There has been a resurgence of the theology about the Lord’s Return and I think it’s great. I hope more people will take an interest in this theme. The main emphasis in this new interest is on the theology of the Pre-tribulation viewpoint. Some have criticized this viewpoint as being a view of escapism. People who hold to this view, however, don’t feel they are escaping anything … they just Believe that God saves His People from His Wrath. As True as that may be, I do have a word of caution on any Prophecy viewpoint; Prophecy should always be held loosely even if you are convinced beyond any shadow of doubt that you are right. Prophecy has two meanings:
1. Foretelling of future events.
2. Forthtelling of how to live out God’s Word (preaching).
Both are important to the Believer, but both must be Discernable by God’s Word. There are sermons that are just not Biblical, and we have to question those if they are a valid Word from God. There are also Prophetic writings and doctrines that need to be examined closely by God’s Word. As most of us know, people who are in Prophetic ministry all claim they are using God’s Word to make their theological case. Yet, even the slightest error can go undetected and mislead people.
Here are some questions to ask about any Prophetic doctrine that is being taught today. Does the doctrine take on more importance than it should? In other words, do people who preach a Prophetic viewpoint say there can’t be any other way, it is the only way, period? Prophecy about the Rapture of the Church cannot be determined that way. One may have strong feelings toward a particular viewpoint, but only God Knows for sure when It will happen. It’s perfectly fine to state your Beliefs and why you Believe them, but to say categorically there is no other viewpoint to consider, to me seems arrogant and prideful.
It is True that Signs of His Return are all around us today, and that is a good admonition to pay attention to the Scriptures. The careful study of the Prophetic Scriptures reveal that we need to ready ourselves by Watching and Praying … Watching the Signs of the Times and reading the Scriptures to bring us into balance between our Faith and the world around us. We are not to sequester away as we see the Signs … we are to Rejoice and be more fervent about telling people about Jesus.
The real caution comes as some people make idols out of their doctrines. The Pharisees and Sadducees did that, and Jesus read them the riot act for doing so in Matthew 23. However, I feel we do the same thing today with our Belief structures. We glob onto a doctrine that we are convinced is right and it becomes our number one emphasis. Some people have accused Evangelicals of making an idol out of the Scriptures, as if we Worship the Word of God. Some will Worship the system and ritual of the Mass, while others will Worship the art of Worship in music and expression. Some will Worship good oratory in preaching, while others will Worship doctrine and the practices that go along with it. These can all become idols, and idol worship is high on the list of God’s Big Ten. I know we don’t like to think that idols could be made from the ideals in the Church, but anything that becomes more important and replaces the emphasis of Jesus can be considered an idol.
Let me say that I am not anti-doctrine because doctrines are important for Belief and Direction, but they should never replace the emphasis on what Jesus Taught us. Over the years, I have seen ministers use the doctrine of healing in a way that made healing similar to a carnival sideshow. I have heard ministers say that we can never use Salvation, while others say some Gifts of the Holy Spirit no longer are needed in the Church. Some teach that the Communion wafer turns into the literal Body and Blood of Jesus, while other say it’s only symbolic. You could go on all day with the various ways that Scripture is interpreted and applied to the Church.
The same is True as we look at the Rapture of the Church. Our emphasis should never be on the when, as much as the emphasis should be to live on the edge for Jesus Christ every day. If Revelation 12:11 is our Witness, then will it matter when the Rapture happens?
“They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb
and by the word of their testimony;
they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.”
I am not trying to minimize the Hope of the Rapture, but I am trying to make Loving Jesus the reason we Serve Him and not an event like the Rapture. Let’s be honest, if the Rapture took place today, I think everyone being caught up would Rejoice. Yet, not my will, oh Lord, but Your Will be done. If God’s desire is that none should perish, then let’s be concerned about those who need a Witness and let the Trumpet sound when it does. I do not think the emphasis of our lives should be focused on when the Rapture will take place, I think the emphasis should be on living out Jesus in the Final Days prior to it. Our Call is to Watch and Pray with an anticipation of knowing that the Trumpet could sound at any time, and with that in mind we focus on His Calling for our lives in this world.
Keeping Life Honest and Truthful … Larry Kutzler
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