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The concept of "two witnesses" is one that is repeated in several different forms throughout the Bible.

The Revelation talks about two people with special powers from God, who will warn the world of God's judgment in the three and a half years immediately prior to the return of Christ. They are called "The Two Witnesses". We believe that these are real people, and that someone (probably someone alive on this planet right now) will actually be those two people.

We have come across a few other people who believe similarly. In fact, we have come across a few people who believe they are one of the two witnesses. Unfortunately, that is about the extent of our similarity; for, in our opinion, everyone we have met so far with that inclination has turned out to be psychotically deluded with their own grandiose importance.

Please believe us, when we say that we have not arrived at this conclusion because we are jealous of the claimants. We have nothing to indicate that anyone in our community is one (much less both) of the two witnesses. So we are quite open to the genuine article being two people outside of our own community. We expect that one day we will actually discover who those two witnesses are. So, what is our problem with the candidates who have so far offered their services?

Primarily the problem is that they've always been "one witness" and not "two witnesses".

The Bible says, "Let every word be established in the mouth of two or three witnesses." (2 Corinthians 13:1; Deuteronomy 19:15) This principle was a legal precedent that started at the time of Moses. It did not allow anyone to be convicted on the word of a single witness. Thus, it represented an advanced judicial system. The chances of two people conspiring to pervert the course of justice are many times lower than the chances of one individual either being mistaken or telling a lie; and so two witnesses represent a form of proof which is many times more reliable than the testimony of one isolated witness.

The importance of this principle for us is that we will be many times more likely to arrive at the truth through a willingness to listen to the counsel of others, than if we try to operate only on our own understanding. We don't need huge numbers on our side to be right; but we do need at least one or two others to agree with what we are saying, if we are to avoid the delusions of grandeur which have been the ruin of others.

"Truth" and "counsel" (or accountability) are inextricably linked. It is interesting that the words "counsel" and "accountability" both have a similar root word, from which we get the word "count". Numbering systems enable us to objectively measure all sorts of things which would be unreliably referred to on the basis of subjective feelings if we did not have numbers. If one person says that there are about 50 people in a room, and another person says there are about 100, you need only "count" the people to determine which person is closer to the truth. Counsel (or accountability) does much the same thing with regard to such things as divine revelations and morality. (See also our tract, Measure it.)

But back to the Two Witnesses of The Revelation. Do you think you may be one of them? Then show us someone else who concurs with you, and let us hear their reasons for believing that you are one of the two witnesses.

Mind you, it's not unusual for two or more people to get together and still make some deluded claims. But a closer look usually shows serious disunity amongst those two or more people.

One self-proclaimed "prophet" tried to teach us some esoteric revelations that he had, and we could not make sense of them; so we asked his sidekick, who had lived and worked with him for many years, if he could tell us in his own words what the prophet's main message was all about. He said straight out that he could not. He said that only the prophet himself could express it. In other words, the second "witness" was as confused as we were about all the waffle that was coming from his deluded master's mouth.

The junior prophet was not working with the senior prophet because he had been convinced by the other man's truthfulness or understanding, but it is more likely that he was there because of his own selfishness. In one way or another, he was probably getting something besides truth out of the relationship, and that compensated him for covering for the delusion in his partner.

The Pharisees, who appeared to be tightly knit in their opposition to Jesus, had great difficulty getting two of their own people to agree on exactly what it was that they were upset about. (Matthew 26:59-60) In a world of dishonesty and selfishness, there can be very little unity, because people are not guided by unchanging principles. Rather, they are guided by ever-changing expediencies. In such a situation the kind of unity that God is looking for cannot exist.

Jesus said to his followers, that his Spirit would be present in any place where two or three people were gathered together in his name. (Matthew 18:20) Again, we have the principle of two or three witnesses. But again, there is the requirement that there be genuine agreement between the people involved. Gathering people together is easy. But gathering them together for the purpose of honestly, humbly, and wholeheartedly following Jesus (i.e. for the purpose of acting "in his name", or "on his behalf", or "for his glory, and not our own") is quite a different task. The great miracle on the Day of Pentecost was not the mighty rushing wind, or the tongues like fire, but rather that 120 people were "all with one accord in one place".

Jesus promised that, if two or more people would agree together when they prayed, God would answer their prayer. It seems to contradict his rule that we should pray privately and secretly. But both teachings are consistent when we realise that he is talking about private prayers being made more effective through public counsel. Our private prayers will be ineffectual if we are not living our lives in submission to others who are living in submission to Jesus.

There may seem to be a similarity here between what we are saying and the dreaded "covering" doctrine of the churches, which we have often spoken against. But there is one important exception in that similarity: They are not living in submission to the teachings of Jesus. They teach that if you don't follow them, God will not hear your prayers. We teach that if you don't follow Jesus, God will not hear your prayers. Let's face it. Jesus never said that where one person claims to be operating in his name, that he will be present in that individual. It is Jesus himself who instituted the principle of submission to at least one or two other people, who are, in turn, submitted to him. Ultimately, such submission will unite us with all genuine followers of Jesus.

