False Prophets, True Prophets and Service

“A false prophet tells you what you want to hear. A true prophet tells you what the Lord wants you to hear.”

I heard this a few weeks ago, and it rings true to me. I can’t seem to get it out of my mind. Ever since mankind left the Garden of Eden, he has been stoning the prophets, and otherwise killing them. And that certainly was not because they were telling the people what they wanted to hear.

Is this a true principle that can be applied to service work? We hear a lot about service in the Church as the answer to almost everything, but when service is mentioned it is usually in general terms. One rarely hears anyone explain just exactly what it is. What is service anyway? Is it work that is wanted by those who receive it, or is it work that the Lord wants them to receive? Sometimes I get the idea that service is whatever we want to do for neighbors that will make us feel good rather than what they need or want.

For instance, to many Elder’s Quorums, service is fixing a roof or painting a fence or perhaps doing some yard work for an elderly widow. Perhaps it is collecting some canned goods for donating to a “poor” family that doesn’t have enough to eat. Does this mean that a brother or sister doesn’t need “service” if he can afford to hire a contractor to fix his roof or paint his fence? If he has plenty of food, does that mean he needs no service? What if his biggest need is to overcome the problem of loneliness? Does the Church have service projects to deal with that? It is hard to see how paint, yard work, canned goods, etc. will help a new member deal with his loneliness after he has lost all his friends and family when he joined the Church. And we all know that many new members lose everything socially. They have no friends except us when we do “service” by taking them into our families and circles of friends. And a person does not have to be a new member to be lonely. With the disintegration of the family in our time, loneliness has become a major problem everywhere including the Church.

What many think of as service is highly overrated, in my view. We need to provide the service that the Lord wants us to provide, not what we think we would like to do. The first step is to find out from the Lord and from our fellow ward members what is really needed. And then we must do like a true prophet does and provide what the Lord wants us to provide. Service is wonderful indeed, but that depends on the service. Let’s not be like the Boy Scout who came home all beat up.

“What happened,” his family asked.

“I helped a little old lady across the street,” he replied.

“But why are you all beat up?”

“I guess she didn’t want to go,” he shrugged.

Let us provide the service that is needed. If we aren’t willing to do that, let us just forget about service.

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10 Responses to False Prophets, True Prophets and Service

  1. There is a verse that says the test of a prophet is whether or not his predictions pan out. Never mind that everyone can make predictions that pan out. For an example, I predict that it will rain some time during the next few months. Now if it does in fact rain as predicted, does that make me a true prophet? Of course not. It makes me some guy who occasionally get it right when he predicts the future. Obviously, a true prophet must be something more than a fortune teller. One can find those in any circus side show.

    Most traditional Christians do not even know what a prophet is because they do not understand the principle of priesthood authority or even believe that it exists. That is not surprising because among tradtional Christians it doesn’t exist, nor has it since ancient times before what is currently called “Christianity” came into being.

    Because traditional Christians do not know what a prophet is, they also do not understand correctly those passages of scripture that talk about prophets. As a result, they apply a standard to Joseph Smith that not even Moses or Elijah could pass. Are there any “prophecies” that Moses made that did not come true? I dare say that any skeptic could find many. These same skeptics could find the same objections to Joseph Smith.

    A true prophet speaks for God when he is “speaking as a prophet.” But he is obviously not speaking for God when tells his wife what he wants for dinner tonight. And since true prophets do not reliably tell everyone when they are “speaking as a prophet” it is rather difficult to tell when they are speaking only as a man. Does anyone really think that a prophet errs when he is speaking as a mouthpiece for God? Of course not. Therefore, when he makes a mistake or a prediction that does not come true, he is obviously just giving his own fallible opinions.

    But that does not make him a false prophet. I’ll bet that Moses and Elijah both made errors and false predictions when they were speaking on their own rather that “speaking as a prophet” as a mouthpiece for God. But they were still prophets. They did not usurp false authority. God did choose them. They were not self-proclaimed spokesmen for God who took that honor upon themselves without God’s appointment as so many so-called Bible experts and seminaries do.

    Those who use this biblical “proof” that supposedly Joseph Smith fails as a prophet, do not claim to be prophets themselves or even that such a thing has existed upon the earth since ancient times. They apply this “proof” which they do not even understand to others, but they would never dream of applying it to themselves. The founders of their various denominations and they themselves would fail such a test more certainly than Joseph Smith supposedly did.

    I do not understand how so many can claim to discredit Joseph Smith and the Mormons on biblical grounds when it is so obvious that they do not understand the Bible themselves. All they have are their own flawed interpretations. And everyone who claims to correctly understand every verse of the Old and New Testaments is a liar. Much of the Bible is cryptic because the meaning have been lost over the millennia. And some of it started out highly cryptic almost as if God didn’t want mankind to understand it without his additional input, ie. prophets and apostles whom He chooses.

