Sunday, August 13, 2017

We Do Not Need a New Prophetic Word

I am amazed at the explosion of “prophetic words” that are springing up in every direction. Warnings of every kind are coming from the direction of all four winds and the thousands of variations between them.

The phrases, “God told me,” or “God showed me,” or “God gave me a vision,” are used to lift a person up to a supreme level of authority. After all, what authority is higher than a word spoken directly by God? The problem becomes evident immediately following that phrase of self-exaltation by the speaker. I’ve seen it over and over and over. Though not a specific example, someone sharing these new prophetic words might say:

“God came to me in a dream and told me that on November 14th, 2017, He is going to destroy America with an asteroid which will hit right in the middle of Nebraska and touch off a series of earthquakes which will completely wipe the United States of America off of the face of the earth.”

November 14th, 2017 comes without incident and rolls over into November 15th and 16th and 17th, etc. So, evidently, it wasn’t God who told them that an asteroid was going to hit right in the middle of Nebraska. That ought to be a humbling experience and cause a person to reconsider the source of their dreams and interpretations, right? Instead, they get a new “prophetic word” a few days later. This “prophetic word” explains away their error concerning the other “prophetic word,” and these people come up with a new date and a new “prophesy.”


These are false prophets and false teachers who are being used by Satan to deceive those who are weak. Through their lies, he frustrates their faith and makes them begin to doubt. Those who are truly weak in their faith, without the power of the Holy Spirit to teach them discernment, might fall away completely, but consider this:

But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! For of this sort are those who creep into households and make captives of gullible women loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. Now as Jannes and Jambres resisted Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, disapproved concerning the faith; but they will progress no further, for their folly will be manifest to all, as theirs also was. – 2 Timothy 3:1-9

This warning of Paul has applied for the past 2000 years, it is actually, the nature of man, so, in some form, these things have always existed. In my lifetime, these issues have multiplied exponentially. I have allowed myself, on occasion, to be swept away by some of these things as well. There is great appeal to some of these teachings, because they make our flesh tingle and give us something to grasp and hold onto; something we can sink our fingers into. They seem reasonable and logical. In some cases, passages of scripture can be found and manipulated in such a way as to make them appear right. Just sit on that idea for a moment.

Jannes and Jambres

Though not specifically called out in Old Testament scriptures, Jewish tradition named two of the sorcerers in Pharaoh’s palace as Jannes and Jambres. In the passage above, Paul is referring to the following passage from Exodus 7:10-12:

So Moses and Aaron went in to Pharaoh, and they did so, just as the Lord commanded. And Aaron cast down his rod before Pharaoh and before his servants, and it became a serpent.But Pharaoh also called the wise men and the sorcerers; so the magicians of Egypt, they also did in like manner with their enchantments. For every man threw down his rod, and they became serpents. But Aaron’s rod swallowed up their rods.

Paul’s point is clear. Though something can sound and look like the exact same thing as godliness, it is not and will be swallowed up by true godliness. Eventually, those things which appear to be godly will reveal themselves to be foolish. Yet even when they prove to be foolish, some people continue to follow them, because they have a form of godliness, but deny its power.

What is a form of godliness?

I want to zero in on a phrase in Paul’s teaching to Timothy above:

“having a form of godliness, but denying its power.”

What is a form of godliness? This is a question that I have sought after for years, because I believed that within it is a profound principle for changing our lives. I think I have finally narrowed it down. To get at the root of it, I’m going to wander away for a moment to examine what is meant by the word form. More specifically, I want to take a look at Plato’s Theory of Forms. Without going into too great of detail, here is how Wikipedia defines this philosophical theory:

Forms theory is Plato's argument that non-physical (but substantial) forms (or ideas) represent the most accurate reality. When used in this sense, the word form or idea is often capitalized. Plato speaks of these entities only through the characters (primarily Socrates) of his dialogues who sometimes suggest that these Forms are the only objects of study that can provide knowledge; thus even apart from the very controversial status of the theory, Plato's own views are much in doubt. However, the theory is considered a classical solution to the problem of universals.

