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Sermon #1093

Testing the Spirits (3)

A Sermon on John 1:26-33


John 1:26-33 ESV KJV
John answered them, “I baptize with water, but among you stands one you do not know, even he who comes after me, the strap of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie.” These things took place in Bethany across the Jordan, where John was baptizing. The next day he …

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Sermon Description

Various predictions on the future have been made over the last several years regarding the end times, the rapture of the global church, or some other event in the future. How should Christians respond to these claims? Are there questions or criteria that can help as they analyze such truth claims? Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones provides some of those in this sermon on John 1:26–33 titled “Testing the Spirits (3).” Christians must be very cautious when evaluating such claims and must measure a “prophet’s” word against Scripture. How do they know if someone is a true prophet? The Bible says they know someone to be a true prophet if what they predict comes to pass. Dr. Lloyd-Jones reminds his listeners that regular mental faculties that God has given the Christian, coming alongside the Scriptures, provide enough to “discern the spirits” as Scripture instructs. What are some other helpful criteria? First, be wary of any idea that exalts the self to a place of prominence. Second, when the physical aspect of a spiritual experience is emphasized, be cautious. Third, be careful of those things that only happen after they are mentioned— the danger of what Dr. Lloyd-Jones refers to as the “power of suggestion” is very real, and must be avoided. He closes with a reminder to discern the spirits and to embrace and hold to the simplicity that is in Christ.

Sermon Breakdown

  1. The sermon begins by introducing the topic of spiritual gifts and manifestations of the Holy Spirit. Dr. Lloyd-Jones notes that these gifts must be tested and discerned.
  2. Dr. Lloyd-Jones warns against believing every spirit and notes we must use our reason and understanding, in addition to scripture, to evaluate spiritual gifts.
  3. Dr. Lloyd-Jones says we must exercise caution regarding prophecies of future events. While prophecy is possible, most prophecies do not come to pass. We must wait to see if prophesies are fulfilled to determine if they are from God.
  4. Dr. Lloyd-Jones warns we must exercise caution regarding claims of personal leadings from the Spirit. Most guidance comes through scripture and our God-given faculties. Direct leadings are rare. We should be wary of those who claim constant direct leadings.
  5. Dr. Lloyd-Jones says anything promoting self or making someone great should be viewed with suspicion. Pride and self-exaltation are dangerous.
  6. Dr. Lloyd-Jones warns we must exercise caution when the physical element of an experience is prominent. The New Testament does not emphasize physical sensations, thrills or visions. The devil often overemphasizes the physical.
  7. Dr. Lloyd-Jones warns of the danger of suggestion and crowd psychology. Not everything that appears to be of God or spiritual is. We must discern the difference between genuine and counterfeit spiritual experiences.
  8. Dr. Lloyd-Jones is suspicious of speaking in tongues that only occurs when suggested or in the presence of certain individuals. Genuine gifts of the Spirit are given sovereignly by God, not by the power of suggestion.
  9. Dr. Lloyd-Jones concludes by saying we must not quench the Spirit but test all things. We must rely on scripture, reason, church history and the warnings of others to exercise discernment. Simplicity in Christ is the ultimate test.

The Book of John

Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981) was a Welsh evangelical minister who preached and taught in the Reformed tradition. His principal ministry was at Westminster Chapel, in central London, from 1939-1968, where he delivered multi-year expositions on books of the bible such as Romans, Ephesians and the Gospel of John. In addition to the MLJ Trust’s collection of 1,600 of these sermons in audio format, most of these great sermon series are available in book form (including a 14 volume collection of the Romans sermons), as are other series such as "Spiritual Depression", "Studies in the Sermon on the Mount" and "Great Biblical Doctrines". He is considered by many evangelical leaders today to be an authority on biblical truth and the sufficiency of Scripture.