We Are Statues Sent From the Capital 

When ancient capital cities are excavated, it is rare to find statues of whatever god or king ruled there. Rome, for example, had hardly any statues of Caesar. Lots of statues of rulers were found in the colonies, far away from the capital.

Statues, or images, are a way of saying who is in charge. Whether it’s a huge statue or a face on a coin, the people know who their lord is when they see his face — even in a place he may never have visited. The statue set up in a colony one thousand miles from Rome was a way of saying “Caesar is lord.” It served as a reflection and reminder.

And so are we. We are living, breathing statues on earth as image-bearers of who is in charge. The problem, though, is that unlike statues, we can turn around and say no.

No, I don’t want to worship you. No, I don’t want to represent you. No, I don’t want to reflect you. That’s where the Bible uses phrases like God “gave us over” to false gods, idols, and worship of the creation instead of the Creator.

There are two significant consequences every time we make that decision: (1) we are no longer able to properly reflect him, and (2) we become like the idols we worship.

Think about the statues again in the colonies. If for some reason Rome “gave up” on a colony and let it be, and it no longer maintained or cleaned the statues, they would deteriorate and crumble.

Imagine Rome writing off a few statues and no longer taking care of them or “giving them over” to themselves. Those statues would quickly turn to rubble, piles of marble or stone. They would no longer properly represent Rome, the very source of their existence.

When we decide to worship something besides God, the same thing happens with us. We begin to lose the thing that makes us human. Our humanness begins to crumble. As image-bearers we have weight, but when we abdicate that responsibility, we lose that weight. Our glory begins to fall. We become ruins of what he created us to be.

Now, of course, we never fully lose that image while we are alive. No matter how hard you scratch, gnaw, or pull you can’t get the image of God off of you fully. There’s still glory residue no matter how hard you try. But the principle that is impossible to escape is we can’t be image neutral — we will reflect or become more and more like something or someone.

When heaven crashes down onto earth, it looks like we are reflecting and imaging God’s very own self in us. But to keep God from coming close , the only thing we have to do is worship something else as ultimate. Like the statues, this immediately cuts us off from the source and takes away our humanness.

It’s a scary question but one that should be asked: What would you be like if the thing that make you human — the image and likeness of God — was taken away from you?

In C.S. Lewis’s novel “The Great Divorce,” hell is painted as a picture of what happens when that image is fully removed. Heaven is inhabited by ‘solid people’ and hell is inhabited by ‘ghosts.’ There is a weight in heaven that is so real, so thick, it’s painful to the ghosts. In hell, they live hundreds of miles away from the nearest person. And hell is airy, thin, ghostlike. But heaven is dense, huge in proportion to hell. The bodies have weight, as if they were made for that place.

When the people in hell visit heaven, even the blades of grass are too dense to walk on. It’s painful to them because they have been dehumanized. By wanting to worship themselves and other things, the very thing that made them truly human (namely God’s reflected image in them) was scratched way. “Reality is harsh to the feet of shadows.” They don’t have that image in them. They don’t have the weight of glory. They are now subhuman. Sub-images.

And that the logical conclusion of idolatry. It’s colluding with evil to wipe away our humanness and to worship things that are not God. If we want to live our lives refusing the image of God in us, which is also the very thing that makes us human, hell becomes the place where God finally says okay. Which leads us to the second consequence: when God is no longer the image we orbit, then we become like whatever takes his place. 

Believe in Yourself

Believe in Yourself


Every generation has a mantra – a saying that motivates and sums up their perspective on life … their philosophy of life

The way they approach life in general

We are told to believe in ourselves – because self-esteem is important 

In fact, it is the driving force behind a lot of the way the world of education works today

For the past 30 or 35 years it has been an accepted fact of psychology that low self-esteem is the root of many social and personal problems — especially among young people

Low self-esteem is to blame for everything 

      • The high school drop-out rate
      • Teenage pregnancy
      • Overflowing prisons
      • The rate of suicides
      • Drug abuse 
      • Hate crimes

The philosophy goes like this:

Read more

Does God Change His Mind?

The Christian doctrine of immutability says that God is unchanging.

Psalm 102:26-27 ESV “They will perish, but you will remain; they will all wear out like a garment. You will change them like a robe, and they will pass away, but you are the same, and your years have no end.”

