Recognizing False Prophets And Ministers :: By Tommy Hunter

“For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works” (2 Corinthians 11:13-15).

One of the greatest signs revealing the nearness and imminence of the Lord Jesus Christ’s return is the increase in apostasy. The apostle Paul said, in 1 Timothy 4:1:

“Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron.”

Identifying those who are false prophets, false apostles, and false teachers usually ends up becoming a very contentious subject, because there are so many believers who idolize their “favorite” celebrity televangelist; that they do not want to hear anything that will question the Scriptural validity of televangelist’s teachings.

There is so much misinformation and FALSE teaching regarding the subject of false prophets and false teachers. I have personally had my share of heated discussions with fellow believers when I have questioned what is being presented across Christian television as the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I’ve been told, based on Psalm 105:15, to “Touch not God’s anointed.” Christians are always taking this Scripture out-of-context; God was instructing them to not KILL the prophets in that psalm!

It is very clear throughout the Word of God that we, as children of God, are supposed to question everything we hear and read that is preached or taught by any minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ:

“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” (1 John 4:1).

“Then the brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea. When they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and SEARCHED THE SCRIPTURES DAILY to find out whether these things were so. Therefore MANY OF THEM BELIEVED, and also not a few of the Greeks, prominent women as well as men” (Acts 17:10-12).

The latter Scripture refers to the Bereans, who QUESTIONED the teachings of the apostle Paul…and he wrote the majority of the New Testament! Our Lord Jesus Christ told his disciples (not the world) in Matthew 7:15 to “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.” Jesus would have never told them to beware of those who are blatantly against God and deny His Deity, because He knew that we (the body of Christ) would automatically know to avoid and dismiss them (i.e. Islam, Mormonism, Buddhism, and Hinduism). He is talking about ministers (wolves posing as sheep) who say all the right things, act like us, and can quote Scriptures (chapter and verse) at the drop of a hat.

We must be diligent to scrutinize everything every celebrity preacher/televangelist says, and even our own local pastors. A lot of truth and just a little bit of error is false doctrine! Period.

“A little leaven leavens the whole lump” (Galatians 5:9).

Case in point, if you have a bottle of fresh spring water and add a teaspoon of strychnine; you drink that water and it will kill you! It does not matter how fresh that water is! It is exactly the same way with false prophets and teachers! Their sweet words will entice you, and they will throw in enough Scriptures to get you to accept their heresy and drink it all in, but eventually their teachings will destroy you spiritually.

I recently saw Joel Osteen do an interview on the Today Show to promote his new book, and I have to say he was a complete embarrassment to Christianity and the Gospel of Jesus Christ! During the ten-minute interview, this “pastor” DID NOT mention the name of Jesus Christ ONCE!

Savannah Guthrie, the Today Show host, asked him the following question from a viewer:

“Pastor Osteen, how can I reconnect to God? I don’t feel like I know Him.”

The answer he should have given is, “Call upon the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, accept His sacrifice on the Cross for the remission of your sins by His blood, believe that God raised Him from the dead and you shall be saved. Then you will have a relationship with God.”

But here is the answer that Joel “Colgate toothpaste commercial” Osteen, gave the woman looking for God:

“I think it starts in your thoughts and your heart. You should say, ‘God I believe you are real and you want to be a part of my life.’ You talk to God like you talk to your friend. You tell God I have a purpose and a destiny and help me to fulfill it.”

Joel Osteen purposely refused to mention the name of Jesus or salvation through His name during this interview! He was so vague about the God he’s supposed to be serving that a heathen would have thought it could be any god…Allah, Buddha, or Zeus! This should NEVER be the case with a minister of Jesus Christ!

1 John 4:2-3 says:

“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.”

I assure you if a Muslim imam had been on that show, there would have been no question which god he serves! This is just one of many examples I could give of end-time apostasy in the body of Christ.

