Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Importance of Bible Prophecy: Green Pastures for Disciples

Dr. David R. ReaganPDFBy

Although prophecy constitutes almost one-third of the Bible, its importance is constantly downplayed by those who dismiss it as having no practical significance or by those who object to it on the grounds that it is a "fad" that takes people's eyes off Jesus.

A good example of what I'm talking about can be found in the immensely popular best-selling book, The Purpose Driven Life, by Rick Warren.1 He mocks Bible prophecy when he writes, "If you want Jesus to come back sooner, focus on fulfilling your mission, not figuring out prophecy." He then goes on to characterize prophecy as a "distraction" and says that anyone who lets himself get involved in distractions like studying prophecy "is not fit for the kingdom of God."

Such cavalier dismissals of Bible prophecy fly in the face of scriptures like Revelation 19:10 which says that "the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy." Thus, if prophecy is properly taught, there is no reason for it to divert anyone's attention away from Jesus. In fact, it should serve to emphasize the centrality of Jesus.

Is prophecy practical? Consider that all the New Testament writers testify to the fact that living with the anticipation of the Lord's return will motivate holy living. What could be more practical than that? Here are some examples:

The Apostle Paul: "The night is almost gone, and the day is near. Therefore let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts" — Romans 13:12-14.
The Apostle Peter: "The end of all things is near; therefore, be of sound judgment and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer. Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without complaint. As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God... so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen" — 1 Peter 4:7-11.
The Apostle John: "Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure" — 1 John 3:2-3.

U.S. News Cover

Prophecy does not have to be either faddish, other-worldly, or impractical if taught properly. Nor does it have to be a playground for fanatics. It can and should be green pastures for disciples.


In the next segment of our topic concerning the importance of Bible prophecy, I look at the many reasons why we should study God's prophetic word.


Notes

1) Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Life (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2007), page 286.

33 comments:

Billy said...

I knew Rick Warren was no good. I know Joel Osteen is no good. Does anyone have the low down on Joyce Meyers (I don't care for her but it is instinct only...am I right/wrong?) or Max Lucado (I bought some of his books but for some reason I'm not sure about him...I don't have any of his books anymore).

The only people I rely on for now for supplemental Bible study materials are L&L, their associate prophecy teachers/pastors and Hal Lindsey.

Billy said...

Will there ever be a Lamb & Lion conference in Southern California?

Are you ever going to be in Southern Californa, Nathan?

Hope the answer will be yes to both.

Anonymous said...

Thank you LambandLion for the scripture in your commentary. I need to rely more on scripture then on self. I continue to fail in so many ways and beat myself up. I have to constantly remind myself that I am forgiven. I see so many self-help books by Christian writers but the Bible is the only book that truely has all the answers.

Anonymous said...

Billy, Joyce Meyers has a teaching bible out with her name in BIG letters on it. It is a life lesson bible. I personally read only King James and hers is some new standard version. I guess it helps people. But I don't want some one telling me how the verses relate to my life. Soooo, I personally do not care for her sermons etc. Use your own discernment and pray.

Nathan Jones said...

@Billy, I've never set foot in CA, but not for want of trying. Unfortunately, we have no engagements planned so far this year. Hopefully one of our CA readers' church will extend an invite and we'll be there.

As for Joyce Myers, there's been lots of debate about how she handles her ministry, but I've never heard anything negative about her doctrine, though I'm no follower of her teachings.

Anonymous said...

I've read and heard enough about Rick Warren, so that anytime his name comes up so do the Red Flags. The other popular speakers I don't listen enough to form an opinion, except Joel Osteen, he's strange and seems to be phony.

Billy said...

Nathan said "I've never set foot in CA, but not for want of trying."

Well...a lot of us in CA actually want to net set foot in CA again if possible.

When I retire I may someday be saying adios to CA. Maybe I'll head your way. I have been to TX a few time to visit my brother (since gone to Heaven) in Balch Springs outside of Dallas.

Anyway...if you ever make it out here I hope to get to meet you in person.

Now more to the point on these articles...again...wonderful! Love 'em!

Kevin_MSP said...

Good morning everyone,

I don't want this to sound overly judgmental, but I was very taken aback by the Lamplighter article I read this morning from Pastor Reagan.

