The prophets are poets. When they speak, they don’t pour forth a profusion of words. In such small statements, they make massive utterance. The prophet is gifted in oracular declaration, but more specifically, they are gifted with perception. It is the perception of the prophet that matters. What the prophet declares is the spiritual condition, no matter how contrary we might think, that prophet is speaking God’s heart. This takes discernment. There are many false prophets that speak words that are glib. They are full of perversion and idolatry. With their words they speak peace and comfort, and with their lives they burn death and hellfire into the hearers.
How a prophet words something should be equally noted with the content. It is not just what they say, but also how they say it, and even what they don’t say. When Ezekiel tells Israel and Judah that they have been adulterous with the other nations and have gone after those nations that have penises the sizes of horses that ejaculate like stags, the wording is purposeful. As vivid and explicit as this word might be – not to mention uncomfortable – that is exactly the point. We need to be uncomfortable when reading this. We need to let it sink in as disturbing and disgusting. God sees it as disturbing and disgusting, because when there is idolatry, there is sexual salacity.
For a prophet, the word given has an intention. It utterly devastates. All of our pomp and boastfulness for and about the Lord is both vainglorious and frightening. Nonplus is not the word to use. The Church in Laodicea professed to be rich, and had need of nothing, but God declared that they were wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked. The word came to show the false for what it is: false. It is not until after the false has been exposed, uprooted, destroyed, and cast away that the word can then come of how to rebuild and plant the authentic thing. Yet, if we are pusillanimous and childish, then that authentic thing will never come. The pulpiteers will drive out the prophet claiming that they are casting out demons by the prince of demons.
Now, if the Church is built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, and the true apostles and prophets are being driven out of the congregation, what, then, does that mean for the Church? It says in Amos that there will be a famine for the word in the last day. Almost everyone quotes this, but have we truly wrestled with it? The lack of prophets has given us barrenness and lewdness. If we will not accept the testimony of the prophet when it comes, then we will necessarily be pressed further into apostasy.
Before the Nazi time in Germany, there were a few voices that rose up declaring the evils of their culture. They were flat out calling the eloquent society, even that morally pristine culture, pagan. Names that come to mind would be Soren Kierkegaard, Karl Barth, and Friedrich Nietzsche. Whether these men were prophets, only God can say, but they did come with prophetic warning. The Church by and large not only rejected these men’s warning, but even claimed that they are not a part of them – much like Jesus was said to have cast out demons by Beelzebub. It was the rejection of the prophetic warning that drove Germany into a state that would fill the gap with Nazism. An entire generation and culture were pushed into such depravity that they would strive to ethnically cleanse the world. It was a demonic spirit that possessed an entire nation.
The rejection of the prophetic word, spoken by the prophet, brings the people into apostasy. This is distinct from the prophetic gift. The prophetic gift might have predictive quality to it, and it might even speak for profound truth, but it is a gift. The Holy Spirit can speak prophetically through anyone, but the prophet alone is the mouthpiece of God. God invests into the prophet stature, character, and maturity. The man is the message, and the message is the man. The prophet speaks with words and life. This is why Hosea married Gomer, Ezekiel ate food cooked over feces, Isaiah walked around naked, Jeremiah buried his underwear, and why Zechariah took the “instruments of a foolish shepherd”. They are the message. To reject the message is to reject the prophet. Yet, the rejection of the prophet is, as God told Samuel, a rejection of God.
Lets ask the final question: What does this have to do with us today? In one sense, it has much to do with those in the Pentecostal/Charismatic Movement who practice little or no discernment in these matters. Yet, there is another aspect that I want to address. In October of last year, Grace To You Church hosted a conference called Strange Fire. John MacArthur then riled up his goons to proclaim how the Charismatics and Pentecostals are demonically possessed. They offer strange fire before the Lord, and God has rejected them. They then declared that God does not speak except for explicit speak through His Bible. If God is speaking to your heart through any outside source, cast that demon away – it isn’t God. This also means that there are not any apostles or prophets today. Anyone who claims to be apostolic or prophetic is demon possessed.
People rallied with MacArthur against their Charismatic brethren. This is extremely dangerous. When you throw out an entire section of the Body of Christ because you believe they are in error, you have just performed the same sin that Germany’s Church performed before the advent of Nazism. The old saying seems absolutely legitimate: it takes one to know one. A Christian cannot possibly be this arrogant, and if the person who is acting in this manner is in fact a Christian, then there are deeper areas of idolatry and sin than despising their brother. How many of us have listened to John MacArthur thinking that he is speaking truth? And yet, for that kind of spirit to come forth, it brings into serious question the validity of his testimony.
Please understand me. This is not a declaration that MacArthur is false, nor is it a statement to say that we need to call him demonic. I simply do not know him. But far be it from us to simply take such a blanket statement and not bring it into serious question. When our leaders – especially the ones who get a lot of attention – are willing to be that arrogant, there is a requirement upon the Body of Christ to write them. How can we possibly claim that we are lovers of truth and then ignore this? At the same time, when prominent leaders of the Charismatic Movement then make arrogant or stupid claims in the name of God, we need to be equally fervent to call them out on it. It was not until the Levites went through the whole of the camp killing family, friend, and acquaintance for the sin of the golden calf that the proclamation was made, “This day have you been consecrated to the Lord.”