Category Archives: Prophecy

False Prophet Blasphemy

ISAIAH 66:2 “But to this man I will look, even to him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembles at my word.”

False prophets abound everywhere; but who is it that trembles at God’s word?

Those who tremble at and revere God’s word with the highest of esteem are usually scoffed at and reviled.  Taking a firm stand against false prophets is seen as divisive, demonic, and carnally minded; the contemporary generation views prophecy as something that is subject to their will and vain imaginations.   We hear things like “you should be so critical of prophetic words” or “this author may have made a few mistakes that could have been worded better, but….”

People don’t seem to understand that when it comes to prophetic words, error is far more than simply a matter of a “few mistakes that could have been worded differently”.   When someone presumes to speak the living and infallible word of God, they must be held to that standard!  A prophetic word is not something crafted by the mind of mortal men.  Despite modern trends, a prophetic word is delivered to the prophet by God in the exact form God wants it to be delivered to people.  If a prophet is “wording” his prophecy, he did not receive it from God, he has derived it from his own empty imagination!

It’s necessary to be clear here: if someone is honest and humble, and says upfront that what they are presenting is their own opinion or interpretation, then mistakes can be understood and addressed constructively and any errors can be easily mitigated by God’s word and by a committed Church body that is intent upon unity in truth and love.

But if someone prophesies and delivers errors in God’s name, then they are a false prophet and will be held under the eternal judgment awaiting false prophets (Jude 3).

Tremble at His word! 

To speak lightly, saying, “the Lord said” (or to indicate in another way direct divine revelation) is no small matter.  Guesswork is not acceptable when speaking the word of the Lord, neither is mystic-divination.  The only thing that can be presented in God’s name is direct and divine revelation received from God. 

I am not a cessationist, but neither will I be swept into this abominable flood of perversion being passed off as Charismatic (i.e. “of the Holy Spirit”)!

If someone speaks a word in God’s name, it must carry the full weight and glory of God’s word.  What is being passed off today in God’s name is nothing more than a flood of “arrogant words of vanity” (2 Peter 2:18 Modern English Version).

A generation of Christians are being instructed in the ways of blasphemy! 

2 Timothy 3:1-2, 5 “But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come; for men will be… blasphemers… And from such people turn away!”

The word Paul used here for blasphemers, translated in the NASB as “revilers”, is the Greek word βλάσφημος (blasphemos, #989), which means “abusive, speaking evil,” (see Acts 6:11, 13; 1st Tim. 1:13;  2nd Tim. 3:2; and 2nd Pet. 2:11 (Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words).  HELP’S Word-Studies states that it “reverses spiritual and moral realities”.

The Lexham Bible Dictionary offers this remarkably poignant insight on what constitutes blasphemy:

“Blasphemy can include flagrant actions and disdain for God’s Word, His promises, and His people. Scripture bears consistent witness to the severity of the offense.

When God first appears to Moses in the burning bush, He emphasizes the sacredness of His name (שֵׁם, shem), Yahweh (made up of four Hebrew consonants, יהוה, yhwh), which reveals His person and character as the covenant-keeping, redeeming God (Exod 3:13–16; 6:3). In the exodus story, God performs mighty deeds for the sake of His name (Exod 9:16), a concept reiterated in numerous Old Testament passages (e.g., Psa 25:11; Isa 43:25; 48:11). The “name of Yahweh” (שֵׁם־יְהוָה֙, shem-yehwah) carries profound significance, referring “to His full being and power” (HALOT, 1550). To assail God’s name is to attack Him personally and directly.

Speaking both to Moses and the people of Israel, God strictly prohibits the misuse of His name: “You shall not take the name of the Lord (יהוה, yhwh) your God in vain, for the Lord (יהוה, yhwh) will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain” (Exod 20:7 ESV). The Hebrew term “vain” (שָׁוְא, shaw’) refers to what is empty or purposeless; it can also mean something false or deceptive, in such contexts as prophecy (Ezek 13:3–7), worship (Isa 1:13), and speech (Deut 5:20). A breach of the first two commandments naturally leads to a violation of the third (Exod 20:7).”

Citation: Mills, D. W. (2016). Blasphemy. In J. D. Barry, D. Bomar, D. R. Brown, R. Klippenstein, D. Mangum, C. Sinclair Wolcott, … W. Widder (Eds.), The Lexham Bible Dictionary. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

Blasphemy refers to using God’s name for empty, purposeless, false, or deceptive reasons!

