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The Importance Of Prophetic Discernment And Avoiding False Teachers

We are growing ever closer to that heavenly trumpet sounding and therefore it becomes infinitely incumbent upon us to divide God's Word correctly when it comes to the topic of prophecy.  We live in the days of false teachers and false prophets and generally anti-Berean churches filled with easily persuadable Christians.  This post is not intended to argue for the merits of a particular theory in regards to the timing of the rapture, nor is it intended to debate premillennialism, amillennialism, or preterism.  Instead, I want to focus squarely on a prophecy topic that is applicable to every Christian from every school of thought: who should you listen to and who should you not listen to?

I desperately want my brothers and sisters in Christ (myself included) to stop falling for every new wind of doctrine or supposed personal prophecy and start relying solely on Scripture.  Sola Scriptura was a cornerstone of the Protestant Reformation after all.  As the Day closes in let us pray for spiritual fortitude and Christ-like discernment.  A key verse is 1 Peter 1:20:

Knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. (ESV)

I like Young's Literal Translation even better:

This first knowing, that no prophecy of the Writing doth come of private exposition.

You've probably heard the politically incorrect syllogism that "not all Muslims are terrorists, but all terrorists are Muslim".  We can apply that same reasoning to false teachers: "not all false teachers are alone, but all who teach alone are false teachers."  In other words, if you come across a new teaching, book, or article on the subject of prophecy and the teacher presents a theory that challenges your biblical understanding, I want you to immediately ask yourself this question: is there anyone else who has come to the same conclusion independent of this teacher?  If not, the teacher should be immediately suspect.  Run away.

Harold Camping, for example, had many followers, but no colleagues.  His conclusions were drawn from his own "private exposition" of Scripture and his confidence ended up being completely misplaced.  You can find dozens and dozens of such teachers in churches, on the radio, on the internet, and especially on YouTube.  They have hundreds of students, but are unwilling to be students themselves.  They remain in perpetual violation of the repeated biblical principle found in 2 Corinthians 13:1:

...Every matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.

Oftentimes they defend their interpretations on the basis of the surety of Scripture - disagree with them and they'll tell you that your disagreement is because you don't believe in the Bible.  Don't be fooled and don't be persuaded.

Be discerning.  These false teachers will often appear theologically-solid in most other areas, but discern their spirit.  Do they come across self-exalted and defensive?  Do they belittle opposing voices?  Do they make reference to their superior understanding?

Now don't get me wrong, God often reveals a truth to just one person first, but if what a person purports to be a revelation from God or a better understanding of Scripture is not quickly followed by confirmation from multiple independent witnesses then you should be exceedingly wary about their teaching.  It is for this reason that I find myself in the premillennial camp, because my own study of Scripture led me to that understanding and independent of my own possibly faulty interpretation I've discovered that premillennialists have remarkably consistent teachings in comparison to amillennialists.

Regarding the possible Revelation 12 sign this September, I first heard about it in 2011 or 2012.  Instead of believing it hook, line, and sinker, I first read Revelation 12 for myself to gain a better understanding of the topic.  Then I downloaded Stellarium for myself to investigate and see if this new theory was scripturally plausible.  It seemed to me that it was.

Independent of each other, Scott Clarke, Daniel Matson, Jeff E., Steven Sewell, Greg, myself, and others have investigated Revelation 12 and the purported sign itself and come to the conclusion that not only is this possibly a literal fulfillment of Revelation 12:1-5, but it may be a sign of the rapture.  We didn't pull the rapture-connection out of thin air, but relied on a number of the writings of the original proponents of modern dispensationalism such as Darby and Ironside.  We also considered the thorough exegesis of modern scholars such as Michael Svigel from Dallas Theological Seminary.

Could we be wrong?  Absolutely.  We are fallible human beings.  The goal is to be prayerful, discerning, and humble - not to merely be right.

Over the past few years I've seen many new teachings come and go because no one corroborated it.  They were false teachings.  I remember when someone claimed to have "unlocked" the mystery of Revelation and claimed that 2015 was definitely the year of the rapture.  They even released a book.  I see this happening even now in regards to the Revelation 12 sign.  One particular teacher is claiming that the months leading up to 9/23 will witness catastrophe after catastrophe and that Jesus' second coming will actually be at the mid-point of the Tribulation.  His arguments sound convincing until you discover that no one has arrived at any of the same conclusions.

Likewise another teacher has released a book arguing that the rapture will occur in September, but it will be a rapture of "readiness".  By "readiness" he doesn't refer to a saving faith in Jesus Christ, but rather to being a really, really good Christian (based on works) who is simultaneously watching for Christ's coming.  His teaching gets even stranger when he presents the belief that the Tribulation will actually be ten years long rather than seven.  His teaching stands on the basis of an army of one - himself.

And another teacher on YouTube presents beautiful graphs and charts and seemingly convincing arguments, but summarily dismisses any fellow Christians who might challenge his teaching.  His rapture-prediction track record is growing poorer by the day as his predictions shift from one month to the next.

The way of fools seems right to them, but the wise listen to advice. - Proverbs 12:5

And

A man who isolates himself seeks his own desire; He rages against all wise judgment. - Proverbs 18:1

Don't immediately dismiss every new theory, but my plea for you is to be discerning.  See if any other Believers are presenting the same teaching and study the Scriptures for yourself to see if these things be true (Acts 17:11).


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3 comments :

  1. Amen. Wonder how many times I've reacted to some "news" just to find out it wasn't true.

    I appreciate your words, dilgence, wisdom and heart to warn.

    You are very careful and know full well no one knows, still that expression was full of meaning, God always alerts His children, He has given massive numbers of signs, the hour is late and you are required to sound the alarm, even when the information is cloudy.

    Fascinating how many will argue the exact timing, when all you're doing is sounding the warning. There's a hole in the boat, people are not ready and disaster is imminent.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! It is now more important than ever that we discern through all this craziness.

      Delete
  2. Timely word, Gary, thank you. A lot of rogues and mavericks out here (there) in the wild, wild West [err...the World Wide Web, that is].

    ReplyDelete


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