Two Tests for a Prophet of God
help us to evaluate David Wilkerson’s 2009 prophecies
And the ones from the 1990’s…. and the 80’s … and the 70’s.
The 2009 announcements of David Wilkerson that we are on the verge of catastrophe and judgment has sparked a flurry of blog articles and emails. Because of an article I wrote about a decade ago on Wilkerson a certain part of that activity came my way. I received quite a bit of email in the last few days. Which is fine, because it brings to the fore a topic that Christians need to discuss from time to time. And that is: How do we know whose “Thus saith the Lord” is authentic? Not everyone who claims to have a word from God really has a word from God.
In this post, rather than chase down lesser or more difficult details of David Wilkerson’s prophecies of these last thirty-five years, or his track record on those pronouncements, I thought it would be good to first examine the basic question: How do we know the true prophet of God? We are fortunate that we have two clear passages in Scripture that help us here. They constitute two infallible tests for knowing true prophets of God. (For the sake of brevity, I am leaving out entirely the issue of whether we can have Biblical prophets in our time. That can be grist for another article.)
The two tests are, respectively, mathematical and theological.
The Mathematical Test
This is simple enough. What is the percentage of fulfilled prophecies of the prophet (or would-be prophet) in question? If it is less than one hundred percent then we can be absolutely certain that this person has spoken presumptuously, that he has not heard from God. (By the way, if a person does indeed have a hundred percent fulfillment rate that does not in itself mean that the person is a true prophet from God. It just means we go on to test two. More on that below.)
The Scriptural basis for the mathematical test is Deuteronomy 18:20-22:
And if you 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 happen or come to pass, that is the thing that the LORD has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him.”
Notice these points:
1. Whether the prophet speaks in the name of the true God or not is not the sticking point.
2. Verse 21 speaks right to the perplexity of many people today in regard to David Wilkerson, and those like him. (“What if he is indeed a true man of God? What if I am fighting against the Spirit of God?”) These are the very hesitations I had at one time about Mr. Wilkerson. But here is the key,
3. If the prophet prophesied things that do not come to pass – and Wilkerson has done several already (see previous article) – then we are assured by God that person has spoken presumptuously.
He has not heard from God.
He is not speaking for God.
We do not need to be afraid of him (that is, entertaining nagging doubts that he is speaking God’s message.). Why? Because he does not pass the test for a true prophet. We need, rather, to be afraid for him.
In the next post I will get to the theological test. In the case of David Wilkerson we do not even need to apply it, seeing that he does not pass this first, more basic test. But still, for the sake of completeness, it will be good to examine this higher criterion (found in Deut. 13).
Continued: The Theological Test