Why are we so quick to call out other Christians who ARE making a solid difference in people's Christian walk? Has anyone taken the time to actually read the context to which Pastor Warren was speaking of when he wrote about distractions? Does anyone receive his morning devotionals that are absolutely chalked-full of biblical messages.

I think a lot of people are getting the wrong idea that Pastor Warren is all fluff and no substance. I don't get that feeling at all when I read his work. His teachings are absolutely flooded with nothing but scripture. Everything he says and does is back up with good solid scripture truths.

I am reminded of the Parable of the Wheat and Tares when it comes to those of us who like to sling mud at other Christians. For your reference it is Matthew 13:24-30.

When someone is trying to convey the message of Christ to someone as is commanded in the Great Commission, it is easy to "pull out the weeds" and destroy the entire wheat crop along with the weeds. Why are we so boastful? Where is our righteousness? Why are we so quick to point out shortcomings of others. Is it to prove to others how knowledgeable we are in the scriptures. Certainly God never intended the God-inspired writings to criticize another man who is trying to communicate the love and peace that comes in our blessed hope, Jesus Christ.

We are certainly living in the times mentioned in Romans 1 when I hear another Pastor speak so vehemently against another man of God. It is time for a careful reassessment of what we are here to do. I say this with love and respect toward my fellow Christians.

Let us all go out and be fishers of men instead of trying to catch each other on technicalities with our wisdom nets. We will all have a day when we stand before the Lord. I would much rather Him say to me that he knew me as a faithful servant than to have Him cast me aside and say I never knew you. The thought send chills down my spine as it is my hope that this stirs everyone else to take inventory of where they are pointing fingers.

Prophecy is interesting to me. I think it is amazing to learn of the hope we have in Jesus Christ. I certainly think Jesus wants us to remain focused on his coming, but we also need to aspire to live like Him on a daily basis.

Let's keep our eyes centered on Jesus.

God bless you all.

Kevin

Nathan Jones said...

Billy, come join the other 11% who in the last few years left CA to TX. Our economy is booming with new people. At that influx rate, of course, we'll soon end up becomming CA and you won't want to move here! :)

Billy said...

Kevin,

Read this part of the article again:

"A good example of what I'm talking about can be found in the immensely popular best-selling book, The Purpose Driven Life, by Rick Warren. He mocks Bible prophecy when he writes, "If you want Jesus to come back sooner, focus on fulfilling your mission, not figuring out prophecy." He then goes on to characterize prophecy as a "distraction" and says that anyone who lets himself get involved in distractions like studying prophecy "is not fit for the kingdom of God."

So, Rick Warren says people into Bible prophecy are distracted and NOT FIT FOR THE KINGDOM OF GOD!!!

So, Kevin, how about applying your admonishment of we here to Rick Warren as well? Huh? Huh? Huh?

Billy said...

Nathan...LOL!!!

By the way...I am having a hard time reading the word verifications. They are very blurry and the letters are too close together. Sometimes I have to try several times in order to post. If others are having a hard time as well (wouldn't want action if it is just me) then perhaps you can go back to the old way or a new way???

Nathan Jones said...

Kevin, you make some good points. Generally, our ministry doesn't have too much of an issue with Rick Warren as other ministries have, but there have been some warning signs as of late that we as Christians have to be alert to.

As far as my readings and understanding of him, Rick Warren was in the beginning on the level doctrinally and in church leadership, but warning signs are emerging.

His pursuit of trying to bring a 2-state solution to Israel does go against God's promise to "bless those who bless you [Israel], and whoever curses you [Israel] I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you [Israel]" (Gen. 12:3).

Detractors have also accussed Rick Warren of getting too involved in politics and social endeavors instead of concentrating on the pastor's role of edifying believers and leading people to Christ's salvation.

Lately a number of Rick Warren's statements and actions have been alarming, from his interfaith dialogs with Muslims, his retraction of support for California's Proposition 8, his bringing in New Age teachers into his programming, to his social gospel leanings - all have put up little warning flags for me that Rick Warren is losing his sound doctrinal basis very quickly.

In these Laodicean times we must be careful about the biblical truths we do hear are not being wrapped around half-truths and even all out apostasies to make them more acceptable.

Nathan Jones said...

