Jan 13, 2009

Keeping The Main Thing...

By Nathan Jones

A bunch of good buddies got together one Sunday afternoon to catch the football game on Al's new 52' widescreen. They all sat on the comfy couch and chairs, chips and drinks in hand, expectant of some good plays. The gang was united in their love of the big game and rejoiced in their fan fellowship. As usual, some guys rooted for one team, some for another, and a few didn't care for either team, but liked anything football.

Naturally, some good natured ribbing and teasing about the rival team's abilities started. And then suddenly, Tom turned to Frank and loudly accused, "If you don't believe my team is the best, then you are going to hell!"

After a moment of stunned silence, the room erupted into chaos. Fred agreed with Tom. Bobby stated his belief that his team was essential to loving football. Sal decried the green and white uniform combination, declaring more white than green was essential for good game playing. The room divided into three camps, all staring each other down with hostility. The wives hastily exited to go shopping. The dog was kicked. Root beer was left undrunk. Before the half-time show, these men stormed out never to talk again. Only Best Buy benefited with two more widescreens being purchased.

Say What?

While the football argument may have seemed rather ludicrous, the word "football" only has to be replaced with "Bible prophecy" and the story becomes a reality. Students of Bible prophecy have always been united in their love of Jesus Christ as Savior and in exploring the mysteries of God's unfolding plan for the ages. They get together for conferences and meetings, email and study together — all for the love of God.

And yet, there are a few that feel that their team — their end-time point of view — is infallible, and even worse, necessary for salvation. In the middle of any good natured discussion a voice or two will rise and break up fellowship with their Christian brethren over issues as menial as what the Antichrist likes for breakfast (we all know he has a penchant for pork).

The Whys

Why as Christian brothers and sisters do we get so worked up about events clouded by the mists of future times? Why do we tie our core doctrines up with secondary doctrines that have nothing to do with what's essential to God?

Well, firstly, and we're all guilty of it, our point of view is tied to our egos. Maybe a student has made a name for himself based on a particular theory, yet finds it doesn't stand up to biblical scrutiny. Or, maybe the passion of the discussion made them step too far from the realm of the probably into declaring fact the realm of the imaginary. Either way, they do not wish to lose face.

Secondly, we all wish for events to turn out a certain way. I find many of our Post-Trib brothers want to be martyred. Our Pre-Trib sisters wish to get off this rock and get to heaven. Our Post-Mil friends want to conquer the world for Christ. We each come at Bible interpretation with a preconceived view of how God would like it to turn out, and many times leave God and the Bible out of our interpretation altogether.

Thirdly, there are false prophets lurking in our midst. No, not people who believe that Jesus is the one and only Savior and King of Kings and Lord of Lords. We do indeed have true false prophets like Jesus warned us about in Matthew 24 sowing seeds of dissention and slinging accusations against true believers, hoping to create confusion and division. They should indeed be rooted out for the world to know their lies are not true and to protect those who would be led astray. But, if it's only a person's Bible prophecy that is askew and not their faith in Jesus Christ as Savior, then we're trying to bullseye with a shotgun, obliterating the target.

Fourthly, the pressure's on! The deeper the world gets into prophetic end-time signs and the worse the "birth pains" get, the more the world is looking to Bible prophecy students for answers. The urgency increases to share the Gospel with as many people as possible as quickly as possible. The questions keep coming, and we need to provide the answers to the world's inquiries. In the end, we answer everything but their real question — "How can Jesus save me?"

And finally, a divided house will not stand. Satan knows this, and cranks up the itching on believers so that we spend more time bickering over the non-essentials than in uniting to share the Gospel in the time God has given us. Non-believers always point to the disunity within the Church as an argument that it is not of God, a tactic Satan has used to his utmost advantage, and to our shame.

...The Main Thing

And so, I make a plea to all lovers of Bible prophecy — keep the main thing the main thing! We love Jesus Christ. We want to see people become saved. We all feel the urgent need to get the Word out, for that is what the true gift of Bible prophecy is all about. But, for the sake of those who depend on us to open up the world of the Bible to them, let's keep our egos in check, our doctrine true to the Bible, and our focus never veering from the end to all Bible prophecy — Jesus saves and reigns!