Satan has attempted to counterfeit everything God has done for the benefit of His people. Thus some of the Lord's greatest blessings have been perverted into agencies of destruction. Presumption has been mistaken and substituted for faith. For most of the professed Christian world the day of worship originated by the deceiver has replaced the Sabbath of the Lord. Forms and ceremonies in worship have taken the place of genuine worship of God in spirit and in truth. Salvation through faith has been supplanted by an almost infinite variety of systems of salvation by works. Some of the most healthful and nourishing of foods—grains and fruits—have been made into intoxicating drinks that destroy men's minds and bodies.
Seldom does Satan deal in error unmixed with truth, for error alone would not be sufficiently deceptive. Many of his teachings contain much that is true and good, and the more truth they contain the more deceptive is the counterfeit. The Sabbath and Sunday question is a good illustration of Satan's methods. The Sabbath is a memorial of creation; Sunday is said to memorialize the resurrection of Christ. The Sabbath is a day of rest from the usual activities of the week, so that God may be worshiped and His work of bringing blessing to others may be done in a special way. Sunday, for the majority of professed Christians, is a day off from regular work so they might do whatever pleases them. For some persons this includes a brief period of worship, but for most it does not. The Sabbath is the mark of God's authority in the individual life, the seal of Christian experience; but Satan has attempted to make it a mark of peculiar notions or fanaticism. The Sabbath, which was intended by God to be a sign of sanctification through faith,
has been perverted by the enemy so that many persons delude themselves by saying that keeping it is an indication that one is attempting to be saved by legalism and good works.
God's plan for reaching the minds of men through the messages of the prophets has been counterfeited by Satan, usually in the form of false prophets. These false witnesses have accomplished two major objectives in Satan's scheme: (1) They have turned men's minds away from God's messages and led them to accept error. (2) They have, through their misrepresentations, either in message or in life, caused reproach and discredit to be cast upon all prophets. Satan cares little what attitude leads one to reject light, as long as the light is rejected.
No one need be deceived as to whether a professed prophet is true or false. Standards have been established in the Bible that make it possible to determine which messengers have come with messages from God and which are counterfeits. If the Bible tests are applied consistently and persistently to the life and teachings of any prophet, they will reveal the source of his communications. Four major tests of a prophet are mentioned in the Bible. It is essential that all four of the tests be applied to anyone who claims to possess the gift of prophecy. All the requirements must be met. In addition to the major tests, there are several minor tests or evidences that should be noted.
Test 1. “To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” Isaiah 8:20.
Numerous questions have been raised as to the exact meaning of the “law” and the “testimony,” but they are clearly references to the divinely inspired instruction given through the prophets. If any teaching or action deviates from the pattern prescribed in the revealed standard of truth, it is to be recognized as coming from the realm of darkness rather than
light. Prophets spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit, and the Spirit never contradicts His former instruction. All else that stems from the same source will harmonize with what has already been given.
It is not difficult to trace through the Bible what its writers have said on many subjects. In an earlier chapter we have already commented on the unbroken unity of the Scriptures. Though words, methods of expression, and emphases vary, we find that the testimony of each writer dealing with the same subject is substantially the same. We may take the teaching regarding the condition of man in death as a well-known example. Note the harmony of the Bible writers as recorded in their books.
Job. “So man lieth down, and riseth not: till the heavens be no more, they shall not awake, nor be raised out of their sleep.” Job 14:12.
Psalmist. “The dead praise not the Lord, neither any that go down into silence.” Psalm 115:17.
Solomon. “The living know that they shall die: but the dead know not anything.” Ecclesiastes 9:5.
Isaiah. “For the grave cannot praise Thee, death cannot celebrate Thee: they that go down into the pit cannot hope for Thy truth.” Isaiah 38:18.
Ezekiel. “The soul that sinneth, it shall die.” Ezekiel 18:20.
Jesus. “Lazarus sleepeth…. Lazarus is dead.” John 11: 11-14.
Paul. “But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.” 1 Thessalonians 4:13.
Jesus and the Gospel writers bore witness to the accuracy of the predictions of the earlier prophets concerning His first
advent. The following sampling from the book of Matthew will give some idea of the scores of references that might be included.
Matt. 1:23 refers to Isa. 7:14.
Matt. 8:17 refers to Isa. 53:4.
Matt. 2:6 refers to Micah 5:2.
Matt. 11:10 refers to Mal. 3:1.
Matt. 2:17 refers to Jer. 31:15.
Matt. 12:18 refers to Isa. 42:1.
