“Love Speaks Truth” – Deuteronomy 18:14-22

November 26th,  2017

Dt. 18:14-22

“Love Speaks Truth”

Aux Text: 1 John 4:1-6

Call to Worship: Psalm 40:1-11


Service Orientation: God is truth.   He tells us how to live life to the fullest through His prophets.   We need to discern true prophets and listen to them.


Bible Memory Verse for the Week:  Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. — John 17:17


Background Information:

  • (v. 15) The natural way to interpret this passage is to refer to the line of prophets God sent to the Israelites after Moses, even though only one prophet is mentioned. The Israelites needed to hear from God, and Moses was telling them that God would send his prophets to give them his word.  Verse 20 speaks of a false prophet of Israel as opposed to the good one mentioned in verses 15-19, suggesting that the good one refers to the good prophets of Israel.

However, during the 400-year intertestamental period, when no prophet arose among the Israelites, the idea began to grow that this passage was indeed talking about a single prophet who was to come.  By the first century this prophecy was being given a messianic interpretation by numerous groups.  So the people asked John the Baptist, “Are you the Prophet?” and John answered “No” (Jn 6:14; 7:40).  Jesus himself may have been referring to this passage when he said, “If you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me” (Jn 5:46).  Peter and Stephen took our passage as a prediction about Jesus (Acts 3:22, 23; 7:37).  (Ajith Fernando, Preaching the Word: Dt, 466)

  • (v. 15) It by no means follows from the use of the singular, “a prophet,” that Moses is speaking of one particular prophet only; but the idea expressed is this, that at any time when the people stood in need of a mediator with God like Moses, God would invariably send a prophet. (C.F. Keil and F. Delitzsch, Commentary on the OT Vol 1, 394)
  • (v. 15) There is no warrant for this limitation of the word “prophet,” since the expectation of the Messiah was not unknown to Moses and the Israel of his time, but was actually expressed in the promise of the seed of the woman, and Jacob’s prophecy concerning Shiloh; so that O. V. Gerlach is perfectly right in observing, that “this is a prediction of Christ as the true Prophet, precisely like that of the seed of the woman in Gn 3:15.” The occasion, also, on which Moses received the promise of the “prophet” from the Lord, which he here communicated to the people,–namely, when the people desired a mediator between themselves and the Lord at Sinai, and this desire on their part was pleasing to the Lord,–shows that the promise should be understood in the full sense of the words, without any limitation whatever; that is to say, that Christ, in whom the prophetic character culminated and was completed, is to be included.  (C.F. Keil and F. Delitzsch, Commentary on the OT Vol 1, 395)
  • (v. 16) The provision of the Word of God by means of a prophet lay in the request of the nation when they were still at Horeb on the day of the assembly. They had asked Moses to act as their intermediary.  The people were frightened by the voice of the LORD and alarmed by the great fire on the mountain.  Concerned that they might die, the people requested that Moses receive the words of God on their behalf.  God regarded their request as a good and reasonable one, and granted it.  In the same spirit, he would again do so in the future, raising up for them a prophet like Moses.  The task of the prophet appears in a succinct form in verse 18:  I will put my words in his mouth, and he will tell them everything I command him.  (Doug McIntosh, Holman OT Commentary: Dt, 224)
  • (v. 20) It is also possible for people to say things that did not come directly from God and claim that they are prophecies. This is what is condemned here as being presumptuous.  The word translated “presumes” means “to act arrogantly, be contemptuous.”  False prophecy is arrogant because it disregards God’s exclusive right to tell us what is absolutely binding on our lives.  False prophets act with enormous arrogance by saying that something is from God that actually is from their own minds.  Moses says of such, “. . .that same prophet shall die” (18:20).  The harshest punishment possible is decreed for this because it is grave sin.  (Ajith Fernando, Preaching the Word: Dt, 468)


The weapons of the Church are the same as those of Christ:  truth and love.  It is to teach and love mankind into desiring and seeking the complete psychological and social harmony that only obedience to God and love of God can produce.  (Chad Walsh, Early Christians of the 21st Century, 179)


The question to be answered is . . .  What is the role of a prophet?


Answer: God is truth and He communicates to His people through truth tellers called prophets.  Listening to prophets promotes shalom so we need to learn to discern and seek the truth.


There is no way of knowing what the Truth is unless you know the Truth.  And there is no way of knowing the Truth unless you believe there is Truth. — Frank Peretti.


