By Nathan Jones
Those of us at Lamb & Lion Ministries are deeply burdened by the discovery that the average pastor today has no interest whatsoever in the preaching and teaching of God's prophetic Word. And so, nine Bible prophecy experts were asked why they believe many pastors today argue that Bible prophecy is irrelevant to the here and now, and how they would respond to this attitude. The following are their observations.
What would I say to the pastors? Well, I would say that the Scriptures are our authority. It's not the heads over denominations and things like that. I would say you probably weren't taught these things in seminary because people have looked for this to happen for so long and they got tired of teaching it. But, just because it has been a long time is no reason to ignore this subject.
I would tell them we could spend all day concerning the Rapture. Paul begins, "I would not have you ignorant brethren." God doesn't want ignorance in the Church on this subject. He goes on to say, "This is the Word of the Lord, this is what Jesus says about the Rapture." He goes on to say, "Comfort one another with these words." He is saying to tell people about these things.
In Peter we have a more sure Word of prophecy, "Where unto you do well." You would be wise to pay attention to this. The Rapture of the Church — that's a salvation issue. You need to be saved before the Rapture. It's an act of grace. Nobody is worthy to go in the Rapture, so we have something that we would be wise to study.
Jesus tells us to tell others. He says he doesn't want ignorance in the Church. We need to go by the Scriptures, not by what other people are doing. We are seeing apostasy in the Church, we are seeing false doctrines in the Church. All of this is the fulfillment of prophecy, but God gave this message to the Church. It isn't for Nostradamus. It's not for Jean Dixon. It's for the Church to tell people what's going on, and pastors have taken the responsibility. Nearly thirty percent of the Bible is prophecy, you can't ignore thirty percent of the Bible and have the understanding you need to have.
I have been to churches that have totally left Bible prophecy out and they are limping along. Their people have no direction or focus about what their lives are after they die, where they are going to spend eternity, and that God keeps His promises. They think most of the Bible, especially the Old Testament, is fulfilled and out-of-date. Their faith continues to wane and wane.
So, I would say to all pastors, put Bible prophecy back into your teaching. I mean, one-third of the Old Testament is Bible prophecy; one out of every twenty-five verses in the New Testament is Bible prophecy. It means something to God. Bible prophecy means something to God! Don't leave it out of your church, or you will be missing something vitally important.
Those who say that Bible prophecy is irrelevant are saying that almost one-third of the entire Bible is irrelevant. God did not give us irrelevant Scripture. That's number one.
Number two, nothing will purify the human heart like the belief that Jesus could come back at any moment. That is what John said. And, if we ignore the prophetic Word we are taking from the Holy Spirit's arsenal one of most important tools He has, not only bringing conviction upon the unbeliever, but maintaining purity in the life of the one who is a Christian.
Well, those pastors who say that, first of all, probably have an irrelevant ministry themselves. They don't know Bible prophecy and they're not willing to do the hard work to study it. So, they want an easy out so they just say, "Well, hey, one day we'll all go to Heaven. I don't know the details. I'm a Pan-millenialist — it will all pan out in the end." In reality, they may have a genuine concern to evangelize people as some do, some don't. But, I think at the same time they are missing the boat on one of the most important parts of Scripture. If twenty-eight percent of the Bible is prophetic in nature, if Jesus Himself said at the end of the Book of Revelation, "Proclaim these things in the churches," then Jesus meant for the book of Revelation to be preached and taught in the church. If they're not preaching it and teaching it in your church, there is something wrong with that church.
You need to be in a church that proclaims the Gospel. The message of salvation alone through Jesus Christ, the Virgin Birth, the deity of Christ, His literal atonement on the Cross, His literal Resurrection and His literal Second Coming — that's all part of the message of the fundamentals of the basis of genuine Christianity.
I would ask the pastor, "What part of the Bible are you teaching?" If you're going to teach the Bible, you have to teach the whole Bible, and one-third of it is Bible prophecy. So, I would ask this pastor, "If you are going to teach the book of Matthew, are you going to skip over chapter 7? Are you going to jump over chapter 13? What are you going to do when you get to chapter 24 and 25?"
I have a strong conviction, if you teach the Bible you have to teach Bible prophecy, but conversely. Let's not peg ourselves into the hole that we are Bible prophecy teachers. We are Bible teachers, because if you are teaching Bible prophecy you have to teach the whole Bible, or you are teaching it illegitimately.
I think sometimes the reasons pastors want to ignore Bible prophecy is because they are so confused about it. And, in fact, people who, like myself, who claim to teach and preach in this particular area, they feel somewhat intimidated by people like us. They get a guy like me in and he preaches about Bible prophecy and then I am gone and now he's got to answer questions, everybody has got questions, and he don't know how to answer them. I think some of them feel a little bit afraid of that.
