Beware the False Prophets

The Word of our Lord:

Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves (Mt 7:15).

We don’t believe that a Jehovah’s Witness sincerely cares for our eternal soul. When confronted with light and truth about the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Witness does not stand and defend their faith, but instead gathers up their Watchtowers to make a hasty retreat never to come knocking again. They are really door-to-door salesmen trying to sell a false gospel rather than save lost souls; and their time-card in heaven is punched with how many doors are knocked and tracts distributed.

That their ‘religion’ was founded by a false prophet (Charles Taze Russell) in no way diminishes their zeal to promulgate their cultic dogma. Russell believed he was the Laodicean Messenger, or God’s final deliverer; and he was memorialized as such on the headstone of his grave. When he died in 1916—two years after his predicted Rapture of the church—Russellites simply recalculated the Second Coming of Christ through the year 1975 when the Millennial Kingdom was to have been established; and Christ would reign on the earth for one thousand years while the 144,000 servants of the Lord (presumably JW’s) would be sealed by God, and receive their eternal reward in heaven. The rest of us would remain on the earth. Of course, the passage in Rev 7:4 (referencing the 12 tribes of Israel) is blindly taken out of context and reinterpreted to promote a false doctrine in support of seriously flawed theology.

Russell grew up a Presbyterian, but as a teenager he began to doubt what are essential Christian doctrines regarding the deity of Jesus Christ. The church he later established dealt with these issues by simply rewriting the Bible (New World Translation).

A good example of this is in the Gospel of John:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God (John 1:1).

The New World Translation reads, and the Word was a god.

The Witness have a problem with the Trinity and deity of our Lord, but they hold to an even more heretical denial of the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ—a foundational principle of the Christian faith.

In his defense before King Agrippa, the Apostle Paul testified:

Why is it considered incredible among you people if God does raise the dead? [Acts 26:8]

At Athens, Paul preached Jesus and the resurrection; and while the stoic men of Greece sneered at his preaching, there were many others who believed.

In his letter to the church at Corinth, Paul wrote:

Now if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? [1Co 15:12]

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is His death, burial and bodily resurrection which is the cornerstone of Christian faith. Paul warned the Corinthians to reject those who preach a different Jesus, or a contrary gospel. The Apostles had to contend with false teachers and prophets who distorted the truth of Jesus Christ.

But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! [Gal 1:7-8]

The last Witness who crossed our path assuredly stated that the body of Christ was vaporized or taken away, but they did confess that the JW’s rewrote the Bible, a little bit. More than a little bit we dare say.

Now, we can’t charge the Witness without mentioning the heresy of Mormonism. Are we to believe that Joseph Smith found some gold plates with ancient hieroglyphics alongside a pair of magical eyeglasses through which he was able to decipher the true will of God? Including, but not limited to, the notion that Jesus Christ and Satan are brothers, God was a man (before He became God) and you, too, can become a god, but only if you’re a member in good standing of the Mormon Temple. (And don’t overlook the part about the Garden of Eden being located somewhere in Missouri!)

Joseph Smith held to a prophetic belief that a Mormon would one day become president of the United States, and save the nation from some future, apocalyptic tribulation. (We have posted on our political blog, The Conservative Ledger, an article assessing the 2012 presidential campaign between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney; click here.)

Mormon friends of ours are so identified with their teaching that they see themselves as Mormon not Christian. Oh, they say that they believe in Jesus Christ, but He is not the Masiach (Messiah) taught in Scripture.

It’s easy to spot a false prophet. The Book of Deuteronomy teaches that if what a prophet speaks comes to pass then it was, indeed, spoken by the LORD (Dt 18:20-22). If, however, the prophecy does not come about that prophet shall die.

There are warnings throughout the New Testament regarding false teachers.

Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many (Mt 24:11).

For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect (Mt 24:24).

…many false prophets have gone out into the world…the spirit of the antichrist is already in the world (1Jn 4:1-3).

It is not difficult to spot the Witness or Mormon when they come knocking at your door, but what about the deceiver who presents himself as a faithful member of the body of Christ?

Peter wrote (2 Pe 2:1-3) that the false teachers are among us introducing destructive heresies, and in greed exploiting the people with false words.

We are alarmed at the greed and false teaching of what is broadcast on so-called Christian television (TBN, Daystar) including, but mournfully not limited to, Benny Hinn, Joseph Prince, Joyce Meyer, Creflo Dollar and Joel Osteen.

These pastors have earned more than a living preaching a distorted gospel, and have established multi-million dollar ministries selling books and DVD’s.

Dollar (what an appropriate name) said he had nothing to apologize for because he earned his money the right way. In an article posted on his website, Your Inheritance of Wealth and Riches, Dollar seems to suggest that being poor is a sin. Didn’t Jesus say that the poor would always be among us? [Mt 26:11]

The pastor goes on to say:

You have every right to possess material wealth—clothes, jewelry, houses, cars and money—in abundance.

He incorrectly interprets spiritual blessings to include material wealth of which he has amassed a rich bounty far beyond most in his congregation.

We really enjoy watching TD Jakes. He is a powerful minister of the Word of God, but on a recent Sunday there was a guest pastor at the Potter’s House talking up how great a man is Bishop Jakes while soliciting $10,000.00 donations to his church; and we recalled that Creflo Dollar preaches that Jesus Christ was rich.