Anyone who presents the constructs of their own imaginations as the divine revelation of God – in other words they present these things in God’s name – has presented that which is empty and false in God’s name!  To do this is to blaspheme the name of God.  According to God’s 3rd commandment in Exodus 20:7, God will not hold the person who does this guiltless!

Thank God for His unfailing mercy, because Jesus said “all kinds of sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven men.  Whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven.  But whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, neither in this world, nor in the world to come” (Matthew 12:31-32).  If you have been guilty of blasphemy by speaking empty or false things as if they came from God, then turn away from this sin and repent.  God will abundantly forgive you and provide the grace that you may stop this practice and be counted among those upon whom God looks, who “tremble at His word”!

We must note for the purpose of clarity so that Satan cannot take advantage of this teaching that there are different kinds of blasphemy; the unforgivable blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is specified in Matthew 12:22-30, Mark 3:20-30, and Luke 11:13-23, 12:10.  It is specifically attributing to Satan the divine work of the Holy Spirit.

The end times will be filled with blasphemers; let us not join in the emptiness of those who would presume to speak vain and false things in God’s name so that they can promote their own way, their own agenda, their own fame, and their own prosperity.  Let us humble ourselves before God and revere His word!

Let us seek the full weight and glory of God’s inerrant word!

“Speak Smooth Words”

Isaiah 30:9-10 “This is a rebellious people, lying children, children who refuse to listen to the law of the LORD; they say to the seers, ‘you must not see visions’, and to the prophets, ‘you must not prophesy to us right things; speak pleasant things, prophesy illusions.'”

The deceptive and rebellious heart demands that God’s servants speak “smooth words” (KJV); I lament that in our day we see such a heart as this!

2 Timothy 4:2-4 “Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season, reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with all patience and teaching. For the time will come when people will not endure sound doctrine, but they will gather to themselves teachers in accordance with their own desires, having itching ears, and they will turn their ears away from the truth and turn to myths.”

Preaching righteousness incurs wrath from those who cannot tolerate reproof, rebukes, and exhortations; the call to preach God’s word is not a call to popularity, nor is it a call to brutality, it is a call to preach the truth with resolute steadfastness of heart.

Never loose sight of this one compelling reason that makes the cost of preaching righteousness worth it:

John 8:32 “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.”

Never forget that the truth has power to set sin’s captives free through Jesus Christ!

In an age where darkness rules through deceit and rebellion, the Church must not lose the voice of truth!

Declare to Jacob his Transgression

Micah 3:8 “I am filled with power, with the Spirit of the LORD, and with justice and might, to declare to Jacob his transgression and to Israel his sin.”

The last thing I want to do is inspire someone who is not called of God to start rebuking the Church. God calls the humble, not the prideful, and empowers them by His grace and the Holy Spirit to preach His living word to the stubborn, obstinate, and self-righteous. But rather, I want to expose a deception that claims God does not send His servants to expose transgression.

Ezekiel 3:18-19 “When I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die’, and you do not warn him, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way that he may live, the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand. Yet if you warn the wicked and he does not turn from his wickedness or from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity, but you have delivered your soul.'”

God does raise up servants, whom He charges with His word to preach against the wicked. He gives them an anointing and a responsibility to carry the message that He gives them. These preachers are not to speak where God has not spoken, nor are they to be silent when God has spoken!

I believe cowardice on the one hand, and presumption on the other, are the primary reasons the Western Church is in such decline – cowardice on the part of those who were entrusted with God’s message to rebuke and warn but didn’t, and presumption on the part of those who were not call to preach but did!

Isaiah 66:2 “But to this one I will look, To him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word.”

God does not look upon the proud, the contentious, the arrogant and boastful; He will not call them to be His preachers. God looks upon the humble and contrite of spirit, and upon the one who trembles at His word! He does not call those who are ready to “call fire down from heaven” (Luke 9:55) to preach for Him without first reforming them, rather, He calls those who say “we are unworthy slaves; we have done only that which we ought to have done” (Luke 17:10); neither does God call those who use His word for their own purposes, but He calls those who quake within at the sound of His Word!

The Church is not purifying herself through the blood of Christ and the washing of the water of the Word like she is called to; so many continue practicing sin and are not mournful for it, but instead, many even boast in this! The Church must open her ears and begin listening to the truth being preached by God’s true servants.

