Who Says?

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wsthumbA couple of weeks ago, News24 carried the following report:

God has handpicked Nelson Mandela Bay’s ANC Mayoral candidate Danny Jordaan to rise up in the fight for the city, he was told at a blessing ceremony on Sunday.

And if Nelson Mandela Metro falls into the hands of the “enemy,” there would be suffering on a biblical scale, an influential church leader warned.

Jordaan’s campaign was blessed by the Bantu Church of Christ in New Brighton, Nelson Mandela Bay. The fifth bishop of the Bantu Church of Christ, Bishop John Bolana, who is said to have more than two million followers countrywide, praised Jordaan for the work he had done in the metro.

Speaking at a Women’s League event at the church, the bishop read from the book of Judges, on the rise of Judah, and compared him to Jordaan.

“Today, God is telling me to tell you, people of PE, that if you take and follow my words today, then he will be with you. God is answering us and telling us that Comrade Danny Jordaan will rise up and fight against the enemy, because he has given Nelson Mandela Metro into his hands,” Bolana said.

Hmm. Apparently this “influential church leader” misheard the Lord. Just check the election results. Was that Bolana or Bologna?

At the same event, another reporter noted,

The African National Congress is God’s own organisation, women’s league deputy president Sisi Ntombela said on Sunday.

More than 400 female members of the Bantu Church of Christ in the Eastern Cape were inducted into the ANC Women’s League on Sunday in a blousing [sic] ceremony.

Thousands of women and men gathered at the New Brighton church, where the women were accepted into the fold and dressed in the green shirts of the organisation.

The event was attended by Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu and her deputy Zou Kota-Fredericks, and party leaders.

Speaking on the sidelines at the event, Ntombela said the induction of the women showed the relationship between the church and the league was getting stronger.

The Bantu Church of Christ has been unapologetic about its support for the ANC.

The event was held at the church at the request of its head, Bishop John Bolana.

So says the “bishop.” But what says the Lord? In this case, we have a very relevant example of the deeply important question, “Who says?”

On the political front in the USA, there is no lack of those claiming to have God on their side. Note this direct quote from the Chairman of the Republican Party. He recently said, that Republicans must stand united in the upcoming presidential election; after all, “God didn’t put us here by accident,” he said. “This is our moment to set a new course for an America as strong and confident as we’ve ever been.”

A few months ago, a pastor claimed that God had anointed Ted Cruz to be the next president of the United States. Funny thing, the Republican voters did not seem to know that, because they have appointed Donald Trump to seek that position. And, of course, the “prophet” who made the claim about Cruz is now hailing Trump as God’s choice. My sarcastic bent leads me to say, “I guess God was confused.” But on a very serious note, such declarations are tantamount to blasphemy. Whenever someone claims a revelation from God, the Christian is duty bound—devotedly so—to ask, “Who says?”

There do seem to be a whole lot of people who claim to speak for God. Do they? There is a simple way to tell.

Many years ago Chuck Colson wrote a very helpful book titled, Who Speaks for God? His conclusion? God speaks for God, and He does so through His inerrant, infallible because inspired Word. The Bible speaks for God, for it is in the Bible that God speaks. And anyone—especially (?) one claiming the office of pastor—had better make sure that, when he speaks, he is faithful to what God is really saying.

A colleague here in South Africa recently sent me a message asking an important and potent question: Is there any difference between the prosperity gospel and witchcraft? After all, whether sangoma or “Christian prophet,” both seem to promise the same things. He attached pictures of posters from these false teachers that add poignancy to his question. These posters advertise that these “prophets” can see your future, bring back lost lovers, get you a job, get a job promotion, remove bad luck, and see your enemies in the mirror (why would you want that?). One prophet claims that God delivers us from all of our problems. Too bad Job did not know about that. Or Paul. Or myriads of other tried believers throughout history.

John exhorted the believers in Asia Minor to “test the spirits, whether they are of God” (1 John 4:1). He warned them that “many false prophets have gone out into the world.” And they still do.

The believer is called upon to test all truth claims by the Word of the Lord. If what people claim does not line up with what God has said, they are not to be heeded.

I understand that there are various levels of false claims. For instance, a well-meaning believer may be convinced that the Lord “spoke” to them about some matter of guidance (for example, a vocational move, a major or even minor purchase, etc.). And though I question the accuracy of such a claim, in the end, it may not result in a life-altering train smash. However, more serious consequences may result in very harmful outcomes. As Jesus instructed, not everyone who claims to speak for God is to be trusted (see John 10:10—“the thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy”). Beware that you do not heed his/her voice.

Though so much can be said about this, a fundamental concern must be that Christians be students of the Word. Our first allegiance is to what God has actually said. When this is the case, we will be protected against the deception from what self-proclaimed prophets say. We have the right, in fact the responsibility, to test truth claims with an initial question: Who says? If God is not the who, as revealed in the already inspired what of His Word, then pay it no heed.

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