My Church Doesn’t Teach Bible Prophecy
The I Am A Watchman Ministry team attends, speaks at, and exhibits at numerous prophecy and Bible teaching conferences around the US and Canada. At many of these conferences, one of the last events is a Q & A session. Questions are collected during the event, and at the end, the speakers address the topics in a panel discussion.
We can always anticipate two questions: When is the Rapture? and, Who is the Antichrist? The third question we often hear is some variation of “My church doesn’t teach Bible Prophecy.” The implied question is, “Should I leave my church and go find a church that does teach Bible Prophecy?”
The first two questions are usually asked by someone who is very new to Bible Prophecy, or by someone who knows the answer but asks anyway hoping for some new insight. The panel typically answers the first two questions with, “We cannot know, because the Bible does not say.”
When Is the Rapture?
The panel members who answer that question usually explain we cannot know the date or time of the Lord’s return; quoting Matthew 24:36 “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”
The verse is clear – any person who claims to know the date of the Lord’s return must be one of two things: either they are God the Father – the only One Who knows for sure (not possible), or they know more than Jesus, God’s only begotten Son (highly unlikely). Jesus said He does not know the time of His return. No one knows but God the Father; which brings us to the Antichrist question.
Who Is the Antichrist?
There is much speculation on his origin, race, creed, and even whether he is human. Some teach it is not, in fact, a person, but a ‘system’ referring to the one-world government. One popular belief is that the Antichrist will be the Pope and the associated Catholic Church. This is based upon the original Greek language where ‘anti’ can also mean “in place of” as in, to take the place of, or stand in the place of.
The Catholic Church teaches that the Pope is the Vicar of Jesus Christ or the one who holds that office while Christ is not visibly here. The Pope is anti- in the place of, Christ. Pope John II stated,
“The leader of the Catholic church is defined by the faith as the Vicar of Jesus Christ (and is accepted as such by believers). The Pope is considered the man on Earth who takes the place of the Second Person of the omnipotent God of the Trinity.”
It is not this writer’s opinion, nor that of I Am A Watchman, that the Pope will be the Antichrist, however, many hold that he is or will be.
Others teach that Antichrist is not a real person, but a governmental body or world system which is anti-God in its beliefs and practices; a world system which has no use for God or has elevated themselves as gods. One problem with that position is that the world system has always been opposed to God and at odds with His purpose (2 Corinthians 10:4,5). The world need only remain the same for that to be true.
Many Scriptures refer to the Antichrist (or Beast) as an actual man (Daniel 7:6; 2 Thess. 2:3; 1 John 2:18, 2 John 1:7; Revelation 11:7, 13:3-18, 14:9, 17:17, 19:19) However, many teach that the Antichrist is not a man at all. This idea has recently been popularized by the idea that the Antichrist might possibly be a supercomputer Artificial Intelligence or human-machine hybrid creature. The latter is unlikely in that Revelation 19:20 clearly states that “…the False Prophet and the Antichrist are cast alive into the Lake of Fire…” in the final judgment and spend eternity there.
The Antichrist is alive and spends eternity in Hell, thus he is not a machine. Computers, no matter how advanced, do not have souls which reject Christ – the reason someone spends eternity in Hell. A computer is not and never can be a human. They may appear human-like, but that does not make them living beings, no matter how life-like they seem. Only a human being has an eternal soul (Genesis 2:7).
Only real-life beings are judged and spend eternity in Heaven or Hell; not animals, not plants, not computer chips. Satan will spend eternity in Hell, not as it’s ruler as some falsely believe, but as one who is tormented there (Revelation 20:10). God Almighty is Lord over both Heaven and Hell. Jesus said, “Do not fear those who can kill the body, and after that do no more … Fear Him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into Hell” (Luke 12:4,5).
Hell was never meant for humanity, that was not its purpose, although those who reject Christ will go there. Hell was “prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matthew 25:41).
In both Daniel 2:24,25 and Revelation 17:10-13 Antichrist is clearly a single individual as are the other kings or leaders. John refers to the other kings as living or yet to come – clearly actual kings, not world systems or churches. It is reasonable to conclude that the other ‘king’ will be a real man as well, and not a collective system of government. The Beast (Antichrist) repeatedly carries out acts and makes commands as one person in Revelation chapters 11, 13, 14, 17, and 19.
