Thus Saith the Lord?

By John Bevere

Creation House, 1999 | ISBN 0-88419-575-9

Reviewed by Merle Harton, Jr.

This enduring little book belongs in the hands of every Christian reader. Its author wrestles boldly and skillfully with a theme rarely dealt with in issues of God's gifts: How to know when God is speaking prophetically to us through another. The result is a rich, well-written source of information and insight, with suggestions of solid scholarly accomplishment.

Contemporary Quakers know that prophetic ministry is not a recent phenomenon, but was returned to the church as early as the 17th century. But still the complex issue of true discernment is as relevant today as it has been in the history of Friends, especially in the unprogrammed meeting. This book therefore speaks as much to the contemporary Quaker as to the Charismatic or Pentecostal.

Bevere's stage for this issue is a wide one. He is concerned with all forms of prophecy, including what he finds potentially the most devastating—personal prophecy, or prophetic words for an individual, a couple, a group. So he is concerned at least to bring these prophetic forms into the light, to show the sometimes horrifying effects of the false prophet, and then in didactic fashion to teach us how to follow Paul's charge in 1 Thessalonians 5:19-21:

"Do not put out the Spirit's fire; do not treat prophecies with contempt. Test everything. Hold on to the good."

In the process, Bevere looks backward to God's first prophets, to the Old and New Testaments, to the kind of prophecies they declared, and finds that their common chord is to express God's heart to his people, to turn them back to his ways. If turning hearts back to God is the major function of the prophetic, then the minor function of prophecy (telling the future, personal words) seems to be the rule in many churches where this "gift" is found.

In outlining the dangers of the false prophet in today's church, Bevere creates an affecting picture of counterfeit prophecy's effects: broken marriages, dashed hopes, divided congregations, unrealizable promises, terrorized pastors, rebellion, despair, guilt and discouragement. What is most frightening is that many prophecies pass the usual tests and still turn out to be false—often too late to repair the damage. Many of these the author personally experienced.

Heeding Jesus' command to "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing" [Matt. 7:15 NKJ], Bevere produces a carefully crafted reconstruction of the Holy Spirit's role in today's church, and shows us how to know true prophecy as clearly as one can know the false. The outcome is an encouraging, solid, Scriptural-based, and refreshingly intuitive formula for true discernment. This book will be a blessing to every Christian who seeks to walk more closely with the Father.

Quaker Books: "Thus Saith the Lord?" |
Copyright © 1999 by Merle Harton, Jr.  All rights reserved