Malachi 3:6 states: For I the LORD do not change…” (ESV)

Hebrews 13:8 states that Jesus — God in human flesh — is immutable. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (ESV).

Yet three passages in the Old Testament state that God relented or changed His mind about something He did or was going to do. Take the time to read these verses slowly…

Genesis 6:7 NET “So the LORD said, “I will wipe humankind, whom I have created, from the face of the earth – everything from humankind to animals, including creatures that move on the ground and birds of the air, for I regret that I have made them.”

We, of course, know that He did not totally wipe out the human race because the next verse starts with “But Noah…” and the human race continues.

1 Samuel 15:11 NET “I regret that I have made Saul king, for he has turned away from me and has not done what I told him to do.”

But Saul remains king for more than a decade in spite of God’s stated regret. 

Jonah 3:10 NET “When God saw their actions – they turned from their evil way of living! – God relented concerning the judgment he had threatened them with and he did not destroy them.”

And the city and people of Nineveh continued on for several hundred years before permanently turning away from the Lord and thus were destroyed.

From our perspective, it certainly appears that God changed, but when we see God’s response from His perspective, we find the consistency that we expect of Him and His Word. His “unchangingness.” Here’s how we can understand these seeming contradictions:

God’s change is an accommodation. When God uses language such as “I am sorry that I made man,” He is doing it as an accommodation to us, stooping to communicate in the only terms we understand: the language of “human.” He is expressing a feeling in human terms that do not express exactly what He is feeling and thinking. 

God’s change is an affirmation. God’s “repentance” is not a change in His will; it is His willingness to allow us to change. While it is true that God knows everything in advance, it is a mistake to infer from this that He is incapable of emotion or reaction to His creatures. The Scriptures show that He is a God who cares deeply for those made in His image, and He acts according to that love. His love is “never changing” or immutable.

God’s change is an application. God’s immutability does not mean He is immobile. He is consistently pursuing a righteous course, and thus He adapts His response to people’s moral changes. God’s unchanging holiness requires His treatment of the wicked to differ from that of the righteous. When the righteous turn wicked — or the wicked turn righteous — the way He treats them must change. God must deal with each of us according to the way we are currently living — and particularly according to the ways we change.But the way He treats the wicked and the righteous never changes. It is immutable. 

Swallowed By a Huge Fish

People today fall over even the simplest things that don’t make sense to them in Scripture. One of the recent ones that came up in a conversation with a family member is the fact that the Bible states Jonah (another prophet like Amos) was swallowed by a huge fish. 

Jonah 1:17 NET “The LORD sent a huge fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the stomach of the fish three days and three nights.”

This has never been a stumbling block for me because more than a decade ago I was leading a  planning retreat of 6 or 7 pastors and leaders of a group of churches in Russia. We were in a cabin by the ocean and there was always lots of fish to eat – breakfast, lunch, and supper. While there I saw a picture of a large fish pulled out of the same waters. It took a crane to lift the fish up on to the shore. It was certainly large enough to swallow a prophet or anyone for that matter.

The Hebrew word for fish is not used in a modern, biological sense here. Rather, it refers to a large marine creature — and there are certainly known monsters of the deep large enough to swallow a man whole.

In her booklet The Bible Today, Grace Kellogg identifies at least two of them: the sulfur-bottom (or blue) whale and the whale shark. Nether of these creatures has any teeth. They feed by opening their enormous mouths, dropping their lower jaws, and moving through the water at high speed, straining food as they go.

A 100-foot sulfur-bottom whale was recorded off Cape Cod in the 1930s. Its mouth was 10 or 12 feet wide — so big it could easily swallow a horse. These whales have four to six compartments in their stomachs, any one of which could house a group of full-grown men. The nasal cavity of this whale contains an enormous air storage chamber as well, often measuring seven feel high, seven feet wide, and 14 feet long. If this creature had an unwelcome guest on board that caused a headache, the whale would swim to the nearest land to discharge the offender, just as the huge fish did with Jonah.

Interesting as these facts are, we do not need marine biology to prove that a sovereign God can direct the elements of His creation to accomplish His purposes. If we do not believe that God could and did prepare a giant fish to discipline a prophet, then we will have trouble believing that a dead man named Jesus of Nazareth came back to life. Do not forget — it is the three days of Jonah in the belly of a huge fish that Jesus used to predict His own resurrection after three days in the grave.

