Bible Info – BT5
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“Testing prophecy” or anything that anybody writes on this BLOG!
Sure it was “nobler” for Jews in Berea to double-check what Paul referenced in the OT scripture (a), but these were unbelieving Jews that Paul was preaching the gospel to, the same doubters that beat him 3 times to the point of death! They were not Gentiles nor where they even Christians! Not one NT writer tells any Christian to “test prophecy against scripture” or even to “test prophecy against the bible.” Not one! Yet I’ve heard this stated 100s of times from church people! What does the bible actually say about “testing” what others say? You’ll see that I heavily document what I say, for those “doubting Thomas types” (b). <Notes> a) Acts 17:11, b) John 20:24-28.
1 John 4:1 says, “I strongly urge you to ongoingly have trusting-relying-faith [but] not in possibility in every spirit, but instead I strongly urge you ongoingly test/examine (a) the spirits (b) whether they actually, ongoingly are out from God, for many false prophets have already gone out, with ongoing results, into the world.” I love the “gone out” play in words! The Greek word order is so much more accurate than English translations – O, yes we should “ongoingly have trusting-relying-faith,” just “not in every spirit,” because John wants us to have it in the Holy Spirit! The apostle John wants us to “investigate the spirits” because he wants us to find the real thing – the Holy Spirit. This is not like the inquisitions of the Jews done to stamp out the gospel nor of the Catholics from 200AD on to stamp out the control of the Holy Spirit. It is an enquiry to find the genuine Spirit! <Notes> a) testing in order to prove what is genuine, b) including the Holy Spirit.
John’s “testing of spirits” is absolutely not what the “traditions of men” in the Church have made it out to be – “testing prophesy against the bible.” Like I said, I’ve heard that 100s of times, but it’s not even biblical! First of all, John tells what “the test” is in 1 John 4:2-3: “By this you actually, ongoingly, experientially, relationally know (a) the Spirit of God.” This is not gnosis info-knowledge you get from a book like the bible by reading, studying, or debating it like the Jews did, but what you can experience from the Holy Spirit if you do the following: “Every ‘spirit’ that actually, ongoingly confesses (b) that Jesus Christ has already come, with ongoing results, in the flesh actually, ongoingly is from God (that means it’s the Holy Spirit), and/coupled every ‘spirit’ that does NOT in possibility actually, ongoingly confess (c) Jesus is absolutely in fact NOT from God.” This is the entire “test!” There is no referring to a book to see if IT said something, and certainly not OT scripture. You have to ask these pointed questions of the prophet and listen with discernment to their response – see New Covenant Ways – BT16! One of the Spirit’s grace-gifts is the “discernment of spirits” (c). The Body-of-Christ was supposed to “weigh in on what was 2-3 prophets at a time said” (d). “Everything was to be tested, holding on what is good” (e). <Notes> a) ginosko, b) homologeo: ‘speaks together’ the same logos message, c) 1 Corinthians 12:10, d) 1 Corinthians 14:29, e) 1 Thessalonians 5:21.
Simply: If the possibility arises where a ‘spirit’ in a prophet under ‘investigation’ doesn’t “confess Jesus came in the flesh” then you know for sure the prophet isn’t from God. So the simple ‘test’ was to ask the prophet to “confess that Jesus has come in the flesh” (a). Why that? Because there was a early Christian heresy called “Docetism” that “affirmed that Christ did not have a real or natural body while on earth but only an apparent or phantom one” (b). <Notes> a) cf. 2 John 1:7, b) Encyclopedia Britannica.
The NT speaks a lot about Jesus coming in the flesh, being made like us in every way but without sin, so that He can sympathize with us, and fully represent us as the “Son of Man” (a) and give His life in perfect exchange for our lives, which is called “propitiation” – sacrificial atonement by exchanging One life for many lives (b). Interestingly, what John says: “the reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil” (c) corresponds exactly to what Barnabas (though possibly Paul) said: “Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, He himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death He might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. . . . Therefore He had to be made like His brethren in every respect, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For because He himself has suffered when [He was] tempted, He is able to help those who are being tempted” (d). When I wrote this I just broke out in tears – a confirmation from the Spirit how important this is for us! A false prophet could not confess this – only the Spirit of God can! <Notes> a) Jesus called Himself the “Son of Man” 83 times, b) such as Isaiah 53:3-4; John 1:14; Philippians 2:5-8; Colossians 1:14-15; 2:8-10; Romans 3:25, 5:19, 8:3; Hebrews 2:9-11, 4:15; 1 John 1:1, 2:2, 4:10, c) 1 John 3:8, d) Hebrews 2:14-15, 17-18.
