Saturday, June 22, 2024
Saturday, June 22, 2024
HomeAll The NewsSTAND FIRM: End Time Views Aren't a Pizza Buffett

STAND FIRM: End Time Views Aren’t a Pizza Buffett

It’s a new year, and it’s fascinating to look at the world through the lens of the whole story of Scripture and wonder what could happen this year. I was tempted to say, “through the lens of Bible prophecy,” but we can’t take Bible prophecy out of the narrative of Scripture. As much as I have argued that Bible prophecy is ignored or marginalized in most modern churches, in that same vein, it shouldn’t be singled out and overemphasized either. It’s curious, though, what might break prophetically. 

Along with thinking about prophecy that might be fulfilled this year, I also realized that these articles have really come mid-conversation. I picked up talking about details of prophecy and application from prophetic Scriptures but skipped over the basic events in Bible prophecy. So, how about we start the conversation over? Let’s make sure we have a biblical foundation. We can’t begin to look at current events and not have that solid biblical footing.

I’m nervous to move in this direction, because to talk about Biblical positions and views of the end times is dangerous ground. We all have differing views. We all have trusted teachers who have differing views. We all can likely point to Scripture to back up our views. I’m wading into dangerous territory, but before you blow up Jeff’s email would you make a deal with me? Would you put preconceived views and ideas aside and look at Scripture and let it speak to you plainly? I really believe the reason we have such a debate of views is that we have run with what we’ve read in books or just what someone says rather than going to the Bible first. I know that’s the case for me. I did that.

My first taste of end times prophecy was watching the movie A Thief in the Night one night in youth group. At that time, I didn’t realize there were different end time views, but it didn’t take long when I began at CBC to be exposed to them. One of my first research projects was, “Where are the Dead?” This led me to understand there are tons of different views.

One of my first theology classes presented the main views of the end times, and right there, as a freshman at CBC, I selected the end time view I would have. I’m not sure what I even based it on. I really believe I went with whichever one sounded the best to me. We can say that’s no big deal, because I had to pick something, right? But, even during that freshman year, I was filling pulpits and speaking at youth events. At the end of that year, I took my official position as a youth pastor. Though I may not have been preaching through the book of Revelation, the end time view I had shaped everything I preached, and especially my invitations.

I hadn’t selected my end time view after reading much of Bible prophecy for myself at all. I just picked something, then read Scripture with that view in mind. It’s as if I went to a gas station sunglass rack and picked out a pair of Bible prophecy glasses that I wore every time I read a prophecy passage, therefore I only read what I had already decided on beforehand.

You can see the danger in this, but that is what happens most of the time with Bible prophecy. I really doubt I’m the only one that has done this. Our view isn’t a private matter either, for our understanding of the entirety of Scripture and the age to come is at stake.

Even as I began to learn there were different views of Bible prophecy as I continued at CBC and later in seminary, I continued to just go with whatever view sounded the best. I treated the selection of an end time view as if I was selecting a slice of pizza off a pizza buffet. I’d just pick whatever view I wanted, seriously! At times, these may have been semi-educated pizza slice selections because they were usually based off the book I was reading at that time or the professor teaching the class I was currently attending, but notice I wasn’t making the selection based off my own reading of Scripture.

I have counted seven distinct views I accepted along my journey. The whole time I kept basing my view off what sounded the best, what my current professor was teaching or the book I was reading at the moment. Again, I hadn’t dove in to read it for myself. 

Then something happened. I began to no longer view an end time view as a freewill selection on the End Times View Pizza Buffet. My last semester of seminary I needed any type of credit and the only class available was Theological Interpretation of the Bible. I’m still not even sure how to define that interpretative view today, but, throughout that class, my eyes were opened to letting Scripture interpret Scripture. It sounds silly to me now to say that was ground-breaking, but it was.

That moment was just the beginning of a journey that is still going. I am constantly finding views I hold simply because I preferred them. There are some views I feel Scripture has validated for me and others that are a work in process.

Interpreting Scripture with Scripture first and growing in a devotion to biblical authority caused me to not select any interpretative view that wasn’t driven from the biblical text first. This understanding led to me wiping the slate clean of how I viewed Bible prophecy. I simply read it.

One of the issues I have found is that we don’t even know there are different views, so over the next few articles I want to not share my view, but to just lay out the different views and hopefully challenge you to dive into reading the Word itself. 

I hope you can see from my journey that it is important to evaluate your own view and its formation. It’s also okay to realize you have been wrong. I have had to apologize to congregations I have pastored. I may still have to again. We should all be on a journey of rightly dividing through the Word, and to do so we have to read it ourselves.

Jake is the newest state missionary and would love to share about the work in Northwest Arkansas and encourage your church to stand firm. (standfirmministries.com)

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