Ephesians 4:17-18 “From now on you must not walk as the Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their minds, having their understanding darkened, excluded from the life of God through the ignorance that is within them due to the hardness of their hearts.”

In closing I wish to encourage those who are called by God to preach His word: if you preach God’s word, you will be surrounded by enemies and those closest to you will turn on you, but do not fear!  For “the LORD is your light and your salvation; whom shall you fear?  The LORD is the strength of your life; of whom should you be afraid?” (Psalm 27:1)  You will not be without trials and tribulation, but Christ is your portion and the hope of your soul; delight yourself in Him and you will not be disappointed!

The Biblical Test of a Prophet and Prophecy

I acknowledge upfront that the following teaching places me squarely in the minority; it has gotten me in a lot of trouble with my charismatic brothers and sisters. But I believe this with all my heart.

I believe there are two tests that apply to New Testament prophets and prophecy:

Deuteronomy 18:21-22, “And you may say in your heart, ‘How can we know the word which the LORD has not spoken?’ When a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the thing does not occur or come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously. You shall not be afraid of him.”

Deuteronomy 13:1-3, “If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or the wonder comes to pass concerning that which he spoke to you, saying, ‘let us go after other gods’, which you have not known, ‘and let us serve them’, you must not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams, for the LORD your God is testing you, to know whether you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.”

I am not a cessationist; I believe in the continuation of prophecy as well as all the gifts of the Spirit according to the will of God to distribute them. But I do not believe that Jesus Christ came to lower the standard of prophecy, which we remember “the spirit of prophecy is the testimony of Jesus Christ”. I do not believe that Jesus came to corrupt His own testimony.

So I want to consider something from the New Testament in light of these two prophetic tests:

2 Thessalonians 2:9-12, “The coming of the evil one is in accordance with the working of Satan with all power and signs and false wonders, and with all deception of unrighteousness among those who perish, because they did not receive the love for the truth that they might be saved. Therefore God will send them a strong delusion, that they should believe the lie: that they all might be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.”

Today we are seeing an unprecedented flood of unrighteous deception from prophets who do not speak the truth; many practice astrology and prognostication (forbidden in Isaiah 47:13-14), and are openly speaking presumptuous words as if from the Holy Spirit. This flood of unrighteous deception is deadening the hearts of those who call on Jesus’ name to the love of the truth and causing many churches to become inhospitable to the truth.

God said in Deuteronomy 13:3 “you must not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams, for the LORD your God is testing you, to know whether you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul” and in 2 Thessalonians 2:12 “Therefore God will send them a strong delusion, that they should believe the lie: that they all might be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” God is being faithful to His word.

Consider this Scripture:

Jeremiah 23:25-26, “I have heard what the prophets have said who prophesy lies in My name, saying, ‘I had a dream, I had a dream!’ How long shall this be in the heart of the prophets who prophesy lies? Indeed, they are prophets of the deceit of their own heart.”

Jeremiah 23:30-32, “See, therefore I am against the prophets, says the LORD, who steal My words, each from his neighbor. See, I am against the prophets, says the LORD, who use their tongues and say, ‘The LORD says.’ See, I am against those who prophesy false dreams, says the LORD, and recount them and cause My people to err by their lies and reckless boasting. Yet I sent them not nor commanded them. Therefore they shall not profit this people at all, says the LORD.”

I believe those who present themselves as speaking by divine inspiration must be tested according to these Biblical tests, and if their words are found to fail, or if they come to pass but the lead the Church astray from God’s word, then they are false prophets and wolves dressed in sheep’s skin.

Defending Your Faith: Is Jesus Yahweh?

There is nothing more important, more central, and so hotly disputed than the deity of Christ. Muslim’s believe that Jesus was a prophet, but not God; Mormons believe that Jesus became god distinct from the Father; Mahatma Gandhi believed Jesus to be a “great man”; atheists believe him to be anything from a great man, to a raving lunatic; and Christians believe Jesus to be Jehovah God incarnate.

So what did Jesus claim?

Jesus said “you are from below, I am from above; you are of this world, I am not of this world. Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I AM [He], you will die in your sins” (John 8:23-24). Jesus used Jehovah’s “I AM” covenant name, making His meaning explicitly clear: unless we believe that He is Jehovah God, we will die in our sins.  Because of this the Jews picked up stones to kill Him for what they saw as blasphemy

The claim today is that either Jesus never claimed to be God, and/or, that the prophets never gave the Messiah deity.  Indeed, if Jesus came claiming to be God but the Scriptures never said the Messiah would be God, then Jesus would have been a imposter and a fraud; He would not have been the promised Messiah if His claims about Himself were found to contradict the prophecies concerning the coming Messiah. 

