Back in 1978, Jim Jones brought the members of his People’s Temple to Guiana, South America and instructed them to commit suicide. 780 of them drank poison kool-aid following a false prophet. I pastor in Indiana and recognize that Jones’s roots actually travel back to my state. Jones was actually born in Indiana and started his cult there before moving it to California. Such tragedies make national headlines, but unfortunately it is unlikely that many who are following false prophets and false teachers today will be warned by the headlines.
As Jesus closes the Sermon on the Mount he does so with a warning. “BEWARE of false prophets” (Matthew 7:15). Jesus is simply saying, “Don’t be spiritually gullible.” There is error in the world and you need to be aware of it, which is why the Lord says, “BEWARE!” But sadly, some people approach the study of religious error like the spacey fellow who stared at the orange juice container because it said “concentrate.” Dear reader, do you realize that we are surrounded in this age by false prophets? These false prophets walk through our neighborhoods wearing badges declaring themselves to be elders. They creep into houses and lead people into captivity. Thus our master says, “Beware!” There is a great danger in their teaching! Don’t be spiritually gullible.
How can I recognize these cunningly disguised tricksters? Often the false prophet is best identified more by what he will not teach than what he is saying. They try and keep their message positive and in so doing they have a tendency to leave out the preaching of Jesus. Looking backward from Matthew 7 (where we see the warning) we find some topics that Jesus taught the false prophets would never teach.
Again I repeat, we live in a day filled with false prophets. These men are often very popular messengers and their credibility is often drawn by their crowds and not by their creeds. The crowds that gather around them in comfortable conversation are often allured and susceptible to spiritual annihilation. Often the false prophet is one of the most famous and popular in the culture. But Jesus says that these men are not known by the crowds that surround them but by the fruit that they produce. After all, “a corrupt tree brings forth evil fruit” (Matthew 7:17). There are evident characteristics that ought to cause us to stand back and say, “You know what, that is poison!”
Beware! There is poison that is going abroad in America today and it is being peddled by false prophets and you need to learn how to identify those who are wielding it. This blog article may not be politically correct but it is certainly a biblically correct one. If you have ever been tempted to think that doctrine doesn’t matter, repent of that thinking. Don’t be spiritually gullible! Your eternal destiny is at stake.
Knowing what you know now about Jim Jones and his People’s Temple, would you stop your friend, family member, or neighbor from getting on a plane with him to fly to Guiana, South America? We need to ask this question and we don’t need to be arrogant about it as we do. We simply need to be biblical. Do you realize that there a people who get in minivans and sports cars every Sunday to sit under people who, if they were asked how to get to heaven, they would side-step the question? Many will go to places this weekend labeled as “churches” but if you asked them if the Bible was the inspired Word of God they would have no clear answer. If you asked them if the Bible has all the answers for life they would direct you elsewhere. Some of these people are your friends and relatives. That’s why Jesus said, “BEWARE of false prophets!”
It’s been often said that we are just one generation away from apostatizing. That generation will always enter through a wide gate and travel on a wide and popular way. BEWARE! You ought to know what a false prophet looks like. Test their creed and listen to what they say. Observe their conduct and taste their fruit. Dear Christian, God help us to be discerning. The Lord Jesus preached the Sermon on the Mount not to give us a pat on the back but to give us a pathway of righteousness. Don’t be spiritually gullible!
Caleb Phelps graduated from BJU with a BA in Bible and an MA in Theology. After graduating from seminary Caleb traveled in evangelism which took him across the country to many different churches and camps. While he was traveling Caleb met the love of his life, Rachel. They got married and moved to Indianapolis, IN where Caleb now serves as the youth pastor at Crosspointe Baptist Church. You can check out his youth group's website at www.crosspointeyouth.com.
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