by Mike Ratliff
1 And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. 2 And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light. 3 And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. 4 And Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.” 5 He was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” 6 When the disciples heard this, they fell on their faces and were terrified. 7 But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Rise, and have no fear.” 8 And when they lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only. (Matthew 17:1-8 ESV)
From what I have observed, and please correct me if I am wrong, it seems that telling a false prophet or false teacher from those who are true is not as difficult as we may think. Those who are true understand and teach the centrality of our Lord Jesus Christ in all things. It really is all about Him and His glory. On the other hand, those who are false will focus nearly all of what they preach and teach from the perspective of Man. Instead of teaching our role in the Kingdom as subjects of God, they expound things for the benefit of what is fair or what seems right to men, making excuses for fleshly indulgences and not calling it sin. They refuse to accept that the Bible teaches that sin is what separates Men from God and those who die in their sin will spend eternity in Hell. Of course these teachings echo the lie that our enemy told Eve in the Garden, “Has God really said?” Genuine Christianity is based on Christ and we learn the truth about Him and us from the prophetic Word of God. There is a huge difference between the made-up religious writings by men and those we find in the Word of God.
16 For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” 18 we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain. 19 And we have something more sure, the prophetic word, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, 20 knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. 21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. (2 Peter 1:16-21 ESV)
God is good. Our Lord Jesus Christ left eyewitnesses to what He said and did while on Earth. Peter tells us here that when he shares the truth with those who read what he writes and hears what he preaches, they had better pay attention and heed it. What he has written in this book as well as his first epistle (1 Peter) is God breathed. It is the Word of God. It is God centered, not man centered. It is light shining in a dark place and will result in our Lord’s light taking root and in the hearts of men at their rebirth. Peter than says that the truth from God’s Word is not the interpretation of Men. It is God spoken as the Holy Spirit guided those who wrote it. However, there have always been men who are of Satan’s seed who try to pass themselves off as prophets of God.
1 But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. 2 And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. 3 And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep. (2 Peter 2:1-3 ESV)
I read an article not long ago about Bishop John Shelby Spong of the Episcopalian Church in America. He is the epitome of a liberal theologian. He is calling for a new Reformation of the Church based upon the following 12 Theses:
1. Theism, as a way of defining God, is dead. So most theological God-talk is today meaningless. A new way to speak of God must be found.
2. Since God can no longer be conceived in theistic terms, it becomes nonsensical to seek to understand Jesus as the incarnation of the theistic deity. So the Christology of the ages is bankrupt.
3. The biblical story of the perfect and finished creation from which human beings fell into sin is pre-Darwinian mythology and post-Darwinian nonsense.
4. The virgin birth, understood as literal biology, makes Christ’s divinity, as traditionally understood, impossible.
5. The miracle stories of the New Testament can no longer be interpreted in a post-Newtonian world as supernatural events performed by an incarnate deity.
6. The view of the cross as the sacrifice for the sins of the world is a barbarian idea based on primitive concepts of God and must be dismissed.
7. Resurrection is an action of God. Jesus was raised into the meaning of God. It therefore cannot be a physical resuscitation occurring inside human history.
8. The story of the Ascension assumed a three-tiered universe and is therefore not capable of being translated into the concepts of a post-Copernican space age.
9. There is no external, objective, revealed standard writ in scripture or on tablets of stone that will govern our ethical behavior for all time.
10. Prayer cannot be a request made to a theistic deity to act in human history in a particular way.
11. The hope for life after death must be separated forever from the behavior control mentality of reward and punishment. The Church must abandon, therefore, its reliance on guilt as a motivator of behavior.
12. All human beings bear God’s image and must be respected for what each person is. Therefore, no external description of one’s being, whether based on race, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation, can properly be used as the basis for either rejection or discrimination.
What is very disturbing to me is that there are people out there who actually believe this is man of God. Of course these theses are simply the words of our enemy put in religious form for people to say, “Yeah! Now I can live any way I want!” Do you see the human orientation of this? It is as if Bishop Spong has deliberately robbed God of His glory and given it to Man. What is awaiting false prophets like this?
4 For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment; 5 if he did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven others, when he brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; 6 if by turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes he condemned them to extinction, making them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; 7 and if he rescued righteous Lot, greatly distressed by the sensual conduct of the wicked 8 (for as that righteous man lived among them day after day, he was tormenting his righteous soul over their lawless deeds that he saw and heard); 9 then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment, 10 and especially those who indulge in the lust of defiling passion and despise authority. Bold and willful, they do not tremble as they blaspheme the glorious ones, 11 whereas angels, though greater in might and power, do not pronounce a blasphemous judgment against them before the Lord. 12 But these, like irrational animals, creatures of instinct, born to be caught and destroyed, blaspheming about matters of which they are ignorant, will also be destroyed in their destruction, 13 suffering wrong as the wage for their wrongdoing. They count it pleasure to revel in the daytime. They are blots and blemishes, reveling in their deceptions, while they feast with you. 14 They have eyes full of adultery, insatiable for sin. They entice unsteady souls. They have hearts trained in greed. Accursed children! 15 Forsaking the right way, they have gone astray. They have followed the way of Balaam, the son of Beor, who loved gain from wrongdoing, 16 but was rebuked for his own transgression; a speechless donkey spoke with human voice and restrained the prophet’s madness. (2 Peter 2:4-16 ESV)
How do we tell a false prophet from a real one? His message will somehow remove God from the center of all things, rob Him of His glory and somehow make Man sovereign in some way. They may fool many people who will join them in their destruction, but God is not fooled and, if we are discerning, neither will we.
Soli Deo Gloria!