Beware of False Prophets!
These self-willed, vain men may even affect the lives of thousands of you Tomorrow’s World subscribers, if you allow this to happen. We in this Work have repeatedly taught you the very “way” of life that Jesus Christ taught His own disciples. We have sent out—absolutely free—millions of magazines and booklets explaining the Ten Commandments and how to keep them with God’s help. We have repeatedly encouraged you to build in your life the “Original Christianity” of Jesus Christ and the apostles—all based upon obedience to the law of love and the way of God.
But, as time goes on, many false teachers will rise up and try to turn sincere people away from the true Work of God. It has always been so. The Apostle Paul had to warn the Corinthian elders: “For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves” (Acts 20:29–30). Jesus Himself warned us: “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles?... Therefore by their fruits you will know them” (Matthew 7:15–16, 20).
What is the “fruit”—the result—of sincere people being taught to follow the example of Christ and the original apostles? It is a people who genuinely try to love and to serve one another and their fellow men. It is a people who love the Creator God and joyously observe His weekly Sabbaths and His annual Holy Days and—through Christ living within them—walk in the way of the Ten Commandments.
By contrast, when a spirit of doubt and discouragement is sown among God’s people, often over minor and disputed “technical points” of prophecy or chronology—the “fruit,” the result—is not good. The Apostle Paul warned Timothy to emphasize “sound doctrine.” He told Timothy to “remain in Ephesus that you may charge some that they teach no other doctrine, nor give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which cause disputes rather than godly edification which is in faith. Now the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith” (1 Timothy 1:3–5).
All true doctrines come back to God’s commandments being based on love (v. 5) and service. All true ministers of Jesus Christ emphasize that approach—that way of life. True ministers of Christ will humble themselves and try in every way they can to encourage and to serve God’s people. In his final letter—as recorded in the Bible—the Apostle Peter told the ministers he was overseeing not to be, “lords over those entrusted to you” but rather to be “examples to the flock” (1 Peter 5:3). Then, Peter continued, “Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for ‘God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’ Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time” (vv. 5–6).
Back in apostolic times, when one of the original false apostles began to deceive people, your Bible records that this man went around “claiming that he was someone great” (Acts 8:9). Ultimately, the final great rebellion against God will be led by a vain, self-willed man, “who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God” (2 Thessalonians 2:4).
So, when any man or woman tries to “appoint” himself as an “apostle” or proclaim himself as a “prophet,” watch out! For God warns us, over and over: “And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted” (Matthew 23:12; see also Luke 14:11; 18:14).
None of us in this Work, which brings you the Tomorrow’s World television program and this magazine, has ever tried to proclaim himself a “prophet,” or an “apostle.” For the word of God describes the “signs” of an apostle as, “signs and wonders and mighty deeds” (2 Corinthians 12:12). No one living today has produced those types of “signs” to indicate true apostleship—or prophethood!
Finally, I do want to strongly warn all of you in the name of Jesus Christ that at the end of this age there will be a “man of sin” (2 Thessalonians 2:3) who will perform mighty “signs”—and will use them to deceive millions of confused human beings within the lifetimes of most of you! God inspired the Apostle John to describe this man as “another Beast” (Revelation 13:11). This man will use the power of the revived Roman Empire. But he will not be its political or military leader. He will be a powerful religious figure who will deceive millions! As John wrote of him: “He performs great signs, so that he even makes fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men. And he deceives those who dwell on the earth by those signs which he was granted to do in the sight of the beast, telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast who was wounded by the sword and lived” (vv. 13–14).
“Fire from heaven” in our modern age?
Yes! It will probably not happen for several more years, but it will come within the lifetimes of many of you!
Notice that God says this coming religious leader—by performing spectacular miracles—will be one who “deceives those who dwell on the earth” (v. 14). Remember that God’s word warns us: “And when they say to you, ‘Seek those who are mediums and wizards, who whisper and mutter,’ should not a people seek their God? Should they seek the dead on behalf of the living? To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them” (Isaiah 8:19–20). The “key” is to reject any professing apostle or prophet who seeks to turn you away from the law of God, or distract you from His Work, which Christ and the apostles proclaimed over and over.
So, be sure to obey God’s command: “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15, KJV). As you “feed on Christ” and as you drink in of God’s word—which reveals the mind of God—it will be very difficult to deceive you! As Jesus said, always consider the “fruits.” Is a professing prophet or apostle genuinely humble in trying to serve his fellow human beings and teach them the way of life based upon the Ten Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount? Or is he simply trying to “get a following” and lead people into ideas and concepts that are not biblical or simply irrelevant? Does he teach and practice the way of service and humility exemplified by Jesus Christ? Or are his teachings being used to exalt himself?
For the sake of your eternal life, always remember the Apostle Paul’s magnificent one-verse description of true Christianity: “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20, KJV). Before you accept the teachings of some “prophet” or “apostle,” ask yourself: “Am I being influenced by him to have the true Christ of the Bible live His life within me through the Holy Spirit? Or, is something missing?”
What is “missing” may be the difference between eternal life and eternal death! As Jesus Christ commanded, “Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown” (Revelation 3:11).