False Prophet

False Prophet

Be aware of the False Prophets!

“Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them.” Matthew 7:15-16

Are you concerned about false prophets today? In what ways have you seen false prophets switch “gates” (Matthew 7:13-20) on you, claiming lies as truth? How do they make them seem attractive?

False prophets will switch the gates on you and claim lies as truth. They are denying who and what Christ has done for you and replacing the truth with lies! They seem attractive at first, until you realize you have been shamed, hopefully before it is to late.

The warning to the follower: Because even though you may have been misled, you are still responsible for your choices!

What did Jesus say about them? He called them “Wolves in Sheep’s clothing,” and where we get this phrase, as the phrase is quite true! It is saying and representing what is not really what you intend or mean to deliberately misreport truth, even though you may believe it as true.

What did the Jews feel about false prophets then? Most Jews did not accept any new prophets after the Maccabees (time after Daniel, 175-135 BC) period (Jer. 2:8; 5:30) and considered all who claimed to be a prophet as false. Josephus (first century Roman historian) lists many, during Jesus’ times, who attracted the crowds, but were soon flushed out as vicious wolves.

How do we know a False Prophet?

We can know them by their character, by how they live (Matt. 7:21-23; Luke 6:43-45), and if their words come to pass (Duet. 13; 18:21-22).

Do they live by faith, humility, Fruit of the Spirit or by pride, arrogance, extravagant living.

Do they point to themselves or to the Work of Christ?

They will have the spotlight, because humility prevents those who are godly from promoting themselves.

The only way you can tell is to know the truth from the Bible, watch them closely, and test them (Gal. 1:8-9; 1 John 4:1). In addition, know this: their lifestyle and character will soon give them away (2 Cor. 8:20-21; 2 Tim. 2:14-16; 3:13; 2 Pet. 2:1-3).

False Prophets are dangerous!

They will lead you astray and must be corrected. If they refuse to listen (Matt. 18), they must be silenced.

They are slick and tickle people’s years. False teachers will rarely come across as the evil type, with shifty eyes and whispers in the dark. They come with fancy suits, flashy cars and eloquent, emotional, and attractive speeches to captivate you. They will have large ministries because what is false is what is attractive. As people will give them money, thinking they will get a greater return which will never happen.

They will also cause divisions, strife, and lead people away from the True faith (1 Tim. 1:3; 6:3-4; 2 Tim. 2:18; 2 Pet. 2:1).

They usually will not teach, but just give off emotional rhetoric and grandstanding, pointing to themselves rather than glorifying God. Or, they will mix in truth and falsehoods to confuse you, as most Christians have not been discipled, and therefore cannot discern the difference!

Heresy is not about interruptions and opinions. It is about adding to the Bible what is not there, or taking away from what is there. This is very destructive, both personally and collectively, to a body of Believers (Rev. 22:18-19).

The only way you can expose a false prophet is to know the true Truth from the Bible, watch them closely, and test them.

Reflection
Do you believe that a lot of pastors, especially the ones on TV, need to be “set straight,” as we have so much false teaching in the church, adding what is not there and letting people far away? Concider this, when we take away essential truths of the faith, and believe what we want, how would this grow your faith and your church? Think about how does this neutralize the Majesty and holiness of Jesus, His teachings, how much we have been forgiven, and cheapen His Gospel?

“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” (Hos. 4:6)

Spiritual Maturity Builds Churches PIII

The Importance Of Our Motivation and Inspiration

Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors. Isaiah 53: 12

I live in the Los Angeles area, the home of a basketball team called the “Lakers,” even though there is no lake. Anyway, they are one of the top teams in the league, with several championship wins, and usually have two or three exceptional star players. During the end of the regular season in 2004, the Lakers were losing. They had to win two very important games with teams I had never heard of (what can I say, I am just not much of a sports guy when it comes to “foreign” teams), or they would not be in the finals. Then, for the key game, one of their star players, Kobe Bryant, just did not show up. The team was down and unmotivated. Their coach, Phil Jackson, took the rest of the twelve players into the locker room and told them that each one of them had the capability to win. Together, they could win without that star player, or any star player. Then he told them, you have become lazy, relying on Kobe and Shaq and not stepping up yourselves. Then he said, “you all must step up and perform.” They went out, and won.

