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Doug Batchelor - Proving the Prophets


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    Doug Batchelor - Proving the Prophets

The 14th century Aztec Empire was one of the most powerful and sophisticated civilizations in the western hemisphere. Yet this kingdom of 2 million people was conquered within a year by a Spanish force of just 600 lightly armored men. How did it happen? Well, the Aztecs believed in the coming of Quetzalcoatl, a legendary feathered, bearded, light-skinned god-king who was going to come from across the sea to Mexico. When the conquistadors arrived in 1519, Hernán Cortés impersonated this god of the Aztecs to befuddle the superstitious king, Montezuma. By fooling the native people, Cortés completed his conquest that included enslaving and murdering many of them. The vague prophecies of their Aztec god easily paved the way for a counterfeit.

Jesus has foretold in the last days many false Christs and false prophets will use great signs and wonders to deceive, if it were possible, even God's very elect. He also said, "Most people will be deceived." Will you? And that's why you need to join me for today's program as we learn from the Bible how to identify false Christs and false prophets.


We're going to start with a story in the Bible, one of my favorites. Just to give you the background, it's based on 1 Kings 22, most of the chapter. King Ahab, bad king, northern kingdom, he finally made peace with King Jehoshaphat, kind of Judah, southern kingdom. King Ahab invited Jehoshaphat up to the northern kingdom and said, "Why don't we join forces and let's go fight against Syria because they took the city of Ramoth Gilead from us and let's see if we can recover it." And Jehoshaphat was being very generous. He said, "My horses are like your horses and my chariots like your chariots. I'm going to join together. Let's work together to win this battle."

And then Jehoshaphat said, "Well, let's inquire of the Lord." He was a godly king. Ahab was not such a godly king. His wife was involved in Baal worship. And so, Ahab said, "Oh, no problem. I've got a lot of prophets." And he called out the prophets of Baal. And they all came and they had a pep rally and they said, "Go fight against the Syrians. You'll recover Ramoth Gilead. Go fight, fight, fight. Win, win, win, you're going to win. God is with you." And Ahab said, "You know." Or rather, Jehoshaphat said, "These guys all look like prophets of Baal." He said, "Ahab, nothing personal, but are there any prophets of Jehovah here that we could inquire of?" Ahab got a little bit tense and he said, "Oh, yeah, there's one guy. His name is Micaiah, the son of Imlah, but he never says anything good about me." And Jehoshaphat said, "Nah, don't be so hard on him. Let's give him a chance."

So Ahab sent a messenger to go fetch Micaiah and, in the meantime, they continued the pep rally. "You're going to beat the Syrians and you're going to win and God is with you and..." So the messenger that goes to fetch Micaiah, he says to Micaiah, as they're on their way to this assembly, he said, "Look, they're having a great time. It's very positive." He said, "Strong morale, everyone's encouraged. Don't go say anything negative." Micaiah says, "I will have to say what the Lord tells me to say, whether it's popular or not."

So he finally comes before Ahab. The two kings are on their throne and all the prophets are gathered around and they're all prophesying positive things about this battle. And Ahab says, "Okay, Micaiah, should we go up to Ramoth Gilead or not?" And Micaiah said, "Go and prosper." Ahab said, "No, tell me the truth. I know you're being sarcastic." He said, "Okay, I saw Israel scattered on the mountains as sheep having no shepherd, and these prophets are lying to you. The Lord has told me." I'm condensing the whole chapter. Ahab said to Jehoshaphat, he said, "I told you he'd say nothing good about me. Micaiah clearly said, 'Do not go into that battle.'" Ahab said, "We're going to put you in prison until I come again in peace." Micaiah said, "If you ever return in peace, the Lord has not spoken by me."

So they went into battle, and Ahab was a little worried because he knew these prophets of God like Elijah, everything Elijah said, happened. Micaiah was friends with Elijah and he said, "All right, well," he says, "I'm going to get killed in battle so what I'll do is I'm going to have Jehoshaphat dress up in his king's attire and go into the battle. I'm going to dress up like a soldier and stay on the outskirts. I'll be safe. I'll make sure. I'll put on my armor. Nothing's going to happen to me. I'm going to be extra careful so I survive this battle and prove the prophet wrong."

