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Recognizing False Prophets Part 2

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer
The Truth Network Radio
March 1, 2022 1:00 am

Recognizing False Prophets Part 2

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer

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March 1, 2022 1:00 am

Many people would like greater wealth and health but are led to believe they don’t have enough faith. How can we identify true prophets in these important matters of faith? False prophets draw their false messages from a variety of sources, rather than God’s self-revelation. In this message, we take home three words of hope to discern those sources, and determine whether what you’re hearing is from God, or from somewhere else.  

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Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith. True prophets of God get their message from God Himself. False prophets draw their false messages from a variety of sources. Today, how to spot those sources and determine whether what you're hearing is from God or from somewhere else. From the Moody Church in Chicago, this is Running to Win with Dr. Erwin Lutzer, whose clear teaching helps us make it across the finish line. Today, we continue a series on the church in Babylon, unleashing the power of a Spirit-filled witness. Pastor Lutzer, an awful lot of internet voices compete for a believer's attention. How do we know what's true and what's false?

Well, Dave, I could give a long answer to that question. Of course, the message that we are going to be listening to in a moment is going to respond to that, except to emphasize that what people preach and teach always has to be tested by the Scriptures. And of course, as we think about the Scriptures, we know that even biblical interpretation has a long history.

But we must always be careful, and we must always ask God for discernment. You know, I've written a book entitled The Church in Babylon. And you know, Dave, since we've been talking about false teachers, I have to say that there's information in this book that is not in any of the messages that I have preached. It's entitled Five False Gospels Within the Evangelical Church. That actually happens to be chapter 8 of the book, The Church in Babylon. Now, my dear listener, I have to say that we are making this resource available to you for a very specific reason. This book deals with all kinds of issues that the church faces today, including immigration, including issues regarding our culture, where to draw the line, what we can do, what we should not do, matters of conscience. These are the kinds of issues that we are facing, and this book addresses. The Church in Babylon, heeding the call to be a light in the darkness.

For a gift of any amount, it can be yours. Simply go to rtwoffer.com. That's rtwoffer.com, or call us at 1-888-218-9337. Ask for the book, The Church in Babylon, 1-888-218-9337. And now let us listen carefully as we continue our study of false prophets then and now. I wish we had time to look at this in more detail, but you know that in the New Testament, between 2 Peter as well as Jude, there's a reference there to false prophets who follow their own desires. And so they look within and they say, I want to do this, that, or the other thing. And so God comes along and becomes to them everything that they want. And as a result of that, they are led into great sin. You know, the Bible is very clear.

The God says, I am that I am, the Lord says, and not who you want me to be. So that's another way in which false prophets get their particular wisdom, supposedly made up in their own minds. There's a fourth characteristic, and that is they hide their true motives. They hide their true motives.

Now, the scripture is very clear about this. In the New Testament, this is the expression that is used for false prophets. It says they are trained in greed, trained in greed. My heart just absolutely breaks when I get to this, because what you see false prophets do is they are making money.

They encourage you to send money to them. And this money is supposed to become seed money that will garner you a big harvest. You know, this past week, I was thinking about one false prophet who's on television regularly who encourages people to send $1,000 to him. Now, he never tells you how he's going to use $1,000.

So I saw on the internet that there was a man there who is looking at some papers to verify the fact that this man was worth about $14 million, money that had been sent in. And if you ever see him on TV, he is powerful. He is even scriptural sometimes. And he will tell you that if you send me money, God is going to use this as a seed, and you are going to get a great harvest, and you are going to be wealthy and be able to pay your bills. Many years ago, there was a false prophet on television who told people this, and I saw it with my own eyes and heard it with my own ears. He said, if you send money to me, your mortgage will be miraculously paid.

You're going to get a letter from the mortgage company saying that your house has been paid for. Do you believe that? A couple of months later, I was in the city where this false prophet lives and where his ministry is, and so I said to the pastor who picked me up from the airport whether or not he knew about this claim, and he said yes.

