How do I know that what I am being taught is solid and dependable? That is a good question. When someone speaks as a teacher or leader in the Kingdom of God, we need to know if we can follow their words.
Interpreting scripture is a skill and a Spirit empowered exercise. Understanding all of Scripture in a global sense helps us make extractions to apply to our lives.
- As Paul told Timothy, Scripture is for living. It is for correction, reproof, and building up of our knowledge.
- As Solomon revealed, Scripture is for living. It is for wisdom to make daily decisions and navigate relationships.
- As is evident throughout, Scripture is for living. It is for revelation of God’s will to give us peace and strength and security that we are following His right path.
- Clear scripture interprets and clarifies unclear scripture. Each of us wants to find something no one else has found. There is nothing new under the sun. When it is something no one else has seen, it is probably bunk and a diversion.
- When it is important, God makes it clear. We don’t have to guess.
So with all that in mind, I’ll answer the question of testing prophecy or teaching we have heard?
- Is it consistent with the whole of Scripture? God does not contradict Himself. He is not a man that He should lie.
- Does it bring strength, clarify direction, and cause another comfort? 1 Cor 13: 3 But he who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men
- Does it glorify God? 2 Peter 1:21 for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.
- Does it promote love? 1 Corinthians 13:2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.
- Does it happen? Does what they say in the past happen? Jeremiah 14:14 And the Lord said to me, “The prophets prophesy lies in My name. I have not sent them, commanded them, nor spoken to them; they prophesy to you a false vision, divination, a worthless thing, and the deceit of their heart. 15 Therefore thus says the Lord concerning the prophets who prophesy in My name, whom I did not send, and who say, ‘Sword and famine shall not be in this land’—‘By sword and famine those prophets shall be consumed! 16 And the people to whom they prophesy shall be cast out in the streets of Jerusalem because of the famine and the sword; they will have no one to bury them—them nor their wives, their sons nor their daughters—for I will pour their wickedness on them.’
- Did it come from someone whose life is faithful to God? Men and women can prophesy and teach according to gift and have a wrong heart. Following them will take you into a place of destruction. They are not falsely prophesying but abusing a gift to abuse you. Deut 13 “If there arises among you a prophet or a dreamer of dreams, and he gives you a sign or a wonder, 2 and the sign or the wonder comes to pass, of which he spoke to you, saying, ‘Let us go after other gods’—which you have not known—‘and let us serve them,’ 3 you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams, for the Lord your God is testing you to know whether you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. 4 You shall walk after the Lord your God and fear Him, and keep His commandments and obey His voice; you shall serve Him and hold fast to Him. 5 But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has spoken in order to turn you away from the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt and redeemed you from the house of bondage, to entice you from the way in which the Lord your God commanded you to walk. So you shall put away the evil from your midst.
- Again what is the spirit of the person, who is talking? What is the evidence of their life? Are they balanced in God and in unity with the Church? 1 John 4:1 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.
- Is the one prophesying or teaching of good reputation in the kingdom and acknowledged by others of good reputation? Jeremiah 1:5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; Before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations.”
- Does it witness with proven men and women, whom God has put in my life? Whether one or one hundred agree with the words of a prophesy is meaningless. People agree all the time with what they do not understand. God surrounds us with wise counsel and leadership knowledgeable of the things of the Spirit to keep us protected. Hebrews 13:17New King James Version (NKJV) Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you. Proverbs 11:14 Where there is no counsel, the people fall; But in the multitude of counselors there is safety.
- Am I in right alignment with the leadership God has given me in order to receive from them clearly? This is one of the most important items of a good disciple of Christ. To receive the truth of God’s direction whether through my personal study or a teacher or a minister or a word of prophesy requires right alignment. Is there a clear path between me and God? Am I living faithfully as a witness of Christ, presenting myself as a living sacrifice, worshipping Him and Him alone, honoring His local church through giving time, talent, and treasure, speaking well of others, faithful in prayer, faithful in honest repentance, and studying to show myself approved to rightly divide the word of truth. Galatians 6:6 Let him who is taught the word share in all good things with him who teaches. 7 Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. 8 For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. 9 And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. 10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.
- All of this being written, God is in charge. He can use a donkey to speak a word of direction to an unrepentant, misaligned person to get them into right focus. A pastor last week told me how he had become disillusioned and decided to go get drunk. He was not a drinker, so when he went to a bar, he asked to have what the person next to him was drinking. That person was drunk. After it was served, the drunk began to say to him, “Man of God, what are you doing here. Get back to living like you are supposed to live.” The drunk began to prophesy his situation and his solution. The minister left the bar and the drunk took his drink and continued to get more drunk. But typically, he uses one of His trusted sources.