True and False Prophets

Date: 11/09/2017 
What does the Bible say about prophecy in the church in the last days?
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Welcome, friends, to our special Foundations of Faith program. We're glad that each of you are here. Thank you, so much, for the local group - I know some people have come from other states and we sure appreciate your regular attendance. We have thousands who are watching online and on television and we're very glad you are here. During this special series, we're talking about some of the themes of revival and reformation and going through a number of important Bible subjects where, I think, if the reformers were alive today, what would they say the church could do to get back to the Bible and return to the faith that was once delivered to the saints? You know, as time goes by it seems like Christian doctrines - people get stuck in a certain belief and they're not willing to progress and return to the foundational teachings of Christianity. We know the church went through a great time of darkness and we haven't totally emerged from that yet.

Tonight we're going to be talking about a theme connected with inspiration and prophecy but, as we always do, I'd like to begin with an amazing fact. Back in 2007 Ewa Wisnierska, who was a championship German paraglider, was in New South Wales for the annual championship and all these paragliders - it's kind of like hang gliding with a parachute - they gather together - now, I've done hang gliding before, and I'll tell you, it's pretty scary. You jump off a mountain with a big kite on your back - you feel like you've been captured by a pterodactyl - there's nothing under you and paragliders are - it's just, basically, a big parachute and they feel pretty vulnerable. But I did it once before, behind a ski boat, but that's different. They do this where they catch the hot air drafts and they see who can go the farthest and stay up the longest. She was part of this competition and the weather changed and some massive thunder clouds developed and she and one other paraglider got caught up into the updraft of a thunder cloud - the head of it was 50,000 feet high. And she radioed - they had a radio on - she had a GPS tracker on and she radioed to her team and she says, 'I'm going up 65 feet a second and I can't do anything.' And soon she was caught up in this cloud, she was being beaten by hail - cold wind - and she kept going up, up, up. Well, eventually, she fainted. She saw - she radioed, she said, 'My gloves are frozen to the bar.' She couldn't even open her hands and then she blacked out. Forty minutes later she woke up and she was descending from the cloud. Amazingly, the paraglider kept gliding through the whole storm, even though she was unconscious.

The other paraglider that got caught up in the same storm, from China, was not as lucky. He was found 50 miles away - perished. She eventually woke up. She had serious frostbite, she had bruises all over - she was still flying though. She had ice all over her paraglider - and she remembered being caught up in this cloud and she saw the glory of this cloud and the lightning was flashing all around her and, eventually, she was able to make a safe landing. She curled up into the fetal position to try to warm up, radioed her team, and they found her. They checked her GPS and they confirmed what they had on their readings, that she had gone up over 32,000 feet - no oxygen, no space suit - that's where the jets fly - and somehow she had survived. She went 12,000 feet higher than the prior record.

You know, every now and then somebody has an out of this world experience and they see things and they experience things that almost nobody sees and experiences. Some people have had genuine, supernatural experiences and we're going to talk about that and how to discern the true from the false. So our study tonight is dealing with true and false prophets. And so, I've got a lot to cover - pray for me as we continue together. Going to go through a series of questions - it just helps me to organize the thoughts in a way where you can copy down the scriptures and we can make the best points in the study. First question, what primary warning did Jesus give about the last days? The Lord was telling us, in Matthew 7, "Beware of" - what kind of prophets?

>>False prophets.

>>"False prophets who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves." Now some of you saw that picture and you didn't even get it right, I bet. One of those is not a sheep. (Laughter) But the Lord talks about wolves. Even Paul said, 'I know that after my departure grievous wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock - and even from among your own selves people will arise.' And so, the Lord said, 'Be careful.' And, again, you read Matthew 24, speaking of the second coming - by the way, that'll be part of our last presentation Sabbath morning - we hope you'll come - talking about the second coming of Jesus. But Christ warned us in that passage, 'Many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And so, He's warned us, even in the last days there's going to be false prophets. Now, we already know there are some kooky false prophets out there in the world. How many of you have heard of Nostradamus? They keep making documentaries and websites and different things about Nostradamus, who gave his prophecies in these very vague, strange utterances that could mean almost anything and people go 'Ooooh, this could mean that. It could mean this.' And then you've got Edgar Casey, who had his prophetic dreams while he was laying on the couch - and Jeanne Dixon, who was the prophet to the stars, supposedly. And I'm not so much worried about the tabloid prophets that we see - we already confirmed some of you, like me, read the headlines on those tabloid magazines when you check out and, frequently, they contain prophecies for the coming year. And someone did a study - years ago, I read that they took 205 prophecies that were issued in a year by a number of so-called prophets and, at the end of the year they looked at them and they said only five percent could be said to have been reasonably fulfilled. Well, you know, if you shoot a shotgun up into the clouds, you've got a better chance of hitting a duck. Anybody can do that. That doesn't make you a prophet.

