Thursday, March 12, 2009

John Piper Addresses David Wilkerson's Prophecy

I've received a number of emails and warnings about the Urgent Announcement David Wilkerson, founder of the times Square Church, made earlier this week.

Allow me to weigh in before I get to Piper's comments.

I have to admit to a certain amount of skepticism about this sort of thing as it has cropped up so many times before from a variety of sources and failed to materialize. Furthermore, Wilkerson, while being correct a number of times, has just as often been incorrect. Take a moment to read this posting on his accuracy.

I really struggle with anyone who claims to prophesy and then does so incorrectly, even only occasionally. When someone claims they are speaking for God, they had better be not only accurate but absolutely perfect in what they say. If they are wrong.....just once....then at the very least, we as a people who believe in a perfect and holy God, should treat any further utterances from that person with a high degree of caution and skepticism.

Unfortunately, that seems to be the case with most modern, self-proclaimed prophets. They are frequently wrong about the details of their prophecies, the dates or even the reality of the events they prophesy. Yet, with each new prophecy, people raise the alarm, run to the supermarkets and begin warning their neighbors about the end of the world. I speak from personal experience. I've bought plenty of sacks of rice and bottles of water in preparation for one imminent calamity or another.

I have no intention of judging Wilkerson's latest prophetic utterance. For all I know, he may be right. I do know this, his prophecy and all others must be weighed against Scripture in all aspects. If there is any contradiction of Scripture in the prophecy or the inaccuracy in Scriptures quoted in that prophecy, then we must be wary.

Meanwhile, here's the questions believers have to answer: What does this prophecy engender? Does it cause us to turn our attention to Christ? Does it create and urgency to share the Gospel with those who are lost and may very well be standing on the precipice of eternal damnation? Does it evoke a godly reaction.

Or does it do something else?

Does it cause us to begin to isolate ourselves from a doomed world, the very world we are called to be salt and light to, passing judgment on those who don't believe us? Does it cause us to harden our hearts to the people we feel are responsible for this instead of break our hearts for their ungodly actions? Does it make us feel superior to 'them' because we have the inside track?

Any prophecy from God should lead to self-examination, repentance where necessary and an urgency to share all we have and all we are with those who are doomed in an effort to demonstrate the love of Christ. Any other reaction is alarmist and self-serving from a people that are called to be peace-makers and selfless.

If Wilkerson's prophecy has caused you to pray and share passionately, then I say, "More power to him!" Only time will tell if this latest 'calamity' will come to pass. Our obligation and duty as believers doesn't change....only our urgency.

Here's what John Piper's blog has to say about all this:

The Bible says, “Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good” (1 Thessalonians 5:20-21).

David Wilkerson will cause a good many hearts to pound faster with his pronouncement that “AN EARTH-SHATTERING CALAMITY IS ABOUT TO HAPPEN.” New Yorkers especially will swallow hard: “It will engulf the whole megaplex, including areas of New Jersey and Connecticut.”

What shall we make of this? The part that depends on the Bible we should take with absolute seriousness. You don’t need to have special revelation to know that the rejection of Jesus Christ as Lord is the norm in America. Therefore, we stand under the judgment of God and it is only a matter of time till the present judgments (Romans 1:18-32) give way to spiritual awakening or punitive calamities (2 Thessalonians 1:6-8).

But the part of the prophecy that goes beyond what the Bible says, we measure by biblical standards. Two things give me pause in Wilkerson’s extra-biblical specifics.

First, it does not resonate with my spirit when he claims that God told him to “lay in store a thirty-day supply of non-perishable food, toiletries and other essentials” because when disaster comes “grocery stores are emptied in an hour.” God might have said this. But it doesn’t smell authentic to me. Too prudential. Too reminiscent of the embarrassing Y2K excesses.

Second, my confidence level drops when the Scriptures are not handled carefully. Wilkerson says, one way we can respond is: “As David says, ‘He fixed his eyes on the Lord on his throne in heaven—his eyes beholding, his eyelids testing the sons of men’” (Psalm 11:4).

This does not have the feel of authority to me because what Psalm 11:4 really says is: “The Lord is in his holy temple; the Lord’s throne is in heaven; his eyes see, his eyelids test the children of man.”

So my take on this prophetic word is that the scare will probably do good for a lot of people. The Bible is a scary book. And the future that is coming on unbelievers is scary beyond anything any preacher could conjure up.

But my own effort to be discerning says: Stick with the Bible, David. It is scary enough. And it is absolutely true. And your credibility will never fall.

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