Well, you know, the Bible tells us that "a certain soldier drew a bow at random." We don't even know if it was one of his own soldiers. "And he struck the king of Israel in the joints of his armor." He hit a vital artery and he began to bleed seriously. Instead of getting medical treatment, he was so proud he said, "Prop me up in the chariot," and he stayed up in the chariot until he bled to death and he died that day. The very thing Micaiah said happened.

You cannot overcome or overrule a true prophet of God. And so we're going to be talking about the subject of proving the prophets. When Jesus in Matthew 24 talks about his Second Coming and the disciples say, "What is a sign of your Coming, the end of the world?" what is the first thing Jesus said? "Beware, many false prophets will arise." There will be false prophets and false Christs and so we need to know how do you distinguish the true from the false?

Question number one: To whom does the Lord reveal His final plans? Amos chapter 3, verse 7: "Surely the Lord God does nothing, unless He reveals His secret to His servants the PROPHETS." The Lord tells us that if He's going to do anything significant, He usually calls a prophet. When God was getting ready to destroy the world with a flood, did He have a prophet? What was his name? Noah. And when the Lord was ready to carry the children of Israel out of Egypt, did He raise up a prophet for these monumental occasions? What was his name? Moses. And when they were about to be conquered by the Babylonians, did God raise up prophets to warn them and guide them? Jeremiah, Isaiah, and subsequently Ezekiel, Daniel. These profound times in history God raises up prophets.

Before the Messiah came, did God bring a prophet that would be a voice in the wilderness? What was his name? John the Baptist, to prepare the way for this great event of the Messiah coming. So here we are on the threshold of eternity, the Lord is about to come, do you think that this would be a great time to have the gift of prophecy to find out what the Lord says? Absolutely, it says there: "The Lord God does nothing," meaning nothing significant, "unless He reveals His secret to His servants the PROPHETS."

God does not want to catch His people off-guard. He wants us to know and to brace for impact. He wants us to be prepared spiritually, so He sends prophets. Also to give us guidance along the way. Number two: Will there be both true and false prophets in the last days? What does the Bible say? Well, Jesus warned us. Matthew 24:11, also Mark 13, Luke 21. He says: "Then many FALSE prophets will arise and deceive many."

Now, you'll notice the words "many" and "few" used by Jesus. When it comes to eternal life and the straight road, is it many or few? It says few. When it comes to the broad way to destruction, many or few? Many. So when He says "many false prophets," the true prophets are going to be what? Few. But are there true prophets? I think, and this is a picture of, what was it? Marshall Applewhite, that poor people deceived by him and that Heaven's Gate cult, and they committed suicide. And there's been many others and you'll find people, and it's not just the people who say, "I'm Jesus."

There's a lot of false prophets when you channel surf. Yeah, there's a lot of people out there supposedly speaking in the name of the Lord and they're begging for money and they say, "I've got a word from the Lord, and God told me this and God told me that." And one way you can know the difference between a true and a false prophet is a true prophet is not going to ask for your credit card number. I just can't picture Elijah going to Ahab and saying, "I've got a message for you. But you're going to have to first give me your credit card," or "It's going to cost you this much." You cannot stop a true prophet from delivering his prophecy. So that right there is a test that should help us.

Yes, there'll be false prophets, we all know that. In fact, if I told you I know someone that's a prophet, people automatically kind of cringe a little bit and they say, "Man, there's so many false prophets." As soon as someone says they're a prophet, we are on our guard because I think we've all seen that there's a lot of counterfeits in the world. But do not let our concern about false prophets prejudice against the real thing. You hear that? Because Jesus warned us about false prophets. If He said there would be no prophets, He would have said, "There'll be no prophets in the last days." But He didn't say that. He said, "We want to be aware and watch out for false prophets."

Look at what it says in Acts chapter 2:17. Peter preaching said: "It will come to pass in the last days, says God. I will pour out MY Spirit on all flesh, and your SONS and your DAUGHTERS will prophesy." The Scripture just popped in my mind I want to share with you. From the book of Ephesians chapter 4, and you can start with verse 11: "And he gave some to the apostles; some, prophets; and evangelists"; I'm technically an evangelist, "some, pastors and teachers." Why? Why does God have these offices?

