Why is prophecy important in your life as a Christian and in the life of your church?
Bible prophecy is one of the most ignored topics in churches today! Many churches shy away from even mentioning “Bible Prophecy” often calling it “unnecessarily divisive.”
It is concerning that churches don’t take prophecy seriously. The very fact that God has revealed so many details about events to come in both testaments tells us that it is important. At the center of biblical prophecy is the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ (Titus 2:13). Not only should we be interested in prophetic events, we should be looking for our Savior, with whom we will spend eternity.
How did we get here? How is it that we’ve arrived in the end times, when clarity is needed the most and we find the genre of prophecy “off limits” or “too controversial” to be preached and taught in our churches?
I suspect Satan is somewhat proud of this accomplishment. At a critical time when the church is most vulnerable the study of “things to come” is nowhere to be found in the pulpits of our churches.
This shows how far away we find ourselves from the days of Jehoshaphat’s revival in 2 Chron. 20:20, “Believe in the Lord your God, and you will be established; believe his prophets, and you will succeed.”
Why do churches neglect the serious study of Bible prophecy? It’s fair to say that one issue is complexity. There are many prophetic details in the Bible to work through and harmonize. Scholars estimate the bible contains 27% predictive prophecy. So there is hard work to do formulating a biblical understanding in this area.
That said, we are warned not to neglect prophecy for two reasons. First, prophecy acts like a light in the darkness (2 Peter 1:19) and second, since it’s part of scripture it’s profitable to study (1 Tim. 4:16; 2 Tim. 3:16). A second issue lies at the door of today’s bible colleges and seminaries who, for the most part, offer little to no theological training in the area of biblical eschatology.
Over the last 25 years, the majority of bible training institutions have opted to simply overlook the subject. What little training is offered usually focuses on explaining the different views of prophecy leaving students to make up their own minds on a complex topic they’ve never been taught!
So today’s pastors graduate absent an understanding of prophecy and avoid it like the plague. Without being grounded with a pre-millennial foundation, pastors simply don’t know what to believe and once in the ministry, it’s too late and too time consuming to figure it out. I know pastors who have never preached about bible prophecy from the pulpit because they fail to see the relevance of the book of Revelation in everyday life.
A third reason might be the knee-jerk reaction that some have to not be linked with those who have abused bible prophecy. Our generation has seen its share of false teachers making outrageous predictions.
There are those who have become obsessed with offering a date for Jesus’ return, or treating every current event as fulfillments of Bible prophecy. So some people have swung away from the abuse of prophecy to no interest at all. That’s like throwing the baby out with the bath water. None of these are good reasons to avoid the study of prophecy.
Maybe you’ve avoided the study of prophecy because it seems too difficult.
God has promised spiritual blessings for studying and heeding prophecy. Here are 7 reasons why you and your church should take prophecy seriously:
1. Prophecy is a Major Part of the Christian Storyline
As the single largest topic in scripture, we can safely conclude the Bible is a book of prophecy playing a major part of the Bible’s story. By “story,” I’m talking about the narrative of the Christian worldview. Since Christianity is rooted in history and real historical events, God’s story includes past, present, and future events. All should be taught.
The church should not ignore prophetic events just because they’re not popular in our culture. Future events complete the story—events such as the rapture, the Day of the Lord, the Second Coming, the Millennium, and the Eternal State play out the victorious future for all believers. To avoid discussion of prophecy is to avoid an important part of the Christian worldview.
2. Prophecy was Important to Jesus
Jesus was a prophet! As such, our Lord prophesied throughout His ministry and extensively quoted Old Testament prophets in His teaching and preaching ministry. Christ’s longest sermon appears in three gospels in Mathew 24-25; Mark 13 and Luke 21 which is also His longest prophecy about the end times. Right in the middle of this prophecy, Jesus stops and says, “Behold, I have told you everything ahead of time.” Mark 13:23. That gives us pause to think.
Jesus abruptly stops to frame his lengthy prophetic message with something we often forget. Jesus was God and only God knows the future! By stopping to remind us this was prophecy, Jesus reveals how important prophecy was to his teaching ministry. Earlier in this same sermon, in the midst of delivering his prophecy about Antichrist, Jesus again paused to offer a remark. This time he offered a prayer and says, “let the reader understand” (Mt. 24:15). This one also gives us pause to think. Jesus stopped and prayed for us to understand Bible prophecy! Why would he do that? Because Jesus knows the value of prophecy and wants us to understand it.
3. We are called to teach the whole Bible
There are large sections of Scripture devoted to prophecy, many of which still need to be fulfilled from our current standpoint.
For example the events of Ezekiel 36–48 still need to occur. In the New Testament passages like Matthew 24-25; Mark 13; much of Luke 21; 1 Thess. 4-5; 2 Thess. 1-2; 2 Peter 3; Revelation 6-22 describe events that still need to happen. We cannot ignore these passages. Paul says in Acts 20:27, “I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole purpose of God.”
If your church does not teach what the Bible says about the future, the whole counsel of God is not being taught.
4. People are interested in the future
Christians are interested in what the future holds. But if we do not teach what the bible says about prophecy, we are denying important biblical information for those who want to know what the Bible has to say about the future. As believers who understand bible prophecy, we are holding a major source of hope that the Lord wants every Christian to have.
5. Prophecy motivates believers to serve the Lord
Prophecy changes our lives because what we do now impacts our future. Paul viewed everything he did in light of his standing before Jesus someday. In 2 Timothy 4:7-8 he said, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.”
6. Prophecy has a purifying effect on the life of the believer
Prophecy is meant to transform our lives in the present. Why should we live sensibly, righteously and godly? Because Jesus is coming again.
1 John 3:2-3 states, “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.”
James 5:8-9 also says, “You too be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near. Do not complain, brethren, against one another, so that you yourselves may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing right at the door.” The study of biblical eschatology is a motivation for godly living.
7. Prophecy gives us perspective on the troubles and trials of this age
We live in a fallen and tragedy-soaked world. Evil seems to triumph. Without Jesus there is no hope but the Christian has the hope of resurrection and the restoration of all things (1 Cor. 15:20-28; Acts 3:21). Romans 8:18 states, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.”
The coming of Jesus and the restoration of all things are future realities that give Christians hope and the joyful realization that the turmoil’s and trials of this age will not last forever. Righteousness and goodness win in the end.
Christians need to hear a prophetic message of hope and encouragement from the pulpit more often!