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A TEST FALSE PROPHETS FAIL!

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached on Lord’s Day Evening, December 10, 2006
at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles

“Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world” (I John 4:1-3).


This is a critical passage of Scripture because it deals with false preachers, teachers, and religious leaders in general, who are called “false prophets” in verse one. There is so much religious confusion going on today that we need to know how to tell which teachings are false and which ones are true. We need to be able to tell which teachers are right and which ones are wrong.

We are living in a time when a great deal of humbug is being taught, a time when many hoaxes are being presented to people who are gullible enough to be tricked by men who teach and preach false doctrine about our Lord Jesus Christ. Verse one gives us a strong warning against these false teachers and preachers:

“Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of [from] God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world” (I John 4:1).

I will speak this evening, from I John 4:1-3 on the subject of false teachers. First, I will tell you about the false prophets themselves. Then I will give a way to tell if they are true; and finally I will give a way of telling whether or not their teachings are false.

I. First, the false prophets themselves.

“Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of from God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world” (I John 4:1).

The “spirits” spoken of by the Apostle refer to demons. The Holy Spirit is one Person, so He is spoken of as singular. This is plural, more than one spirit. The Christian is told to “try” or “test” the “spirits.” Dr. Charles C. Ryrie said, “The false prophets were influenced by demonic spirits” (The Ryrie Study Bible, Moody Press, 1978, note on I John 4:3).  Dr. McGee once said that demons are behind them, guiding them.  Dr. Henry M. Morris said, “True men of God will be led by the indwelling Holy Spirit and the Scriptures which He inspired. False teachers are influenced by demonic spirits…and their teachings – even with respect to the Scriptures – should be rejected” (The Defender’s Study Bible, World Publishing, 1995, note on I John 4:1).

“Beloved, believe not every spirit, but [test] the spirits whether they are of from God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world” (I John 4:1).

Dr. John MacArthur, though wrong on the Blood, gives a helpful note on this verse:

By juxtaposing [putting together] “spirits” with “false prophets” John reminds his readers that behind the human teachers who propagate false doctrine and error are demons inspired by Satan…Human false prophets and teachers are the physical expressions of demonic, spiritual sources (John MacArthur, D.D., The MacArthur Study Bible, Word Bibles, 1997, note on I John 4:1).

The Apostle Paul also spoke of demonic activity producing false teachings when he said,

“Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing [misleading, deceiving] spirits, and doctrines of devils [demons]”
      (I Timothy 4:1).

And, as John put it,

“Beloved, believe not every spirit, but [test] the spirits whether they are of from God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world” (I John 4:1).

II. Second, the test of true prophets.

Please stand and read I John 4:2 out loud.

“Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God” (I John 4:2).

You may be seated.

That is the test of true doctrine,

“That Jesus Christ is come in the flesh” (I John 4:2).

Now I have studied this quite carefully, and I can tell you without any hesitation that “is come” in the King James Bible is the only correct translation in English. Even the New King James Bible has it wrong, for it says, “has come in the flesh.” The New American Standard Bible also mistranslates it, “has come.” The New International Version also wrongly translates it, “has come.” Dr. James M. Gray, late president of the Moody Bible Institute, said, “It is the Greek perfect [tense], which implies not a mere past historical fact, as would be the case if any other tense were used, but a present continuance of the fact and its blessed effects” (James M. Gray, D.D., Spiritism and the Fallen Angels, quoted in The Resurrection of the Human Body, by Norman H. Camp, Moody Press, 1937, p. 90). The Jamieson, Fausset and Brown Commentary (William B. Eerdmans, 1976 reprint) says the same thing,

“Jesus Christ is come in the flesh” – a twofold truth confessed: that Jesus is the Christ: and that He is come [eleluthota, perfect]; not a mere past historical fact, but present and continuing (note on I John 4:2).

The perfect tense in Greek signifies the continuation and present state of a completed action. Dr. Fritz Rienecker, in A Linguistic Key to the Greek New Testament (Zondervan, 1980, p. 792) says the same thing about the perfect tense of the Greek word “eleluthota.” “It indicates a continuation and present state of a completed action.” Therefore the only way it can be correctly translated in English is the way the venerable scholars who translated the King James Bible put it – “is come in the flesh.”

“Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God” (I John 4:2).

Christ came “in the flesh” when He was conceived in the womb of Mary. Christ continued “in the flesh” during His life and ministry on earth. And Christ continues to be in the flesh today, in His resurrected “flesh and bone” body (Luke 24:39), which ascended “into heaven” (Luke 24:51), where He is now seated at the right hand of God the Father (Romans 8:34). Eleluthota – perfect tense – a continuation and present state of a completed action!

“Jesus Christ is come in the flesh” (I John 4:2).

He is still in the flesh! He is still in His resurrected, glorified physical body!

After he rose from the dead, Christ said,

“Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have” (Luke 24:39).

Eleluthota – perfect tense – a continuation and present state of a completed action!

“Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God” (I John 4:2).

Christ is alive right now “in the flesh,” in His resurrected and glorified flesh and bone body! That is the testimony of the Bible. That is the faith of the martyrs! That is the Christian message across the ages of time!

