I acknowledge upfront that the following teaching places me squarely in the minority; it has gotten me in a lot of trouble with my charismatic brothers and sisters. But I believe this with all my heart.
I believe there are two tests that apply to New Testament prophets and prophecy:
Deuteronomy 18:21-22, “And you may say in your heart, ‘How can we know the word which the LORD has not spoken?’ When a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the thing does not occur or come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously. You shall not be afraid of him.”
Deuteronomy 13:1-3, “If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or the wonder comes to pass concerning that which he spoke to you, saying, ‘let us go after other gods’, which you have not known, ‘and let us serve them’, you must 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.”
I am not a cessationist; I believe in the continuation of prophecy as well as all the gifts of the Spirit according to the will of God to distribute them. But I do not believe that Jesus Christ came to lower the standard of prophecy, which we remember “the spirit of prophecy is the testimony of Jesus Christ”. I do not believe that Jesus came to corrupt His own testimony.
So I want to consider something from the New Testament in light of these two prophetic tests:
2 Thessalonians 2:9-12, “The coming of the evil one is in accordance with the working of Satan with all power and signs and false wonders, and with all deception of unrighteousness among those who perish, because they did not receive the love for the truth that they might be saved. Therefore God will send them a strong delusion, that they should believe the lie: that they all might be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.”
Today we are seeing an unprecedented flood of unrighteous deception from prophets who do not speak the truth; many practice astrology and prognostication (forbidden in Isaiah 47:13-14), and are openly speaking presumptuous words as if from the Holy Spirit. This flood of unrighteous deception is deadening the hearts of those who call on Jesus’ name to the love of the truth and causing many churches to become inhospitable to the truth.
God said in Deuteronomy 13:3 “you must 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” and in 2 Thessalonians 2:12 “Therefore God will send them a strong delusion, that they should believe the lie: that they all might be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” God is being faithful to His word.
Consider this Scripture:
Jeremiah 23:25-26, “I have heard what the prophets have said who prophesy lies in My name, saying, ‘I had a dream, I had a dream!’ How long shall this be in the heart of the prophets who prophesy lies? Indeed, they are prophets of the deceit of their own heart.”
Jeremiah 23:30-32, “See, therefore I am against the prophets, says the LORD, who steal My words, each from his neighbor. See, I am against the prophets, says the LORD, who use their tongues and say, ‘The LORD says.’ See, I am against those who prophesy false dreams, says the LORD, and recount them and cause My people to err by their lies and reckless boasting. Yet I sent them not nor commanded them. Therefore they shall not profit this people at all, says the LORD.”
I believe those who present themselves as speaking by divine inspiration must be tested according to these Biblical tests, and if their words are found to fail, or if they come to pass but the lead the Church astray from God’s word, then they are false prophets and wolves dressed in sheep’s skin.