By Their Fruits

Who will we recognize? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

My interpretation of this passage is really different from many others. This is the one that says you will know people by their fruits. Many of us apply that to regular Christians that we meet everyday, but I wonder if since the next section talks about those claiming to speak in Jesus’s name if Jesus has more in mind prophets claiming to speak for Him and that those you will know by their fruits.

In other words, look at the kind of lifestyles leaders will hold as those would also be seen as prophets in the sense of teachers who speak with authority. While Christian leaders should often lead the best lives, too often we seem to live the worst lives. Naturally, the media loves it whenever a scandal breaks out involving a Christian leader.

If a person is a Christian leader truly, their lives will reflect their devotion to Christ. This doesn’t mean perfection. None of us have that and it’s ridiculous to demand it. It means overall that that person produces far more in character with Christ than the other way around.

This would also I think include the reliability of their statements, especially along the lines of when someone claims to hear from God. My advice to you is when someone tells you God told them something or the Spirit is showing them something, be on guard. I wouldn’t believe it unless they tell you something specific, not vague, that they couldn’t have known any other way.

I would also include the more subtle ideas of this. I see no basis for the idea that the Spirit leads us through our feelings, but many Christians will say that regularly. I remember in an old church I used to attend that the associate pastor at the time of offering used to say “Give as you feel led” and I was tempted to go up so many times and very publicly put in a penny and say “That’s what I feel led to give.” Who could argue against me?

Jesus’s warning is a serious one. At the next entry, we’ll see that not everyone who claims to speak for God really is speaking for God. Look at the character of the person you encounter and the way they claim to speak. Do they line up? Many people have been damaged by people claiming to speak for God.

Above all, watch yourself. How is your life? It’s easy to complain about the rest of the church, but that just takes our eyes off of ourselves, the one person we can do something about directly.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Olivet Discourse Matthew 24:11

What about false prophets? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

As we continue in the Olivet Discourse, we get to another verse that seems generic, but remember, we are looking to see if these passages have a past fulfillment. So what does verse 11 say?

“And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray.”

So if you look in the church today, you see several false prophets. We can all see videos on YouTube of false prophets. We can see numerous people convinced the rapture is just around the corner. We can remember in our recent history Harold Camping twice giving the date of the rapture. Not only that, we can look at organizations like the Mormon Church and the Watchtower and see numerous false prophets.

Thus, these are nothing new, but what we have to again ask is does this fit the first-century climate? The answer is yes. First off, even in the New Testament. Acts 13:6 talks about the false prophet Bar-Jesus on Paphos. Acts 8 talks about Simon the Sorcerer whom Josephus references as well. 2 Corinthians talks about the false apostles. 1 John 4:1 says many false prophets have gone out into the world. Revelation 2 talks about the false prophetess Jezebel.

There is also Josephus. Book 2 and chapter 13 says

” But there was an Egyptian false prophet that did the Jews more mischief than the former; for he was a cheat, and pretended to be a prophet also, and got together thirty thousand men that were deluded by him; these he led round about from the wilderness to the mount which was called the Mount of Olives, and was ready to break into Jerusalem by force from that place; and if he could but once conquer the Roman garrison and the people, he intended to domineer over them by the assistance of those guards of his that were to break into the city with him. But Felix prevented his attempt, and met him with his Roman soldiers, while all the people assisted him in his attack upon them, insomuch that when it came to a battle, the Egyptian ran away, with a few others, while the greatest part of those that were with him were either destroyed or taken alive; but the rest of the multitude were dispersed every one to their own homes, and there concealed themselves.”

And chapter 5 of Book 6 says

“And now the Romans, judging that it was in vain to spare what was round about the holy house, burnt all those places, as also the remains of the cloisters and the gates, two excepted; the one on the east side, and the other on the south; both which, however, they burnt afterward. They also burnt down the treasury chambers, in which was an immense quantity of money, and an immense number of garments, and other precious goods there reposited; and, to speak all in a few words, there it was that the entire riches of the Jews were heaped up together, while the rich people had there built themselves chambers [to contain such furniture]. The soldiers also came to the rest of the cloisters that were in the outer [court of the] temple, whither the women and children, and a great mixed multitude of the people, fled, in number about six thousand. But before Caesar had determined any thing about these people, or given the commanders any orders relating to them, the soldiers were in such a rage, that they set that cloister on fire; by which means it came to pass that some of these were destroyed by throwing themselves down headlong, and some were burnt in the cloisters themselves. Nor did any one of them escape with his life. A false prophet was the occasion of these people’s destruction, who had made a public proclamation in the city that very day, that God commanded them to get upon the temple, and that there they should receive miraculous signs of their deliverance. Now there was then a great number of false prophets suborned by the tyrants to impose on the people, who denounced this to them, that they should wait for deliverance from God; and this was in order to keep them from deserting, and that they might be buoyed up above fear and care by such hopes. Now a man that is in adversity does easily comply with such promises; for when such a seducer makes him believe that he shall be delivered from those miseries which oppress him, then it is that the patient is full of hopes of such his deliverance.”

Keep in mind that some of these you could say apply to our own time, which is true, but right now at the start, we need to see if this can apply to the time of Jesus. If I contend that this was happening at the time of Jesus and it wasn’t, then my position is sunk. What I have here is a necessary but not sufficient condition for Orthodox Preterism.

We shall continue next time.

In Christ,
Nick Peters