The Antichrist is referenced as anyone who stands against God in 1 John 2:18, but it refers to actual individuals who had made claims to be Israel’s Messiah. In Acts 5, Gamaliel names several men who claimed to be the Messiah, which would qualify them as antichrists as well, but again, they were individual men, not systems of government or world religious systems. Many of those who claim that the Pope is the Antichrist are by default trying to condemn the Catholic Church as a whole.
Several of the prominent leaders of the Reformation movement labeled the Pope the Antichrist. This included several different popes over many years. None of them were the Antichrist, although each claimed to be the Vicar of Christ as Catholic dogma asserts. Among those who wrote about the Pope as being the Antichrist were Martin Luther, John Calvin, John Wesley, John Knox, and Hugh Latimer. (Luther and Wesley said it to the Pope’s face!) It is possible, given his repeated inferences, that Luther truly believed the Pope of his time was the Antichrist, but obviously, that proved not to be the case. To hold that eventually one of the Popes will be the Antichrist because others have claimed it is unsubstantiated in Bible Prophecy.
They used it more as an indictment or slander than an actual claim that he was the antichrist in John or Paul or Daniel’s references. However, their strong language and written accusations have given many the idea they held to that position.
Comparing their other writings, it is clear they did not believe him to be the final Antichrist of Revelation or they would have also been experiencing his world dominance, control of international armies, supposed miracles, and requiring the world to take the mark of the Beast. Is it possible the Catholic Church as a whole could be part of the world religion? That’s possible, and they claim a current membership of close to two billion, so if you’re the Antichrist and you want to build a world religion, why not start by recruiting the biggest religion in the world?
Should I Leave My Church?
Now the most difficult question. If my church does not teach Bible Prophecy (or enough Bible Prophecy, or correct Bible Prophecy), should I leave my church and go somewhere else? That question comes from someone who is at a conference specifically teaching on Bible Prophecy. We can presume they care about the subject more than others, and perhaps even more than their pastor. Here is the problem with the way this question is often answered – we can presume that the person asking the question is not the pastor of the church who is not teaching Bible Prophecy. It must be a regular church member.
The questioner asked the question because they are hungry for the truth, it’s why they are attending the conference; they’re hungry for the truth. These people genuinely want to know what the Bible teaches, so they spend the time and money to traverse the country to hear recognized Bible teachers address the topics of Bible Prophecy, Apologetics, and End Times events.
It’s a good thing these conferences are held. I’m glad these folks have a place to get their question answered. The problem is, to get solid biblical answers, these Christians have to go to California, Texas, Minnesota, Oklahoma or overseas to attend a prominent conference. I’m glad they come home with books, cd’s and more answers on current events and what the Bible teaches on End Times topics.
The problem is, God ordained the Church to be the mechanism of teaching and Christian growth.
First Church of the Internet
We risk creating a disembodied “internet church” of disengaged people. Frequently they cannot find that allusive church that teaches Bible Prophecy (or enough Bible Prophecy), so they simply stop attending any church. They cannot return to the church they left, so now they’re more troubled and less fed than before. Of course, the other issue with the internet church is that people pick and choose. Whoever has the most exciting video of the week, or catchy sermon title, attract the disembodied church that week. Next week, they’re somewhere else. Furthermore, Hebrews 10:25 is clear that we are to assemble together as the Body of Christ; church is part of who we are. We need to be with other Christians. We also need to serve the Body with the gifts God has given each of us. In that regard and some others, internet church is not church. It is a substitute, and it’s a substitute I’m happy we have, however, it was never meant to replace joining together with other believers in a corporate gathering.
It is wrong to abandon church altogether because we cannot find one that is perfect. A perfect church does not exist because it is composed of imperfect people. Find a church that teaches the majority of the truth in a faithful and accurate way, then ask God to help you supply what’s missing by offering your gifts to Him.
Watchmen need other Watchmen. Christians need other Christians. Hebrews 10:2 continues that we are to assemble together even more “As we see the day approaching.” What day? The day of the Lord’s return. The world needs to see a holy, complete, and unified Church because it most perfectly represents Christ – holy, complete, and one with the Father. “Be holy as I am holy.”
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