Why Prophecy Matters
I am going to begin this article with a reasonable presumption, in that; I believe Satan has read the bible. He may not believe its precepts, or accept its outcomes, but I believe he is well versed in it (Luke 4:10-11). He would have to be well versed in it, in order to misquote and attempt to corrupt its message. This leads me into the discussion at hand, primarily, that a proper understanding of Bible Eschatology is vital to both the believer’s spiritual and physical well-being. Not only that, but because of its perceived difficulty in understanding it, it is one of the most ignored of all biblical doctrines. This is something our enemy eagerly exploits. As the old maxim goes, it’s not what you know that is often a matter of life and death; it is what you don’t.
Humans are not just physical beings only made of flesh and blood, we are tripartite creatures (1 Thess. 5:23). The world is also not just, what we can perceive with our five senses, but also what we cannot see, feel, touch, etc. (2 Cor. 4:18). In fact, much of the problems the world has ever faced was ideological in nature. Whether people fight over politics or economics, religion or lack thereof, flawed man’s propensity to think, “what is best?” is often what is the chief cause of his demise (Prov. 14:12).
Adding to this is the general rise in ignorance over the past century. In part, this was a deliberate attempt be political leftists who have gained control over much of the education system to “dumb down” the masses. While true ignorance is a risky thing, being in a state of willful ignorance can be downright precarious. Let us explore two categories of what I deem, the willfully ignorant.
The Deniers Free thinkers (aka…atheists, skeptics) like to think of themselves as unburdened and enlightened having thrown off the “shackles” of organized religion. In reality, they are setting themselves on a path of self-destruction as foretold in Scripture (Rom. 1:16-32). The old adage of if you don’t believe in something, you’ll believe in anything couldn’t be any truer. If you deny that a Higher Power of supreme intelligence created the world, you will likely accept that an accidental, unprovoked giant explosion did.
If you do not believe God created man in His image, you will likely believe we evolved from swamp slime. Furthermore, skeptics accusations of Christian’s being brainwashed and backwards, rings hollow when simply looking at the complexity of our bodies, the world, and the systems that hold everything in place. Our existence could not be accidental. Too many things are precisely correct for all of this to be happenstance.
In terms of enlightenment, the credit really goes to those early 14th-century Christian dissidents (ex. Wycliffe, Huss, etc.) who dared to challenge the Roman Catholic Church (RCC). Their role helped in diminishing the power of the Catholic Church. Furthermore, the 15th-century Reformers further weakened and succeeded in breaking up the monopoly the RCC had over Christendom in Western Europe. Their boldness in challenging the iron-fisted grip of the Catholic Church centuries before the Age of Enlightenment is what allowed the spark of change to begin to occur throughout Europe. IOW, the enlightenment could not have happened had not the Reformers (and their predecessors) begun to break away from the Roman Catholic oligarchy of the 14th-16th centuries.
The Religious While skeptics, atheists, agnostics, flat-earthers, etc., are all in the same category of denying the painfully obvious, this group is the other side of the same coin. This group attributes religion (take your pick) with enlightenment and/or salvation. Religion of every stripe and flavor has been practiced throughout the earth since the beginning of time. From ancient Judaism, Canaanite, Minoan, Zoroastrian, Ashur religions, to the Buddhists, Hindus, Satanist, Pagan, and Christian religions of modern times. Religion of any kind cannot save you. Religion simply defined, is man’s attempt to appease a higher power through rites, rituals, dogma, and services. Religion can make people do and believe very stupid things.
Many of us would consider ourselves religious to varying degrees, but I am not addressing the born-again believers who hold to religious practices and views. I am addressing those who are not born-again, and simply view whatever their religion is as sufficient for salvation.