So, I'm not worried about the false prophets that are out there in the world, it's when they come in the name of the Lord in the church. So the Lord said they're wolves in sheep's clothing. Second question: What types of false prophets are considered - are condemned, rather, in the Bible? And it gets very specific about a category of false prophets the Lord says we need to be on guard to avoid: one that uses divination, fortune-telling, tarot cards, Ouija Boards - they didn't have that back in Bible times - you know Ouija Board is a Milton Bradley game? But it delves into the supernatural. And it talks about - by the way, that scripture was in Deuteronomy. And here's another one, Deuteronomy 18:10, " observer of times..." - what we would call, today, an astrologer - not to be confused with the legitimate study of the stars, which is astronomy - nothing wrong with astronomy, it's when you start looking up in the sky saying, 'Oh, you know, you've got the Scorpio and this rising' and 'It's the age of Aquarius' and you think that's going to have some bearing on what's happening from day to day in your life. If you really break it down logically and philosophically and you understand it's absurd. And the Bible says don't have anything to do with it. I don't even look at that - what my horoscope would be, in the paper, just for curiosity.

You shouldn't have anything to do with these things - " enchanter, or" - sometimes we call them a magician - and the Bible talks about these in the Old Testament and the New Testament. There is one named Simon in the New Testament and he even wanted to know if he could buy the Holy Spirit. Do you remember reading about that? I think it's Acts chapter 8. And so, but we're not talking about the clown that comes to the birthday party and divides the banana, we're talking about people who, you know, claim to have these special powers to work wonders and they use trickery to deceive people and get influence. And then there's witches - and this would be - of course, that's Deuteronomy 18:10 - it's forbidden and the Bible's pretty clear. Under a theocracy, Moses said, 'You shall not suffer a witch to live.'

Now, I'm not recommending we go out and repeat the witch burnings of Massachusetts, but just to let you know how strongly the Bible forbade this consulting with the devil. And some people say, 'Oh yeah, that's black magic, but I'm a - I'm a white witch. I'm a good witch, like in Wizard of Oz, you've got the bad witch, you've got the good witch.' And - or Wicca - Christians should have nothing to do with these works of darkness, Ephesians tells us. Deuteronomy 18:11, "Or a charmer," - a person who casts spells or charms or they make the Voodoo dolls and they've got - they know how to, somehow, do something to objects and make them supernatural and say, 'Oh, this has got some powers - it's the stone - it's the ring' - and start dabbling in the dark side when you do those things. And a lot of it is what you would call hocus pocus.

The - it also says in Deuteronomy 18, 'Do not be involved with someone who is "...a consulter with familiar spirits," - there is one that I put up - recently died - named Sylvia Brown and she claimed to be able to consult with the dead. Matter of fact, I've got a couple of interesting facts on her particular business. You could call her up and she would give you a reading for about $700.00 for 30 minutes and she had a business that made $3 million a year, but her predictions were not true. Police would actually call her up - have you ever heard about police consulting psychics to find a missing person? They do that. Well, I think they ought to ask for a refund because, in 2002 Brown informed the parents of an 11-year-old Shawn Hornbeck, who had disappeared earlier that year, that he had actually been kidnapped by a dark-skinned Hispanic man with dreadlocks and was now dead. Hornbeck was found alive in 2007. His kidnapper was Caucasian and had short hair. In November 2004, Brown told the mother of a kidnapping victim, Amanda Barry, who had disappeared 19 months earlier, 'She is not alive, honey.' Brown also claimed that she had a vision of Barry's jacket in a garbage with DNA on it. Barry's mother died two years later believing her daughter had been killed, because of Sylvia Brown. Barry was found alive May 2013. Left that parent with hopelessness. On Larry King, Sylvia Brown was being interviewed in 2003, she said she was going to die at the age of 88. She died in 2013 at the age of 77. Wasn't a prophet. And so, there's a lot of false prophets out there making a lot of money. So you need to be careful about that. A wizard - that's just a male witch or psychic. Deuteronomy - and you'd be surprised how prominent educated people - people in show business, they're always talking about, 'Oh yeah, my Zodiac' or 'Yeah, this person, - I would like to have a séance and talk to Abraham Lincoln.' I think we were surprised a few years ago when, after someone tried to kill Ronald Reagan, Nancy Reagan would consult her astrologer regarding his calendar, because she was so afraid - she thought at least it would give her some hope that there was some control. I think we read about Mary Todd Lincoln who also went to séances and she ended up going mad and her son had to have her committed. And Hilary Clinton took a lot of jesting because she, years earlier, said she was trying to consult Eleanor Roosevelt to get some advice on being the First Lady. And so, you know, this also happens among other world leaders. I just picked three First Ladies - and I tried to be fair - two Republicans and one Democrat. (Laughter)

Are prophets still part of God's plan for His church? Now this is the part I really want you to take a breath and pay attention. Some people think, 'You know, Jesus said, 'Don't listen to false prophets' and so don't have anything to do with anybody that says they're a prophet.' Well, as soon as you hear about a prophet, automatically - we're automatically suspicious, but what does the Bible say about prophecy in the church in the last days? Acts chapter 2, verse 17, "And it will come to pass in the last days, says the Lord, I will pour out of My Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy," - come to pass, when? Last days. Does God seem to teach there will be prophesy in the last days?