And I said, what really happened? He said, the man received a lot of money, but no mortgage was miraculously paid. Is there anybody out there who is surprised at that? Many years ago, I attended a crusade held by a false prophet, and I'll never forget as he was taking one offering after another.

People were putting wristwatches into the offering basket. These poor people were giving everything that they had to him. He even had the nerve to say from the pulpit, we're really fleecing God's sheep today, aren't we? Can you believe that? Yet he spoke to thousands of people, many more than I'm probably speaking to today. And so there they are, the Bible says, trained in greed, manipulation, and false promises that are not based on the word of God.

Please don't be deceived by these people. Sometimes I say, and I do say it with love, that sometimes God's sheep can't tell the difference between grass and astroturf. I do need to say that, but I'd throw that one out for free today. No offering afterwards, though we could use one here. And I don't mind raising money for specific things, but when I do, I never promise people that if you give, somehow gifts are going to come to you and suddenly you're going to become wealthy. I love to raise money for people who can't raise money for their own, whether it's for orphanages, whether it's for the ministry of Moody Church and our many opportunities to share the gospel. That really excites me and it is biblical, but we never hear make false promises as to how you'll be blessed as a result.

You will be blessed, but not monetarily necessarily. Well, they hide their true motives. Their real motive is wealth. And then the other motive that is so important, folks, is pride.

Did you notice what the Apostle Paul says? These people, in their boast, they boast about what they are able to do. They want people to look upon them as if to say, oh, they are so holy. And as a result of that, they are so plugged into God. They have a special relationship with the Most High, and therefore they want us to be able to almost worship them. I was reading this past week about a false prophet who makes all of these predictions. They love to be able to say, God is showing me what he's going to do in your life. I'm anointing you for special ministry. So one false prophet said to this couple, God is powerfully going to use you in South America as missionaries.

Couple of months later, the wife was actually killed in a car accident. The prophecy did not come to pass. He said to somebody else, you will write a book appealing to their pride that they'd write this book that was going to influence people. The book was never written. You will have an AIDS ministry, another false prophet told this couple. God is going to give you this great ministry.

Never happened. I remember a false prophet, I saw this on television, a couple came forward and said, you know, we'd really like to have children, and we can't have children. He said, let me ask you, do you want a boy or a girl? I want a boy. Spring baby, fall baby, whatever it was, OK, that's what you will have. You come back next year and you tell us about the birth of this child.

Now I want you to think about this for a moment. Let's suppose that the couple doesn't have a child. If they have a child the next year, they'd return and this faith healer would take all the credit for it and say, hallelujah, what a miracle. But if they don't, whose fault is it?

It never is. It's your fault, because if you had had the faith, it had happened. But you see, because you don't have that faith, that's your problem. Why am I preaching this message? My heart breaks for people. I sometimes see crowds, you can see this on TV, with false prophets, and many of these people are poor.

And why are they there? They're saying to themselves, if I just had enough faith, if I had the same faith as this guru and of this prophet, then I would be able to drive the same car that he drives and wear the clothes that he wears and so forth. I'd be wealthy just as he is, because he tells us that if we meet the requirements, we will be, if only I could be like him. And these dear people leave their money there and they go home and never experience the miracle because that's not a miracle that God ever promised. Tragic.

Now I could go on about this because I've seen this so often. Let me give you three quick conclusions here to help us to draw this together and to give us some hope. First of all, number one, remember this, false prophets are God's judgment upon a nation. False prophets are God's judgment upon a nation. What Jeremiah actually says is, God says, I'm putting a stumbling block before the people, and that stumbling block happens to be false prophets. And Paul, in effect, says the very same thing in the book of 1 Timothy. I want you to just notice what Paul has to say here. For the time is coming, he says, when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions and will turn away from listening to the truth and will wander off into myths.

