Contending for the faith | Making Disciples | Equipping the Saints for Ministry

by Jeannette Haley

      If someone were to ask you how to determine if we are in the last days, you might well answer, “The Bible tells us there will be wars and rumors of wars; earthquakes in different places; famines; diseases and plagues; divorce and remarriage; lawlessness and hideous crimes.” All of these things are true. No one can deny we are most assuredly living in such times.

      However, there is one vital sign of the end of the age missing in the above statement; that is, false prophets. Of all the topics Jesus warned His disciples about, this one thing, false prophets, was repeated three times in one discourse. (Matthew 24:4, 5; 11; 24.) Why do you suppose Jesus, Peter, John, Jude and Paul placed such a great emphasis on end-time deceivers?

      The answer lies in the fact that Jesus and the apostles knew nothing could deceive, devastate and destroy the Body of Christ like the workings of false prophets. “Well, Jeannette,” you may say, “there certainly are no false prophets in my church or circle of friends or life. Besides, I’d know one if I saw one.” Are you sure about that? Jesus said in Matthew 24:24: “if possible, they shall deceive the very elect.” “If” in the Greek language in this context is used to speak of things not merely probable but, rather certain and dependent on no condition (See Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary, AMG Publishers, Chattanooga, TN, page 504).

      Volumes could be written about false prophets but at this time I feel strongly led to zero in on the Manifest Sons of God movement. Many of you have asked us about the Manifest Sons of God, so in this brief space, we will attempt to give you an overview of this occult presence in the church today. The MSG originated from the Latter Rain Movement of the 40’s and 50’s. In 1946 a major fasting and prayer daily revival center was established in San Diego, California under the leadership of Franklin Hall. Hall believed that the prayers of Christians would be hindered if they did not fast, and the prayers of pagans would be answered when they fasted. His insistence on fasting was not for the purpose of coming into God’s presence in order to determine the will of God, but rather for the purpose of getting his way with God—a fanatical zeal for power.
Hall believed in “Christian astrology.” He also taught that all those who applied his teachings would become immortal while living in their present flesh-and-blood bodies. He claimed there was such a thing as an “immortal substance” which was seen on those who attended his meetings as a fine gold or silver, sparkling material. He claimed this phenomena was “Immortal Heavenly Objects” (IHO’s), “Unusual Heavenly Objects” (UHO’s), and “Unidentified Flying Objects” (UFO’s). At this point, some of you may say, “Hey, this sounds familiar! Glory dust from heaven!” Really?

      Nowhere in scripture do we find such a “manifestation.” However, if you were to become involved in the occult, things such as “glory dust” would be no big deal. Think about it. Is Jesus being lifted up? Are people being convicted of their sin and born again? Can Satan really produce visible, material “miracles?” You better believe it! Who do you think is the power behind lying signs and wonders? But rather than discuss this further, we need to learn about another “founding father” of the MSG, William Branham. Branham was greatly influenced by Hall’s teachings. Branham taught what he called “God’s Seventh Church Age.” Branham literally believed that he was the “angel” referred to in Revelation 3:14 and 10:7, the prophet to the Laodicean Age, the final era of time. Branham and his followers believed that the true evidence of possessing the Holy Spirit was whether or not you followed “God’s prophet,” which was Branham.This false prophet brought forth many heretical beliefs including his “serpent’s seed doctrine” that claimed that Cain was born of an adulterous affair between Satan and Eve. He denied the Trinity and taught that the Word of God was given in three different forms: the Zodiac, the Egyptian pyramids, and the written scriptures. He claimed that his gift of healing was done by “his angel” (and not the Holy Spirit).

      To quote from Roger Oakland’s excellent little book, New Wine or Old Deception, “A good indicator that a false doctrine in the church is underway is when a teaching projects that man can be big and powerful while God can be manipulated and made subject to man’s plans and schemes. Clearly the ‘Manifested Sons of God’ idea fits into this category.” The Manifest Sons of God emphasize a ‘Kingdom Message’ by proclaiming:

1. The offices of prophet and apostle will be restored in the latter days.

2. The prophets will call the Church to holiness and rejection of the world’s influences found in the denominational churches. True sonship with God will come through stages of perfection: servant, friend, son, and, ultimately, godhood itself.

3. The apostles will rule the Church through the establishment of independent churches, unaffiliated with the corrupt denominations. The exception would be the denominational churches that leave their covering and join the movement.

4. Through signs and wonders wrought by the apostles and prophets, a world-wide revival will break out, and a majority of the world will be won to Christ. The signs and wonders will include blessings upon those whom the apostles and prophets bless, and curses upon whom they curse. 5. The revival will come as the result of the Church defeating demonic spirits through prayer, fasting and spiritual warfare, conducted through intense worship and praise, and by rebuking demonic powers and territorial spirits.

6. The restoration of praise and worship is known as the Tabernacle of David, and includes dancing, singing, and exuberant praise in tongues. Those who achieve a certain degree of holiness under the direction of the apostles and prophets will overcome all enemies, including death, and will become immortal. They will complete the conquest of the nations before Christ returns. The conquering is done as Joel’s army–an army of immortal beings–bringing judgment upon the ungodly and all who will not accept the authority of the apostles and prophets.