The Lord said:

The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head (Mt 8:20).

Then there is Eddie Long who said:

We’re not just a church, we’re an international corporation. We’re not just a bumbling bunch of preachers who can’t talk, and all we’re doing is baptizing babies. [Source]

Understand, it is not a sin for a pastor to earn a living with the gift of teaching imparted by the Holy Spirit. When Christ sent the seventy to preach the Word, He instructed them to take no money bag for a laborer is worthy of his wages (Lk 10:4). Wages not wealth.

The Apostle Paul exceeded the instruction of Christ for Paul was a tent-maker who supported himself on his missionary travels so as not to cause offense regarding the Gospel message that he preached in the synagogues. The false teachers of his day were in it for the money. They were motivated by greed.

In chapter nine of Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians he addresses his right as an apostle to be supported by the church. Peter and the apostles took along their wives and were cared for by the brothers.

Paul wrote:

Don’t I have the right to eat…if we sow spiritual things in you, is it too much if we reap material things…? But we endure all things so as not to be a hindrance to the Gospel of Christ (1Co 9:4, 1Co 9:11-12).

The prosperity teachers have reaped abundantly from the children of Almighty God. Where is this gospel of prosperity found in Scripture? Certainly it was not taught by our Lord! God cares about your eternal soul, not the shiny new car that you covet.

Store up your treasure in heaven…for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also (Mt 6:19-21).

Christians must be equipped to discern the false teachers. There are ministers of God who proclaim themselves to be prophets and apostles, but Old Testament prophets were anointed by the LORD as were the New Testament Apostles who received  special gifts through the Holy Spirit to testify that their teaching was, in fact, the true word of God.

Understand, the Holy Spirit imparts spiritual gifts even today. Paul writes about this in Rom 12:6-8. We don’t all have the same gifts, but those which are given by the grace of God according to the measure of our faith.

What spiritual gift does Joel Osteen possess? He has an amiable personality and is quite the motivational speaker, but is that equal to the gift of exhortation? Osteen, who sees himself as an encourager, deftly weaves a story of anecdotes sweetened with Sunday school instruction designed to make his congregation feel good.

It works! We always feel uplifted after hearing Osteen speak, but then we realize there was no substance in his message. We have never heard him preach the death, burial and bodily resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. It’s all platitudes not biblical exhortation.

In a June 20, 2005 interview with Larry King, Osteen essentially denied the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ:

KING: What if you’re Jewish or Muslim, you don’t accept Christ at all?

OSTEEN: You know, I’m very careful about saying who would and wouldn’t go to heaven. I don’t know …

KING: If you believe you have to believe in Christ? They’re wrong, aren’t they?

OSTEEN: Well, I don’t know if I believe they’re wrong. I believe here’s what the Bible teaches and from the Christian faith this is what I believe. But I just think that only God will judge a person’s heart. I spent a lot of time in India with my father. I don’t know all about their religion. But I know they love God. And I don’t know. I’ve seen their sincerity. So I don’t know. I know for me, and what the Bible teaches, I want to have a relationship with Jesus.

King gave Osteen several opportunities to clarify his statement to which Osteen simply replied, “I don’t know. I don’t know.”

When a caller quoted John 14:6 (I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me) Osteen simply repeated that it wasn’t his thing to condemn people.

The teaching of Christ on the subject of judgment (Mt 7:1) has been so grossly distorted and taken out of context. The world loves to dangle this over our heads, Don’t judge us lest you be judged.

What Jesus taught was that a brother with an alcohol problem shouldn’t judge another brother who drinks too much. Plain and simple; and when Christ returns He will judge the world.

John wrote (Jn 3:18) that the person who does not believe in Christ has been judged already; and Paul wrote (1Co 6:2-3) to the Corinthians that the saints will judge the world even angels.

Standing before the rulers and elders of Jerusalem, Peter spoke of Jesus the Nazarene saying:

And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved (Ac 4:12).

So, Joel Osteen doesn’t know if Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Krishnas, atheists and new-agers are wrong. He didn’t go to seminary and is clearly ignorant of the Bible.

The Apostle Paul, on the other hand, wrote:

For I neither received it (the gospel) from man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ (Gal 1:12).

[Osteen did post an apology on his website for being unclear during the Larry King interview.]

The prosperity teachers have gotten rich preaching an inoffensive, distorted gospel. However, God does not promise you a rose garden. Have we forgotten that He evicted us from the Garden of Eden?

But listening to Osteen is like having your ears tickled:

You will get that promotion…you will get that job…you will achieve your goals…you will find your life partner…If you believe it then receive it…

What did Christ say? You will have trials and tribulations (Jn 16:33).

Friends, it’s not about you. It’s all about the Lord Jesus Christ and that He died to cleanse you of your sins, but only if you repent and believe on Him who was sent.

Always be mindful that not everyone will be saved despite what the Universalist teaches. Christ said the gate is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it (Mt 7:13-14).

Jesus said that not everyone who calls His name will enter the kingdom of heaven; and they will cry out their many good works, but the Lord will answer, I never knew you. Depart from Me you workers of iniquity (Mt 7:21-23).

Finally, Paul warns Timothy:

The time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth(2Ti 4:3-4).

Stop tickling your ears, and open the Word of God.

Suggested Reading: History of the Jehovah’s Witnesses

Next: The Greatest Commandment