Matthew 12:39-40 NET “But [Jesus] answered them, ‘An evil and adulterous generation asks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For just as Jonah was in the belly of the huge fish for three days and three nights, so the Son of Man will be in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights.’”

Matthew 16:4 NET “A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah.”

1 Corinthians 15:4 NET “… and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day according to the scriptures”

I have seen the resurrected and risen Jesus Christ in the flesh. I have heard His voice. I have touched Him as He hugged me. The date – November 9, 1976. The night that I was gloriously saved and born again. I know He is alive after three days in the grave because I saw, heard, and touched Him.

1 John 1:1-4 NET “This is what we proclaim to you: what was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and our hands have touched (concerning the word of life – and the life was revealed, and we have seen and testify and announce to you the eternal life that was with the Father and was revealed to us). What we have seen and heard we announce to you too, so that you may have fellowship with us (and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ). Thus we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.”

The Most Deadly Famine

In the prophet Amos’s writing we read what are somewhat familiar words as they are occasionally quoted by teachers of the Word and pastors of local churches. Let’s look at it:

Amos 8:11 NET “‘Be certain of this, the time is coming,’ says the sovereign LORD,

‘when I will send a famine through the land – not a shortage of food or water but an end to divine revelation!’”

A more familiar rendering of this verse reads: “‘Behold, the days are coming,’ declares the Lord GOD, ‘when I will send a famine on the land—not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water,

but of hearing the words of the LORD’”.

Israel had rejected the words of the LORD from Amos and so they would go into exile, where there would be no word from the Lord at all. In its absence they will find that the revelation from God had been their most precious possession. But nowthey shall not find it. People who have repeatedly rejected God’s words will suddenly be unable to find God’s words at all. In Amos 7:17 severe judgment came to a priest for rejecting God’s words, but here severe judgment comes upon the people as a whole for the same sin.

This particularly deadly type of famine, obviously, was a problem of the ears, not the stomach. We may well be in the early stages of a “hearing famine” in our generation. This in spite of the many “Christian” television, radio, and internet preachers and teachers as well as books and Bibles in abundance. For centuries, God’s Word has been at the center of church preaching. Today, questioning scriptural authority is in vogue, even in some major faith communities. Popular speakers advocate processing God’s Word through the cultural filters of the day rather than the other way around. 

Christians also once understood that we don’t stand in judgment of the Bible; it stands in judgment of us. But many today are airbrushing the Word of God to make it palatable to those who want spirituality that costs nothing. Instead of being conformed to the image of Christ, we want to conform His image, and everything else in Scripture, to our sad conditions.

Thirty years ago, people were saying, “If it feels good, do it.” Today, we are more subtle. We say, “If it sounds good, believe it.” When we try to figure out how on earth we can live with confidence in this crazy, chaotic world, we ought to be running to the Bible and not away from it.

The sad and tragic fact is that when people turn their backs on God and His Word, He will sometimes turn His back on them, giving them over to their wilful sin.

Romans 1:18-32 NET “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of people who suppress the truth by their unrighteousness, because what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world his invisible attributes – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, because they are understood through what has been made. So people are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not glorify him as God or give him thanks, but they became futile in their thoughts and their senseless hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for an image resembling mortal human beings or birds or four-footed animals or reptiles.

Therefore God gave them over in the desires of their hearts to impurity, to dishonor their bodies among themselves. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie and worshiped and served the creation rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

For this reason God gave them over to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged the natural sexual relations for unnatural ones, and likewise the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed in their passions for one another. Men committed shameless acts with men and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.

And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what should not be done. They are filled with every kind of unrighteousness, wickedness, covetousness, malice. They are rife with envy, murder, strife, deceit, hostility. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, contrivers of all sorts of evil, disobedient to parents, senseless, covenant-breakers, heartless, ruthless. Although they fully know Godʼs righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but also approve of those who practice them.”

This happened in Amos’s day as well, when God withdrew His prophetic revelation from those who mistreated and rejected His prophets and His prophetic gift.

People who disregard the Bible and misuse His prophetic gifts may get what they want someday; a society where the Bible is no longer read or proclaimed and where they can freely sin without Scripture or the prophetic confronting their conscience. But they may get more than they bargained for. A society without the moral compass of Scripture will self-destruct because of moral decay and decadence.

