Zimbabwe News and Internet Radio

Beware of false prophets in sheep’s clothing

By Brilliant Pongo

The Lord Jesus Christ warned His followers, “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves (Matt. 7:15). The warning was important because Jesus later said to them: “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; therefore be shrewd as serpents, and innocent as doves” (Matt. 10:16).

The apostle Paul, with a deeply troubled spirit and in tears, penned a similar warning: “I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock” (Acts 20:29).

Brilliant Pongo
Brilliant Pongo

Throughout church history these warnings concerning professing Christians who deceive even the elect have seldom been taken seriously. How can the church be so easily deceived?

According to Webster’s Dictionary “deceive” means “to lead astray or to cause to accept as true or valid what is false or invalid.” Could it be the church has not only lost its ability to discern truth from error but also to discern wolves from sheep?

The teachings of men like Bishop Chikosi and those he seeks to defend are charming, seductive, cunning and dangerous as they take advantage of their undiscerning audiences.

They teach that you can overcome poverty and become rich beyond your earthly dreams through giving money to their businesses which they have conveniently called “ministries of God”. The teaching techniques are drawn from a mixture of motivational speaking, comedy and half-truths mingled with scripture.

These slick dressing sometimes-hair perming-gospel entrepreneurs give the impression that they have a very intimate relationship with God and report having many visions, encounters and conversations with God.

[They even claim they can command cash machines (ATMs) to give them money, (miracle money preaching)].

I am not a Christian leader, but as a journalist and believer, I strongly believe I should warn others about these false preachers who are using the name of God to steal and rob the undiscerning; these “deceitful workers who masquerade as apostles of Christ” (2 Cor. 11:13). Must be exposed (Eph. 5:11).

We all live in days of great deception. May God give His people the gift of discernment as we take Paul’s warning seriously:

“See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ” (Col. 2:8).

Bishop Chikosi, claims that he is not here to defend the practices and procedures of any church but that is precisely what he is unsuccessfully trying to do. Realizing now that he is not doing very well at this self-appointed task, he seeks to relief himself of this undertaking.

Your attempts to be clear at anything Bishop Chikosi have been anything but clear. You have dunked and dodged every question that has been put forward to you with respect to what you stood up to defend.

With all due respect Bishop, let me be the one to remind you what the debate was about. It was about the excessive wealth and display of opulence by Zimbabwe’s new brand of preachers, which have been termed “prosperity gospel preachers.”

Those of you that listened to the podcast on Nehanda Radio, from which this debate sprang, will remember the topic “Unpacking the power of Makandiwa” in that discussion we named Emmanuel Makandiwa and Uebert Angel for they are the ones that are most prominent in the bracket of what was in discussion.

When the false teachings of these so-called-men-of-God get exposed, it is amazing some of the arguments we hear. People will see the false doctrine, and still they say, “But do you know the man? Have you ever talked with him? Jesus did not say, “you shall know them by spending time with them.”

If what is coming out of their mouths is deceit, bad fruit, on a consistent basis then you know the men are false! It is that simple! You do not have to personally know the man.

Bishop Dave Chikosi
Bishop Dave Chikosi

Bishop Chikosi, then chose to defend the practices and procedures of these so called ‘men of God’ however, in the process of the debate, in as much as he shouted that this debate was not about him, he tried his best to make this debate ‘the Bishop Chikosi show’.

However, when the spotlight turned on him he became wiggly, that godly façade that he had feigned is now waning. The bishop’s cage has clearly been rattled; he is getting more and more irritable as questions about how he makes his money and questions about his calling are put to him.

What did the Bishop expect when he joined this debate, did he think we would not ask question; remember you were not invited but came of your own volition!

Bishop Chikosi may have come into this debate thinking that he could patronize those who he deemed unable to comprehend scripture by bombarding everyone with loads of misinterpreted verses till he was the last one standing.

On the contrary things did not go that way.

The simple lesson that my Bishop friend is finding difficult to learn and accept is that many people out there have been given spiritual understanding of the holy scripture.

Bishop Chikosi could do himself a great favour if he got off his high horse and accepted that his views and interpretations of scripture are not the only valid ones; and having a master’s degree in theology counts for nothing if you do not have the Holy Spirit of God to help you comprehend.

Indeed even, an atheist can also hold a theological degree.

When it comes to a proper understanding of the Word of God, the Holy Spirit is all the believer needs (1 John 2:27) the believer does not need the supposed great men of God or a Master of theology holding Bishop.

Any appeal otherwise is an appeal to the traditions of men Paul warned us in Colossians (2:8) “Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.”