The really serious issue centers on the idea that we have forgotten that we serve a living Savior. We talk of Jesus as a baby in a manger. We talk of Jesus on the Cross. But, for some reason which I don't fully understand, we don't want to talk about Jesus as our living Savior who is soon to step down from His throne in Heaven and return to this Earth, to gather out His Church and then later to return and govern this world. We don't see the future, but that future that we have in Christ is our blessed hope. And, unfortunately, when pastors fail to emphasize this part of the Gospel, they're robbing their people of that blessed hope of a future.
I preached a message one time about being excited in Christ. I learned in my study that you cannot be excited about past events. We can appreciate past events. I appreciate certainly, and will be forever grateful for what Jesus did for me on that Cross. I can appreciate it and I glorify His name for it. But, I am excited and can only be excited about what's in the future. You know, when a man and woman are planning their wedding day it's exciting because it is still in the future. But, after that wedding day passes and the years pass, you can look at that wedding day and you know the picture album and it's enjoyable. You get a good feeling from it, but you can't get the excitement of it because it's a past event. Excitement is produced from the future that's right around the corner; things that are coming. People are not excited about their walk with Christ because they don't talk about Him as though He's here now and He's coming and what we are going to be doing with Him. And, pastors that omit that from their teaching and preaching are robbing their church of that excitement, and that's so, so sad.
Well, I totally disagree with that. I mean, "many pastors don't teach it." As the result of that it really affects their church. I think that this is one message that really needs to be taught. If a church allowed this message to be taught or if a pastor teaches it, I believe they will have a healthy church. The apostle Paul said this, he said, "I have not shunned to give you the whole counsel of God." You know how can you give me three-quarters of the Bible and not the end of the story? You know it is so vital that we understand the end of the story. The Bible prophecy message is the only message that gives us the conclusion of the matter. It actually sums up what God is doing. And, if we don't teach it, people will never know how the end is going to be. So, I think that it's a vital message today that needs to be taught.
I challenge pastors — I beg pastors — teach Bible prophecy. Bring in prophecy teachers to teach it because it will bring a healthy diet of God's Word. To me, it is like a vitamin, a spiritual vitamin for the body of Christ. And, it will keep the church healthy when they know the end of the story.
There's a couple of things that are important. One is 28% of the Bible was prophecy at the time it was written. I remember Dr. Walvoord one time, someone asking him why he liked prophecy so much and he said, "Really, my love for prophecy just comes out of my love for the Bible." If you love the Bible and if 28% of it is prophecy, then you love prophecy. So really, I see that my love for prophecy is just a love for the Bible and to understand the Bible. And, I don't think you can understand the Bible if you don't understand 28% of it. As a pastor, I think you need to understand prophecy to be able to declare the full counsel of God to people in the church.
The other thing is every statement in the Bible about prophecy always has practical application with it. It always does. John 14:1-3, "Don't let your heart be troubled. You believe in God believe also in me. In my Father's house there are many dwelling places, I am going to come and receive you to myself. Where I am there you may be also." In 1 Corinthians 15 after the passage on the Rapture at the end he says, "Therefore be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain." In 1 Thessalonians 4 after the section there in 4:13-17 on the Rapture, it's "Therefore comfort one another with these words." I mean, what pastor doesn't use that passage of Scripture when they're comforting folks at a funeral service? And, then finally, in 1 John he says, "Beloved, now we are children of God. It's not yet appeared what we shall be, but we know when He appears we will be like Him because we will see Him just as He is. Everyone who fixes his hope on Him purifies himself, because He Himself is pure." So, becoming of Christ is a purifying hope. If we want people in our churches to be pure, to be separated until the Lord, then one of the greatest things that we can do is teach Bible prophecy. It has a purifying effect on people's hearts. So, saying that Bible prophecy isn't relevant to everyday life is simply a statement that isn't reflected in the Scriptures.
What I tell pastors when they say to me that they cannot see the relevance of Bible prophecy to the here and now is I tell them if they are ever able to convince their people of two things regarding Bible prophecy they will change their lives. The two things are, first, that Jesus really is returning. Now, most Christian believe that in their heads, but not in their hearts. And, I want to tell you something, you don't really believe something until you believe it with your heart.
Second, they must convince their people that Jesus is returning any moment, that there isn't one prophecy that must be fulfilled for Him to come and Rapture the Church out of this world. If any pastor will convince his congregation of those two things — Jesus is coming back, and He is returning any moment — his people will be motivated to evangelism and holiness. And I ask you, how much more relevant could a message be than that?
Pastors and Bible teachers, we would implore you not to avoid teaching one-third of the Bible. To not teach God's prophetic Word is to miss out on knowing that — we win! Your church and students will be blessed greatly by the knowledge and will turn their lives to living them holy and with hope.
If you need assistance, Lamb & Lion Ministries has a wealth of free Bible prophecy materials on our website at http://www.lamblion.com/ and inexpensive resources from our online store at http://www.lamblionresources.com/. Any of the interviewed Bible prophecy teachers would be glad to help you fill in the Bible prophecy blanks and speak to your congregations. You don't have to go it alone in bringing to your congregations and students the Good News of the soon return of Jesus Christ.
(You can watch this Q&A at our website on Christ in Prophecy.)