Testing the Prophets
Paul says that we should not despise or reject a prophet. But rather, we should carefully TEST what the prophet says and does by the Bible. “Despise not prophesyings. Prove all things; hold fast that which is good” (1 Thessalonians 5:20, 21). If a prophet’s words and behavior are in harmony with the Bible, we should heed them. But what are the tests of prophets?
The First Test:
“To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them” (Isaiah 8:20). The “law and the testimony” phrase was an Old Testament expression for the “Bible.” So, a message from someone who claims to have a prophetic utterance from God must be tested by the Bible. A godly man’s message will always agree 100 percent with Scripture. A true prophet must direct people to worship God and follow the Bible.
The Second Test:
“Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God” (1 John 4:2). A prophet of God must believe and teach the truth about Jesus Christ–that He was God in the flesh (John 1:1-3). And true prophets must draw attention to Christ not self. Paul wrote, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).
The Third Test:
“Ye shall know them by their fruit” (Matthew 7:16). A prophet’s life must bear witness to what the prophet is teaching. The attractive claims of the false prophets are no proof of their true character. Their flattery words and mere profession are no genuine test of what they really are, nor can their miracles (verse 22) be depended on.
The Fourth Test:
“When the word of the prophet shall come to pass, then shall the prophet be known, that the Lord hath truly sent him” (Jeremiah 28:9). A true prophet will not make false predictions. If a messenger is from God, his prophecies will come to pass.
However, fulfillment alone does not automatically make an individual a true prophet. Deuteronomy 13:1-3 warns that false prophets can give signs that will come to pass and then use their deceptions to lead people astray from God. Miracles are not an evidence that a person is a true prophet. Miracles show only one thing–supernatural power.
Supernatural power may come either from God or from Satan. In fact, at the end of time the devil and his angels will deceive the world through miracles and wonders (2 Thessalonians 2:9-10; Matthew 24:24; Revelation 19:20). “No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14).
That is why the Lord tells us: “Believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1). And Jesus warns, “And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many” (Matthew 24:11). Therefore, we need to prayerfully test every prophet according to God’s Biblical principles.
In His service,