Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The False Prophet's Message

Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it (Matthew 7:13-14).

Since it was Jesus the Son of God, the True Prophet, who told us that the true gospel was the narrow gate and the narrow way that leads to life then it is of necessity that all true prophets preach the narrow gate and the narrow way and that all false prophets preach the wide gate and broad way that leads to death. Simply put, this means that in the false prophet’s message there is no narrow gate and no narrow way. The false prophet preaches a wide gate (easy salvation) and a broad way (easy discipleship).

The false prophet’s message is one of a wide gate easy salvation. With the false prophet you can respond to Jesus without genuine repentance. With the false prophet you can be saved and still be your own lord doing your own thing. The false prophet’s message seeks to improve the “old-self” instead of crucifying the “old-self”.

Here is where the false prophet tricks people. He claims to be preaching the narrow gate because he is preaching Jesus Christ as the only name under heaven given whereby we must be saved (Acts 4:12). But in all honesty, he is preaching another Jesus, not the Jesus of Scripture. He is preaching a Jesus that will save you and allow you to be the lord of your own life or else he is preaching a Jesus that will be your Lord and let you be your own savior. He may even use the terms, “Jesus is Lord and Savior” but he is certain that you can be saved without having to die to sin and self.

The false prophet preaches an easy salvation of just turning to the Lord without turning from sin and forsaking all idols. Jesus Christ knew nothing of saving someone who was unwilling to turn from self and sin. “And someone came to Him and said, ‘Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may obtain eternal life?’ “And He said to him, ‘Why are you asking Me about what is good? There is only One who is good; but if you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.’ Then he said to Him, ‘Which ones?’ And Jesus said, ‘You shall not commit murder; you shall not commit adultery; you shall not steal; you shall not bear false witness; honor your father and mother; and you shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ The young man said to Him, ‘All these things I have kept; what am I still lacking?’ Jesus said to him, ‘If you wish to become complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come follow Me.’ But when the young man heard this statement, he went away grieving; for he was one who owned much property” (Matthew 19:16-22).

Jesus would not let the rich young man be saved and still hold onto his god of gold (riches). The narrow gate requires death to self and sin in order to enter and the person who dies holds on to nothing. Today’s false prophet would have said to this young man, “Just add Jesus to your life and you can enter in.” He would have told him, “The gate is wide enough that you can bring your love of self and your love of money and your love of pleasure right on in."

The false prophet offers turning to Jesus without turning from sin. That is a false repentance that will not save. True salvation requires the forsaking of self and sin and idolatry. The false prophet’s repentance isn’t actually repentance but instead is response without repentance. His is an easy salvation through a wide gate.

The apostle Paul knew nothing of an easy salvation. He knew that true salvation meant coming through the narrow gate with true repentance. He told the Thessalonian believers that they had “turned to God from idols” to serve a living and true God. The false prophet’s message is a wide gate false gospel that says turn to God but fails to mention turning from idols. In essence, the false prophet’s message says that you can be saved and still have your sin and still have control of your life. There is no narrow gate in the false prophet’s message although there appears to be one because he offers a counterfeit and false repentance that turns someone to God without demanding the death of self and sin.

If you will listen closely you will discover that the majority of today’s evangelism is of the wide gate false gospel variety that leads to destruction and perpetuates the apostasy that the Bible says must take place before the Lord returns.

Not only is there no narrow gate in the false prophet’s preaching, there is also no narrow way in the false prophet’s preaching. The false prophet offers a wide gate easy salvation and a broad way easy discipleship. The false prophet will not dwell on or deal with the hard and negative teachings of Scripture. The false prophet only preaches partial truths – the ones that make people feel good or comfortable. He will not proclaim the whole counsel of God.