So, as the Bereans were considered “more noble” because they tested daily everything that was preached to them according to the Word to find out whether or not it was from God, we must give a defense for our belief that Jesus is Yahweh incarnate.  And we must remember that giving a defense for the faith we have in Christ is one of the chief tasks given to the Church (1 Timothy 3:15; Matthew 28:19-20; 1 Peter 3:15), but to do so we must “study to show ourselves approved” (2 Timothy 2:15[NKJV]). Lazy answers and cliche’s are damaging to the Church because they show through. Clever debate tactics and mudslinging may win arguments, but they will not win souls. We must be able to reason from the wisdom and word of God with those we encounter so that they may receive the faith that is delivered to us by Jesus Christ through the Word of God.

Prefatory Note: if we answer this question only with an experience-based answer (i.e. “I know because He lives within me”), then we haven’t given a defense of Jesus as the promised Savior and Messiah; we have only stated that we have had some kind of mystical encounter, but that says nothing of Jesus Christ. Neither have we given a defense of the faith that will make “faith” possible in the ears of the hearer, for “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17).

Thus, I put forth this question to answer: “Is Jesus Jehovah GOD?”

Herein is my defense for why I believe from the Word of God that Jesus is Jehovah God (this is my answer to questions like “did Jesus really claim to be God”, “why not call Jesus a prophet/great man”, “the Messiah was never prophesied to be God”, “there is only one God, so Jesus and the Father can’t both be God”):

Firstly, Old Testament prophecies demonstrate that the Messiah bears the names and titles of God:

  • “God”: Deuteronomy 4:35 and 6:4 make it known that Jehovah alone is God; in Isaiah 9:6-7 the Messiah is given 5 names; “Wonderful”, “Counselor”, “Mighty God”, “Everlasting Father”, and “Prince of Peace”. See also John 1:1 and Romans 9:5.
  • “Savior” & “Redeemer”: Isaiah 43:10-11 says that God alone is “savior”. Again in Isaiah 49:26, Jehovah reveals that by His judgment all living things will know that He alone is “savior” and “redeemer”. See Hosea 13:14, Luke 2:11, John 4:42, and Acts 5:31for further details.
  • “Jehovah” (YHWH): Jeremiah 23:5-6 foretells the coming “Branch of Righteousness” and says “Now this is the name by which He will be called: Yahweh our Righteousness”. In the New Testament, Hebrews 1:8-12 also ascribes to Jesus Psalms 102:25-27.
  • “I AM”: Exodus 3:14-15 ascribes this title to God. In John 8:23-24, Jesus said that unless you believe He is the “I AM”, you will die in your sins (see also John 8:58-59; 13:19; 18:5-8).
  • “Alpha and Omega”: Isaiah 44:6 God takes upon Himself the Hebrew version of the Alpha and Omega, and in Revelation 1:8, 17-18; 2:8; 22:12-13, it is Jesus communicating that He is the Father by bearing the title Alpha and Omega in Himself.
  • “King of kings and Lord of lords”: In Deuteronomy 10:17 God takes this title as God of gods and Lord of lords, furthering His message that there is only One God, and in Revelation 17:14 and 19:11-16, Jesus receives this title Himself.

The Scripture then witnesses that Jesus also receives the prerogatives of Deity:

  • “Glory”: Isaiah 42:8-11 foretells the glory of God that rests upon the Messiah. We see this reflected in Jesus in John 17:5 and 17:24.
  • “Worship”: Exodus 34:14 forbids giving worship to anyone else but God; Jesus refuted Satan in Matthew 4:10 with this commandment. But Jesus received worship at His birth (Matthew 2:2-11), after calming the storm (Matthew 14:31-33, and after His resurrection (Matthew 28:9-10).
  • “Saving name”: in Joel 2:32 it was promised regarding the Messiah that “whoever calls on the name of Jehovah shall be saved”. Jesus was given the name by which men may be saved (Acts 2:21; Romans 10:13); recall Isaiah 43:10-11 in which we’re told that only Jehovah is “Savior”.
  • “Prayer”: Jesus is prayed to and through (John 14:13-14).
  • “Faith”: Jesus is also believed on for salvation (John 3:16, 36; Acts 16:31).
  • “Forgiveness of Sins”: in Isaiah 53:4-5, 10, and 12, it was foretold that atonement for sin would be made by the Messiah. Psalms 99:8 calls God by the name “God-Who-Forgives”.

