Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith. Modern day false prophets promise blessing without repentance and prosperity for all who send a gift. Some TV preachers lead many astray.
Today, how to tell when teaching is off the mark and error has replaced truth. 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. Pastor Lutzer, these days it's not just TV. The Internet is filled with conflicting teaching and lots of people are being influenced to believe wrong doctrines. And the reason that wrong doctrine is so powerful is because it appeals to the human mind. It appeals to the human heart. The Apostle Paul talked about those whom he described as teachers and people with itching ears. That is to say, they're anxious to hear something that will bless them. But you're absolutely right, Dave.
They are not called to repentance. I've written a book entitled Who Are You to Judge? Learning to distinguish between truths, half-truths and lies. And when it comes to false prophets, as I was writing the book, I put myself in the position of someone watching TV. What do you look for to see whether this is a true prophet or a false prophet? For a gift of any amount, this book can be yours.
Simply go to rtwoffer.com or call us at 1-888-218-9337. In an age of confusion, let us commit ourselves to discernment. I want to be very clear today.
Have I been clear so far, by the way? I have just been told that one of the leading teachers whom I believe to be a false prophet, the wide television ministry, I've been told, maybe it's hearsay, that he's going to begin to raise the dead. And so let it be said from this pulpit, so no one misunderstand, if someone does not preach Jesus Christ and him crucified and repentance onto eternal life, I will not follow him even if he can raise the dead. Now we get to the question that I asked the young man who said that he had received this prophecy, which was an accurate prophecy, about his leukemia. Standing there waiting for our car, I said something like this to him. I said, could you please tell me as to what the gospel is and how this man who made this prediction understood the gospel?
And basically what the young man did is just give me a works answer. We have to become better people. We have to become closer to God. Well, if that's an accurate reflection of the man's theology, I do not care whether he makes predictions that come true. If we had taken the time to spend more time in the book of Deuteronomy, we'd have discovered that when God said, even when a prophecy comes true, you should not follow it if he asks you to follow a different God and this is asking us to follow a different gospel. And then the Lord says, I am laying this upon you to test you to know whether or not you follow me with your whole heart. That's why false prophets are among us, to test us to see whether we are discerning and whether we love the Lord so much and we love the cross so much that we say, no matter what else somebody can do, if he does not preach Christ and him crucified, we will not follow him.
First of all, they have their own Jesus and they do miracles in the name of Jesus. Jesus said that many will say to me, have we not prophesied in your name? Have we not in your name cast out demons and have done marvelous works?
And I will say to them, depart from me. I never knew you, you workers of iniquity, those of you who are preaching Jesus. But it's another Jesus. Third, they have their own source of power, verse 13 and following. And by the way, if somebody fails test number one and two, they're a false prophet, even if they don't have the other characteristics, remember that. They don't have to do miracles and stuff. But notice here, many of them in today's world, especially in our spiritual age, they have their own power. Verse 13, for such men are false apostles. You know, he called them in verse five, super apostles. Here he calls them false apostles. Deceitful workmen masquerading as apostles of Christ and no wonder for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising then if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness. I was reading that the other day and I said, this is shocking. You'll notice he does not say it is not surprising if his servants masquerade as servants of unrighteousness, but servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve.
Wow. You want to look for the devil. You go to Skid Row, you say the devil is there. Yeah, the devil's there, but that's not his.
That's not really where he is. You know what the devil wants more than ensnaring somebody in some sin? What he wants is to duplicate the Holy Spirit. And so the way in which he does it is, first of all, he knows that the Holy Spirit is the revealer of truth. So the devil wants to reveal things to people. And I will not even bore you by telling you the things that I could quote that people have said supposedly under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
But we know that it comes from a different spirit. And then, of course, he's a miracle worker. And as I pointed out that the Egyptian occultists during the times of Moses, the Egyptian occultists, you remember how they were able to do all the miracles that Moses was able to do. Miracle for miracle for miracle until they got to a certain point and then they couldn't.