The Word for the Day is . . . Truth


Why are prophets important?:

I-  As a God of truth, He calls certain people to speak His words.  (Dt 18:14-18; see also: “thus saith the Lord” & “The word of the Lord came to” Ex 4:15-16; Nm 12:6-8; Dt 5:22-29; 1 Sm 3:19-21; 1 Kgs 17:24; Ps 31:5; 111:10; Prv 1:7; 9:10; Isa 6; 65:16; Jer 1:9; 2 Cor 13:8; 1 Tm 2:4; 2 Pt 1:19-20)


Genuine prophecy entails applying the message of God, usually from the Scriptures, to the situations of our times.  Rather than merely foretelling, it can be better defined as “forthtelling.”  (Marva J. Dawn, Truly the Community:  Romans 12, 105)


Were the people of God then denied all glimpses of the future and all guidance concerning it?  On the contrary:  their God had promised one office in Israel through which his voice and his wishes would be made known–that of the prophet.  His was not an elected office, nor did it come by birth (unlike the Levites), but by the direct choice of God (v. 15).  (David F. Payne, The Daily Study Bible Series: Dt, 112)


The mark of the prophet was his call (see, for example, Isa 6); an experience which set him apart from his countrymen and fitted him to be God’s spokesman.  The function of the prophet is described here in terms of Moses (“a prophet like me”, ie like Moses, v. 15).  Just as Moses had acted as God’s spokesman at Horeb (v. 16), so a succession of prophets in Israel would continue to guide the nation in its affairs, giving it the authentic word of God (v. 18).  Thus Israel would never be left rudderless.  (David F. Payne, The Daily Study Bible Series: Dt, 112)


As the author makes plain, the fundamental urge to know God’s will cannot be satisfied by sorceries or divinations.  It is the prophet who speaks for God, and he is officially recognized as a divinely ordained channel of revelation.  (George Arthur Buttrick, The Interpreter’s Bible Vol 2., 449)


No other religion records such a line of men as those in Israel who step by step added to man’s knowledge of God.  Nor was the divine message to be of the trifling character that common soothsaying or necromancy had made so familiar.  It was to be fundamental truth from the heart of God.  (George Arthur Buttrick, The Interpreter’s Bible Vol 2., 450)


I think that is what one of my old teachers meant when he said, if I remember rightly his words, that God is the most obligated being that there is.  He is obligated by His own nature.  He is infinite in His wisdom; therefore He can never do anything that is unwise.  He is infinite in His justice; therefore He can never do anything that is unjust.  He is infinite in His goodness; therefore He can never do anything that is not good.  He is infinite in His truth; therefore it is impossible that He should lie.  (J. Gresham Machen, The Christian View of Man, 26)


From the foul fog and darkness of occultism to the clarity and authority of the prophetic word; from the futility of human attempts to penetrate the confusions of alienation from God’s will and purpose to the direct communication of God, on God’s own initiative–God will raise up for you a prophet.  (Christopher J. H. Wright, Understanding the Bible Commentary Series: Dt, 217)


These verses are of great importance in understanding the nature of true prophecy.  Four points are significant.  First, true prophecy would be a matter of God’s initiative (vv. 15, 18).  Prophecy was neither for self-appointed egoists nor for a self-perpetuating mantic guild.  It was God who wanted to do the speaking, God who had guidance and laws to give, God who would address God’s own people with words of warning and encouragement. . . . Secondly, true prophecy would follow God’s model, namely Moses himself (a prophet like me [v. 15], a prophet like you [v. 18]).  The immediate context speaks of Moses’ role as the mediator of God’s word and will, and that would certainly be the hallmark of all true prophets to come.  But further reflection suggests other ways in which Moses was the model and criterion for true prophecy.  He had a distinct experience of God’s call, for which he felt great inadequacy.  He was sent into a specific situation of need and crisis, within which he had to address the challenging word of God both to God’s own people and to the political authorities. . . . Thirdly, the true prophet would speak God’s message.  I will put my words in his mouth; this is as direct a statement of the link between God’s word and the prophets’ words as could be made (cf. 2 Pt 1:20f.). . . . Fourthly, the true prophet carried God’s authority, for he or she would speak my words. . .in my name (v. 19).  Therefore, those who heard the prophet heard God; whatever response they made to the prophet they made to God, and they would take the consequences.  (Christopher J. H. Wright, Understanding the Bible Commentary Series: Dt, 217-8)


For since all truth is of God, if any ungodly man has said anything true, we should not reject it, for it also has come from God.  (John Calvin, Commentary on Titus 1:12)


To say that God knows all things and that his knowledge is perfect is to say that he is never mistaken in his perception or understanding of the world:  all that he knows and thinks is true and is a correct understanding of the nature of reality.  In fact, since God knows all things infinitely well, we can say that the standard of true knowledge is conformity to God’s knowledge.  If we think the same thing God thinks about anything in the universe, we are thinking truthfully about it.  (Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology, 195)