Matt. 3:3 refers to Isa. 40:3.
Matt. 13:14 refers to Isa. 6:9.
Matt. 4:14, 15 refers to Isa. 9:1, 2.
Matt. 13:35 refers to Ps. 78:2.
Matt. 21:16 refers to Ps. 8:2.
The same consistency runs through the predictions of the second advent of Christ, the doctrines of God's Creatorship, righteousness by faith, and all other Bible teachings. It was not difficult for God's people in ancient times to apply this test to the messages of anyone who professed to possess the gift of prophecy. An outstanding example of how a prophet applied the test to another who claimed to be a prophet is found in Jeremiah 28.
In the fourth year of King Jehoiakim, Jeremiah, under inspiration, had foretold that the period of captivity of Judah in Babylon would be seventy years. Jeremiah 25:1, 11, 12. This was the first time the specific number of years had been revealed, but more than a century before, Isaiah had indicated that the desolation of the land should be for “many days and years.” Isaiah 32:9-14. He foretold that the deliverance should not take place until the days of Cyrus (Isaiah 44:24 to 45:5), and that the Medes would help to bring about the downfall of Babylon, the glory of kingdoms (Isaiah 13:17-22). In the fourth year of Zedekiah, eleven years after the prediction of the seventy years' Captivity, Jeremiah was challenged by a professed prophet who said the deliverance would come within a brief period. The full story is recorded in Jeremiah 28. Hananiah declared that the Lord had spoken to him (verses 1, 2), that Babylon's yoke would be removed from the neck of Judah within two years (verse 3), and that all the vessels of the Lord's house would be returned to Jerusalem.
Jeremiah's response contains a touch of pathos. “Amen,” he said, “the Lord do so.” Verse 6. “I hope the Lord will do it that way,” is the thought. “Nevertheless hear thou now this word that I speak in thine ears; … The prophets that have been before me and before thee of old prophesied both against many countries, and against great kingdoms, of war, and of evil, and of pestilence. The prophet which prophesieth of peace, when the word of the prophet shall come to pass, then shall the prophet be known, that the Lord hath truly sent him.” Verses 7-9. What Jeremiah was telling Hananiah was this, “Hananiah, you have said that peace and restoration will come quickly. The older prophets have predicted war and evil for years to come. In order to know for certain which is right, we will have to see whose predictions are fulfilled.” Later Jeremiah faced Hananiah with the specific accusation that the Lord had not sent him (verse 15), and told him that because he was leading people to rebel against God he would die that year (verse 16). The chapter ends with the sad record, “So Hananiah the prophet died the same year in the seventh month.”
In his first encounter with Hananiah, Jeremiah made reference only to the predictions of the former prophets to confirm his own position that the restoration would be long delayed. It was not necessary that the Lord give him a special revelation that would condemn Hananiah. Jeremiah knew that if Hananiah's message was out of harmony with what had been given earlier by men who had met the tests of a prophet, his message had not come from the Lord. Later his conclusion was confirmed by a revelation, and the word about the death of Hananiah was added. Here is a practical application of the test, “To the law and to the testimony.”
Jesus' warning to His disciples again emphasizes the need for care in verifying the claims of any prophet to be certain they harmonize with Scripture. After telling of the time of tribulation that might be expected, Jesus said, “Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it
not. For there shall arise false christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. Behold, I have told you before.” Matthew 24:23-25. Then Jesus enumerated the signs that would indicate His coming was near. Any prophet in any age to come who talked of the second advent would be tested by these and all other statements of earlier prophets. When a person meets the test of harmonizing his messages with earlier divinely inspired predictions and teachings, then we are ready to apply other tests.
Test 2. “Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.” Matthew 7:20.
The setting for this statement is the latter part of the Sermon on the Mount in connection with the warning Jesus gave to His disciples, “Beware of false prophets.” Verse 15. On the basis that every good tree produces good fruit, and that a corrupt tree produces corrupt fruit, Jesus presents another test to be applied to prophets. What kind of fruit is brought forth in their lives? What influence do their teachings have on others? What results show up in the life of the church as a whole?
Sometimes the life and influence of the professed prophet is so completely out of harmony with the Scriptures that there is no difficulty in placing him in his proper classification. But ordinarily this is not the case. Generally speaking, the application of this test requires more time and is harder to check than the first test. There are several factors to be considered in determining whether the fruit is good or bad.
A. The life of the prophet must be worthy of God's personal representative. There must be no question about the trend of his thinking and actions. He should be recognized as different from other men, because in vision he has seen and talked with God and angels.
