Detecting False Prophets

The Case Study of Nigerian Pastor TB Joshua

By Gary Meredith

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True prophets do not misquote Holy Scripture. The very verse that exposes him as a fraud, Deuteronomy 18:22, he twists as: "When God speaks, the wise listen." A correct translation is: "If what a prophet proclaims in the name of the LORD does not take place or come true, that is a message the LORD has not spoken. That prophet has spoken presumptuously, so do not be alarmed." Demons often misquote or misapply Scripture in the same way (Matthew 4:6; Acts 16:16-18).

True prophets do not invent new spiritual terms and doctrines. His website states: "It is the goodness of our cause that interests God more than physical and mental disposition." That is pure anti-Christian nonsense. We have no "goodness" apart from God (Mark 10:18; Romans 3:10-18; 7:18), nor any good "cause" apart from God's will and plan for our lives (Ephesians 2:10; Romans 8:28-30). A description on a current broadcast states, "The baptism of the Holy Spirit gives infallibility," a ridiculous claim found nowhere in the Bible. He labels his "anointed" water as "for the salvation of your soul" and "the blood of Jesus," which is not just unbiblical but blasphemous.

True prophets do not make all kinds of promises for our happiness and prosperity. His website states: "Throughout the Scriptures, we see clear proof that God can use any medium to express Himself...One of the mediums He is using in The SCOAN is the Morning Water...By using the Morning Water, you are symbolically setting yourself apart for Jesus Christ's special attention as you pray in faith. I mean, you are positioned for mercy, favour, healing, deliverance, blessing, prosperity and fruitfulness." All of that is a fortune-teller's lie — there is nothing in Scripture about any "medium" that God uses to deliver such blessings. It is a conman's trick to get rich from donations, as some phony televangelists do.

True prophets make predictions to focus attention on the kingdom of God, not trivial events. Many of TB Joshua's predictions concern elections, celebrity troubles and deaths, and even sporting events like soccer games and boxing matches. He acts like an astrologer or fortune teller, similar to the demon-possessed slave girl in Acts 16:16-18, whose owners used her "gift" to make lots of money foretelling the future until Paul exorcised her. I do not know if SCOAN members bet money on these events, but it would be surprising if no one from his vast audience did.

True prophets speak for the Lord with his words. In his list of 98 prophecies for 2015, nearly all of Joshua's prophecies state "I foresee" or "I see" or "I am repeating" but almost never "the Lord says..." He claims his prophecies are from God, but his messages are clearly all from TB Joshua using the language of a fortune teller, not a prophet of God.

TB Joshua fails every one of the above tests of a true prophet. True prophets do not lie, misquote Scripture, promote false doctrines, glorify themselves, make trivial predictions, harm others with lies, make false accusations, run away from legal responsibilities, or exhibit other shameful behavior.

However, in one strange way TB Joshua does fulfill biblical prophecy. As Jesus warned us about these times, "For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect." (Matthew 24:24) Peter also reminded us that "there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them — bringing swift destruction on themselves." (2 Peter 2:1) TB Joshua fulfills those prophecies perfectly.

He also fulfills Paul's prophecy about these days: "For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths" (2 Timothy 4:3-4).

Whatever "good works" he may do — he has apparently donated millions of dollars for a variety of good causes — TB Joshua is leading an antichrist cult. With his large congregation, a worldwide TV channel, celebrity endorsers, and over one million Facebook followers, TB Joshua is in a position to do much harm to the body of Christ with his false teaching and false hopes. No Christian should have anything to do with him. Some African Christian leaders have boldly done the right thing by publicly condemning his teaching and calling on him to repent and be saved.

Sadly, healing and other "miracles" which can be counterfeited by Satan (Revelation 13:14) are very appealing to suffering people. We must gently correct those who are desperate enough to be deceived, about the danger of TB Joshua's false teaching which "is like a little yeast that spreads through the whole batch of dough!" (Galatians 5:9).

Finally, anyone seeking answers about their future should seriously question their motives for wanting to know such things from supernatural sources, including so-called prophets and miracle workers. Most are really looking for a fortune teller, not God's will for their lives. That is what Jesus meant when he said "A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a sign!" (Matthew 12:39) We Christians have something infinitely better than a prophet — we have the mind of Christ! (1 Corinthians 2:16) We can go directly to God with our needs (John 16:13, 23; Philippians 4:6-7; James 1:5) because we are his children (1 John 3:1), and the temple of his Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 3:17).

So instead of seeking fortune tellers, Christians can trust God to reveal his plan for each of us, which was written by Him before the beginning of time (Psalm 139:16; Ephesians 1:4-12; 2 Timothy 1:9).

To learn more about the errors, heresies and scandals of TB Joshua and SCOAN, see here.

For a Got Questions answer to the question, see "Are there prophets in the church today?".

Image Credit: S Briggs; "Prophet TB Joshua"; Creative Commons

TagsBiblical-Truth  | Controversial-Issues  | False-Teaching

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Published 7-20-2015