>>What about Malachi 4, verse 5? "Behold, I sent you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. And he will turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse." And those are the last words in the Old Testament. So I think it's reckless for us to say there's no prophets in the last days. Look at this verse from Ephesians chapter 4, verse 11 - I want you to look at it very carefully because I've got, like, four slides that cover the verse - "And He gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;" - why did He give them? - "For the equipping of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying" - that means 'building up' - "of the body of Christ:" - how long? - "Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ:" - God says, 'Look, I've given you these things - I've given you evangelists and prophets and pastors and apostles, for this purpose till the end.' And so, I think we still need these things.

The Bible says John the Baptist came in the spirit and power of Elijah, and the disciples asked Jesus, 'Is John the Baptist - Is Elijah going to return?' and Jesus said, 'Elijah will come and Elijah has come.' They wondered what that meant. He said, 'Well, he did come in John the Baptist,' but Jesus also said 'He will come' - meaning, before the great and dreadful day of the Lord, others are going to come in the spirit and power of Elijah to do a similar work of reformation and revival. I, frankly, think that God's going to have many of them. If God had one John the Baptist to prepare the world for Jesus' first coming, it wouldn't surprise us if He had 144,000 - the first one came to prepare Israel, and so, you might want 144,000 to prepare the whole world for His return, but He is going to give the gift of His spirit to His church. Question 4: Will God's end-time church have the gift of prophecy? Go to Revelation now and, in chapter 12, it says, "The dragon was wroth with the woman." We've talked about this but, in case some missed it, I want to repeat it. Who is the dragon in this prophecy?


>>Satan. We all agree? And he's wroth with the woman. What is that woman?


>>Church. 'Husbands love your wives even as Christ loved the church.' 'I've likened the daughter of Zion to a delicate and comely woman.' His church is compared to the Bride of Christ. So the devil especially hates this woman because she does - has a couple of characteristics. He goes to make war with the remnant of her seed - her descendants - who keep the commandments of God - they don't just hear them, they keep them - and that doesn't mean 80 percent. Do you know, everybody in prison keeps some of them some of the time, right? I mean, most of you keep them when you're sleeping. God is wanting people who will keep them also when you're awake. Keep the commandments of God and have what? The testimony of Jesus Christ. What does that mean? Fortunately, the Bible gives us the answer. An angel tells us exactly what that means. If you look in Revelation 19, verse 10, John falls down to worship this angel and the angel says, "Do not do that. I am your fellow servant and of your brethren that have the testimony of Jesus Christ" - same thing it says the woman would have - "worship God for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy."

The word of God is called 'the law and the prophets'. Two characters appear to Jesus on top of this Mount of Transfiguration - do you remember their names? Moses and Elijah - Moses is the great law-giver; Elijah the great prophet - the law of God - the commandments of God and the testimony of Jesus. You read in Isaiah chapter 8, verse 16 and verse 20 - verse 16 says, "Bind up the testimony, seal the law among my disciples." Two kinds of people in the last days, one has the mark of the beast, the other has the seal of God.

Now think about this - the seal of God - it says in the forehead. You know that great statement, 'Hear O Israel, the Lord our God is one. Thou shalt love the Lord thy God will all thy heart, mind, soul, and strength. These words I command you this day.' That's found in Deuteronomy 6 - Deuteronomy 5 is the Ten Commandments being repeated. Deuteronomy 6 - Moses saying 'These words I command you this day' He had just repeated the Ten Commandments. 'It shall be in your heart and you will bind them for a sign on your hand. They shall be as frontlets for your eyes.' The law of God in the mind and in the hand - in the actions and in the thoughts - this is a sign of the seal of God. And so, God's people are going to have that - they're going to have the law and they're going to have the prophets. Number 5, To whom does the Lord reveal His final plans? It says, 'Surely the Lord God will do nothing unless He reveals His secret unto His servants the prophets.' Whenever God gets ready to do anything significant in history - you look at Bible history - He calls a prophet. When the Lord was getting ready to destroy the world with a flood did He raise up a prophet?


>>What was his name?


>>Noah. When the Lord was going to call His people out of slavery and weld them into a nation, did He raise up a prophet?


>>What was his name?