In addition to the fact that God is faithful to his promises, we must also affirm that all of God’s words about himself and about his creation completely correspond to reality.  That is, God always speaks truth when he speaks.  He is “the unlying God” (Ti 1:2, author’s translation), the God for whom it is impossible to lie (Heb 6:18), the God whose every word is perfectly “pure” (Ps 12:6), the one of whom it can be said, “Every word of God proves true” (Prv 30:5).  God’s words are not simply true in the sense that they conform to some standard of truthfulness outside of God.  Rather, they are truth itself; they are the final standard and definition of truth.  So Jesus can say to the Father, “Your word is truth” (Jn 17:17).  (Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology, 196)


Whatever the area of our investigation, when we discover more truth about the nature of reality, we discover more of the truth that God already knows.  In this sense we can affirm that “all truth is God’s truth” and rejoice whenever the learning or discovery of this truth is used in ways pleasing to God.  Growth in knowledge is part of the process of becoming more like God or becoming creatures who are more fully in God’s image.  Paul tells us that we have put on the “new nature,” which, he says, “is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator” (Col 3:10). (Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology, 196)


These commands are given because God himself loves truth and hates falsehood:  “Lying lips are an abomination to the LORD, but those who act faithfully are his delight” (Prv 12:22; cf. Isa 59:3-4).  Falsehood and lying come not from God but from Satan, who delights in falsehood:  “When he lies, he speaks according to his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (Jn 8:44).  It is appropriate then that with “the cowardly, the faithless, the polluted” and the “murderers, fornicators, sorcerers, [and] idolaters” who are found in “the lake that burns with fire and sulphur” far from the heavenly city, are found also “all liars” (Rv 21:8). (Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology, 197)


If preachers insist on competing with psychiatrists as counselors, with physicians as healers, with politicians as statesmen and with philosophers as speculators, then these specialists have every right to tell them how to preach.  If a minister’s message is not based on “Thus saith the Lord,” then as a sermon it is good for nothing but to be cast out and trodden under foot of the specialists in the department with which it deals.  (John H. Gerstner, Christianity Today)


Six facts, I am persuaded, conclusively prove that the Bible is God’s Word to anyone who considers them thoroughly and objectively. …Here are those six facts:

  1.   The Bible stakes its own authority on its claim to be the Word of God.  If it lies to us at this point it is altogether worthless.
  2. The Bible at no point contradicts itself.  Scripture is internally consistent.
  3. The Bible’s batting average for predicting future events—what we call prophecy—is 1,000.  When Scripture says something will happen, it happens, though not always in the way we think.
  4. The Bible’s description of its contemporary world is accurate.  Archeologists and historians have looked for that single finding that proves the historical data of Scripture to be inaccurate.  In every single case where we have found the proofs, they vindicate the biblical content.
  5. The Bible does not contradict the proven truths of science.  No, the Bible is not a science book, but scientific findings agree with the fact statements that are in Scripture.
  6. The Bible has been kept from error over history. Hundreds of hand-copied ancient manuscripts of Scripture have been uncovered.  Some date back almost to the original documents.  These manuscripts vary from one another in details.  But not one of those differences in reading significantly alters a teaching. (D. James Kennedy; What Is God Like?, 39)


Thus, Scripture teaches us that lying is wrong not only because of the great harm that comes from it (and much more harm comes from lying than we often realize), but also for an even deeper and more profound reason:  when we lie we dishonor God and diminish his glory, for we, as those created in God’s image and created for the purpose of reflecting God’s glory in our lives, are acting in a way that is contrary to God’s own character.  (Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology, 197)


When God is called the truth, this is to be understood in its most comprehensive sense.  He is the truth first of all in a metaphysical sense, that is, in Him the idea of the Godhead is perfectly realized; He is all that He as God should be, and as such is distinguished from all so-called gods, which are called vanity and lies, Ps 96:5; 97:7; 115:4-8; Isa 44:9, 10.  He is also the truth in an ethical sense, and as such reveals Himself as He really is, so that His revelation is absolutely reliable, Nm 23:19; Rom 3:4; Heb 6:18.  Finally, He is also the truth in a logical sense, and in virtue of this He knows things as they really are, and has so constituted the mind of man that the latter can know, not merely the appearance, but also the reality, of things.  Thus the truth of God is the foundation of all knowledge.  (Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology, 69)


We may define the veracity or truth of God as that perfection of His Being by virtue of which He fully answers to the idea of the Godhead, is perfectly reliable in His revelation, and sees things as they really are.  It is because of this perfection that He is the source of all truth, not only in the sphere of morals and religion, but also in every field of scientific endeavor.  Scripture is very emphatic in its references to God as the truth, Ex 34:6; Nm 23:19; Dt 32:4; Ps 25:10; 31:6; Isa 65:16; Jer 10:8, 10, 11; Jn 14:6; 17:3; Ti 1:2; Heb 6:18; 1 Jn 5:20, 21.  (Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology, 69)


