The Gift of Discernment
There are many "ministers" of the gospel. There are many people who claim to be prophets. There are many "spiritual" leaders. There are many preachers.
But all too often self-proclaimed ministers of God are not what they believe to be. Many "ministers" of the gospel are not preaching the true gospel. Many "prophets" are making false prophecies. In spite of their numerous false prophecies, they still proceed to deceive others, and sometimes even themselves - ignoring the obvious evidence that they are NOT listening to the right "voice". They proceed in arrogance and self-will.
Let us examine the markings of a true minister of God. How can you tell a true prophet from a false prophet?
A minister of the gospel should first and foremost know the Lord. Although this seems very simple, unfortunately many ministers do not really know Him. Likewise, people assume that ministers should be right with God. All too often, they are not. This is hypocrisy.
What do you look for to prove that a minister is on target?
What do you look for to prove that he or she is truly right with God?
The Ultimate Evidence
"Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves.
"You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles?
"Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit.
"A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit.
"Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.
"Therefore by their fruits you will know them."
What kind of fruits are we to look for?
- Fruit of Repentance. The message of John the Baptist was, "Repent". The message of Jesus was "Repent". The message of the Apostles throughout the book of Acts was "Repent".
A true minister will not only carry on the message of repentance, he or she will demonstrate a lifestyle of repentance.
What does repent mean? It means to change the way you think. It means to change your attitude. It means to make a 180 degree turn. We must make a 180 degree turn from sin, and from pride. How do we do that? If you do drugs, submit it to God. Let Jesus destroy it. It means do everything in your power to turn from that addiction. This applies to a multitude of other addictions such as alcoholism, tobacco, gluttony, etc... etc..
Repentance means to make it right with God and people. If you stole from someone, humble yourself and return the goods. It means if you hate someone you must forgive them from your heart. You must make a decision to forgive. You must turn from the darkness in your soul and turn to the One who is the light - Jesus!
If you are in a sinful sexual relationship, get out of it. If you are currently in a sexually immoral relationship its time to humble yourself and make it right. Get out of it.
To repent you must sincerely ask God to show you your sins. If you sincerely ask Him to show you your sins, He will. And when God shows you the sins in your heart and life, you must make a conscious attempt to make it right. Turn from sin, fix what you broke to the best of your ability. And ask God to help you with the rest. By faith, and patience He will.
A true minister of God must have a born-again experience. There must be a defining moment in life where they were "born from above"... a moment when they repented from sin and turned to God.... a moment when they went from darkness to light.... a moment when they can truly say they were filled with the Spirit of God... a moment in life when they can truly say they became a new creation in Christ.
You can prove a true minister by looking for the evidence of a new creation in Christ. If a person cannot give you a clear pre-Jesus/post-Jesus testimony they are not born again and they are on their way to hell.
Also, we must look for evidence that a minister is walking in repentance. The minister must walk humbly before God, continually preaching and practicing repentance.
- Fruit of the Spirit. The scriptures say, "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.
And those who are Christ's have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit."
We must look for the fruit of the Spirit in a ministers life. The first fruit mentioned here is love. Does this person live in love? Do they love God with all their heart? Do they worship God on an intimate, and passionate level? Do they know the love of the Father? Do they portray the love of God to others? Do they love their enemies?
If any minister lacks this fruit they are not a true minister of God. On the outside they are sheep, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.
Signs and Wonders
Signs and wonders encompass a huge spectrum of phenomena. They can range from miracles, healing, creative miracles, raising the dead, and "manifestations of the Spirit" such as falling under the power, shaking, jerking, laughing, and such.
Many people have the false assumption that ministers that perform signs and wonders are of God.
Jesus said, "Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?'
"And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!'
Notice that Jesus said that many will prophesy in His name, and still NOT be saved. Many will prophesy, and still NOT know Him. Many will prophesy and still go to hell!
Jesus said that many will cast out demons, and yet NOT be saved themselves. Jesus said that there will be people who do "many wonders" in His name, and yet still NOT even be saved, themselves. Many people will do wonders in Jesus name and still NOT even know Him.
Too many people are deceived into thinking that those who do great signs and wonders in Jesus name are somehow close to God, or "anointed". The truth is that many people will prophesy, cast out demons and perform signs and wonders and still go to hell!
So then, it is possible to prophesy true events and give "words" to people in a prophesy and still go to hell!
The Shirley Show
There used to be a Canadian talk show called "The Shirley Show" back in the 1990s.
One of the episodes of the Shirley Show in 1994 featured an evangelist by the name of Peter Youngren. Peter Youngren was well known at the time for being one of Canada's primary preachers where signs and wonders would take place in his meetings.