On the other hand, as has been suggested earlier, receiving the prophetic gift does not make a man infallible; it does not
ensure that he will never make a mistake. After nearly forty years as the Lord's messenger, Moses lost his temper on the borders of the Promised Land and was denied entrance to it. In other instances recorded in the Bible, we have seen even more calamitous consequences as the result of the actions of those who possessed the prophetic gift. None should be recognized as having met this test because of a few outstandingly good traits of character, and none should be labeled a failure because he has made some mistakes. It is the trend of the life as a whole that must be considered, rather than any occasional good deed or misdeed. What kind of man is he—good or bad?
B. The influence of the prophet's life and messages upon individuals and the church as a whole must be good. Frequently the Lord has had to use prophets to tear down before they could build up, but the net result of the work of a true prophet will be constructive rather than destructive. Jesus found it necessary to unmask some of the sins of the Jewish leaders and to tear down their traditions, but He tore down only that He might build again; He wounded that He might heal.
Again there is a problem to be faced before final conclusions are reached. There were times in the history of God's people when with one or more prophets among them they became progressively worse. Was this the fault of the prophet? Did this mean that his messages were not from heaven? God did not regard it so. He told Ezekiel, “Also, thou son of man, the children of thy people still are talking against thee by the walls and in the doors of the houses, and speak one to another, everyone to his brother, saying, Come, I pray you, and hear what is the word that cometh forth from the Lord. And they come unto thee as the people cometh, and they sit before thee as My people, and they hear thy words, but they will not do them: for with their mouth they show much love, but their heart goeth after their covetousness.” Ezekiel 33:30, 31. People listened, they urged others to come and hear the words of the prophet; but no one put into practice what he heard. Could this be
charged against the prophet? There were those among the followers of the Master who continued in their evil ways even though they claimed allegiance to Him. Sometimes it is necessary to study what the influence of the prophet's messages would have been if they had been heeded. Are they messages that lead to godliness, or do they turn the mind away from right living and heavenly things?
C. A man may live a good life and have an excellent influence on others, but this does not necessarily prove that he is a prophet. All the other tests of a true prophet must be met.
D. The application of the tests is cumulative. If, in addition to speaking in full accord with the former prophets, the prophet's own life has been a godly one, and if the tenor of his messages is such as would lead to genuine piety, we may conclude that he has passed another of the tests which may eventually indentify him as a prophet of God.
Test 3. “When the word of the prophet shall come to pass, then shall the prophet be known, that the Lord hath truly sent him.” Jeremiah 28:9.
Prediction is not the major work of the prophet; but in many instances the prophets claimed that by divine inspiration they had been given insight into the future. Part of the testing of a prophet is observing whether or not his predictions are fulfilled. Confidence is established in the word of God through the fulfillment of the many specific predictions it contains. Confidence would be quickly destroyed should the prophecies prove to be incorrect. See also Deuteronomy 13:1-3; 18:22. Earlier in this chapter mention was made of Jeremiah's declaration that Hananiah would die that year. Apparently many heard the prediction, and when they saw its fulfillment, their confidence in Jeremiah's prophecy of the seventy years of captivity was confirmed. However, if the prophecy regarding Hananiah had failed, it is unlikely that many would have believed the time prophecy of the Captivity.
Examples of predictions fulfilled are numerous throughout the Bible. In some cases the prophecies were not fulfilled in Bible times, but we find the fulfillments recorded in history or have seen them take place in our own times. Most of the Old Testament books tell of the Messiah who was to come, and the New Testament verifies the accuracy of the prophecies. Daniel outlined the history of nations from the days of Babylon to the end of time, and it is a simple matter to trace through history the amazing foreknowledge of events that God gave him. Occasionally specific time periods were predicted. These, too, have been exactly fulfilled. All of a prophet's predictions must be carefully scrutinized and their fulfillments observed, although, because of the time involved, this may prove to span more than one lifetime.
But the matter is not as simple as it might appear to be. The Bible introduces another principle that must be considered before final decisions are reached. This is the principle of conditional prophecy, as stated by Jeremiah: “At what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, and to pull down, and to destroy it; if that nation, against whom I have pronounced, turn from their evil, I will repent of the evil that I thought to do unto them. And at what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it; if it do evil in My sight, that it obey not My voice, then I will repent of the good, where-with I said I would benefit them.” Jeremiah 18:7-10. This must be given careful consideration in dealing with the identification of a true prophet.
