Mid-week Pastor’s Update 11-2-22

Anaheim SDA Church

Mid-week Pastor’s Update

November 2nd, 2022

“Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” 1 John 4:1

I found myself in kind of a strange state last Friday evening: I got home from our Spanish Evangelism meeting @ Anaheim, Jime and I got the kids into bed, and Jime, being tired, went to bed too. I, though not particularly sleepy yet, had my sermon pretty ready for Sabbath morning, had my Sabbath-school lesson read, and had an hour or more until my usual bedtime, so I thought, “Well… wow! What shall I do?”

I remembered I’d seen a really fascinating sermon some months back by George Knight, well-known Adventist Historian, on the differences we have concerning the recent Gift of Prophecy, with how we hold our view of Ellen White’s writings and authority, contrasted with how Mormons hold those of their founding prophet, Joseph Smith.1

And I thought “I wonder what would happen if I YouTube searched the single word “prophet”? So I did so: and man, what I found! There were hundreds of YouTube videos claiming prophets and prophecies, posted within just in the couple previous days! And many of them had several thousand, if not tens of thousands, of views already! I saw on the list thumbnails for everything from political prophecies (including the overthrowing of the government before Thanksgiving), to illuminati prophecies, to end of the world prophecies within the current year 2022, etc.

And I realized 2 things: Firstly: There are a lot of people out there claiming to be prophets! And Secondly: evidently a lot of people feel a need to find guidance, insight, perhaps even ‘secret knowledge’ through looking-up prophecies!

I was simultaneously fascinated and discouraged by this: people of course should be looking primarily to God’s word for insight and the ‘daily bread’ of Spiritual nourishment (and of course, millions upon millions do), but this extremely high level of claimed prophets & prophecies, as well as the apparent high demand for them indicated to me that there’s a general sense that God hasn’t done enough through His written word.2

So: I’ve been mulling on this the last few days, as I’ve been going throughout my tasks. Here are some thoughts I had:

Firstly: while the easiest thing to do would be to immediately “shut down” all of this in our minds, that’s not what we’re scripturally called to do. Scripture never says the gift of prophecy will cease before Jesus comes (this is a point we often make when discussing Ellen White’s prophetic ministry with skeptics), and in fact that we can expect a great outpouring of God’s Spirit in prophetic form the last days according to Joel 2:28-29. Repeatedly in the New Testament, we are told not to shut our ears to claimed prophecies, but rather to be discerning about them. Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 7:15-20 says to be vigilant, and to evaluate a claimed prophet by their fruits: do they metaphorically produce grapes & figs, or thorns and thistles? By those fruits (evidences), you can know. The Apostle Paul similarly states in 1st Thessalonians 5: “Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not treat prophecies with contempt 21 but test them all; hold on to what is good, 22 reject every kind of evil.”

So then (secondly), just how do we discern? The Bible, again, gives us several tools. The first is to pray for the Spiritual Gift of discerning between Spirits (1st Corinthians 12:10), and to remember that Spiritual things are Spiritually discerned (1st Corinthians 2:14). The second is to always hold Scripture as the standard by which any and all other claimed prophetic voices are evaluated. Regarding claimed prophets and prophecies, the Prophet Isaiah wrote in 8:20: “[Go] to the Law and the Prophets! If they [claimed prophets] speak not according to these, it is because they have no light in them.”3. We see this methodology being used by the honorable Bereans in Acts chapter 17, where they are assessing Paul’s message of Jesus as the Messiah, by checking and evaluating his claims with the scriptures (17:11).

Now: the prospect of trying to evaluate every claimed prophet and prophesy that there is on the internet is an exhausting one. It could easily consume all our waking hours and quite scramble our brains in the process! This is a shame: I view it as an evidence that Satan frequently tries to “drown out” true movements of God by “flooding” the landscape with false ones, therefore discouraging everybody about the whole matter (see Revelation 12:15 in its context). Let’s not let him have his way!

So, here’s what I do to manage that overwhelming prospect: I daily seek God’s wisdom and guidance in His Word, the scriptures, and at least weekly in the Spirit of prophecy writings.4

Then, with any claimed prophecy that comes my way, I prayerfully evaluate by Scripture. If a co-worker brings up a book that they read that has certain claims, or if someone sends a YouTube link to me, I’ll give it some time, but will always, always, check it with the Bible (at least mentally with my stored-up knowledge of the Bible) to see if such a person might be on a right track. If they’re clearly not, I let it go by the wayside. If so, I acknowledge that the person/claim deserves more attention, and generally continue: I see where it takes me while continuing to assess based on Scripture. Should it really merit consideration and potential affirmation, I would bring it up with a trusted circle of Spiritual friends and discuss there. Church small groups, discussions over potluck, etc. are a great venue to do this in!

In summary, while it’s certainly easier to shut-off ourselves to the possibility of the existence of continuing messages containing God’s communications, it’s the less scriptural and less authentic thing to do. It would basically be giving the Devil’s falsification-spreading strategy its intended effect if we did so!

To be open-eared, and discerning, takes effort, but it forces us to keep our ‘blades sharp’ of mental acuity and spiritual discernment. It makes God and His working something that is, in our conceptualization, alive and acting, rather than boring, cobweb-ridden, and rotting on the shelf.

Let’s make no mistake: God in His merciful generosity has given us everything necessary for a knowledge of Him, and a wisdom that leads to salvation in the Bible (2nd Timothy 3:15), but to have the opportunity for continued counsel from Him is an opportunity I do not want to miss out on!

May God bless you, your families, and our broader community, as we go forward ‘on our knees’, always humbly seeking to discern, digest, and implement God’s will in our lives.

May God bless you all.


Pr. Mark Tatum

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