This faithfulness of God is of the utmost practical significance to the people of God.  It is the ground of their confidence, the foundation of their hope, and the cause of their rejoicing.  It saves them from the despair to which their own unfaithfulness might easily lead, gives them courage to carry on in spite of their failures, and fills their hearts with joyful anticipations, even when they are deeply conscious of the fact that they have forfeited all the blessings of God.  Nm 23:19; Dt 7:9; Ps 89:33; Isa 49:7; 1 Cor 1:9; 2 Tm 2:13; Heb 6:17, 18; 10:23.  (Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology, 70)


A God of truth is best served by presentation of the truth.  (Millard Erickson, Christian Theology, 317)


II-  Listening to truth promotes shalom.  (Dt 18:19-20; see also: 1 Chr 17:3; Ps 1; 19:7-14; Jer 23:16-29; 26; 28:1-17; 29:11-13; 35:17; Lam 2:14; Ez 13:1-23; Mt 7:24-27; Lk 11:28; Jn 5:24-25; 6:47; 8:32-36, 51-53; 10:10; Rom 2:8; 1 Cor 13:6; 1 Thess 5:20-22; 2 Thess 2:10-13; 2 Tm 3:16-17;  Heb 4:12; 1 Pt 1:22; 1 Jn 3:18-20)  


The prophet is a messenger of the divine “word” (v. 18), which means he must be listened to.  Hearing–not seeing–is all-important in Israelite religion, and hearing the divine word must be followed up by obedience (13:5, 19[4, 18]; 15:5; 26:17; 27:10; 28:1-2; 30:20; Gn 22:18; 26:5; Jer 26:13; 38:20).  Those choosing to disobey the divine word do so at great cost (8:20; 28:15, 45, 62; 1 Sm 15:22-23; Jer 9:11-12[12-13]; 32:23; 40:2-3, and elsewhere).  (Jack R. Lundbom, Deuteronomy, A Commentary, 558)


Because the prophet was God’s mouthpiece, his words held divine authority.  To reject the words that the prophet spoke was to reject God, and he would not permit such rebellion to go unchallenged:  I myself will call him to account.  On some occasions, the prophet might be able to execute divine judgment himself, as Paul did with Elymas the sorcerer (see Acts 13:9-11).  (Doug McIntosh, Holman OT Commentary: Dt, 224)


The word of God is truth.  And we need to meditate or ruminate on truth until it becomes food for us.   That is why Jesus said that His food was to do the will of His father and Jesus also echoed the words of Dt 8:3 in that man does not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.

Are we taking in and chewing God’s word until it becomes food for our souls?  I feel the reason so many of us are spiritually malnourished is because we are not taking in God’s Word like this.  —paraphrase of Tim Keller


As we move from modernity to postmodernity, the church must focus on saints, not celebrities.  Poets and prophets must replace the pulpiteers.  The spiritual superficiality that has characterized so much church leadership in recent decades has resulted in spiritually shallow churches.  Congregational members seldom rise above the level of their leaders.  (Eddie Gibbs; Church Next, 122)


Do you want people to like you now and despise you for eternity or do you want them to despise you now and be grateful for your words in eternity?


Kathleen Norris, The Cloister Walk “A prophet’s task is to reveal the fault lines, hidden beneath the comfortable surface of the worlds we invest for ourselves, the national myths as well as the little lies and delusions of control and security that get us through the day.”   False prophets assure of peace when there is no peace.  True prophets  have the annoying habit of insisting that there is no peace just when we’ve convinced ourselves that everything is running smoothly.    (Mars Hill Audio Journal, Vol 103; disk #2 trak #2)


It is the fate of any true prophet to be at war with his times.  (Rabbi Joseph Telushkin, Jewish Literacy, 93)


If truth does not precede defining your experience – then your experience is spurious. —  STEVE BROWN


“In biblical days prophets were astir while the world was asleep; today the world is astir while church and synagogue are busy with trivialities” (The Insecurity of Freedom, 174).  (Rabbi Joseph Telushkin, Jewish Literacy, 420)


The formula is simple:  when relativism holds sway long enough, everyone begins to do what is right in his own eyes without any regard for submission to truth.  In this atmosphere, a society begins to break down.  Virtually every structure in a free society depends on a measure of integrity–that is, submission to the truth.  When the chaos of relativism reaches a certain point, the people will welcome any ruler who can bring some semblance of order and security.  So a dictator steps forward and crushes the chaos with absolute control.  Ironically relativism–the great lover of unfettered freedom–destroys freedom in the end.  (John Piper, Think, 114)


Common to these and many more prophetic appearances is the notion that the Mosaic Torah was not the final revelation from God.  Mercifully, it seems that every generation was visited by “his servants the prophets.”  These prophets did not come with radically new messages; their mission was to call the people back to Yahweh and to apply the Torah to new and ever-changing situations.  If the people rejected their messages, the prophets pronounced judgment on them, but these pronouncements were rooted in the covenant curses of Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28.  (Daniel I. Block, The NIV Application Commentary: Dt, 444)


A cult is a religious organization that has 1 truth.   We need the whole counsel of God.