Skeptics love to point to the atrocities committed by the RCC in years past, as proof that Christianity has failed humanity. They ignorantly lump Christianity into religion as if attending church services were how someone becomes saved. I always counter (as should you), that Roman Catholicism is not Christian. It calls itself that, and perhaps some are born-again who still reside inside that system, but the system itself is not. When you look at the tenets Roman Catholicism holds too, you would see it is just another works-based religion. Christianity is a grace through faith-based relationship with the Creator of the Universe. One can make you a moral person (theoretically), while the latter, can save to the uttermost even the most wretched of sinners.
Assessment Not only is ignorance a dangerous thing, but Biblical ignorance is equally hazardous, especially in a topic as expansive as Eschatology, (which makes up nearly 30% of the Bible). So here are some real life examples of people who did not understand their Bible very well.During the 20th-century, more than 100M people were murdered under the atheistic regimes of the Soviet Union, China, Vietnam, Cambodia, and North Korea. They replaced God with government, and created a theological worldview where there was no God, no afterlife, and thus, no divine judgment. Theology matters!
Skeptics often accuse Christians of past atrocities and are quick to point out the Crusades and the Inquisition as evidence. Is this a fair charge? What justification was there for the Crusades (1195-1291) which hundreds of thousands were killed in the name of Jesus Christ?
At the root of the cause for the Crusades, was the flawed eschatological position known as Amillennialism. Augustine of Hippo first created this eschatology back in the 4th-century as a replacement for the original pre-millennial position. Similar to how Communism replaced God with government, Amillennialism replaced the Kingdom of God with the kingdom of the Catholic Church.
Amillennialism (the a being used in the negative) posits that despite what Scriptures say (Rev. 20, Isaiah 2, 66, etc.) that there was no literal, future, Christ-centric Kingdom coming to the earth. The Roman Catholic’s position then was that they were the fulfillment of the Kingdom (headed by the papacy), and that it was their “duty” to reclaim the Holy Lands from the infidels (Muslims and Jews), and force people into Christendom. Nowhere in scriptures does it charge the church to do this. Hermeneutics matter!
Faulty/erroneous hermeneutics can cost you your life and/or everything you own, especially if you buy into false doomsday predictions. Just look at those people who diligently followed Jim Jones (the People’s Temple), David Koresh (Branch Davidians), Harold Camping (Family Radio), or Marshall Applewhite (Heaven’s Gate). Each of these groups had very flawed understandings of the Bible, and in particular, Bible prophecy. Eschatology matters!
Although I do not consider Eschatology in and of itself to be a salvific issue, I am hard pressed to believe that the Holy Spirit can indwell a full-Preterist or an Amillennialist devotee. Primarily, because although Eschatology is not in and of itself salvific, it is deeply interwoven into the other major bible doctrines. Therefore, one’s eschatological view is often a weathervane for what a believer, believes regarding other major bible doctrines.
Amillennialism and Preterism are so corrupt and extreme in their denial of Biblical truth that if one could adopt them (or either); they probably have no issue in denying other foundational spiritual truths. With that said, I am not saying it is impossible for one to be a born again Christian and still hold these views; I personally just find it very hard to believe that they could.
Loss of credibility can be devastating to one’s ministry or denomination, especially given that most ministries are based on the financial support of their followers. The Bible only teaches one Eschatological position (the Pre-70th Week Rapture, Pre-Millennial view). Any variant outside of this is therefore doomed to failure. See what WWI and WWII did to the Post-Millennial position. See what damage the Amillennial position has done to whole denominations (primarily mainline protestant denominations). See how Amillennialism and Preterism has wreaked havoc upon the Catholic Church worldview. Churches, who promote either the Preterist or the Amillennial view, are without fail, are either DYING on the vine or apostatizing. Let me sum up what that last point by a comparison to atheism.
