The Part-to-Whole Fallacy

Watch out no one deceives you for many will come in my name claiming I am the Christ and will deceive many. (Matthew 24:4 NIV)

The Part-to-Whole fallacy may be explained this way: “Because part of a thing is true, it does not mean all of it is.”

The Galilean fisherman Simon was often right. In Caesarea Philippi, he hit the jackpot when Jesus asked, “Who do you say I am?”

Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” (Matthew 16:15-16)

Like a seed, the disciple’s confession had been planted by the heavenly Father. It earned Simon a new name. From that time on, he was “the Rock.” (Matthew 16:17-18)

Peter enjoyed a new status. God spoke to him. With that heady experience behind him, he then felt qualified to contradict the word of Christ:

From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.  Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!” (Matthew 16:21-22)

Peter, the Rock, rebuked Jesus; though it is doubtful Simon would have been that brash. He must have been upset by what he deemed as “the Lord’s negative confession.” Peter wanted to hear only positive. He may have assumed that since he was granted special revelation about Christ’s divine person, he received divine revelation on prophecy as well. As far as who God is, even demons believe and tremble. (James 2:19)

Sharply, the Lord Jesus rebuked the Rock. “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.” (Matthew 16:23)

This is how it will be in the last days: Men and women will be esteemed and placed in positions of honor. They will receive wonderful revelations, even prophesying in Jesus’ name and performing miracles. They will draw large crowds and wow their audiences, thus becoming susceptible to Peter’s error (Matthew 7:22). Not every spirit is from God, so no one should assume they always speak or act for Him. Especially when it comes to prophecy, first test the spirits, or we may find ourselves opposing Christ (1 John 4:1).

Caveat emptor (“Let the buyer beware.”) Simply because our fine preacher or pastor has wonderful abilities, and rightly identifies Jesus as Lord, it does not mean he or she may not call God a liar. To assume our respected teachers or mentors know everything, without testing the spirits, places the responsibility for being deceived on our shoulders.

In Part 2, we will examine more evidence that, in the last days, the Part-to-Whole fallacy will cause many to fall into Satan’s deadly trap.

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