Finding Balance in the Practice of Prophetic Study – S. Douglas Woodward

The prophetic scenario for the last days is generally built around several key issues.  Certainly, one of those issues is whether Bible prophecy comprises predictions concerning future events or simply proclamations illustrating spiritual truths.

In some cases, the former sends us into unwarranted speculation while the latter may drive us into contemplative introspection, sometimes bordering on being self-absorbed. We must find a balance. The passionate inwardness that Kierkegaard identified as true faith must be balanced with the doing of social good as an expression of works of faith extolled by James. (James 2:20)

Allow me at this point to say that an authentic Christianity demands we heed both admonitions. If we deny future fulfillment of events portrayed in the Bible, our attentiveness to holy living could be curtailed. “And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself even as He is pure.” (1 John 3:3) However, if we commit to extensive conversations about future events and what the Bible has to say about them, our spiritual experience could suffer just as much when it comes to living out the commandments of Christ – daily – by failing to model the Kingdom of God through conducting our lives as if we did not know Christ.

No doubt: devotion to Christ should translate to a sincere contemplative piety. But it should also guard against overly self-indulgent spiritual disciplines in order that we do not forsake the local community of brethren and, more broadly, the needs of others.  We must love God and love one another.  “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another as I have loved you.” (John 13:34) Jesus never taught that He would judge our commitment to Him based upon how well we have worked out the sequence of future events. Moreover, He instructed his followers to care for others not just prepare (i.e., “prep”) for cataclysmic events. Indeed, I have often wondered whether “prepping” could actually be justified given it betrays anxiety about tomorrow. “So, do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6:34).

Still, as with any theological topic, we best, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15) Hence, in the final analysis, understanding Bible Prophecy is a worthy endeavor for several reasons: first, that we may be inspired by witnessing the fulfillment of prophecy – judging that the Word of God has been made surer;[secondly, encourage others in the faith; and thirdly, guard against false teachings that might lead less knowledgeable brothers and sisters astray.

The late Dave Hunt, in his book, The Woman Rides the Beast, offered this confirmation of the importance of Bible Prophecy to solidify beliefs and in some cases lead to saving faith:

There are many important reasons for Bible prophecy. First of all, prophecy fulfilled provides irrefutable proof for the existence of the very God who inspired the prophets. By foretelling major events of world history centuries and even thousands of years before they happen, the God of the Bible proves that He is the only true God, the Creator of the universe and mankind, the Lord of history and that the Bible is His infallible Word given to communicate His purposes and way of salvation to all who will believe. Here is a proof so simple that a child can understand it, yet so profound that the greatest genius cannot refute it.[1]

Peter testifies succinctly, “We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts.” (2 Peter 1:19)

Of course, that “day star” (the “bright and morning star”) is Christ Jesus Himself:  “I, Jesus, have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star.” (Revelation 22:16)

The Spirit of prophecy is the testimony of Jesus. If our study of prophetic themes does not lead us into a closer walk with Him, we must question why we are study prophecy in the first place. At this, I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, “Don’t do that! I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers and sisters who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For it is the Spirit of prophecy who bears testimony to Jesus.” (Revelation 19:10)

 


[1] Dave Hunt. A Woman Rides the Beast: The Roman Catholic Church and the Last Days (Kindle Locations 147-149). Kindle Edition.

This post originally appeared on Doug’s site on February 19, 2018 here – http://faith-happens.com/finding-balance-in-the-practice-of-prophetic-study/
Re-posted with permission.

The Theological Basis For Why Israel Should Matter To Christians – S. Douglas Woodward

Anti-Semitism Arises Once Again – What is the Biblical Basis to Oppose it?

It’s quite unusual to find a Christian author or teacher that favors Israel who isn’t also a dispensationalist.  And it is difficult to find a dispensationalist who isn’t also a Christian Zionist.  Nevertheless, in Gerald McDermott, we have an Anglican theologian, Israel scholar, and author who is not dispensational, but who advocates for Jews everywhere, especially those living in the present state of Israel.  McDermott has written extensively on the subject of why Israel should be valued by Christians rather than repudiated for their historical rejection of Jesus as the Messiah. Given the intensifying controversy surrounding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the growing disapproval of the Israeli government by many Christian groups, a timely analysis of the situation appears most warranted.

In this article, I begin by pointing out while McDermott’s advocacy of Israel is welcomed and proceeds from an eschatological basis, his rationale owes as much to “Christian guilt” over our historical treatment of the Jews, as it does to truly biblical commitments for why Israel should matter to Christians.  To be more specific, his theological basis dismisses the dispensational hermeneutic, seeing Dispensationalism as a birthplace for wild prophetic speculation and fundamentalist dogma. McDermott offers an alternative basis for favoring Israel. His viewpoint is gaining traction and thus, it is worthy of consideration. My goal in penning this piece affords only a short analysis of his perspective, it is a relevant way to begin when considering the conventional basis for supporting Israel, commonly identified as Dispensationalism.  Additionally, while affirming Zionism (limited in its proper meaning here, advocating solely for Israel’s right to exist in its historic Middle Eastern land), I will provide a counter-argument to McDermott’s point of view, which comprises my main reason for writing; that is, asserting that Dispensationalism is a respectable, historical, and indeed, the strongest hermeneutic for why Christians should care about Israel.  Obviously, one could write an entire book on the subject.  This I hope to do in the months ahead.  Here I will provide what amounts to no more than a prolog.

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