What the Bible says about the Antichrist

What does Scripture say about this figure? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

My wife and I have been reading 1 John at night lately. She’s a futurist, though not one who believes in a rapture, and I’m an orthodox Preterist. We don’t really debate it at all. If she comes to Preterism, I want it to be because she studied the Scripture and not because I pressured her. Anyway, reading the Johannine epistles leads to talk about the antichrist at times.

So what do the epistles say about this figure?

Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour. 1 John 2:18

Something to note is that it says antichrist is coming and not THE antichrist is coming. That might seem like a small distinction, but it is still something. There is no speaking of one figure in all of this as the antichrist. In fact, many have come and because they are here, we know it is the last hour. John says this twice. He doesn’t want you to miss it. The last hour is here now because many antichrists have come.

Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son. 1 John 2:22

At this point, we do have the antichrist, but what does it say about the antichrist? The antichrist is he who denies the Father and the Son. In other words, anyone who denies Jesus is the Christ is the antichrist. This fits in with what Jesus said. You are either for Him or against Him. You are either pro-Christ or antichrist. There is no middle ground.

and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already. 1 John 4:3

And now antichrist is referred to as a spirit. The antichrist spirit is the spirit that does not confess that Jesus is from God. Note also that once again, this is in the world already. That which is opposed to Christ is already lined up in opposition against Him.

For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. Such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist. 2 John 1:7

And here we have more of the same. Anyone who denies that Jesus Christ came in the flesh is the antichrist and deceiver. This would be the way to see the Gnostic and docetic heresies of the time that denied the bodily incarnation of Jesus.

But I know some already have objections.

What about the beast in the book of Revelation?! What about the Man of Lawlessness in 2 Thessalonians 2? What about Daniel 9:24-27? What about the abomination that causes desolation?

Good questions. Here’s why we don’t look at those.

Nowhere are these figures described as “The antichrist.” Now they could possibly be a figure known as the antichrist, but someone who thinks that needs to show it. You don’t just jump over to 2 Thess. 2 and assume this is the same figure talked about in the Johannine epistles. If you think it is, then you need to demonstrate that.

Ultimately, something that bothers me so much about people caught up in end times paranoia is that they spend so much time focusing on the antichrist that they seem to lose sight of Christ. Too many are so busy trying to figure out who the antichrist is that they don’t take the time to think about who Jesus is. What the Bible says about who Jesus is blows out of the water anything said about who the antichrist is. Which one should our focus be?

Which one is your focus?

In Christ,
Nick Peters

What Is Orthodox Preterism?

What is the position I hold on end times? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Lately, I’ve found myself in some discussions about end times matters. This is a topic I generally do enjoy discussing. I find myself increasingly concerned with what I call the rapture brigade, the people who read end times into every event out there and everything is a sign that Jesus is coming. There is never any repentance on the part of the people who do this and they are still heralded as prophecy experts no matter how many times they’re wrong.

My view is known as orthodox Preterism. So what is it? A lot of people don’t really know what it is and end up going after a number of straw men. I find in defending my view I have to spend more time answering false misconceptions of it. So let’s answer some common questions.

Question – Do you believe everything was fulfilled in 70 A.D.?

Absolutely not! That is a position that is often known as full Preterism or true Preterism or often the people who hold it just refer to it as simply Preterism. My position by contrast to them is known as partial Preterism. I do not accept that label for reasons I will give soon.

I consider this view heretical actually. Why? Because if our resurrection is only spiritual and our resurrection is to be like Jesus’s, then Jesus must have a spiritual resurrection, which denies the bodily resurrection. I prefer to call this position Neohymenaeanism.

Question – Why call yourself an orthodox Preterist then?

Orthodox has nothing to do with the Eastern Orthodox church or any other branch of the Orthodox Church. I do not know what position they hold in eschatology. (Study of end times.) It is orthodox because it holds to all the essentials of the Christian faith. I do not go by the term partial Preterist because that would be like saying I am a partial heretic.

Question – What remains to be fulfilled?

I anticipate the Gospel will spread like the mustard seed or the yeast in the dough as Jesus prophesied in Matthew 13. That will end with the bodily return of Christ and the bodily resurrection from the dead. We will then have the judgment followed by the marriage of Heaven and Earth where God will dwell with His people.

Question – So what about Jesus’s coming?

Jesus’s coming and His return are often confused. In Matthew 24 and the parallel passages, it refers not to the resurrection, which is NOWHERE mentioned in any of these passages, but refers to His coming to His throne. The sign that He is on the throne will be His enemies are judged. His enemies then were His contemporaries. They were not some far off distant generation. A number of times in Matthew’s Gospel, Matthew uses the term “this generation.” Every other time it means Jesus’s own contemporaries. So it is with the final usage. It’s the ultimate one.

Question – What about the third temple?

It’s not happening. Every time in the New Testament when a prophecy is made concerning the temple, there’s no reason to think that it refers to a future third temple. It would be the temple that the audience at the time knew of. Where the temple would be is where the Dome of the Rock is now. Good luck with that project.

Question – What about Israel?

