Our Lord’s solemnly warns us that we must not misinterpret prophetic truth.
Jesus gave solemn warnings in Rev.22v19,20., about the serious consequences of adding to, or taking from, His prophetic truth. He looks upon addition to, and subtraction from, prophetic truth, as serious error, not as a matter of opinion.
After reading many books on prophecy, I have come to the conclusion that our Lord’s solemn warnings about the consequences of misinterpreting His prophetic truth, have not been taken seriously. We need to remember that Paul handed over Hymenaeus and Alexander for execution for wrong doctrine on prophecy concerning the resurrection and second coming of Christ. Paul said that their wrong doctrine was blasphemy, and ate like a cancer or gangrene; their false doctrine had overthrown the faith of some Christians.
1Tim.1v18-20. 2Tim.2v15-19. James.3v1. Jesus informs us in Mt.24v48-51., that the pretribulation rapture theory will likewise overthrow the faith of some Christians; for they will look upon the seeming delay of their Lord’s coming, as a denial of the fact of His coming, and as a result backslide from the faith and join with the worldlings in persecuting and beating those who were once their brothers and sisters in Christ.
The perilous last days demand real spiritual preparation. Jesus warns us that we need to watch and pray and seek God for his spiritual armoury and a reserve of oil if we are to spiritually survive those evil times. Mt.24v44 to 25v13. Lk.18v1-8. 21v34-36. Christian leaders who teach that God’s spiritual gifts to His Church have been withdrawn, and oppose and forbid their operation in their churches, are denying to Christ’s Church the essential spiritual equipment that will enable Christians to survive the evil last days of this age.
Jesus pronounced a “woe” upon teachers who take away “the key of knowledge,” and hinder people from having an experience of God and His gifts. Luke.11v52. James.3v1. The gifts of the Spirit give us power for service and confirm the truth of the Gospel; they are the cutting edge of New Testament evangelism. Rom.15v18-21. The Holy Spirit’s devotional gifts help to sanctify Christians and build the fruit of the Spirit in them, and are a necessary and vital divine aid to communion with God. 1Cor.14v1-5,12-20,31. N.B. v4,18. Ps.68v18. God is preparing us for the great day of Christ’s coming, His gifts build “agape” love in the Church. 1Cor.14v1-5,39,40. Heb.2v4. God is pouring out His Spirit upon all mankind, just as He promised to do before the great and terrible day of our Lord’s return. Joel.2v11,28-32. Acts.2v16-21.
In Joel.2v11,31., the word for “terrible,” in “the great and terrible day of His coming,” is “yaw-ray,” which means, “to fear, to put in fear, to fill with dread.” In Acts.2v20., “yah-ray,” is translated by the Greek adjective “epiphanes,” (only here in N. T.); and means “conspicuous, manifest, or notable” and comes from the verb “epiphaino,” “to shine upon, to give light, to become visible, to appear.” “Epiphaino” is used in connection with Christ’s birth and first coming in Luke.1v79., and of Christ’s coming to save us in Titus.2v11. and 3v4.. The noun “epiphaneia,” “a shining forth,” was used by the Greeks of the appearance of a god; it occurs six times in the New Testament, once concerning Christ’s first coming in 2Tim.1v10.; and with Christ’s second coming in 2Thes.2v8. 1Tim.6v14. 2Tim.4v1,8. and Titus.2v13..
Jesus has visited us and shone upon us in his triumphant redeeming humanity. As God the Word He will shine upon this world in the full glory and power of His majestic deity, and, with fierce righteous anger and justice, will cleanse creation of evil men and angels.
Is.25v6-9.34v1-8. 42v13-17. 63v1-6. 66v16. 2Thes.1v7-10. Rev.19v11 to 20v3.6. His second advent will be truly awesome and will produce overwhelming fear among worldly people. Jesus said men will swoon and be lifeless through fear, and will hide themselves in the dens and rocks of the mountains, and cry for the mountains and rocks to fall on them and hide them from God the Father’s face and the wrath of the Lamb. Lk.21v26. Rev.6v15-17.
Paul warns us that this will be an awesome day even for Christians, for this is the day when the exam results of our lives are made known. Paul speaks in 2Cor.5v11., of “the fear of the Lord,” as the motivating force for godly living in the light of that great day; he tells us how he laboured and acted from honour to be well pleasing to Christ at His judgement throne. 1Cor.1v8. 3v10-17. 2Cor.1v14. 5v9-11. Phil.1v10. 2v13,14. 1Thes.5v2. This will be a truly blessed day for Christians who are walking with the Lord and love His appearing. 2Tim.4v8. Titus.2v13. Abiding in Jesus saves us from shame at His second coming. 1Jn.2v28.
It was to be expected that the blessed hope of Christ’s glorious return would be a subject of controversy among God’s people, for prophecy has always resulted in controversy. Indeed, the Old Testament prophets were so controversial that most of them died for their prophecies.
Do we stop preaching or discussing the truth of Christ’s second coming because it is controversial? Of course not! All-important truth is controversial. On many occasions God the Father and Christ spoke strongly to God’s people, and the false prophets among His people. Mt.23v13-39. Mk.3v5. In this study I have used strong words where I felt that I should do so. I have not done this because I enjoy controversy, but so that those who read this study may be informed and challenged to think about Christ’s second coming.
I am concerned that Christians should be brought back to study the Scriptures, instead of accepting man-made theories without question. In Acts.17v10,11. the Bereans were called noble-minded when they received Paul’s doctrine with all eagerness of mind; and continually, carefully and exactly searched the Scriptures to see if what Paul taught was true. “Searched” is “anakrinontes,” the present participle of “anakrino,” “to examine, to sift, to make careful and exact research as in legal processes.” Let us imitate them.