This philosophy, in essence, says that there is a perfect conception of the things that we see and don’t see, which helps to define what a thing is. A dog is derived from a perfect conception of dogness, so to speak. Honesty is derived from a perfect conception of honesty which we cannot see, but can define because of the concept or idea of honesty. It is pretty logical and reasonable on the surface. It is the only way we can truly define things and come to some understanding of them from our limited, human perspective.

Because of Timothy’s Greek roots, I believe Paul was talking about this theory when he used the phrase, “form of godliness.” So, using Form Theory, there is a perfect conception of godliness which defines godliness. Likely, that conception is formed by the religious traditions of your family and/or church. From that conception, we come to define and gain knowledge of godliness, but that is not necessarily true godliness. Why? Because though our knowledge of godliness might define it for us, it is lacking the power of godliness. What is it lacking?

What do forms of godliness lack?

Knowledge of God, knowledge of Jesus and even professing that Jesus is Lord do not measure up to godliness. That’s a little bit scary when you first look at it, though it should not surprise you because Jesus said, “not everyone one who calls me Lord will enter into the Kingdom.” (Matt. 7:21) So, what power is being denied? Ezekiel 37:1-10 gives us a wonderful picture:

The hand of the Lord came upon me and brought me out in the Spirit of the Lord, and set me down in the midst of the valley; and it was full of bones. Then He caused me to pass by them all around, and behold, there were very many in the open valley; and indeed they were very dry. 

And He said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?”

So I answered, “O Lord God, You know.” 

Again He said to me, “Prophesy to these bones, and say to them, ‘O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! 

Thus says the Lord God to these bones: “Surely I will cause breath to enter into you, and you shall live. I will put sinews on you and bring flesh upon you, cover you with skin and put breath in you; and you shall live. Then you shall know that I am the Lord.”’” 

So I prophesied as I was commanded; and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and suddenly a rattling; and the bones came together, bone to bone. Indeed, as I looked, the sinews and the flesh came upon them, and the skin covered them over; but there was no breath in them. 

Also He said to me, “Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live.”’” 

So I prophesied as He commanded me, and breath came into them, and they lived, and stood upon their feet, an exceedingly great army.

The bones rose up and took on the form of men, but they were not made alive until the breath of God entered into them. Genesis 2:7 says, “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.” The breath of God coming into mankind is what brought him to life in the beginning and is what brings us to life in our new birth. In our new birth, this breath of God is His Holy Spirit.

What does the Holy Spirit do?

To answer his question, let’s look at what Jesus said about the Holy Spirit:

·         Reinforces Jesus’ teachings. “But the Helperthe Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.” – John 14:26
·         Bears Witness of Jesus.  “But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me.” – John 15:26
·         Guides you in truth. “However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.” – John 16:13

The Holy Spirit will testify to the truth and He will guide you in the truth. That truth has already been written down. God’s plan for the salvation of His people has already been laid out and revealed. We come to understand it and apply the power of our rebirth to our lives when, by the Holy Spirit, we are given eyes to see and ears to hear.

 “You can’t handle the truth!”

In reality, this statement is truer than the scriptwriter for the movie really understood. You can’t handle the truth. You can’t know the truth through looking at its forms. The power of the truth cannot be grasped hold of and you cannot sink your fingers into it.

 Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.” – Matthew 16:17

This was Jesus’ response to Peter’s confession of faith. This statement should drive all of us into a state of humility concerning our own confession of faith. Our flesh and blood does not reveal to us the truth of Jesus’ Lordship.

Our forms of godliness do not bring us to the truth. The Holy Spirit comes to us and testifies to us concerning who Jesus is before we ever come to any understanding of Him or confession of faith. We don't save ourselves through some great choice we make. We are saved because understanding is given to us from above. Following that initial confession, little by little, we are guided into a deeper truth by the Word of God and His Spirit opening our eyes and ears to recognizing it.

Why We Do Not Need New Prophesies

We’ve come full circle. You ought to have a solid grip on the phrase, “having a form of godliness, but denying the power.” How does that apply to the subject of this post? It’s simple really. If the Holy Spirit guides those who are His own in all truth, He is going to begin our guiding using His already revealed Word (I capitalize it because the first chapter of John declares that Jesus is the Word).