I support Israel not because of theology, but because they’re our allies against Islam. If Israel is a righteous nation, then we are fine. If they are not, then we are not.

Question – What about the Antichrist?

Four passages in the New Testament speak about the antichrist. All of them are in the Johannine epistles.

1 John 2:18 Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour.

1 John 2:22 Who is a liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist who denies the Father and the Son.

1 John 4:3 and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world.

2 John 1:7 For many deceivers have gone out into the world who do not confess Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist.

Now somehow from these four verses, a lot is extrapolated about some major end-times figure who will be a political and military mastermind and everything else out there.

Question – But what about figures like the Beast and the Man of Lawlessness?

It is often thought that these must be the antichrist, but an argument must be made for this and not an assumption. Someone needs to demonstrate how it is they arrive at this conclusion. Let’s also suppose for now that I was uncertain about the identity of these two. (I am much more sure about the Beast than I am the Man of Lawlessness.) It does not follow that that means either one is the antichrist. You must make your own position for that.

Question – But aren’t you avoiding a literal interpretation?

It is amazing to me how hung up American Christians are at the idea of literalism, which always means literal to a modern Western American audience. Where does this rule come from? The Bible is a rich work of literature that includes metaphor, hyperbole, simile, allegory, symbolism, etc. It is not a wooden text meant to be read always in a straightforward matter. Does this require work to know how to read it properly? Yes.

Question – Do you think Israel has replaced the church?

I find it odd to say that I am a replacement theologian. How could I be? God has one covenant that He honors and one people. With Israel in the Old Testament, there was always a remnant there that was true Israel. These are the same ones that recognized Jesus as the Messiah. With ministry in Acts, Israel is expanded to include Gentiles. There is still one olive tree. God did not chop down the tree of Israel and plant a new tree of Gentiles.

On the other hand, if you do hold that God is dealing with the church in this age and will return to Israel in the end, well gues what. Right now, the church has replaced Israel as God’s focus. That is the real replacement theology. I don’t hold to it. I hold to an expansion theology. God has expanded His grace ever more to include Jews and Gentiles both in one tree together.

Question – What about people making predictions today?

We should hold them accountable. If you make a statement about when the Bible says Jesus is returning and you get it wrong, you need to repent. It is a shame that even pastors are doing this, being consistently wrong, and still allowed to stay in the pulpit. (I’m thinking especially about someone like John Hagee.) We would want a pastor removed who had an affair. How about one who mishandles Scripture in a way that embarrasses the church?

Question – What about the rapture?

I don’t hold to it. I hold to the resurrection. I see no way to fit it into the text and be consistent. It’s a very very late reading of Scripture.

Question – What about the millennium?

It’s amazing that we have three verses of Scripture in Revelation that receive all the attention. I’m somewhere between a post and an amillenialist. I think we’re in it right now as Jesus is reigning on His throne now and the more the Gospel spreads, we will get closer and closer to His bodily return.

Question – Do you have a problem with futurists?

Absolutely not! I’m married to one! I love my futurist friends. Instead, I have a big problem with the whole system. I don’t think that it holds to a consistent hermeneutic of Scripture.

Question – Where can I learn more?

Gary Demar at American Vision has some good material on this including his book Last Days Madness. J.P. Holding has a great section at Tektonics.org. Brian Godawa has some great material at Godawa.com on end times as well. The late R.C. Sproul held to this view and Hank Hanegraaff of the Christian Research Institute does as well.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

 

Deeper Waters Podcast 12/9/2017: Brian Godawa

What’s coming up? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I don’t really get into a lot of secondary issues in Christianity, but eschatology is one exception. I find myself increasingly embarrassed by what a friend of mine and I call the Rapture Brigade which wishes to interpret everything as some sign that the end is here. Since Trump has made an announcement about Jerusalem being the capital of Israel, I am sure they are going to be going full throttle now.

The belief is one I abandoned years ago because I saw no Biblical support for it and eventually, I found my place in orthodox Preterism. It is the view that makes the most sense by far. It also then gives me delight when an atheist likes to tell me that Jesus got wrong the time of His return in Matthew 24.

I saw that Brian Godawa has also come to orthodox Preterism and not only has he come to it, he’s written a fictional series on the matter. The series is meant to teach orthodox Preterism and provide an entertaining read. So far, it has done a good job of both and it does have a number of notes on the claims in it. I’m not sold on the Watcher theory in there yet, but orthodox Preterism does not depend on that either.

Brian Godawa was on to discuss the first book in the series. Now he’s on to discuss this second. This is the one that tells of the beginning of the Roman destruction of Jerusalem and includes the Essene community in it as well. So who is Brian Godawa?

Brian Godawa is an award-winning Hollywood screenwriter (To End All Wars), a controversial movie and culture blogger (www.Godawa.com), an internationally known teacher on faith, worldviews and storytelling (Hollywood Worldviews), an Amazon best-selling author of Biblical fiction (Chronicles of the Nephilim), and provocative theology (God Against the gods). His obsession with God, movies and worldviews, results in theological storytelling that blows your mind while inspiring your soul. And he’s not exaggerating.

