The winds of doctrine are blowing hard. We can hardly keep our hats on. There are many prophets and teachers out there--all claiming to believe and teach the Bible and the Bible only. But the Bible warned that there are MANY (not few) false prophets and false teachers. How can we know who these false teachers and false prophets are so we can stay as far away from them as we possibly can? The Bible admonishes us to try the spirits to see if they are of God. If they are of God, we accept and believe. If not, we reject; we discard.
"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; And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God; and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world." --1 John 4:1-3.
How do we try the spirits to determine whether they are of God? The spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ took on the garb of humanity and lived among men to reveal what God, the Father, is like--His character, His nature of love, etc., that spirit is from God. Many in Christendom believe that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh.
The next litmus test to administer is Isa 8:20. "To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them." We try the spirits, we test the spirits, we judge the spirits by the Word of God.
We need to have a thorough knowledge of the Word of God so that we know when a teaching or a doctrine is not according to the law and the testimony. The Bible warns us to beware of false prophets. The word "beware" denotes that there's danger involved when we affiliate ourselves with false prophets and false teachers to be seduced by their teachings.
Matt 7:15-20 - "Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them."
The following are questions we need to ask ourselves concerning Bible teachers:
"What message do these teachers bring? Does it lead you to reverence and fear God? Does it lead you to manifest your love for Him by loyalty to His commandments? If men do not feel the weight of the moral law, if they make light of God's precepts; if they break one of the least of His commandments, and teach men so, they shall be of no esteem in the sight of heaven. We may know that their claims are without foundations."
How can we be sure that the doctrines we receive are from God and not from false teachers who claim to teach the Bible and the Bible only? The answer is found in John 7:17 - "If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself."
There is a condition we must meet in order to know if the doctrines we hear are of God. That condition is We must DO HIS WILL. What is God's Will and what does it mean "to do His will"?
Throughout the Bible, you find that the Will of God is tied up with His Moral Law. 1 Thes 4:3, for example, says "For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication..." Fornication is the same as adultery but committed by unmarried people. Committing fornication or adultery is breaking the Moral Law of God.
"The will of God is expressed in the precepts of His Holy Law." --Thoughts From the Mount of Blessings, Page 109.
If we want to know the will of God, let's first love Him and His Law and delight ourselves in the keeping of them as the psalmists said they did. If we are obedient to the Ten Commandments, we are DOING HIS WILL; and, consequently, we WILL know of the doctrines whether they are of God. "... Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man." Eccl 12:13.
God will impart to us an intimate knowledge of His will when we are obedient. Even when other voices are speaking all around us, we will hear distinctly the voice of God speaking to us.
"My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:" John 10:27. His sheep obey Him.
Another thing we need to do to keep from being deceived is to know the Truth.
What is Truth?
John 17:17 (last part) - "Thy Word is Truth."
Psalm 119:151 - "...and all thy commandments are truth."
"We must set our hearts to know what is truth. All the lessons which God has caused to be placed on record in His word are for our warning and instruction. They are given to save us from deception." --Patriarchs and Prophets, Page 55.
Only those who are diligent students of the Bible--those who have an intelligent understanding of the reasons of their faith--will be shielded from the powerful delusion that will take the world captive.
Not only is it important to know what is truth, but we need to have the LOVE of the truth. We may know the truth and accept it intellectually, but that doesn't mean that we love and live the truth, does it? What happens if we do not have the love of the truth?
2 Thes 2:10,11 - "And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie."
If we do not have the love of the Truth, we will be deceived. God Himself shall send strong delusion that we should believe a lie. There are many people out there who believe a lie that God sends them. Why? Because they do not have a love for the truth which constitutes His Word and His Moral Law for all His commandments are truth. Ps 119:151, 142.
Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. Jesus is the embodiment of Truth and Law. We must love Jesus with all our hearts. Someone has said that in between the leather covers of the Bible, with all the counsels, admonitions and instructions, all the history, all the prophecies, all the begats, there is a heart that is beating. Jesus was the Word that was made flesh and dwelt among us. When we break His Law, we are breaking not a set of codes but His heart. Do we love the Truth as it is in Jesus? If we do, then we will comply with all His requirements. We will be obedient to His Commandments. We will quit breaking His heart. Only then will we be shielded from the powerful delusion that will take the world captive.
Finally, we need to recognize the reality of spiritualism today and know that Satan is the mastermind and source of this deception.
According to The Great Controversy, page 556, spiritualism is but a revival, in a new disguise, of the witchcraft condemned and prohibited of old. Spiritualism has numbered its converts by millions and has made its way into scientific circles, has invaded churches, and has found favor in legislative bodies, and even in the courts of kings.
A well-known theologian and writer wrote about his father who died at 85 after a distinguished career as a physician and minister. His father, evidently had struggled against a very real fear of death. But after his funeral, his stepmother dreamed that he came to her and said, "Don't ever worry about dying. There's nothing to it!" The dream was so vivid that she woke up, astounded. He said: "I believe that my father did come to reassure her, because that is precisely the phrase I had heard him use a thousand times to dismiss something as unimportant."
Years before, when news reached him that his mother had died, he was alone in his office, numb with grief. There was a Bible on his desk, and he put his hand on it, staring blindly out the window. As he did so, he felt a pair of hands touch his head, gently, lovingly, unmistakably. Was it an illusion? A hallucination? He said: "I don't think so. I think my mother was permitted to reach across the gulf of death to touch and reassure me."