Sorry about the word verifications being hard to read, Billy. Blogger changed their set-up and didn't let us bloggers know. Unfortunately, I don't have any control over that feature. :(

Billy said...

Kevin said "We will all have a day when we stand before the Lord. I would much rather Him say to me that he knew me as a faithful servant than to have Him cast me aside and say I never knew you. The thought send chills down my spine as it is my hope that this stirs everyone else to take inventory of where they are pointing fingers."

Kevin,

It sounds like you are basing your salvation on works instead of as a gift of God via Jesus on the cross.

A believer in Jesus will NOT be told "I never knew you" nor does a Christian have to "take inventory" of his life (I assume you mean weigh your good actions against your bad). Even if your good deeds outweighed the bad 10 billion gazillion quadtrillion to 1 you would still be sent to hell UNLESS you are covered by the blood of Jesus.

So, stop the chills down your spine, rest assured, be happy, jump for joy...if you believe in Jesus He is going to welcome you when you stand before Him, not cast you aside!

Kevin_MSP said...

Billy and Nathan,

My intent here is not to convince you that Rick Warren's teachings are correct or incorrect. I am here to just try to dispel some of the innuendo you hear about him. Take for instance this following excerpt from his Daily Devotional on February 25, 2012

God's Word Will Transform Your Life
by Rick Warren


“If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:31b-32 NKJV)

Nothing can change the lives of people like the Bible. I’ve seen alcoholics and addicts get their lives sober and clean because they started reading the Bible. I’ve seen God’s Word change self-centered, narcissistic men who abuse and misuse women into godly husbands, wonderful dads, and upstanding citizens in the community.

Laws can’t change human hearts. If I believed they could, I’d be a politician. I have zero faith in politics to actually change the greatest problems on the planet. You can make laws to outlaw racism and bigotry, but no law will turn a bigot into a lover of people of other races. Only God can do that.

Jesus said it like this in John 8:31-32,“If you abide in my Word, then you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (NKJV).

Secular universities all around the world have the second half of that verse printed in stone on university buildings: “The truth shall make you free.” But those same universities ignore the first part of the verse. Your own opinions and the opinions of others won’t set you free. Only the Bible will. Even when obeying the Bible is hard and uncomfortable, it will set you free.

Do you believe everything you read online? Of course not! Do you believe everything you watch on tv? No. Do you believe everything you read in the newspaper and in People magazine? No. Why do we spend more time reading and watching what we know is a lie than reading what we know is the truth?

The fundamental question you’ll face in life is this: What will be your authority? Will it be God’s Word or the world? Will it be what God says is true or public opinion? You need to decide, and you need to do it soon.

If the Bible isn’t infallible, inerrant, and flawless, you’re in a heap of trouble. The Bible tells you how you can be saved. It tells you that your life isn’t an accident. The Bible tells you how to be forgiven. It tells you how God can use you for good in the world.

If the Bible isn’t true — absolutely true — then life is pointless.

-----

I don't know how more explicitly Pastor Warren can put it that the Bible contains the infallible word of God and that absolute truths exists in it. This is just one example of the devotionals...look for yourself. I was a major skeptic at first until I took a "look under the hood" so to speak.

Nathan,

On the Israel issue, I am totally with you. However Pastor Warren isn't going to change the eventual outcome. I also believe that God will be the final judge in this matter. God is in control. All we can do is support Israel and her plight. It is my opinion that Pastor Warren has given up his 3 legged stool approach to world peace.

Billy,

Ephesians 2:8-9 Thank the Lord for this truth in scripture. Surely I cannot enter the kingdom of heaven through works alone. Jesus + Anything = NOTHING. I totally understand this principle. Where did I say that it was works that caused me to "know" Jesus. If I know Jesus, I don't judge and condemn a man for attempting to further His kingdom. All I Was trying to say was basically we should be keeping an eye on the Lord, and Him alone. He will know all our hearts. It isn't my duty to determine whether Pastor Warren's is there or not... only the Lord and the Pastor truly know that.

Kevin

Billy said...

Kevin,

I'm not passionate either way about Rick Warren. I was just commenting on what I read in this article. Anyway, the percentage of my thoughts in life revolving around Mr. Warren are almost non-existent...so enough on him.

You say you totally understand grace salvation and not works salvation.