In certain instances conditional prophecy poses no real problem, for the conditions are stated, and it is easy to see that if the conditions are not met there is no reason for the fulfillment of the prediction. But in other cases, no conditions are stated. The Lord has said that when conditions change He will act differently, either for reward or punishment. Does this not create a loophole through which any false prophet may
escape if we permit him to say, “That was a conditional prophecy I made, even though I did not state the conditions; now that the conditions have changed there is no reason why the prophecy should be fulfilled”?
The Bible's best illustration of the principle set forth by Jeremiah is in the book of Jonah. The rebellious prophet proclaimed, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown.” Jonah 3:4. No mention is made of any conditions attached. In fact, it seems obvious that no suggestion was made of a way of escape, for in his decree the king asked, “Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from His fierce anger, that we perish not?” Verse 9. Had a condition been offered he would have known that there was the possibility of deliverance. The time passed, the city was not overthrown, and Jonah was angry with the Lord because he felt he would be considered a false prophet.
Was Jonah a false prophet? Our test reads: “When the word of the prophet shall come to pass, then shall the prophet be known, that the Lord hath truly sent him.” Jonah's word did not come to pass, and yet he had taken to Nineveh the exact message the Lord had given him. In fact, it was because of his recognition of the principle that the Lord would withhold punishment if the people repented that he had not wanted to go to Nineveh in the first place. In his prayer to the Lord after Nineveh had been spared, he complained, “Was not this my saying, when I was yet in my country? Therefore I fled before unto Tarshish: for I knew that Thou art a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repentest Thee of the evil.” Jonah 4:2. Had he been permitted to enumerate the conditions on which punishment would be withheld, there would have been no problem in his mind on this particular point. But was he a false prophet? God did not consider him so, and as we study the case carefully we conclude that he was a true prophet of God despite the fact that what may have been the most prominent prediction of his career was unfulfilled.
What makes the difference? Why is one man whose prediction is not fulfilled called a false prophet, and another true? The answer is this: God has explained to us a principle governing all prophecy in which men's decisions and attitudes are involved. We understand on the basis of the Jeremiah 18 statement that all of God's promises of blessing or threatenings of punishment are made on condition, whether the conditions are stated or not, because their fulfillment depends upon man's relationship to God.
This understanding in no wise applies to the portions of God's plan that are not subject to modification by the decisions of men. For instance, Jesus Christ is going to return to this earth to gather the faithful and destroy the wicked. This is a part of God's unalterable purpose, and it will come to pass despite any decision that might be made by any individual or group. Peter says that it is possible for us to hasten the day of His coming (2 Peter 3:12—see the margin, which in this case is the preferable rendering), and conversely, it is possible for us to delay the coming through the slowness of our preparation; but we cannot alter the fact that He is coming.
We have no difficulty in understanding the case of Jonah and Nineveh. It is obivous that the changed circumstances justified the Lord's decision to withhold the threatened destruction. Must we not recognize the same principle in judging any other case? If it can be clearly seen that the circumstances which called forth a condemnation have been so altered that the condemnation is no longer warranted, then the Lord's alteration of His course of action is in full harmony with Jeremiah 18. When He has openly stated the circumstances under which this will be done, there is no reason why any prophet must declare all the specific details that might be attached to a conditional prophecy. A prophet whose prediction does not come to pass under these circumstances is not to be condemned as a false prophet, for we must always remember that the reasons for the change will be clearly evident. This procedure in no
way leaves a way of escape for the false prophet; all of the tests are still to be applied to him and his teachings.
Test 4. “Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God.” 1 John 4:2.
In presenting this test John is dealing directly with the matter of those who profess to be prophets. “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God.” 1 John 4:1, 2. This test is broader than simply claiming to believe that Jesus Christ lived. In its fullest sense it involves all that the Bible teaches concerning Christ. It is the recognition that “the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the Only Begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” John 1:14.
The Word becoming flesh is the incarnation of the Son of God as man. Earlier verses in the first chapter of John set forth the Word as God, the Creator, the Source of life, and the Light of mankind. His virgin birth, His sinless life, His atoning death, His resurrection and ascension, His ministry in the heavenly sanctuary as High Priest, and His second coming, are all closely related to His coming in the flesh. The first four are parts of His earthly life and experience. The others are made possible by what He accomplished while He was here on earth. All of these must be recognized and taught by the one accepted as a true prophet. And this is not to be a mere theoretical acknowledgment of the truths; the life of the prophet will correspond to the profession. One who denies the teaching of the Bible in any of these truths pertaining to Christ, His life, and His redemption is not confessing that “Jesus Christ is come in the flesh,” and is not “of God.” See 2 John 7.