>>He actually raised up three prophets - a trinity of prophets - and they were all related. Moses was a prophet, right? Miriam was a prophet. Aaron was a prophet. Can you imagine being Amram and Jochebed and have three kids that say they're prophets? And they'd say, 'It's time to do the dishes.' 'No, the Lord told me Aaron's supposed to do the dishes today.' That'd be tough. All three were prophets. That's what the Bible says. So whenever God is going to do something significant - before He has the Babylonians come to destroy them, does He raise up prophets to warn them? Isaiah, Jeremiah warned about it. When they were in captivity, before they came back - we've got Daniel, Ezekiel - God raises up His prophets. When Jesus made His first coming, did God raise up prophets? Not only did He have John the Baptist but, even when Christ was a baby, there was - Simeon prayed a prophecy. Jesus' own mother prayed and it was an inspired prayer. It's in scripture. And so, God raises up prophets for significant times.

Now, wouldn't it seem to you that, before the Lord comes again, and the end of the world, and the final things of prophecy, would we still need the gifts of the Spirit? It makes sense to me. Now, when you talk about prophets in the last days, be honest with me, if somebody walked up to you and said, 'Let me tell you something, I'm a prophet.' Your laugh gave it away. What would you think? Isn't that right? So how open are you to what the Bible says is going to be a gift of the Spirit? Let's face it, on Mount Carmel, back in the days of Elijah, there were how many false prophets? Between 400 and 800, it depends on if you're including the prophets of Baal and the prophets of Asherah, but at least, let's say 400. How many true prophets on the mountain that day? One. Same ratio in the world today. Might even be worse. There are so many false prophets that we're very skeptical about believing there might be a true one out there, which makes it really tough if you're an Elijah or if you're a true prophet in the last days.

I believe the gift of prophecy is still alive. I believe that there are modern examples of prophecy. I believe that there are more prophets to come. And, just in case you think I'm going to make an announcement, my announcement is I am not one of them. I think there are more prophets to come. I think that there have been some who have come recently who maybe haven't been recognized. One of them has the name Ellen White. Have you heard of Ellen White? I believe she was a true prophet and she came up during a time when there were a lot of false prophets and people were, naturally, very suspicious. Now, how do you know if someone says 'I'm a prophet'? How do you know? Do you just, you know, use the gut check? Or do you - is there a criteria we can use in the Bible to find out if that claim is true? First of all, she never called herself a prophet, but she did say, "I have had messages from God I have been told to deliver.

Now, if that's true - you know, people come up to me - I can't tell you how often it happens. They come up to me and say, 'Pastor Doug, I've got to talk to you. I've got to talk to you. I have a message from God for you.' I had a - somebody drove cross country and they wanted me to just cancel my schedule and spend time with them and they said, 'God told me that you're supposed to talk to me.' I said, 'Well, I'm waiting for Him to tell me.' (Laughter) Because whenever people tell you, 'I've got a message from God' - and because the Bible says 'Beware of false prophets', they think automatically that means beware of any prophets. But couldn't Jesus have said, 'Beware of anybody who claims to be a prophet'? He didn't say that. He said, 'Beware of the false ones.' Were there problems with false prophets in the Old Testament? Yeah, Jeremiah was surrounded by false prophets.

Have you ever read the story about Micaiah - Micaiah who he went and had an audience before Ahab and King Jehoshaphat and Micaiah said, 'If you go to battle you're going to die.' And all these other true - false prophets were saying, 'Oh no, go fight. You're going to defeat the Syrians and Ramoth Gilead. Fight, fight, fight! Win, win, win!' And Micaiah said, 'If you come back in peace God has not spoken by me.' And Ahab thought, 'Well, you know, he is a prophet of the Lord. I better take extra precautions.' And so he put on all his armor, he stayed on the outskirts of the battle, he told Jehoshaphat, 'Yeah, you dress up like a king and go right down into the thick of it.' Ahab thought, 'I'm going to make the prophecy fail.' And the Bible says an arrow, by chance, found the joints of his armor and hit a vital artery and he bled to death. And Micaiah was put into prison for telling the truth. All the other prophets were on the king's payroll. And so, Old Testament, they had plenty of false prophets back then and there's plenty today, but I think there's true. So we've got to be careful not to become cynical and jaded and say 'What are the criteria, in the Bible, to find out if someone is a true prophet?' Amen? Are you willing to look with an open mind? I believe Ellen White was a prophet, not because she said so, or not because someone else said so, but because of the evidence I see. Alright, let's look at some of that.