Scriptures also demonstrates that Jesus possesses the incommunicable attributes of God:

  • “Independence”: only God is all self-sufficient, therefore “aseity” belongs only to God (Ex. 3:14-15); but Jesus possesses aseity in Himself (John 5:26).
  • “Eternity”: Micah 5:2 prophesies of the coming Messiah to arise out of Bethlehem and says that He is “from everlasting”. See also Isaiah 9:6, John 1:1-2, and Hebrews 7:3.
  • “Immutability” (unchangeableness): Hebrews 13:8 ascribes to Jesus this immutability that is ascribed to Jehovah in Malachi 3:6.

Lastly we must consider Scripture’s witness showing that Jesus performed the works of God:

  • “Creation”: Proverbs 8:27-31 uses the archetype of wisdom to illustrate the Christ and says that “When God prepared the heavens, I was there”. In Isaiah 44:24-28 “the Redeemer” is the one who stretched out the heavens “alone” and spreads abroad the earth below. See Job 9:8; John 1:3, 10; 1 Co. 8:6; Hebrews 1:2, 3:3-4 for further study on Christ as the Creator.
  • “Judgment”: God alone may sit as the Judge to whom all things are accountable: Zechariah 14 foretells of the coming day of wrath and judgment that God will execute by “His right arm”. In Romans 14:10; 2 Cor. 5:10; and John 5:22, judgment is shown to be by Christ.

God’s word says in Romans 14:10 that we are all going to appear before the judgment seat of Christ to give an account of ourselves to Jehovah God, who alone is God. Every soul will witness to God without excuse having His varied testimony to mankind according to His perfect wisdom. When you stand before God, if you have not acknowledged that Jesus is the “I AM”, you will die in your sins (John 8:24).

For further consideration, please see these videos:

The Book of Beginnings: Genesis 1 & 2

In this lesson we begin our year-long venture into Genesis and Exodus to look for God’s revelation of Himself in Christ and the hope of the gospel that has been preached from the beginning.

GENESIS

I have attached my lesson outline for personal reference and study purposes.

Don’t Silence the Preacher

Think about the world we live in for a moment. It is now possible that we can silence anyone in our life that confronts us with just the click of a button; you can tell facebook to silence people you don’t like, while still keeping the appearance of “friendship”, you can hit the “silence” button for incoming calls from people you don’t want to hear from, and you can customize your news feeds to only hear the perspective that you want to hear from.

And then there’s this:

“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.” 2 Timothy 4:3-4

Do not turn from the one who rebukes sin in your life; turn from those who enable it!

 

Are you a mocker? Are you a slanderer? Are you a liar? Are you and adulterer or fornicator, either by intercourse or by lust? Are you a murderer, even by anger? Are you an idolater, even by greed and the love of money? Are you an idolater, even by your stomach? Are you an idolater, even by molding a Christ in your own image? Do you approve of what is evil in God’s sight? Do you condemn that which is approved by God? Are you a coward? Are you a drunkard? Are you lost in revelry? Is your heart weighed down with the cares of this world? Do you mock God in saying that you will not reap the corruption that you have sown?

If you are a teacher yourself, do you use God’s word for your own agenda?  Do you seek the praise of men?  Do you promise liberty in your preaching while being a slave of corruption yourself?  Do you seek to make disciples after yourself?  Do you bind those who are walking in the liberty of Christ?  Are you a coward in the face of wolves?  Do you lord yourself over others with a heavy hand?

Don’t turn your ears from the truth towards the lie that says “you surely will not die, though you eat the forbidden fruit”.

Come and drawn near to Jesus. Come and repent, and leave your body of sin dead at the cross! Be washed in the blood of Christ and receive the Holy Spirit, that you may live!

The Marks of Good Eschatology

Eschatology is the name academics gave to the study concerned with prophetic end-time events.

Earlier I was meditating on the divisions caused in the Church over eschatology and lamenting the power that pride has over the subject.  I feel the division among brethren, and many Christians subsequent reaction of repulsion, are the egregious casualties of this affair.  But it should not be this way!

So I felt compelled to look at some of the marks of good eschatology. These are not meant to support any one eschatological position over another, rather, they are meant as principles by which we can judge our own positions; they are principles that have helped me to move away from certain views because they did not bear these marks.