But what else from John’s context did Jesus say that the ‘spirit’ of prophets should be able to agree to in order to “confess Jesus?” John just told us earlier in 1 John 3:23-24 that God only has one officially-decreed compound commandment (a) under the New Covenant Way – one commandment from the Father and one commandment from the Son coupled together: “And this is His commandment: That we have trusting-relying-faith in the name (b) of His Son Jesus Christ (c) and/coupled unconditionally-love one another reciprocally just as He (Jesus) has given us commandment (d). Whoever routinely keeps intact (e) His (Jesus) commandments (f) actually, ongoingly abides/lives/remains in God (the Father) and God in him. And BY THIS we actually, ongoingly, experientially, relationally ginosko know that He (Father) actually, ongoingly abides/dwells in US, by the Spirit whom He (Father) has actually, already given US.” Certainly, this is the true ‘test’ if someone is actually a Christian, and no actual Christian prophet would have any other ‘spirit’ prophesying within them! <Notes> a) entole, b) person and authority, c) John 6:29, 12:49-50, 15:10, d) John 13:34, 15:12, e) tereo: watches carefully to guard, f) in context: the 2 of “faith and/coupled love” a Christ preached constantly – see Only 2 Commandments.
Now you know the immediate context of 1 John 4:1 “testing of spirits!” These 2 universally-binding, official decrees of the New Covenant Church that Jesus kept (a) faithfully (b), are the ones the early Church were to also guard faithfully with their lives! They were to guard them from the false prophets who would absolutely not confess them, let alone teach them! The only people that will guard these are those whom the Spirit of God actually dwells within, because these are the only 2 entole commandments that Jesus ever entole commanded, for these come from “the Lord who is the Spirit” (c). <Notes> a) tereo = watched over carefully or guarded to keep, b) John 15:10, c) 2 Corinthians 3:18.
We also know this to be true from NT study of the coupling of “trusting-relying-faith and unconditional-love” (a) and from early Church records that this was indeed taught to people being prepared for their public “confession of Christ” at their water-baptism, which is called catechism training (b). Therefore, John’s “testing the spirits” may have indeed included asking them what exactly they did say at their public “confession of Jesus Christ.” False prophets would not have had such a ceremony and they sure wouldn’t have spouted off 1 John 3:23, because only the indwelling Spirit of God can agree to these things! For more about this, read the New Covenant Ways page and the book: Love Revolution: Rediscovering the Lost Command of Jesus by Gaylord Enns. <Notes> a) 1 Thessalonians 3:6, 5:8; 1 Timothy 1:14, 2:15, 6:11; 2 Timothy 1:13; 2 Timothy 2:22; Revelation 2:19, b) katecheo: Luke 1:4; Galatians 6:6; 1 Corinthians 14:19; Acts 18:25 – see Teach One Another.
Paul also tells us how to test prophecy or anything people teach.
When the apostle Paul was challenged about what he said was from God, he didn’t tell Christians to examine the scriptures (a) but to call the prophets and other Spirit-kind-of people (b) to confirm God’s message from Paul. In 1 Corinthians 14:37 he says: “If anyone actually, ongoingly supposes (c) that he is presently a prophet or a Spirit-kind-of [person], I strongly urge that he genuinely, experientially, relationally epiginosko know that the [plural] things I am actually, presently writing to you are an officially-decreed [singular] entole commandment of the Lord.” We know from extensive study of entole in the NT under the New Covenant that the only [singular] entole commandment of the Lord Jesus is “that you unconditionally-love one another as I have unconditionally-loved you.” (d). That’s exactly the point of 1 Corinthians 12-14 – that in using Christ’s grace-gifts by the Spirit, received by trusting-relying-faith, they were to “unconditionally-love one another” in building up the Body through Body-of-Christ ministry. <Notes> a) Acts 17:11 was addressed to doubting Jews, b) pneumatikos adjective of pneuma “Spirit”, c) forms an opinion, d) John 13:34, 15:12; 1 John 3:23 – see Only 2 Commandments.
All the many plural “things” Paul talks about revolve around the completely different-in-kind “new commandment” of Jesus. Paul didn’t even have them refer to any other of his previous writings to churches as so many Christians would have you do today! A lot of Jews and Christians argued with Paul, but that was the simple ‘test’ Paul gave them. Consult the other prophets! That sounds like something they would do in some charismatic churches today, at least those not being dictated to by the pastor!