III-  They encourage us to discern and then seek and protect the Truth. (Dt 18:21-22; see also: Dt 4:29; 13:1-6; 1 Kgs 18:19-40; 2 Kgs 10:19; Isa 8:17-20; Jer 28:9; 29:11-13; Ez 13:1-7; Mt 7:7-8, 15-19; Acts 17:11; Rom 1:18-32; 1 Thess 5:20-22; 2 Tm 3:16-17; 4:1-4; Heb 4:12; 2 Pt 2:1-3; 1 Jn 1:6; 4:1-6; Rv 2:20)  


When the truth is in your way, you are on the wrong road.


Having truth will not keep us from deception, but having a love for the truth will.  (Rick Joyner, There Were Two Trees in the Garden, 179)


The Christian must bring to his Bible what should be brought to any other study, viz., complete honesty and a willingness to be proved wrong.  He must have the scientific support of facts and be ready to let facts speak for themselves.  Just one factor distinguishes the Christian’s responsibility toward his Bible from the responsibility of any critic to any book whatever.  In the Bible one faces at least the possibility that here he will confront the Author of his being.  In adding a column of figures or examining the contents of a test tube or studying the behavior of an ant, the outcome is a matter of indifference in the sense that the student stands above his facts and is concerned only to relate these to other facts in a phenomenal world.  There can be no such indifference to the outcome of a study of Holy Writ.  If the belief of the ages is in the slightest degree true, then in this study man is in the presence of the voice and the will of very God, and the outcome relates to the eternal issues of life and death.  To scientific procedures must be added an element that would be far less necessary in the laboratory–the recognition that here may be the God of the universe and the judgment upon the Christian’s own soul.  (George Arthur Buttrick, The Interpreter’s Bible Vol 2, 450-1)


People are experts at hearing who they want to hear so they can believe what they want to believe and do what they want to do.  (Steve Brown, Leadership Magazine, “False Prophets II: Matthew 7:13-29)


We humans have a fatal tendency to try to adjust the truth to fit our desires rather than adjusting our desires to fit the truth.  (Norman L. Geisler & Frank Turek, I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist, 32)


Augustine was right when he said that we love the truth when it enlightens us, but we hate it when it convicts us.  Maybe we can’t handle the truth.  (Norman L. Geisler & Frank Turek, I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist, 36)


Truth:  It’s the new hate speech.  “During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.”  — George Orwell


But it is very significant that the test is framed negatively.  It cannot be reversed to imply that if a prophet’s prediction came true he was therefore necessarily a true prophet for that reason alone.  Chapter 13:1f. shows very clearly that false prophets could produce remarkable predictions, signs, and wonders–and still lead the people astray.  Thus, non-fulfillment would prove falsehood, but fulfillment could not by itself prove authenticity–an important caution when assessing remarkable apparent feats of clairvoyance and prediction in any age, including our own.  (Christopher J. H. Wright, Understanding the Bible Commentary Series: Dt, 218-9)


Our text provides another clue to the distinction, even though it is not included in the “test” verses at the end.  The prophet whom God would raise up would be like Moses.  This was a qualitative criterion.  There was some standard by which to measure the moral and spiritual credentials of prophets.  Those who pandered to the nation’s wickedness were not “like Moses.”  Those who posed no challenge to oppressive government were not “like Moses.”  Those who were immoral in their own lives, or self-seeking in their ambitions, were not “like Moses.”  It was on these grounds that Jeremiah actually attacked the false prophets of his own generation (cf. Jer 23).  (Christopher J. H. Wright, Understanding the Bible Commentary Series: Dt, 219)


The apostles went through the test of death to substantiate the veracity of what they were proclaiming.  I believe I can trust their testimony more than that of most people I meet today, people who aren’t willing to walk across the street for what they believe, let alone die for it.  (Josh McDowell, More Than a Carpenter, 70)


The further a society drifts from the truth, the more it will hate those that speak it.  George Orwell


When a half truth is presented as the whole truth, it becomes an untruth.  (Walter J. Chantry, Today’s Gospel:  Authentic or Synthetic?, 17)


Relativism is, therefore, only another word for anarchy, and that is why truth itself becomes elusive when there is no longer a point of reference.