Do we need teachers? Do we need pastors? Do we need evangelists? Do we need apostles? Apostles were, like, the leaders and administrators of the church. Do we need prophets? You would think so, but listen how long we need them. It says "For the equipping..." Why do we need them? "For the equipping of the saints, for the work of ministry, for the edifying," or building up, "of the body of Christ." How long? "Till we all come into the unity of the faith, of the knowledge of the Son of God, and to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ." I don't think we've arrived yet, which means we still need the gifts of prophecy. Does that make sense?

What types of false prophets are specifically condemned in the Bible? "One who practices witchcraft." I remember watching "The Wizard of Oz" and thinking, "Oh yeah, I don't want to be a bad witch. I want to be a good witch," you know? And so all these little girls, they want to be good witches like that beautiful little witch in the story and the Bible says witchcraft is bad. Now I'm not suggesting we re-establish the Salem witch trials, but I meet people all the time, they say, "Well, I'm a good witch." - "I'm a wiccan, but don't be scared of me. I only cast good spells."

Karen and I got an Uber to the airport, and hopped in the Uber and we're driving along, and so the driver, he asked, he said, "So what do you do?" You know, you're making conversation, going to the airport. I said, "I'm a pastor." And he got real quiet and he goes, "That's interesting. I'm a wiccan, I'm a witch, I'm a wizard." And I'm in the front seat with him because we had our bags in the back, Karen's back there, and I look in the rear view mirror and I see Karen's expression go... She starts praying. At first, I thought, "Oh, this is going to be strange." And then I thought, "Well, you know, the Lord cares about his soul." And so I started telling him about my testimony. I said, "Oh, yeah, I was into that kind of stuff," I said, "but there's no power there." I said, "Now I got the real power." And he started thinking, "You got more power than me?" "Oh yeah," I said. "You don't have any power there. The real power's with God." And I started giving my testimony. By the time we got to the airport, you know, we're all praying for him. I gave him my book and had prayer with the guy. But it was a little weird when he first told me he was, he said he became a wizard so he could cast spells on his mother-in-law because she was casting spells on him. A soothsayer.

People that is interpreting, you know, these sites like Nostradamus. He spoke in these just very abstract ideas and made very vague kind of incoherent mutterings and people are always trying to figure out what his prophecies mean, and it just seems like a lot of gibberish whenever I've looked at it. "One who interprets omens." "Oh, I looked at the chicken bones today and you know what they say?" Or "I cut open the liver and it, because it looked like this, that means this is going to happen," or "The bird flew by and that's a sign because it was a crow and not an eagle," and, you know, that's kind of witchcraft. God says, "Stay away from that." God doesn't do it that way.

"A sorcerer." Someone who is casting spells and concocting potions. By the way, sorcery, it talks about one of the problems with Babylon. It says, "By her sorceries were all the nations deceived." That word "sorcery" is pharmakeia, which is where you get pharmacy or drugs, and when I was a young man, I don't like telling people this because they think I'm still hallucinating, but I was trying to find God through hallucinogenics. A lot of kids back in the '60s, they were taking LSD and we were eating mushrooms and things, were trying to have these experiences, but it was drug-induced. It's counterfeit.

God doesn't need to have you take drugs to receive the Holy Spirit. Jesus turned away from the drugs they offered Him on the cross because He did not want to be inebriated or influenced. Answer "F": a medium, someone who says, "I am the go-between between me and the ghost world or the spirit world, and you can communicate with them through me." "G": a spiritist, people are going to cast spells and voodoo, and these things are all from the dark arts that Christians should have nothing to do with.

So, Christians shouldn't have anything to do with these forbidden aspects, and that would accrued, like, astrology, someone who looks at, considers the times, and, you know, there's a lot of people. There's nothing wrong with astronomy. That is the legitimate and the fascinating study of the heavens. Nothing wrong with astronomy. I'm fascinated with space and the science of space.