ESCHATOLOGY ISN’T SEPARATE FROM FAITH

We must bear in mind that eschatology is not separate from the faith; the same marks of soundness that apply to the other aspects of our faith also apply here!

2 Timothy 1:7 “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”

Our understanding of eschatology should not create panic, weakness, or an unstable mind in us; if it is from God it will be in accordance with the Spirit that He has given to us.

AGREES WITH THE WHOLE COUNSEL OF GOD

Acts 17:11  “These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.

One of the foremost marks of good eschatology is that it is in agreement with the whole of God’s counsel on the subject.

This principle has personally led me out of many errors as I found that the positions I held did not agree with God’s revelation!  If God had intended for us to take our understanding of end-time events from only one book, He would have given us only one book.

NOT OF PRIVATE INTERPRETATION

2 Peter 1:19-21  “And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit”

You might call this “a mark of humility”, or “a mark of unity”, or “a mark of submission”, or perhaps you might call it “a humbling mark of submission that brings unity”?  Either way the mark is clear that good eschatology is such that has been sharpened by the whole body of Christ and not one that originates and is contained within a single human source.

Far too often we are afraid of allowing our eschatology to be examined by others, and when we examine other people’s eschatology, we often times do not afford them the patience and time necessary for this process of public interpretation to take place.

I thank God always for the brothers in my life who have sharpened my eschatological positions over time.  But I thank God the more for the irreplaceable and undeniable work of the Counselor in leading me into all truth!  For in a place of public interpretation how are we to know which is the voice of God and which is the voice of man unless it is the Holy Spirit bearing witness to the truth?

And so this mark humbles us among one another and draws us desperately near to the feet of the Counselor who will lead us all into the truth!

THE PURPOSE OF CHRIST’S INSTRUCTIONS

1 Timothy 1:5  “Now the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from a sincere faith”

Good eschatology will not work contrary to sound teaching, rather, it will agree with the purpose of God’s commandments:  it will produce love, first for God, then for His creation (the pinnacle of which is mankind).

Now it’s important to understand that this love is from a “pure heart”, a “good conscience”, and a “sincere faith”.  Some who do not possess these may argue that any eschatology which includes God’s severe judgment upon sinners would diminish our love for God, but that is not so for those who are born of the Word by the Spirit of God!  Good eschatology, not to mention sound doctrine, does not appeal to the state of corrupt men, rather, it pulls corrupt men out of the mire and washes their hearts, cleanses their conscience, and purifies their faith, if they will have it at all.

Thus we must ask whether our eschatology builds up love from a pure heart, or defiles the heart with pride, bitterness, and hate?  Does it build up our love from a good conscience, or does it go against our consciences that were made clean by the sacrifice of Christ?  Does it build up our love from a sincere faith, or does it lead us astray from the faith that was once and for all delivered to us by Christ?

FERVOR FOR CHRIST’S RETURN

One of the marks of good eschatology that is nearly impossible to fabricate is a sincere fervor for the return of Christ!

Revelation 22:17, 20  “And the Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’ And let him who hears say, ‘Come!’ And let him who thirsts come.  Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.  He who testifies to these things says, ‘Surely I am coming quickly’.”

Good eschatology will produce in all the saints of God a fervent and unquenchable desire for Christ’s return!  It causes the things of this world “to grow strangely dim”, and magnifies the things of Christ.

We should examine ourselves to see whether or not our eschatology produces a greater desire for life on this earth, or life in the age to come?

DRIVES HOLINESS AND GODLINESS

Jonathan Edwards, who preached a sermon back in the 1700’s entitled “sinners in the hands of an angry God”, during which people fell out of their seats and clung to pillars in repentance, prayed “Oh God, stamp eternity on my eyeballs.”

2 Peter 3:11-12  “Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in all holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?”

If you do not have eternity in view, I am certain you will not live a life of holy conduct and godliness in this seductively wicked world!

Peter combined three of the most unpopular topics in the Church today into one unequivocally important lesson: holiness, judgment, and the fear of God are necessary to the Christian life, and to grasp these three you must have the King of king’s return in mind.

One of the clearest marks of good eschatology is that it drives you to live a life of holy conduct and godliness.  Any eschatology which leaves your everyday life wholly untouched is shallow and good for nothing but temporary intellectual stimulation- and the Church definitely needs no more of that!

SANCTIFICATION

1 John 3:2-3  “Beloved, now we are the sons of God, and it has not yet appeared what we shall be, but we know that when He appears, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is.  And every man that has this hope in Him purifies himself, even as He is pure.”

