Publication:Pastoral Letter, December 2011
Dear Friend in Christ:
I recently read about a hunter who was hunting at night and fell into a deep hole; it took several days for him to get out. Meanwhile friends and family thought he was dead. Many people have walked out into the darkness and have fallen into some deep pit – and never got out.
The world without “The Light of the World” is indeed a dark and dangerous place, but thanks be to God, we need not walk in darkness (see John 8:12; 12:35; 1 Thessalonians 5:4). It is vital for us to know light from darkness, truth from lies, and the real from fantasies. Sadly, there is false guidance that is only darkness disguised.
Nothing is more treacherous than a false guidance that causes us to stumble and robs us of life, righteousness, peace, and joy. The cost of false guidance is indeed incalculable in terms of lives and resources. It is the cause of death on a massive scale. The economic impact alone cannot be measured.
The notion that “truth” is whatever we want it to be is the cause of immeasurable sorrow and national destruction. Living our own way is a sure path to death (see Proverbs 14:12).
WHEN DECEPTION SUCCEEDS
The current worldwide collapse of the financial system is a glaring case in point of how false guidance, greed, and immoral behavior have led to terrible disappointment, poverty, deprivation, and even suicide. The last “domino” has not yet fallen.
Given that guidance is so vital to our decisions, the enemy of our souls seeks to destroy us with false guidance and empty assurance. He is called, “the deceiver of the whole world” for good reason (see Revelation 12:9). He is constantly removing the warning signs, changing the “street signs”, and imitating truth with beautiful, but false, promises (see Jeremiah 6:14; Isaiah 57:21).
The book of Lamentations is but one example of what happens when deception succeeds. World War II, the Holocaust, or the USSR would be more modern examples. Failure to hear and see the truth leads to our lamentations.
The problem is that there are many ready to aid and abet our destruction by telling us things that make us comfortable when we should be preparing and making necessary adjustments to our lives. We call those people “false prophets”. The problem is that they operate in every realm of life: spiritual, economic, social, and physical.
WHAT IS A FALSE PROPHET? (SEE DEUTERONOMY 18:21-22)
Books have been written on this topic and are often written after the damage is done. But here are some characteristics that will help us to recognize false prophets:
The bottom line is that false prophets, whether knowingly or not, promote destruction to the naive and simple-minded. Those characteristics could be taken into any realm: social, spiritual, financial, political, or physical. No facet of life is exempt from false and destructible guidance.
WHAT IS A TRUE PROPHET?
The best answer to that question is to study those who have been proven right over time. Prophets like Isaiah, Jeremiah, and the others in the Bible are models to observe. Here are some characteristics of a true prophet.
True prophets do not have to look for persecution; their only task is to be true to the truth, even to their own hurt. Remember, we worship Jesus now, but His generation crucified Him. We laud the apostles now, but most were martyred. In both cases, with Jesus and the apostles, they saved many souls and lives by their sacrifice. Next to obeying God, salvation is their passion. They are usually not appreciated by contemporaries, but memorials are built in their memory by future generations.
ONE RESPONSIBILITIES (SEE ACTS 17:10-11)
The Bereans are remembered for searching the Scriptures to validate the message that they heard. We should do no less. Ultimately, we are personally responsible for what we believe; we have a mind and we are priests.
One more thing: when you know that you have heard from God, obey. If we hear and hear and hear again, yet fail to obey, we open ourselves to deception – the deception of being a connoisseur of the Word rather than a doer of the Word(see James 1:22).
We are hearing a lot these days from innumerable sources: media, pulpits, experts, educators and politicians. We desperately need a filter. We need the ability to sort out the true from the false. We cannot simply shut our ears to all of the prognosticators; we must be informed and of a keen understanding. God still speaks through many sources; some secular, some spiritual. Truth is true, no matter the source. Of course, it helps if it comes through a proper source. But we have to ask ourselves two questions: Was that from God? And, what will I do about it?
The first question, I have dealt with … how we can discern. But the latter question, each person must answer for themselves. Truth demands action or else it doesn’t matter what you have heard. Apathy and complacency destroy as many now as error does. “Be doers of the word,” is Jesus’ command to us.
When we celebrate the birth of Jesus, we are in fact celebrating the entrance of truth and light in human form. Truth brought light into the night; angels and shepherds celebrated it. Wise men came to offer gifts to Him. Simeon and Anna prophesied over Him. Herod tried to kill Him. Later, He was crucified, but He rose again. Truth is like that; darkness cannot put it out!
So, let’s celebrate the Word of God made flesh. Truth came as a baby, but didn’t remain one. He grew in wisdom, stature, and favor. Truth now reigns at the Father’s right hand. Truth conquered and still conquers. Truth is marching on!
Have a very joyful Christmas, and a blessed New Year!
P.S. As we approach Christmas and the end of the year, please consider a special gift to support the work of CSM among the nations. You can give through our website at www.csmpublishing.org. Your support is vital and deeply appreciated!
Scripture Reference: John, 1 Thessalonians, Proverbs, Revelations, Jeremiah, Isaiah, Lamentations, Deuteronomy, 2 Peter, Matthew, Acts, 1 Corinthians, Malachi, 1 John
Charles Simpson is an internationally-known author, Bible teacher, and pastor, serving in ministry since 1955. He is also Editor-in-Chief of One-to-One Magazine and ministers extensively throughout the United States and the nations.