A brother who is sure that God does not perform miracles today writes that people in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints claim to heal the sick and speak in tongues, as do Pentecostals. “How can you condemn the Mormons,” he asks, “if they are sincere? If you think prophecy has not ceased, how can you say the Book of Mormon is not from God and ought not be added to the Bible?”
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First of all, no one needs to “condemn” the Mormons or anyone else for claiming spiritual gifts or miracles. It is not our job to condemn, but to witness to the truth we know and to point others to life in Jesus Christ (John 3:17; James 4:12). We should remember also that supernatural manifestations or workings do not necessarily authenticate either the character or all the teaching of an individual through whom it occurs (Matt. 7:22-23).
No one is saved because he or she is “sincere.” People are saved because God is gracious to those who trust him (Ps. 103:10-14; Eph. 2:8-9) and because Jesus Christ has justified God in showing mercy to sinners (Rom. 3:21-26). We may have confidence that God loves us, because Jesus died on the cross for our sins (John 3:16; Rom. 5:8). We may have confidence that God is trustworthy, because he raised Jesus back again from the dead (Acts 13:33; 1 Pet. 1:21).
The purpose of prophecy is not usually to create canonical Scripture, but to build up, bind up and stir up God’s people in a given time and place (1 Cor. 14:3). Most prophecy reported in the Book of Acts, for example, was not intended for all people in all times and places (Acts 11:27-28; 13:1-2; 15:32; 21:10-11). Prophecy’s primary purpose was not to create new Scripture in Bible times and that certainly is not its purpose today.
Some purported prophetic utterances come from God, some from human beings and some from Satan (Acts 2:17; Jer. 14:14; 2 Chron. 18:21-22). The Bible itself requires God’s people to test alleged prophecy — by the standard of the Sinai revelation in the OT and by the gospel and the testimony concerning Jesus in the NT (Deut. 13:1-5; 1 Cor. 12:3; 1 Thes. 5:19-21; 1 John 4:1-3). Prophets are also appraised personally by their character, and their message is measured by the character it produces in those who accept it (Matt. 7:15-20; 2 Pet. 2:1-3; Rev. 2:20). All these principles were true in biblical times and they are just as true today.
I greatly respect the Latter-Day Saints (“Mormons”) for their evangelistic zeal, sacrificial spirit, high morals and family focus. But I do not accept Mormon “revelation” because it does not conform to the biblical witness about God or to the apostolic testimony about Jesus. I do not accept some purported “prophecy” among evangelical Christians for the same reasons. But the existence of false prophecy does not mean there is no true prophecy. In fact, it would seem to suggest the opposite. If there were no authentic money, why would anyone be enticed or fooled by counterfeit currency?