Good eschatology will inspire sanctification in us through hope!  Eschatology that produces no sanctification through hope does not have Christ in view!

Your eschatology is the lens through which you peer into eternity, without it, your hope becomes obscure and fuzzy.  You need good eschatology to have strong hope in Christ so that you can weather the storms and persevere to the end.

CONCLUSION

Untold desolation has happened in the Church because we have lost sight of eternity!  When I was in high school and college I was a runner.  I ran cross country and track- I loved running!  I learned very early that it is imperative to form that when you are sprinting that you keep your eyes forward and fixed on the finish line.  You can’t take your eyes off the end or you lose momentum.  In much the same way the Church has drifted aimlessly and lost focus on our goal because of our eschatology.  Many Churches meander from trend to trend because they have taken their eyes off the end!

If your eschatology is good, it will stabilize your faith and produce a sound mind, a strong faith, a fervent perseverance, and a lifestyle of holy conduct and godliness, but if your eschatology is bad all kinds of things can go wrong; a bad eschatology produces an unstable mind, robs the work of evangelism, causes panic, and creates apathy.

Don’t let anyone rob you of the vast treasures of Bible prophecy!  Jesus told the Church to “watch and pray” because He wanted her to be prepared for the end and keep alert.

The Mark of the Beast

The Mark of the Beast justifiably attracts a great deal of attention: scripture says,

“they shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no rest day or night, who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name” (Revelation 14:10-11).

Obviously there is good reason why we want to identify the mark of the Beast.  But, I think even more important than trying to identify the mark of the Beast before the Beast himself is even made known is knowing the characteristics and signs of the mark.

Let’s let scripture be our standard and the Holy Spirit be our guide:

Then I saw another beast coming up out of the earth, and he had two horns like a lamb and spoke like a dragon. And he exercises all the authority of the first beast in his presence, and causes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed. He performs great signs, so that he even makes fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men.  And he deceives those who dwell on the earth by those signs which he was granted to do in the sight of the beast, telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast who was wounded by the sword and lived.  He was granted power to give breath to the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak and cause as many as would not worship the image of the beast to be killed.  He causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads, and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or* the name of the beast, or the number of his name. (Revelation 13:11-17) [* some versions render: “unless he has that mark, the name of the beast or the number of his name.”]

The mark of the beast is the work of the second beast, who causes the whole world to receive the mark and worship the first beast.  Through the power that the second beast demonstrates in the world he is able to deceive the earth and is made responsible for making the world set up an image to worship the beast.

Then a third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives his mark on his forehead or on his hand, he himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out full strength into the cup of His indignation. He shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no rest day or night, who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name. Here is the patience of the saints; here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.” (Revelation 14:9-12)

John is then given a revelation of three angels, each tasked with proclaiming a certain message to the whole world; the first one proclaims the gospel, the second declares Babylon is fallen, and the third warns the whole world that anyone who worships the beast and his image and receives his mark will partake in the wrath of God forever.

Then the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who worked signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image. These two were cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone. (Revelation 19:20)

This is the point of the Lord’s return to reign for 1,000 years.  The beast and his false prophet are captured and cast alive into the lake of fire.

And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. (Revelation 20:4)

Here begins the 1,000 year reign of Christ with His saints who did not worship the beast or receive his image.

It is evident that the focus of the second beast, the false prophet, is in causing the world to worship the Beast- who John called anti-Christ and Paul called “Man of Sin”- there is less emphasis given to “buying and selling”, which is mentioned once as part of the false prophet’s work to make it so that no one can buy or sell without the mark.

Let’s look at this again:

He causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads, and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.The false prophet has two things that he accomplishes: he causes the world to “receive a mark”, “and that no one may buy or sell except who has the mark”.

A lot of Christians assert that the mark of the Beast will be an implanted RFID-like chip through which all transactions will take place- a position I once took myself as well- but I no longer believe that it is profitable to make this speculation, rather, I believe it is more profitable for us to pay careful attention to several things that are clearly stated in the text:

  1. The mark of the Beast is identified in scripture as “the mark of his name” (Revelation 14:11).
  2. The mark is part of the false prophet’s work to deceive the world into worshiping the Beast (Revelation 13:12, 15).
  3. There will be angelic proclamation warning the whole world not to take the mark of the Beast (Revelation 14:9)
  4. But the false prophet will use mighty power to deceive the world (Revelation 13:13).
  5. Whoever possesses wisdom is admonished to calculate the number of the beast- which is the number of a man.