The four major Biblical tests are sufficient in themselves to enable us to determine who is a true prophet and who is false.
In addition, however, there are other factors that give added proof that the true prophet's messages are from the Lord. They are not as conclusive as the major tests, but they serve a useful purpose.
Physical manifestations. In chapter 4 mention was made of certain physical manifestations which at times accompanied the revelations of a true prophet. Taken with the other evidences, these manifestations form convincing added testimony.
Timeliness is another striking feature of these revelations. Ordinarily we think of messages being given years, or even centuries before their full significance is realized; but many have been given at exactly the time they were needed.
There is the fascinating story of Elisha and the king of Syria, recorded in 2 Kings 6:8-23. The king of Syria had marched against Israel. As a wise military leader, he took counsel with his associates as to his plan of procedure. But every time an ambush was planned or a move made, Elisha the prophet warned the king of Israel, “Beware that thou pass not such a place; for thither the Syrians are come down.” In a gem of understatement the chronicler tells how Israel's king “saved himself there, not once nor twice.” So accurate was Elisha's information that the king of Syria was certain there was a traitor in his camp. An intelligence service providing such timely and accurate information would be highly prized by any army. It is a part of God's plan to make available to His children, in any age, well-timed guidance to meet their needs.
The certainty and the fearlessness with which the prophets gave their testimonies add weight to their claims to have God's messages. There was no hesitation, no hedging, no note of apology when Nathan stood before David and declared, “Thou art the man.” 2 Samuel 12:7. Elijah, appearing before Ahab
after the long period of drought that had devastated Israel, was challenged by the king, “Art thou he that troubleth Israel?” 1 Kings 18:17. The response was certain and fearless, despite the personal danger faced by the prophet. “I have not troubled Israel; but thou, and thy father's house, in that ye have forsaken the commandments of the Lord, and thou has followed Baalim.” Verse 18. No equivocation was permitted in the delivery of the messages of the prophets.
High spiritual plane. In the messages of true prophets there is nothing cheap or common or childish. While their writings deal with ordinary, everyday affairs of life, they do so in a dignified and fitting manner. Though great truths are expressed simply enough for children to understand, they are not childish, but profound enough to engage the keenest scholars in ever-expanding research. The spiritual principles laid down are the most lofty known to the human mind. Both the theme of the Bible and its mode of expression are worthy of, and command the respect of, the most learned as well as the most humble.
Practical nature. Messages brought by the prophets are of a practical and useful nature. There are no weird fantasies or pointless ramblings in their communications. Though some messages are given in symbolic language, their intent may be discovered by following clearly discernible rules of interpretation. We may repeat Paul's statement that all Scripture is profitable.
The contrast between true and false prophets stands out sharply in the experience of Ahab and Jehoshaphat, kings of Israel and Judah, with Micaiah the prophet. 1 Kings 22. Jehoshaphat, of the southern kingdom, was visiting Ahab, king of Israel, when Ahab proposed that together they do battle with the king of Syria for Ramothgilead. With a sweeping
pledge Jehoshaphat agreed. Then, apparently a bit doubtful of the wisdom of his decision, he asked Ahab if there were not a prophet nearby of whom they could inquire the will of God. In response, Israel's king called in four hundred professed prophets of God, and asked them, “Shall I go against Ramothgilead to battle?” As one man they replied, “Go up; for the Lord shall deliver it into the hand of the king.” Under the circumstances this was exactly the message Ahab wanted in order to impress his prospective partner in battle.
While Jehoshaphat may have been impressed, he was not satisfied with the advice. There must have been something in the manner or the message of the men that caused him to question that their word was from the Lord, for he pressed Ahab, “Is there not here a prophet of the Lord besides, that we might inquire of him?” Ahab admitted that there was one more who might be consulted, a man named Micaiah, “but I hate him; for he doth not prophesy good concerning me, but evil.”
Micaiah was sent for, despite Ahab's misgivings, and during the messenger's absence the prophets continued to prophesy. One of the most enlightening episodes in this account is that in which the king's messenger tried to tell Micaiah what he should say when he came before the two monarchs. It is possible that the messenger had been sent before to gather prophets, and he had found that they greatly desired information as to what others had said to the king so their testimony might harmonize. At least, he seems to have felt that he was doing Micaiah a favor by reporting to him what the four hundred had counseled the king. “Behold now, the words of the prophets declare good unto the king with one mouth: let thy word, I pray thee, be like the word of one of them, and speak that which is good.” He may have had a distinct memory of some of Micaiah's former predictions of evil.