What is the most important test of a person if they're going to be a prophet? First of all, you read in Isaiah chapter 8, verse 20, "to the law and to the testimony:" - it's like what we just said, testimony of Jesus - spirit of prophecy - "if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them." So the first test of a prophet - this is the complete word of God - I don't believe we should say we're adding anything to it - doesn't Revelation say we're not to add to this? But because the Bible says 'Do not add to this' doesn't mean that God does not still inspire people. Keep in mind, there are prophets in the Bible who even wrote books that are not in the Bible. It tells you 'It's in the writings of the prophet Yasher,' 'It's in the writings of the prophet Gad' - they're not included in scripture. They had local messages for a particular time. And so, just because a person's a prophet, doesn't mean their writings become a part of scripture, you see what I'm saying? And so, as soon as you say, 'I believe that God spoke through somebody' and they made a prophetic utterance - when John Huss was being burnt at the stake, filled with the spirit, he made a prediction, he said, 'In a hundred years God is going to send you man that you cannot silence and he will expose these things.' It was a hundred years later Martin Luther formed his thesis and was nailed to the doors of Wittenberg Church. I think that was a prophecy that Huss made at that time and it obviously came true. So let's not rule out God's right to still speak through people. Does that sound fair?

What about Ellen White; does she meet this criteria? What was her attitude about the Bible? You read in the book Great Controversy - one of her classics - "The people of God are directed to the scriptures as their safeguard against the influence of false teachers and the delusive power of spirits of darkness. So closely will the counterfeit resemble the true that it will be impossible to distinguish between them except by the Holy Scriptures. By their testimony" - she doesn't say 'my testimony' - "By their testimony every statement and miracle must be tested." She said the final criteria, 'Is the Bible the word of God?'


>>And this is what the apostles said, 'All scripture is given by inspiration of God.' The apostles were always pointing back to the Bible as a criteria. Someone who was alive at the last public meeting - he actually was a church leader - William A. Spicer - he commented and said, 'I remember the last words this faithful servant ever spoke in the general assembly of the movement, and here's what she said: Her final words - she held up the Bible and she was over 80 years of age and she said, 'Brethren and sisters, I commend unto you this book.''


>>Now, you know, there have been a lot of other people raised up and they said, 'We're prophets' and they started different movements, but they say that there's other writings that are more important than the Bible. I know there's a lot of lovely Latter Day Saint - Mormon people out there, I've got some that are friends, but I'd have to respectfully disagree with their approach to prophecy. They believe in prophecy, but they think Joseph Smith is a fresher revelation than the Bible, because when I show them certain things in the Bible they say, 'Well, we know the Bible says that, but Joseph Smith has a fresh revelation.' Well, that automatically means the Bible's suspect, if you can do that. The Bible needs to be the last word, amen?


>>By the way, in our church, even in the baptismal vows, it says that the Bible is our only rule of faith and practice. It's the scripture is the word of God. So what's the second test of a prophet? Well, you can read in 1 John 4:2, 'Hereby ye know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus is come in the flesh is of God: and if they don't confess that Jesus has come in the flesh, they're not of God.' Any of you ever read that beautiful classic called The Desire of Ages? One of the people that worked at the Library of Congress said there are thousands of books that are written on the life of Christ, but they believed that that was the most beautiful of all the books. And I'll tell you, you read that book, you'll know that this author believed in the inspiration of Jesus, the incarnation of Jesus, the divinity of Christ - and that's one of the criteria - always pointing to Jesus. You know, when a prophet's always saying, 'Look at me' you think, 'That's what the devil wanted.' That's ego. But Ellen White was such a humble person - you ever read the gospel of John? You notice John never even wants to mention his name. He's always saying 'the disciple whom Jesus loved' - he was very selfless and always pointing to Jesus. You read through the writings of Ellen White - read the book Steps to Christ and you say, 'Wow, this person is just lifting up Christ, they're pointing to the scriptures. They're not saying, 'No, no, I'm supposed to eclipse the Bible in some way.'

What's the third test of a prophet? You read in Jeremiah 28, verse 9, "...when the word of the prophet shall come to pass, then it will be known that the Lord hath truly sent him." When someone makes a prediction and it doesn't happen you start saying, 'Well wait a second, Noah said there's going to be a flood, there was a flood.' And so, if a prophet is making prophecies and they don't take place, then their criteria - their claim - is dubious. Just a few of thousands of examples that could be cited, where Ellen White made predictions - very bold predictions - and they were proved true. One that's very dramatic is if you read in the book Life Sketches, in 1902 Ellen White wrote, "Not long hence, these cities will suffer under the judgments of God. San Francisco and Oakland are becoming like Sodom and Gomorrah and the Lord will visit them in wrath." And then you go to - she's not talking about the general second coming, but a specific judgment - then, now, go to April 16, 1906 - notice the date, please - Ellen White wrote, "During a vision of the night I stood on an eminence from which I could see houses shaken like a reed in the wind. Buildings great and small were falling to the ground. Pleasure resorts, theaters, hotels, and the homes of the wealthy were shaken and shattered. Many lives were blotted out of existence and the air was filled with the shrieks of the injured and the terrified." She said that on April 16 and it's confirmed that that's when she wrote that down. April 18, 1906 - have you heard of the San Francisco earthquake? Hundreds died, thousands were left homeless, half the city burned. It was a great national catastrophe and it did effect both San Francisco and Oakland.