Today in my nation we hear more and more opinion in the pulpits and less pure and true Scripture with proper current day application. As well, we hear a lot of so-called “prophetic words” that back up non-biblical behaviour, and people causing division and strife. “Prophetic words” that are not from the Holy Spirit are justifying behaviour and a life-style that is not only non-biblical but also anti-biblical. And the problem with all of these false prophecies and false  teachings are that they are quickly spread through social media and people have little to no discernment because they no longer know or believe the Word of God that allows us to discern good from evil, truth from falsehood. 

I firmly believe that we will soon see God’s judgment come first on the false teachers, preachers, and those giving false prophetic words and then a further and horrific judgment on the Church that has allowed and even fueled these false teachers and prophets. On a positive note I also see God raising upon true, biblically solid apostles to help bring correction and adjustment to those who sincerely want to follow the Lord and His word helping to build the true Church of Jesus Christ. 

No More ‘Going Through the Motions”

Amos, the prophet of God, had and still has a great deal to say about the life, attitude, and actions of God’s people. This included God’s thoughts about their worship. Amos speaks specifically and mostly to the Northern Kingdom of his day. However, he did have a few words for Israel as recorded in Amos 9:11-15. And His Words still speak to hearts today. So let’s have a look at the big picture and apply it to our current situation. 

The central theme of Amos’s prophecy is justice — social justice in the northern kingdom and ultimate justice for Israel, Judah, and their neighbour-nations.

In one of the harshest sections of Amos’s prophecy, God denounces the phoney religion of the northern kingdom.

Amos 5:21-23 NET “I absolutely despise your festivals!

I get no pleasure from your religious assemblies!

Even if you offer me burnt and grain offerings, I will not be satisfied;

I will not look with favour on your peace offerings of fattened calves.

Take away from me your noisy songs;

I donʼt want to hear the music of your stringed instruments.

Both the priests and the socialite women presented their offerings in hopes of gaining favour with God, but His response was plain: ”I will not accept them.” Nor did He want to hear “the noise of [the priests’] songs” or “the melody of [their] harps.” Why? Because of their hypocrisy and oppression of the poor. God had disciplined Israel in the past (Amos 4:6-11), but the people had persisted in their idolatry. Therefore the Lord had one message for this wealthy and idolatrous generation: “Prepare to meet your God…” (Amos 4:12)

God cares nothing for the exercise of empty religious rituals. He hates it. What’s more, God denounces moral and ethical practices that violate His standards and invalidate worship. God knows the secrets of every heart. He knows how we treat our neighbours and coworkers. He knows instantly when we are genuinely seeking Him and when we are just going through the motions — observing a tradition, trying to look pious to others, or checking off another box on our spiritual to-do list. 

The fact is, He does not desire our traditions, our giving, even our prayer and Bible reading — unless these things come from an obedient, truly loving heart. If our external actions toward God do not flow from an authentic desire to love others and please Him, we are only putting on a religious show, and He wants none of it.  

So, as we were worshipping last weekend at the church that I attend and teach at I was thinking about all of this from the book of Amos. I was watching as a few people stood and worshipped. Most sat. And, few of those who sat were engaged in the worship. They were talking, eating, looking at their phones, and dare I mention, napping. Yet, the worship was amazing and, even if I do say so, anointed. 

The teaching was on “Less Religion — More Relationship” (available under Ralph Howe Ministries on Podbean) and people listened politely. Four of those present took notes in their personal journals. Others did not. Bathroom breaks, fresh coffee, a candy and donut as the worship and teaching proceeded. It was a good, biblically based, foundational teaching. A comment or two were made afterwards. No questions were asked. It was, it seems, just “another teaching” in a long line of weekly sermons. 

Makes me wonder what God thinks when He sees all of this. Maybe something along the line of His comments to the northern kingdom through the prophet Amos. You see, worship reveals the heart of people – even the heart of those who don’t bother or worship for the wrong reason. I’m just making a personal, gentle observations. I’m not judging. God does that, not me. 

But, I for one, wonder how long God is going to put up with a people – His people – who are self-centered and so me-focused that they simply can’t be bothered to worship or get excited and engage with the teaching of His Word.

Just wondering — out loud.

The Role of the Prophets

I have recently read the book of Amos (Old Testament), named after a prophet of the Living God. And it got me to thinking about the role of the prophets both in Scripture and in society today.

Amos 3:7 is one of my favourite verses in the whole Bible. As I am reading the Bible through in a version that is new to me (New English Translation) it once again grabbed my attention.

