Copyright 1994 - 2023 Bill's Bible Basics
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Published On :
April 4, 1998
Last Updated :
January 22, 2023
Divinely-Inspired Dreams Versus Our Wicked Imagination And Satanic Nightmares, Our Wicked Heart, Discovering God's Will For Our Lives, Spirit Of Exclusivity Is The Product Of Pride And Vanity, Our Divided Faith, Self-Proclaimed Promoters Of The Whole Truth, Ellen G. White And Seventh Day Adventists, Animosity Between Roman Catholic Church And The Adventists, Sabbath Keepers And Keeping The Whole Law, Lift Up Jesus And Not Ourselves Or Our Church, Glory In The Lord, Reluctance Of The Prophets To Accept Their Calling, Moses Complained He Was Slow Of Speech, Gideon Was Skeptical And Asked God To Give Him A Sign, An Angel And Gideon's Idol-Smashing Test, Test Of The Fleece, Beware Of False Manifestations And False Angels Of Light, Jeremiah Worried That He Was Too Young To Be One Of God's Prophets, The Only Credentials You Need, Jonah Tries To Flee From God's Will For His Life, Saul Of Tarsus Is Knocked From His Horse And Blinded, Convinced By Indisputable Signs, Humble Servants Of The Lord, Apostle Paul's Humility, Beware Of False Prophets Who Entice You With Mysteries Secrets And Conspiracies, Being A Chosen Prophet Of God Was Not A Popular Job, Prophet Jeremiah's Sufferings, Murderers Of The Prophets Misguided False Self-Aggrandizing Prophets Of Our Modern Day
One thing I would like to point out to my readers is that John's conclusions were based upon certain dreams he had. As I explain in the article entitled "What is God's Will for My Life?", dreams are indeed one way to discover God's Will for our lives. This is confirmed for us in the Book of Job, for example, where we find the following verses:
"For God speaketh once, yea twice, yet man perceiveth it not. In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falleth upon men, in slumberings upon the bed; Then he openeth the ears of men, and sealeth their instruction, That he may withdraw man from his purpose, and hide pride from man."
Job 33:14-17, KJV
While dreams are in fact one way in which we can determine the Will of God for our lives, they are definitely not the only way. Furthermore, our dreams are not always trustworthy either. The truth of the matter is that it is very easy for our evil imagination to give us dreams which we may believe are of the Lord, when in fact they are really not. Certain dreams can even be horrible nightmares which are inspired by Satan himself. Thank God that we don't experience the latter all that often. Let me remind you of the true condition of our human nature by way of the following verses:
"And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually."
Genesis 6:5, KJV
"The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?"
Jeremiah 17:9, KJV
"And he said, That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: All these evil things come from within, and defile the man."
Mark 7:20-23, KJV
The previous verses are an excellent response for people who embrace the attitude "I'm okay, you're okay", and who deny the reality of sin. The Lord knows our weak human condition. He is fully aware of the evil temptations to which we can so easily succumb, if we are not careful. He likewise knows how Satan tends to operate as well. It is for this reason that in the Scriptures, we find a variety of methods which we can use as we endeavor to confirm the Will of God for our lives. By utilizing these different methods as a system of checks and balances, we can more clearly determine and confirm exactly what God's Will is, or isn't. To better understand this issue, allow me to again encourage you to read the article entitled "What is God's Will for My Life?".
As I stated earlier, for anyone to suggest that they, their church, or their organization is the only entity on Earth which preaches the full truth of God's Word, is a deception which is born of both pride and vanity. It is the spirit of exclusivity. Sadly, this evil spiritual disease has plagued the world of Christianity from one end to the other. Satan must no doubt be patting himself on the back, and laughing with glee, as a result of the division which he has caused within our faith. At this current time, there are so many churches and denominations, self-proclaimed "prophets", and other organizations which foolishly boast that they alone preach the truth, that it is a real tragedy. One can find these deceivers everywhere; not just in the church system, but online as well. I encounter them all the time, and I endeavor to keep them at arm's length.
