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By Pastor I.O.Odewale

‘And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free’ – Jn.8:32

To know Jesus is to know the truth because He is the personification of the Truth. He Himself told His disciples: ‘I am the way, the truth and the life’ He came to the world to tell us the truth, show us the truth and to set us free from ignorance and the deceit of the devil. You may ask, why? It is because he wanted to reconcile us to God so that we may be saved from internal judgement for our sins. When Jesus departed this world He deposited the truth in His holy church and this is why Apostle Paul describes the church of the Living God as the pillar and ground of the truth (1.Tim.3:15). Take note: Paul is talking about the universal church here. Any local church that qualifies to be called the church of the Living God should be the pillar and ground of the truth. This clarification is necessary because not every local church we see on the street is the church of the Living God. There are visible churches of Satan and the synagogues of the devil in our midst today
Before the coming of Jesus Christ into the world ancient philosophers like Plato, Aristotle, Socrates and others spent much of their time debating on what is truth. The result of their works has influenced our modern thinking that dismisses the existence of an absolute truth and upholds that all truths are relative. Just like Shakespeare averred; ‘nothing is good or bad, thinking makes it so.’ But Jesus came to tell us the absolute truth about God, about the world, about heaven, about Himself, about man and his destiny.

In this and the following messages we shall discuss topical issues that will deepen our knowledge of the truth of the bible.

In today’s message we shall take time to examine the phenomenon of prophecy in the church. Other words used in connection with prophecy are soothsaying and divination. The last two are often associated with demonic powers. This is why God told Moses that no soothsayers or diviners should be found among the Children of Israel or the people of God (Dt.18:14).
Prophecy is the telling of future events through revelation from God. However, we need to know that every prophecy must conform to the pattern we find in the bible and it must be in line with the word of God. This is because all the revelations of God are contained in the book God has given us which is the bible. God who knows the end from the beginning has spoken about our situations, circumstances and things that could happen to man right from creation to eternity. Thus, the bible could say, ‘Forever, O Lord, Your word is settled in heaven.’ (Ps.119:89). The greatest Prophet, the Lord Jesus, has spoken and revealed the mind of God to the world and especially to those who care to know and follow Him.

Judging from what we have in the Old Testament, prophecy is meant to teach the testimonies of God, encourage the people of God to keep His commands, correct or warn them of the consequences of sin and call people to repentance whenever they sin. All the major and minor prophets of the Old Testament from Isaiah to Malachi follow this trend in their prophecies. We find them moving from place to place declaring the word of God to people. There were occasions when God might ask a prophet to go and pronounce judgement on a nation or an individual for their sins but if they repented He might forgive them like in the case of Nineveh when God sent Jonah to this city of the Assyrians. However, there were some prophets like Samuel who were called seers who people used to approach to give them God’s direction on personal matters like when Saul approached Samuel about his father’s missing donkeys (1 Sam.9:18-20; 10:1-10).

Apostle Paul wrote about prophecy as a spiritual gift. He told the Corinthians that anyone who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men (1 Cor.14:3). This should be the role of prophecy in this our New Testament era. It must be aimed at edification and exhortation and comfort to men.

To edify means to lift up in the faith, to benefit spiritually and to improve morally.
To exhort is to encourage and to admonish earnestly.
But this is not the type of prophesy we come across today in many of the so-called evangelical and charismatic churches. Most of the prophecies that are given are far from edifying or encouraging.
In what ways can a prophecy that speaks of imminent death or sickness or accident or attack by witches and wizards edify or exhort an individual member of that church?
But this is the kind of prophecies that is forced down the throats of ‘prophecy-mongers’ among us.
At the beginning of every New Year, the pages of both local and national newspapers are full of such sickening prophecies that do nothing but send fear in the minds of the people.

Examine all personal prophecies in the bible from Genesis to Revelation you will discover that there is not one that does not exhort or edify except when God sent judgement for a sin committed.
Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians: ‘Brethren, do not be children in understanding………….but be mature’ (1 Cor.14:20). We should no more be babes but mature men and women in the Lord.

The truth is absent in a church where visions of death and accidents are bandied or where fear or suspicion is instilled in the minds of people.
A prophet who claims to know everything about you and your future must be receiving inspiration from or working in close union with demons and fallen angels.

God deals with individuals on ‘one-to-one’ basis and He is not under obligation to disclose the secrets of your life to anyone else.
There could be times when God may reveal a sin in the life of another person to one of His servants for the purpose of interceding for him or warning him or bringing him to repentance as in the case of King David when God sent Nathan to him to confront him when he committed adultery with Bathsheba the wife of Uriah (2 Sam.12:1-15).
However, the prophecy from God must come to a hundred percent fulfilment, failing which the prophecy is not from God (Dt.18:21-22).

There are many false prophets, soothsayers and diviners in the church today.
They feed on the ignorance of people to deceive them and put them under their control. This is nothing short of witchcraft in the church.
What sorts of people fall victims to these agents of the devil?
They are men and women who are not sure of their relationship with God or who don’t know their position in Christ.
By position, we are children of God and we have access to our Father through the blood that was shed and through the name of Jesus Christ.

We have been raised up together, and made to sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus (Eph.2:6) and Jesus has promised to be with us always, even to the end of the age (Mt.28:20).
If you have faith in God and in His promises for you, you will know that His protection for you is sure and His thoughts for you are the thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope (Jer.29:11)
When you have surrendered your life to God and you are walking in His counsel, you can always hear from Him because you are already a prophet of God.

God in His mercy has instituted special ways of speaking to His children. First of all, He speaks to us through His word. As you read and meditate on His word, a verse of the bible could fly off from the page you are reading to engage your attention. This could be God speaking to you about something, or an answer to a problem that has worried your mind or could be a new direction that God is giving you. The Spirit will anoint it to your heart and you will know clearly that it is God speaking to you (Jn. 16:13).

He speaks to us through the word of wisdom (1 Cor.12:8). This is a Spiritual gift from God. It operates in a situation when a crucial decision has to be made in a time of stress or difficult problem. God may send a revelation through a servant as was the case when King Hezekiah was besieged by a powerful confederation of his foes. As he was praying with his people about the crisis, God gave him direction through Jahaziel on whom the Spirit of God fell (2 Chr.20:14-18).
God also speaks to His children through the word of knowledge (1 Cor.12:8). An example can be found in 2 kings 6:8-12 where Prophet Elisha told the king of Israel the movements of the Syrian army that was engaged in war with Israel.
He also speaks through the advice of His anointed servants; through visions and dreams. But in all cases all these must be in line with the word of God. The word of God is the yardstick with which we measure the truth of God.

From all these we can know indeed that we are our own prophets and we don’t need to run after any so-called prophets we are not sure of.
When we realise that our life and our future are in the hands of God who loves us and who is able to guide and protect us, why do we worry about what lies ahead of us? As long as we believe in the faithfulness of our loving Father God we can trust Him to see us through our lives. God says, ‘Say to the righteous, it shall be well with him (Isa.3:10). As long as we are in Christ, it will be well with us.

We should trust in His promises to us because He is a God who does not lie and can deliver what He promises (Num.23:19; Isa. 55:10-12; 2 Cor.1:20).

Why some of us may not hear from Him is because of our pre-occupation with worldly things and our insensitiveness to the Spirit of God. Let us walk closely with Him, obey Him and be completely surrendered to Him. Let us study his word to know more of Him. Our knowledge of Him will shield us from believing false prophecies and from following false prophets.
If anyone invites you to a church that specialises in soothsaying and divination, REJECT the invitation.

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