Everyone likes a guest speaker every once in a while. Some are very good, some are confusing, and sometimes the message really does not make sense. There are genuine prophets and false prophets as Jesus had warned us. How are we to recognize the false from the real, the evil intentions from the good? We have been inundated with false prophets especially in the media for the last 60 years. The true and false prophets/preachers of today still can be recognized by this teaching.
Here in this next instruction we see the blessings and warnings when it comes to the traveling prophets.
Welcome the teacher when he comes to instruct you in all that has been said. But if he turns and trains you in another tradition to the destruction of this teaching, do not listen. If he teaches so as to increase righteousness and the knowledge of the Lord, receive him as the Lord. Act according to the precepts of the gospel concerning all apostles and prophets: Let every apostle who comes to you be received as the Lord. But he must not remain more than one day, or two, if there’s a need. If he stays three days, he is a false prophet. And when the apostle goes away, let him take nothing but bread to last him until his next night of lodging. If he asks for money, he is a false prophet. In addition, if any prophet speaks in the Spirit, you shall not try or judge him; for every sin will be forgiven, but this sin cannot be forgiven. But not everyone who speaks in the Spirit is a prophet; only he is a prophet who has the ways of the Lord about him. By their ways will the false prophet and the prophet be known. Any prophet who orders a meal in the Spirit does not eat it; if he does, he is indeed a false prophet. And any prophet who teaches the truth, but does not do what he teaches, is a false prophet. When a prophet, proved true, works for the mystery of the church in the world but does not teach others to do what he himself does, he will not be judged among you, for his judgment is already before God. The ancient prophets acted in this way, also. But whoever says in the Spirit, “Give me money,” or something else like this, you must not listen to him. But if he tells you to give for the sake of others who are in need, let no one judge him.
There are many ways to recognize a false prophet. The examples given here are: teaching in a way that is against or a perversion of the Gospel, preaching a false doctrine, overstaying the welcome, asking for compensation (particularly monetary) , non-spiritual actions, does not do as preached, these are things to watch out for. Do those not sound familiar these days especially?
When Jesus sent out the 70 this is what He said: “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road. “When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ If someone who promotes peace is there, your peace will rest on them; if not, it will return to you. Stay there, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house to house. “When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is offered to you. Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’
So What Does This All Mean
First things, Jesus sent by 2 x 2. When you go it alone into an unknown territory you risk many things and even though God has your back, it is best to go with another. He sent them out without the material things of the world to weigh them down. He was teaching them to be reliant on God alone.
If a person overstays his/her welcome in a home (unless a parsonage is being built because believers want the individual to stay on the long term) then that person is not truly a prophet of God. Up until about the 1940s preachers sometimes went around to three or more communities preaching on Sundays and Wednesdays. They had one place where they hung their hat which was usually a small place central to the communities where he preached. Some did not even have vehicles and either walked or rode a horse to the different locations. And they did not ask for extra pay for traveling.
God’s Teachings are not about wealth in the physical sense, it is Spiritual
Speaking of pay, Prophets of old were hardly, if ever paid with money. It was goods and services which the community of believers provided for the Man of God. Once the Roman Catholics took over and the Pontiffs desired money over goods, corruption set in.
There are many who say they are people of God, but their god is the almighty dollar without which they could not survive. Money is a necessary evil to make certain things happen but it is how it is used, not for personal gain but for the good of mankind in the simplest form (food, clothing, shelter). Of the tithes and offerings that are asked for in the church, find out how much goes into the pocket of the preacher and the staff. If they make more than you (or more than $35,000) then give of yourself. In other words, give of yourself and your gifts. Give of food and other services offerings for that is what should be given. There is, however, a reason to give monetarily and that is for assistance in purchasing things for the missions and ministries of the church as well as building maintenance. Just make sure you designate it as such.
Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, Give to God what is God’s
Any prophet who orders a meal in the Spirit does not eat it; if he does, he is indeed a false prophet. This one is tricky When a preacher sits with others and is speaking on spiritual matters he must not eat, if he does then he is not in the spirit and is a false.
And any prophet who teaches the truth, but does not do what he teaches, is a false prophet. Remember the saying do as I say not as I do??? Pharisee and Sadducee anyone.
When a prophet, proved true, works for the mystery of the church in the world but does not teach others to do what he himself does, he will not be judged among you, for his judgment is already before God. Do not judge self-desiring prophet (One who cares for his own salvation and not others) for the judgement is already upon him. Remember, “do not judge lest ye be judged”.
A Prophet (Preacher) of God is not to be found wanting of material things nor is the person to fend for self. This person should be living in humility not lavished in luxury. Also, if the pastor is found not following the Scripture and does not ask to be forgiven, makes excuses (i.e. we are all human or he/she made me do it) yet continues in the sin, it is time to get a new pastor. Just be aware of the wolf in sheep’s clothing.
Next Week: Teachings on Beggars, Wanderers, Peddlers