Now, something and I - I'm just - something that I want you to think about - she made another interesting statement and I don't know if I'm misapplying it, forgive me if it sounds like it, but in the book Last Day Events page 113 Ellen White wrote, "On one occasion when in New York City, I was brought in the night season called upon to behold buildings" - she's where? New York City - "Buildings rising story after story toward heaven." - Now, you realize those buildings were not that tall when she wrote this - "The next scene that passed before me was an alarm of fire. Men looked at the lofty and supposedly fireproof buildings and said, 'They are perfectly safe.'" - You know, when the first airplane struck the first tower and people started to leave the building, the Port Authority said, 'Everything's okay, you can go back. Building's safe.' - But these buildings were consumed as if made of pitch." They did not have aircraft fuel in her days, but it would burn like pitch - the black smoke - "The fire engines could do nothing to stay the destruction. The firemen were unable to operate the engines." I thought that's very interesting. I'm - I don't know - just something to think about.

Number 9: What's the fourth test of a prophet - now this is not an exhaustive list of what the different tests are, but it's giving the primary ones. You can read in the Bible, Matthew 7, verse 16, "You shall know them by their fruits."


>>What are the fruits in the person's life? Do they have a godly life? David Koresh said he was a prophet, but he had a harem and, you know, just his life was totally outrageous - he used firearms to, you know, attack people and - Marshall Applewhite told everybody to commit suicide. Jim Jones had affairs with all of his followers and stole their money. You look at their lives and it doesn't take long to say they're not prophets. But even though Ellen White - she was a precocious, healthy, young girl - she had an accident when she was about nine years old and was injured and was very sick and many didn't think she'd live. Seventeen years old, she was at a prayer meeting and she was caught off into vision and God called her and said He had a message that He wanted her to take to the world. Nobody would have ever dreamed that from seventeen she would live seventy years and have thousands of dreams and visions that came true and a whole movement would rise up, at least in part, because of her guidance, through the Holy Spirit, so that it's grown into, now, the fastest-growing Protestant church in the world. You'll know them by their fruits –


>>Jesus said. Gamaliel said, 'Look, if God is not with us it'll fall apart on its own.' But, obviously, God is doing something.


>>"Mrs. White's most enduring monument, aside from her godly life" - this was written in an obituary in a newspaper - I believe this is in St. Helena at the time of her death - not by a church member - "Mrs. White's most enduring monument, aside from her godly life and conversation, was her published works, which tend to the purest morality, lead to Christ and to the Bible, and bring comfort and consolation to many a weary heart. She has done what she could and now, being dead, through her writings, yet speaketh." People who knew her and her neighbors say, 'You know, she was a humble, godly housewife, mother, she was a fastidious housekeeper - she always was bringing people into her home, she adopted neighbors and other kids and was always trying - just a good citizen - a loving person. Nobody could ever say otherwise about her. Married to the same man - you know, one of the things that I think is interesting, she had four boys - two of them died before they reached adulthood, which was not uncommon in the 1800s - they had a very high mortality rate - so she felt the pains of life, but her kids that did survive, they both believed that she was a prophet. You know, you can fool all of the people some of the time and some of the people all of the time, but you can't fool your family. And when they, after a long life, say, 'Mother was a prophet. God spoke through her. She lived what she talked about.' Well, that's hard to get around. Usually you expect someone to publish a kiss-and-tell later, but everybody that knew her said she was a saint. You'll know them by their fruits and you'll know by the fruit of their ministry. Now, having said all that, let me just remind you prophets were also people.


>>They're human.


>>You know, if you invited the prophet over to your house for dinner and they said, 'Can you please pass the salt?' You would not say, 'Write that down - 'Pass the salt' - what does it mean?' (Laughter) 'Ooooh' - you know, they talked like you and I talk. I've got a friend, she has since passed away, her name was Lolita Simpson. She had met Ellen White. Her mother was a personal friend of Ellen White. Lolita Simpson's father was a famous evangelist called W.W. Simpson. Some of you maybe have heard his name - just did a tremendous work. He became ill; Ellen White wrote a letter to Lolita's mother and said, 'Do all you can; God's doing a great work for him.' Well, he died of a brain tumor and she said, 'Oh, I must not have done everything right.' And Ellen White said, 'No, no, I just was saying - it wasn't a prophecy. I'm just saying, you know, what anyone would say. He's been doing a great thing.'

