Friday, February 27, 2009

"The Integrity of the Prophetic Gift"

The 66 books of the Bible are all inspired by God and are the only rule ("yardstick") of faith and practice. "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness" (2 Tim. 3:16). All other work must be checked against this "Yardstick." Unless we do this we will see an erosion of faith and practice. In fact this has happened over the last 2000 years and needs to be revisited and rectified. For this purpose God has raised up others in these last days to point to the scriptural Yardstick and say, let's take another look.

There are a number of modern day "prophets" considered so by many. Are they all correct? Is it possible that some could be false prophets? If so, how can we tell which "prophet(s)" may be true and which ones are false. Fortunately, we are not left up to our own devices, for we do have help. The Bible presents clear tests to be applied to a professed prophet:

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" (Isa. 8:20).

2. "Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them" (Matt. 7:20).

3. "When the word of the prophet shall come to pass, then shall the prophet be known, that the Lord hath truly sent him" (Jer. 28:9).

4. "Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God" (1 John 4:2).

These four tests can be enhanced by checking some indicators: (1) physical manifestations of a supernatural element documented by eyewitnesses, (2) timeliness in giving the messages borne, (3) certainty in predictions (100% accuracy rating), (4) high spiritual plane of the prophet's life and the messages borne, (5) practical nature of the messages and testimonies. All the tests must be applied to a prophet, maybe even over a long period of time, if necessary, making careful note of all the evidence over the life and career of the individual in question.

Ellen G. White did meet the criteria for a true prophet in every sense of the word:

1. She had supernatural visions that during the process of receiving such visions were witnessed and the results documented.

2. Every prophetic prediction came true as predicted. And many times messages were sent halfway around the world, a journey of weeks or months, only to arrive at the precise moment when the testimony was most needed.

3. All her work stands the test against the Bible yardstick. She always said she was not the yardstick, but only pointed to it, calling attention to concepts that we may have missed, having been lost to the annals of time.

Ellen White herself claims that not all of her writings were "inspired" in the strictest sense of the word, particularly personal letters to family, for example. However, in other documents, even personal letters, this can become a little murky to those of us who live after her death and cannot ask her about specifics. When she says, "I was shown ... ," for example, it is easy to assume that what follows is specifically and divinely inspired. Other situations are not so easy, which leaves us to assume that all her works ought to be considered inspired unless proven otherwise by the Bible. We should not assume that because we may not understand or because we may not like something that the prophet says that he or she was not inspired when that was written. Nevertheless, everything Ellen White wrote must be compared to the Bible.

There are other authors and/or their works that are endorsed by authoritative prophetic statements. An example would be the statements listing various prophets in 1 Chronicles 29:29 and 2 Chronicles 9:29; 12:15. These writings should be taken seriously, studied, and compared to the Bible. Ellen White endorsed several writers and, in some cases, specific books. Writers that were endorsed include E. J. Waggoner, A. T. Jones, and W. W. Prescott. Books she endorsed include Daniel and the Revelation, by Uriah Smith, and the two books, The Story of Daniel the Prophet and The Story of the Seer of Patmos, by S. N. Haskell. These writings must be compared to both the Bible and to the works of the one who endorsed them. Where they are in agreement, we need to take them seriously and receive their benefit.

Sometimes in their work, authors will use the work of other writers because it is not conceivable to improve on the language used. The Bible writers quoted from each other extensively many times without even giving references, or at best the references are rather sketchy, with the reader being expected to recognize the quote. In fact whole sections are virtually reproduced in some cases! (e.g., 1 Kings 22 and 2 Chronicles 18).

However, the greatest prophetic deception is still in the future: "And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light" (2 Cor. 11:14). "And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty. Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame" (Rev. 16:13-15).

Satan himself will appear as an angel of light. Wouldn't it only make sense that if Christ was about to come and the world was about to end, that Satan would want to appear as Christ Himself and tell all who would listen that the Bible is obsolete and no longer binding? That is the work of a false prophet. That would be Satan's last ditch final effort. Don't be deceived! Cherish the white garments of the righteousness of Christ, hold the integrity of the prophets, and don't let false prophecy deceive you. God will hold you with a hand that will never let go. Rely on His hand.

รข€“Craig Barnes