Monday, April 28, 2014

The Six Benefits of Bible Prophecy

For those who love Bible prophecy there is a clear motivation to live the Christian life. It is, after all, the Holy Spirit that taught the disciples “things to come” (John 16:13) and there is a special blessing for those who read and understand prophecy (Rev. 1:3). 

 Prophecy accounts for one-third of the entire Bible. What is declared by God as prophecy is as credible and profitable as those portions of Scripture which are categorized as historical narrative. As Dr. Chafer notes, “The language is no more complex, nor is the truth any more veiled” [than historical narrative] (Lewis Sperry Chafer, Systematic Theology, vol. 4, p. 258).

 There have been six major lines of argument concerning Christian living and prophecy. These six are as follows:

Prophecy Produces Purity of Life (1 John 3:1-3; cf., Tit. 2:11-13; 1 Thes. 3:13; 5:23;; 1 Pet. 1:3-7; 2 Pet. 3:10-13). The expectation of seeing the Lord Jesus Christ at any moment produces purity in the believer.    

1 John 3:1-3 says, “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. 2 Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.  3 And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.

Before the great prophet Isaiah began his ministry, he proclaimed, “I am a man of unclean lips,” then an angel touched his lips with live coal, thus securing his lips for prophetic service to the Lord (Isa. 6:1-13). Dr. S. Lewis Johnson said, “prophecy and purity are twines and they should never be parted.”

We have a hope in His imminent return which is based on His love for us and hence results in a motivation to live a pure life; a life that clearly reflects His glory, love and purity. It is here that one finds that prophecy produces purity of life. John links the love of God to His imminent return as we live in anticipation of the return of the Lord in a Spirit filled life. This is the teaching of the parable of the faithful servant and the evil servant as the evil servant says, “My master is not coming for a long time,” as he neglects his duties; whereas, the faithful servant anticipates the master’s return at any moment and performs his duties faithfully (Luke 12:35-48).

Prophecy Produces Stability of Life (1 Cor. 15:58; cf., 2 Thes. 2:2). In the great section of Scripture describing the resurrection of the body, Paul proclaims: 

54So when this corruptible has put on in-corruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.”  55 “O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?”  56 The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law.  57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.  58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.” (1Co 15:54-58) 

The two words “steadfast” and “immovable” have to do with being “morally fixed” and “set in place.” Prophecy produces a theologically stable individual who knows where he or she is going and what is to come. Stability and faith go hand in hand. The result is an abundance of good works in their life and giving God glory.   

Prophecy Produces Comfort in Sorrow (1 Thes. 4:13-18; cf., 1 Pet. 1:7-9). Prophecy produces comfort in trials, troubles, and death. The apostle Paul wrote to the troubled Thessalonian Church:

13But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope.  14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus.  15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep.  16For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.  17 Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.  18 Therefore comfort one another with these words.  (1Thes. 4:13-18)

Prophecy is to be used to give aid to those in need. Comfort is in the Greek parakaleo, a compound of “beside,” and “to call,” meaning, “called to one’s side” to one’s aid as a legal counsel, intercessor, or advocate. Outside the legal realm, the word is used as counseling and consoling. The rapture and resurrection of the dead serve are a source of comfort for those in spiritual trouble.  

Prophecy Produces Concern For Service (2 Cor. 5:9-10; cf., John 9:4; 2 Tim. 4:1-2; 1 Pet. 5:1-4). The judgment seat of Christ is that future event when believers works will be judged by Christ whether they were done in His name for His glory. Those works that are not done with the right motivation will be thrown away and only those that are done with the right motivation will be acceptable to the Lord and rewards given. This meeting produces concern for service. The judgment seat is described by Paul in 2 Cor. 5:9-10 (cf., Rom. 14:10; 1 Cor. 3:14-15):

9Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him.  10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.  (2Co 5:9-10)

Prophecy Produces Moral and Social Responsibility (Rom. 13:11-14; cf., 1 Thes. 5:6-11). Personal responsibly differentiates the child of God and it is prophecy that provides the motivation in this short life.

11And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed.  12 The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light.  13 Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy.  14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.  (Rom 13:11-14)  

Dr. J. Vernon McGee wrote of these verses, “Are you using your time and what you possess for God? I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye yield your total personalities – all you are, all you have – to God. This is rational. This is reasonable. This is what you are supposed to be doing, Christian friend. If we really are looking for the return of Christ, it will purify our lives. ‘And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure’ (1 John 3:3)… Oh, how many believers are making every provision for the flesh but are making no provision to go into His presence. My friend, I beg you to put Christ first in your life and to get out the Word of God. This is all important.” 

Prophecy Produces Evangelism and Conversion (Acts 3:12-26; cf., Phil 4:5; Heb. 9:26-27). It is by the prophetic word that we understand the Jesus Christ is the Son of God, the Son of Man, the Son of David, and the Messiah that would die for our sins (Isa. 53). It is through prophecy that we know that the Son of God described in Psalm 2 is both the Savior and King. It is through prophecy that we understand faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen (Heb. 11:1). For 700 years before Jesus Christ came in the flesh to die as the suffering Servant, His work of the cross was prophesied (Isaiah 53; cf. Ps. 22). Prophecy is the foundation of the gospel message and not only produces evangelism and conversion, but serves to build up one’s confidence in the faith.     

12So when Peter saw it, he responded to the people: "Men of Israel, why do you marvel at this? Or why look so intently at us, as though by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk?  13 The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified His Servant Jesus, whom you delivered up and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let Him go.  14 But you denied the Holy One and the Just, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you,  15 and killed the Prince of life, whom God raised from the dead, of which we are witnesses.  16 And His name, through faith in His name, has made this man strong, whom you see and know. Yes, the faith which comes through Him has given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all.  17 Yet now, brethren, I know that you did it in ignorance, as did also your rulers.  18 But those things which God foretold by the mouth of all His prophets, that the Christ would suffer, He has thus fulfilled.  19 Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord,  20 and that He may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before,  21 whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began.  22 For Moses truly said to the fathers, `The LORD your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your brethren. Him you shall hear in all things, whatever He says to you.  23 `And it shall be that every soul who will not hear that Prophet shall be utterly destroyed from among the people.'  24 Yes, and all the prophets, from Samuel and those who follow, as many as have spoken, have also foretold these days.  25 You are sons of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying to Abraham, `And in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed.'  26 To you first, God, having raised up His Servant Jesus, sent Him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from your iniquities." (Act 3:12-1). 

It is by prophecy that the believer comes to know the faithfulness of God in His Word. It is by prophecy that His Word is validated. It is by prophecy that we know the sovereignty of God as He controls history, every moment fulfilling prophecy as He wills (Dan. 9:27; Acts 4:25-29; Phil. 1:6). And it is by prophecy that we have confidence and can rest in His message as He describes the beginning from the end. Indeed, all parts of the Bible have a sanctifying effect in anticipation of Christ’s promised return (John 17:17).