And so that's what he wants to do. And many false teachers today believe that the New Testament does not define the limits and the pattern of miracles. They want to say that God is doing a new thing. That's why this series of messages has to be listened to as a whole because you remember last time I spoke to you about that new thing that has led people into so much error.
And so what they're saying to themselves is, we want to see something new. And so they have tremendous power. They do things that Jesus didn't do.
Jesus didn't touch people and have them collapse on the platform. But they can. Somebody told me that one of these men now not even has to touch them.
He just blows on them and they fall down. Can you imagine that power? By the way, not all charismatics agree with what is happening.
And you have to make distinctions here. I will not take time to give you a quote that I read this week from the book entitled blessing the church question mark by four charismatics who are very critical of their movement and one of them says that he has known people before they were slain in the spirit, after they have slain with the spirit and the quote now, the fundamental changes attributed to this simply did not happen. So American, we want power. Well, why don't you want holiness more than power?
That's number one. But we want power and we want it right now and we don't want to have to study and submit to God and learn the disciplines of the Christian life. Let some prophet touch me so that I get zapped with power. Wow.
Not attractive. They have their own power. Third, they have their own means of control. I'm picking it up now at verse 20. You have to read the intervening verses on your own.
Paul is very sarcastic here as he's speaking about them. But notice he says in verse 20, in fact, you even put up with anyone who enslaves you or exploits you or takes advantage of you or pushes himself forward or slaps you on the face and you're still taking it. Now, I want you to know today that false cults have their own means of exploitation, their own means of control.
That's the fourth characteristic. Not all have it. We've already told you if a person's wrong in the gospel, that's all that's necessary.
But there are many today who fall into this category. And how do they exploit you and slap people on the face? First of all, if you belong to a false cult, they will isolate you. They'll tell you nobody else can talk to you. You can talk only to us. Beware of anyone who says that. What they want is demonic control. We'll tell you what you believe.
And if you have any questions, you come to us. Don't go anywhere else. Cut you off from your family, cut you off from your church. That's a mark of a false cult. That's the way they slap you in the face. It may be isolation.
It may be intimidation. Here in the Chicago area, a man left a church and took many people with him. And he was such a false prophet. So demonic, it was unbelievable the control that he had on people.
I mean, he controlled their finances and everything. And he met with me because of a certain issue. And he wanted me to bow at his coffee table and to pray and to confess my sins and basically come under his authority. And when I said I would not, he said, I already see you fall, he said.
I already see you fall. Wow, what power. What power. Imagine that God revealed to him that because I would not submit to him, he would see me fall. The Bible says, don't be intimidated by these false prophets who say God has spoken, but God has not spoken by them. So there's intimidation.
There's exploitation. Send me your credit cards. Send me your debts. We will have a bonfire. We'll burn them. And then after they are burned, God will miraculously, he'll pay your mortgages.
I was watching this one time and I couldn't believe it. They said that we have testimonies of mortgages being paid, that the people sent their check to the mortgage company and the mortgage company sent back and said, maybe you don't realize, but your house is already paid off. All that you need to do is to send some seed money to me. And then, then all this prosperity will hit you. Have you ever noticed that some of these people in their large audiences, have you ever noticed that oftentimes they have a lot of poor people?
You have to understand why. Because the poor people are there saying, if I just had as much faith as this teacher, if I just had as much faith, if I walked as closely with God as he did, then I could have his wealth too and his health and God would prosper me. And I wouldn't have to watch my budget because God would come along and just pay.
I mean, what a deal. They exploit you, Paul says. What I find very interesting is that in the early church, there were long discussions as to whether or not a rich person could even be saved because of the words of Jesus. They said, can a rich person be saved or not?
Because Christ said it is very difficult, like going through the eye of a needle. And today we have preachers telling us that everybody should be wealthy. Couldn't you imagine when we go to Belarus this afternoon?