“Certainly the sovereign LORD does nothing without first revealing his plan to his servants the prophets.”

It caught my attention because it really does not do justice to the verse in the original Hebrew. Let me quote it in the version I have been reading for years (English Standard Version).

“For the Lord GOD does nothing without revealing his secret to his servants the prophets.”

The Hebrew word for “secret” speaks of the intimate counsel of God. God is known for taking the upright “in His confidence” and giving warning or instruction to His people.

Job 29:4 NET “…just as I was in my most productive time, when Godʼs intimate friendship was experienced in my tent…”

Proverbs 3:32 NET “or one who goes astray is an abomination to the LORD,

but he reveals his intimate counsel to the upright.”

In biblical times, God particularly chose to speak through handpicked, distinct leaders who would deliver His message to the people. These prophets were responsible to stand in His council and receive His Word, and then to declare that Word to the people with absolute fidelity.

Jeremiah 23:18, 22 NET “Yet which of them has ever stood in the LORDʼs inner circle

so they could see and hear what he has to say? Which of them have ever paid attention or listened to what he has said? … But if they had stood in my inner circle, they would have proclaimed my message to my people. They would have caused my people to turn from their wicked ways and stop doing the evil things they are doing.”

The prophets could take no credit for what they said. Their duty was to say what God said. Nothing more, nothing less. The apostle Peter captured the prophet’s role in speaking and writing for God. “Above all, you do well if you recognize this: No prophecy of scripture ever comes about by the prophetʼs own imagination, for no prophecy was ever borne of human impulse; rather, men carried along by the Holy Spirit spoke from God” (2 Peter 1:20-21).

It was a fearsome responsibility that required deep humility. Amos begins his prophecy by reminding his readers that he is only a shepherd from the small village of Tekoa (Amos 1:1). At Jeremiah’s prophetic commissioning, he pleads that his youth is a hindrance (Jeremiah 1:6). When God calls Moses to stand before Pharaoh — the most powerful ruler on earth — and tell him to let God’s people go free, Moses fears that his poor speech will prevent him from being effective. So God gave Moses a spokesperson: his own brother, Aaron. Moses would be the leader and tell Aaron what to say, and Aaron would say it (Exodus 4:15).

Moses’ relationship to Aaron prefigured the relationship God would eventually have with His own spokespeople, the prophets of Israel: “He will speak for you to the people, and it will be as if he were your mouth and as if you were his God” (Exodus 4:16 NET). God would supply the prophets with what needed to be said, but they would be the ones to say it.

The prophets’ role was not to be creative but to be faithful. They were brought into the intimate confines of God’s counsel, receiving things that the people ultimately needed to hear. In fact, ““For the Lord GOD does nothing without revealing his secret to his servants the prophets” (Amos 3:7). It was never God’s intention to catch His people unaware. Rather, He used prophets like Amos to give Israel fair warning that if they did not change their sinful ways, they could expect God to act.

Prophets did not speak only to warn, chastised, or announce judgment. They also spoke God’s Word “…for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16 NET). In other words, their purpose was also to teach so that God’s people would know how to live in times of crisis and times of calm.

In the New Testament era, the other side of the prophetic calling – forthtelling the Words of God instead of foretelling the actions of God — gets more attention. There were certain prophets active in the church who foretold the future:

Acts 21:8-11 NET “On the next day we left and came to Caesarea, and entered the house of Philip the evangelist, who was one of the seven, and stayed with him. (He had four unmarried daughters who prophesied.) While we remained there for a number of days, a prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. He came to us, took Paulʼs belt, tied his own hands and feet with it, and said, “The Holy Spirit says this: ʻThis is the way the Jews in Jerusalem will tie up the man whose belt this is, and will hand him over to the Gentiles.ʼ”

But in writing about the role of church prophets and prophecy, Paul said, “But the one who prophesies speaks to people for their strengthening, encouragement, and consolation” (1 Corinthians 14:3 NET). In the New Testament, the emphasis was on building up the Body of Christ through exhortation and encouragement in the face of persecution.

1 Corinthians 14:4-5 NET “The one who speaks in a tongue builds himself up, but the one who prophesies builds up the church. I wish you all spoke in tongues, but even more that you would prophesy. The one who prophesies is greater than the one who speaks in tongues, unless he interprets so that the church may be strengthened.”

