Exposing Heretical Teaching That Rejects Studying Bible Prophecy
Exposing Heretical Teaching
That Rejects Studying Bible Prophecy
By R.A. Coombes
Author of “America, The Babylon” Vols 1 & 2
We are certainly living during an amazing time in Church history.
The modern church, particularly, the “Evangelical/Fundamentalist” Church in America, has embarked on a course of ignorance concerning Biblical Prophecy. Thanks in part to “church leaders” such as Rick Warren, the “Purpose Driven” book author, many American churches have become “purpose driven” in the mold that Rick Warren recommends.
One of Rick Warren’s recommendations is for “purpose driven” churches to forget about teaching the basic tenets of Bible Prophecy. In Warren’s book, “The Purpose Driven Life” on pages 285 and 286 Warren implies that an interest in Bible Prophecy and “end times” events are a distraction from living the Christian life and a distraction from evangelism. Here is the pertinent excerpt:
“God’s timetable for history’s conclusion is not connected to the completion of our commission.
“Today there’s a growing interest in the second coming of Christ and the end of the world. When will it happen? Just before Jesus ascended to heaven the disciples asked him the same question, and his response was quite revealing.
“He said, “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
“When the disciples wanted to talk about prophecy, Jesus quickly switched the conversation to evangelism. He wanted them to concentrate on their mission to the world. He said in essence, “The details of my return are none of your business. What is your business is the mission I have given you. Focus on that!”
“Speculating on the exact timing of Christ’s return is futile, because Jesus said, “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” Since Jesus said he didn’t know the day or hour, why should you try to figure it out” What we do know for sure is this: Jesus will not return until everyone God wants to hear the Good New has heard it. Jesus said, “The Good News about God’s kingdom will be preached in all the world, to every nation. Then the end will come.” If you want Jesus to come back sooner, focus on fulfilling your mission, not figuring out prophecy.
“It is easy to get distracted and sidetracked from your mission because Satan would rather have you do anything besides sharing your faith. He will let you do all kinds of good things as long as you don’t take anyone to heaven with you. But the moment you become serious about your mission, expect the Devil to throw all kinds of diversions at you. When that happens, remember the words of Jesus: “Anyone who lets himself be distracted from the work I plan for him is not fit for the Kingdom of God.”
Rick Warren’s reference to Acts 1:7 where Jesus tells his disciples, “It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power” is a misinterpretation of Christ’s statement. Jesus merely tells them that it is not for them- specifically to know the “when” of prophetic fulfillment. Indeed, at least 1980 years or so would elapse.
Warren then makes a false statement. He states:
“When the disciples wanted to talk about prophecy, Jesus quickly switched the conversation to evangelism.”
Excuse me? In the last week of Christ’s ministry, before His crucifixion, the disciples asked Jesus about His Return. The Lord then launches into a lengthy explanation which covers all of Matthew chapters 24 and also chapter 25. Warren is very disingenuous to imply Christ’s response was “quickly” – wouldn’t you agree? I mean 2 full chapters is not a quick answer. What’s more, Chapter 25 provides teaching parables indicating that believers need to be on “watch” for His return, but I’m getting ahead of my argument against Warren.
When Warren continues his argument:
“He said in essence, “The details of my return are none of your business.”
Really, Mr. Warren? Did Jesus actually say that? I don’t see that in my Bible. You are giving an interpretation and extenuating an opinion that is not justified by the text itself.
If your interpretation was the case, why did Jesus spend 2 full chapters explaining to His disciples pertinent descriptions of future events? He answered their questions in detail concerning His Return. RickWarren is simply showing us his own inability to carefully and properly interpret God’s Words. He plays fast and loose with interpretations that are invalid.
The Olivet Discourse of Jesus
We should note that Jesus’ discourse in Matthew 24 and 25 is often referred to as “The Olivet Discourse” as it occurred on Mount Olivet or the Mount of Olives. It was indeed a “discourse” and not merely a quick answer. Furthermore, the entire discourse started with a prophecy given by Jesus, Himself. The disciples did not bring up the subject of prophecy. The disciples merely asked a follow-up question, to which our Lord provided an expanded and lengthy explanation.
Warren then flips to another statement by Jesus and twists Christ’s words once again.