We won't get there this afternoon, but in a few days. And I go to that pastors conference and I preach that God wants everybody to be wealthy. And what's wrong with you folks sitting in your grubby old clothes here? This is a message that can only, you can only get away with it in America where it's combined with capitalism and wealth. And yet it's preached and people come and they bring their notebooks to find some new way to get wealth that they think God has in store for them, if only his teacher helps them know how to do it. Number five, he has his own way of self-exaltation. I'm thinking here of the phrase, yes, he enslaves you. He exploits you. He takes advantage of you, Paul says, and pushes himself forward. That's the phrase.
And then he says, slaps you on the face. How do they do it? They do it by a control. Now, every false teacher wants control. Now, if he can control the people directly, of course that's best.
But if he has a television audience, he still wants control and he wants to set himself up as one with awesome power. Believe me folks, I saw this with my own eyes. A woman came forward in one of these meetings and she said, I am childless.
My husband and I have tried to have children and we have not been able to have children. And the evangelist, if we call him such, said, what do you want, a boy or a girl? She said, a boy. He said, it'll be a boy. What color eyes do you want? I want blue eyes. He'll have blue eyes. Do you want a spring baby or a fall baby? I want a baby born in the spring. He'll be born in the spring. And then he said, if you would have asked for twins, you'd have gotten it.
Wow. Imagine somebody who can command God. God, it's got to be a boy. It's got to be blue eyes.
It's got to be exactly like the mail order catalog that we have sent up to the sky and God will do it for you. And everybody, oh, the power of this man. Oh, if we could just touch him. Here's the interesting thing.
Suppose there is no boy or suppose it's a girl with brown eyes. Are the people going to say, you know, we have just been duped by a false prophet? No, because the false prophets have thought of all of these things. What the people are being trained to say is, oh, if only we had had more faith. If only we had trusted God more, God would have done it. It's not his fault.
They probably are sending him money next month. Amazing. Amazing.
Heartbreaking. Another way they do it is by the way in which they speak. That's how these people did it. Now they contrasted themselves with Paul and I want you to know in chapter 10 verse 10, this is what they said about Paul. For some say his letters are weighty and forceful. He's a pretty good writer, but in person he's unimpressive and his speech amounts to nothing.
That's what they were saying. They said, Paul doesn't know rhetoric like we do. He can't manage it.
In fact, there's one early report. We don't know if it's true or not that Paul was short, balding, and bow-legged. Imagine him for an evangelist on television. Just imagine him.
Who wants to bother with this guy? Give us the people who know how to speak. Give us the people who when they go into the pulpit change their voice and begin that nasal response to work the crowd. Give us somebody like that, not this boring speaker over here who has nothing to share except Jesus and him crucified. How do you think Paul stacked up with these super apostles?
Pretty badly. Look at what he said in verse 21. He said, to my shame I admit that we're too weak for that. See, they were saying Paul is weak in comparison with us.
He says, you're absolutely right. We're so weak. He's being sarcastic. We're too weak to slap you in the face and to exploit you and to use you and to do it for money.
Yeah, that's right. What he was saying is, I am pretty impressive in comparison to these people. Imagine, imagine some of us who preach the gospel.
I mean, there's no comparison. We don't get the crowds. We can't touch people and have them collapse on the platform so that ushers have to catch them. We're just preaching Jesus in great weakness and humility and brokenness and tears. That's all we're doing.
That's all we have to offer. Do you see the decision that the Corinthians had to make here? The decision that the Corinthians had to make is this. They said, who are we going to follow? Are we going to follow Paul who made tents and earned his living and didn't know where his next month's rent was coming from? Do we want to follow him or do we want to follow the people who have the gold chains and the Rolex watches and the beautiful cars and the lovely homes? Who do we want to be like? That was the decision. And what Paul says is this.
If you're going to be like me, you're going to have to suffer. And that's why the rest of the chapter, beginning in verse 16, I will not take time to read it, talks about Paul's suffering, how that he was in prison and whipped and beaten and the whole bit. And he's saying that that is the mark of a true apostle. It is not the gold chains. It is not the ability to speak.