Whether the counsel of God in Scripture warns His people, speaks of future events, reveals gifts and callings, or instructs them in how to live in difficult times, the purpose of the prophets was the same: fidelity and faithfulness to the direction of the Holy Spirit. That same Spirit of God warns and directs Christians today. And like the prophets of old, the responsibility of the prophets (and those who prophesy) is to faithfully do as He directs. 



The Bible states that when you are born again God gives you a gift

Romans 6:23b NET “the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

This gift is defined – the Bible explaining and interpreting the Bible

John 17:3 NET “Now this is eternal life – that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you sent.”

The Greek word we have interpreted as “know” in this verse is the same word used for “Joseph did not know Mary until Jesus was born” (Matthew 1:25)

“[He] did not have marital relations with her until she gave birth to a son, whom he named Jesus.” (Matthew 1:25 NET)

So we have been given the supernatural ability to have a personal relationship – to intimately know – God the Father and Jesus.

Intimacy = Becoming one with  Read more

Many Prophecies and Yet a Famine in the Land.

The prophet Amos – a simple man who was a farmer-shepherd from an insignificant village and an insignificant family. He speaks for God and reveals the very heart of God during a time when many were following their own ways. And, when others were following what they considered to be ‘prophetic voices’ but who were not speaking for the Almighty God, our heavenly Father. 

Gee, sounds like today in my nation.

God had been leading them for decades, even centuries through the voice of the prophets. And the prophet Amos was declaring a true Word of the Lord. It was a warning of coming disaster and punishment for the sins of the people. The words were very specific and near the end of the short book named after the prophet there was some good news prophesied as well. 

Amos 3:7 NET states: “Certainly the sovereign LORD does nothing without first revealing his plan to his servants the prophets.”

Very true then as it still is now. 

And yet, later the prophet states:

Amos 8:11-12 NET states: “‘Be certain of this, the time is coming,”’ says the sovereign LORD,

‘when I will send a famine through the land – not a shortage of food or water but an end to divine revelation! People will stagger from sea to sea, and from the north around to the east.

They will wander about looking for a revelation from the LORD, but they will not find any.’”

In other words, even if there was someone in the office of the prophet there would be no revelation through the prophet of what God was currently doing. No matter how hard one might look the Lord would simply not be revealing His plan and purpose for that time. It does not mean that the Lord is not active and involved. He has simply chosen not to inform His people what He is about to do and why.

With that as background let me comment on the current situation both in my nation and elsewhere in this amazing world in which we live. 

1> There are times when the Lord does not speak. It is not because He is mad although we often assume He is when He is quiet. Maybe we don’t need another prophetic direction or correction at the present time. Maybe we are still working through – or should be working through – the last Word we received. Maybe we should simply live by His written Word and watch as our lives are transformed through the written Word.

2> The void – the quietness of God – leads some to feel insecure and so they either go looking for a prophetic word from some source, any source. They are not hard to find as the internet is full of what many call prophetic insights. However, the words are not tested and often are not even biblical. However, many are not familiar enough with the Scriptures to correct judge right from wrong, true from false. There is no discernment and so many are deceived. 

Jesus did warn us that false prophets and apostles will rise and deceive even the very elect (Matthew 24:24).

3> We have many who have the gift of prophecy who are not called into the role of the prophet. And yet they are prophesying over the nation or nations. This is outside of the authority of anyone functioning within the gift of prophecy. Thus “prophetic words” are being spoken and published which are simply utter nonsense no matter how well-meaning someone may be. Words over the nations much come from tried, tested, and recognized men and women who are functioning in the role of apostle or prophet and recognized as such.

4> There are many self-proclaimed prophets and apostles who are issuing “prophetic words” when, in reality, they are not called to those offices and have not been recognized as true apostles and prophets. They are not in healthy relationships with others with the same calling they are functioning in (accountability). They have not been approved by the leadership of the Body of Christ and not recognized by (and often not a part of) a local assembly or church. Their words should not be received or acted upon.

5> Many people state “prophetic words” that line up and approve of their current lifestyle, behaviour, or what they are thinking and believing. So experience is then backed up with “prophetic words” to justify what is being accomplished or spoken in the Name of the Lord. This means experience and the “prophetic” is leading and Scripture is being used to justify behaviour and beliefs. We are proof-texting how we are living and what we are believing. This is backwards. Scripture is always the standard by which a word spoken as prophetic and any chosen lifestyle is judged as accurate or inaccurate, right or wrong. Experience and feelings are subjective where the Word of God, the Bible, is objective and our standard to which a word and a lifestyle is compared and judged.