Pastor Peter focused his ministry on praying for the sick and seeing God do many miracles. One of the practices of Pastor Peter was having people come forward and stand in a line. Pastor Peter would start at one end of the line, and "pray" for them by touching their face, or laying his hand on their heads. As Pastor Peter went down the line laying hands on people, they would fall to the floor. It was quite a spectacular show as several "ushers" would have to keep up to Peter as they caught people falling to the floor.
On the Shirley Show, Pastor Peter had to face his opponents. Peter's opponents on the show were two men who didn't believe in God. They were complete unbelievers. They were out to prove Pastor Peter wrong.
Shirley played a clip of Peter quickly laying hands on people as they stood in a line. The people would fall to the floor as Peter touched them.
Shirley then played a clip of Peter's opponents doing the same thing! They went down a line, apparently in a church setting, laying hands on people as they went. The people fell to the floor just as in Peter's meetings.
Seeing this demonstration had a lasting impact on me. How could it be that an unbeliever.. a God-hater could lay hands on people and see the same phenomena happen as the preacher did?
Here are the possible answers:
- Its all psychological manipulation. Falling under the power, or being slain in the Spirit is a result of psychological manipulation. This would mean that such phenomena is not really God, but just a product of the mind.
- God used them, regardless of their unbelief.
Lets break this down...
Is it psychological manipulation?
As of this writing I have studied this phenomena for nearly 2 decades. Surely a lot could be written off as mind over matter, or psychological manipulation. Notice I said "could".
But there is clear evidence in some cases that this is not psychological manipulation.
1. There are reports of people being "slain in the Spirit" without attending a service where such phenomena happens. Many people have experiences with God when they least expect it and experience phenomena such as falling down involuntarily. For those of you who look for it in scripture, Paul on the road to Damascus is a good example. But there are many modern day examples of this happening.
2. There are people who attend such services, who completely oppose the phenomena. Yet they are "hit", and they fall, involuntarily. Psychological manipulators do not have power over them who do not open themselves up to their influence.
3. Sometimes the most unlikely people get "struck" and fall under the power. For example, my grandmother, a very dignified lady, was one who always exhibited strong self control. She never got emotional. I have known her for 37 years, and lived with her for 14 years. I never remember her crying. She would never get caught up in any kind of emotional display. She was a business owner and was well respected.
But she went down "under the power" countless times during services.
For these reasons, one must conclude that saying such phenomena is "psychological manipulation" is a simple-minded explanation that ignores many of the facts.
Is God using them, is spite of their motives, sinful lives, and hell-bound souls?
Having ruled out the former explanation, we must conclude that God is still using them.
How can God use someone who is not even saved? The Bible says that God used a donkey to prophesy to Balaam. The Bible says God used Pharaoh to display his glory.
God works by faith. God moves by faith. It is impossible to please God without faith.
An unbeliever cannot have the "anointing". A God hating atheist cannot be full of the power of God. The Holy Spirit doesn't go where He is not welcome.
So then, you may ask, how do you explain what happened on the Shirley Show when those two atheists lined up people and laid hands on them, and they fell?
Those who lined up for prayer was expecting from God. Their faith was, that as soon as hands are laid on them, they would receive from God. It doesn't matter if those hands were the hands of an "anointed" preacher, or a God-hating atheist. Their faith, and their expectation was set to receive from God when hands were laid on them.
When these two anti-Christian, God opposing men went down the line and laid hands on the people the people released their faith toward God. They received from God when hands were laid on them. It had nothing to do with the "donkeys" that God used to do it! It doesn't mean that they are saved. It doesn't mean that they are "anointed".
When you are truly "slain in the Spirit" it is a touch of God, not a touch of flesh! When you are truly "slain in the Spirit" it is a God's touch, not man's touch.
Kathryn Khulman was on the cutting edge of the move of the Spirit in the 20th century. In fact, it was through her ministry that the church was re-introduced to the phenomena of being "slain in the Spirit", or "falling under the power". She was one of the pioneers of the Charismatic movement. Over and over and over Ms. Khulman said that it is not her touch that does it - it is His touch.
It seems on the natural level that it is her touch that does it because whenever she touched someone, they mysteriously fell to the floor. But she knew more than anyone else that she had nothing to do with it. She said time and time again that she had nothing to do with the miracles or the phenomena that happened in her meetings.
Was she just "being nice"? Was she just trying to appear humble? NO. She knew that it was His touch, not hers... and that is what Peter Youngren's opponents didn't see. That is what many people don't see. And sadly, that is what many minsters don't see - even the ones that lay hands on people and see them fall to the floor. Some of them still believe that it happens because they have the "anointing". They believe that they are "anointed" of God.
God can still use the unbeliever. God can still use the hard-hearted hellion to touch his people. In fact, God uses Satan.