It is not the ability to command crowds and get money. What's the bottom line here? First of all, number one, whenever you add to the gospel, you subtract from it. If you say you have to be baptized to be saved, you diminish the cross. If you say, well, I have to be a good person to be saved, you totally misunderstand the cross. If you're saying that our main message is not Jesus and him crucified, it's get healed and get money, you've got another Jesus, you've got another gospel.
You're in a totally different arena, something else. Because the gospel is that Jesus died for sinners to reconcile us to a holy God because we are miserable sinners who need his grace. And that message is not going over as well as send your cards to me and we'll burn your mortgage and it'll be paid for you. It's just not where people are at. So, you know, what are we? We're unimpressive and we don't have the money.
We don't have the wherewithal. We're not that good communicators like those other guys, the super apostles. You see, the mark of a true prophet, the mark of a true prophet is suffering. I want to say this to you. When you're sitting there watching television and you're seeing these guys parade their stuff, and I'm not talking about all of them, I'm sure that there are many of them who are true prophets, who are true ministers of the gospel.
In fact, I know there are some. But ask yourself this question, is he calling me to suffer in this world or is he telling me that I can have it all now, heaven right now, with all the health and with all the wealth? That's the mark because the rest of this chapter, as Paul is saying, I'm sorry, but if you're looking for a message from me that does not include suffering, you're listening to the wrong guy talk to those other guys who've got it all figured out, who can command God to give them wealth.
But don't talk to me. And so at the end of the day, folks, in this world of so much confusion, what we need to do is to ask ourselves the question, are the people whom we are listening to, are the people whom we are supporting with our money, did they have a right Jesus, a right gospel? Are they filled with the spirit rather than the confusion of demonic spirits to be able to do such wonderful and marvelous things? Are they exploiters making promises that not even God has chosen to give? Because our world is full of it.
I end where I began. Beware of false prophets, for outwardly they appear like sheep and lambs, but inwardly they are ravenous, greedy, controlling wolves. And they're out there to get you and to get me all under the guise of preaching Bible, Bible, Bible, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, but they're false to the core. My friend, I don't think I could say it more clearly.
I could not say it with more compassion. It is not enough for you to believe in Jesus. You must believe in the biblical Jesus. I'm very sobered by the words of the apostle Paul, who said to the people at Corinth, he is concerned that they are being drawn away to another Jesus. When I wrote my book, Who Are You to Judge? Learning to distinguish between truths, half truths and lies. When I came to the chapter on false prophets, I said to myself, I want people who are sitting on a couch, watching television, seeing someone preach the gospel.
What are the telltale signs that he or she might be a false prophet or prophetess? For a gift of any amount, this book can be yours. And of course, our reason for making this resource available to you is so that you might be helped.
We are living in a world of great confusion, a world that has very little discernment, and we as believers are to make sure that what we believe is based on the Word of God. Now for a gift of any amount, this book can be yours. I hope that you have a pen or pencil handy so that you can write this down. You can go to RTWOffer.com.
RTWOffer.com. And by the way, when you're there, you have the opportunity to give us a gift that we deeply appreciate, or you can call right now at 1-888-218-9337. I also want to say that my heart is so blessed when I hear people say they specifically pray for this ministry.
I am deeply appreciative. We are in a spiritual warfare, and unless the gospel of Jesus Christ goes forth in power, unless hearts are opened, everything that we do is of no avail. We're dependent upon your prayers. We're also dependent upon your support. And once again, let me give you that info. Go to RTWOffer.com or pick up the phone and call us at 1-888-218-9337.
And by the way, the name of that book, Who Are You to Judge? You can write to us at Running to Win, 1635 North LaSalle Boulevard, Chicago, Illinois, 60614. Miracles, they seem to be everywhere, and almost everybody wants one. Whose heart isn't moved by seeing someone in a wheelchair desperate to walk again? But think, could these so-called miracles really be a form of demonic deception? Next time on Running to Win, don't miss a look at Judging Miracles. Thanks for listening. For Dr. Erwin Lutzer, this is Dave McAllister. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
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