But as for you, always be sober minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. Notice this, people are going to wander off to find doctrine and find a preacher that affirms their own passions. So you see what the people did in Jeremiah's day is they said, we don't like Jeremiah's message. What we're going to do is we're going to find a false prophet who tells us exactly what we want to hear. That becomes part of their judgment because you see, they're not interested in the truth because the truth bothers them so deeply. And the truth means that they are sinners and they need to repent and come to God.

And they say, that's not what we want to hear. And so they turn away and they do their own thing, seeking the kind of teacher or prophet that they want. Secondly, true prophets always preach God's word. I want to read this from Jeremiah chapter 23. True prophets always preach God's word. You know what Jeremiah says in chapter 23, that the false prophets actually strengthen the hands of evildoers. That's in verse 14 and 15.

Can you imagine that? They strengthen the hands of evildoers. They give people confidence to do evil and say that nothing will bother them. God will put up with it. But then the Lord says this in verse 23. Am I a God at hand declares the Lord and not a God afar off. Can a man hide himself in his secret place so that I cannot see him declares the Lord?

The answer of course is no. Do not I fill heaven and earth declares the Lord? I have heard what the prophets have said who prophesy lies in my name saying, I have dreamed. I have dreamed. How long shall there be lies in the heart of the prophets who prophesy lies, who prophesy the deceit of their own heart? Do you see how deep this goes? Who think to make my people forget my name by their dreams that they tell one another, even as their fathers forgot my name for bail?

Now notice this. Let the prophet who has a dream tell the dream, but let him who has my word speak my word faithfully. What has straw in common with wheat declares the Lord. Is not my word like as a fire declares the Lord and like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces. Therefore I am against the prophets declares the Lord, who steal my words and they give them to one another and they've got all the dreams and so forth. So God there makes a contrast between his word, between Jeremiah's word and the word of the New Testament and the words of the Bible. God contrasts that with all the false prophets who are going with their dreams and their visions. He says, what connection is there between straw and wheat?

One is straw, the other is wheat. And what is the message that we need to get to people today? What is our greatest need?

If we're not going to simply heal their wound superficially, what is it that they need to know? First of all, the holiness of God. We cannot remake God in our image. We must bow before who God is. God does not come along and say, I want you to choose whether or not you like me or whether or not you want to change me.

I am who I am and I change not. That's the first thing that we must communicate to this generation. And the second thing that we must communicate is that he is a God of mercy and invites people to come to him. All throughout the book of Jeremiah, God keeps saying, return to me, return to me, return to me. And in chapter 31, God says that even though this generation has hardened their heart and will not turn to me, and we'll look at that more in future messages, the Lord also says very clearly that there's another generation, chapter 31, that will turn to me and I will give them a new covenant, God says, and they will obey me and I will forgive their sins and their iniquities.

I will remember no more. And when Jesus came, you remember how he said to the disciples, take this is my body, which was broken for you. This blood is the blood of the new covenant in my blood.

What Jesus was saying is I fulfill the promises of the book of Jeremiah. I am here today to forgive your sins, to receive you. The issue is never the greatness of our sin. There are some of you who are listening today who don't think you need a savior because you don't think that your sin is very big when the Bible says that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. There are others of you who say to yourself, I've sinned so bad, I've messed up so bad, God can't forgive me. The answer to both of you is God can forgive. He is gracious. He is merciful. If you come to Jesus, forgiveness and reconciliation with God is not only possible, it is a reality for those who believe on him.