    There is a lot of truth in every religion and denomination. The false precepts and philosophies of men that become mingled with scripture are the problem. And we have probably all embraced some of those. That is all the more reason why we need prophets and revelation today. God will never leave us to our own confusion as long as he loves us. He will provide us with new scripture and with true prophets as an evidence of his love. He wants to keep us from stumbling around in the dark. We need true prophets and scripture today even more than ever. God has not abandoned us as so many seem to believe.

  2. Trevor says:

    p ajoos,
    The Holy Bible as it exists today contains the record of many of God’s ancient prophets and portions of their lives and teachings from God and His Christ. I’m very curious to know what scripture verses you are referring to when you say “a very strict standard for a true prophet.” Two things that a prophet must have to be a true prophet of God, off the top of my head, are being called by God Himself to be his messenger to the people (Moses, Jeremiah, Peter and the rest of the apostles Christ chose including Paul are excellent examples of this). A true prophet must also have a testimony of Jesus Christ which is in very fact the spirit of prophecy… Revelations 19:10. Joseph Smith was called of God to restore the fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the inhabitants of the earth, and he most certainly had a testimony of Jesus Christ from numerous visions and visitations of Him for the guiding and instructing of Joseph in the Truth of His Kingdom and how to go about establishing His Church. If ‘Joe’ Smith was a false prophet this Mormon church of his would have been doomed to obscurity and failure. As that isn’t the case in the least bit, I encourage you to re-examine your understanding of prophets, truth, Christ and the love of our Heavenly Father given to all his children in all ages of the world. Or if you prefer, post the scriptures you seem to think disqualify Joseph Smith as a true prophet and lets see if they stand up to scrutiny in the light of day. Personally I know Joseph Smith was a true prophet of God and I know it by and through the Holy Ghost which testifies of truth. Have you prayed about it and asked God for yourself yet?

  3. p ajoos says:

    The truth is that the bible has a very strict standard for a true prophet…Joe Smith does not in any instance meet the standard.

    • In your opinion, that is. I have studied the matter for myself and come to a different conclusion. There are more people who think they understand the Bible than actually do.

  4. Howie says:

    I AM SHOCKED! Nobody makes you do help for these members. Your Elder’s Quorum doesn’t twist your arm to get you to help, do they? No, they ask, who can help.” Keep your hand down and let another brother give the service.

    In nearly every case, it’s the visiting teachers and home teachers that have asked, “do you need help with anything?” Many people won’t ask without a bit of prodding. I have seen the results from members who weren’t attending often, but when they’ve been helped out, they have started to become more active.

    I’m in a wheelchair and had just begun to dig a short area from my deck ramp to the side walk so I could have asphalt put in. My home teacher stopped by the following day and asked what I had been doing out there. I told them. They said, “we’ll make you a deal. We’ll come over on Saturday and do it for you BUT, you can’t tell anyone from the ward that we did it for you.”

    Do you know why they didn’t want me to tell our ward members? They weren’t looking for accolades, they did it to serve my family and the Lord.

    The next time your Quorum asks, think about what I’ve told you. The service is not just for the member only, it’s for you too.

  5. I think that you are right that the service that we give has to be something that is needed, but I also think that in order for it to be true service, it has to be something that we also WANT to give, otherwise it falls in the catagory of a gift given grudgingly (which Christ said is counted as if the gift was never given at all).

    My forte is NOT bringing people meals, because I don’t think of myself as a good enough cook to give effortlessly and gladly. It stresses me out and I don’t like to do it.

    However, I love to play the piano for people’s musical numbers and I love to organize and I like to help clean and I like to substitute teach, so those are definitely services that I can give.

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  7. Sara says:

    Some of the best chances I’ve had to serve have come from my favorite question to ask while visiting teaching:
    “Is there anything new or interesting happening in your life?”
    I’ve found out that people are having babies, moving, and many other areas where I could serve. It’s a great line, and it gets other people talking about themselves.

  8. helaman says:

    MOVING!! How could you forget moving people…

    But it’s a good point, noticing what might not be asked for, I would hazard a guess this should be something you would pick up from Home Teaching or Visiting Teaching your families also.

  9. Sara says:

    I whole heartedly agree. Our emotional service to others can often times be the most valuable. I think that should be the essence of Visiting Teaching in the Relief Society program. I have been in 2 wards now that are foutunate enough to use far less fast offerings than it produces. But loneliness, discouragement, and depression are more common. People seem afraid to “stop by” or make a phone call “just for a chat.”

    I feel the begining of the answer to this problem is to start the service in our own home. We must make sure our spouse is not lonely. We are their friend. We are interested in their interests. We need to serve them. Then on with our children, parents, siblings, etc.
    If we don’t start with service in our own home, than where in the world will we or our children learn to serve outside?

    Here is a quote by Ballard J Washburn (1995) of the Seventy:
    “We go to the temple to make covenants, but we go home to keep the covenants that we have made. The home is the testing ground. The home is the place where we learn to be more Christlike. The home is the place where we learn to overcome selfishness and give ourselves in service to others.”

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