When we hear a teaching or prophecy, we’ve learned that we: (1) first test the spirit of the person giving the word, whether or not they are a believer; and (2) test what is given to see if it is scriptural, rejecting what is not and affirming what is in God’s Word.
Scripture also talks specifically about dealing with prophecies. In 1 Corinthians 14:29, we are told to judge prophecies given in the community of believers. Under the New Covenant, every believer has the Holy Spirit within us. In John 14 and 16 Jesus said the Spirit leads us into truth and continues to reveal God’s ways to us. The Spirit can help us discern what is of God and of Christ (1 John 2:27).
Not having the Spirit within was one of the reasons that people under the Old Covenant had a hard time knowing if a prophet was speaking the word of the Lord. Moses explained in Deuteronomy 18:21-22 that if the thing that was prophesied did not come to pass, than that particular part was not from the Lord. It was that simple because Isaiah 55:11 confirms that every word that comes from God comes to pass and accomplishes His purposes.
Moses goes on to explain that the unfulfilled word was spoken presumptuously—that is, out of the persons’ own soul, desires, or thoughts. This doesn’t mean the person is a false prophet or evil. It only means that particular part of the word was false.
Even though every believer is in Christ, we still only see in part. We’re not going to get it right every time, which is why Scripture says to test all things. We are to be conformed to Christ and God’s Word, and not to earthly expectations of mankind.
In practice, then, if a teacher or prophet takes offence at being “tested” or “judged” in this way, then a warning signal should go off in your spirit. The same is true if the person lashes out at fellow believers who do not agree. The fruit of the Spirit includes gentleness, patience, and self-control. That works both ways in the Body of Christ because we have the same Spirit.
In the last post we saw that in these uncertain times we must “test all things; hold fast what is good” (1 Thess. 5:21). The standard by which we examine and discern what is good is God’s written Word. The Apostle John specifically put this in the context of the end times.
“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world” (1 John 4:1-3), emphasis added.
This passage tells us to check to see if the source is a believer who has accepted Jesus as their Savior and Lord. Notice the standard here is Jesus Christ as the Son of God. This is crucial because our contemporary world is trying to tell us that all faiths lead to God or some sort of godlike figure. Only Jesus can save mankind from our fallen, sinful nature.
If you hear people calling this exclusive, that’s okay. All religions are “exclusive” in that they have different ways of becoming “enlightened.” If you are unsure of Christ as the only Way, Truth, and Life (John 14:6), then I highly recommend Lee Strobel’s, The Case for Christ.
When we put these two “tests” together, we first check to see if the source believes in Christ. Then we compare what is being said to what is written in the Bible. This is why every believer needs to read and study the Bible. You can’t use it as the standard if you don’t know what it says. Our relationship with God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit is personal. We need to see God’s truths for ourselves.
There’s another reason why John brought up the spirit of the Antichrist. Ultimately, that spirit is Satan, the master deceiver. If he can’t get you to fall for a blatant lie such as all religions lead to God, then he is more than happy to offer up a dish of half-truths. Something may sound biblical, using words found in Scripture, but the application can be wrong. For example, there is much that is being prophesied right now that is part of God’s Word, but it is being applied to the wrong part of God’s timetable. More on that later in this series.
Again, as we saw in the last post with Peter, this doesn’t necessarily mean that the speaker is evil. It only means there are still areas or doctrines that do not yet line up with the Word and God’s prophetic timetable of the plan of redemption. May you have “the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe” (Ephesians 1:17-19).
Scripture tells us that the tribe of Issachar had an understanding of the times so that Israel would know what they ought to do (I Chronicles 12:32). Why was this so important? Israel’s enemies had killed King Saul and his sons. Long before this, David had been anointed as king by the prophet Samuel, yet had been forced into exile because of Saul’s jealousy. Now the nation is in turmoil and surrounded by their enemies. If it was ever a time to know what to do, it was then.
Fast forward to Paul’s time, the time of the Church. Paul describes these times and how to deal with them as believers. But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! (2 Tim. 3:1-5)
Sounds familiar, doesn’t it! He goes on to warn that in this toxic atmosphere, some believers will be deceived by some in the Church who say things that do not line up with the doctrines taught by the foundational apostles. In times of such uncertainty, people seek out the latest word and prophetic utterance in an effort to know what to do.
Instead, Paul warns believers to continue in the things which we have learned and been assured of—what God has recorded in the Bible. It is the Scriptures that are “able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim. 3:15). By the way, this salvation is wholeness in every aspect of your life—spirit, soul, and body.
“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:16-17).
It is in the Scriptures that we find everything we need to know about these end times. In fact, 1/3 of the Bible is devoted to this subject! And of this significant portion of the Word, both Moses (Old Covenant) and Peter (New Covenant) tell us the “one thing” we need to know, examine, and always keep in mind concerning the end times: how God counts time in terms of a great Week of 1,000-year Days.
If we do not recognize this or ignore it altogether, then we will not understand the times and we will not know what we should be doing given the circumstances of this age. That’s why Paul offered this warning to the Ephesian Church: “See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil” (Eph. 5:16-16).
