Sunday, August 1, 2010

Can the False Prophet Do Real Miracles?

Were they believer's or unbelievers, Matt 7:15-23?

By Abraham Israel

I have many times again and again have seen wonderful men and women of God take the following passage out of context, to teach a man made fear of God which has no power to edify the hearer wth the love of God (1 Cor 8:1; Is 29:13).

Let us first see the whole passage and dissect the scripture to understand it in context. The whole passage we can divide in to three sections. In the first section Jesus exhorts the believer to walk in the 'The Narrow Way'.

Jesus said in Matt 7, "v13 “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. v14 Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it." The moment a religious Christian hears this passage he thinks that Jesus is speaking about the hardships of works that we do after we have received salvation by faith, which finally ends at the time a believer ends his earthly life and enters his blissful life in heaven. He intreprets the passage with a clouded mind of works which makes him equate the word 'life' to 'life in heaven and not on earth'. And then he intreprets narrow gate and difficult way as the 'life of works done on earth after salvation'. Actually this is the opposite of what Jesus intended to convey to people. Jesus emphasized to people who followed the law and prophets of the Book of the Old Testament in order to get saved, that they cannot be saved by works done by themselves which all the people of this world are doing (Matt 7:12). Salvation comes only when a person asks God to save him by purely believing Jesus as his True Shepherd and Savior (John 10:11), and there after live by faith believing that he has already been saved not by his own works but by Jesus' work on the Cross (Matt 7:7-11; Eph 2:8; Rom 1:16-17). These Jewish people who lived at the time of Jesus only believed that they can be saved their hard work done by studying the Old Testament Scriptures (John 5:39; 7:49). The message of Jesus was contrary to way they believed and lived during that period of time in the first century. This is the reason Jesus spoke and emphasized that 'salvation by faith' is the narrow gate and to live by faith is the difficult way that leads to God's life on earth.

Message Not the Miracles, Lifestyle Not Just the Message

The Jesus continued saying, "v15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. v16 You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? v17 Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. v18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. v19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. v20 Therefore by their fruits you will know them." (Matt 7:15-20). In this second section Jesus spoke this message to the believers inorder for them to test and know the broad-way walkers and proclaimers by their ungodly lifestyle they live. This points mainly to the person who propogates the message of salvation. Jesus exhorts the believers to identify the false shepherd from the true one, the false prophet from the true one and the false apostles from the true one. It is the responsibility of the hearers to judge and authenticate the message and lifestyle of the person who propagates a doctrine (1 Cor 14:29). Miracle in itself is only a partial evidence to the content of the message. Sometimes God himself sends true miracles through a unsaved person to test whether His people will accept the message of the false prophet and ditch the Covenantal relationship with Him (Deut 13:1-4; Rev 13:11-15; 2 Thess 2:9-12). Balaam was a soothsayer and a False Prophet who had a genuine calling to do God's work (2 Peter 2:16; Jos 13:22). Balaam prophesied more accrately than any other prophet in the entire Old Testament Book about the coming of the Messiah (Num 24:17), yet his coveteousness towards money proved that he was not a true prophet (2 Peter 2:14-15; Jude 11; Rev 2:14). Jesus rejoiced when the disciples returned back from their apostolic journey to say about the miracles that were done in which all demons subjected themselves to them in Jesus' name because of the anointing they carried through Jesus' apsotolic commision and impartation for the trip, Judas was one among them who did great miracles along with other apostles (Luke 9:1, 6; 10:17). He did not really love and trust Jesus to save himself from sinfulness, instead he hated Jesus and was living a hypocritical lifestyle which hid his thievery, coveteouness and his hunger for political power (John 12:4-8, 13:26-27). Because of Jesus' love for Judas, he was indirectly pointing to his mistake even until the end so that he could be saved (John 13:1-2, 18-21; Matt 26:24-25). He was not saved yet but because of the apostolic calling which he received as a gift through the call of Jesus, he experienced the apostolic miraculous anointing (Acts 1:16-17; John 6:64-71; 17:12; Luke 6:12-13, 16; John 5:39-40).

