Recognizing False Prophets

     A question that naturally arises when discussing Mormonism is:  was Joseph Smith a true prophet of God?  When answering this question, many Mormons point to his accomplishments and ask how a young teen could do such things if he wasn’t a true prophet.  Others point to the growth of the LDS Church and say that such growth proves its truthfulness.  On the other hand, many critics of Mormonism focus on problems they see in Joseph Smith’s history in an attempt to prove that he wasn’t. 

     But there’s an even more preliminary question that needs to be asked, namely, how should one go about determining if someone is a true or false prophet?  Is that determined by their character. . .by their success?  If, for example, successful growth is the evidence than we would have to say that Mohammed was a great prophet – a statement I don’t think many Christians or Mormons would endorse.

     Jesus talks about false prophets in Matthew 7.  There he gives some vital information.  First of all, he says that they come in sheep’s clothing.  In other words, they will appear harmless and good.  Many false prophets will have exemplary characters.  They will be “good” people.  We see that in Jesus’ day.  The Pharisees were the conservative, moral people of the day.  But Jesus spoke very sternly to and about them.

     A few verses later Jesus gives us more pertinent information.  “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done wonderful works?  And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you; depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”  (Matthew 7: 22-23)  Note how these false prophets spoke and acted in Jesus’ name.  They even did miracles in Jesus’ name – casting out devils and the like!  In spite of that, however, Jesus didn’t accept them.  Rather he angrily casts them away.  Therefore using Jesus’ name and even doing spectacular works in Jesus name isn’t the mark of a true prophet.

    In verse 20 Jesus tells us what to look for.  “Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.”  I didn’t begin with this verse because people often hear that and immediately identify fruit with a person’s character, work, or outward success.  But it’s obvious from the context those things aren’t “fruit”.  What then is a prophet’s fruit?  To answer this question, let me ask a couple of other questions first.  What is a plumber’s fruit?  What is a teacher’s fruit?  Isn’t a plumber’s fruit his plumbing and how well he does it?  Isn’t a teacher’s fruit her teaching and how well she does it?  A prophet’s fruit is what he says!  To determine if someone is a true or false prophet, what need to be examined are his words.  That is why when evaluating Joseph Smith, what needs to be put under the microscope is not so much his character or work, but his words – his teachings.  And it’s his teachings that have convinced me that he was a false prophet.

      To be continued.


6 Responses to “Recognizing False Prophets”

  1. August 14, 2008 at 8:52 pm

    It is that same thing that has convinced other that he is a true Prophet.

  2. August 14, 2008 at 9:01 pm

    There is actually a very easy and reliable way to recognize true prophets: ask the Father with sincerity and faith and let the Spirit testify of the truth.

    This is the great promise included in the Book of Mormon.

    “And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.” – Moroni 10:4

    This promise from the Book of Mormon has been put to the test by millions of people, and has not been found wanting. A person who receives this testimony that the Book of Mormon is the word of God, will also have a testimony of the prophet Joseph Smith. For truly a false prophet cannot be given power to bring forth the true word of God.

    Another great way is to follow the prophet’s teachings. This is what Christ taught as well, follow His doctrine and you will know whether it is good. Following the doctrines of Christ as revealed to Joseph Smith and subsequent prophets leads to peace, understanding, happiness in this life, and hope eternal for the life to come.

  3. August 14, 2008 at 11:08 pm

    You may just have wasted your words here telling Mark a great way to find out, I don’t think he is intrested in seeking out the truth from the source, just about telling us “Mormons” how we could be wrong, especially when we do things that are bennificial to our spiritual health. I think he is just trying to knock us down a bit so we will be open to his message, but I would not know what that message is for he has not started to share it yet. I am not too sure his message is the Gospel of Christ, but it will probably be some convensing argument against the Gospel and be effective in leading many to walk away from their faith (just as satin would have it).

    But it is good advice to ask God and be open for the Spirit to witness the Truth to you. I have a witness of another LDS Prophet when I first saw him speak it was in person and The spirit made it clear to me that he was a Prophet of God (this was before I was “Mormon”). He was Gordon B. Hinkley. I do miss him.

    for more on the words of a true Prophet of God http://lds.org


  4. 4 markcares
    August 16, 2008 at 2:11 pm

    Would it be proper for me to say the same thing about you – that you are not interested in seeking out the truth?
    You don’t know what my message is? Please read previous posts. It is that we are saved by grace alone, wihout works. It is that Jesus has done everything for salvation – the work is done, completed. That my living eternally with Heavenly Father is his gift to me. that I don’t have to pay Jesus back – that I can’t pay Jesus back. My message is that forgiveness is free and full in Jesus.

  5. August 17, 2008 at 5:49 am

    Accually no it would be unprudent to consider me not seeking out the truth from the source, that is why when I want to know something about another group I first ask that group about it instead of just spouting my own version of things I think they beleive. Also when I am corrected by members of that group I usually consider that those people would know better than I if I were not a member of their group. The behavior I have viewed from you here is not an example of Christ-like attitude. You say you are doing this all out of Love but you do not listen when someone corrects you, instead you blaze ahead and insult our (your readers) intelligance by saying that you know “Mormon” Philosophy better than the “Mormons.” How arrogant is it to assume you know more about another group that the members of that group. (We are not lab mice in some experiment) How would you take it if I (ditchu) stated some observances of all Marks, and me not being one disregards any mark that corrects me as I know better?

    I did read that, and have responded, but it seems that you are ignoring the point that you are mistaken about how we “Mormons” view this bit of docturne. You seem to think that we are saying that there is a way to work our way to “Salvation” but I have pointed out that I agree with you that that is not so, I have further expalined what the view of the docturine is that you think we can do enough work to be “Saved” but you must have missed it.

    As for your message so far it has been more than what you would make it in your post just prior to this. And you know as well as I that there is some underlying adjenda that you have. Is it this adjenda that is getting in your way of seeing what we “Mormons” are telling you? If so drop it and open your eyes to see that over and over again we have been telling you that you do not know us as well as you presume to. You are mistaken on several points od our docturine and the basis for them.

    As for true beleivers in Christ doing “Works” please review in your Bible John 14:15.
    This is why we “Mormons” encourage all to Keep the commandments and do good.

    God bless,

  6. 6 JLFuller
    August 17, 2008 at 2:54 pm

    I have yet to discover any prophecy uttered by Joseph that was not fulfilled. Just what did you have in mind? But before you go there, go to http://www.fairlds.org and http://www.farms.byu.edu to check out the other side of the story. Don’t just buy off on the anti-Mormon propaganda spread by others. It is too easy to check and further spreading that stuff damages your credibility. That doesn’t mean you have to agree with what we say. See what we say first and then draw your conclusions. Just do your homework before you write about the subject.


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