Christianity 201

July 29, 2021

When Prophets Get it Wrong

Filed under: Christianity - Devotions — paulthinkingoutloud @ 5:33 pm
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Pursue love, yet earnestly desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy.
 – 1 Cor. 14:1 NASB

This time last year, a number of Charismatic Christian leaders issued prophecies that the incumbent U.S. President would be re-elected for a second term. For those who follow those leaders and teachers, it must have been a confusing time when the prophecy did not come to pass.

Dr. R. T. Kendall is a writer who some readers I know quite well have come to greatly respect. He is the author of dozens and dozens of books, a few of which are also in my personal collection. This is our fifth time featuring his writing here.

This excerpt is from a larger article, so I encourage you strongly to click the link in the header which follows.

Speaking for God?

Getting it wrong

…When a word does not come to pass which was introduced by “the Lord told me”, obviously something has gone wrong. It dishonors the name of the Lord. It brings discredit upon the gift of prophecy.

Should we not apologize? Nathan did and humbly climbed down for jumping the gun by telling David he could build the temple (2 Samuel 7:4ff). Surely if the Lord says something it is going to be exactly right.

If somebody’s word does not come to pass, that does not necessarily make them a ‘false prophet’. Luke portrays Agabus as a true prophet in Acts 11:28 and yet an objective scrutiny of Agabus’s word in Acts 21:11 will lead you to ask, “Is that really what happened?” Not exactly. The subsequent events were not precisely the way Agabus predicted…

6 Levels of Prophecy

Prophecy is a word from God unfiltered by personal wish or human embellishment whether it pertains to the past, present or future.

Not all prophecy is of the same caliber. There are at least six levels of prophecy – as in a pyramid, starting from the bottom:

6. General exhortation – Whether to a congregation or a personal encouragement to someone, Dr. Michael Eaton calls this “low level prophecy”. The kind of prophecy Paul encouraged in 1 Corinthians 14:1 was almost certainly of this sort. I don’t think he was motivating you or me to become the next Elijah. Someone may claim to have a “word”. We are not to despise such prophesying. But it needs to be tested (1 Thessalonians 5:20-21). In any case, we don’t need to say “the Lord told me” – even if we may feel it is from the Lord. Do not claim that all you feel is from the Lord. You can always say, “I think I am supposed to share this with you”.

5. Specific warnings -Certain disciples urged Paul not to go to Jerusalem. Some think that Luke sides with them since he says they warned Paul “through the Spirit” (Acts 21:4). Agabus similarly warned Paul not to go to Jerusalem, saying “the Holy Spirit says” (Acts 21:11). And yet Paul refused to heed any of their warnings! Who got it right? Was Paul wrong to ignore them? Could Agabus have got it wrong? One thing is for sure: their warnings did not keep Paul from going to Jerusalem. All he would say later is that it served to advance the gospel (Philippians 1:12).

4. Prophetic preaching -Peter said one should speak as if their words were the “very words of God” (1 Peter 4:11). This is what all pastors, vicars and preachers wish for. Nothing thrills me more than when someone says to me, “How did you know I was there today? That is exactly what I needed”. Expository preaching can be prophetic without the preacher being conscious of this. Even if he or she is conscious of the Lord’s enabling, one should be humble about it and, in my opinion, not say “thus says the Lord”.

3. When forced to testify during persecution – Jesus said, “When they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you” (Matthew 10:19-20).

2. Non-canonical prophecy -A canonical prophet had a book named after him – like Jeremiah or Isaiah. Nathan, Gad, Elijah and Elisha are examples of non-canonical prophets. Could there be non-canonical prophets of this magnitude and stature today? Perhaps, but they are exceedingly rare. What they say must cohere with scripture – and prove to be true. So should these people say, “the Lord told me”? My response to that questions is: Why would that be necessary? If one will keep the name of the Lord out – but simply say “I feel I must say this to you” (or something like that), they might maintain their integrity, credibility and anointing – even if they get it wrong. Many a modern prophetic person could be saved incalculable embarrassment had they been more modest in their claims.

1. Holy Scripture. This is the highest level of prophecy. It includes all of the Old Testament and all of the New Testament. Scripture is God’s final revelation. No one will ever have authority to speak at this level. If any of us claims to speak on the same level as Holy Scripture we have gone too far and will be found out sooner or later.

Limits of prophecy

Remember that each of us has but a “measure of faith” (Romans 12:3). This means there is a limit to our faith. Only Jesus had a perfect faith because he alone had the Holy Spirit without limit (John 4:34).

For those who prophesy it should surely be done in two ways: (a) in “proportion” to their faith (Romans 12:6) – not going beyond their limit of faith – and (b) according to the analogy of faith. The Greek word translated “proportion” is analogia. This means comparing scripture with scripture, making sure we are within the bounds of sound theology.