But look at what you said. You said you are afraid (via your chilly spine) that Jesus will tell you He doesn't know you. You obviously believe this is a possibilty, but if you are saved...how can that happen? Please explain that.

And also you imply Jesus could turn us away from Him based on your follow up comment "...it is my hope that this stirs everyone else to take inventory of where they are pointing fingers." This implies a Christian that "points fingers" is unforgiven and will be cast away from Jesus.

It doesn't matter if I have ever pointed fingers (or regretably just one), if I've made accusations, if I've whatever you can come up with in an "inventory".

I think it is no accident that John 3:16-18 best describes salvation.

"16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son."

Note it doesn't say "For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him UNLESS YOU POINT FINGERS AND TAKE INVENTORY."

Nathan Jones said...

Interesting timing that Jan Markell came out with this article on Rick Warren today.

Billy said...

Suddenly I'm a little bit more passionate about Rick Warren. He is being called out...and deserves to be. Another fraud exposed.

Billy said...

Just a clarification on an earlier post of mine:

"I think it is no accident that John 3:16-18 best describes salvation."

should've read

"I think it is no accident that John 3:16-18 is the BEST KNOWN description of salvation BY MOST PEOPLE."

Kevin_MSP said...

Billy,

So you are now the moral authority on Pastor Warren. Do you know Pastor Warren. You admitted in a previous post that you had never thought of nor read any Rick Warren writings and sermons.

As long as Nathan thinks it's true, it must be. It would be nice if you did some homework before you make blanket statements that someone is a fraud. He's just a human like you.

Who is next on the Billy hit list?

Kevin

Billy said...

Kevin,

Actually, one of Nathan's comments reminded me of why I did not like Warren. I had forgotten this. It was his retraction of support of Prop. 8 in CA, which we the voters approved (TWICE!!)and the liberal courts keep trying to force on us. That's is what made me not care for him.

LOL...so much for your "As long as Nathan says" inaccurate comment.

As for me being a moral authority...I'm a sinner in need of the salvation provided by our Lord Jesus Christ. I'm not moral authority.

But, that doesn't mean I can't speak out for morality. And that doesn't make me a hypocrite. People who say that would live in a world where no one could stand up for morality.

Hope that clears it up for you.

Just remember, this is a discussion section. Nothing personal at all here. We are Christian brothers so don't get angry at me. We are all entitled to our own opinions.

Billy said...

Kevin said "You (Billy) admitted in a previous post that you had never thought of nor read any Rick Warren writings and sermons."

Not quite, I said over my lifetime my thoughts of him were so few there were ALMOST non-existent. Not quite "never".

Nathan Jones said...

Kevin, again, I don't have any beef with Rick Warren like many other Bible prophecy teachers do. Even Dr. Reagan has made statements that we get too worked up over Warren's Purpose Drive Life/Church, books I thought were pretty good. What I do have are reservations, though, as Warren who has such a huge influence continues to dabble with extra-Christian curriculum and stances instead of just sticking 100% to the Bible.

Kevin_MSP said...

Nathan,

I agree. When we focus on the teachings of Christ (The Good News) we can never go wrong. Thank you for the clarification.

I don't think there is anything we can do but pray for people of other faiths or, lack thereof, to come to a life with Christ.

I like your work and have listened to you on the radio frequently. I hope Dr. Reagan takes a chance to clarify his position on Pastor Warren.

Billy,

Okay we can agree on ALMOST.

Peace, brother. Have a nice day.

Kevin

Rodney said...

You can not sugar coat the truth concerning Rick Warren!!! He is an ambassador of "Universalism", his gospel is a social gospel designed to attract all sinners yet not require repentance or sacrifice! Joel Osteen also fits the same mold, both are also very "gay friendly" along with including New Age methods in their worship routines! Apostates are apostates plain and simple and by their fruits you will know them!!

Stan Feldsine said...

There is a wave rising, wherein the masses of Christians are increasingly willing to take the second and third hand hearsay of bloggers and editors to formulate opinion and actively denigrate various ministries. When someone asks on a blog if anyone has heard about such and such a minister, this is clear fishing for what is clearly hearsay. There is no excuse for not doing your own homework.

