“Therefore do not listen to your prophets…” (Jer 27:9).
“Therefore do not listen to the words of the prophets…” (Jer 23:16; 27:14, 16).
“Do not listen to them” (Jer 27:17).
Did you know that God sometimes told Israel not to listen to her prophets? During the last days of Israel in the land before seventy years in exile in Babylon, nearly all the prophets of Israel were saying that the nation would not serve Nebuchadnezzar, king of the Babylonians.
But God sent Jeremiah to say that Israel would be in bondage in Babylon. In fact, he told Zedekiah king of Judah, “‘Bring your necks under the yoke of the king of Babylon, and serve him and his people, and live! Why will you die, you and your people, by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence, as the Lord has spoken against the nation that will not serve the king of Babylon? Therefore, do not listen to the words of the prophets who speak to you saying, “You shall not serve the king of Babylon,” for they prophesy a lie to you; for I have not sent them, says the Lord’” (Jer 27:12-15).
There are many examples in Scripture where people were not to listen to those who are speaking to them in the name of the Lord.
Remember the case where the young prophet of God was sent to Samaria to give a message to king Jeroboam? Jeroboam offered him food and reward. But he said, “For so it was commanded me by the word of the LORD, saying, ‘You shall not eat bread, nor drink water, nor return by the same way you came.’ So he went another way and did not return by the way he came to Bethel” (1 Kings 13:9–10). But as he was leaving, an old prophet came and said, “Come home with me and eat bread” (1 Kings 13:15). The young prophet repeated his charge not to eat or drink there, but to return by a different way. The old prophet answered, “I too am a prophet, as you are. And an angel said to me by the word of the LORD: ‘Bring him back with you to your house so that he may eat bread and drink water.’ (But he was lying to him.)” (1 Kings 13:18). 1 Kings 13:19 reports, “So he went back with him, and ate bread in his house, and drank water.” At that point the old prophet said that he would die as a result of disobeying the word of the Lord (1 Kings 13:20-22). When he left for his journey back, he was killed by a lion.
Paul told the believers at the churches of Galatia not to listen to the false teachers who were preaching a false gospel to them (see esp. Gal 1:6-9).
At the Jerusalem Council there were men proclaiming that same works salvation message (see Acts 15:1).
Let’s apply this “do not listen” message to our situation today. I do not believe that the prophetic gift has been in operation since the time of the Apostles. If I’m right, then there are no prophets today.
However, we do have preachers and teachers and commentators and theologians. Messages are available not only in local churches, but also on radio, TV, the internet, books, conferences, and schools.
At the Judgment Seat of Christ (or the Great White Throne Judgment for those who never came to faith in Christ for everlasting life), no one will be able to hide behind his denomination, his preacher, his favorite Bible teacher, his tradition, or any other influence in his life. We are responsible to discern truth from error.
Let me give you some examples of popular messages being given by most Evangelical preachers and teachers which you should not listen to:
- Saving faith is not simply understanding and accepting the promise of life the Lord Jesus made.
- Saving faith is a resolve to turn from all our sins and a resolve to begin obeying the Lord Jesus Christ.
- If you do not persevere in faith and good works, then you will end up in the lake of fire.
- God does not know the future. He makes predictions about the future, but those are just educated guesses.
- The Gospel writers operated under a lower view of historiography than we do today. They sometimes put words in Jesus’ mouth and sometimes changed the meaning of what He said. But that would not have been an error in their day. Therefore, the Bible is without error even though some of what Jesus is reported to have said He did not say.
- Women can be elders in local churches.
- God is fine with homosexuality—after all, He created some people that way—as long as it is not promiscuous.
- Contemplative spirituality (a.k.a. spiritual formation) is a wonderful way to grow in your love for Christ.
- Your assurance of your eternal salvation is based on three factors: the promises in the Bible to the believer, the good works the Holy Spirit produces in our lives, and the inner witness of the Holy Spirit. All three are necessary to have some level of assurance.
I could go on. The point is clear. “Don’t listen to the words of your prophets” is a much-needed message today. The fact that Doctor Goodguy has a doctorate in New Testament from an Ivy League school and is a wonderful husband and father and an excellent speaker does not mean that you should listen to him. If he is preaching error, you should not listen to him.
I read and hear lots of people who are proclaiming a false saving message. But I do not listen. That is, I hear, but reject, what they say. Part of my ministry is to warn people about false teachings. However, I do not recommend that most believers even hear this stuff. Unless you are very well grounded, you run the risk of being duped.
We at GES are in the minority. Indeed, we are part of a very tiny minority within Evangelicalism. I doubt that over 2% of Evangelicals would identify as Free Grace.
However, the majority is rarely right, especially when it comes to God’s Word.
Do not listen to the consensus theology of our day. Go against the tide of popular opinion. Listen to God. You are responsible to discern truth from error. We write this blog to help you do just that.