Visions, inspired knowledge, revelations, there are folks today who claim to have these. They often claim these are from the creator of all things. Below are four specific individuals responsible for religions based on their “revelations”. Following brief descriptions of these individuals is an examination of what the Bible says about such things.
In 609 AD, a forty year old illiterate Muhammad, is said to have been approached by the Angel Gabriel. Gabriel asks Muhammad to read heavenly writings show to him, but Muhammad continually argues he doesn’t know how to read. After encouragement that he could do so in the name of God, he is given revelations over a period of time believed to be 2-3 years with the purpose of reforming mankind. At 43 he begins to publically preach. Things go rough for him for awhile, but by 622 AD he is joined by a number of people who help him rob caravans and battle tribes for power. Therein, the religion of Islam begins to thrive. Mohammed himself indulging in the new life takes multiple wives. [Muhammed the Prophet, Maulana Muhammad Ali; Mohammed The Man and His Faith, Tor Andrae; Mohammed, R.F. Dibble]
In 1827 and 1829, it is said an angel called “Moroni” appeared to Joseph Smith and revealed golden plates recording the history of an ancient American continent peoples who supposedly preached to the people and preached Christianity. The stones were supposedly in an ancient language. Smith a poorly educated man, was said to have used seer stones put in a hat with his face then put in the hat to receive one character at a time with its interpretation in English. He would read the English to a gentleman named Oliver Cowdery who would write down what was said. He would repeat what he wrote to see if what he wrote was correct. Cowdery at the time was attending a Church where the preacher was writing about Indians being of Jewish decent, which is a statement without fact. Smith later was arrested, tried, and convicted for fraud in 1826. As with Muhammed, Smith indulged in taking multiple wives, saying it was a revelation that God commanded. [Wickipedia; The Book of Mormon: A Book of Error And Fraud, Jon Gary Williams.]
Seventh Day Adventists
And not to exclude female prophets, in 1844, following the Great Millerite Disappointment, a time in which Christ was said to have been coming back and didn’t, Ellen G. White claims to have received a vision. She received many visions over time in fact. She claimed that certain followers would live to see the return of Christ. She gave numerous dates he would come back and he did not come back. Mrs. White also gave prophecies about many individuals that did not come true. Mrs. White even made medical prophecies about certain physical practices which were supposed to cause all sorts of diseases and cancers – assertions which had no basis in fact. [Wickipedia; ellenwhiteexposed.com, Traditions of Men versus the Word of God]
In 1875, Mary Baker Eddy published a book she said was God’s last revelation to man, Science and Health. Her proclamations proclaimed all of life an illusion, but she constantly adhered to its impositions. She taught physical relations between a man and a woman do not result in children. Ultimately, her teachings were major contradictions with science and the Bible. She died a Millionaire from the religion she created. [Wickipedia; ondoctrine.com, Traditions of Men versus the Word of God]
So that it is clear, though only 4 false prophets have been discussed thus far, it is without wavering that the statement is made that any individual or group claiming revelations or visions since the death of the apostles and those whom they laid their hands on are false prophets.
Whether we are looking at these four “prophets” or others who claim knowledge or abilities given them today, when we look to the Bible we are going to encounter conflict. Let’s start by looking at the book of Galatians:
Galatians 1:6-8 – I marvel that ye are so quickly removing from him that called you in the grace of Christ unto a different gospel; which is not another gospel only there are some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, should preach unto you any gospel other than that which we preached unto you, let him be anathema.
The first test on any supposed knowledge claimed must be: Does it contradicts scripture. All four prophets discussed would fail in this respect. However, other religion’s teachings which claim inspiration we would have to take one at a time and compare them to the word to see if such was the case.
A second test we will gather from Ephesians 4:11-14:
And he gave some to be apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, unto the work of ministering, unto the building up of the body of Christ: till we all attain unto the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a fullgrown man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: that we may be no longer children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, in craftiness, after the wiles of error;
From this we gather that there will come a time when the faith (gospel/knowledge of Christ) could be examined in its unity or fullness. Having such knowledge would allow a man to mature that he not be deceived by others teachings and errors. Consider:
2 Timothy 3:16-17 – Every scripture inspired of God is also profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for instruction which is in righteousness. That the man of God may be complete, furnished completely unto every good work.
2 Peter 2-3 – Grace to you and peace be multiplied in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; seeing that his divine power hath granted unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that called us by his own glory and virtue;
Jude 1:3 – Beloved, while I was giving all diligence to write unto you of our common salvation, I was constrained to write unto you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered unto the saints.
These verses establish that the gospel does indeed provide all that we need and that the folks of the first century had received that gospel that was necessary for all things.
Still, one might ask how is it that Revelation was written after these books and had new Revelation? Why is it not to be rejected? Is it not like any other new revelations to religious bodies today? Revelation was not new doctrine. In fact, it simply confirmed what had been taught previously. However, its purpose was one of encouragement and hope to Christians. The revelation of Revelation was also given to an Apostle so there is no question it was inspired.
Now once the gospel was given and it was written, what need would there be for any further prophecies or revelations? Only to edify the Church, confirm the Word, and glorify God. Well, could this be useful today? Yes, it could. However, Ephesians 4:11-14 stated “till”, that is the revelations, prophecies, and gifts would only continue “till” a point man had all he needed to be complete in the Word. Once the Word was confirmed and written, they were at that point. Consider:
I Corinthians 13:8-10 – Love never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall be done away; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall be done away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part; but when that which is perfect is come, that which is in part shall be done away.
James 1:25 – But he that looketh into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and so continueth, being not a hearer that forgetteth but a doer that worketh, this man shall be blessed in his doing.
Romans 12:2 – And be not fashioned according to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, and ye may prove what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
Once the Word had been written and confirmed to the folks of the 1st century the perfect will of God had been given. There was no longer need for revelation. There is no need for such things today.
Knowing what we do know considering scripture we can once again visit our four “prophets”.
1) By the time Muhammed came along, there was no need of further prophecy. The world had the Word. Muhammed did not even teach the Word of God, but items contradictory to God’s Will.
2) By the time Joseph Smith and his pal Oliver Cowdery came along, there was no need of further prophecy. The world had the Word. Joseph taught things contradictory to the Word of God including polygamy which he claimed was God’s command.
3) By the time Ellen White came along, there was no need of further prophecy. The world had the Word. She proudly pronounced false dates of Christ’s return, yet no one knows of that day according to Matthew 24:36 and I Thessalonians 5:2.
4) By the time Mary Baker Eddy came along, there was no need of further prophecy. The world had the Word. Mrs. Eddy was a walking contradiction of scripture even proclaiming there was no such thing as sin. Yet, Romans 3:23 tells us that all have sinned.
Applying scripture to all “prophets” of the modern era ultimately all will fall. Their visions, knowledge, and revelation will fail and pale in the face of His Word.
1 John 4:1 – Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.