“Speculating on the exact timing of Christ’s return is futile, because Jesus said, “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” Since Jesus said he didn’t know the day or hour, why should you try to figure it out”
Warren cites Matthew 24:36. This verse immediately follows verses 32-35 in which Jesus presents the disciples with information about the times and the seasons. Most specifically the season of summer when the parable of the fig leaf is given – indicating the rebirth of Israel would occur before His Second Coming. It is a part of the “times and seasons” and Jesus outlined this to His disciples and then stated that no one but the Father was privileged to know the exact day or hour of his Return. Even so, we are to know and recognize the “season” which precedes His Return. By also relating all the events just before His Return we are indeed to “know” the times and the seasons, as they unfold in that time frame.
There are some scholars who believe that verse 36 is a reference to Rosh Hashanah, a 2 day feast for which some theorize He will return, and thus the idea of not knowing the day or the hour is a subtle reference to that feast. Whether or not this is valid, remains to be seen, but most specifically the verse indicates we do not know which day or what hour, but we are to know the times and seasons. How so?
By understanding the original Greek grammar, we can recognize that Jesus issued a series of commands known in grammatical terms as: “The Imperative Mood of Command.”
He did this in a passage often referred to as “The Olivet Discourse.” This passage is found in all three of the Synoptic Gospels. The primary passage is in Matthew, chapters 24 and 25. Mark also presents an abbreviated version in chapter 13 and Luke also presents an abbreviated version in Luke, chapter 21.
When we compare and merge all three accounts together, and then look at the original Greek text for the grammatical forms of “Imperative Mood” in the component verbs, we find that our Lord gives to the Universal Church 10 Commands that transcend time and apply to all believers from the very start of the Church Age until His Return for the Church. When we examine these 10 commands, we’ll find that the commands of Jesus Christ thoroughly contradict the statements of Rick Warren and other mega-church pastors in the “Emergent Church” movement.
Jesus’ 10 Commands on Bible Prophecy
From the Olivet Discourse
#1. – “See to it – that you do not err” = Matt 24:4; Mk 13:5; Lk 21:8
#2. – “See to it – that you are not disturbed/scared = Matt 24:6; Mk 13:9; Lk 21:9
#3. – “Don’t be terrified = Mk 13:11 & Lk 21:14
#4. – “Look up – Stand erect” = Luke 21:28
#5. – “Learn (the Parable of the Fig tree) = Matt24:32; Mk 13:28
Know that summer is near” = Matt24:32; Mk 13:29; Lk 21:31
#6. – “WATCH” (be awake/alert) = Matt24:42; Mk 13:33; Lk 21:36
#7. – “Watch” = Mark 13:35
#8. – “WATCH = Mark 13:37
#9. – “BUT KNOW THIS …” = Matt 24:43
10. – “YOU BE READY …” = Matt 24: 44
Now take a good look again at each of those commands. Compare them to Rick Warren’s statements about not paying attention to events around us. Compare them to Rick Warren’s statements about the irrelevance of the need to know and study Bible Prophecy.
I don’t know about you, but I find that there is a sharp, contrasting difference between the commands our Lord gave us and the admonitions given by Rick Warren. In fact, Warren’s admonitions are totally contrary to Christ’s commands.
What Did Jesus Really Tell Us?
Jesus explicitly tells us to not be in error concerning Bible Prophecy. We are to explicitly learn and know the parable of the fig tree.
Jesus tells us three times to WATCH and tells us to KNOW and then commands us to BE READY.
Now, how can you not be in error about Bible Prophecy if you don’t know it? In point of fact, if you don’t know Bible Prophecy, you will likely be in error.
Jesus commands us at point-blank to Learn and KNOW Bible Prophecy particularly the parable of the fig tree. Then three times we are told to be alert and on Watch. Then again we’re told to “know” and finally – we are to BE READY.
Our Lord’s use of the Imperative Mood in His Olivet Discourse directly contradicts Rick Warren’s teaching and admonitions where tries to teach Christians that Jesus does not want Christians to study Bible Prophecy or be watching for His Coming.
Now for those who would defend Rick Warren’s remarks and perhaps try to say that Warren’s remarks should apply to the book of Revelation, allow me to point out that Revelation chapter 1 and verse 3 tells us that those who read and hear and remember the words of John’s Revelation will be “blessed.” If we were to follow Warren’s admonition we would be deprived of the blessing given in reading and remembering the book of Revelation give to John by the Lord Jesus Christ, Himself.