This is the reason Apostle Paul in Rom 11:29 said, "For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable." In other words, once God calls a person and gifts him with His miraculous gifts, He does not take it back no matter how the person uses it. God is not a man to give a gift and take it away just because a person uses it wrongly with a wrong motive (Num 23:19). He does not take it back immediately because man has been given dominion over the earth and it is his responsibility to use it in the right way by relying on God to direct him step by step (Ps 115:16; 8:6; 37:23). This does not mean that a man can do all the bad things he wants to do with God's gift and still go scot free. Instead once a person finishes his course of life that God has foreordained, he is accountable on the day of Judgment to God for every action that he has done wickedly, wrongly or with a bad hidden motive (Heb 9:27; Acts 24:15; 17:31; Eccl 12:14). This is the reason Satan who is the most anointed person next only to God (Ezek 28:14-16; 1John 4:4), even after creating rebellion among angels and making them rebel against God (Rev 12:4), have continued the same work of rebellion with the humans and still continues with the same unchanging attitude in this world because God's foreordained age of rulership has not yet come to an end (1 Cor 2:8; Eph 6:12; 2 Cor 11:14). So testing the lifesytle of the propagator of the gospel comes next and then comes the fruit that the hearers of the message produce from hearing a preacher, teacher, prophet or apostle (Matt 7:15-16). If a person lives a hidden lifestyle of sin, his message will not have the convicting power of God to change people's lives (2 Tim 3:13; 1 Tim 3:1, 6-7; 1 Cor 2:3-5; 4:18-21; 1 Thess 1:5-6; 2 Cor 6:4, 6-7). Even though Jesus repeatedly pointed to His miracles as the evidence that the Father has sent Him with a salvation mission to save humanity (John 14:11; 5:36; 10:38), when people questioned Jesus' message and miracles accusing Jesus of insanity, some of them even going to the extent of attributing the source of miracles to Satan and his cohorts (Matt 12:22-30; Mark 3:20-27), Jesus first asked them to point out the sin that they have found in His life (John 8:46). In other words, the life of Jesus was the absolute authenticity that He gave to His message and miracles.

The other important things that Jesus revealed about the false prophets are, they will never be able to produce the genuine fruit of the Spirit in their life, even though they try to wear the sheep's clothing. Only a believer as a good tree has the potential inside him to produce the genuine fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22-23). The false prophets who are not saved are really the bad trees that Jesus is referring here in the above scripture. They do have the potential to produce only fleshly fruit in their lives (Gal 5:19-21). As much as it is natural for a believer to produce the good fruit of the Spirit, equally for a unbeliever it is so natural to produce fleshly bad fruit [i.e. the works of the flesh] of the devil and his cohorts. All unbelievers will be thrown in to hell at the end because they will not produce fruit till the end unless or until they get saved by believing the gospel (Matt 13:36-43; 2 Peter 3:7, 9; Rom 1:16-17). The true character of a false prophet, teacher or apostle can be easily understood by a genuine believer through using the plumb-bob or measuring rod to test the spirit that operates behind these unsaved people who try to hypocritically hide the truth. By monitoring the masked character of a unsaved person, one can easily find in a short period of time that he is a wolf in sheep's clothing. The false prophets cannot continue to mask their real charater for very long period of time before the apostolic genuine believers. This is the reason Jesus taught that the believers will know the unbeliever by the fleshly fruit of their doing.   

Test and See

When the believers who were in the first century Church tested and found out false apostles from the true one, Jesus commended them for their discernment through the word of God (Rev 2:2). When the Berean christians searched the word of God to find whether the message of the Apostle Paul was right or not, the Holy Spirit commened them and made Luke the writer of the Gospel to call them "noble-minded" people who then became believer (Acts 17:11-12). The Apostle John told the believers to check the preachers and "test the spirits [operating in them], whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out in to the world [under the direction of Satan to deceive people and keep them in darkness and lies]" (1 John 4:1). It is the resposibility of every believer not to believe all the spirit that does magic or miracles. The plumb-bob or measuring rod to test the spirit behind a person is found by,

1) Inner witness of the Spirit through peace (1 John 3:24; Rom 8:16; Phil 4:7).

2) By monitoring the message of the speaker whether he confesses Jesus Christ as Lord God of himself and makes all who hear him to believe likewise, and that He has come in the flesh as a absolute human like any one of us (1 John 4:2; 1 Cor 12:3; 1 Tim 2:5). The spirit of Antichrist will not confess that Jesus has come in the flesh because the authority of Jesus' blood will cancel and make his authority invalid the moment he does that confession (1 John 4:3). This is the reason the Bible says that the Tribulation saints will overcome Antichrist and his demonic cohorts by the "blood of the Lamb [Jesus] and by the word of their testimony" (Rev 12:11).

3) Either by learning and growing in to maturity by the word of God to the division of soul and spirit and as a result discern the thoughts and intents of people like Jesus was when He walked in this planet earth (Heb 4:12-13; John 6:61; 2:24; Matt 12:25; Luke 11:17; 2:52) or else take counsel from a reputed men of God and walk by their counsel (Prov 15:22; 11:14).

4) Asking God by faith to know intuitively by the Holy Spirit's gift of "discerning of spirits" (1 Cor 12:10b).

5) Through knowing the revelation and having understanding that comes from the word of God to believe it (Dan 9:2; Ps 119:97-105; 1 Cor 10:6; Rom 15:4; 16:25-26; 2 Thess 2:3, 8; Rev 1:1, 3; Eph 1:18-19).

6) By learning to abide in the teaching anointing that the Holy One Jesus has given to us personally when we have received Him in to our life (1 John 2:20, 27; John 16:8, 13; 14:17; 2 Cor 1:22; Gal 5:25 Rom 8:14).