Once when he was preaching at a big church convocation, he had the most startling experience of all. At the end, the presiding bishop asked all the ministers in the audience to come forward and sing a hymn.
Watching them come down the aisles, He suddenly saw his father among them. He said: "I saw him as plainly as when he was alive. He seemed about 40, vital and handsome, singing with the others. When he smiled at me and put up his hand in an old familiar gesture, for several unforgettable seconds it was as if my father and I were alone in that big auditorium. Then he was gone. But, he was there, and I know that someday, somewhere I'll meet him again."
What does the Word of God say about the dead? Are they wandering around in gatherings, appearing and disappearing at will?
Eccl 9:5 - "For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not anything, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten."
Psalm 146:4 - "His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish."
Acts 2:34 - "For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand..."
This well-known theologian saw his father singing with the other ministers, didn't he?
"The dead praise not the Lord, neither any that go down into silence." Psalm 115:17.
"For in death there is no remembrance of thee; in the grave who shall give thee thanks?" Psalm 6:5.
Maybe you're thinking: But it was real. This theologian saw his father smile at him and raise his hand in a familiar gesture. How could this be? The same way that the witch of Endor brought up the Prophet Samuel at Saul's request. Was it the real Prophet Samuel that came up? No, it wasn't. Samuel was asleep waiting for the Resurrection morning to be awakened at the last trump just like the Bible said in 1 Cor 15:52. The impersonation of the prophet was done by the archdeceiver who, by the way, has powers, too, (people seem to forget this) to do things like this in order to deceive people. At this point in Saul's life, which prince was he following? Prince Emmanuel or the prince of the darkness of this world? The prince of darkness, wasn't it? This should tell you who brought up or impersonated the Prophet Samuel.
We're all familiar with the story in John, Chapter 11, where Jesus raised up Lazarus from the dead. Lazarus had been dead for four days. Decomposition had already set in. You will recall that when Jesus came to Bethany, Martha met him and told him that if He had been there sooner, her brother would not have died. Jesus told her that Lazarus would rise again. Notice what Martha said in verse 24: Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day. In other words, Martha knew that her brother was not up in heaven with God the Father sitting on a billowy white cloud playing a harp, but would rise again in the resurrection at the last day. On the Great Resurrection Morning, then and only then would the dead in Christ rise.
Hold it, you say, What about the text in 2 Cor 5:8 where the Apostle Paul wrote: 'We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord'? Does not this text substantiate the doctrine that the soul of man at death goes to Heaven? It's interesting to note that in this chapter, Paul was not writing about death at all. He was describing and contrasting the transformation that would take place of the earthly body to the heavenly body--the mortal body to the immortal body, which takes place at the second coming of Jesus Christ--at the resurrection of the last day described in 1 Cor 15:51-55 and 1 Thes 4:13-18.
Paul did not expect to receive his heavenly reward at death. Notice what he wrote in 2 Tim 4:6-8: 'For I am now ready to be offered, and the time for my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.' Paul knew that he and others who love His appearing would receive their crown of righteousness at the second coming of Jesus Christ.
John 5:28-29 read: Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation. Notice that all in the graves (not Heaven) shall hear his voice and shall come forth, etc. Many that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake. Daniel 12:2. Awake, and sing, ye that dwell in the dust. Isaiah 26:19. The Apostle Paul would rather be absent from his physical, earthly, mortal house in order to be with Jesus, but that can only take place at the second coming of Jesus Christ. So, if the soul does not go to Heaven at death, what does? See Spirit, Breath, and Soul for the answer.
We are living in the most momentous time in earth's history. We will see and hear of miraculous manifestations that we cannot fathom or explain. It will culminate in the crowning work of deception--the personating of Jesus Christ by the archdeceiver.
Matt 24:24-26 say: "For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. Behold, I have told you before. Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not. For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be."
Psalm 50:3 says: "Our God shall come, and shall not keep silence: a fire shall devour before him, and it shall be very tempestuous round about him." Acts 1:9-11 state that Christ will return to this earth in the same manner as when He left. He left visibly and bodily. He will return visibly and bodily. At His appearing, the righteous will exclaim 'Lo, this is our God, we have waited for Him and He will save us' while the wicked will cry for the mountains and the rocks to fall on them.
From my understanding of the above texts, there is nothing secretive about the coming of the Son of Man. In 2 Thes 2:3, the Apostle Paul said that the second coming of Christ shall NOT come "except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin (Antichrist) be revealed, the son of perdition; who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple or God, showing himself that he is God." This is the same event spoken of in Daniel 7:25. The righteous (living and dead (those who hath part in the First Resurrection)) would reign with Christ a thousand years in Heaven.
In Revelation 20:4-6 you will notice that they had not worshipped the Beast (the AntiChrist), who incidentally, was already at work even during the time of the Apostle Paul (2 Thes 2:7,8). The activities of the AntiChrist are not future. They are here and now. And, friends, there is nothing secretive about the glorious appearance of Jesus Christ for it will be seen by all. Click here for more information and scripture texts on the Second Coming of Christ and the Secret Rapture theory.
Unless we are firmly grounded in the Word of God and have received the love of the Truth as it is in Jesus, we will be deceived. We will give in to the evidence of our senses. But we need not be deceived, for God, in His love and mercy, has warned us: "Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God, because many false prophets are gone out into the world." We try the spirits by the Word of God. "To the Law and to the testimony; if they speak not according to this word, it is because they is no light in them."