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Testing the Spirit of Wisdom and
As spiritual people who receive our understanding from the spiritual realm, we have an obligation to spiritually test the source of whatever presents itself as being from the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in Christ. The apostle John, who told us we possess the Spirit’s anointing for discernment, also taught we must never just believe what sounds convincingly spiritual, but “test the spirits to see whether they are from God.” We are to prove whether what we hear is from the same Spirit of wisdom and revelation already within us, or is it from any other source.
On one hand then, we already have the Spirit of truth within. But because our spiritual sensitivity is capable of deception through seducing spirits, we remain under a mandate of continual proving what is presented us for its agreement with Him Who has already made Himself known to us as the Truth. Our inner hearing must be double certified. It must have a confirming witness. Testing gives us that witness.
In telling us to “test the spirits,” it has thus pleased the Holy Spirit to subject Himself to such testing within us. Such testing is not an act of unbelief, but of obedient faith. The Holy Spirit delights to be tested for He has nothing to fear and everything to gain from it. That is why He has exhorted us to it through John. It is His competition that has everything to fear and everything to lose by being tested.
So how do we conduct such testing, and what are we exactly looking for?
Numerous ministries teach on testing the validity of what we hear spiritually, but few if any fully explain how we are to do this. Most leave us in a final place of either false certitude (oft based in self-confident scripture knowledge), or no final certainty at all, believing that certitude equates to pride. Today, we cut through both of these to get to the answers.
Our foundational basis for testing what we spiritually hear is by trusting the indwelling One to make a thing known for what it is. Faith in the One Who has made Himself known to us is always our underlying prover of all other purported truth.
We are to be believing in Him Who told us that He would send us His Spirit to guide us into all truth, and that if we ask Him for the Holy Spirit, He would not give us a substitute or a counterfeit. We are always first believing in an Individual who is True before we are believing a certain way about a something that alleges itself to be “a truth.” This is proper trust.
- Not by Self-Confidence nor by Suspicion…
By way of contrast, we are not to test spiritual revelation by trusting our own power of discernment or our knowledge of scripture or our own logic. Going to Bible school or seminary and parsing ancient languages will not assure us of real spiritual discernment. This is a false trust that will not fireproof us from error, but will instead contribute to it by rejecting the living Spirit of wisdom and revelation Who cannot be controlled or contained by our capacity for rational Bible study.
By way of other contrast, we do not test new revelation based in a spirit of suspicion of all things. There are many whose first line of testing is to suspect the falsity of a thing. But doubt and suspicion are of the spirit of man, not the Holy Spirit, and are therefore not certified provers of spirit truth. Testing based on these will lead us into deception.
So then. It is positive trust in the Indwelling One alone, not trust in biblical comprehension nor the exercise of doubt or suspicion, which rightly forms our only true basis for proving spiritual truth.
- Proving First Our Own Bias
While we are to trust that He who gave us His Holy Spirit of wisdom and revelation will not allow us to be deceived, we must understand that the state of our own hearts plays a big role in our ability to prove spiritual truth. For the Spirit of Truth will make Himself clearly known to our hearts in a matter only so long as we ourselves are committed to receiving only the Truth, and not to what we may want to hear.
This means that before we trust the Spirit to prove anything, we first trust the Spirit to convict us of wrong motives and hidden agendas in our hearing so we do not fall prey to self-deception. As David said, “Search me O Lord, and know my heart, try me and know my thoughts; see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” We can only be led in the truth as long as we are willing to be searched within ourselves concerning the truth.
Hidden agendas arise wherein we already know what God has said about something in scripture, but we don’t like it because it offends our reason or sense of fairness or rightness. So we want to hear something else instead that appeases our standard of reason. Pride in “being right” or maintaining position or favor with others may also factor into what we are willing to hear. Proving truth is never about being right, but only about being faithful to the One who died in order to impart His truth to us.
Hidden agendas begin with the words, “I just can never believe that God would…..” They are built around what we are willing to believe, rather than openness to whatever may be true but which offends what we think “should be” true. This setting of our own parameters on what we are willing to believe must be removed before the Spirit can prove spiritual truth to us.
Faith then from a sincerely open and teachable heart is our number one basis of testing the source of any and all things spiritual.
Once our fundamental trust is in force for testing all things, what more would the Spirit teach us about verifying spiritual truth?
Three Pillars of Revelational Testing
There are really only a few things our spirits have to understand in order to discern spiritual truth from spiritual error. They are as follows in this order:
- Grounding in Scripture
Whatever we are being presented must appeal to scripture for its support without reservation. That is to say, it must honor the scriptures as our fundamental common reference point for knowing spiritual truth. The Holy Spirit always witnesses to the fundamental infallible truth of the scriptures as it has been objectively delivered to the common man from the time of Moses.
Appeal to scripture is of course far from enough in itself to prove the spirit of what we are hearing. Many cults and false revelational spirits appeal to scripture for their support. The devil himself quotes scripture to his ends.
