April 11, 2004

I wanted to say a few things about what constitutes a false prophet. There seems to be some misinformation and possibly some "false teaching" going around concerning what is and what is not, a false prophet today. I say this, partly because I hear folks from time to time, say "if it doesn't come to pass then surely this person is a false prophet." Interesting statement, but is it necessarily true? I want to share a few sections of scripture here and maybe together we will arrive at what is true concerning these things.

Below are some indentifications of some things that might help us arrive at what is false:

Characteristics of False Prophets-

I Thess.5:21
Mat. 7:15
MT 7:15 "Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. [16] By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? [17] Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. [18] A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. [19] Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. [20] Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.

1. Those who speak in the name of "other Gods"
2. Those who speak falsely in Jehovah's name
3. The word is false
4. The word does not line-up with the word of God
5. Does not recieve Godly instruction
6. Totally unteachable
7. Draws attention totally to himself and not to God

*It seems clear here that one of the main considerations when judging whether someone is true or false, is their character. When Jesus talked about good and bad fruit above, He didn't declare or mention, about whether or not a prophecy or a word from this preson came to pass or not.

We also have an example from 2Peter:

2PE 2:1 But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them--bringing swift destruction on themselves. [2] Many will follow their shameful ways and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. [3] In their greed these teachers will exploit you with stories they have made up. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping.

*However, we can label a person as false simply because something didn't come to pass as expected. Many of the prophecies from various prophets in the bible didn't come to pass as some expected. We need tos see these things from God's point of view and not our own.

True words and False Words

Below are some examples of individuals who gave true and false words. Examine these and see that some of these "prophets" were evidently "true," but the word that they gave was not true. Again does that make them a true or a false prophet?

1. True prophet that brings a true word--II Chron. 12:5
2. True prophet that brings a false word--I Kings 13
3. False prophet that brings a true word--Josh 13:22
4. False prophet that brings a false word--Numb. 23:5-10, 22:7, 24:1

Finally, let it be known and let it be clear, that I am not saying that it is not important for a prophet to not consider the importance of their words from God. I believe that we must be careful and accountable to others when we declare that something is going to happen at such and such a time, and that this is going to happen. "If" it doesn't come to pass, then we are held accountable about the message. That is a heavy responsibility and one that carries with it a heavy burden as well. However, when someone makes a mistake that doesn't mean that that individual is "false." The message, or part of it, at least, didn't come to pass in the manner in which it was spoken. The person hearing the message from God either mixed part of their own understanding, or they just didn't hear it correctly. That doesn't brandish them as "false," but their message as "not true." We need to separate the person from the message.

I hope that this message or teaching, proves to be of benefit and that we can come to maturity in our understanding concerning what is false and what is not.

Stephen Hanson