Thursday, April 5, 2012

Discerning the times: checking what a youtube prophet says against the Word

Many Christians today feel the burden of the times. Many more feel an imminence that is akin to a pregnant woman about to burst. Even the unsaved feel like something is coming.

And something IS coming: Jesus. The times are definitely drawing to a close and though no one knows exactly when, the Spirit is sending fervor and imminence to many. He raised up many people who send the warnings about the times, as He has done with me.

But He also said that this time will be perilous for Christians (2 Timothy 3:1) and that it will be a time that is permeated with deceit. In Matthew 24:4-5 He said "And Jesus answered and said to them, "See to it that no one misleads you. For many will come in My name, saying, 'I am the Christ,' and will mislead many". As the Strong's word concordance says of the word 'misleads', the Greek word Paul used is plané which means "a wandering; deceit, delusion, error, sin." That verse means people will come in Christ's name to lead us wandering sheep away from the truth into delusion.

This steady rising of deceit that is mentioned so many times in relation to the end times in so many books and verses, will culminate in total deceit on earth in the Tribulation when the Lord sends the great delusion that will come over the world, and they accept the antichrist. (2 Thess 2:10-11). He will remove the moderating influence of the Holy Spirit as Restrainer (2 Thess 2:6).

So it behooves us to heed warnings about people who come in Christ's name with messages that may be false. We are also warned by watchmen to heed true warnings about the times and to live a Godly life. It is up to each Christian to pray for the Spirit to lead them into discernment when listening to or reading messages, including mine. Test all things against scripture.

Here is a discernment lesson regarding one of the new Youtube prophets someone sent me to look at. Now this person was thrilled to have discovered him. I listened to several of his youtube clips. I was not as thrilled. I really hate throwing cold water on people's excitement, but if the excitement is over someone or something that may be false, then isn't it better to have cold water thrown than to go away under an unfortunate spiritual impression? Water dries but cold water at least gives us all a shock to stop a moment and consider things.

So I decided to post this as a discernment lesson. It is an insight into how I approach the issue of determining for myself whether someone may be speaking truth or not.

  • First, I pray that the Spirit lead and guide me into the scriptures that will speak to the discernment I seek.
  • Then I do look those verses up and check them in the bible.
  • I pray for an attitude of gentleness but boldness in stating what the Spirit had led me to.

The young man, whose name is not on his Youtube account, but goes by "warningthepeople", mentions several times about having been a paid pastor and stepping away to be a watchman, foregoing any payment at all. He focuses on that. What does the bible say about being paid?

Being paid as a pastor is not necessarily a bad thing nor is it necessarily a good thing, but it is a biblical thing.

1 Timothy 5:17-18, “The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says, 'Do not muzzle the ox while it is treading out the grain,' and 'The worker deserves his wages.'” 1 Corinthians 9:14 declares, “In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel.”

So being paid is a biblical thing and at root, a neutral thing. It's not good nor bad but necessary. Here is a link to a short essay about whether a pastor should be paid. In these links I give, the scriptures are in the essay.

Therefore if this Youtube person has received a word from the Lord about not being paid, I must wonder why what Jesus told him about not being paid contradicts what He already said in the bible.

I also wonder if he was a paid pastor presumably he had come previous calling to that work, and if he is being called away from it now (so soon? He looks young) then why Jesus would contradict Himself by first calling him to the pastorate and then tell him to quit the pastorate... Philippians 1:6 says "being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." Did Jesus fumble in calling the young man to be a pastor? Did He change His mind? Did he train him up with a flock only to tell him to abandon that flock? Likely not.

Here is a link discussing how a pastor can know if he is being called to be a pastor and this link, "A call to Ministry."

Third, he said that he was told by Jesus in this new ministry as watchman to warn his friends and family. Since he had been a paid pastor and had some training at college in Biblical Studies, a license, some passion for the Gospel, and some skill at it (he had earned so much respect as he stated) then why hadn't he warned his family and friends before his calling to give it all up to be a watchman? Warning friends and family is usually the first thing pastors do and do it relentlessly (if skillfully and gently).

Being a pastor is also a call to be a watchman. A Pastor preaches the entire counsel of God, which includes the doctrine of His coming. (Acts 20:20, 27). A Pastor means shepherd and a shepherd watches his flock and guards his flock warns of dangerous things, so the two ministries are not incompatible, they are actually intertwined. Yet the young man seemed to separate them one as far from the east as from the west...

Fourth: I am not sure I agree with his interpretation of Ezekiel 33 about the watchman who fails his duty. He said that watchmen who fail to warn will be thrown into hell. If a person is saved according to the New Testament, nothing can snatch him out of Jesus's hand. (John 10:28). We have eternal security. However it is true that those who are called to teach and preach are entering into a serious relationship with Jesus with special burdens. Paul says Acts 20, "I am clear from the blood of any man, I have not failed to declare unto you the whole counsel of God. I've discharged my duty." Hebrews 13:17 says that we have to give an account to God for how we give leadership and direction and teaching to God's people. It is indeed a serious issue. "Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly." (James 3:1)

But if a person is saved under the New Covenant of the cross they will not be thrown into hell for failing duties. If that were true we would all be at risk of failing commands of God, such as failing the Great Commission, failing the Greatest Commandment (Luke 10:27) and other commands that are just as explicit as the call to the Old Testament watchmen. We are saved. That is what saved means, saved from hell.