Nevertheless, what we hear must acknowledge the scriptures we hold in our hands today as its starting common reference point. This is to eliminate every spirit that denies or casts subtle doubt on the truth of the historic revelation of the Lord to man through the Bible.
If a revelation or teaching denies the Bible outright, or it impugns the veracity of portions of the Bible, or it begins by casting aspersions on the translations the Spirit has made available to the common man in spreading the gospel worldwide (possibly even creating its own private “translation” of the Bible), the teaching is to be rejected. It’s that simple.
- Sourced in the Spirit
Secondly, whatever we are being presented to believe must come by way of Spirit revelation, not by way of philosophy, science, natural study and research; and especially not in the form of so-called “secret knowledge.”
Many false spirits of wisdom (“pseudo wisdom”) will use scripture and appear to support scripture in order to gain support for their teachings. But they will speak from a puffed up spirit of intellectual interpretation, niggling linguistic analysis, mystic philosophy and/or so-called scientific research, appealing to a “superior rationality” behind what they are propounding.
Such spirits may also propose that what they are teaching is knowledge that has been “hidden” from the masses, but has only now been “discovered” through the said philosophy or scientific proof. The craze over “Bible codes” is one such example of this, wherein men propose the late discovery of secret mathematically coded meanings behind scripture found only through “research”—meanings which contradict and have nothing to do with what scripture is actually saying, while superimposing their own philosophy and agenda upon the scriptures.
None of this is from the Spirit of wisdom and revelation who abides in us. It is all from the mind and spirit of man and is to be rejected out of hand.
- Alignment with the Minds of the First Authors
Lastly, whatever we are being presented, assuming it passes the first two tests, must go on to honor the framework of the minds of those through whom the scriptures were first spoken and written. This is a crucial point of testing that all spirits of false revelation finally fail.
Though they may appeal to the scripture as their basis for their proposed revelation and claim to be of the Holy Spirit, false spirits do so contrarily to what the founding writers of scripture meant by what they said and would have been understood to have meant by the first hearers and readers. We are talking here about honoring the context of the apostolic mind taken from the whole of their writings.
We must understand that the writers of scripture were uttering testimony to spiritual reality as they received it from the Spirit. In presenting their core teaching, they were not offering debatable opinions and arguments. Testimony is not about interpretation. It is about belief and acceptance of that which is declared. We don’t interpret testimony. We either believe it or we disbelieve it. In believing testimony, we are believing a speaker or writer’s intent and frame of reference for what he is declaring.
Therefore, any spirit offering further wisdom and revelation must demonstrate honor for the framework of the testimony that has already gone before. It may not craft its own paradigm of truth out of what the writers have said that disregards what they intended to say and the whole of their mind as revealed through the totality of their words. And it certainly may not contradict their mind and intent. One of the easiest questions to ask when presented with new revelation is, “Does this teaching align with what the first hearers and readers would have understood the apostle to mean?” Revelations that do not honor the original mental frameworks of the writers must be rejected.
What about Extra Biblical Revelation?
Are we then saying by this that the Spirit’s revelation is confined only to what Bible authors have already written? Does it mean the Spirit of wisdom and revelation cannot reveal anything outside the scope of what has already been revealed through the Bible writers—as is universally taught in pharisaic Bible schools, seminaries and churches? This is an issue with which the present tense spirit of prophecy and the prophetic movement must wrestle.
The answer is absolutely not. We are not denying the reality of extra biblical revelation. After all, the Bible itself began “extra biblically” and every piece added to it over the centuries was “extra biblical” to that to which it was added, bringing forth something new that had not been contemplated previous to it!
The Spirit of wisdom and revelation is the Spirit of present tense revelation and prophecy in its generation. He is not merely an illuminator on His past words already codified through Scripture. The Spirit of wisdom and revelation has new unfolding things to reveal to successive generations that were not revealed to earlier generations. Again, this is already precedented in the scriptures wherein those of a later time received revelation beyond the scope of what was revealed previously. Ezekiel, Paul and John’s Revelation are huge examples of this. (We have already written on these things extensively here.)
- Two Conditions to Extra Biblical Revelation
But there is a huge “caveat” to accepting the notion of present tense extra biblical revelation. And it is on the sword of this caveat that all false present tense prophetic revelation falls. Please heed this carefully.
If a spirit is proposing new revelation beyond the scope of what scripture authors have already revealed, then depending on the nature of what is being put forth, at least one of two conditions must be in force.
o Obeisance to Author Intent
The first is that, whatever is being put forth must not contradict the intent and framework of mind conveyed by the original scripture writers.
Present tense prophetic revelation may be beyond or outside of what the scripture writers intended to say in their immediate context, but it must in no wise oppose what they intended to say, nor may it intimate of “superiority” to what the founding apostles and prophets were given. It must rather be shown to complement what has already been put forth, doing no damage to the framework of the original meanings of the founders.
Anything built on a foundation must honor its foundation. All present tense revelation can only be built on the framework of the founding apostolic and prophetic revelation of this age in order to be proven as being from the same Spirit of wisdom and revelation.
o Supernatural Dispensational Change Witness
But secondly, there yet remains one final “if,” and it is an extremely long-shot “if.”