Where, then, may one begin?  There are fundamentally four questions that every thinking human being must answer:  the questions of origin, meaning, morality, and destiny.  How did life come to be in the first place?  To what purpose is my life?  How may I choose between right and wrong?  What happens to me when I die?  When these questions are individually answered, the answers must be seen to correspond with reality.  These answers are then collectively tested for coherence, that is, that they do not contradict each other.  Answers that correspond with reality and fit into a coherent system provide the individual a world-view by which all of life’s choices may then be made.  (Ravi Zacharias, Deliver Us From Evil: Restoring the Soul in a Disintegrating Culture, 219)


Relativists employ the law of noncontradiction and the law of cause and effect whenever they talk about their belief in relativism and its relation to the world.  But these laws are not relative.

For example, when they say, “There is no universally valid standard for what is true,” they assume several universal standards.  One is the law of cause and effect:  they believe that in speaking this sentence, a cause is created that will have effects.  They do not believe that speaking their mind is pointless.  Effects follow from sufficient causes.  This is a universal truth that they live by, including the speech that denies it.  (John Piper, Think, 107)


Doubt does not, indeed cannot, exist in a vacuum.  Without some knowledge I cannot doubt at all.  It is the light of truth that doubt becomes a possibility.  But doubt cannot ever have the last word.  Only truth can establish doubt.  Truth demands that we doubt what does not conform to truth.  (R.C. Sproul; Doubt and Assurance, 10)


But what about relativism?  It poses as humble by saying:  “We mere mortals cannot know what the truth is–or even if there is any universal truth.”  This sounds humble.  But look carefully at what is happening.  It’s like a servant saying:  “I am not smart enough to know which person here is my master–or if I even have a master.”  The result is that he doesn’t have to submit to any master and can be his own master.  His vaunted weakness is a ruse to cover his rebellion against is master.

That is in reality what happens to relativists:  in claiming to be too lowly to know the truth, they exalt themselves as supreme arbiter of what they can think and do.  This is not humility.  This is rooted in deep desire not to be subordinate to the claims of truth.  The name for this is pride.  The only way pride can be conquered in us is for us to believe in Truth and be conquered by it so that it rules us and we don’t rule it.   (John Piper, Think, 112-3)


It can be seen clearly from this text that prediction was the essence of prophetic ministry.  Although not everything that a prophet spoke was a prediction, he had to earn his credibility by means of his predictive utterances.  Once he had gained the confidence of the public by means of prophetic accuracy, his ministry in other areas would be enhanced.  Thus the writer of 1 Sm 3:19-20 notes, “The LORD was with Samuel as he grew up, and he let none of his words fall to the ground.  And all Israel from Dan to Beersheba recognized that Samuel was attested as a prophet of the LORD.”  (Doug McIntosh, Holman OT Commentary: Dt, 225)


People may not be interested in listening to the Bible.  Then we have the task of making the message interesting just like the prophets did with their acted messages and other creative means of communication.  People may not like to hear what the Bible says, but that was true of the message of the prophets, too.  Most of them were very unpopular during their lifetime.  But they faithfully shared God’s message, and suffered for it.  (Ajith Fernando, Preaching the Word: Dt, 465)


One reason why false prophecy is so serious is that sincere people believe it despite the skepticism of unbelievers.  They believe the prophecy because they believe in the supernatural.  What if time after time statements claiming to be prophecies are not fulfilled?  Soon skepticism could grow even among sincere Christians, and the door could open for a new era of liberalism in the church.  When the things we accept because of our belief in the supernatural are proved to be a sham, some could conclude that belief in the supernatural itself is a sham.  This buttresses what our passage says about taking a serious view of false prophecy without conveniently ignoring the issue.  (Ajith Fernando, Preaching the Word: Dt, 469)


If you believe this life is all there is then there is no such thing as injustice.  And yet deep inside you know there is.  There is an incredible contradiction in the heart of being a secular person.  At the heart of unbelief says this “I don’t believe really in a god because of the injustice.  But if there is no god, there is no basis for being outraged.

I’m going to put it to you 2 ways.

If there is a god evil is a problem.  It’s a big problem.  He’s got reason for allowing it and we don’t know what they are and it really hurts.

If evil is a problem for you, there must be a God.  Do you see that?   If evil is a problem, if you are outraged, and yet your own world-view gives you no basis for the outrage.  What it means is your world-view is wrong.

If you know that it is injustice, even though if there is no god there shouldn’t be an injustice; then you know there IS a God.

To put it another way, Evil is a problem for belief.  But, it is a bigger problem for unbelief.

. . . . If this life is all there is, if when you die you rot, if we have just evolved , out of the collocation of accidental forces; then there is no such thing as right or wrong.   There can’t be.  All moral distinctions are pointless.  Why?   There is no such thing as absolute goodness.