Knowing and understanding the Word is an act of humility and submission rather than an act of increasing our knowledge and wisdom. Those who exalt themselves with the words “God told me…” or “God showed me in a dream…” need to check themselves and their egos.

How should we interpret the signs we see today?

We are seeing portions of prophesy fulfilled today. I won't deny that. Because these signs have increased in both frequency and intensity (like a woman in labor), we are probably seeing the beginning of the end unfold in front of us, but the day and hour has been revealed to no one and we are to immediately discount the testimony of anyone who says they do know the day and hour. It begins with humility and self-control. Here is an example:

I have had visions; some very clear ones. Some of my visions seemed to have set certain dates for certain events, but when I checked them against scripture, they did not work out unless I added my own knowledge of scripture to them and manipulated them to fit. Instead of declaring those dates to be some great future event, I looked to their purpose in how they apply to my weakness and limited understanding instead of throwing their weight onto everyone else.

In most dreams and visions which we have we are not being given some new, special revelation about how God is going to carry out his plan of redemption or to formulate some date. God's plan of redemption and destruction is already laid out. His prophets revealed His plan through thousands of years of preaching and writing.

I have no special knowledge beyond what was given to the writers of scripture, in fact, the last chapter of Revelation even warns us of the consequences of assuming that we can add to or take away from what is written in God's Word. Rather than being inspired toward pride, it is better to err on the side of caution and humble yourself. If you need an illustration of this look at the calls of Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel and how they responded to God's call to prophesy.

From the visions I have seen, I have searched God’s prophesies and warnings throughout scripture and come to a single conclusion every time. It is no special knowledge but a path to follow through the already revealed Word. I’ve spelled it out in a number of different ways in my writings over the last few years. Here it is in simple form:

We must humble ourselves before the Holy Lamb of God.

We need to stop assuming that we will leisurely skate (a prideful attitude) into heaven by our own knowledge and good works, and recognize that salvation comes from the Lord. (Ephesians 2)

Our salvation did not come from flesh and blood; it was not our decision which saved us. We were as dead as those dry bones in Ezekiel 37 until life was breathed into us and then we began to believe. We were brought to confess Jesus as Lord in the exact same way as Peter was. (Matt. 16:3-18)

Holding onto some form of godliness (family and church traditions, theological outlines, books we've read, carefully crafted timelines, etc.), which we have chosen as our hope, guide and assurance, will lead us to foolishness. (Galatians 3)

Our Holy Lamb has laid out the path for us; He guides us in His truth and teaches us how to discern the truth of His scriptures from the lies which are all around us. (Revelation 7:16-17)

Though we stumble, in my case stumble so far that I dug a deep pit for myself when I fell, Jesus, by the power of His Holy Spirit, will lift us up again and finish the work which he began in us. (Philippians 1:6)

We should not look to our flesh, which can only understand things by their forms, but put our flesh to death and embrace our new birth through the power of Jesus' redemption. (Romans 7)

Salvation comes from the Lord and we ought to be looking in His direction rather than focusing on our own weak understanding. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

We must focus ourselves on this:

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. – Deuteronomy 6:5 

This should be our response to the sound of Jesus’ voice as He calls to us through His Word and by His Spirit, even when He shows us a clear vision.

It was not Gideon's doubt which made him lay out the fleeces, nor did God see it as an insult or testing of God, it was sound obedience on Gideon's part to discern the Spirit. (Judges 6)

Humbling ourselves and testing the spirits against the Word of God is our defense against false teachers and false prophets and the great assurance of our salvation. Paul gives us an emphatic command concerning those who have a form of godliness, but deny the power:

And from such people turn away!

That statement includes depending upon our own, flesh. We should not trust our own knowledge and flesh, ought to thoroughly examine our own motivations, and flee from those which do not line up with God's Word.

We are to turn away, run away and stay away from these people and their teachings. Running away does you no good unless you have somewhere to run to. Run to the Holy Lamb of God and abide in Him (John 15), for without Him, we have only a form of godliness, but deny its power.

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