Malcontents latch onto all that we say in opposition to the false unity and false authority of the false church, and they use it to promote anarchy, selfishness, and delusion for themselves. Unfortunately, if they will not submit themselves to the authority of the teachings of Jesus, and to others who are in submission to those teachings, then their authority will be just as false as that of the false church.

But, having said all of that, we must still recognise that there are times in each person's life when they must stand alone, when they must do what is right whether or not others stand by them. True character is moulded through such testing times. Even private prayer, as referred to above, is such a time, simply because it is done privately, "in your closet".

But the point of this article is that, even when we are praying, we should remain open to correction and criticism. Be careful not to confuse being a martyr for the truth, with being a martyr for your own deluded interpretation of the truth. As someone has said of the persecution that Galileo endured, "Being persecuted does not make you a Galileo. You must also be right!"

Unlike the Two Witnesses of The Revelation, Jesus was not part of a two-man team. He functioned more or less on his own. And he knew that the Jews, who had been steeped in the principle of two witnesses, would challenge him on that. He admitted to the truth of this principle when he said, "If I bear witness of myself, my witness is not true." (John 5:31)

He started his defence by stating that John the Baptist was, in a way, his "partner" or second witness. (John 5:33) However, because John, too, seemed to go through some doubts at one stage (Matthew 11:2-3), Jesus added that he did not depend entirely on John's testimony as his second witness. He said, "I have a greater witness than that of John; for the works which the Father has given me to finish, the same works that I do bear witness of me, that the Father has sent me." (John 5:36)

And here is a very simple challenge for anyone thinking that they may be one of the two witnesses of the Revelation. Try turning water into blood. The Bible says that the two witnesses can produce fire out of their mouths, which will devour their enemies, that they will be able to stop the clouds from dropping rain, that they can turn the waters to blood, and "smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will." (Revelation 11:3-6) Let your "works" become your second witness. Obviously, someone who can do those sort of things hardly needs a second witness to attest to their authenticity, because, like happened with Jesus, the works themselves will be their witness.

Deluded psychotics are experts at playing with words so that when they are called on to produce the goods they can make all of the phrases in the passage above fairly meaningless. If they read in the papers that there is a drought somewhere, they can convince themselves (after the fact, of course) that they were the ones who caused it. They tell themselves that anyone who suffers is suffering because they were "cursed" by them. They can pour some blood into a river and tell themselves that they have turned the river into blood. But all of these, of course, are lies and strong delusion. They bear no resemblance to the works of Jesus, which were witnessed by thousands, and recorded by four different witnesses (in the gospels) to be genuine miracles and not word games or religious trickery.

If you are reading this and you are under the impression that you are one of the two witnesses (or in some other way a special messenger of God), we do not ask you to throw away something that you may have sincerely believed for some time. But we do ask you to be willing to discard your conviction if it is God's will, and if it will bring more glory to Christ. We then ask you to submit yourself to the scrutiny and counsel of others who are seeking to follow Jesus. Humbly listen to their criticisms, and humbly ask God if there is any truth in what they are saying.

One of the two witnesses is supposed to be Elijah the prophet, either reincarnated or in some other way spiritually represented. Jesus said that John the Baptist was Elijah for his day (Matthew 11:14); and yet when John himself was asked whether he was Elijah, he flatly denied it. (John 1:21) In other words, John did not even know that he was a fulfilment of the prophecy about God sending Elijah to prepare the world for Jesus.

As far as John was concerned, he was nothing but a "voice". (John 1:23) "He (the Messiah) must increase, but I must decrease," he said. (John 3:30) This did not take away from the effectiveness of John's ministry. It actually enhanced it. You do not need to promote yourself, or be recognised by others as someone great, in order to be effective in glorifying Christ. As Jesus himself said, "If you would be great, become the servant of all." (Matthew 23:11; 20:27)

To sum up, from the time of Moses, God has operated on a principle of two witnesses being required in order for a court action to proceed. Jesus applied this same principle to effectual prayer and to the presence of the Holy Spirit. Without agreement between two or more people the Holy Spirit would not be present, and their prayers would not be answered. We have said that the reason for this is that God wants us to be answerable to others and accountable when we make exaggerated claims about our own righteousness or about our own authority.

Finally, we have noted that just before Jesus returns, there will be "two witnesses" who will have supernatural powers. We have stated that people who want to be one of these witnesses need to be open to correction, and aware of their own weaknesses. Such accountability is essential if we are to arrive at the truth about ourselves and about God's plan for the world.

(See also Try the Spirits.)

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