And so prophets were people. Let me give you some Bible examples: Samuel is told by God, 'I want you to go pick one of the sons of Jesse and anoint him as king.'' So Samuel is standing there with Jesse's at least six of the seven sons and he looks at the tall firstborn, Eliab - tall, dark, and handsome - Samuel says, 'Surely the Lord's anointed is before me.' And God said, 'No, you're wrong, Samuel, that's not him.' He said, 'It's the last one you would think.' Nathan the prophet comes to David and David says, 'You know, I want to build a temple.' Nathan says, 'Go for it, David, God is with you.' Nathan walks away and God says, 'Nathan, you've got to go back and talk to David. I didn't tell you to say that. I don't want David to build the temple - he's a bloody man. I want his son Solomon to build it.' Nathan went back and said, 'You know, David, first time I was just talking like a friend, God told me, 'Thus saith the Lord, you're not supposed to build the temple,' but get everything ready, your son'll build it.' Am I right? And you've got several examples in the Bible where you see people were prophets. Even Miriam, who was a prophetess, had to be rebuked by the Lord because she was discriminating against Moses' wife, who was Ethiopian - and God forgave her. He punished her, but He then forgave her. Prophets were people. Peter was a prophet. Paul had to rebuke him because Peter was discriminating - when the Jews came to visit the Gentiles he'd act like he didn't know the Gentiles anymore. Prophets were people. And so, just so everyone understands, God takes normal people and He gives them inspired messages –


>>She was a human but when she said, 'God showed me something, you'd better take it very seriously because that puts things in a different category. Now Ellen White was instrumental in raising up the Seventh-day Adventist church, but she wasn't the only one. She was actually one of many. You know, one of the most intriguing characters, if you've ever read the autobiography of Joseph Bates - any of you ever read that? Oh, what an adventure. He - he was really the senior statesman in the early movement of the Seventh-day Adventist church. God brought these people together. They were from all different denominations. Ellen White's background was Methodist. James White was a Christian and some were Congregationalists and Joseph Bates, I think, was Presbyterian and - and Baptists - and you had all these different people, they said, 'Let's find out what the Bible really says and they came together in study groups and they would pray and they would study and, periodically, Ellen White would be brought into vision and God would give added light and point to the scriptures. Sometimes, in vision, she would hold up a Bible and she'd say 'Here are the verses I want you to look at.' So God used her simply to magnify what was already in His word.

Are miracles definite evidence that someone is a true prophet? Can the devil do miracles? Yeah, be careful, 'They are the spirits of devils working miracles.' And I think I already mentioned to you, don't forget that the magicians of Pharaoh could reproduce the miracle of God when Moses threw his ser - (laughs) his - I keep saying 'threw his serpent down' - threw his rod down and it became a snake. Were some women also called to be prophets, in the Bible? Yes, now, while you may have noticed it's true there were no women you would find that were priests or apostles, there were many women that were prophets in the Bible. You have Exodus 15, verse 20 - Miriam was a prophetess - the sister of Aaron. You can read in Luke 2, verse 36, "And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher:" You can read in the New Testament about Philip who was an evangelist, who had four virgin daughters who did what? Prophesied - 'I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters will prophesy.' Some people have said, 'Well, Ellen White can't be a prophet because she's a woman.' God had a lot of women prophets. You've got Deborah in the Old Testament. You got Huldah - and there's others - the names escape me right now, but there are many in the Bible.

So, in what ways does God speak to a true prophet? Well, there's a number of mechanisms. Numbers 12, verse 6, it says, "If there is a prophet among you, I the Lord will make myself known to him in a vision," - a vision's different than a dream. You can be standing up and have a vision. Numbers 12, verses 6 and 8, it also says, "I can speak to him mouth to mouth," - God spoke to Abraham mouth to mouth. He spoke to Moses and Isaiah and many others that way. He might talk through an angel. Sometimes an angel would speak to Ellen White. She actually had the gamut: sometimes in dreams at night, visions when she was awake, sometimes through angels - and you can read that in Zechariah 4, verse 1, "And the angel that talked with me came again..." Over the course of her life she had about 2,000 visions and those visions were on just everything you can imagine. And when she was in vision, some who observed her wrote some very interesting things. I've got just a brief statement here from J.N. Loughborough who saw her in vision about fifty times and he said that "In passing into vision she would give three enrapturing shouts of 'Glory, glory, glory' - which echoed and re-echoed. The second and, especially, the third would be fainter but more thrilling than the first, the voice resembling one of quite a distance from you and going out of hearing. For about four or five seconds she seemed to drop down like a person in a swoon" - It appeared like she'd faint - "or one having lost their strength, then she would seem to be instantly filled with superhuman strength, sometimes rising up at once." - You know, the Bible says that Daniel and John got strengthened then, when they were in visions - "She would walk around the room. There were frequent movements of the hands and the arms pointing to the right or left. All these movements were made in a very graceful manner and whatever position the hand or the arm might be placed, it was impossible for anyone to move it." - People would try, when they saw her in vision, to like stop her motions and they - she'd throw them around the room - they couldn't stop her. Many people observed her in vision - her eyes were open but she did not blink. They'd hold a mirror to her mouth, she did not breathe, but her color was normal - and some of these visions would last forty minutes or longer. "Her eyes were open but she did not blink. She does not breathe." And it says when prophets went into vision, it says, 'There was no breath in me.'