The Roman Catholic Church does it; the Jehovah's Witnesses certainly do it; the legalistic Seventh Day Adventists are guilty of doing it; the Worldwide Church of God has done it; and I can't begin to imagine how many other churches, cults, organizations and individuals likewise erroneously claim to hold a monopoly on the truth. I will be discussing a few of these as we continue this series. For those of you who may possibly object to my mention of the Seventh Day Adventists, allow me to share with you a few quotes from the writings of Ellen G. White, who is recognized by many members of the SDA church as their founder and "prophetess":
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"There is but one church in the world who are at the present time standing in the breach, and making up the hedge, building up the old waste places . . . God is leading out a people. He has a chosen people, a church on the earth, whom He has made the depositaries of His law. He has committed to them sacred trust and eternal truth to be given to the world."
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Make no mistake. Ellen G. White is referring to the Seventh Day Adventist church. How ironic that while we have all long heard that the Roman Catholic Church is supposedly the "Holy Mother Church", and the "one true faith", there are clearly other churches which likewise make the very same claim. The fact of the matter is that the Roman Catholic Church and the Seventh Day Adventists have been at odds with each other for many years now, as is quite evident in SDA literature. Not only that, but Seventh Day Adventists are convinced that the Roman Catholic pope is the Antichrist, and that changing the day of worship from Saturday to Sunday represents the Mark of the Beast. Quite frankly, I disagree with both positions.
Personally, I have had my share of run-ins with the Seventh Day Adventists on my Facebook page, due to their legalism, and their insistence that Christians are obligated to keep the Sabbath. In fact, some time ago, I wrote an article which addresses this issue called "Are Christians Obligated to Keep the Sabbath?". Recently, while approving new friend requests on my Facebook page, I came across one timeline where it was stated that rather than cower under the criticism that they receive as a result of their supposed strict adherence to the laws of the Old Testament -- in particular, their observance of the Sabbath -- Seventh Day Adventists should be proud of the same, and proud of the fact that they uphold God's Laws, while other Christians do not. I have but one thing to say to any Seventh Day Adventists who may be reading this series:
"For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all."
James 2:10, KJV
Thank God for the freedom, Grace, Mercy, Righteousness, and Salvation, which we can all find through our faith in Jesus Christ -- without the works of the Law -- as otherwise, we would all surely be hopelessly lost. At any rate, this proud spirit of exclusivity, and foolishly placing ourselves on a pedestal, is in direct contradiction to the Scriptures which clearly inform us to uplift the Lord, as opposed to elevating ourselves, our particular church, or our organization. This truth is made rather evident by verses such as the following where we are clearly admonished to glorify the Lord, and to not seek glory for ourselves:
"But he that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord. For not he that commendeth himself is approved, but whom the Lord commendeth . . . Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God."
1 Corinthians 10:17-18, 31, KJV
"For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake."
2 Corinthians 4:5, KJV
"But he that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord."
2 Corinthians 10:17, KJV
Please notice who is the Lord, and who is the servant in the previous verses. If that isn't clear enough for you, consider also how Jesus referred to His own Disciples in relation to Himself in the following verses:
"Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him."
John 13:16, KJV
"Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also."
John 15:20, KJV
Thus we see that we are not supposed to uplift ourselves by any means. Rather, we are supposed to glorify the Lord, and promote His wonderful Word as well. Returning to our earlier discussion, by proclaiming himself the Endtime Elijah, Mark John Allen did the exact opposite; just like his own mentor Herbert W. Armstrong, and so many other servants of the Lord. Quite frankly, as I mention in the article "The Office of Prophets and Teachers", I have never known any true Prophet of God in the Bible who ever really wanted the job for which God had chosen him. It is for this reason that in my articles, as well as on my Facebook page, I frequently express my concern regarding how many people now refer to themselves as Apostles, Prophets and Prophetesses. I find such proud boasts both foolish, and dangerous at the same time. These deceivers are leading God's people astray; and one of these days they will have to face the music as a result of their actions, unless they repent.
Turning to the Scriptures, Moses did his very best to try to get out of His calling from the Lord. He told the Lord that he was slow of speech, and that no one would listen to him or believe him. He basically said "Lord, send whomsoever you will, just please don't send me! Find yourself another man!" Consider these verses that are found in the Book of Exodus:
"And Moses answered and said, But, behold, they will not believe me, nor hearken unto my voice: for they will say, The LORD hath not appeared unto thee . . . And Moses said unto the LORD, O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since thou hast spoken unto thy servant: but I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue . . . And he said, O my Lord, send, I pray thee, by the hand of him whom thou wilt send."
