Posted by: Standing Solus Christus | August 13, 2006

Real versus False Revelation

As we continue in our topic of special revelation we will address the question of how do we distinguish true from false prophets?  God did provide means to allow His people to discern between authentic and false agents of revelation.  In Deuteronomy 18:20-22 we see that if what is said by the agent does not come to pass, then it is false.  Here the Scripture is specifically referring to fulfilled prophecy.   Fulfilled prophecy, however is a miraculous sign foretelling some future event.  As we look at the rest of Scripture it is apparent that fulfilled prophecy is not the only miraculous sign that is used to authenticate special revelation from God.

We see numerous examples in the Old Testament where miracles served a purpose in authenticating special revelation.  For example, Moses and all the plagues in Egypt and Elijah’s encounter with the prophets of Baal are two very significant instances where miracles authenticated the prophet to be from God. Even more numerous are the abundant examples of this in the Gospels.  In Matthew 9:1-8 we see Jesus validating His words through the healing of the paralytic.  A few other examples are the healing of blind Bartimeus John 9:1-12; raising Lazarus from the dead John 11:41-42; and the response to John the Baptist’s question Matthew 11:2-6; etc, all of which, employed the use of miraculous signs to authenticate the message and messenger.       

In a very famous passage John 3:1-2 we see Nicodemus, a teacher of Israel, acknowledging that Jesus must be from God because of the miraculous signs He performed.  Thus, it seems reasonable to conclude that all miraculous signs were not just performed for the sake of performing.  However, they were specifically designed to validate or authenticate whether the agent of revelation was truly from God.  A miracle is not a normal thing, we do not see people having their sight restored, water changing into wine or people being raised from the dead everyday.  When these things do happen we must conclude that this person should be listened too.  If these signs are ignored then we should dread the consequences (Matthew 11:20-24). 

Another conclusion we must assume, if this is the means prescribed by God to validate His agents, is that the agent that is not of God would be unable to perform miracles (i.e. the devil or false prophets).  Otherwise, we would be unable to truly trust any special revelation (Mark 9:38-40).  This is not to say that lying signs or false wonders are not possible (Thessalonians 2:9; Matthew 24:24; Exodus 7:11-12; Deuteronomy 13:1-5; ).  The diviners of Pharaoh were able to perform tricks to keep up with Moses in the beginning, however after a while they were unable to maintain their false signs over time. 

There are several examples from Scripture, which can be provided to support the use of signs and wonders as authenticating agents of revelation.  And we will revisit this topic when we discuss the authority of Scripture and the completion of the canon of Scripture.  However, for now we will settle with the fact that signs and wonders are the means employed to validate God’s agents of revelation. 

In our next entry we will switch gears and discuss the nature of special revelation.   

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Responses

  1. […] How do you define a miracle?  Some people would qualify the birth of a child, answered prayer, or the salvation of a soul as a miracle.  However, the examples just given are things that happen almost everyday.  Should something ordinary (happens every day) be qualified as a bonafide miracle?  Some would appeal to the Scriptures to support the concept that miracles occur every day.  Although, there are numerous miracles recorded in the Scriptures they were performed during a period of 1,500 years.  Furthermore, the majority of the miracles were performed during concentrated periods of time (i.e. the Exodus, Jesus’ earthly ministry, and the Acts of the Apostles).  We would argue that the ordinary examples given are not miracles.  No, we would argue that miracles are extraordinary events that do not occur every day.  We would define a miracle as an extraordinary act designed solely to validate the agent of special revelation that God provided for His covenant people (real-versus-false-revelation). If our definition of a miracle is accurate, then the answer to ramification 2 is simple.  The only qualified or expected person who could perform a miracle would be an authorized agent of special revelation.  This would preclude an unauthorized agent, including but not limited to Satan.  Otherwise, God’s people would be in the dangerous position of possibly assigning authority to a message that does not find its source in their Covenant God.  […]

  2. […] Essentially, this view condones the continuation of prophecy and the rationalization is that as long as it’s in accordance with Scripture, its okay.  This view misses the point on how special this revelation truly is.  A prophet spoke God’s authoritative word, which was validated by miraculous signs and wonders (real-versus-false-revelation).  In addition, Peter makes an important point about prophecy in 2 Peter 1:19-21: […]


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