When my life-work is ended, and I cross the swelling tide,
When the bright and glorious morning I shall see,
I shall know my Redeemer when I reach the other side,
And His smile will be the first to welcome me.
I shall know Him, I shall know Him,
And redeemed by His side I shall stand,
I shall know Him, I shall know Him,
By the print of the nails in His hand.
   (“My Saviour First of All” by Fanny J. Crosby, 1820-1915).

III. Third, the test of false prophets.

Please read I John 4:3 aloud.

“And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world” (I John 4:3).

Every demon power that rejects the incarnation of Christ – the past, present, and future incarnation of Christ in human flesh – “is not of God.” Mark that down! Remember it always! If someone tells you that Jesus Christ is a spirit, that He has no resurrected flesh and bone body, mark it down!

“This is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come” (I John 4:3).

“The spirit of antichrist” is the “spirit” that opposes Jesus’ incarnation in human flesh. The spirit of antichrist may say that Jesus once had human flesh, but it denies that He now has a resurrected flesh and bone body. The word “antichrist” means “either against Christ or instead of Christ” (W. E. Vine, An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, Fleming H. Revell, 1966, p. 61).

The Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Christian Scientists, and the liberal Protestants, as well as many other false religions, deny that Jesus rose physically from the dead and now exists in a glorified flesh and bone body. They oppose Jesus’ present incarnation. This is both “against Christ [and] instead of Christ” (Vine). It is a teaching which is against Christ, our glorified Lord. It also presents a false Christ – a “spirit” Christ. 

Whoever thinks that Jesus is a “spirit Christ” believes in a false Christ, for Jesus is not a spirit floating in the air! Jesus prophesied this when He said,

“There shall arise false Christs, and false prophets”
      (Matthew 24:24).

The “false Christs” are the “spirit Christs” of the cults and the New Age movement, as well as the false Christ of many Baptists and Protestants, who think that Christ is a bodiless spirit.

But, dear friend, “Jesus Christ is come in the flesh” (I John 4:2). Eleluthota – perfect tense – a continuation and present state. Christ is still, in a present state, living at the right hand of God in a resurrected and glorified flesh and bone body!

When Jesus returns to this earth from Heaven, all Israel will see Him, “whom they have pierced” (Zechariah 12:10).

“And one shall say unto him, What are these wounds in thine hands? Then he shall answer, Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends” (Zechariah 13:6).

Zechariah 13:6 makes it very clear that Christ will still bear the wounds of the crucifixion in His body when He returns at the Second Coming.

Tonight I am asking you to look upon the real Jesus by faith. Christ is saying to you,

“Look upon me whom [you] have pierced” (Zechariah 12:10).

You must not merely change your doctrine on this!  Oh, no!  You must actually come to Jesus, the crucified and risen Saviour. Come to Him by faith. Trust Him and be saved from sin and Hell.

Christ shed a bloody sweat when your sins were put on Him in the Garden of Gethsemane. Christ carried your sins to the Cross, and was punished in your place, to pay for your sins vicariously, at Calvary. Christ rose bodily from the dead and ascended up to Heaven, where He is praying for you at the right hand of God the Father.

No one ever loved you as much as Jesus does. Come to Him tonight and be washed clean from your every sin by His precious Blood! Let us turn to hymn number 18 on the song sheet. Please stand and sing it heartily and thoughtfully.

I hear Thy welcome voice,
That calls me, Lord, to Thee,
For cleansing in Thy precious blood
That flowed on Calvary.
I am coming, Lord! Coming now to Thee!
Wash me, cleanse me in the blood
That flowed on Calvary.

Though coming weak and vile,
Thou dost my strength assure;
Thou dost my vileness fully cleanse,
Till spotless all and pure.
I am coming, Lord! Coming now to Thee!
Wash me, cleanse me in the blood
That flowed on Calvary.

‘Tis Jesus calls me on
To perfect faith and love,
To perfect hope, and peace, and trust,
For earth and heaven above.
I am coming, Lord! Coming now to Thee!
Wash me, cleanse me in the blood
That flowed on Calvary.
   (“I Am Coming, Lord” by Lewis Hartsough, 1828-1919).

If you would like to speak with one of the deacons and me about coming to Jesus, for cleansing from sin by His Blood, please go out the door and up those stairs to the inquiry room. And as they go, let us pray for someone to come to the Lord Jesus Christ by faith there in that inquiry room tonight.

(END OF SERMON)
You can read Dr. Hymers' sermons each week on the Internet
at www.realconversion.com. Click on "Sermon Manuscripts."


Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: I John 4:1-6.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“My Saviour First of All” (by Fanny J. Crosby, 1820-1915).


THE OUTLINE OF

A TEST FALSE PROPHETS FAIL!

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.


“Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world” (I John 4:1-3).

I.   First, the false prophets themselves, I John 4:1; I Timothy 4:1.

II.  Second, the test of true prophets, I John 4:2; Luke 24:39, 51;
Romans 8:34.

III. Third, the test of false prophets, I John 4:3; Matthew 24:24;
Zechariah 12:10; 13:6.