HomeEditorial CommentFalse apostles, prophets, ministers

False apostles, prophets, ministers

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Jesus warned of false prophets who would appear in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly would be ravenous wolves
Jesus warned of false prophets who would appear in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly would be ravenous wolves

The Bible in 2 Corinthians 11:12 to 15 states: “But what I do, I will also continue to do, that I may cut off the opportunity from those who desire an opportunity to be regarded just as we are in the things of which they boast. For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. Therefore, it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works.

Introduction
Because the true apostolic and prophetic movement is a glorious and genuine outpouring of God’s power on earth, it will not escape the enemy’s attempts to counterfeit it. Every generation has its share of insidious imposters who pretend to know how to build churches, but who, in fact, weaken them. While authentic apostolic and prophetic activity increases,

Satan will endeavour to infect this movement with a countermovement of deceivers who claim true apostleship and the prophetic, but are not sent by God. Modern-day Judas Iscariots, driven by malevolent spirits, will attempt to mix in with true apostles and prophets in an attempt to bring ruin.

Satan’s chief aim through these false apostles and prophets will be threefold: To dilute, defile and discredit the apostles and prophets, and the genuine movement. Many will be bewitched into rejecting true apostles and prophets because of inevitable failures of false apostles and prophets. Critics of apostolic and prophetic ministries will likely point out the problems of the false apostles and prophets in an attempt to dismiss the validity of their activities.

It is essential that the countermovement of the enemy against the genuine apostolic, prophetic movement be properly anticipated and dealt with according to scripture. Armed with the clear understanding of the difference between true and false apostles and prophets, we will stand in the heat of the coming conflict without becoming casualties ourselves.

What is a false apostle or prophet? (2 Corinthians 11: 12-15).
The Greek term for “false apostles” here is pseudapostolos, meaning those who masquerade as apostles or prophets, but are not. This word speaks of impostors who have a motive to gain by deceit and Paul seems to want to reduce our shock at their existence. In fact, he says: “Don’t be surprised if Satan sends imposters who look genuine.” False apostles and prophets, then, are hell’s attempt to imitate a true apostle or prophet for destructive purposes.

Paul spoke against those who boasted falsely in their apostleship. He identified men who were false prophets by drawing attention to their motives for financial gain. Paul also calls them “deceitful workers”. God has graciously provided the church with gift ministries in the form of true apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. Note again their purpose as stated by Paul:

Ephesians 4:11 to 13 reads: “And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.”

Then note the following verse, and compare it to what he has already stated. Ephesians 4:14 says: “That we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting.”

Imposters will always surround the fivefold ministry. Paul speaks of true ministers and immediately refers to their opposition by the false. We are being equipped so we will not fall pray to the false ministries that are always prowling around the body of Christ, seeking to deceive many.
Satan’s counterfeit ministry gifts

For every blessing God has ever created, Satan has presented a counterfeit. The ministry gifts of Ephesians 4:11 are no exception, and in this context we must understand false apostles and prophets. Because Christ has given the church the apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor and teacher, Satan (as a false Christ, see 2 Corinthians 11:4) has created five crude and dangerous imitations to impersonate them.
Jesus warned of false prophets that would appear in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly were ravenous wolves. Matthew 7:15 says: “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves.”

Jesus spoke of false shepherds (or false pastors) who would come to kill, steal and destroy as hirelings. They would fail to protect the sheep, and instead would scatter and abandon them. John 10:10 to 13 states: “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill and to destroy. I have come that they may have life and that they may have it more abundantly.

I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. But a hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them. The hireling flees because he is a hireling and does not care about the sheep.”

The Apostles Paul and Peter both warned of the existence of false teachers who would peddle fables and heresies to bring swift destruction to God’s people. 2 Timothy 4:3 and 4 reads: “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.”

The Bible in 2 Peter 2:1 states: But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction.”
It is clear that false evangelists can be identified as those who spread a false gospel. Galatians 1:9 reads: “As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.”

Jesus spoke to the angel of the church at Ephesus of false apostles. Revelation 2:2 reads: “I know your works, your labour, your patience and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars.”

Like Judas, these men and women begin by having a valid experience with God, but because of internal weakness, turn away from Christ to a life marked by error. The connection of the words “apostle” (one who is sent) and “apostate” (one who is fallen) is interesting in this regard.
Days of deception

This kind of false ministry is an increasing problem in the world today and Zimbabwe is no exception. This is exactly what Christ foretold would occur in the last days when He said in Matthew 24:4 to 14: “And Jesus answered and said to them: ‘Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many.

And you will hear of wars and rumours of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.

Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many.

“And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.”

 – Don’t miss next week’s message as we deal with how to identify false apostles, prophets and ministers.
Bishop Colin Nyathi is senior pastor and founder of Harvest House International Churches. He writes in his personal capacity.

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