There are seasons of the prophetic. The word of the Lord was “rare” at one time in ancient Israel (1 Samuel 3:1). Amos spoke of a famine of hearing the word of the Lord (Amos 8:11). This means that sometimes God chooses to say nothing. 

God may choose not to speak for a generation. If so, how foolish to pretend to speak for him.

Paul said that we know in part and we prophecy in part (1 Corinthians 13:9). This means that not even the best of prophets know everything…

August 10, 2020

The Teachings of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew: End Times

For three days (here, here and here) we’ve been looking at what are called The Five Discourses of Matthew: the Ethical Discourse (the Sermon on the Mount, which we skipped since it is so often covered), the Missionary Discourse, the Parabolic Discourse, the Discourse on the Church, and the Discourse on End Times.

Reading prophecy, people can become obsessed with trying to figure out “the day and the hour” but it’s more about understanding “the time and the season.”

This final teaching block, also called the Eschatological Discourse, is the second longest and spans all of chapters 24 and 25.

■ If you are able, take the time now to read both chapters.

The second of the two chapters (25) is, in many respects, easier for us to deal with as it also contains two parables, and one teaching section couched in the metaphor of sheep and goats.

The Ten Virgins

“At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegoom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps.”  – Matthew 25: 1-4 (parable continues to verse 13)

The purpose of this story is to remind us of the importance of being diligent; of being ready for Christ (the master) to return. However, if time permitted I would argue that this imagery has implications for other things as well, such as the teaching on the rapture.

The Bags of Gold

This is the section header used in the NIV 2011, but most of know this as the Parable of the Talents.

“Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them. To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey…”  – Matthew 25: 14-15 (parable continues to verse 30)

Each of us then is like those to whom something valuable — here the modern use of the word talents actually works in our favor — has been given and is both expected and accountable to make the best use of those gifts and resources.

But note the text itself goes far beyond that, “For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them.” (verse 29)

The Sheep and the Goats

All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.  – Matthew 25: 32-33 (the metaphor is implied throughout verses 31 – 45)

There is a future time coming when there will be a great separation.

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ – Matthew 25: 37-40 (this passage begins further back at verse 34 and is followed by a very similar set of verses which re-positions all of this in the negative sense.)

This contrast of charitable acts of commission and charitable acts of omission is in many ways similar to the teaching in the Ethical Discourse, aka Sermon on the Mount; but with the added judgment that those who failed to act “go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” (verse 46)

And that would wrap up the fifth and final teaching block, right?

Not yet. Remember, we skipped chapter 24 just now.

Signs of the End

Chapter 24 is every bit as much entitled to be considered prophecy as is the Book of Revelation and the latter chapters of the Book of Daniel. We don’t always think of Matthew as a prophetic book, but it contains — mostly in this first chapter of this discourse — a number of prophetic descriptions and markers as do passages like chapter 4 of  I Thessalonians (“…caught up to meet him in the air”) or chapter 3 of II Timothy (“In the last days, perilous times will come.”)

Those prophecies include

  • the destruction of the temple
  • the coming of false Messiahs, false Christs
  • wars and threats of wars
  • famines and earthquakes
  • persecution
  • believers betraying other believers
  • an increase of wickedness; lawlessness
  • believers growing cold in their faith
  • the “sacrilegious object that causes desecration” (NLT) in the Holy Place
  • the flight of those heading for the hills
  • “trouble on a scale beyond what the world has ever seen” (The Message)
  • the sun darkened, “the moon turned to blood” (echo of Joel’s prophecy in 2:31)
  • the unmistakable return of Christ on the clouds
  • the gathering of “the chosen ones” (CEB) from around the world

Positive words of encouragement from Jesus:

  • “Watch out that no one deceives you…”
  • “…see to it that you are not alarmed
  • the one who stands firm to the end will be saved
  • this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world
  • “for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened
  • “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.
  • “be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him”
  • “It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing so when he returns.

What can all this tell us?

Jesus said, “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” (24:36)

But while we may not know the day or hour, we can know the times and seasons. Just a few verses earlier he offers a one-verse mini-parable: Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. (24:32)

We can be prepared, unlike the people he compares to those from the time of Noah for whom life was “business as usual” right up to the time God shut in his faithful, and the raindrops started to fall.


I hope you’ve enjoyed this four part series. I’ve never done anything quite like this in the history of Christianity 201, and I hope these four articles stand as a fairly decent overview of the four (out of the five) discourses we don’t hear as often.