So many believers are deceived into thinking since celebrity preachers/televangelists have huge mega churches or millions of so-called “ministry partners,” the blessing of the Lord is on their ministry and their lives. This could not be further from the truth. If you compare the life and ministry of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ to the average televangelist/mega church pastor, then He (Jesus) would be considered a failure—based on the American church standards. Jesus started out with 12 disciples, which grew to 70, and then to probably a few thousand.

Jesus presented a difficult Word to His followers, words that were hard for them to accept (John 6:60-69: the Scriptures that say many of His disciples departed and left Him). After His resurrection, 1 Corinthians 15:6 says, He was seen by over five hundred brothers at once. But when He told them to go to Jerusalem to wait for the promise of the Holy Spirit, only 120 showed up to the Upper Room (Acts 1:15).

Wow, He would have definitely been looked down upon by the majority of the rich and prestigious mega church pastors/celebrity preachers/televangelists for not having a following of millions and a 40,000 plus member congregation!

But this is our Lord’s response to those who follow these ministers who preach a watered-down gospel to fill their churches with thousands of people:

“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Matthew 7:13, 14).

The gospel is clear and straightforward: It is the Death, Burial, Resurrection and Return of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Most High God. And it is only, through believing in Him that we have eternal life. The gospel IS NOT you getting a breakthrough to get a better job, money to start a business, get a bigger home, or a luxury car as described by many of the prosperity preachers. These ministers, through their false gospel, are in actuality causing covetousness to spread through the body of Christ like a cancer! God has promised to take care of each of us (Matthew 6:25-34) and we should be content with what we have (1 Timothy 6:8).

I can only imagine what the Apostles and Paul would say or think if they saw the American church as it is today. They would probably “rent/tear all of their clothes off” until they were naked! Nowhere, absolutely nowhere in the New Testament is there any justification for ministers of the gospel to be living “lifestyles of the rich and famous”! In the book of Acts, the Apostles had nothing except food and shelter provided by the saints. They didn’t become wealthier as the church grew in numbers, as so many of the American ministers do today, while members in their congregations struggle to barely make ends meet. And there is also nowhere in the Word of God that states money is needed to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ!

I challenge anybody to find it in the Scriptures! You won’t! I really believe that all of the celebrity preachers/televangelists were all originally called by God to preach the gospel, but 99.99% of them have fallen prey to “the deceitfulness of riches” (Matthew 13:22) and they don’t even realize it. What the majority of them now preach is now clouded and influenced by dollar signs. If the apostle Paul were alive today, most of the celebrity televangelists would tell him to get a marketing director, and sell his epistles for $29.99 each!

Jesus, Paul, and the Apostles in the epistles would not have emphasized over and over again for us to beware of false prophets and teachers if there were not a chance of us being deceived by them. And unfortunately that is exactly what is happening today. The great falling away (apostasy) is taking place right now, just as Paul prophesied in 2 Thessalonians 2:3. We ARE in the Laodicean church era (Revelation 3:15-21)!

And as we draw closer to the Rapture of the church, apostasy will become more prevalent! There is absolutely no doubt about it! I admonish you to test the spirits! Don’t believe and accept everything you hear without comparing it to the Word of God! As the coming of the Lord Jesus draws nearer, it is incumbent upon each of us to be rooted and grounded in His Word! We must not be ignorant of the devices the enemy uses to destroy our faith!

“But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction.

And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed.

By covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words; for a long time their judgment has not been idle, and their destruction does not slumber” (2 Peter 2:1-3).

“For when they speak great swelling words of emptiness, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through lewdness, the ones who have actually escaped from those who live in error.

While they promise them liberty, they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by whom a person is overcome, by him also he is brought into bondage.

For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning.

For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them.

But it has happened to them according to the true proverb: A dog returns to his own vomit, and, a sow, having washed, to her wallowing in the mire” (2 Peter 2:18-22).

Blessings to you all! MARANATHA!

Tommy Hunter