Paul explains his reasoning in 1 Corinthians 2:6-15 “Among the mature (a) we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age . . . but we impart a mystery, already, with hidden [wisdom] with ongoing results, which God ordained before the world toward/reaching our [present] glory, yet absolutely not in fact one of the rulers of this age understood, . . . for unto us God has revealed [them] thru-the-realizing-channel-of (b) the Spirit . . . now we already have actually not absolutely in fact received the ‘spirit’ of the world, but instead the Spirit out from God, in order that we might already have, with ongoing results, mentally ‘seen’ to perceive/know (c) the things freely having been given to us by God. And we impart this absolutely not in fact by teachings of human wisdom but in/by/with teachings of the Spirit, routinely interpreting (d) Spirit-kind-of [neuter: things] in/by/with Spirit-kind-of [things]. The natural man (masculine) does not absolutely in fact actually, ongoingly take ahold of [by the hand] the things [neuter: or people] of the Spirit of God for they actually, ongoingly are foolishness to him (masculine) and/coupled he (masculine) is absolutely in fact not actually, ongoingly having enabling-power to experientially, relationally ginosko know them because they are actually, ongoingly Spirit-kind-of (neuter) judged/critiqued-within (e). Moreover, the Spirit-kind-of [neuter: things or people] actually, ongoingly judges/critiques-within truly every-of-a-kind-of (f) [neuter: things or people], but is to be ongoing judged/critiqued-within under no one (masculine).” Notice the careful use of gender and pronouns! Natural men (masculine) can’t judge Spirit-kind-of things (neuter)! <Notes> a) teleios: “consummated or mature from going through the necessary stages to reach the end-goal, thus developed into a consummating completion by fulfilling the necessary process or spiritual journey,” certainly not little children, b) dia, c) eido, d) sugkrino: ‘judge/critique with’ other things: comparing, contrasting, and combining, e) anakrino: to judge/distinguish vigorously ‘down to up’ by closely, even forensically, examining, investigating, or interrogating, thus careful study or evaluation, f) pas: every of a kind of, not the whole of.
In other words, Paul is saying that if you aren’t a Spirit-kind-of (neuter) person (‘we’ and ‘us’) but a natural man (masculine), then don’t even bother trying to judge/critique-within/discern Paul’s teaching (or ‘ours’), because you have no clue what you are talking about! But if you are a Spirit-kind-of person like he and those he is writing to are, then Paul “is all ears” to your judgement/critique, because as this applies: “iron sharpens iron as one man sharpens another” (a). Clay doesn’t sharpen iron, so how can what a person in the “might and power” of the natural man’s “flesh” be able to “judge/critique-within/discern” or “interpret” what is said “by the Spirit” that dwells in a Spirit-kind-of person? <Notes> a) Proverbs 27:17.
The wisdom of God that the Holy Spirit teaches is absolutely not accomplished through bible study, but routinely judging/critiquing the other things of the Spirit, which is only validly done by interpreting (a) the things of the Spirit with/against the things of the Spirit. And in context, this is Paul’s words by the Spirit judged by other words by the Spirit from other people of the Spirit, like himself. No judgment by the ignorant or outsiders (b) is valid! These [neuter] “things” sure are not from sacred gramma writings collected into scripture, where graphe is in the femine gender, which I don’t think Paul overlooked! <Notes> a) comparing, contrasting, and combining with other things, b) agnoeo ‘not knowing’: 1 Corinthians 10:1, 12:1, 14:38.
As Christian musicians, we can’t fall into the trap of improperly judging prophecy from Christians that are 100% on fire for Jesus, the Son of Man and Son of God, on fire for His logos gospel message of The Truth, who are constantly “confessing” and “guarding to keep” the only 2 NT commandments of trusting-relying-faith and unconditional-love, criticizing them as if these Christian prophets were unbelievers or Jewish-teachers of the Law or Spanish Inquisition torturers! These were the ones with the evil ‘spirit’ problem! Yet, I’ve seen so many Christians and churches say they “couldn’t find it in the bible” so they must be false prophets! Most of what the NT writers preached and taught wasn’t at all in the OT, and what was in many cases was only a “shadow or copy of things still to come” (a). How much does a “shadow” look like “the substance or reality” casting the “shadow?” That’s why most of the NT is completely-different-in-kind, the very definition of “new” (b). We need to “earnestly desire that everybody prophesy” (c), draw even more attention to prophecy through “investigation” and “weighing in” (d) – not quench it through inappropriate criticism (e). And let’s stop perpetuating that “wind of doctrine” that “all prophecy is to be tested against scripture.” The NT doesn’t teach this! Paul called for the “prophets and Spirit-kind-of people to acknowledge the things I am writing to you” and NT Spirit-kind-of people found consensus for “it has seemed good the Holy Spirit and to us” (f). They didn’t do a bible-study! <Notes> a) Colossians 2:17; Hebrews 8:5, 9:23, 10:1; 1 Peter 3:21, b) chadash, kainos: fresh, completely different-in-kind, unprecedented, sharing nothing with its predecessors, unique, and superior, c) 1 Corinthians 14:1, 39, d) 1 Corinthians 14:29, e) 1 Thessalonians 5:19, f) 1 Corinthians 14:37; Acts 15:28.
As Christian musicians, what has your experience been with “testing/examining prophecy” – positive or negative, help or hindrance?