So you see some of these things in the Bible, you see? They had the supernatural strength - but listen to some of the predictions that she made: She said, for instance - she only had a third-grade education, but you know she has written more than any other woman in American history. That, right there, ought to get you to say, 'I ought to find out.' I mean, pretty hard to meet that criteria. She wrote on education and, right now, the Seventh-day Adventist church operates nearly 7,000 schools around the world, second only - when it comes to Christian schools - to the Catholic church. On health - 167 hospitals and sanitariums - she wrote widely on health. And listen to just some of the things she wrote on health: Medical Science Speaks: Children who use tobacco are more likely to go on and use, in sequence, alcohol, marijuana, and other illegal drugs. What did Ellen White say about bridgeway drugs, you might say, or gateway drugs? She said, "The appetite for tobacco is self-destructive. It leads to a craving for something stronger - fermented wines and liquors, all of which are intoxicating."

The very thing that she said, medical science says - some of this, I think, you find in the back of Neal Nedley's book called Proof Positive - "Lately I have read of the death of many men. Their deaths are almost always attributed to the failure of the heart but, in reality, it was because of the use of tobacco and liquor that has poisoned the system of them." Science said it's as a result of cardiovascular disease as a result of smoking and, certainly, we know drinking, as well. Ellen White said, "Grains, fruits, nuts, and vegetables impart a vigor to the intellect that's not affordable by a more complex and stimulating diet." Medical science tells us meat contains a substance that impairs brain activity and lacks substance that the brain needs to function well. And so, you can just see, all through her writings, a knowledge of science. She was a vegetarian most of her life. I'll be talking a little more about this later this week. You continue to come and you'll hear about these things.

On publishing she says, "God has told me to write" - and she wrote - and it wasn't just the same thing - on such a broad scope of things - everything from education to health to organization to publishing and, as a result, 65 publishing houses and branches around the world. She wrote in Testimonies, vol. 8, "Years ago the Lord gave me special directions that buildings should be erected in various places in America, Europe, and other lands, for the publication of literature containing the light of present truth." And that's what's happened - and it's gone around the world. And so, all the things that she said God had said that we should do, that started with just a little group and prayer meetings, she said, 'God's told me this is going to be streams of light going around the world.' And it's happened, friends, and it's still going and growing faster than you can imagine. And I'm running out of time.

The American Library of Congress has recognized Ellen White as the fourth most translated author in the world, the most translated female author in the world, and the most translated American author in the world. That's pretty amazing when you think about it. What three things does Paul recommend when it comes to considering prophecy? Paul said, 'Despise not prophesyings.' In other words, if someone has a prophesy listen to it - consider it. These are gifts of the Spirit. I believe in all the gifts. I believe the devil has a counterfeit for every gift - prophesy, tongues - he's got a counterfeit, but the true gifts are still there. We should not despise nor neglect them. Prove all things - do the tests - and then hold fast to that which is good. That's what we're inviting you to do. And, if you're in doubt, try it for yourself. Prove it.


>>Pick up the book Steps to Christ and read that. Let me know what you think. Pick up the book Desire of Ages, see if it brings you closer to Jesus. If you really want to be stirred, read that book Great Controversy - it changed my life.


>>John, who's been singing for you, We've been friends for many years. You in the back there, somewhere, John? Nope. He's probably taking a nap right now. (Laughter) He was also led to the Lord from reading the book Great Controversy and was also inspired, with a passion, to share the good news with someone else. What does Jehoshaphat say in 2 Chronicles 20:20? "...Believe in the Lord your God, and you will be established;" - notice this part - "believe His prophets, and you will prosper." It'd be hard for me to tell you how much this has changed my life. Jesus has warned us the tendency is for people to reject the true. Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who were sent to you.

You know, in my life, I was living in a cave, I read the Bible, I accepted Jesus, it totally transformed me, and then I went to all these different churches and I didn't seem to find that they could agree. I said, 'Lord, you've got one Bible, one Jesus, one Holy Spirit, it makes sense there's one truth. Would You please show me what the truth is?' Why is there so much division? Somebody, special delivery, came to me 3,500 feet up in a desert cave and gave me the book Great Controversy. I was 17 years old. I'd been through all kinds of Bible studies and even different religions. I read that book - it changed my life. I've never turned back.


>>And so I'm just recommending to you what has been a tremendous blessing to me. I hope that you will taste and see that the Lord is good. How many of you are willing to apply the Biblical criteria to discover that these things are true or if they meet the criteria of a prophet? Is that your plan? God bless you, friends, I'll pray for you that that's the case.

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