Do you “step up?” What motivates you in the Christian life?

What is your source of inspiration outside of the Scriptures? Do you just rely on others, or do you and can you “step up” in your faith, reaching out to others to win the game that Christ has put you in? The key to stepping up is motivation. Coach Jackson is a skilled motivator, which is why he has a lot of championship rings. We do not need the ring when we know who we are in Christ and when He is our motivation!

He replied, “Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” Matthew 17:20

Most of us will look to our creeds and confessions for motivation, and for good reason. But, I want to extend further into our personal responsibility. That is, how can we take our faith so seriously that it becomes more personal and real, and all our thoughts, ideas, directions, goals, and inspirations go in the direction of serving our Lord? How do we take our faith to a deeper level, “step up” so it is ours and personal, and not just because this is what our families are and do, and not just because we are part of a good church, school, or work? How do we “step up” so that our faith is solely because of what Christ has done for us and nothing else?

The key is in allowing the work of the Holy Spirit in us. However, we have a responsibility to respond, to grow, and to build on what we are given. It takes trust, faith, and the surrender of our will, our dreams, and our ideas over to the LORDSHIP of Christ. We must acknowledge that He is Lord of us because of His love for us, and that His ways are better than ours. Christ is our King; so, let us live our lives in response to what He has done for us!

© 1992, 2005, Richard J. Krejcir, Ph.D. Schaeffer Institute of Church Leadership, www.churchleadership.org

Spiritual Maturity Builds Churches PII

For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 2 Corinthians 4: 17-18

One of the clearest evidences of being a mature Christian is the realization that the municipal center of the Christian life is Jesus Christ as our LORD. He seeks to bring us closer to Himself by His love, joy, and peace so that we may share His love with those around us. This is the key that conveys God’s purpose for His people and those around them.

Spiritual maturity involves an increased awareness and knowledge for the need to be in Christ, and not to be living just to oneself.

When we have an increased need that goes beyond our self, and beyond our self-confidence so our confidence is in our Lord and the Holy Spirit; then our self-confidence becomes rooted in and dependent on Christ working through us. We become Christ driven, not self-driven. As a result, our determination becomes more surrendered to God’s will as He becomes the driving force for our lives and existence. This means as we grow in Christ, we are surrendering more of our will, desires, and plans unto our Lord Jesus Christ.

As Christians, we see that we have purpose, direction, and our lives and ministries are filled with Christ’s power.

We will realize that we need mentorship and support from other mature believers. What does this look like? We will have a life that comes from the impact of the Spirit and the disciplines of the faith. As we learn, we grow; and as we grow, we engage in prayer, study, exercising our gifts, worship, love, and fellowship that draws us closer to God and others and that facilitates further spiritual formation. We will have a firm, forward, and moving commitment and trust in Christ’s work.

Spiritual Maturity Builds Churches PI

What does it Mean to be a Mature Christian?

What are you willing to do to become one? If you have spent any significant time in the Christian faith, you will have observed that all of us are not on the same playing field of faith and maturity. We Christians have all had different experiences in life, different reactions to those experiences, and different ways of understanding and applying our faith to those situations. These experiences and the decisions we make concerning them all converge to shape us into who we are today and who we will be tomorrow. Coupled with this is the work of the Holy Spirit, guiding and molding us, seeking to penetrate the barriers of our stubborn pride and will. The Holy Spirit does not, although He certainly is able to, overwrite us. He works within us as a gentle change agent, a voice of meekness (as strength under control), desiring us to respond to our life’s circumstances with character and maturity.

Your word, O LORD, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens. Your faithfulness continues through all generations; you established the earth, and it endures. Psalm 119:89-90

Growing in faith encompasses more than just asking Christ into our lives and hearts, and goes far beyond baptism or our church membership. It means being a disciple.

Discipleship goes further than our conversion, our acceptance of Christ as Savior, our election, or any initiation we could conceive of into the Christian life. Why is that? Because our initiation is extended by Christ, and is only the beginning. The first step we take, receiving Him by faith through His Grace, is the entrance into the faith and Christian life. Accepting our election in Christ is not the only act of being a Christian! Yet, so many live their lives as if this were so.

It would be like joining a ritzy, fancy, exclusive club, but never venturing into that club. Therefore, we would never use the exercise equipment, never swim in the pool, never play on the golf course, never rest in the steam room or partake of the networking, fellowship, and the fun.

