Question: How can a Christian who is honestly seeking the truth concerning endtime prophecy ever expect to come to the correct view of this matter when one considers the many positions that are held by those who are really godly saints? They hold to the essential teaching of God’s Word but differ widely when it comes to endtime prophecy. This is a serious question from one who is seeking the truth.
Response: While these godly persons differ about eschatology, you noted that they agree upon the essentials of the faith. Biblical teaching on salvation and sanctification is abundantly clear. In contrast, much prophecy is hard to understand—perhaps to keep Satan in ignorance thereof. Furthermore, eschatology is largely neglected, which contributes to the lack of understanding. Even godly saints often adopt the attitude, “What’s going to happen is going to happen, so why study prophecy?” Yet the Bible is about 30 percent prophecy, “the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy” (Rv 19:10), and a special blessing is promised to those who heed prophecy (Rv 1:3).
Christ, who rebuked the rabbis for not knowing and heeding the signs of His first coming (Lk 12:56), gave specific endtime signs by which the nearness of His second coming would be recognized—and surely He gave these signs for a purpose. Unfortunately, some prophetic writers and speakers attempt to identify details where only a broad picture is given in Scripture. Some even presume to reveal the date of the Rapture or identity of Antichrist, in spite of the fact that the Bible specifically says that no one can know the day or the hour of Christ’s return (Mt 24:36) and that Antichrist cannot be revealed before “his time” (2 Thes:2:6-9). Such attempts lead to confusion.
Further confusion is caused when some prophetic expositor tries to show that the European Union is the kingdom of Antichrist, or that God is about to destroy America for its sin, or that the Gulf War will lead into Armageddon, or that Y2K fulfills certain prophecies, etc., etc. There is a temptation for prophecy teachers to want to be the first to gain a new insight, to be “on the cutting edge” in recognizing the prophetic significance of some breaking news event, to sensationalize. Avoid novel insights. Stick to the plain language of Scripture and to the unvarnished facts.
It is a solemn matter to study God’s Word, to understand what it says (including the 30 percent that is prophecy), and to obey it. That responsibility is inescapably yours, regardless of how many conflicting opinions there are. If every person in the world disagrees with you, still you must come to your own conclusion. You are accountable to God, and when you stand before Him you stand there alone, fully responsible for your own thoughts and deeds and biblical interpretations, not for another’s.
The Bereans were commended for checking Paul out against the Scriptures and on that basis coming to their own conclusions. We must each do the same. The first principle of every cult is that a certain leader or hierarchy alone can interpret the Bible and everyone must accept what they say. A Berean attitude is the death of all cults.