Exodus 4:1, 10, 13, KJV
As you may recall, it was not until the Lord had displayed His Power by turning Moses' shepherd's staff into a serpent, and by turning his hand leprous, that Moses finally got the point that this was serious business, and that he had to do the Lord's bidding, regardless of the consequences. As we all know, as a result of his obedience, God used Moses in a very great way to liberate the Israelites from slavery in Egypt, and then to lead them to the Promised Land of Canaan. However, Moses had to take that first step of faith in spite of his own personal feelings of inadequacy.
When the Lord called Gideon to fight against the Midianites, Gideon was very skeptical of the entire situation. Just as Moses had reacted by voicing his doubts, Gideon likewise was full of excuses, and had a very difficult time believing the message of his Angelic Visitor. Gideon basically said, "Look, if God is with us Israelites, where are all of the miracles our fathers told us about? I am just a poor man. What do you want with me? Not only that, but I am the youngest man in my father's house. You are going to have to give me some mighty signs if you really expect me to believe that God has chosen me to deliver my brethren from the Midianite army." Consider these verses:
"And Gideon said unto him, Oh my Lord, if the LORD be with us, why then is all this befallen us? and where be all his miracles which our fathers told us of, saying, Did not the LORD bring us up from Egypt? but now the LORD hath forsaken us, and delivered us into the hands of the Midianites . . . And he said unto him, Oh my Lord, wherewith shall I save Israel? behold, my family is poor in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father's house . . . And he said unto him, If now I have found grace in thy sight, then shew me a sign that thou talkest with me."
Judges 6:13, 15, 17, KJV
As you may know, it was not until after the Lord's Angel had demonstrated some amazing pyrotechnic wonders, by causing a flame to materialize out of nowhere, and completely burn up Gideon's offering, that Gideon was shocked into realizing that this being was truly an Angel of the Lord, who had come to deliver an important message to him, by the direct order of the Almighty Himself. Notice Gideon's change in attitude in the following verse:
"And when Gideon perceived that he was an angel of the LORD, Gideon said, Alas, O Lord GOD! for because I have seen an angel of the LORD face to face."
Judges 6:22, KJV
Despite the fact that Gideon had begun to take the situation more seriously, the Lord was not quite through testing him just yet. The Lord wanted to make sure that Gideon was truly the right man for the job that he would soon undertake. Thus, He asked Gideon to do something extremely radical. The best example I can think of, would be if the Lord were to ask you to go down to your local Catholic church, and knock over and destroy their beautiful idol of Mary, and the pretty garden that surrounds it. Following is the test which the Lord put before Gideon:
"And it came to pass the same night, that the LORD said unto him, Take thy father's young bullock, even the second bullock of seven years old, and throw down the altar of Baal that thy father hath, and cut down the grove that is by it:"
Judges 6:25, KJV
Following the incident with the Angel and the burning altar, Gideon realized that he had better do exactly as he had been instructed to; even if it turned the town folks against him; which it obviously did. However, God was with Gideon. Thus, He used Gideon's own father to protect him. Nevertheless, in spite of the Divine Wonders he had already witnessed, dear Gideon still doubted in his heart that God had called him to deliver his brethren out of the hands of the Midianites. Thus we enter the story of Gideon's fleece. To keep this account brief, I am just going to quote the verses where Gideon tests the Lord twice concerning this incident:
"And Gideon said unto God, If thou wilt save Israel by mine hand, as thou hast said, Behold, I will put a fleece of wool in the floor; and if the dew be on the fleece only, and it be dry upon all the earth beside, then shall I know that thou wilt save Israel by mine hand, as thou hast said. And it was so: for he rose up early on the morrow, and thrust the fleece together, and wrung the dew out of the fleece, a bowl full of water. And Gideon said unto God, Let not thine anger be hot against me, and I will speak but this once: let me prove, I pray thee, but this once with the fleece; let it now be dry only upon the fleece, and upon all the ground let there be dew. And God did so that night: for it was dry upon the fleece only, and there was dew on all the ground."