Astrology is this mumbo-jumbo that the organization of the stars is somehow affecting you and I grew up in that. My mother used to write astrological songs and I'd say, "Do you believe this?" "No." And her friends would do readings and they'd just make stuff up. And you meet somebody and they'd say, "So what's your sign." "Oh, I'm an Aquarius." "I'm a Pisces." "Oh, we should get along great because..." And just, do you really think that when a baby's born, a certain month or year, they're locked in for life because of where your stars were organized? I dunno. Friends, that's not of God. And I think you almost put yourself on the devil's ground when you start looking into that.

Will God's end-time church have the gift of prophecy? Yes, you read in Revelation 12:17, says: "The dragon was wrath or enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the remnant of her seed," this is down to the end of time. It's the remnant. What are those characteristics? "Which keep the commandments of God and have the TESTIMONY of JESUS Christ." Well, we know what the commandments of God are. What is the testimony of Jesus Christ? You go to Revelation 19:10, John falls down to worship this angel that's giving him a message, and the angel says, "See that you do not do that." He said, "For I am of your brethren who have the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus Christ is the SPIRIT of PROPHECY."

So here the dragon is angry with the church in the last days. Goes to make war, and whatever the two outstanding characteristics? Keep the commandments of God as the testimony of Jesus Christ. What is the testimony? Spirit of prophecy. Is God going to still have the spirit of prophecy at the end of time? And of course, that means the law and the prophets, but God is going to still be speaking to and through His people in the last days. "Surely the Lord God does nothing." I'm repeating this verse just for reinforcement. Amos 3:7: "The Lord God does nothing, unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets."

That verse was not canceled out with the cross. That is still true today, that God speaks through His prophets. And I should add that while someone might not have all the qualifications of a prophet, God has spoken through a lot of inspired people through history. I mean, I've read things that Spurgeon said that I believe were inspired. I've read things that Luther said, John Calvin, John Wesley, some of these great reformers. They were in inspirational statements.

God still speaks through people. I would hope that God still speaks through pastors from time to time. Well, I got a couple of "Amens," one from my wife. "Behold, in the last days..." Malachi chapter 4, one of the last prophecies in the Bible. "Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord." Now this is a prophecy that has a dual application, because the disciples came to Jesus and they said, "When is Elijah coming?" And Jesus said, "Elijah has come, and Elijah will come." He said, "Elijah has come in the ministry of John the Baptist." But that wasn't it.

Not only did John come to prepare the world for Jesus' First Coming, I believe God is going to send another Elijah or Elijahs, an Elijah message, in the last days before the Second Coming. I mean, don't we need it in the world today? We need that power of prophecy in the last days before the climax of the world's history.

Question number five: In what way does God speak to a true prophet? What does the Bible say? Numbers chapter 12, verse 6 and 8: "If there's a prophet among you, I, the Lord, will make Myself known to him in a VISION; I'll speak to him in a DREAM. I will speak to him face to face." Now Peter had a vision while he was on the roof, and God spoke to Joseph in a dream, and God spoke to Moses and Abraham face to face God the Son, spoke to him that way because no man has seen God the Father, the Bible says. Not only that, says, "Now the ANGEL talked with me." So you've got visions and dreams, face to face, and angels.

What are some of the ways God speaks to prophets? These are supernatural ways when God speaks to His prophets. And at Zechariah chapter 4, verse 1. There's numberless places in the Bible where God spoke to His prophets, Daniel, John, Ezekiel, through angels that appeared to them, and gave them special guidance.

Are miracles definite evidence of a true prophet? Can false prophets feign miracles? You read in the New Testament about Simon who seduced people with his signs and wonders and miracles. And the magicians of Pharaoh. They would do signs and wonders. Moses threw down his serpent. They'd throw down their serpents. Moses made frogs. They said, "We can make frogs." Moses turned the water to blood, they said, "We can do that." Finally, when it came to lice, they told the Pharaoh, "We can't do lice. This is the hand of God." But it says: "They're the spirits of DEMONS, performing SIGNS, that go out to the kings of the earth and the whole world." There and this is Revelation chapter 14. Before the end of time, is the devil going to manufacture miracles? So signs and wonders and miracles are not proof that a person is a prophet of God.