All of these passages, Revelation 13:12, 15; 14:11; 19:20; 20:4, speak of those who “worship the beast and take his mark”.  Causing the world to worship the Beast is the false prophet’s purpose, and he’ll be given power and authority by which he will exert unheard of pressure upon the earth to this end.

These are the words of God appointed for blessing in a day of great trial- I pray we study these things, which were written- not so that we could boast in our eschatological positions, but “so that we would not be made to stumble”- beyond the narrowly defined eschatological positions that so often “content us” and dampen our zeal to understand these things.

Important Questions: Should the Church Name & Oppose False Teachers?

There’s a new kind of wisdom being preached that says it’s fruitless to name and oppose false teachers, and that, instead, we should apply ourselves to other more fruitful endeavors.

So that is the question we will be address.

Should the Church bother itself with naming and opposing false teachers?

LIMITTING THE BODY

Double standards are something that I try to keep an eye out for when considering what I’m hearing, and I both see and experience a double standard when I encounter this kind of wisdom; namely, that those who say that it is fruitless to oppose false teachers because we should be applying ourselves to more fruitful endeavors then apply themselves to opposing anyone who names and opposes false teachers.

So, while it may not be every member’s place in the body to name and oppose false teachers, we have to ask ourselves if there is a place for that function anywhere in the body, and, if so, does this new wisdom limit those parts of the body in which this work has a place?

GOD’S STANDARD

Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron… If you instruct the brethren in these things, you will be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished in the words of faith and of the good doctrine which you have carefully followed.

~1 Timothy 4:12-6

Among those things that Paul exhorted Timothy to be a good minister of Jesus Christ in instructing the brethren in was the dangers of deceiving spirits and demonic doctrines that false teachers speak in hyposcirsy.

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. ~1 John 4:1

John follows Paul’s exhortation by encouraging the brethren to test every spirit to see whether or not they are from God because of the multitude of false prophets that have gone out into the world.

The Bereans were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of the mind, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so. ~Acts 17:11

In God’s standard, no one was exempt from being tested; not even an apostle! Far from being criticized for testing all things that were said, the Bereans were praised for their diligence.

Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ. ~Jude 3-4

Jude found it necessary to exhort the brethren to contend earnestly for the faith because of the false teachers who had crept in unnoticed.

When we tell members of the body that they are fruitless for opposing those false teachers and false prophets who sneak in bringing destructive heresies into the body, we do not uphold God’s standard, we oppose it.

It is just to answer today’s question by asking another question: should the Church bother itself with opposing those members who feel led to name and oppose false teachers? Invariably most people who do not feel comfortable with one will engage in the other.

OPPOSING BY NAME?

This charge I commit to you, son Timothy, according to the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, having faith and a good concsience, which some having rejected, concerning the faith have suffered shipwreck, of whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I delivered to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme. ~1 Timothy 1:18-20

One function of naming a false teacher or prophet is that it makes it more difficult for them to sneak into an assembly unnoticed and introduce their destructive heresies elsewhere. Paul did not shy away from naming people who were in error;

And their message will spread like cancer. Hymenaeus and Philetus are of this sort, who have strayed concerning the truth, saying that the resurrection is already past; and they overthrow the faith of some. 2 Timothy 2:17-18

The message of false teachers was viewed as a cancer not to be ignored; both the message and the messenger were named and opposed.

I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctring that you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naïve. ~Romans 16:17-18

The unity and liberty of the body was of such importance that Paul instructed the brethren in Rome to keep watch for individuals who bring division and bondage and avoid them because they do not serve the Lord Christ, but their own appetites. The duty to keep watch is not reserved for an apostle only, but for the brethren as a whole.

LETTING THE BODY WORK

A city that shames its watchmen will be overthrown when the enemy invades. I believe we need to acknowledge individuals who know God’s word and heed their warnings when they sound the alarm against the wolves they spot trying to sneak into the assembly.

Our shepherds need to keep watch over the flock; let us not reject their tending.

When I hear the new wisdom that discourages watchmen from sounding the alarm, I look at the state of the Western Church and I find little reason to trust this new wisdom. But what really dismays me is that those who don’t want to put their fingers on the name of false teachers will so readily apply themselves to shaming anyone who does.

This is the real travesty; our watchmen have become the hunted!