We would never go to the parties or the dining, and would miss the connections because we never attended. Thus, we would get virtually nothing out of it, except the satisfaction that we had joined. The only prestige we would have is the membership card on our dresser. It is the same with becoming a Christian. We might join the ultimate “club,” but never use it or let it help develop our connections and depth with God and others. Yes, we may be saved, but if all the opportunities have been set aside, forgotten, and missed, oh, how sad that would be. Perhaps, you think all you have to do is be baptized as a public initiation, profession, or dedication, and then sit yourself in a pew of compliance and comfort, thinking, I did my part; the rest is up to others. Acceptance of what Christ has done is to be the door through which we walk in faith, as is our public profession or testimony of our faith. It does not stop there. It starts there! Why talk more on this? If we do not “get” this, we will never develop our net to be used for fishing because we will not have the materials to do so.

Be caught up with Christ!

Christ bears our stupidities. What are those for you and your church? 

How can you and your church do a better job at bringing out the best in your people, be a blessing, and not to seek self-gratification at the expense of others? 

The bottom line is this: God is in control of your church. His hand is intervening—in us, in time, in the situation—and in His timing. We will have the bad, and we will have our setbacks, trials, and our human frailties; but most important of all, we have the ultimate Good—we have Christ when we are in Christ! The application for us is what He seeks in us—the distinction of real, effectual faith that makes us able to lead and teach (if one is a Bible teacher). For a leader, it is discernment between good and false teaching, and/or good versus bad love, Fruit, and character, and/or a good versus a failing church.  

What do you think the honest reputation of your church and leadership in the pews and in your neighborhood is? 

One of the deficiencies and fickleness of character that we humans possess is the propensity of being shallow. We are like a charismatic speaker over being told the truth, a flashy dresser over something practical, and a celebrity over an intellectual or even a friend. We want a religion that does not convict or teach because we want to indulge ourselves with our desires and a pat on the back. We want our ears tickled and our problems solved; we want to feel good but we do not want to grow in faith or learn from adversity. We want comfort and not have to bother with the time and work that true spiritual formation takes. In the Gospels, Jesus walked away from the people who were flocking to Him to go after the pious, fraud leaders. 

The question we must ask, is how shallow am I? What about the people in my church? Where do I need conviction; in what areas do I need to grow? Then, we need to get up and follow Christ comforts us and assists us to do the same, to lead others out of their shallowness into the depths of His presence and Word. Jesus knows our thinking, motivations, will, and heart; this is something only God can know. Jesus has supernatural knowledge and will see through any pretentiousness and shallowness; He is not concerned with the fad and excitement, but rather how we are leading others in growing their faith. Jesus did not trust the people who were so eager because He knew they would be just as fleeting (1 Sam 16:7; Psalm 139; John 2:13-25; 4:29; Acts 1:24). 

What can be done to deepen one’s faith and life?  

What are the challenges indicated in this passage for us today? What is our true priority in how we do our church? Where is our focus, rational, and purpose? Is it all about God’s glory—or ours? Is it about what we want—or what He requires? What is the purpose of your church? 

Do not be caught up with the stimulation of trends, hype, and speculations; rather, be caught up with Christ. Do not ignore the veracity of God’s Word. His Word is explicit; He tells us what we need to know and that is that. It is a tragedy to chase what is meaningless and fleeting then miss His wonders and Truth! We have nothing to add to His Word and nothing about which to improve it; rather, it is we who need to be approved.

How does your church glorify God?

Why is it impossible to glorify God in the midst of envy and strife, or in anger and bitterness? 

We, as Christian leaders have a debt to pay out of our gratitude for what Christ has done. We must consider reaching others in our care as well as the lost as an opportunity to obey our call. The whole purpose of the Jewish nation was to model God’s redemptive plan to all of humanity. Now the baton has been passed to Christians—both as individuals and collectively as the Church (Gen. 12). 

Keep in mind this imperative from God’s Word. We are to be rooted in Christ and to display humility, as our Lord exemplified. This means mutual acceptance of others, even those whose culture and beliefs are different. Yet, it is amazing how we Christians exclude one another over trivial matters, causing many church splits and schisms. This is what causes a lot of our problems in the world; we have created a poor reputation in the world. We often are the butt of jokes that we have well earned. It is not always satan or worldliness; sometimes we can be our own worst enemies (Matt. 23; Mark 10:45; 2 Cor. 5:20)! 

