Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Bible Prophecy - the Constant Reminder of God's Plan for the Future

Bible Prophecy - The Tie that Binds!(Or - 'Hooked on Prophecy')

Over the years I have often wondered why the Christian church is losing young people. I have seen it over and over. A child is brought up to love God and keep the commandments. They are in church consistently; their parents live what appears to be a Christian life. Yet the child reaches the upper teens, quits church, and as an adult never commits to follow the teachings of Jesus.
WHY??? What happens?
The same thing happens with new believers of any age. They start out loving their new life in Christ. But they gradually drift away; their lives are not really changed permanently. The end result in both cases is the church shrinks instead of grows, and people live without hope instead of in the light of God's love and companionship.
There is not a single answer as to why this happens. But I do believe that a lack of the knowledge of Bible prophecy is a key factor.
There are several major benefits in having a working or at least elementary knowledge of Bible prophecy. These benefits are extended to people of all ages - from the very young to the very old, and from the beginning student of the Bible to the greatest Bible scholar.
These benefits are:

First - Bible prophecy provides security in the fearsome world in which we now live. Those who study prophecy know that God has been faithful to fulfill many prophecies already; that His word is good. He will do what He has promised. So when the nightly news is screaming, 'wars; rumors of wars; global warming; next ice age; rain forest destruction; terror alert high; earthquakes, volcanoes; major meteor showers; and all manner of gloom and doom;' the student of Bible prophecy can take comfort in knowing that the earth will not be destroyed until God says it will be destroyed. And even that final destruction will be good instead of bad because students of prophecy know that God will have prepared a new heaven and new earth before this earth passes away.
Second - a knowledge of Bible prophecy gives focus to the life of every Christian. The nation of Israel provides an example of this. If anyone has even the most basic knowledge of Bible prophecy, they know that Israel is prophesied to be the center of world attention in the last days. You cannot get through one day without hearing something about Israel in the news. So every time a prophecy student hears something of the nation of Israel, they will be reminded of the prophecies concerning that tiny nation. The lessons learned in Sunday school will be relevant to current events. That goes for those who were taught the Bible prophecies concerning Israel in Sunday School, or Church service, or at home. They may be skipping church, but every time they hear the word "Israel" they will be reminded that on the word of God - Israel has a specific destiny that has not yet been fulfilled. They will think of the other events predicted in the Bible.
And, isn't it good to live with the knowledge that one generation will not die - but be changed in the twinkling of an eye? As believers grow older, they begin to think about the approaching moment they will see Jesus face to face. But to the young - that day is far far away. But if a believer of any age is consistently looking for the appearing of Jesus, he or she is much more likely to pay attention to how this life is lived right now. It is easier to put emphasis on the eternal instead of the material things of this world when eternity could happen any second.
Do not think that the study of prophecy lends itself to preparing a useless or ineffective generation of believers. Quite the opposite is true. Prophecy keeps one focused on the teachings and words of Jesus Christ. The danger of converting to a mere social gospel is greatly lessened by studying prophecy.
Today, there are churches spotlighting social reform and accepting 'whatever works' as a valid means to increasing church attendance. They tend to ignore Bible prophecy as 'pie in the sky' theology, and teach it has no value in the modern church.
But Jesus Christ Himself took time to teach prophecy. He answered questions asked by his earthly companions regarding the end of the age. Then the New Testament was filled with additional information about the end of the church age, the rapture, the return of Jesus, the tribulation, the Millennium Kingdom, the short season, the judgment seats (White throne and Bema), and eternity in the new heaven and new earth. If Jesus Himself taught prophecy, what mortal has authority to ignore it? The gospel is to be accepted as a whole, and that includes a great deal of prophecy.
Bible prophecy is a way of validating the authority of the Bible. Events prophesied generations before the actual fulfillment of the event clearly show the author knew the future. That is a major stepping stone for a new Christian. One can reason, "If God said 'this, this, and this WILL happen, then they DID happen', then the FUTURE events God has prophesied will also happen."
Prophecy is a great tool for the evangelist. The power of God is in all the Bible scriptures. That is what converts people. That is what changes people. But getting people to read the Bible is not always easy. A Bible study on any subject is good, but prophecy seems to get people's attention. Everyone is just a little nosey. We all want to be the first to know what is happening before it happens.
Prophecy is a great way for Christians who have grown complacent in their Christian walk to rekindle the joy they experienced as new believers. Christians living now get to be in the middle of the greatest adventure every written. And we get to live our lives knowing the end of the story - we win - we have peace and safety forevermore - we obtain joy and gladness - and sorrow and sighing shall flee away. It doesn't get any better than that!
Bible prophecy is a wonderful way to connect with Christians of all ages. Very young children are able to grasp the wonderful news that Jesus gave us a glimpse of the future through Bible prophecy. New Christians need a basic knowledge of prophecy taught along with the ABC's of Christian growth. It grounds them in the faith. And amazing to me, there are Christians who have been in main line churches their entire lives who know nothing about prophecy. Sometimes it is because they don't want to know about it. Other times it is because they have never had the opportunity to learn what the Bible teaches about future events.
Someone I know was telling me about a very nice lady who worked with him. She was approaching retirement. One day she came to work glowing. She had been to a weekend church meeting and the subject was Bible Prophecy. She was elated, delighted, and plain overjoyed. She had never heard of Bible prophecy before, but she was hooked. And her life was changed for the better. She was watching for the return of the King!
I remember as a child that my dad was always having people over, talking about what the Bible said about the future, and then drawing a time chart for them on a long sheet of white butcher paper. They would roll up the paper and take it home like they had some ancient scroll found by the Dead Sea or something equally valuable. I would have been a real dunce if I couldn't have drawn the chart myself by the time I was seven. My kids grew up hearing about future events, looking for the rapture, watching Israel, waiting for the temple to be built, and just generally watching to see how current events were fitting into Bible Prophecy. Now my two grandsons are learning the basics as well. The good thing about prophecy is that you are never too young or too old to get 'hooked on prophecy'.
The song for this article is "Christ Returneth". I love the line that says "Oh Lord Jesus, how long - how long - ere we shout that glad song - Christ returneth - Christ returneth - hallelujah - amen!"
God bless you.
Barbara Henderson.


-----------------Christ Returneth--------------
It may be at morn, when the day is awaking,
When sunlight through darkness and shadow is breaking
That Jesus will come in the fullness of glory
To receive from the world “His own.”
O Lord Jesus, how long, how long
Ere we shout the glad song,
Christ returneth! Hallelujah!
Hallelujah! Amen. Hallelujah! Amen.
It may be at midday, it may be at twilight,
It may be, perchance, that the blackness of midnight
Will burst into light in the blaze of His glory,
When Jesus receives “His own.”
While its hosts cry Hosanna, from heaven descending,
With glorified saints and the angels attending,
With grace on His brow, like a halo of glory,
Will Jesus receive “His own.”
Oh, joy! oh, delight! should we go without dying,
No sickness, no sadness, no dread and no crying.
Caught up through the clouds with our Lord into glory,
When Jesus receives “His own.”