The Open Door
Everyone knows that false prophets come in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. Cult watch pages abound with calling this or that minister a false prophet, and often simply serve to spark fear in everything of God. Many of these are either completely cessationist (believing that all the miraculous power of God has ceased), or at least non-Spirit-filled. They all generally deny basic doctrines such as speaking in other tongues (Acts 2:4) for the church today, and should generally be ignored (2 Timothy 3:5). They do not enter the Kingdom themselves, and shut the door in the faces of those who are trying (Matthew 23:13).
What is the mark of a false prophet? They present themselves as something they are not. Moreover, Jesus called them ravenous. Not every reference to “wolves” in the Bible is an evil reference. When Jacob blessed his sons, he called his son Benjamin a ravenous wolf as well (see Genesis 49:27 and surrounding chapter).
Jesus also cautioned about the yeast of the Pharisees, which in Luke 12:1 He identified as hypocrisy.
The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three pecks of flour until it was all leavened.
Matthew 13:33 (portion)
The Kingdom is not something that can be forced, legislated, or controlled. The moment we attempt to formally organize is usually when the Spirit, quenched by our own limitations, moves on and finds another place to move with His current work. Though it may always be uncomfortable to our flesh, the Kingdom is always on the very “cutting edge”, if you will, and it always belongs to the poor in spirit and those persecuted for righteousness sake. If you’ve got time to formalize, you could instead take that time to move forward.
The Kingdom is not about words, but power (1 Corinthians 1:17), and it is the power of God unto salvation (Romans 1:16).
Many people today totter in a Christianity that, though it begins in faith, too often lives between a realm of rational thought and do-good notions. Yet, this was not how it was to be.
In 1 Corinthians 15:34, Paul was correcting the church because while some people had been in the church for some time, they still had no real, experiential knowledge of who God is.
But, the Apostles demonstrate a different kind of life.
The Apostle John writes, “After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven.” (Revelation 5:1, portion). He was caught up into heavenly visions, saw the throne of God, saw the sea of glass, saw things seated on the throne, and what was around it. His vision matches the arrangement mentioned by other prophets of the Old Testament, such as those recorded by the visions that Ezekiel saw. This is because they are the same place. It is in there before His throne in heaven.
In other instances, various Apostles were directed by the Holy Spirit to do things(Acts 13:2). In another instance, an angel told Peter what to do and expected him to obey, which he did (Acts 12:7). In yet another one, Paul saw in a vision in the night what to do (Acts 12:7).
While we are most certainly warned about the false teachers, we are also warned of those who have a form of godliness yet deny its power (2 Timothy 3:5). While we are warned of false preachers doing false signs and wonders (2 Thessalonians 2:9), it is clear, too, that the Gospel is fully preached with signs and mighty wonders accompanying (Romans 15:19).
Jesus made this clear. He said, “My sheep hear my voice” (John 10:27). They do not listen to another voice. Yet, Jesus indicated clearly the way to determine the difference, without even getting into the spiritual discerning of spirits mentioned by Paul in 1 Corinthians 12:10, Jesus simply said, “By their fruit you will recognize them.” (Matthew 7:16).
By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit.
Does the ministry of an individual result in greater love for the gifts, or of God Himself? Does it magnify a man, or empower self, or does it make way for the King, and point the people receiving to an invisible, yet manifested Kingdom in our midst? Does it result in absolute transparency, abandonment of self-restraint towards holy living and worship, or does it allow us to continue to live with ourselves a little longer? Does it ultimately lead us to the cross to die to ourselves, or does it merely puff up man’s pride, man’s meager ability, and man’s agenda?
Greater love has no one than this, that a man lay down his life for a friend (John 15:13). If only Faith, Hope, and Love remain (1 Corinthians 13:13), and the greatest of these is love, then we this must be our greatest desire, to have the greatest true, sanctified love possible. If the path we are on, or the path of those leading us is on, is not demonstrated by a growing desire and be willing to lay one’s life down, figuratively and ultimately literally, we will never come to the place of maturity, and, we should make sure and check that the road we are on is truly the right one.
False prophets will come, and we are told to watch. We are told to be aware, but we are also told what to watch for. Are we growing in love? This is the question that will stand before this generation. Are we becoming more and more known for our love for one another? If not, we have not yet understood The Way, and we are not yet believing fully as He has called us to believe.
If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.
God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
1 John 4:15-18