One must be careful not to extrapolate with impunity the OT to the NT. Careful exegesis demands we look at the entire book, we look at all the verses in context, to whom it was written, why it was written, when it was written, and appeal to the Spirit for proper application of the verse. I don't think the young man has done that here.

Most worrisome, in his video on his personal testimony, he never mentions how he was saved. He speaks of growing up in the church, but not of his repentance, his sin, and Jesus's authority as Sinless Savior to forgive these. Worse, he says that at age 23 he came to a crisis of faith, and wondered how he could determine if the "religion" he was in was the true one. How did he know if his denomination was right, or whether a Buddhist had more wisdom in settling on his own faith? Foremost I must say, we don't exist in a religion, we dwell in the holy relationship with Christ. Every true Christian knows that. But be that as it may, the young man said he posted cards all around asking the Spirit to lead him into truth. He did not say he searched the scriptures, as Paul said is the more noble way to do in Acts 17:11. Instead, he found truth in dreams the "Lord" sent. That is a dead giveaway that he is a false prophet. Elevating personal experience over scriptural truth is absolutely wrong. Even Peter, who saw the transfiguration, said that we have a more sure word.

Henry Morris said in the Institute for Creation Research: "We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts." (2 Peter 1:19). As eyewitnesses, they bore the onus of bearing witness to the facts. But he downplayed the importance of his own personal testimony, even though it was a firsthand account and quite important, and he knew it was absolutely correct. The "more sure word of prophecy" he recommended, however, which outshines any human testimony, was the written Word of God, for the Transfiguration confirmed numerous Old Testament prophecies concerning Christ. Prophecies already fulfilled multiply our confidence in the rest of Scripture."

Personal testimony from dreams is not inerrant. The Word is.

Next: I worry that the gentleman says many times that he will do what Jesus "tells" him to do. Does he hear these commands audibly? Does he hear them in dreams and visions? (Some, he says, yes). Are they new revelations or are they commands to exhortation from what is already written? How has the gentleman discerned that these audible commands telling him to do certain things are in fact from Jesus? Or has he? I don't think he has, because he relates dreams and does not share the scriptures.

I am always skeptical of people who say that have had dreams and visions and that Jesus told them to say things to the people. I'm skeptical because God's final word is through Jesus and Jesus IS His word. (John 1:1-5 and Hebrews 1:1-2). There are no new revelations. If the gentleman wants to be obedient to Jesus that is wonderful! But he must do so under the direction of the Spirit's leading him into understanding of the Word. Not a disembodied voice telling him to do things...

In one youtube clip he related a dream but then said that it was up to us to interpret it. However, in Scripture, whenever a person asked God for the meaning of a vision, God ensured it was explained to the person (Daniel 8:15-17).

The young man speaks of the Lord giving him messages in dreams to then relate to the people. I do not believe that what he is dreaming is directly from Jesus. As stated above, the revelatory period of direct message by Jesus to His people is over, and it is all contained in His word. Revelation 22:18-19 says that no one may add nor take away from the words of that book. Some have tried to say that only applies to Revelation but Revelation is the last book. With that warning, Jesus closed the canon. You can go here to read a short essay from a solid bible teacher about prophecy and the closed canon--

Prophecy and the Closed Canon

We are all hungry for more information. We are all hungry for insights into the times and what is happening behind the scenes. Would that we were all given a glimpse like Elisha's servant (2 Kings 6:17) or a glimpse like Paul was given (2 Cor 12:2)! But Paul was explicitly told not to say what went on there. And the inside glimpses we are given are contained in the Word.

The bible tells us all we need to know. I ask you gently to consider these thoughts and concerns and to seek answers from scripture as to whether what I shared with you is aligned with the Word, and to compare to what the young watchman has to say with the word also. That is how I came to the conclusion he is not someone we should listen to. Many people are raising up who claim special insights from Jesus. But unless they found them by the Spirit leading them into truth by the Holy Word, then they are false. No truth exists outside of the bible.

I believe the time is short, and therefore I cling to the words of the bible more than ever and I compare the words of men with what the bible says. And because time is short, we will know all that God intends for us to know, shortly! (1 Cor 13:9-12). I truly believe that there are no extra glimpses prior to that time.

If we pray, study the word, and are VERY familiar with the real thing, then when a counterfeit comes along we can spot it. In this way we grow in Him. Then we shall not be children any longer, or tossed one way and another and carried along by every wind of doctrine, at the mercy of all the tricks men play and their cleverness in practicing deceit. If we live by the truth and in love, we shall grow in all ways into Christ, who is the head. (Eph 4:14-15)

4 comments:

  1. I don't disagree with you on many things, but I wonder how you can be so sure that there can be no dream or vision from God in our present time? If Acts 2:17 is still in the Bible, doesn't that mean it must still be true?

