False Prophets

The Christian book publishing industry is increasing in this country. Many people are writing from a spiritual perspective and earning a lot of money in the form of royalties (income earned on a book or a song that someone has written). While there are some of these books worth reading, there are many others that are a waste of time. I speak here of Joel Osteen and Rob Bell. These two men have seemingly pleasant personalities and positive messages. Joel Osteen writes books such as “Your Best Life Now”, “Everyday a Friday”, and “Your Best Foot Forward”. These books set forth a message something like this: “God wants you to be a happy, healthy, prosperous person. Therefore you will have no affliction and experience very little in the way of pain.” The problem with this theory is that God does not promise anywhere in His word that we lead pain free lives that are filled with wealth and happiness. “Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the Lord delivereth him out of them all” (Psalm 34:19). These trials include loss of a family member or a friend through death, losing one’s home or business in a fire or a tornado, a grievous illness, or a friend or family member who has left the church. A trouble-free life sounds pleasant to our ears, but as we have seen, this is not a realistic view of life based on either our own experience, or more importantly the word of God. Rob Bell is another false prophet. In such books as “Velvet Elvis” and “Love Wins”, he shows the belief that there is no Hell and that therefore God allows second chances to make sure that everyone accepts Him as savior and therefore ends up in Heaven. This runs contrary to the Bible which says “Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated” (Romans 9:13). Esau and those like him who did not repent wound up in Hell. In the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, the rich man talks to Abraham while there. Jesus said this in Matthew 5:29 “And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast if from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. In Mark 9:44 Hell is described as being the place: “Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.” In the Old Testament the test for a true prophet versus a false prophet was this: if a prophet said “Thus saith the Lord there shall be a famine in the land”, and it came to pass, then that man was known to be sent from God. If, on the other hand, his word did not come to fruition, he was known as a false prophet. These men and those like them are spiritually blind leaders who are unsuccessfully trying to give spiritual direction to others. Their books are filled with nice sounding but extremely false teachings. There are plenty of good, spiritual books out there such as the Bible and various titles published by the Reformed Free Publishing Association, but books like those written by Osteen and Bell are to be avoided at all costs. Just as we must use discretion with the websites we visit and the TV programs we watch, so we must exercise caution when it comes to what we read. “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1). When we are fully aware of false prophets and their teachings and what the Bible says about them, we can know what to read and what avoid. In doing this we will be blessed by God.
Kevin Rau

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