January 12, 2019

Frequently False Prophets

“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in
sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravening wolves…” – Matthew 7:15 WEB

Dear friends, do not believe everyone who claims to speak by the Spirit. You must test them to see if the spirit they have comes from God. For there are many false prophets in the world.  – 1 John 4:1 NLT

Just as false prophets rose up in the past among God’s people, false teachers will rise up in the future among you. They will slip in with their destructive opinions, denying the very Master who bought their freedom and dooming themselves to destruction swiftly, but not before they attract others by their unbridled and immoral behavior. Because of them and their ways, others will criticize and condemn the path of truth we walk as seedy and disreputable. These false teachers will follow their greed and exploit you with their fabrications, but be assured that their judgment was pronounced long ago and their destruction does not sleep. – 2 Peter 2: 1-3 The VOICE

This is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies says to his people: “Do not listen to these prophets when they prophesy to you, filling you with futile hopes. They are making up everything they say. They do not speak for the LORD!
 – Jeremiah 23:16 NLT

I realized that God had not sent him, but that he had prophesied against me because Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him. He had been hired to intimidate me so that I would commit a sin by doing this, and then they would give me a bad name to discredit me. Remember Tobiah and Sanballat, my God, because of what they have done; remember also the prophet Noadiah and how she and the rest of the prophets have been trying to intimidate me. – Nehemiah 6: 12-14 NIV

We were due for a return to look at the many writers at Charisma Blogs, and when I clicked the top article was from an author whose name I have been seeing quite frequently, Jennifer Leclaire. This article reflects some experiences that may seem unusual to you if you don’t have contact with Charismatic or Pentecostal people, but trust me, this sort of thing goes on all the time! (I would expect even more so in places like South America and Africa.) We desperately need discernment. Jennifer isn’t being dismissive of the gift — she moves in that circle of people — but of words given as prophetic coming from a person with a religious spirit.

When Religious Spirits Masquerade as Prophets

If you could look at my e-mail inbox, some of what you read would make you cry out in travail for the trauma good people in the body of Christ are suffering. Other messages would make you shout for joy as testimonies of breakthrough roll in. Still others would make you scratch your head and ask, “How can anyone who calls themselves a Christian behave this way?”

I got an email last week that ranks in the top 10 ridiculous category. I’ve left off this person’s last name so he doesn’t get flooded with rebukes. Take a read and judge the spirit thereof and let’s learn some lessons about prophecy along the way.

A Long False Prophecy That Carries a Curse

My name is Robert and I am a Prophet here in McKinney, Texas. I moved here about 7 months ago with my wife and children from Miramar, there in South Florida. Holy Spirit led me to one of your YouTube videos and told me to contact you and give you this word.

For the past 9 months the Lord Jesus has been using me to give words to many of the saints about moving. Many of these saints are Apostles, Prophets, and Pastors with large ministries. As you may or may not know, judgment is here for America. Catastrophic events are going to start happening soon so God is moving his saints into specific safe areas and assignments.

The word that I have been told to give you is that Jesus is calling you to move your family and ministry to the Dallas, Texas area as soon as possible. 1 Peter 4:17 says judgment must begin at the house of God. Every believers [sic] obedience is being tested right now. Jesus says to whom much is given, much is required.

Let me pause on the prophecy right there. This is your textbook doom-and-gloom judgment prophet. Most doom-and-gloom judgment prophets have a religious spirit. There are true words of warning and God is a God of judgment, but this is not one of them. The Lord is not speaking to me to move.

I have had prophetic words from well-known, credible prophets about laboring for a great revival in my region. This religious doomsayer was sent by the devil in a feeble attempt to get me off the wall, just as false prophets were sent to Nehemiah to get him off the wall (Neh. 6:12-14).

Prophetic Presumption Exemplified

The false prophecy continues: “God is up to something big here in the Dallas area and I believe part of it has to do with TV because a lot of the saints that he told me to contact are or have been on television. I have also received a few prophetic words myself last year about being on TV which is not something I ever even thought about or wanted.”

Here’s a great example of prophetic presumption. We don’t need to have opinions about prophetic words. We need to have God’s mind on what God is saying. Presumption can be deadly, as I’ve said many times before. Notice also the emphasis on self here. If he’s supposed to be delivering a life-saving word to me, why does he talk about how God wants to put him on TV?

When the Religious Spirit Manifests

The false prophecy continues:

Also The Lord is bringing true biblical holiness back to the church. Jesus says he wants you to stop cutting your hair short. 1 Corinthians 11:15, “But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering.

Jesus is also saying to all his women no more fake hair, painted or fake nails, and no more makeup which as we read in the Bible was used by wicked women. Also no more earrings or jewelry, which were associated with idolatry in the Bible. A watch and wedding ring are all Jesus wants his women and men to wear. We have to be the example of what holiness looks and acts like. 1 Timothy 2:9, “In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with braided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array.”

Also read 1 Peter 3:1-5. Jesus says he is coming for a church without spot or wrinkle and he made women perfect without these foolish things … Will be praying for you sister and God bless!

I don’t have room in this column to teach about the religious spirit. I believe in holiness, but holiness is a matter of the heart, not the hairstyle. Esther was a godly woman, and she wore jewelry, makeup and expensive clothing. I agree with the modesty message and have championed it. But I don’t agree with this prophetic word came from the Lord because neither the message nor the messenger is lining up with the character of God.