Sunday, January 19, 2014

False Prophets and Apostasy

“I have heard what the prophets have said who prophesy lies in My name, saying, ‘I have dreamed, I have dreamed!’ “How long will this be in the heart of the prophets who prophesy lies? Indeed they are prophets of the deceit of their own heart,      Jeremiah 23:25-26  NKJV
Are you familiar with the old saying about “taking the good along with the bad”?  The good in this case is the hope within all of us of our deliverance from this world by way of the rapture of the Church.  Without question, the vast majority of pastors and teachers, as well as those in the body of Christ, believe we are living in the season of the return of Christ and the end of this age.  The bad, unfortunately, is that it seems more and more people are making claims of knowing exactly when this is going to happen because they have received this “knowledge” by way of their dreams. 

Of course, if that in itself was not bad enough, rather than acknowledging their error when their dates come and go they simply have another dream and say God changed His mind.  Rather than admitting that quite often our dreams come from our own desires and not necessarily from God, they continue to share their “revelations” seemingly without concern for the harm they may be doing to the body of Christ.  This is why we as believers are warned repeatedly to watch for apostasy within the Church as a sign of the end of the age, and teaching something that contradicts what God has already said is most definitely apostasy.
Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.    1 John 4:1  NKJV

The following is an excerpt from a study on apostasy in the last days by Andy Woods of Sugar Land Bible Church.
“Of course, the command to “test all things” in this manner is replete throughout the Bible. This exhortation is as old as 1405 B.C. when Moses on the plains of Moab exhorted the Jews who were on the verge of entering Canaan not to believe every prophet. He explained, “If there arises among you a prophet or dreamer of dreams, and he gives you a sign or wonder, and the sign or the wonder comes to pass, of which he spoke to you, saying, ‘Let us go after other gods which you have not known, and let us serve them,’ you shall not listen to the words of that prophet…” (Deut 13:1-3). Here, Moses explains that the test of truth is not an experience or even a miraculous manifestation from a prophet who “arises among you.” Rather, truth is determined by whether the prophet’s message is in conformity with prior divine revelation.”

When it comes to the subject of the rapture of the Church, I personally do not believe God could be any clearer about the question of the possibility of knowing the day or the hour of our departure.  By claiming that God has revealed such knowledge contradicts virtually every passage of scripture that relates to that event and in essence makes God a liar.  While protesting that they are simply fulfilling their role as “watchmen”, these individuals seem to forget that Jesus called on us to “watch” because we don’t know when this event will occur.
“Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is. “It is like a man going to a far country, who left his house and gave authority to his servants, and to each his work, and commanded the doorkeeper to watch. “Watch therefore, for you do not know when the master of the house is coming—in the evening, at midnight, at the crowing of the rooster, or in the morning—“lest, coming suddenly, he find you sleeping. “And what I say to you, I say to all: Watch!”      Mark 13:33-37  NKJV

With these things in mind, the question we must answer is how should we respond to individuals who make these sorts of claims?  If we look to the scriptures for an answer we find God has already given us the steps to take in situations like these.
But we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly and not according to the tradition which he received from us.    2 Thessalonians 3:6  NKJV

Our first response to someone who attempts to teach something we find to be contradictory to revealed scripture is to “withdraw” or pull away from contact with such a person.  In this internet age, it would mean simply that if you believe someone is teaching a position that the Bible does not support, you simply avoid visiting their website anymore.  If a situation arises on a more personal level and this occurs in your church or local assembly, you withdraw from contact with them.  If this seems harsh or spiteful I suggest you look closer at the admonition Jesus gives the church at Thyatira in Revelation 2.
And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them.                                Ephesians 5:11  NKJV

The second thing we must do is to take a stand against apostasy by speaking out in a spirit of love to make known the error that is being taught.  It is our responsibility as believers to safeguard the doctrine which has been revealed to us in the Word of God and to make known in situations like these exactly what the Bible truly says.  This is not done in a confrontational way but rather in a simple explanation of what God has already said.  Personally I have always found it more convincing to let the Bible do the talking.
Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them.    Romans 16:17  NKJV

Lastly we are told by Paul that we need to avoid these people.  If someone has chosen to proclaim doctrine or positions contrary to what the scripture has already revealed, it is a given that conflict will follow.  The easiest way to avoid the “divisions and offenses” that are a result of teaching apostasy is to simply avoid all contact with those who choose that path.  Rather than becoming part of the problem, by avoiding these people we become part of the solution.
John Macarthur, in his book on Romans explains it this way;.

“The right response of believers to false teachers, especially those who teach their heresy under the guise of Christianity, is not debate or dialogue. We are to turn away from them, to reject what they teach and to protect fellow believers, especially new converts and the immature, from being deceived, confused, and misled.”
As watchmen, one of the signs we need to watch for is the apostasy we are warned will occur as we approach the return of Jesus for His bride.  We do this by always comparing the claims we may hear with what God has already chosen to reveal to us in His Word.  If the message is contradictory, withdraw, expose, and avoid.

Keep watching.