The word of God was utterly distinct from human reasoning. The two had nothing in common. “The prophet who has a dream, let him tell a dream; And he who has My word, let him speak My word faithfully. What is the chaff to the wheat?” says the Lord.” (Jer. 23:28).
It was not always easy for uninspired men to recognize what was the word of God. A man might claim to be speaking the word of the Lord when in fact he was not (Jer. 23:25). A man might speak a message claiming that it came from God, and soon afterwards speak an exactly opposite message, again claiming that it came from God (1 Kings 13:18 cf, 21-22; 22:15, 17). How were ordinary people supposed to tell the difference? The Bible gives a number of guidelines by which the word of God could be recognized.
The Word of God Always Came True
“You may say in your heart, `How shall we know the word which the Lord has not spoken?’ When a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the thing does not come about or come true, that is the thing which the Lord has not spoken. The prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him” (Deut. 18:21-22). Not everything which came true was the word of God, but anything which did not come true could not be the word of God.
It was especially important to apply this test when the message of the prophet was unusual or surprising in some way. “The prophets who were before me and before you from ancient times prophesied against many lands and against great kingdoms of war and of calamity and of pestilence. The prophet who prophesies of peace, when the word of that prophet shall come to pass, then the prophet will be known as one whom the Lord has truly sent” (Jer. 28:8-9).
The Word of God Never Contradicted Itself
Even if a message came true, if it flatly contradicted the word of God, it could not be from God. “If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or the wonder comes true, concerning which he spoke to you, saying, `Let us go, after other gods (whom you have not known) and let us serve them,’ you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams; for the Lord your God is testing you to find out if you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul” (Dent. 13:1-3). The same kind of test is, imposed within the New Testament: “Even though we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel. contrary to that which we have preached to you, let him be accursed” (Gal. 1:8). “Beloved 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. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; and this is the spirit of the antichrist” (1 Jn. 4:1-3). No message which is contrary to the word of God can be from God.
Today’s Test Is The Same
Today, we are still confronted by all sorts of people who claim to be declaring the word of God. News Alert! The same tests still apply. A “man of God” who declares that the world was going to end on a specific day could not possibly be proclaiming the word of God, because no one but God the Father knows of that day (Mk 13:32). Anyone who declares that the Bible contains mistakes could not possibly be proclaiming the word of God, because their message is directly contrary to the word of God.
It is our responsibility to recognize what is the word of God and what is not. It is the responsibility of elders: “From among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore, be on the alert, remembering that night and day for a period of three years I did not cease to admonish each one with tears. And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified” (Acts 20:30-32). It is the responsibility of teachers of the word (1 Tim. 4:1-6). It is the responsibility of every preacher (2 Tim 4:2-5).
Go By The Book
“Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them. For those who are such do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple” (Rom. 16:17,18). Remember, the word of God never spoke both yes and no on the same subject (2 Cor 1:18). “…That in us ye might learn not (to go) beyond the things which are written” (1 Cor 4:6). “Whoever speaks, let him speak, as it were, the utterances of God” (1 Pet 4:11). “But the word of the Lord endures for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you” (1 Pet 1:25).