How do we as Christians cause church splits and schisms when we exclude one another over trivial items? 

God accepted you. You, in turn, must accept others! He did not save us to be self-centered; He saved us to be His ambassadors wherever we are, whatever we are, and whenever we can! 

What have you or your church done in the past six months to promote or model peace and unity? 

Consider that a bad leader is like a wild animal that will tear at another animal’s weakness and frailty. Do we do the same with others, and still praise the Lord? Yes, Christ bears our weakness and our stupidities, and He has patience with us when we are totally undeserving. But; what about our responsibilities? What about our call to be better? We need to make sure that when we lead, we are pointing others to Christ. We are to seek and bring out the good in others, as our Lord did with us, and be a blessing to others. We are not to seek self-gratification at the expense of others. Did you know that it is as impossible to be a Christian hypocrite as it is impossible to be half pregnant? Either you are—or you are not. The Fruit will show our true colors. We indeed have hope and purpose, as hope is the effect of obedience and trust in our Lord (Heb. 6:18). If you have no hope, then you have no vision and purpose, and no trust in the One who loves you ( Gen. 12:1-3; 17:7; 26:2-4; 28:14; 46:3; Ex. 29:45-46; 2 Sam. 7:9; Isa. 40:10; Mal. 3:1; John 1:14; 4:22; Gal. 3:8-16; 26-29; Phil. 2:9-11; Heb. 7-10; 13:20; Rev. 7:9; 21:1-3).

Our debt to Christ

As you lead, consider your debt to Christ for what He has done for you. Be careful not to put down others whose faith is not strong or whom you may not like. Be willing and able to disciple others in the faith with real guidance, support, and in prayer. In so doing, you can live your life as an encourager to others. A more experienced and mature Christian is called to walk alongside new and less mature Christians to help them grow so they can glorify Christ. This is leadership prime! In addition, Christian leaders are to remove all aspects of pride and arrogance from their thinking and actions! The leader or pastor has the obligation, the imperative command, to disciple others with time, love, and patience, not merely to exercise one’s own version or vision to the exclusion of Christ and His precepts. Additionally, we are not to flaunt ourselves because of our position or maturity—or lack of it.  

Have you been able to remove all aspects of pride and arrogance from your thinking and actions? If not, what do you still need to work on? 

Leaders are to be dedicated to unity rather than to strife and envy!  

There are major enemies and threats that will take down the best leaders and destroy the most fruitful churches. First is pride, which was discussed previously; now, consider that our Lord suffered for the benefit of others, and to the exclusion of Himself. Since Christ was able to deny Himself, it is ludicrous to think that our pride is bigger than Him, so that we do not need to be humble; without humility we will have envy, which is one of the most destructive forces on earth, and will bring down leaders and ministries faster than imagination can allow! How do we combat this? Look to our Lord! His focus was pleasing God and helping others. What is yours? If your vision and attitude are not about pleasing God, but you are in it for yourself, you are not a leader called by God; rather, you are in the wrong position at best or perhaps a parasite at worst who is a clear and present danger to the Kingdom and must step down until you are right with God! In real church leadership, no pretenders or phonies or prideful people are allowed! Get out and get help (Psalm 69:9; 1 Pet. 5)! 

Christ must be our model and pattern in our service to others, and the reason for the importance of being humble. Yet, many Christian leaders act as though this were not true! 

Do you acknowledge God’s Word the way you do money? 

From our studying, to our mentoring, to our governing, to our hospitality, or to our public encounters, all must be done with one mind and mouth. We must work as a body, maintaining our individual personalities, but having unified vision and purpose to glorify God. If this is not so, the result will be chaos and strife, Satan’s favorite playground. So, we must look to the Scriptures, which were written for us—for our benefit, for our learning, and for our growth—all by divine inspiration. We cannot glorify God in the midst of envy, pride, and strife, or in the presence of anger and bitterness. We cannot be known for our negatives, for they will accomplish nothing. Our focus must be on the positive; our focus must be on Christ as LORD (1 Cor. 10:11; 2 Tim. 3:15-17; 1 Pet. 1:10-12)!