Goodness is always related to purpose (Alister MacIntyre’s watch illustration).  Things are only good or bad in relation to their purpose.  What makes a good human being?  If we are accidents, if there is no purpose; then it is ridiculous to say it is bad to hurt people.  You’re just here to survive.  The strong eat the weak.  It is better to be a live dog.   If this life is all there is there is no good or bad.  Meaningless, vanity.  It is all meaningless.  (Tim Keller; sermon “The Search for Justice”)


Richard Foster repeats an old Jewish story about a little boy who went to a prophet and said, “Prophet, don’t you see?  You have been prophesying now for fifteen years, and things are still the same.  Why do you keep on?”  And the prophet said, “Don’t you know, little boy, I’m not prophesying to change the world, but to prevent the world form changing me.”  (Philip Yancey; The Bible Jesus Read, 193)


Every preacher ought to be primarily a prophet of God who preaches as God bids him, without regard to results.  When he becomes conscious of the fact that he is a leader in his own church or denomination, he has reached a crisis in his ministry.  He must now choose one of two courses, that of prophet of God or a leader of men.  If he seeks to be a prophet and a leader, he is apt to make a failure of both.  If he decides to be a prophet only insofar as he can do without losing his leadership, he becomes a diplomat and ceases to be a prophet at all.  If he decides to maintain leadership at all costs, he may easily fall to the level of a politician who pulls the wires in order to gain or hold a position.  (A. C. Dixon, Dixon, 277)


A lifetime task of studying the Scriptures is necessary to learn what God would say to the Christian community in our world.  By studying the prophets we learn God’s values.  By studying the world we learn how to apply God’s truth to the reality of contemporary life situations.  Our prophetic work requires a careful balance of intense study of the Bible and a deep relationship with the Lord, with ourselves, with the Church, and with our world in order to forthtell accurately God’s messages for the situations of our times.  (Marva J. Dawn, Truly the Community:  Romans 12, 109)


The vulnerability of the hearers to betrayal by a plausible false prophet makes his lying words a specially heinous crime.  To speak words not put in his mouth by Yahweh is called “presumption,” that strong term used in 17:12 for disobedience to the central court.  Here, however, the sin is on the part of the one who would represent God, not the hearer, and again can be only spiritually discerned.  (J. G. McConville, Apollos OT Commentary: Dt, 303)


He not only condemns the folly and vanity of those who advance their own inventions in the place of God’s commands, but also their arrogance; since doubtless, this is impious and intolerable audacity, to set forth the offspring of man’s earthly brain as if it were a divine revelation.  (John Calvin, Commentaries, vol. II, 449)


American society is awash in relativism.

What is the basis for law if there is no absolute truth?  The basis is whoever has the majority–rule by the 51 percent.  Oliver Wendell Holmes once said that “law is the majority vote of that nation that could lick all others.”  Pure pragmatism.

The inevitable result is tyranny, drawn into the vacuum of moral chaos.  If authority cannot be established among people by their shared assumptions, by their agreement about the meaning of life, then it will be imposed on them from the top.  As William Penn said, “If we are not governed by God, we will be governed by tyrants.”

When truth retreats, tyranny advances.  (Charles Colson, A Dangerous Grace, 292)


Worship Point:  You want to make your worship rich and authentic?  Spend an hour or two contemplating a world in which humans were unable to recognize or discern truth . . . the way things really are.   Then praise God Who is Truth and Who has empowered us to know the truth so the truth can set us free.  (Jn 4:24; 8:32)


Gospel Application: Jesus is the truth and God’s quintessential Prophet (Jn 14:6).  And if Jesus sets you free you are free indeed. (Mt 22:16; Mk 12:14; Jn 5:19; 6:14, 45-47; 7:40; 8:36; 9:17; Act 3:22-24; Heb 1:1-4)


Only Jesus had such intimate connection with God after Moses.  And Jesus surpassed Moses in being the perfect embodiment of everything good about a prophet that Moses represented.

