By This Shall All Men Know that Ye are My Disciples....
And then shall the king say unto them on his right hand, Come, you blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave me food. I was thirsty, and you gave me drink. I was a stranger, and you took me in; naked, and you clothed me. I was sick, and you visited me. I was in prison, and you came unto me. Matt 25:34-36
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Revelation 22:18-19 contains a warning to anyone who tampers with the biblical text: “For I testify unto every man that hears the words of the prophecy of this book, if any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book; and if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the Book of Life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book. ” The question is whether these verses refer to the whole Bible or just the Book of Revelation.
This warning is given specifically to those who distort the message of the Book of Revelation. Jesus Himself is the Author of Revelation and the giver of the vision to the apostle John (Revelation 1:1). As such, He concludes the book with a confirmation of His testimony to the finality of the prophecies contained in Revelation. These are His words, and He warns against distorting them in any way, whether through additions, subtractions, falsifications, alterations, or intentional misinterpretations. The warning is explicit and dire. The plagues of Revelation will be visited upon anyone guilty of tampering in any way with the revelations in the book, and those who dare to do so will have no part in eternal life in heaven.
Although the warning in Revelation 22:18-19 is specific to the Book of Revelation, the principle applies to anyone who seeks to intentionally distort God’s Word. Moses gave a similar warning in Deuteronomy 4:1-2, where he cautioned the Israelites that they must listen to and obey the commandments of the Lord, neither adding to nor taking away from His revealed Word. Proverbs 30:5-6 contains a similar admonition to anyone who would add to God’s words: he will be rebuked and proven to be a liar. Although the warning in Revelation 22:18-19 applies specifically to the Book of Revelation, its principle must be applied to the any of the books containing the revealed Word of God. We must be careful to handle all scripture with care and reverence so as to not distort the message.
However, to address the concern regarding any additional scripture, the book of Revelation was actually written earlier than many of the other New Testament books of the Bible, so if it literally means you can’t add scripture, we have to discard most of the New Testament.
Matthew 7:15-20 “And again, beware of false prophets that come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. You shall know them by their fruits. For do men gather grapes of thorns? Or figs of thistles? Even so, every good tree brings forth good fruit, but a corrupt tree brings forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that brings not forth good fruit is hewn down and cast into the fire. Wherefore, by their fruits you shall know them.”
This test is only necessary if He intends to send prophets. The test is given so you may identify both true and false prophets. Implicit in this, is the obligation to personally account for your response to those He sends, and those who claim to be sent by Him. You must choose. Your choice will count for and against you. You must grow to apply the test correctly.
The concept of “sheep’s clothing” is worth pondering. Why is it even possible for such a thing as “sheep’s clothing?” Think about it. The attire or mantle they pretend to possess is necessarily “sheep-like” to the casual observer. That is, the “office” or the position or conduct or credentials of the false prophet must be misleading. They should appear bona fide. They need to seem authentic.
Now, lest you be confused about the “wolves” who occupy these positions, it does not mean an utterly corrupt, completely perverse man. It only requires the “wolves” to be unable to deliver a true message from the Lord. It only requires that they not be sent with an authentic message from Him. They must pretend to be His, but He has nothing to do with their message.
So, how are we to distinguish between the “sheep” and the “wolves” who come as “prophets” from the Lord? In a word, it is the “fruit.” What does the message produce?
A false prophet’s message will produce as its fruit vanity, corruption, evil, foolishness, arrogance, self-assuredness, error, distance from the Lord, poor understanding, popularity, wealth, success, ease, false hopes, ingratitude, pride, displays of popularity, worldliness, hard hearts and ten thousand other meaningless or deceptive fruits.
A true prophet’s message will produce repentance.
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