What's the most important test of a prophet? What does the Bible say? "To the LAW and to the TESTIMONY! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them." And you might be thinking, "Well, Pastor Doug, but if somebody has a vision that they write a book and they say they're a prophet, wouldn't that be on the same parallel, the same plane, as the Bible?" No, have you read in the Bible about some of these other prophets that had books that are not part of the Bible? Joshua 10:13: "Is this not written in the book of Jasher?" Do any of you have the book of Jasher? Says he's a prophet. 1 Chronicles 29:29: "The book of Nathan the prophet and the book of Gad the seer," a seer and a prophet are the same thing. Anyone here have the book of Gad or the book of Nathan? No. 2 Chronicles 12:15: "Now the acts of Rehoboam, first and last, are they not written in the book of Shemaiah the prophet and Iddo the seer?" So here, you've got, like, five different people that are mentioned that wrote books but God did not have them included in Scripture.

Sometimes, prophets give specific messages for a specific time. Noah's message about getting on the boat was a very important message, but our message today is not "Get on the boat," except as an allegory for coming to Christ.

What's the second test of a prophet? "By this you will know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that JESUS CHRIST has come in the flesh is of God." So when somebody says that "I am a prophet and I'm a reincarnation of Jesus," they're not a prophet of God. I remember when I was going through my Eastern religions that people were saying, "Well, yeah, Jesus was one of the manifestations of God, but he's on the same level as Buddha and maybe Muhammad was another manifestation," and everybody says that they've got, you know, that they're just on an equal plane. Jesus was God incarnate. And there's no other God above him. He's, you know, you've got God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and Jesus Christ was the Son of God.

What's a third test of a prophet? Says, "You'll know them by their fruits." This character here, Jim Jones, I actually baptized a girl that had escaped from Jonestown, and, of course, his organization was here in northern California, led those, what, 600 people or more, committed suicide down there in South America. Started out preaching from the Bible, gradually gave up the Bible and said his teaching was more important than the Bible, and it led the wrong direction.

What's the fourth test of a prophet? "When the word of a prophet COMES to PASS, the prophet will be known as one whom the Lord has truly sent." So what's a clear way of knowing if a prophet's true? Do their prophecies come true? Are they accurate? What three things does Paul recommend regarding prophecy? Does he command regarding prophecy? One, "Do NOT despise prophecies. TEST all things; HOLD fast to what is good." So if someone says, "Oh, there's a prophecy here," check it out. I've had a lot of people say that, you know, so-and-so's a prophet, and I'll say, "All right, well, let me read it." I'm open-minded if it's a message from God, but then it's got to pass the test of following Scripture and the other criteria, and the personal life.

You know, one of the things we didn't talk about was the personal life. So many people say they're prophets, but their personal lives are a little bit strange. And so, do not despise these prophecies. Check it out. Whose counsel do we reject when we reject the words of a true prophet? What does it say in Luke 7, verse 28 and 29? "There was not a greater prophet than John the Baptist; And when all the people heard Him, even the tax collectors justified God. But the Pharisees and the lawyers rejected the WILL of GOD for themselves." Jesus, you know what His accusation was? "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem," the people of God He's talking to. "The one who kills the prophets and stone those who are sent to her!" How often it is true in history that it seems like God's people reject the true prophets and we follow the false ones. You've got to make sure that it's following and staying with the biblical criteria for what is true.

Let me just give you a couple of reasons here in closing. Why do we need the gift of prophecy in the last days? What do prophets do? Here's a few reasons, seven reasons. One: prophet must uplift Christ. They don't point to themselves. Any prophet that's exalting himself, not a prophet of God. They need to understand the big battle between good and evil. We need prophets because they give spiritual, devotional blessings. They can also teach us about the practical things of life such as health and those advantages. They uplift the Scriptures and point people to the Scriptures. They impact the church institutions and then they'll give us guidance and predictions that will help us to understand what's coming.

And then my question for you would be: since God still speaks through prophets and since a true prophet's words are the personal "testimony of Jesus" to you, are you willing to test modern prophets by the Bible and follow the counsel of those who agree with Scripture? I believe the gift of prophecy is still alive and we may see prophets in the future. How are we going to know the true from the false? We've got to use the Bible, friends, amen?
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