Full text of Bible teacher Derek Prince’s sermon titled ‘Take Heed That You Are Not Deceived’ which was delivered in Westminster Chapel, London on September 29, 1990.
Listen to the MP3 Audio here:
Derek Prince – Bible Teacher
This morning I spoke on: Be Sober. Now I’m going to speak on Be vigilant.
And the proclamation that we have chosen is a prayer along that line. It’s taken from Philippians chapter one, verses nine through eleven. We just changed the words to personalize it.
Philippians 1:9-11: ‘This we pray that our love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, that we may approve the things that are excellent, that we may be sincere and without offense, till the day of Christ, being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ to the glory and praise of God.’ Amen.
Now, I’ve already announced what I’m going to be speaking about: Be vigilant.
‘Be sober, be vigilant’ is taken from 1 Peter, chapter five, I think, verse eight.
This morning I spoke about sobriety in entering into spiritual warfare, being realistic, not having vague or unrealistic attitudes, or using language which is above the level of our experience.
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Tonight, I’m talking on Be vigilant, particularly in regard to the many warnings given in the New Testament against being deceived. Almost every passage in the New Testament that relates to the end of the age contains some kind of warning against being deceived.
I’m just going to take two passages from Matthew, chapter 24, from the words of Jesus Himself. He was asked: ‘What will be the sign of Your coming and at the end of the age?’
And when He began to answer, the first thing He did was warn His disciples against being deceived.
So He said in Matthew 24:4-5: ‘Take heed that no one deceives you, for many will come in My name saying, ‘I am the Messiah’ and will deceive many.’
Now, Jesus is a true Prophet. And the Jewish Encyclopedia records about 40 false messiahs who have come to the Jewish people since the time of Jesus. Perhaps the most famous was Bar Kokhba, and all of them have succeeded in deceiving some part of the Jewish people.
But the warning goes far beyond the Jewish people. And then in the same chapter in verse 23, following…
Matthew 24:23-25: Jesus says, ‘Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Messiah, or there, do not believe it, for false messiahs and false prophets will arise and show great signs and wonders so as to deceive, if possible, even the elect.’
Excuse me, it’ll get better after a while.
‘See, I have told you beforehand.’
So Jesus says, you can’t say I didn’t warn you. And He says, there will arise false prophets and false messiahs, and they will show great signs and wonders so as to deceive, if possible, even the elect or the chosen ones.
There are two important lessons from that.
First of all, that miraculous signs do not necessarily prove that a message is true, because Jesus says they will show great signs and wonders, but they’ll be the deceivers.
You cannot base your assessment of the truth of a message merely on the fact that there were supernatural signs and supernatural experiences. It is extremely dangerous to have that attitude.
Secondly, Jesus said – God, I’m sorry – Jesus said, that even the elect would be deceived if it were possible.
The elect is God’s chosen ones. Why is it not possible that the elect would be deceived? The answer is because God chose them. Our safety is not in how clever we are or how spiritual we are, but the fact that God chose us, that’s our security.
Now, in order to avoid deception, we have to be able to identify the truth. And in the examination by Pilate of Jesus, Jesus said, ‘for this purpose I was born, and for this purpose I came forth that I might bear witness to the truth.’ (John 18:37)
And Pilate replied with a question: ‘What is truth?’ We can’t tell whether he was cynical: what is truth? Or whether he was genuinely puzzled: what is truth? There’s no way we’ll ever know.
But he asked a question which philosophers have never been able to answer satisfactorily. In 2500 years of Western philosophy, no philosopher has come up with an answer that satisfies to the question: ‘What is truth?’
We all think we know until we start to define it, and then we find out we don’t know.
However, the Bible does give us a very clear answer to the question: ‘What is truth?’ But it’s not totally simple, because the Bible presents truth in three aspects.
And in order to be sure we have the truth, we have to check on all three aspects. What I would call ‘Three Coordinates of Truth.’ And if you’re going to be sure that you really have the truth, you have to check all three coordinates to see that they’re all in place.
First of all, in John 14:6, Jesus said, ‘I am the truth.’ So the truth is Jesus.
But in John 17:17, Jesus was praying to the Father, and He said, ‘Your word is [the] truth.’ So God’s word is the truth: The Bible.
But in 1 John 5:6, John says, ‘The Holy Spirit bears witness to Jesus, and the Spirit is truth.’
So you have truth in three related aspects. The truth is Jesus, the truth is the Bible, and the truth is the Spirit.
In order to know for sure that you really have the truth, you have to check all three coordinates: Jesus, the Bible and the Spirit.
For instance, somebody may preach a whole lot about Jesus, and it may sound very good, but when you check your Bible, it isn’t what the Bible says about Jesus.
Or somebody may preach a great deal about the Holy Spirit and work up an atmosphere of tremendous excitement and exhilaration. But when you really check it, that person is not teaching the truth about Jesus.
Or a person may lay great emphasis on the Bible and the Scripture, but have nothing of the Spirit, it’s just dead letter.
So in order to be sure that you have the Spirit, that you have the truth, you have to have three things in place.
Is it true to Jesus?
Is it true to the Bible?
And does it have the witness of the Holy Spirit?
When you can put those three things together, then you may be confident that you have the truth.
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