The false prophet is never persecuted for his preaching. He has a comfortable and comforting message which is not offensive to the natural man and is especially not offensive to deceived religious people. The false prophet is praised by just about everybody. The false prophet is all things to all men in the sense that he makes it “easy” for people to enter and easy for people to follow because in his preaching there is no narrow gate and no narrow way. The false prophet preaches without the offense of the cross. He preaches comforting self-help messages. In his book, An Exposition of the Sermon on the Mount, Arthur Pink (1886-1952) said about false prophets, “There is nothing in their preaching which searches the conscience and renders the empty professor uneasy, nothing which humbles and causes their hearers to mourn before God; but rather that which puffs up, makes them pleased with themselves and to rest content in a false assurance” (Arthur W. Pink, An Exposition of the Sermon on the Mount (Baker Book House: Grand Rapids, Michigan) 1959 [First printing 1950]).

The false prophet preaches about good things that are non-confrontational and non-threatening while leaving out that best things that are at the top of God’s priority list for His people. The false prophet is interested in getting large crowds through the wide gate and not in growing loyal Christians. He is interested in people's happiness and not their holiness; he is interested in people's pleasure and not their purity; he is interested in quantity and not quality and therefore he omits major parts of God’s Word.

The Bible says that the false prophet’s message never disturbs and never makes you feel uncomfortable – that it is a message of comfort and hope and not a message of conviction and holiness. The Bible makes it plain that in the last days – during the age of apostasy – people will desire the preaching and teaching of the false prophet and the true prophet will not be liked but will be looking for a place to preach. “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths” (2 Timothy 4:3-4).

False believers don’t like true preaching that has sound doctrine that disturbs. Instead of enduring sound doctrine, the so-called believers in the last days (which we are in) will heap to themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires who will “tickle” their ears. This is exactly what happened in the Old Testament too and we are told in the New Testament to look at the false prophets of the Old Testament because New Testament false prophets will be the same type as the Old Testament false prophets, preaching the same kind of messages. “But false prophets also arose among the people (the Israelites of the Old Testament), just as there will also be false teachers among you (2 Peter 2:1).

So, what were they like? This is how they are described:

They were preachers of comforting messages – “They have lied about the Lord and said, ‘Not He; misfortune will not come on us, and we will not see sword or famine’” (Jeremiah 5:12). They were no different from the lying false prophets today who only preach comforting messages and never deal with the depravity of man, the sin of God's people, and the wrath of God against all unrighteousness.

They were preachers of superficial healing – “They have healed the brokenness of My people superficially, saying, ‘Peace, peace,’ but there is no peace” (Jeremiah 6:14). They put band-aids on cancer. They deal with the fruit but never the root.

They were preachers who preached the kind of messages people like – “An appalling and horrible thing has happened in the land; the prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests rule on their own authority; and My people love it so! But what will you do at the end of it?” (Jeremiah 5:30-31). They tickled people’s ears.

They were preachers who preached without any disturbing doctrines – “For this is a rebellious people, false sons, sons who refuse to listen to the instruction of the Lord; who say to the seers, ‘You must not see visions’; and to the prophets, ‘You must not prophesy to us what is right, speak to us pleasant words, prophesy illusions. Get out of the way, turn aside from the path, let us hear no more about the Holy One of Israel’” (Isaiah 30:9-11). They preached on the love of God but not the wrath of God. They preached on God’s mercy but not His justice.

They were preachers who preached response without repentance – “They keep saying to those who despise Me, ‘The Lord has said, “You will have peace”’ and as for everyone who walks in the stubbornness of his own heart, they say, ‘Calamity will not come upon you’” (Jeremiah 23:17). “I did not send these prophets, but they ran. I did not speak to them, but they prophesied. But if they had stood in My council, then they would have announced My words to My people, and would have turned them back from their evil way and from their evil deeds”” (Jeremiah 23:21-22).

The false prophet’s message is one of easy salvation (no narrow gate but a wide gate) and easy discipleship (no narrow way but a broad way).

1 comment:

Heath said...

Great message. That hits right on with our generation today and needs to be preached. It also convicted me while reading it. Thanks!