Judges 6:36-40, KJV
It was after the Lord had performed these two signs with the fleece for him, that Gideon finally became convinced that God was really going to use him to defeat the powerful Midianite army. While God did indeed perform such miracles in the Bible in order to instill faith in some of His servants, this does not mean that we should just blindly accept when some people today claim to have received similar signs from God as well. This is because there are some individuals who are so full of pride and self-imposed delusion, and so eager to be somebody special, and somebody spiritual, that they will believe just about anything in order to support their false claims. They will see what they want to see, and claim that it is a sign from God, when perhaps it really isn't. It may just be their own wicked heart, or it could be a false manifestation from Satan himself. Let us not forget that Satan can indeed appear as an "angel of light", as can those people who are in league with him, as we can determine by the following verses:
"For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works."
2 Corinthians 11:13-15, KJV
"Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!"
Isaiah 5:20, KJV
Turning to another Scriptural example of reluctance being demonstrated by one of God's Prophets, when the Lord called the young lad Jeremiah to preach against the sins of Israel about forty years prior to the Babylonian invasions, he too was full of personal doubts regarding being able to fulfill the Lord's plan for his life. In this case, Jeremiah simply complained that he was too young to be a Prophet. However, even that did not prevent the Lord from choosing him, as we can determine by the following verses:
"Then the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations. Then said I, Ah, Lord GOD! behold, I cannot speak: for I am a child. But the LORD said unto me, Say not, I am a child: for thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak."
Jeremiah 1:4-7, KJV
While Jeremiah's excuse may have seemed like a valid one, it still was not sufficient for him to be excused from the work which the Lord had ordained for him to do. In fact, as with Moses and Gideon, the very fact that Jeremiah felt inadequate to perform the job, made him the perfect choice to actually do it, because he would be forced to rely completely on the Lord. In other words, as I explain in an article of the same name, all of these men had the credentials that they needed, because they were not trusting in themselves, and they were each anointed by the Lord.
As many of you will know, the Prophet Jonah foolishly thought that he could evade God's Will for his life by fleeing on a ship. However, three days and three nights in the belly of a great fish with slimy seaweed wrapped around his head, soon changed the Prophet's mind, as we can easily confirm by the following verses:
"But Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of the LORD, and went down to Joppa; and he found a ship going to Tarshish: so he paid the fare thereof, and went down into it, to go with them unto Tarshish from the presence of the LORD . . . Now the LORD had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights . . . The waters compassed me about, even to the soul: the depth closed me round about, the weeds were wrapped about my head."
Jonah 1:3, 17, 2:5, KJV
In the end, Jonah came to his senses, cried out to the Lord for His salvation, was spat out by that great fish, and then obediently went to Nineveh, where he preached against that great city for a period of forty days. As a result of Jonah's reluctant obedience, the people of Nineveh repented of their sins, and were spared from destruction until a later date.
Turning to the New Testament, in the Apostle Paul's case, he was so blinded by his pharisaical pride, and had strayed so far from the truth, that the Lord chose to resort to some rather drastic measures. Paul was literally knocked from his horse as he rode to Damascus, and blinded for three days, in order to get him on the right track. Paul not only saw the glorious Light of Jesus Christ that fateful day, but he came to see the Light of truth as well. Paul must have known in his heart that persecuting the Christians was wrong. It is evident that God must have been convicting his conscience for some time. That is why the Lord said to him "It is hard for thee to kick against the pricks". In other words, Paul was resisting the conviction of the Holy Ghost; which is God's still small Voice that speaks within our hearts. Here are the key verses from that incident:
"And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks . . . And Saul arose from the earth; and when his eyes were opened, he saw no man: but they led him by the hand, and brought him into Damascus. And he was three days without sight, and neither did eat nor drink."