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    1. Hi Pam,

      If Acts 2:17 is still in the bible musn't it still be true...good question, but if Leviticus is still in the bible, musn't that also be true? Acts 2:17 applied to the living apostles and/or until the canon closed.

      In the OT books (Genesis and Daniel) we have a number of references to dreams. However, dreams play a smaller part in Biblical revelation, but just as an important one. You can read more here http://www.letusreason.org/Latrain30.htm

      Personally, I cannot say with 1000% certainty that there are NO valid visions or dreams from God, because God CAN send visions and dreams. But I can say with 1000% certainty that according to the Lord's own word, everything we need to know is in the bible. God CAN give a vision, but I am almost positive He is not speaking to us in that way these days. (Hebrews 1:1-2)

      In the days of Acts when there were visions etc there was no bible. He used visions and dreams to help people discern a false spirit (As per Peter and Ananias and Sapphira, Acts 5), get direction on where to go (Peter to Cornelius) or to validate that a person who was coming was from God (Cornelius to accept Peter, Ananias to accept Saul/Paul).

      If someone says they have a vision they are sure it was sent from Jesus, and it varies slightly from the Word, is that vision valid? No. If He is sending visions today, then why do we have the verse in 2 Tim 3:16? If they are valid, then why do most of the visions people say they have when 'visiting' heaven or hell disagree with each other?

      If there are visions today and people are receiving information from Jesus outside of the bible, then is the bible complete? If it is not complete then is Revelation 22:18-19 false? Is Hebrews 1:1-2 false?

      It opens us up to too much confusion to say that a person today has new information from Jesus (Beth Moore, a vision where she said she was shown the church through Jesus's eyes and given instruction on how to achieve it- though the bible tells us what the church is and what to do about it)...do we believe Beth Moore or do we believe the bible?

      Most visions today are really demons. People who are willing to promote their new information from a dream instead of relying solely on the bible were obviously at risk from demonic oppression or influence in the first place. It is too dangerous for us to accept that a person who says they had a vision has also the ability to have discerned that it was from Jesus and not satan.

      That's WHY we have the bible, we know it is from God and can be trusted completely. After all, most of the false religions of the world today were started by visions and dreams of people after the canon was closed ("Gabriel" to Muhammad started Islam; "Moroni" to Joseph Smith and Mormonism, Ellen White and 7th Day Adventists...)

      Jude says that the faith was delivered "once for all" to the saints, and this is what I strongly believe. It is too easy to get sidetracked by the fervency of people who say they saw something, things that Paul wasn't even allowed to speak of but they are now claiming openly. Did God change His mind?

      Here is a three part essay series titled Prophecy and the Closed Canon to help explain further

      http://www.gty.org/resources/Articles/A231/Prophecy-and-the-Closed-Canon-Part-1

      http://www.gty.org/resources/Articles/A232_Prophecy-and-the-Closed-Canon-Part-2

      http://www.gty.org/resources/Articles/A233_Prophecy-and-the-Closed-Canon-Part-3

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    2. I don't think that there can be *new* revelation, but I do think that the revelation we have can be called to our attention for immediate application. For example, is that not what you are doing in this blog? I mean, are you not telling people that Christ's return is imminent, and that people should prepare for his coming even more urgently than they should have been preparing *in*the*past*? See how that could look like new revelation, in a way? Is that not a message from God? And is that not the definition of prophecy? So, how can you say that there is no prophecy today, if you seem to be doing it yourself?

      I just think it's a bit presumptuous to say that God cannot give people dreams and visions to communicate to them. He's done it in the past, and God doesn't change. Shouldn't we have humility and not judge in cases where we don't really know? I'm not speaking of visions and dreams that are contrary to scripture: we know those are false. I just think it's a bit extreme to make such a broad statement like that, because God can do whatever He wants. I, myself have have dreams and visions that I have thought were from God. These were what started me trying to call other Christians to repentance. Why would Satan want me to call people to repent?

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    3. Pam, we DO know. You have ignored the bible verses I gave. There is no new revelation. It is not being presumptuous to say that presumptuous when the bible tells us so.

      If you read the links I gave, there is more explanation. I can see you're struggling with the concept and now I know that is because you've received messages in dreams that you hold dear. However, the bible tells us to examine everything. Hold fast to what is good. Why would satan send a dream that says to repent, you ask? Why would Moroni tell Joseph Smith about Jesus? (Moroni's other name is Nephi, you know, a reminder of the term for fallen angels in Genesis 6 called Nephilim). Joseph Smith said that Moroni had the everlasting Gospel to give. And thus Mormons DO share the Gospel, and DO call to repent...PLUS works. When the demons at Gadara saw Jesus they called Him the Most High. That is what a counterfeit IS; closely matching the real thing.

      You cannot tell if the visions are from God or not. We see through a glass darkly. So, we compare our experiences with the bible. Even Peter did that, regarding the transfiguration. His was a true experience, but he knew that it could not be proved, but the Word could, that is why even he said "we have a more sure word." If you think your experience is more true than Peter's, who deferentially referred to the Word and NOT his vision, then you have a problem in your thinking. I'm sorry...

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