Satan knows the word of God. Satan "prays" to God continually. He talks to God often. He "believes" in Jesus. He knows Jesus as the Son of God. In that sense, Satan is a "believer".
Most Christians would agree, they certainly want a better relationship with God than Satan has. So then, how are you different than Satan?
Know the Bible? So does Satan.
Talk to God? So does Satan.
"Believe" in Jesus? So does Satan.
What makes a true minister different than Satan?
- Satan does not practice repentance. Satan cannot point to a time in his life when he completely surrendered to God. Satan was never born again. Satan was never, and can never be transformed by the faith of Christ.
- Satan cannot call God his Father. Only the true minister of God knows God as Father, or "Daddy".
- Satan cannot truly love and adore the Lord in worship. Jesus said that he who is forgiven much, loves much. Satan has not been, nor ever will be forgiven. So then, Satan lacks a heart of adoration and loving, intimate worship toward God.
If God can use unbelieving Pharaoh who opposed God to his death, then God can use anybody. The question is - are you right with God?
Are you truly born again? Or are you a believer, like Nicodemus, but you are not on your way to heaven. Nicodemus was highly educated in the scriptures. He was a spiritual leader in Israel. He believed in Jesus, otherwise he wouldn't have come to Jesus. But he came to Jesus and Jesus told him that in spite of his religious position and education he was on his way to hell unless he got born again.
Again I ask, are you truly born again? Is there a time in your life that you can point to saying this is the moment that I died to myself. This is the moment that I repented of my sins. This is the moment that I became a new creation in Christ. This is the moment that I "came out from among them". The bible says, "come out from among them, and be separate!"... Then he will be your Father, and you will be His sons and daughters.
If you haven't experienced that, now is the time. You must surrender all to Jesus. You must surrender you reputation. You must surrender your life. You must surrender your past. You must surrender your future. You must surrender your sin. You must repent, and ask forgiveness from God. You must turn from your wicked ways and pray.
After you have done all that. Then ask the Father to fill you with His Holy Spirit. Yes, you must complete the prerequisites. You must repent to the utmost. You must turn from drugs, alcoholism, defiling your body through smoking and careless eating, sexual immorality, and filthy language. You must repent thoroughly. It is hard? Yes, but you can do it. The hardest part is swallowing your pride, and walking in humility, and forgiveness.
Am I against signs and wonders? Absolutely not. In fact, I believe that there is not enough signs and wonders in the church. The church should reflect the Bible. The Bible is full of signs and wonders.
Signs and wonders are the works of God. I love to see the Father work. I love to see miracles, signs and wonders. I love to see the "manifestations" of the Holy Spirit.
But you have to keep in perspective. Signs and wonders point to Jesus. Signs and wonders verify the work of God. But signs and wonders do NOT verify the person praying and laying hands on others. Signs and wonders done through a person does NOT necessarily mean that that person is anointed. In fact, it does NOT even mean that person is saved.
Someone can pray for a thousand people, prophesy, cast out demons, and see great manifestations of the Spirit and STILL GO TO HELL.
The defining line is that of repentance, newness of life, and a true love for God, the church and the people.
- Christopher Enoch Personal Blog
Teachings of the Lord you will not find anywhere else
KingdomCome from those of the Ecclesia on August 14, 2016:
PI- You bring up alot of very good point. I agree with celafore in his comment. The only thing I see left out is a mention of the Kingdom of God and how all of this is tied into it.
charlie from From Kingdom of God living on Planet earth in between the oceans on August 13, 2016:
good article. unfortunately those that really need to see truth are the first and loudest of those that reject.
Christopher Enoch (author) on May 04, 2012:
A true minister of God has a very personal and intimate relationship with God. A true minister of God does not only pray, but a true minister of God has the ability to hear from God with accuracy and precision. This is what a relationship is all about.
This is what Christianity is all about.
The scriptures declare that our (the true Chruch) relationship with the Lord is likened to that of a bride & bridegroom.
Having said that, the exact word "obedience" does not necessarily carry the stigma of a true, heart-to-heart, personal, and imitate relationship between two people.
For instance, try searching for some good hubs relating to husband & wife relationships and count how many times you see the word "obedience".
Yes, flpalermo, the exact word "obedience" is not found in this article. However, THIS ENTIRE ARTICLE IS ABOUT OBEDIENCE.
Looking at this hub and passing a negative judgment, saying, "Not a single line about OBEDIENCE to God" is like reading Romeo and Juliette and saying that there is not a single line about ROMANCE.
As stated in the conclusion, this article is about repentance, newness of life, and a true love for God, the church and the people.
In case you don't know:
Repentance IS obedience
Walking in newness of life IS obedience.
Loving God IS obedience
Loving the people of the church IS obedience.
flpalermo on April 02, 2012:
Not a single line about OBEDIENCE to God, WOW!