7) Last but not the least, the character of the preacher or teacher should be monitored over a period of time in his life and ministry, so that a genuine false prophet can be found out before he causes any serious dmage inside the Body of Christ (2 Tim 3:6-9; 1 Tim 3:6-7; Titus 3:9-11; 2 Peter 2:1-22).

In this section, as we have already seen Jesus have told the believers to find the wolves in sheeps clothing who will speak a theology of broad way that leads to destruction. The broad-way theology is all about a religious doctrine that adds work upon work to inherit salvation (Gal 3:1-5). This kind of false doctrine has no power to save the souls of those who are continuing in it (Gal 3:10-12; 2 Cor 11:3-4; 2 Tim 4:3-4; 1 Tim 4:16). There are three types in this category of false prophets. The first type will go beyond the truth of 'Jesus in the only way' and will say he is one of the way (Deut 13:1-4). The second type is a religious one who will say, 'we are saved by faith but we need to add works to salvation to be really saved at the end, in this type the believer will lose the joy and reward of salvation (Gal 1:7-8; 3:1, 10-12; Rom 4:4; Col 2:16-18).' The third type will have all the right doctrines but by their life they will deny the Lord (2 Peter 2:18-22). This last type is most deceptive and the most dangerous type. These people will propagate God's grace as a licence to sin and will deny the power of the Lord that leads a person to the life of godliness (2 Tim 3:5). In today's language this is described as what people call as liberal theology. So beware of all these end time deceptions saints of the Most High God. Watch and pray that you may escape the end time tribulation that is going to come upon the whole earth to test those who dwell on the earth in the coming days (Luke 21:36; Rev 3:10).

I Never Knew You

Then finally Jesus said in the third section of Matt 7, " v21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. v22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ v23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’"

Remember the contest in which Jesus is speaking, He is speaking about belivers vs unbelieves which we have clearly established in the previous exposition in section one and two. Many people of God pull this part of the scripture apart from the context and try to prove how miracle workers and all believers can lose their salvation. We have clearly seen that a believer does not lose salvation here, but the unbeleiver who has been called in to ministry to propagate it or the false prophets of the other categories we have seen are the ones Jesus is speaking about in this above passage and says to them, "I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!". In other words, it is like Jesus saying to them, "You were never saved and as a result of it you lived and continued in your sinful and lawless lifstyle."

Doing miracles and experiencing it in itself cannot save a person, but truly knowing that we need Jesus to save ourself from sin because of our sin nature which makes us all as born sinners before God the righteous will only save us. A person need to realize that he cannot save himself and without Jesus is bound to go to hell, this is the first step to receive God's righteousness and to become a righteous a person before God (Rom 4:5-6).

People who do not differentiate this, will point to Matt 7:15-23 and will always say that miracle workers are bound to hell. This is pulling the Scripture out of context. Matt 7:15-23 speaks not about true believers, but about false prophets in sheep's clothing according to the context. To be fearful of miracle workers and miracle is like not using money at all because there are some counterfeit on the prowl. It is also like not using internet e-shopping or transaction because we hear about on-line fraud happening everywhere. This is totally doing injustice to the anointing of God and bringing disrespect to the chosen men of God who sacrifice much and risk their life to propagate the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Acts 15:22, 25-26, 12; 19:11). It is also like, 'Throwing out the baby with the bath water.' Never insultingly speak of things that you do not fully understand, as Jesus said always let your words be 'yes' and 'no' when you do not understand anything fully. Other wise you will speak the words of the evil one that brings disrepute to the Lord's genuine end time apostolic fellow warriors and workers in God's harvest (Matt 5:37; Luke 10:2). Instead of discouraging the few apostoloic workers in His harvest, productively pray for more workers who are desperately needed in our end time harvest field and you too become one among them (Matt 9:35-38).

Also these people who complain to Jesus on the day of Judgment say, "....Have we not done....[Note: they do not say 'You have done for us' (Rev 5:9-10)]". This shows that these people were never saved. Here Jesus does not say, "I knew you and then because of your lifestyle I forgot you", but "I never [means NEVER] knew you" (Matt 7:23). These are not true believers because Jesus is not incompetent to lose even one of the believer who has believed in Him, who are actually given to Him by the Father's will (John 6:39-40).

How do we know further that these people were not saved? Jesus said to them that they were calling Him as 'Lord, Lord' but did not do the will of the Father in heaven (Matt 7:21). The will of the Father is for Jesus to lose not even the last person in this planet earth who gets saved genuinely by believing Him and that He should raise all these believers on the last day in which they will be resurrected (John 6:39-40). So Jesus affirms in John 10:27-29"27 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. 28 And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand." This shows that once a believer receives eternal life from Jesus he shall never perish, nor anybody can snatch them out of His hand or His Father's hand because of His eternal love and salvation that he has given them to enjoy (Rom 8:38-39; Heb 5:9). Praise the Lord!!!


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