So we conclude that while this prophecy is initially fulfilled in the form of the OT prophets, it is finally and perfectly fulfilled only in Jesus.  (Ajith Fernando, Preaching the Word: Dt, 467)


The Apostle John explained:  “The law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (Jn 1:17).  Like Moses, Jesus enjoyed a unique relationship with his heavenly Father.  Only he could claim to be one with the Father (Jn 10:30) and promise to send the Spirit (Jn 15:26).  Because Jesus was the Father’s one and only Son, he spoke to the Father face to face.  Jesus said, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father” (Jn 14:9).  (Mark E. Braun, The People’s Bible: Dt, 170)


This prophecy, therefore, is very properly referred to Jesus Christ in the NT, as having been fulfilled in Him.  Not only had Philip this passage in his mind when he said to Nathanael, “We have found Him of whom Moses in the law did write, Jesus of Nazareth,” whilst Stephen saw the promise of the prophet like unto Moses fulfilled in Christ (Acts 7:37); but Peter also expressly quotes it in Acts 3:22, 23, as referring to Christ; and even the Lord applies it to Himself in Jn 5:45-47, when He says to the Jews, “Moses, in whom ye trust, will accuse you; for if ye believed Moses, ye would also believe Me:  for Moses wrote of Me.”  (C.F. Keil and F. Delitzsch, Commentary on the OT Vol 1, 396)


No fewer than three of the Gospels, Matthew, Luke and John, present Jesus in one way or another as the “new Moses.”  In John, more than in the other Gospels, Jesus is confessed by people to be “the prophet” (Jn 1:45; 6:14; 7:40).  (Jack R. Lundbom, Deuteronomy, A Commentary, 557)


There is a comfortable attitude about Jesus Christ in our churches today, and it is our greatest peril.  After all, we are not judged so much by how many sins we have committed but by how much light we have rejected.  (Dennis F. Hester, The Vance Havner Quote Book, 124)


This is how the NT teaches sanctification:  “Sanctify them through thy truth; thy word is truth” (Jn 17;17).  It is the truth that sanctifies:  “Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free,” said our Lord to the people (Jn 8:32).  The truth that makes us free is that which tells us who we are, what we are, what has been done for us, and how the whole honor of the family is, as it were, in our hands.  (D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Romans, Exposition of Chapter 6, 159)


If doctrine becomes our emphasis, we are being led astray.  We are not changed by doctrine; we are changed by seeing Jesus (2 Cor 3:18).  Anointed teachings are essential for the nourishment of the Christ that is being formed within us, but whenever a truth becomes our focus, it will distract us.  For this reason Satan often comes as an angel of light, or “messenger of truth.”  Truth can deceive us.  Only in the Truth, Jesus, is there life.  He did not come just to teach us truth; He came to be Truth.  (Rick Joyner, There Were Two Trees in the Garden, 81)


Does the truth come at you?   Does God’s Word argue with you?   Does the truth comfort you?  Jesus is the final prophet.   Jesus is the truth in a person (Tim Keller on tape on Acts 3)


Buddha said, I am a teacher of truth.

Mohammed said, I am a seeker of truth.

Mahout Ma Gandhi said, I do not know the truth.

Moses said, I deliver the Truth.

Jesus said, I AM the truth.

Jesus is the embodiment of truth.


John the Baptist, in answer to the priests and Levites, said that he was not “the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet” (Jn 1:21, 25); and later the people are reported to have said on two occasions:  “Surely this is the Prophet” (Jn 6:14), and “Surely this man is the Prophet” (Jn 7:40).  Philip also, referring to the one Moses wrote about in the law, applied this to Jesus, saying, “We have found the one Moses wrote about” (Jn 1:45).

Was not Jesus himself calling this Deuteronomic passage to mind when he said of Moses, “He wrote about me” (Jn 5:46)?  Moreover, Jesus claimed to fulfill the requirements of the prophet like Moses when he said, “For I did not speak of my own accord, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and how to say it. . .So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say” (Jn 12:49-50).

Peter, when speaking to the people at the Beautiful Gate of the temple, explicitly applied this passage to Jesus (Acts 3:22-23).  To this can be added the testimony of Stephen (Acts 7:37).

Though the statement in Deuteronomy promised a series of prophets, and so included the prophetic movement in the providence of God for the direction of his people, it looks beyond the prophetic movement to the One who is the supreme revealer of God; it looks to Jesus.  (Frank E. Gæbelein, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Vol. 3, 122-3)


Spiritual Challenge:  Endeavor to live your life believing that every word that proceeds from the mouth of God and those He has sent is truth:  100%, absolutely trustworthy and reliable.


So what is a Christian worldview?  Simply put, there is a living God, and He has revealed himself in Scripture.  Therefore as Christians, we believe that we can find absolute truth from the Bible, regardless of what is politically correct, regardless of what we feel is right or not right.  We base our beliefs on what the Bible teaches.  That is what it means to have a Christian worldview.  —Greg Laurie


So What?:  When we believe lies bad things happen.  Any idiot can see this.  When we begin to think that God’s Word is not reliable and true, really bad things will ultimately happen.   Be a student of history to verify that God is a god of veracity and love; and manifested Himself in Christ.  (Ps 40:10-11; Isa 7:14; Mt 1:23; 1 Cor 13:6; Eph 4:15, 21; 1 Pt 1:22; 1 Jn 1:1-7; 3:18; 2 Jn 1:3)






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