How did one in the old testament know a false prophet from a true prophet of God? It was simple, a false prophet’s prophesies didn’t come true every time. A true prophet, who spoke only what God commanded him to speak, always had his prophesies come true (Deut 18:22). True prophets of God only spake when they were moved by the Holy Spirit (2 Pet 1:21). The apostles of Jesus Christ were directed in the same way. They only spake what the Holy Spirit revealed unto them to speak. “Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge you. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:19,20 f; Jn 16:13).
Another commonality of the servants of God were that they did not sell miracles which God gave them power to perform. The prophets of God did not sell miracles and neither did the apostles of Jesus Christ. I am sure the world would have paid all that they possessed to have a loved one be raised from the dead or healed from their death bed. I am sure many would have begged, stolen, or borrowed to have their lame to walk again or their blind to see. Yet, God’s miracles performed by his servants were not for sale.
Simon the Sorcerer attempted to buy the miracles of the apostle Peter but he was chastised for his attempt (Acts 18:13-24). Yes, the apostles could have raised billions and billions of dollars if they had sold their miracles, but money is not the purpose of God’s people. Some might say, look at how many poor people could have been fed, clothed, and housed if only the prophets and apostles had sold to the highest bidder great and marvelous miracles. Look at how many they could have preached to if only they had all that money. Look at how much discomfort and trials the apostles would have averted by only selling the power God granted unto them. They could have spent their time writing more, preaching more, and do more for the Lord, if only.
The lesson learned from the prohibition of selling miracles is this. If God could heal the sick through his servants, then what need would it have been for money? Money doesn’t have the power to heal or raise the dead. Therefore, if God wants his people fed, he will provide for them. He will make a way or provision for them. He did then, and he does now. No, he doesn’t rain it down from heaven or make it magically appear on their dinner table as he did Israel in the wilderness, though they knew it not (Deut 8:16). Yet, we forget that all the silver and gold in the world belongs to God (Hag 2:8). God works in the hearts of wicked men to assist the poor. Just take one look at how many billionaires in the last decade who have given more than half of their wealth to find cures for sicknesses and to feed and clothe the less fortunate (e.g. Bill Gates, Warren Buffett). The little money the church raises each Lord’s day can hardly feed but a few saints, but like the five loaves and two fishes, it can feed a multitude by God’s power (Mt 5:16-21).
Yet, we see false teachers, so called prophets, who prophesy falsely separating innocent men and women from their hard earned money in a desperate attempt to be cured from a disease. Some can’t see, some can’t walk, and others need money to pay off their debts. These false teachers claim God is selling miracles. These false teachers are liars and their father is the Devil (Jn 8:44). It is their own belly they are feeding, with soft words and good speeches they deceive the simple minded (Rom 16:17,18). John warned us about these kind. He said, “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world (1 Jn 4:1).
Many denominational preachers sell their services to the highest bidder in teaching false doctrine. Sadly, some preachers in the Lord’s church are doing the exact same thing. They have the finest of educations, they dress well, they have diamond rings on their fingers, they drive fancy automobiles, and live in extravagant houses. Jesus asked the people concerning John the Baptist: “…What went you out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken with the wind? But what went you out for to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? behold, they that wear soft clothing are in kings’ houses” (Mt 11:7,8). Jesus said of himself, “The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head” (Lk 9:58). Remember, the Christian is not above his Master or the servant above his Lord (Mt 10:24). Preaching God’s Word was not to make the apostles rich or to live extravagantly. No! Preaching is not a career, but a lifelong commitment of time and energy of faithful Christian men who preach for a crown of life (2 Tim 4:7,8). It is a fight to seek and save all who are lost (Lk 19:10).
The days of old and new testament miracles performed by men are passed away (1 Cor 13:8-10). No one can raise the dead anymore. No one can make the lame to walk or the blind to see. Therefore, those who are wise in the faith can recognize such false teachers who claim they can do such things for a price. Yet, many are fooled by preachers and teachers who claim that they have a new revelation, a new doctrine, or a new message from God (1 Cor 14:26).
Are you attempting to buy eternal life here on earth? Do you think your money can buy miracles from heaven? If you are, I am sure some snake oil salesman will sell you exactly what you desire. No, it won’t save you, but they surely will sell it to you just the same. Are you attempting to buy your way into heaven? If you are, I am sure there are preachers who will sell to you the road that leads to destruction. If you are interested in the only way to get to heaven, the cost of such information is not for sale. It is for free. Yet, it will cost you your entire life of time and devotion to obeying God’s Word. The path is strait, the way is narrow, and the trials and persecution you must endure are hard.
God requires that you believe and confess that Jesus is the Christ the Son of God (Rom 10:9,10). God requires you to repent and be baptized for the remission of your sins (Acts 2:38). Then are you added by Christ to His one and only church, the church of Christ (Acts 2:47). You will be required to worship each Sunday, in spirit and in truth, to remember the Lord’s death by partaking of the communion and giving of your means (as you have prospered) (Acts 20:7 ff; 1 Cor 11:24-26; 1 Cor 16:1,2; 2 Cor 9:6,7; Jn 4:23,24). You will be tried and persecuted for the cause of Christ (2 Tim 3:12 f; 1 Pet 4:16). If you endure such trials unto the end, you will receive a crown of life (Jam 1:12 f; Rev 2:10).
Yes, there are many false teachers in the world who would change the gospel of Christ. They shall be accursed come the day of judgment (Gal 1:6-9). Make sure you don’t suffer in hell with them by buying their lies and deceit which they preach for their own earthly gain (Rom 16:17,18). I do not make profit from you (1 Cor 9:18) except that I reveal unto you the whole counsel of God. If I do this, I am free from your blood come the day of judgment (Acts 20:26,27). However, if I teach you error, then am I held accountable for misleading you to a much higher degree of punishment (Jam 3:1). Remember, it is not a sin to take money to preach God’s Word (1 Cor 9:14), but it is a sin to mislead the simple for earthly gain (1 Tim 6:3-10).