13:1 “If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, 2 and the sign or wonder that he tells you comes to pass, and if he says, ‘Let us go after other gods,’ which you have not known, ‘and let us serve them,’ 3 you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams. For the Lord your God is testing you, to know whether you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. 4 You shall walk after the Lord your God and fear him and keep his commandments and obey his voice, and you shall serve him and hold fast to him. 5 But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has taught rebellion against the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt and redeemed you out of the house of slavery, to make you leave the way in which the Lord your God commanded you to walk. So you shall purge the evil from your midst.
What is the Deuteronomy 13 test? Bill Randles in his book Weighed and found Wanting: The Toronto experience examined in the light of the Bible, uses the story of William Branham in illustrating this principle.
In those days also, a simple, obscure man rose to prominence in healing ministry. Eventually, he came to be regarded as a prophet of God. His name was William Branham. His unique life marked a turning point for American Pentecostalism. He did represent a test from God. (Deut 13:1-5) The kind of test in which we, in failing, have to a degree lost our eyesight (discernment). This will become more clear as we look at his interesting and unusual life. (pg 30)
Randles goes on to share a brief history of the ministry of William Branham: his humility, his prophetic accuracy, the signs and wonders in which he moved – yet one thing marked Branham as a false prophet.
Now is the time for us to re-examine both Deut 18 and Deut 13. The teaching is that if anyone calls himself a prophet and is inaccurate at all, speaking in the name of the Lord, you are not to fear him (Deut 18). But Deut 13 tells us that a prophet can arise, who is accurate in his gifts, but still is a false prophet. Why is this? Because God can allow the accuracy to test the loyalty of His people. The question is, will we live by bread alone? Or by every word that comes from God? Will we be dazzled by powerful signs and wonders? Or do we loyally uphold the truth of God? If false prophets can have accurate gifts, and people get healed and predictions come to pass, how can you tell if they are true or false? By examining the content of their teaching. This is the test we keep failing. We get so intoxicated by signs, wonders, prophecies, words, healings, crowds, and personality, that we overlook doctrinal error. After all, we don’t argue over “doctrinal gnats,” do we? (pg 34)
We, as a Christian body have failed this test time and time again. In our quest for the latest, greatest thing, we keep putting our bible under our seats instead of reading it. Many today laugh at doctrine and bible reading as being too constrictive and old-fashioned. Thus, we fall for the latest fad in charismatic circles over and again.
Branham was discredited as a minister only after his teachings became so bizarre that they fell outside of any respectable church. Yet today, there are still those who idolize this man and proclaim him to be the most anointed man since the days of the apostles.
The real fruit of Branham’s ministry can be seen today in false teaching, destroyed lives and churches and heresy that is fanning across the globe. This is why it is so vitally important that we examine doctrine and teaching in the body of Christ through the lens of Holy Scripture.
In conclusion, let me remind you of these words from Isaiah:
8:20 To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.