The Danger of Rick Warren’s Views On Prophecy
Rick Warren’s admonitions against teaching or paying any attention to world events and their possible prophetic implications, is not merely disobedience against the commands of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is a rejection of the Holy Spirit’s commands given through the Apostle Paul and the Apostle Peter.
In 2 nd Timothy, 2:15 we are told to “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of Truth.”
Now why does Paul mention this? In the next chapter of Paul’s letter to Timothy Paul states:
“This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.”
Paul then talks about false teachers, in the last days and their impact. Paul concludes in Chapter 3 with verses 16 and 17 with this following statement:
“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
“That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.
Paul tells us that “ALL” Scripture – including Bible Prophecy is given to us by God and that it is “profitable” in 4 different ways, so that we may be thoroughly “stabilized” and able to do good things. This statement is also a promise and it certainly applies to Bible Prophecy, which after all, encompasses nearly two-thirds of the Bible.
What’s more is the Apostle Peter’s admonition concerning prophecy. In Peter’s second epistle and chapter 1, verses 15 and 19-21, Peter tells us that Bible Prophecy is critically important:
“Moreover I will endeavour that ye may be able after my decease to have these things always in remembrance. …
“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:
“Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.
“For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.”
Peter then continues in the rest of his epistle to tell us that false teachers and false prophets will come and thus it is critically important for Christians to know ALL of scripture including prophecy. In fact, Peter tells us that we have a more sure word of prophecy.
In chapter 3, Peter then relates his admonition to “the last days” when he says in verses 2 through 5
“That ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour:
“Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts,
“And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.
“For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water:”
Peter then tells us a brief synopsis of what is to come and then he says in verses 11-14
“Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness,
“Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?
“Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.
“Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless.
Then again in verse 17 and 18 he ends his epistle with the following conclusion:
“Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness.
“But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.
So, the Apostle Peter warns us about men like Rick Warren. Warren ‘s response to the scoffers who ask “Where is the promise of His Coming” is to have Christians hide their heads in the sand and ignore Bible Prophecy to avoid the issue of the promise of His Coming.
Yet, perhaps the most telling danger of Rick Warren’s admonition against knowing and studying Bible Prophecy and being on “watch” for His return is Paul’s prophecy concerning the coming “Apostasy.” In Paul’s second epistle to the Thessalonians, chapter 2 and verses 1 through 3 he states:
1Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him,
2That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.
3Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;
Paul notes that before Christ’s return, there will come a “falling away.” In the original Greek text, there is one single Greek word – “apostasia” or “apostasy which the translators translated as “falling away.”
Now, that term indicates an abandonment of God’s truth or God’s Word. This must come before the “man of sin” (Antichrist) is revealed. So an abandonment of God’s Word must take place before the Antichrist arrives on the scene.
Question: Is there any better way to have an abandonment of God’s truth than for the Church to stop teaching Bible Prophecy and to quit being on watch for His Coming?
Rick Warren’s admonition, if followed by all Christians, would leave Christians ignorant of what is to come and in doing so; open the door for fulfilling the prophecy given through Paul concerning the Apostasy or “falling away.”
There is a reason God gave us all of the prophetic scriptures. It is so that in knowing what is to come, we as believers would NOT fall into the great apostasy. Yet Rick Warren’s admonitions against learning and studying Bible Prophecy and being watching for His return, plays right into Satan’s hand.
Now in light of this, can you see why Rick Warren’s admonitions are so deeply dangerous? Is it any wonder that our Lord Jesus Christ used the Imperative Mood of Command in 10 different instances commanding us to learn and know prophecy and to be on guard and watchful?
Learning and Knowing Bible Prophecy is NOT an option. We are commanded to Learn, know and understand Bible Prophecy and what’s more – to be watchful and on guard for His return. Rick Warren’s teaching is therefore contrary to the words of Jesus and the Holy Spirit.
In conclusion, what can we say? We can safely conclude that Rick Warren’s negative remarks about learning, knowing about Bible Prophecy and being on alert for His Return is at best heretical, if not an abominable blasphemy. We should also ask ourselves, what other false teachings is Rick Warren promoting?