When I asked Bishop Chikosi, about his personal calling, I for one thought this was something which one would have thought not a secret, I thought my media attention –loving-bishop-friend would happily share with me, his journalist friend, but I could not have been more wrong.

I know less about his calling because he does not share with a doubtful Thomas such as I. My bishop friend said in response “Jesus warned us to not “cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and tear you” – Matt 7:6).

Truth is truth, and we should never be ashamed of it, but my bishop friend knows he is a phony and has been called out. He cannot continue to hide behind his finger, I call him out publicly because I have hope that he will soon repent for God loves him.

Indeed false teachers are nothing new, and the reality of many following them is also not peculiar to our times. False Christianity has been active since the first century. In 2 Peter, Peter came right out and said, “There will be false teachers among you” (2 Peter 2:1-2).

While Paul was still on this earth there were “many” who had turned from heavenly mindedness to earthly mindedness, having set their minds on the things of flesh (Romans 8:5) likewise, during Paul’s days there were already “so many, peddling the word of God” (2 Corinthians 2:17). These are those false Christians “who suppose that godliness is a means of gain” (1 timothy 6:5)

Reading into Bishop Chikosi last article he said that his father was a preacher, this made him a preacher’s son (akangokura achidya ye church nazvino unongorarama neye Church) but that is beside the point, the point that I think he made which is interesting is that as a preachers son he felt that preachers were under compensated.

Maybe his father understood that he only had to get enough for the basic necessities from the church, something I agree with but not what bishop Chikosi is advocating, a life of opulence for those of his ilk.

Compensatory behaviour, maybe? Or you may have got into preaching God’s word for the wrong reasons, as a means of gain!

“This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.” (2 Timothy 3:1-5)

If anyone teaches other than the Word of God, it is false teaching. Those who have the Holy Spirit in them will hear God’s words (John 8:47) they will consent to wholesome words. Those who do not know God, will not consent (John 8:47).

1 Timothy 5:19-21 gives instruction in how to confront an elder (minister) who is sinning. False teaching is sin, therefore it should be dealt with publicly (“in the presence of all”, 1 Timothy 5:20).

Indeed I have and will always raise my tongue against ministers who I undoubtedly think are using the name of God to rob God’s children particularly those in Zimbabwe.

When people start selling (spiritual air time, face towels that they claim to have blessed, when you start selling supposed Holy water to the undiscerning) then I take issue hazvisizva Mwari izvi ndezve mari.

I am very much aware of the admonition of scripture, “touch not mine anointed” I am not exempt from that admonition I will not touch God’s anointed but you missed the point Bishop Chikosi this does not apply to the self-anointed, false prophets, (and self-appointing Bishops).

Yes I do think people like you, who just want to tell us you are (bishops, prophets or ‘God’s anointed’ etc.), abuse this admonition, you are now trying to use this as a device to stifle criticism you are indeed using this in places that it does not apply, (N’anga dzakapfeka masutu, will never be God’s anointed, ndaramba).

The Holy Ghost, by the mouth of St Paul, says to us, “Prove all things. Hold fast that which is good.” (1 Thessalonians 5:21) In these words you have two great truths:

1.—The right, duty, and necessity of private judgment. “Prove all things.”

2.—The duty and necessity of keeping firm hold upon truth. “Hold fast that which is good.”

When I say the right of private judgment, I mean that every individual Christian has a right to judge for himself by the Word of God, whether that which is put before him as religious truth, is God’s truth, or is not.

When I say the duty of private judgment, I mean that God requires every Christian person to use the right of which I have just spoken;—to compare man’s words and man’s writings with God’s revelation, and to make sure that he is not deluded and taken in by false teaching.

And when I say the necessity of private judgment, I mean this,—that it is absolutely needful for every Christian who loves his soul and would not be deceived, to exercise that right, and discharge that duty to which I have referred; seeing that experience shows that the neglect of private judgment has always been the cause of immense evils in the Church of God.

You called it Bishop. And I say Bring it on!

In his last article Bishop Chikosi charged “It will be very interesting to watch the trajectory of your life Mr Pongo, six, twelve or eighteen months from now. It is no small thing to curse what God has blessed. I am praying for you for a change of heart. Muri kupinda nemoto mudziva mukoma. Anokuvara ndiwe”.

I would like very much to take you up on your call to watch the trajectory of my life, but I challenge you to be more accurate, would like you to be microscopic in your prophecy so people can see that you are as false a prophet as you are a teacher. This is your big chance to prove your worth let’s start the countdown.

I pray that God forgives you Bishop Chikosi and blesses you with peace and joy, in Jesus name.