      “Some believe that the second coming of Jesus is in and through the Church. The Church will become the Christ on earth and rule the nations with a rod of iron. Others believe that after the Church has taken dominion over the nations, the Church, glorious and triumphant, will call Jesus back to the earth and hand the nations over to Him. It is obvious that the majority of ‘Latter Rain’ theology cannot be supported by sound Biblical exegesis, and instead lines up with occultic ideas and methodology. It is a noble idea to live a sinless life without ‘spot and wrinkle’ but, every Bible believer who has an understanding of the grace of God, knows that our hope lies totally in the finished work of the cross and not in any goodness of ourselves. This teaching seems to appeal to the human weakness of spiritual pride and the lust for power, which has always opened the door for false teachings connected with the occult.”

      Some of the more familiar terms the MSG uses frequently are as follows: Bride Company, Christ principle, people, Dominion, Elijah Company, Feast of Tabernacles, Five-fold ministries, Jezebel spirit, Joel’s Army, Kingdom principles, Kingdom theology, Many-membered man child, New breed, New Covenant, New order, New Wine, New Zion, Overcomers, Reconstruction, Restoration, Serpent’s seed, Signs and wonders, Sonship, Spoken word, Tabernacle of David, Unity in diversity.

This heretical theology now being proclaimed in thousands of churches throughout the world today, concerning a great outpouring of power in the last days upon an elite group of believers, has no foundation in Scripture. Jesus told us that the gospel would be proclaimed as a witness to all the nations and then the end would come. But nowhere in scripture does it declare that there shall be a great revival over the majority of the world with people coming to Christ as their Savior. Rather, the Word of God warns us that there shall first come a “falling away.” We are definitely living in that time.

A “falling away” doesn’t mean a departure from religion, but rather, a departure from the truth. This means a departure from the real Jesus (who is the Truth) and from the revealed, written Word of God. Remember that there will be a one-world religion, as prophesied in God’s Word, but it will not be true Christianity.

Everywhere we turn we encounter the heretical teachings of the MSG. And what’s even more tragic, we see multitudes of people within the Christian ranks swallowing this poisonous heresy hook, line and sinker. Many even fiercely defend it against clear Biblical instruction indicating that they have been thoroughly brainwashed. The Manifest Sons of God are lacking in the fruit of the Spirit. Love is not a priority, neither is care for the poor and needy or giving to missions. Their goal is world domination at any cost, including shedding the blood of those standing in the way by the hard core element within its ranks, (Joel’s Army).

The question is, how can a Christian be deceived? Answer: First of all, by not studying, knowing, understanding and memorizing the Word of God (See 2 Tim. 2:15). Christians need to be diligent, discerning and not leave it up to others to teach them everything they believe. Like the Bereans, they need to check everything they see, read and hear from Scripture (Acts 17:11, Heb. 5:14).

We continually see believers falling into deception because they do not know the character of God. Rather, they usually define God according to their own frame of reference. This is the result of the shameful failure of the church to disciple new believers, tolerate sin in the congregation, and compromise with the world. People are left to flounder in the dark and figure everything out on their own. That’s one reason why we must never assume that just because a person attends church or says they are a Christian that they understand what true Christianity is.

Christians need to know what a wolf looks like. A wolf looks like—a sheep! (Matt. 7:15). A wolf appears to be a minister of righteousness (2 Cor. 11:15). A wolf also “talks” like a sheep (Ro. 16:18).  Christian beware—pride, arrogance, self-importance and a feeling of infallibility opens the door for major delusion.

Believers must have an intimate personal relationship with God the Father, the Lord Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. This not only comes through a personal study of the Word, but through prayer. Most believers, sad to say, do not have an intimate relationship with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is a Person, not a “force” or an “it”. He is not here to grant our every wish and whim, but rather to lift up Jesus, convict of sin, guide us into all truth and lead us to righteousness (John 16:8-11).

Learn how to test the spirit and the fruit. Who is being lifted up? Is it Jesus, or is it a person or doctrine, etc.? Is there liberty or bondage? Are you drawn closer to Jesus with a greater desire to live for Him and Him alone? Do you experience fear, uneasiness or confusion? Ask the Lord to show you why.

Learn how to recognize a leader’s ultimate goal. Is it to acquire a following? Gain income? Or is their goal to exalt the Lord Jesus Christ alone? Some of the signs of a true prophet are as follows: 1. Their prophecies come to pass (John 1:29). 2. They lift up Jesus (John 1:7). 3. They do not encourage a following (John 3:30). 4. They make a straight way for the Lord, bearing witness that Jesus is the Son of God (John 1:23).

      Is the leader humble? True humility is one of the greatest tests of a true servant of God. Arrogance, vanity and pride reveals a carnal, unregenerate heart. Stick with “winners.” If you find a church that still stands on the unadulterated Word of God, where the leaders love the truth and are teachable, stay with it. If you know of “good, old saints” who stand on the faith “once delivered to the saints,” fellowship with them. Learn from their example. Toss out questionable books, and treasure biographies of missionaries, and the “classics” such as the wise words of Oswald Chambers, A.W. Tozer, C.H. Spurgeon, John Bunyon, William Law, Andrew Murray,  and others. Purge your music collection of all hypnotic, repetitious choruses and words that do not line up with scripture. Study the lives of the old hymn writers, and study the hymns themselves. They were bought with a price.

      Finally, ask the Lord to give you a love for the truth. Ask Him to give you a fixed heart. And pray you never, ever fall victim to any kind of delusion.