posted by people or organizations claiming to be inspired by God, whereas their real inspiration is clicks, subscribers, getting attention, and making money from their videos and ministries. These types of false prophets either make videos that are mostly just Bible quotes strung together out of context, or videos of themselves “hearing from God” or prophesying apocalyptic future events. None of these Bible-quoting or doom-and-gloom videos offer practical guidance for everyday life as a born-again believer, but instead catch your attention with apocalyptic and end-time warnings. In other words, their message is fear-based rather than instructional, which is a big red flag that you’re dealing with a false prophet.

False prophets like those on YouTube are not a new phenomenon. Both the old and new testaments make reference to them, with God stating that many claim to be from him though he didn’t send them, and Paul reminding us to test the spirits. Unfortunately, too many Christians believe that anyone claiming to be from God and quoting scripture is actually from God, despite Jesus’ direct warnings about false prophets, and despite evidence in the Bible that even Satan himself quotes scripture. We need to discern real from false, right from wrong, genuine from fake. We need to test the spirits and compare with scripture what people tell us, not just swallow whole whatever message is served up on the latest YouTube platter.

10. A false prophet is not born-again. Jesus says you must be born-again to enter the Kingdom. If false prophets were born-again, they wouldn’t be conflating God and Jesus, asking for donations, claiming that Jesus is coming back soon to set up a worldly kingdom, misapplying scripture, giving off a scent of BS, insisting you’re going to Heaven just for “believing”, preaching the importance of family, surrounding themselves with worldly wealth, and/or hosting a YouTube channel. If you ask a false prophet if they’re born again, most will say something like: “Yes, I’ve accepted Jesus as my personal savior”, but none will have a compelling rebirth story.

Spiritual rebirth is an even bigger event than physical birth. All mothers remember in intimate and gory detail the circumstances surrounding the birth of their children, just as all those who are genuinely born again remember in intimate and glorious detail the circumstances surrounding their rebirth.

Being reborn is the most defining moment in your life, and every detail is permanently etched in your mind as if it just took place today. It is by far the most extraordinary thing that ever happened to you and is inexplicable in human terms because it is a miracle – that is, the immortal realm acting directly on the mortal realm, the spiritual on the earthly. False prophets have no such story and can provide no evidence that their lives changed drastically in an instant. Instead, most of them have a history either of attending Bible college or seminary, or a background they’d rather not talk about.

Sadly, not all false prophets know they’re false prophets. Some are demon-driven and think their “spiritual gifts” are from God, while others are just looking for attention and find that spiritually hungry people are easiest to attract and fool.

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This is by no means an exhaustive list of how to discern a false prophet, but it covers the main points. Paul warned us that wolves would be coming for the sheep, and the wolves are everywhere these days, masquerading as believers. Don’t be fooled by them. It’s important to know whether or not the people you’re taking spiritual guidance from are false prophets, because they will lead you down the proverbial garden path, whether purposely or not. Their habit is to mix scriptural Truth with lies, leading you to err on the side of believing them solely for the small measure of Truth they do speak. This is how they get their hooks in you and this is also how they will lead you astray.

Not every body of water can be drunk from, just as not everyone claiming to be born-again or from God is actually born-again or from God. Discernment is key. The ten signs of a false prophet mentioned here should be applied to anyone you’re taking spiritual guidance from, even on a casual basis.

The wolves will soon outnumber the sheep. Best to cling tighter and tighter to the Good Shepherd. Best to rely on the source itself (the Bible) than on interpreters of it. Best to spend time with God and Jesus in prayer and reading the Bible than on ear-tickling worldly entertainment provided by false prophets on YouTube or TV or elsewhere.

But the choice is yours. I have stated here what is in your best interest if Heaven is your goal. What you choose to do with this information is up to you. I hope you choose what will lead you to eternal life, because that is the good and right choice. Everything else leads to eternal death.

FALSE PROPHETS: A TIMELY REMINDER

You’ll know who the false prophets are because they’ll try to entice you to do things that Jesus warned you not to do.

Like, for instance, protest.

Jesus never protested. He never raised his voice in the streets.

He never pushed back against Roman (worldly) law enforcement.

And he never hired a lawyer. In fact, he told us not to organize our legal defence in advance, but to let the Holy Spirit give us the words when our time in court comes.

You can always tell false prophets by how they do things opposite to what Jesus told us to do. And then they try to get us to do the same wrong things by claiming it’s somehow right or virtuous.

The pastors getting fined and incarcerated for protesting and then hiring lawyers for their legal counsel need to brush up on scripture.

Paul warned us that the false prophets would come dressed in sheep’s clothing.

Just a reminder.

THE SECOND COMING: A reminder

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There is a rising fervor among self-proclaimed Christians for the second coming of Jesus.

Many either see themselves as escaping with Jesus through the (false man-made doctrine of) pre-tribulation rapture, or eagerly awaiting his 1000-year reign on Earth when he’ll set up his kingdom and set things right.

But here’s the thing – Muslims also expect a second coming of Jesus. In their version of end-time events, Jesus is supposed to co-reign with a great leader who will likewise set up a kingdom and set things right, but in an Islamist kind of way. To Muslims, Jesus is a prophet, not the Messiah, and he will return as a prophet, not as the Messiah.

And here’s another thing – the recently deceased Israeli Chief Kabbalist, Kaduri, proclaimed in a hand-written post-mortem missive that Jesus was the Messiah, that he had met him in dreams, and that he was already in Israel (but didn’t yet know that he was the Messiah).

Hmmm…. (more…)