We'll remember that. Simon Wiesenthal, I think I pronounced his name correctly, was a Jew, you remember, who survived the Holocaust. And in his book Sunflower, he tells an interesting story. He says that there was a young Nazi soldier who was dying and Wiesenthal was there in the room with this soldier and the young Nazi asked Wiesenthal to forgive him for his sins against the Jews. No doubt it was quite a dilemma for Simon Wiesenthal, but he left the room and refused to grant this young man's request for forgiveness. So what Wiesenthal did is he wrote then about it and he sent his dilemma to various ethicists and professors throughout the world and asked, did I do the right thing? Well, actually Wiesenthal did the right thing, in my opinion, because he wasn't in a position where he could forgive this Nazi his sins. It would have been one thing for the Nazi, you see, to go to those whom he had brutally wronged and in some instances killed, which of course would have been then impossible for him to make reconciliation. But the whole point is simply this, that when we sin, we can only be forgiven by the person against whom we have sinned.

In that sense, Wiesenthal was right. But there's something that we need to emphasize from the book of Jeremiah and from the whole Bible. And that is this, that all sin, all sin is sin against God. Whether or not you lie to someone, that lie is an offense against God, a greater offense against God than it is against the person to whom you have lied. Immorality is an offense to God, and therefore only God is able to forgive sins. And Jesus Christ came to this world so that God could forgive, God could be holy at the one time over here, we know the holiness of God, and at the same time he could be merciful and loving to receive all those who come to him, recognizing that all of us have sinned against God, and therefore only God can forgive us. That's a message that needs to be heard today, because there are some of you who are listening in whose heart God is working right now and pointing out your need for a Savior, your need for Jesus Christ, who came to forgive us of our sins.

You know, during the time of the Reformation, official Christendom said to the Reformers, how do you know that you have the right message? Where are your miracles? And the Reformers said, we don't need miracles because the Bible says that the gospel of Jesus Christ is the power of God unto salvation to all those who believe.

If you want to see a miracle, you come to Jesus Christ and receive his forgiveness, his acceptance, and he'll do a miracle in your heart, and you'll be converted and reconciled to God. Let's bow together in prayer, shall we? And before I close this prayer, I'm talking now to you. I'm not yet talking to God. If God has talked to you, would you reach out to him right now and say, Jesus, I thank you that you died for sinners.

I thank you that you invite me to come to you and to become your son or your daughter forever. Would you reach out to him now in this moment of silence? Father, hear the prayer of all we ask, and we thank you that you are a holy God, but you're also a forgiving God, and we thank you today that Jesus died for us. May we come to receive the forgiveness and the cleansing that he offers to all who believe on him. We pray in his blessed name. My friend, this is Pastor Lutzer. If you've been listening to Running to Wind for any length of time, you know that we are gospel-driven. Our desire is to get the gospel of Jesus Christ into the minds and hearts of as many people as possible.

Thank you so much for helping us. And we also deal with cultural issues, and we do that because all of us as Christians have to make decisions. What part of the culture can we accept? What part of the culture must we reject? How do we live in the midst of a world that clearly has lost its way? I've written a book entitled The Church in Babylon, and this book deals with issues such as conflicts of conscience, when the state becomes God, the church, technology and purity, transgenderism, sexuality, immigration.

How should we think about these issues? Now, for a gift of any amount, this book can be yours. Here's what you do, and I'm going to give you enough time so that you can find a pencil. You can go to rtwoffer.com, or you can call us at 1-888-218-9337. Now I'm going to be giving you that contact info again, and I want to thank you in advance for helping us. We are deeply committed to get the gospel of Jesus Christ to as many different countries and in as many different languages as possible. Ask for the book The Church in Babylon. Go to rtwoffer.com.

Of course, rtwoffer is all one word, rtwoffer.com, or you can call us at 1-888-218-9337. We are within the world, but we are not to be of the world. Ask for the book The Church in Babylon, heeding the call to be a light in the darkness. You can write to us at Running to Win, 1635 North LaSalle Boulevard, Chicago, Illinois 60614. Many people think they're masters of their own destiny, but God sees his people as clay on a potter's wheel, and since he's the potter, he controls their destiny. Next time, learning to see ourselves as vessels God can make and remake as he chooses. This is Dave McAllister. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-05-28 17:58:51 / 2023-05-28 18:07:37 / 9

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