This preponderance of decision based on blog and editorial hearsay may already be a bigger problem than those that are truly headed off into heresy. Many good teachers, even giants in the faith are getting trashed because the people of God will not do their due diligence and separate truth from myth.

From my point of view, this problem has reached epidemic proportions.

How strange that we declare that the media is lame and full of obfusification, but when we read various articles denigrating the character of various Christian leaders, all of a sudden, the media is to be believed.

Also, what happened to due process, and the American principle that someone is innocent until proven beyond doubt that he is guilty? Does this only apply to secular America, and as Christians we throw this out and declare our leaders guilty till proven innocent. We should be ashamed.

Here is Ricks response to the latest attack:

http://pastors.com/rick-warren-on-muslims-evangelism-and-missions/

If you can't believe the words spoken by the accused, you certainly can't believe the words spoken about him by the biased.

Rodney said...

Stan, what you dismiss is the fact that some of us have heard the messages of Rick Warren, we know his books, we see his involvement with New Age Guru's and his appeasement of Islam! We know for a fact that he preaches a New Age Gospel with a New Age Jesus, that his message is one of universalism where there is no absolute truth, that light and darkness can dwell together in one big happy family!

If you are homosexual, a hindu, muslim, wiccan, or whatever religion you are welcome among the family of Rick Warren, you need not convert to Christianity, for under the leadership of Warren all is accepted, all we need is love!

Katie Hesselton said...

Rodney, did you read the article that Stan linked?

Well, I sure did! Thank you so much for posting that Stan. I knew nothing about Rick Warren except for the book the purpose driven life, which I thought was very good and biblically sound.
Here's a quote from the article in which Rick dispels the myth that he teaches universalism:

"Of course not. It’s the lie that won’t die. No matter how many times we refute it and correct that lie, people keep passing it on as truth. Jesus is the only way to salvation. Period. If I didn’t believe that, I’d get into a much easier line of work! But I do believe that everybody needs Jesus and I am willing to put up with false statements and misunderstandings in order to get the Gospel out."

You're right Stan, Dr. Reagan looked at the secondary sources and posted before checking the actual words of Rick. Don't get me wrong, I greatly respect Dr. Reagan; however, this is definitely a wake up call for me to always check the facts before speaking. Thank you Stan!

Nathan Jones said...

Thanks for the article, Stan! I particularly appreciated the answer to Chrislam that Katie reposted above.

On a future episode of "Christ in Prophecy" Eric Barger will be discussing Chrislam and demonstrates that while some churches may say they're not involved in Chrislam, their actions speak otherwise. We always have to look at actions over words.

Katie, Dr. Reagan quoted from Rick Warren's book (p 286) and the topic was about his rejection of Bible prophecy, not on Chrislam. Dr. Reagan's issue with Rick Warren is his total disregard for God's prophetic word, which has resulted in his not supporting Israel's right to exist as a nation.

Katie Hesselton said...

Oh, you're right, Nathan. Dr. Reagan was speaking about a different topic all together- I guess I got a bit side tracked there after reading Rick Warren's interview and the other comments. Sorry! So much for looking at all the facts before speaking- ha!

Nathan Jones said...

No problem, Katie!

An example of Rick Warren answering one way then another and then another can be found in this article by Joseph Farah of WorldNetDaily which has some interesting insight into CFR and Rick Warren's supposed involvement.

A good observation recently made is the reason Warren backtracks frequently is because though he means well he's a people pleaser. They're good at being "all things to all people," but hard to pin down where they stand.

Expected Imminently said...

Satan used Scripture to tempt Jesus. Likewise the Purpose Drivel excuse for literature, also contains misapplied and out of context 'Scripture'; that doesn't mean it is 'Biblical'. Rick Warren is two faced and speaks with a forked tongue, is devious and deceptive - dangerously so if L&L finds little to be concerned about. Rick Warren is a glass of clean water laced with arnsnic. He is directly responsible for dividing families, splitting churches and forbidding the Gospel to be preached less it cause offence to the perishing. Rodney has him summed up very well.

For the sake of my physical health and spiritual well being I shall say no more.

Maranatha! Quick!!

Anonymous said...

REALIZING I SPEND TIME DEFENDING OTHER PEOPLE WHEN--PERHAPS I SHOULD BE DEFENDING CHRIST.<3+