Atheism offers nothing and takes everything
Likewise, Amillennialism and Preterism offers nothing and takes everything from the believer. As shown above, having an accurate understanding of theology, hermeneutics, and eschatology matters. For instance:
Ecclesiology: If you believe the Church must go through the 70th Week of Daniel, then your understanding of the Church is confused or warped. You likely believe either that there is no coming judgment, or that the church is destined to go through it. The reason for this is that if you do not understand whom and what the Church is, you will most likely come to some conclusion that the Church has either replaced, or has become Israel. This is the Church:
Created personally by Christ (Matt. 16:18-19)
Is the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:12-27)
Is sealed and indwelt by the Holy Spirit until the day of redemption (Eph. 1:11-14, 4:30)
Is neither Jew nor Gentile, but a new creation (Col. 3:11)
Is not subject to God’s wrath (1 Thess. 1:10, 5:9)
Soteriology: If you believe that the Church must go through any of the judgments outlined in Revelation 4-18, it is almost a foregone conclusion that you also deny the eternal security of the believer. This denial means you believe either that Christ’s sacrifice was insufficient to pay for your sins, or insufficient to keep you saved.
Jesus gives those who believe in Him, are given eternal life (John 3:16, 5:24)
No one can take or separate you from God (John 10:28-29, Romans 8:35-39)
Salvation means sonship and heirs to God (Gal. 4:1-7)
Salvation is a free gift; we cannot earn it (Eph. 2:8-9)
Christ is personally responsible for our salvation (Hebrews 12:2)
Pneumatology: If you believe the Church must go through the 70th Week (aka…The Tribulation), then you would also have to deny the role of the Holy Spirit as the Restrainer (2 Thess. 2:7). In layman’s terms, the Bible teaches very clearly that the Holy Spirit is God, and has always existed on earth throughout our history. That is to say, He (the HS) was very busy on the earth prior to His arrival to the Church in Acts 2. The HS performed differing roles, from the “energizer” at creation, to the “enabler” during the Old Testament times. The Holy Spirit would come upon and empower certain individuals for periods of time (ex. Samson, Saul, David), but it was only ever to select individuals, and it was not a permanent indwelling.
In the post-Acts 2 Church age, the Holy Spirit’s role is to permanently seal the believer (Eph. 1:11-14, 4:30), guide the believer into all truth (John 16:13), and convict the world of sin (John 16:8). What Paul posits in 2 Thessalonians 2, is that the man of sin (i.e., the Antichrist) cannot be revealed UNTIL the Restrainer is removed (2:8), which is to say, the vessels the Holy Spirit indwells. I fully understand God the Holy Spirit is omniscient and omnipresent, so I am not saying the Holy Spirit is physically removed from the earth. What Paul is saying here, is that in His present role of sealing the Church and convicting the world of sin, this particular role is what is removed. This allows for the floodgates of hell to be opened upon the earth during this final week of years.
The Holy Spirit as energizer (Gen. 1:2)
The Holy Spirit as enabler (Judges 13:25, 1 Sam. 11:6, 16:13)
The Holy Spirit as the Helper (seals, guides, convicts) (Eph. 1:11-14, 4:30, John 16:13, and 16:8)
The removal of the role of the Holy Spirit (as restrainer) is just as necessary, as it was necessary to reboot (for lack of a better term) the Holy Spirit’s role from the Old Testament era, to that of Acts 2 and beyond. (Luke 24:29, John 16:7, Acts 2:1-4)
Conclusion As Paul stated in 1 Corinthians 13:12, we currently see in the glass darkly, having a partial understanding of all that is yet to come. None of us has it perfectly figured out. However, the Holy Spirit can guide us into all truth, if we allow Him too. This means taking the Bible at face value, (literally), and keeping passages in their proper context (grammatically and historically).
Just remember, that while the whole the Bible is written for us, it is not necessarily all written to us. While having an incorrect Eschatology often has real-world ramifications, it is usually indicative of other errors in your biblical hermeneutics. The grace of God in all this is that the Rapture of the Church is going to happen regardless of our individual eschatological persuasions, and will correct all these issues the church is currently facing, instantaneously.
Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed—in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” 1 Corinthians 15:51-54 Even so, Maranatha!