As my readers know, I don’t always (or really ever) have kind words for preachers such as Joel Osteen and Joseph Prince (just to mention two). I also don’t have kind words for pseudo-Christian groups such as Catholicism, Mormonism, or those that are indulging in New Age practices.
I often talk about the unbiblical teachings or TV preachers. One of my family members is a big fan of these preachers. When I say anything about their teachings and how they’re unbiblical, I’m told: “You don’t really know that. Be careful what you say about ministers. God deals with those who wrongly criticize his ministers.” So in brief, what does the Bible say?
Let’s start out look at Deuteronomy 18:
“The Lord said to me, ‘They have spoken well. I will raise up a prophet from among their countrymen like you, and I will put My words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. It shall come about that whoever will not listen to My words which he shall speak in My name, I Myself will require it of him. But the prophet who speaks a word presumptuously in My name which I have not commanded him to speak, or which he speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet shall die.’ You may say in your heart, ‘How will we know the word which the Lord has not spoken?’ When a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the thing does not come about or come true, that is the thing which the Lord has not spoken. The prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him.” (vv 17-22 NASB)
How many times do we hear TV preachers or pseudo-Christian groups claiming to speak in God’s name? How about Joseph Smith (Mormonism)? How about Charles and Myrtle Fillmore (Unity School of Christianity)? Or Jim Jones (People’s Temple)? Or Warren Jeffs (Fundamental Mormons)? What about Ellen White (Seventh Day Adventists)? And the Jehovah’s Witnesses? Harold Camping? Let’s step away from cults…How about people such as Rick Joyner or Kenneth Copeland? All of these people prophesied and spoke in God’s name. The things they prophesied did not come to pass. All of these groups claim (or claimed in some cases) to involve the Bible in some sort. They often miss out on Scriptures such as Deut 18:17-22.
It’s simply because if their predictions end up not happening and you see this Scripture, you will have a flag raised. You will begin to question. You’ll begin to read God’s word. You’ll begin to be shown Truth and then you might not give them the power, submission, and attention that they want. Let’s look at another section of Scripture, this time from the New Testament.
Matthew 7:17-22 says:
‘“Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So then, you will know them by their fruits.“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’”
While the common misconception is that Christians should not judge anyone, in this section of Scripture we’re actually told to judge by the fruits of others, particularly those who call themselves prophets of God. Just because a preacher is on a “Christian” TV channel and calls themselves a Christian, it doesn’t mean that they are. Likewise, those who are not preachers and claim to be Christians and yet live their life opposing the morals that Christ lived for and His followers discussed in their inspired writings, they are falsely claiming to be followers of Christ.
Let’s look at one more short piece of Scripture:
“Do not quench the Spirit; do not despise prophetic utterances. But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil.” (1 Thess 5:19-22)
There are prophetic messages for the children of God today. We aren’t to despise them but we ARE to examine them. Not just examine them, but examine them carefully. We are called to examine the doctrines and words of those who claim to be men and women of God.
Preachers are humans. Preachers mess up. That isn’t what is in question here. There are many very popular preachers who have twisted Scripture. We are to judge the fruits of those who claim to speak for God. When they don’t align, Christians should stand up and point out those problems. In local churches it would be best to speak to the pastor directly. With famous preachers it most likely isn’t possible and many know that their teachings are opposed by some Christians.
Will God strike us down for finding the bad fruit of preachers and prophets? No! We need to find that bad fruit. We need to be able to recognize it! Our lives do depend on it. We can be led down a false path whether it’s white-washed Christianity or downright false Christianity. We need to make sure that this doesn’t happen to us or to those we love.