We will look at this more in our next few postings, but for now consider this: “Test all thing; hold fast what is good” (1 Thess. 5:21). The word “test” here means to examine, prove, and discern. The proof and standard for this examination is if what is spoken or taught lines up with God’s Word and his stated timetable for His plan of redemption.
The earthly circumstances of Acts 4 echoes into our own reality today. Peter and John have been brought before the cultural leaders for daring to release God’s healing power to a blind beggar through the name of Jesus whom they reject. We need to take notice of how these Spirit-filled believers “defended” themselves.
When Peter and John return to the believers in the upper room, notice how they pray.
Later, the Apostle Paul would give more specific instructions concerning how to pray in these times: “Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy2:1-4).
This level of assurance is only possible when: (1) you know the reality of the finished work of Jesus, the New Covenant of grace; (2) when you walk in the same power that raised Jesus from the dead and seated Him at the right hand of God’s throne; (3) when your confidence is solely in Him and His Word; (4) when you are earnestly expecting Christ’s return; and (5) when you know both the chronos times and the kairos and know He is coming very soon.
Hebrews 6:1-2 lists the doctrine of “the resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment” as one of the elementary or basic doctrines of our Christian faith. The reason is that it has to do with the final part of God’s plan of redemption—the return of Jesus Christ.
In Acts 3 we see Peter and John healing the lame beggar and preaching the Gospel from the Temple porch—and 5,000 people believed! That is the “power of God unto salvation “ (Romans 1:16) with signs and miracles confirming that good word (Mark 16:20). Peter’s message as the Church was being established is the same message that needs to be preached in our time.
“Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that He may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before, whom Heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began.” From Moses, Samuel, and all the Old Testament prophets that followed, “as many as have spoken, have also foretold these days” (Acts 3:17-26).
The message summarizes the last Days in God’s great Week of redemption:
Acts 4 records that Peter and John were arrested for teaching the people and preaching in Jesus the resurrection of the dead! Even as the Church was being established, they were preaching the whole doctrine of Christ. They weren’t just preaching that Jesus had come into the earth to bring salvation (first coming); they were preaching that Jesus would come again to birth us from death (2nd coming). That is, resurrection and perfection, our full redemption—spirit, soul, and body. That is our hope of glory!
The chronos timing set in God’s Word gives us hope. It tells us there is an appointed time for God’s plan to come to pass. Nothing and no one can change that plan. God’s Word stands forever. This is why it is vitally important that we understand the times so that we know what to do and how to stand in this hour.
Our job as believers is to be light and salt. The light is the ministry of reconciliation. The salt is that those in Christ shall be preserved from the appointed Wrath of that Day; this truth is seasoned with grace, for the gift of salvation is available to all who believe in Jesus as the Savior.
“Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God…Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him” (Romans 5:1-2, 9).
The reality of the rapture is not a wimpy cop-out. It is understanding God’s chronos timing found in the Scriptures. We cannot move apart from God’s predetermined times. We can only do what is right and proper for our time.
Once we are gathered to Christ, perfected in resurrection, and seated as joint-heirs before the throne as the heavenly immortal government, then we shall bring God’s vengeance against evil. Then we shall pull down the evil spiritual hierarchy of Ephesians 6. Then we shall destroy the counterfeit one world government headed by the Antichrist.
It’s time we follow the pattern set by the foundational apostles: preach the good news of Jesus’ first and second coming so that we can move in step with God as the end of this age comes to a close in this decade.
Paul’s letters to the Thessalonians contain key passages about the end times. He wrote the second letter because many had accepted the idea that the Day of the Lord had come and that they had somehow missed the rapture. Why did they think this?
They correctly understood that the purpose of Christ’s second coming was to gather His Body, the Church, to Him. They correctly understood from Scripture that the second coming occurs at the same time as the coming of the Day of the Lord. That Day dawns with the rapture.
So what happened to throw them off from their assurance in Christ?
Sound familiar? If so, we can take heart from Paul’s answer.
When we know the chronos times and the kairos signs, we understand what is happening around us and we know what our focus must be. We can take Paul’s words in 2 Thess. 2:16-17 to heart:
"Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and our God and Father, who has loved us and given us everlasting consolation and good hope by grace, comfort your hearts and establish you in every good word and work."
Our good word and work is sharing the good news of Christ’s finished work as lights in the darkness.
The God who is timeless and above time, relates to mankind through time. As this year draws to a close, let His Word establish your heart.
“For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done.” Isaiah 46:9-10
“But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman. Galatians 4:4
God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become so much better than the angels, as He has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they. Hebrews 1:1-4
In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence, having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself, that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth—in Him. In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory. In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory. Ephesians 1:7-14
Our Lord knows those who are His. He’s given us His written Word to establish us. He’s given us His Spirit to seal us until the Day of the Lord when He gathers us to Him at the rapture. At that appointed time, fully perfected in Him and officially seated with Him at the right hand of the Father in Heaven, we shall bring the times of the Gentiles to a decisive end and restore the kingdom to Israel as promised—as part of our heavenly calling in Him.
Until then, “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7).