But the prophet of God was not interested in what the other prophets had said. His attention was focused on what the Lord
had to say. His revealing reply was, “As the Lord liveth, what the Lord saith unto me, that will I speak.” No true prophet could have taken any other attitude. We have mentioned previously the basic Bible passage dealing with the call of a prophet (Deuteronomy 18:15-22) in which these words appear: “And will put My words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him…. But the prophet, which shall presume to speak a word in My name, which I have not commanded him to speak, … even that prophet shall die.”
When the question about the battle was put to Micaiah, he responded in a way that at first glance appears strange. “Go, and prosper: for the Lord shall deliver it into the hand of the king.” A more careful scrutiny of the passage helps us to catch the irony in Micaiah's voice. “Go ahead and do what you've been counseled to do. This is the message you want.” This time it was Ahab who was dissatisfied even though the word of the prophet appeared to be the same as what had already been said. He detected without difficulty the derisive note in the prophet's voice, and demanded to know the Lord's message. Micaiah's words were solemn and majestic: “I saw all Israel scattered upon the hills, as sheep that have not a shepherd: and the Lord said, These have no master: let them return every man to his house in peace.” Ahab turned to Jehoshaphat. “Did I not tell thee that he would prophesy no good concerning me, but evil?” A short time later Micaiah's prophecy was fulfilled when Ahab lost his life in the battle for Ramothgilead.
Satan is a liar and a deceiver. If it were possible he will deceive the very elect. This is true in dealing with prophets as well as every other human being. What he cannot do through false prophets, he will attempt to do by discrediting and counteracting the work of true prophets. In either case we need to be aware of the methods of testing prophets. Not only are we to detect and reject the false, but we must be diligent to discover and receive the true.
No one test is a full and sufficient identification of a prophet. It is frequently easier to detect the false prophet than it is to be certain of the true, for if he obviously violates one of the major tests we have no difficulty in knowing the source of his messages. On the other hand, before it can be finally determined that one is a true prophet, all the tests must be painstakingly applied and sufficient time permitted to make thorough investigation.
The words of the Master clearly point out that one of the spiritual problems of those who live in the days preceding His second advent is that of dealing with false christs and false prophets. These imposters will have little success among those who have been fortified with the truth and who know how to apply the tests. Every member of the remnant church should be so familiar with these criteria that he will automatically apply them in every instance where they are needed without having to ask, “How can I tell whether this prophet is true or false?
1. Through the centuries Satan's attempts to deceive God's people have been multiplied.
2. The importance of God's plan to reach men through prophets makes it a special target of the enemy.
3. Satan attempts to introduce false prophets and to discredit the true.
4. There is no reason to be deceived, for the Bible presents clear tests to be applied to the professed prophet.
5. Added evidences that help to confirm confidence in true prophets are: (1) physical manifestations, (2) timeliness, (3) certainty, (4) high spiritual plane, (5) practical nature.
6. All the tests must be applied to the prophet, over a long period of time if necessary. The evidence is cumulative and must be carefully noted before a final decision is made.
1. What are the most deceptive of Satan's counterfeits? Why?
2. Is it possible for Satan's deceptions to nullify the influence of a prophet so completely that an individual will not realize the prophet ever existed?
3. Is a true prophet susceptible to influence from others in receiving or communicating his messages? Give Bible incidents to prove your answer.
4. Apply the tests of a prophet to the life and work of Daniel, Paul, Moses. Do not simply state that Daniel spoke according to the law and the testimony; present evidence that he did so. Do the same with the remaining tests.
5. In addition to the ones mentioned in this chapter, find one example of a conditional prophecy in which no conditions are stated. Has it been fulfilled, or not? Find two conditional prophecies in which the conditions are clearly stated. Have they been fulfilled?
6. Select from the Bible incidents an example of one who claimed to be a prophet and whose “fruit” sustained his claim. Give an example of one who showed that he was a false prophet by bringing forth evil fruit. Give texts and a brief summary of the incident.
7. Find two topics that are mentioned by at least three Bible writers, and show how their testimony is substantially the same, although it does not appear in exactly the same words.
Haynes, Carlyle B., The Book of All Nations, pp. 153-187.
———, The Gift of Prophecy, pp. 101-1:24.
Young, Edward J., My Servants the Prophets, pp. 125-152.