“If” a new prophetic revelation comes forth which purports having the authority to disregard or even to contradict what has been set forth by the founding apostles and prophets, what must be understood is that such a revelation is proposing nothing less than a dispensational change in God’s revelation to man.
For such revelation to still be proven as somehow coming from the true Spirit of wisdom and revelation, it must then be equally accompanied by the same class of supernatural witnesses demonstrated when God makes a dispensational change in His revelation.
In this case, such witness was required with the incarnation of Christ—which is the last time God made such a dispensational change in His revelation. In that change, Jesus was authorized to say, “You have heard it said, but I say unto you…..” See in this that Jesus Himself, the Son of God, could not just make such statements and expect to be believed!
Jesus required four supernatural witnesses to Who He claimed to be and in support of His Mosaic-transcending teaching. He required 1) prophetic witness from scripture, 2) anointed forerunner ministry testimony in the Spirit of Elijah, 3) supernatural works unlike any ever performed previously, and 4) the Voice of the Father Himself from heaven.
So then, if the introduction of the covenant-changing mission of the Son of God required such great witness in order to validate His dispensationally superseding truth, it is incontrovertible that the Holy Spirit requires it of any similar subsequent change that would upend the paradigm of mind of the apostles and prophets on whose foundation we remain built. (As a rule of thumb, the greater the departure from the founding apostolic mind a revelation strays, the greater the supernatural witness required to support it.)
Such change will in fact occur when the Son of God next appears. At that time, instructions and certain teachings by the founding apostles for the present mortal age will be superseded under immortal conditions the same way our founding apostles and prophets superseded the Law of Moses at Christ’s first coming. Harbingers of this are already on the horizon.
- The Failure of Mortal Era “Revelationists”
Yet in the face of this demand for compliance with founding apostolic intent or for supernatural proof witnesses in order to override that intent, certain revelational systems of universal scope which purport to be “of the Spirit” remain with us and will yet arise—systems that either ignore the plain intent of our founders, or even go so far as to contradict them—with zero supporting supernatural witness. (Globe-trotting esoteric teachers calling themselves “third day apostles” or the like have claimed to obtain all kinds of hidden revelation of things beyond the veil via angels, special revelations, out of the body experiences, etc., far outside what has been delivered to us by our founders.)
In all these cases, these teachers and/or these revelatory systems of thought cannot demonstrate conformity to the intent of the testimony of the first writers in pointing us to Christ. And those that flatly contradict apostolic intent offer no supernatural witness from heaven to support their dispensation-changing doctrines on the nature of God and man, on salvation, on the end times, or on whatever. (Universal Reconciliation doctrine is perhaps the most ubiquitous of such “revelationist” systems.)
To recapitulate: for extra biblical revelation to be considered valid it must either prove how it honors original founding intent, or supernaturally prove through the same witnesses as Christ first had why it is able to supersede what the founders gave us. It must prove that God is laying yet another new foundation beyond that which has gone before.
But the plain fact is, no mortal purveyor of such teaching has ever been able to do this or ever will. For the founding apostles were given to us as our unchangeable foundation throughout the age of mortality unto the coming of the Lord. Only the immortal sons of God to be revealed will possess the proofs in support of instruction that will one day supersede the original apostolic intents of our remaining mortal era.
In short then, not until the Lord appears to glorify His saints will anyone have authority to present revelation to the earth that alters the paradigmatic make-up of the truth as presented to us through the minds of the founding apostles. And anyone abusing the scriptures to do end runs around what the founders intended and understood is speaking from a spirit of false revelation to be rejected out of hand.
This gives us in brief then what we need to accurately prove the Spirit of wisdom and revelation behind any new thing purporting to be truth from the Lord.
We begin by trusting our indwelling Teacher from an unbiased heart. And then, whenever we detect these evidences:
- lack of commitment to scripture,
- lack of revelation,
- appeal to reason, philosophy, and/or science,
- appeal to secret knowledge,
- revelation lacking conformity to original founding intent,
- revelation contradicting original intent,
- lack of supernatural witness for dispensation-changing revelational claims
—most of it propounded on a bed of spiritual self-puffery—
then we may know for certain we are dealing with a false revelational spirit. We may reject it out of hand without further debate.
May these few thoughts on how to test for the true Spirit of wisdom and revelation behind any new teaching or prophetic utterance deliver many from the error of those carried away by lusts, reasonings, soulish encounters with the invisible realm, self-aggrandizing agendas and/or pet offenses over what God has already revealed to us in His Son through the scriptures.
(For more on this important topic, please see the article Testing by Trusting: Keys to Testing the Voice of the Lord and Prophetic Words and the sequel conversation, More Pointers on Testing the Spirits behind Cross Veil Encounters)
New Meadow Neck, Rhode Island
First Love Ministry
- a ministry of Anglemar Fellowship
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Page created December 12, 2017