So today many are declaring ‘the word of the Lord’ when there is no word. They are speaking from the soul and not the spirit. They are prophesying in the flesh and not in the Spirit. Oh, it sounds spiritual. But it is not. There are seriously few true prophetic words being spoken today. Yes, God is still revealing His heart through the prophets. But, true prophets who know the heart of God are hard to find. So, people run here and there looking for a word and buy into what is not from the Lord and thus are deceived. 

Very true today as we continue to face the Trucker’s Convoys and the multitude of false prophesies and misquoted and out of context Scripture passages that people are using to justify non-Biblical behaviour as they cause serious and long-lasting division and strife in my nation and now other nations. All done, so they say, “in the Name of the Lord” with is simply a blatant lie. 

The Five Signs of a False Teacher

In Matthew’s gospel, chapter 24 Jesus speaks of false prophets and teachers who will rise up and deceive many by their prophetic words and teachings. I was thinking about this the other night as finishing up my study of Matthew’s record of Jesus’ life and ministry. How true this warning is for today as the internet and social media allows many to spread their messages to all who will listen. It also made me aware of how we need to be so discerning as the false can sound so much like the true.

As I then switched over the read Galatians I noticed Paul was fighting the religious spirit of false teachers and false prophets. The Words of Jesus came true and were seriously accurate right away in the early Church. And are so true even today. In Galatians we find five things we need to note and know about false teachers.

Galatians 5:7-12 NET “You were running well; who prevented you from obeying the truth? This persuasion does not come from the one who calls you! A little yeast makes the whole batch of dough rise! I am confident in the Lord that you will accept no other view. But the one who is confusing you will pay the penalty, whoever he may be. Now, brothers and sisters, if I am still preaching circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offence of the cross has been removed. I wish those agitators would go so far as to castrate themselves!”

1> They contradict the truth – Galatians 5:7

False teachers plagued the Church in Paul’s day, and they continue to multiply as we move towards the end times.

1 Timothy 4:1-2 “Now the Spirit explicitly says that in the later times some will desert the faith and occupy themselves with deceiving spirits and demonic teachings, influenced by the hypocrisy of liars whose consciences are seared.”

2 Peter 2:1 “But false prophets arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. These false teachers will infiltrate your midst with destructive heresies, even to the point of denying the Master who bought them. As a result, they will bring swift destruction on themselves.”

In order to protect ourselves and each other from error, we must know the truth and be able to thus discern falsehood. There is no gift of discernment – there is a gift of the discerning of spirits. But, to discern truth and error we need to be well rooted and grounded in God’s Word, the Bible. This means we need to be reading it regularly and studying it so as to show ourselves approved as workman of the Word (2 Timothy 2:15).

2> They are contrary to God – Galatians 5:8

The Galatians were not called by God to legalism and the law. False teachers used the Old Testament in their attempt to undermine Paul’s teachings regarding being free from the Law. Every cultist and false teacher and prophet tries to use the Bible to support his or her heresy.

3> They contaminate the Church – Galatians 5:9

Paul says that when false doctrine enters a church, it will begin permeating every area of the fellowship until it takes control of the entire church body. This has been the experience of every church, Bible collage, and seminary that has ultimately strayed from the truth of God’s Word.

4> Their condemnation is certain – Galatians 5:10

After expressing his confidence that the Galatians will ultimately choose the right path, Paul promises that those who have troubled them will face the judgment of God.

2 Peter 2:2-3, 9 “And many will follow their debauched lifestyles. Because of these false teachers, the way of truth will be slandered. And in their greed they will exploit you with deceptive words. Their condemnation pronounced long ago is not sitting idly by; their destruction is not asleep … if so, then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from their trials, and to reserve the unrighteous for punishment at the day of judgment…”

5> They criticize teachers of truth – Galatians 5:11

John R.W. Stott wrote in The Message of Galatians, “The gospel is grievously offensive to the pride of men. It tells them that they are … under the wrath and condemnation of God, that they can do nothing to save themselves or secure their salvation, and that only through Christ crucified can they be saved. If we preach this gospel we shall arouse ridicule and opposition.”

Keep this list close. As we approach the coming of Christ and the end of the age, we will need it.