God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. (2 Timothy 1:7)
I wrote a previous piece that Christians have always lived anticipating the “soon return of our Lord”. Unfortunately, there have also always been people who “hold their Bibles in one hand and the newspaper in the other” to pronounce how current events and current people are the direct fulfillment of this prophecy.
Well, the end-times have invaded my work. Some people using the power of Google found teachers who claim to have found the hidden key which has been hidden – or deliberately squashed by authorities – that show how right here and right now things are playing out exactly the way the Bible has always said it was going to. I don’t want to go into much details about specifics but these teachings, as they kinda must be if they want to make the splash they are looking for, are wrapped up in current personalities and current partisan and societal agendas. Indeed, one of the reasons this type of teaching thrives is that even people who don’t accept the end-time system on which it is based are happy to see some current personality they despise being tarred by the broad brush of “Biblical Prophecy.”
One system of Eschatology (Theology of the End-Times) is particularly and historically susceptible to this abuse, Premillennialism. It is the one which I hold. I am saying that for the sake of disclosure not for arguing or defending. Not that it is irrelevant, but Eschatology is not the Gospel. There is one Biblical Creed: Jesus Christ is Lord. People have told me their Salvation was questioned when they questioned this system. I don’t doubt that and I sorry that happened but those people who questioned your Salvation based on Eschatology were wrong. All that said, I want to bring some Scripture to bear on the current and historical use of Bible Prophecy.
So when they had gathered together, they began to ask him, “Lord, is this the time when you are restoring the kingdom to Israel?” He told them, “You are not permitted to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. (Act 1:6-7)
This first is from the time in between Jesus’ resurrection and ascension. It seems quite clear: It is not up to us to know when the end-times will hit. Any such declarations are speculations at best. Why do “Biblical Christians” read this and still make it their obsession to figure it out? I’m not sure but in the pamphlet 88 Reasons the Rapture will Happen in 1988 the author wrote along the lines of “even if I am wrong, this teaching must get out there because it warns people.” So it seems the feeling is doing what this verse says is none of our business creates a big splash that will cause conversions. But conversions based on false teachings? The aftermath of people basing their relationship with God on some teaching that proved to be dead wrong? My guess is it would be quite easy to fill your Google search with cynical former believers citing their previous devotion to this pamphlet or to The Late Great Planet Earth.
Another thing to consider is the purpose of Prophecy. There are reasons Prophecy is given. Reasons which seem to be at odds with current and historical panic-mongering.
Now we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters … Therefore encourage one another with these words. (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18)
Now regarding the arrival of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to be with him, we ask you, brothers and sisters, not to be easily shaken from your composure or disturbed by any kind of spirit or message or letter (2 Thessalonians 2:1-2)
Again, the reasons I read in the above verses seem straight forward. Paul wrote to “encourage”. He wrote so that his readers will not be “uninformed” or “shaken” or “disturbed”. In Paul’s time, just like today, people were writing things which were false causing believers to be disturbed and shaken. To be blunt, “shaken and disturbed” accurately describes the reactions of today’s people to the teachings they have found. It seems an axiom that if your teaching on Prophecy results in panicked and disturbed disciples, you’re doing it wrong. If it’s true that God gives a Spirit of power and love and self-control, exactly what in this teaching is powerful, loving or produces self-controlled thinking?
There is a current infatuation with getting the inside scoop. Of finding out things that are “hidden” or “squelched” that only you have privy to. It doesn’t even matter how far-fetched it is, somebody wrote it and now I know stuff others don’t. One way Bible teachers glom onto that is to claim that they found “The Key”. They declare that the Bible is full of “symbols” the meanings of which have been granted to them. One way to protect yourself is to realize there are some quite straight forward teachings through which you can gauge the teaching.
So we are no longer … tossed back and forth by waves and carried about by every wind of teaching (Ephesians 4:14)