Acts 9:3-5, 8-9, KJV
There are several important lessons we can draw from these five Scriptural examples. First of all, other than perhaps Paul -- who at that time was known as Saul of Tarsus -- none of these men were filled with a lot of self-confidence. They did not ask for or seek the missions which God had designed for them. In fact, in one way or another, they resisted God's Will for their lives. Most of these people were convinced to accept their calling from the Lord by indisputable signs. It was not simply a matter of experiencing a dream, or hearing a voice. They had actual physical signs which convinced them of their God-chosen destinies. God wanted to make them certain beyond a shadow of a doubt that He was indeed speaking with them, and directing them in their actions. Perhaps this was because He foresaw the resistance they would all face in the times ahead.
In light of this Scriptural evidence, short of such clear and unmistakable signs of confirmation, I honestly don't know how anyone today can possibly make such a wild claim of being the Endtime Prophet of God, or the so-called "Endtime Elijah". It just does not follow the Biblical pattern. As you will learn shortly, this is only half of the story.
Please also notice, however, that once they were convinced that the Lord had called them, these servants of the Lord did not proudly announce themselves as some great ones. None of them ever said "Hey! Here I am. I am your new Prophet of God. I am your deliverer. Everybody follow me now! I am going to tell you things that no one has ever told you before! I am going to reveal to you the truth for the very first time in the history of the world." Quite to the contrary, despite the important mission which they had received from the Lord, they maintained a level of humility which clearly puts to shame many of the modern preachers and self-proclaimed "prophets" of God. For example, consider how the Apostle Paul describes himself in a number of his Epistles:
"And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time. For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me."
1 Corinthians 15:8-10, KJV
"Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power. Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ;"
Ephesians 3:7-8, KJV
"For I think that God hath set forth us the apostles last, as it were appointed to death: for we are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men. We are fools for Christ's sake, but ye are wise in Christ; we are weak, but ye are strong; ye are honourable, but we are despised. Even unto this present hour we both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwellingplace; And labour, working with our own hands: being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it: Being defamed, we intreat: we are made as the filth of the world, and are the offscouring of all things unto this day."
1 Corinthians 4:9-13, KJV
"For his letters, say they, are weighty and powerful; but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech contemptible."
2 Corinthians 10:10, KJV
Regarding the tactic of claiming to reveal Scriptural truths which have never been shared with the world before -- I have come across so many of these online charlatans -- as I point out in the series entitled "Lying Wonders of the Endtime", this happens to be one of the favorite tricks that the Devil uses to attract naive, gullible souls into his web of deceit. He enjoys using enticing words such as "secret", "mystery", "esoteric" and "conspiracy", because they attract people like moths to the light. Some of his false prophets are pros when it comes to luring innocent, spiritually-hungry souls into their lairs with their sales pitch of "Hey! I know something that you don't know! If you want to know what it is, you must first join my church or my organization and follow me." Even worse, as I point out in "Money-Making Bible Hucksters and Mammon", many of them will tell you that you have to purchase their book in order to find out what they claim to know. Let me warn you again to beware of these false angels of light.
To even be considered a Prophet of the Lord in Biblical times must have been an extremely humbling experience. As I mention in other articles, Jeremiah was cast into prison a number of times, including being thrown into a mud pit so that he sank up to his armpits. He was also accused of being a liar and a traitor to his own nation. Jeremiah was not the only one who endured such treatment at the hands of his enemies; that is, the very people he was trying to warn and save from terrible destruction. All of God's Prophets were basically treated in the very same fashion; and as Jesus Himself tells us in the Gospels, quite a few of them were likewise murdered by their very own people; as we can determine by the following verses:
"Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchres of the righteous, And say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets. Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets. Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers. Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell? Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city: That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar. Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation. O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord."
Matthew 23:29-39, KJV
Clearly then, being a Prophet of God was not a popular job. It was not a position which gave one great honor and glory. One would have to be crazy to even desire such a ministry; especially in ancient rebellious Israel. No doubt that is at least one of the reasons why the Lord had to really convince these men of their callings, before they would finally yield to Him. That being the case, why is it that today, there are so many people who are so eager to take upon themselves the mantle of an Apostle or a Prophet, even going so far as to self-assign themselves these titles? Doesn't it seem to you that there is something seriously wrong with this picture? Do all of these misguided, false, self-aggrandizing prophets of our modern day really fit the Biblical pattern? I think not.
Please go to part three for the continuation of this series.
⇒ Go To The Next Part . . .