Apologetics · Bible · Biblical Doctrines · Christian Living · Culture · Culture & Society · Dispensationalism · End Times Issues · Faith · Suffering

Listen to the Suffering Saints

In 2011, Gene Gurganus published Islam: Past, Present, Future in which he stated, “In the sphere of Biblical revelation, seven empires have come and gone: Egyptian, Assyrian, Babylonian, Media-Persian, Greece, Roman, Islamic (Ottoman).” In October, 2013, Michele Bachmann stated, “I believe the battles in Syria are all part of the prophecies of the Book of Revelation.” On October 21, 2013, Ed R. Meelhuysen posted for the public, “Twelve Signs That We are Very Near the End of the World.”

What these three individuals share, along with countless others, is a belief that the Bible can be interpreted in light of current events. Mr. Gurganus believes the Bible speaks of the Ottoman Empire. We ask, “Where?” Michele Bachmann believes the events in Syria can be found in the Book of Revelation. We ask again, “What chapter and verse can be appealed to in order to support this assertion?” Ed R. Meelhuysen appeals to the Scriptures to conclude that, “ALL EVIDENCE POINTS TO THE FACT THAT TIME AND THE WORLD AS WE HAVE KNOWN IT IS ABOUT TO COME TO AN END!!” (Emphasis his). And the world continues on.

One can hear the alarm in each of these prophetic pundits who have been proven wrong with the passing of time, which is very instructive. “When a prophet speaketh in the name of the Lord, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him” (Deut. 18:22).

Why should thoughtful Christians be concerned about modern day prophetic utterances that have no basis in Biblical revelation?

One reason is that failed prophecies invite laughter. On April 24, 2015, President Obama made fun of Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner. “Just this week, Michele Bachmann actually predicted that I would bring about the biblical end of days,” Obama said in his speech Saturday night. “Now that’s a legacy. That’s big. I mean Lincoln, Washington — they didn’t do that.” The president was referring to comments Mrs. Bachmann made on a radio show recently, when she said Obama’s policies on Iran’s nuclear program and marriage equality would lead to the end of times. “We in our lifetimes potentially could see Jesus Christ returning to earth and the rapture of the church,” Bachmann said. “We see the destruction, but this was a destruction that was foretold.”

A second reason why Christians should be concerned about prophetic utterances that have no basis in Biblical revelation is that it induces needless fear. Notice the words of Deuteronomy 18:22 again concerning the false prophetic voice: “thou shalt not be afraid of him.” There are enough worries in life without adding the thought that the world is coming to an end. God has not given to His people the spirit of fear but “of power, and of love, and of a sound mind (2 Tim. 1:7).

Then third, for multitudes, false prophetic voices often offer false hope. In particular there is the teaching called the rapture which declares that one day, before a seven year period of great tribulation, Christians will be removed from earth. Christians in the West witness the sufferings of Christians in the East and sincerely conclude that if their suffering is a prelude to Armageddon, then the rapture of the church is closer than ever and they will not have to suffer. It is a foolish teaching and belief because every time the world tribulation is mentioned in Scripture it refers to those who have suffered for Christ according to gospel expectations.

Listen to Jesus foretell the suffering that would come to His people. “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Listen to Paul as he confirmed the souls of the disciples, “and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22). Listen to the voices of the martyrs who are being beheaded by ISIS in the Middle East, almost on a daily basis. Their blood is the seed of the church. Their blood cries out in a true prophetic testimony of the Scriptures which is that suffering, and not escape is the fate of the saints.

Finally, the reason why Christians should be concerned about prophetic utterances that have no basis in Biblical revelation is that they cause people to abandon faith in Christ. When people are led to believe that faith in Christ will exempt them from great tribulation, and then tribulation comes, many will forsake the faith. Islam promises to spare the life of those who submit to Allah. Multitudes will no doubt become disillusioned with the false rapture promise and willing submit to another religion that will allow them to live. The old slogan of the cold war with Communism, “It is better to be Red than dead!”, will be replaced with a new slogan, “It is better to submit to Allah than to be slaughtered with sword!”

Christian, are you listening? Suffering is to be part of the Christian experience. Therefore, rise and be a faithful soldier of the Cross.

“Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war,
With the cross of Jesus going on before.
Christ, the royal Master, leads against the foe;
Forward into battle see His banners go!

Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war,
With the cross of Jesus going on before.
At the sign of triumph Satan’s host doth flee;
On then, Christian soldiers, on to victory!

Hell’s foundations quiver at the shout of praise;
Brothers lift your voices, loud your anthems raise.
Like a mighty army moves the church of God;
Brothers, we are treading where the saints have trod.

We are not divided, all one body we,
One in hope and doctrine, one in charity.
What the saints established that I hold for true.
What the saints believèd, that I believe too.

Long as earth endureth, men the faith will hold,
Kingdoms, nations, empires, in destruction rolled.
Crowns and thrones may perish, kingdoms rise and wane,
But the church of Jesus constant will remain.

Gates of hell can never gainst that church prevail;
We have Christ’s own promise, and that cannot fail.
Onward then, ye people, join our happy throng,
Blend with ours your voices in the triumph song.

Glory, laud and honor unto Christ the King,
This through countless ages men and angels sing.”

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