By Nathan Jones
Is Bible prophecy just too controversial to be taught at church? Is it waaaaay to hard to understand, so should be avoided? Does Bible prophecy really just not matter?
Lamb & Lion Ministries interviewed Bible prophecy expert and all-around nice guy Don Perkins, the founder and director of According to Prophecy Ministries in San Diego, California, about how he would respond to 14 common misconceptions that are out there concerning Bible prophecy. The following are the second five.
5) Bible prophecy is too controversial.
Some pastors believe Bible prophecy is too divisive and it will just split the church. But again, people are not studying. They don't want to spend time to study the Scripture so they pick and choose little pieces of prophecy and they cause confusion. But, if a guy comes in and just preaches the Word, that's not going to be divisive and controversial. I mean, if people don't agree with him they're going to have to scratch their heads and go to the Word and pick up their arguments with God and not with him. Going to the Word and proving the point that you make, well, you can't fight against the Scriptures. And so, the Scriptures are not meant to be divisive.
6) Bible prophecy requires a PhD to understand.
Some do feel you can't understand Bible prophecy unless you have PhD in hermeneutics, whatever that is. I always want to say, "Herman who?" Hermeneutics is the art and science of interpreting Scripture. Some will also say you have to have a vivid imagination or otherwise you just can't understand Bible prophecy. Do you have to have a PhD to understand Bible prophecy? I don't. I understand it because of His grace. I'm a student of the Scripture.
I'll tell you what you've got to have. You've got to have the Holy Spirit and you've got to lean on the Spirit. I always pray, "Holy Spirit, open unto me the Scriptures." You know, Jesus did that to His disciples and when He took them through the Scripture, the Bible says He showed them the prophesies where it was written of Him. And the Scriptures says their hearts burned within them as He opened unto them the Scriptures. And see, that's my prayer!
When I study Revelation, I say, "Father open up my heart. Holy Spirit give me understanding." And it's amazing! Like a light bulb when one has a good idea, that light clicks on. It clicks in my heart and spirit and God helps us to understand. It doesn't mean you're going to understand everything, but the more you study, the more you'll understand. And, when you lean on the Spirit and the longer you study the clearer it gets, too.
7) It makes no difference what you believe about Bible prophecy.
Some people tell me that it's all going to pan-out in the end. "I'm a pan-millennialist!" I normally tell them that they are lazy believers.
I believe in this time, especially in this hour, that every Christian needs to understand and know what he believes scripturally. You need to know what the Word of God says and you need to be firm in your belief structure.
Many people have taken that position because they don't want to spend time just studying. When a person says that to me it just says, "I don't consider it important enough to even study it." And yet, Bible prophecy is one third of God's Word! It's the end of the story. It's the end of the Book! How many people get a novel, read the beginning of the novel and the middle of the novel, and then throw the book away? By the end you are salivating! I want to know who killed who and who did what in that novel. Well, the Bible is the only Book that we do that to.
I really believe that God challenges us as Christians and students of the Scripture to understand. If we spend time God will show us and He will teach us clearly.
That pan-millennial view is a bad view. I get this all the time. They tell me, "You know, you preachers, you prophecy guys are so heavenly minded that you're no earthly good." They totally discount prophecy along those same lines. And I reply, "You need to be heavenly minded so that you are earthly good." When you have a proper understanding of the future, it's going to effect the way you live today.
The Word itself says that all of God's Word is profitable and a subject for studying and that means all of it including Bible prophecy.
8) Bible prophecy is only spiritual in meaning.
I consider this to be the number one problem when it comes to the interpretation of Bible prophecy — spiritualization. I know that anybody who teaches Bible prophecy feels that spiritualization is probably the number one abuse that you can get into.
Let me just explain to you for a moment what I mean by spiritualization. I'm saying that most people when they approach Bible prophecy, they approach it with the attitude that it doesn't mean what it says and it must mean something else. The rule that I follow for all of the Bible from beginning to end, whether it's prophecy or not, is "if the plain sense makes sense, don't look for any other sense, or you will end up with nonsense." God wants to communicate. He knows how to communicate. He says what He means and He means what He says. You don't have to play games.
I want to give you an example of what I mean by spiritualization. Over in Revelation 7, it says that at the beginning of the Tribulation there is going to be 144,000 Jews who are going to be sealed by the Lord. That means they're going to become believers in the Lord Jesus Christ. They're going to be supernaturally protected for the entire period of the Tribulation, and the indication is they will go forth all over the world preaching the gospel. Many people will come to the Lord as a result of their testimony. Well, one time I got a whole bunch of commentaries on the Book of Revelation. I bet I got at least 30-40 commentaries. I looked to see what they said Revelation 7 meant. 85% of them said, "Well, this is talking about the Church." Talking about the Church when it's talking about 144,000 Jews, yet it tells you exactly what tribes they're going to come from. And they spiritualize that and say, "Oh no, it couldn't be Jews, it has to be the Church." That's an example of spiritualization, saying the Bible doesn't mean what it says.
Zechariah 14 says in the end times when Jerusalem is about to fall, the Lord will come back to the Mount of Olives. When His foot touches the mountain it will split in half. He will speak a supernatural word and the Antichrist and his forces will be destroyed. On that day Jesus will become King over all the other earth. One of the foremost theologians of the 20th century said, "That doesn't mean that! What it means is the Mount of Olives is the human heart. It's surrounded by sin. When you accept Jesus as Lord and Savior He comes and stands on your heart and your heart breaks in contrition and He becomes king of your heart."
You know why people like to spiritualize? It's because they become God when they spiritualize. When you spiritualize, scriptures mean anything you want them to mean. It's easy to interpret that way. Again, you must be a student of the Scriptures to understand. I mean, it's that simple.
9) Jesus cannot return until the Gospel is preached to the whole world.
When I get up and preach that Jesus is coming soon and He could come any moment they always say, "No, no, no, no, no! Jesus cannot return until the Gospel is preached to the whole world, because Jesus Himself said that in Matthew 24:14. "And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come."
What they are misunderstanding about that is that those signs that Jesus gave in Matthew 24 and Luke 21 are signs that point to the literal return of Christ and not the Rapture. They are about the Second Coming of Christ when He comes to this earth. There are some physical prophesies that must take place before He can literally, physically come back in the Second Coming, but there are no signs that point to the Rapture of the Church.
What people don't understand is that the return of Jesus is going to be in two stages — first the Rapture then later on the Second Coming. In the Rapture, Jesus doesn't even return to earth. He appears in the heavens. That could happen anytime. I'm ready to go. But the Second Coming, there's a lot of prophesies before that happens.
And furthermore, with regard to the Gospel being preached to the whole world, we're in the process of doing that right now through modern technology like the television and the Internet. The atmosphere of this planet is saturated with the name of Jesus. And you've got television, you've got the Jesus film... it goes on and on and on.
But, the ultimate fulfillment of that prophecy is going to be near the end of the Tribulation. In Revelation 14 we're told a Gospel angel will go forth, circumnavigate the globe and preach the Gospel to every person before God pours out his final wrath. Most people think that means that when the Gospel is preached everyone will accept it. The Bible says it's going to be a witness against them. The Gospel will be preached and people will accept and some will not accept.
In the third and final part of "Misconceptions Concerning Bible Prophecy," Don Perkins will respond to misconceptions 10-14.