Prophecy in the Church

Prophecy in the Church

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 always anticipate two questions: When is the Rapture? and, Who is the Antichrist? The third question we always 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 new insight. The panel typically answer the first two questions with, “We cannot know, because the Bible does not say.”

The panel members 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, or they know more than Jesus, God’s only begotten Son – Who said He does not know the time of His return. Neither is true. No one knows. Which brings us to the Antichrist question.

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 set up 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 the Antichrist is cast into the Lake of Fire in the final judgment and spends eternity there.

Only real-life beings are judged and spend eternity in heaven or Hell; not animals, not plants, not computer chips, regardless. Satan will spend eternity in Hell, not as it’s ruler as some falsely believe, but as one being 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 to be the Antichrist, but obviously that proved not to be the case. To hold that eventually one of the Popes will be the Antichrist simply because there have been several and others have claimed it is dangerous ground in Bible Prophecy.

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 why not start with the biggest religion in the world?

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.

Here is the problem with the way those questions are answered – we can, I believe correctly, presume that the person asking the question is not the pastor of the church not teaching Bible Prophecy.

The questioner asked the question because they are hungry for the truth. They are likely attending the conference because they are 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 prophecy and End Times events.

It’s a good thing these conferences are held. I’m glad these folks have some 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 one of these prominent conferences. I’m glad these folks come home with answers, books, cd’s and information 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.

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 exciting video of the week, or catchy sermon title, attract the disembodied church that week. Next week, they’re somewhere else.

 

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