What really began the War of the Jews? Could there have really been a fulfillment of Bible prophecy nearly 2,000 years ago? If this was a war against the Jewish people at the time, does that equate to for all time? Does that then lead to a charge of anti-Semitism?

Why is it also that so many Christians don’t know about these kinds of events? When we have the Rapture Brigade telling the rest of the world that events are happening and that Jesus is going to return soon or on a specific date, are we opening ourselves up to charges of embarrassment? How did early Christians handle what was happening to Jerusalem? How did the Essene community interact with Israel?

I hope you’ll be watching for the next episode of the Deeper Waters Podcast. Eschatology is a favorite topic of mine to discuss and I think it is of great importance for the church and our witness today. Please also go on iTunes and leave a positive review of the Deeper Waters Podcast.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Remnant: Rescue of the Elect

What do I think of Book Two In Brian Godawa’s Chronicles of the Apocalypse Series? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Remnant is the second in the series continuing on the story of Tyrant: Rise of the Beast. The book works to explain the orthodox Preterist viewpoint in a novel form. This time, much of the intrigue is centered on Jerusalem and what is happening there as the main character try to get the Christians in Jerusalem to flee.

While there are characters that are certainly historically real, like Agrippa and Josephus, there are many who are fictional, which works just fine. There are also plenty of footnotes that show the historical sources for what is claimed. Again, this one also has the Watchers, demonic beings that act as the gods of the other countries, fighting against the angelic beings, although there really isn’t much of anything along the lines of Frank Peretti with his books of spiritual warfare.

Book one does need to be read first or else one won’t really understand what is going on. This book has the drama going on of trying to get Christians in Jerusalem to escape and uses that to also explain Johannine authorship of the book of Revelation and questions about the temple. The Essenes also make an appearance here.

There is drama as well between the characters, such as the arc of a love triangle taking place. As can be expected, there is much that cannot be said here due to the problem of spoilers. Still, much of what happened did relate especially to the way that I see many guys approaching romance and since this is the case of men that are single, I can certainly say it brought back my own thinking of what it was like.

There is some looking at what is going on in Rome. Nero has returned of course, but also there is a greater focus on Vespasian and Titus and then Domitian makes his appearance. Much is still left undone at the end of this book, which makes sense since there is another one coming.

As for the Watchers like I mentioned, you will see Allah show up this time which I’m sure would be odd to a Muslim audience, though I cannot anticipate them reading this. It’s still interesting to see a future religion showing up. Obviously, Allah will have to be active at the end of the series to some extent.

Still, while this was a good series, I didn’t find myself as intrigued as I was with the first book. I’m not really sure why. I wonder if it could be there didn’t seem to be as much of a clear villain here as Nero wasn’t as active as he was in the first one and no one else really seemed to be a main villain for this book, though Florus comes close. Apollyon also wasn’t as conniving it seemed in this one as he was in the first.

Still, it’s good to see the Preterist viewpoint being presented in this way. We need Christian writers who can write stories and stories that also don’t force the Gospel down one’s throat. Godawa also uses this volume to wrestle with questions of war and pacifism which are good for discussion. Hopefully we’ll see more Christians with vivid imaginations doing the same.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Your Dreams Are Not Authoritative

What should you pay attention to? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Just today, my wife pointed out to me a post in a Facebook group we belong to that someone made about being scared of end times predictions. Unfortunately, this happens all too often. In the crazy world of the internet, you have people making all kinds of predictions and getting an audience. If there’s any source that people point to, it’s dreams and experiences.

When my wife and I sit down to watch one of these just to see how bad they are, we inevitably hear the person talk about a dream that they had or an experience that they had. The problem with this is that you have no way of knowing that this comes directly from God. Instead, it is given the same divine authority that one would give to the Bible. That sets up a dangerous precedent.

It’s possible that the dream you have could be from God. It’s also possible that it could be you had too much pizza for dinner that evening and your brain did some funky things. If you answer that question wrongly, you’re risking having it be “God said” when God did no such thing. I keep thinking I want to see a Babylon Bee article with a headline of something like “Local woman fully submits Scripture to the authority of her dreams.”

The next step is always confirmation. This is the funniest one to me. If you can find some tie in with your theory in someone else’s life, then that is confirmation. If two people both happen to dream about end times events, then that’s confirmation. I mean, what are the odds that on a planet with six billion plus people and many of them Christians that someone could dream about an interpretation of Christian doctrine?

Recently, my wife and I heard a story about an asteroid coming close to the Earth. It won’t hit, but it will be within 26,000 miles of Earth. I’m waiting for a story with one of these YouTube prophets calling someone about a dream they had about this is a sign that Jesus is coming and when they called a friend about it, the friend was playing Asteroids on their computer. Confirmation!

No. It is not confirmation. It’s no more confirmation than Mormons having a burning in the bosom is confirmation. Unfortunately, this is something that baby Christians are set up for. Give them thinking like this and it won’t be long until a group like the Mormons comes along.

Please don’t think that the problem in my position here is people believing in futurism. It’s not. My own wife is a futurist. The problem is people claiming to be prophecy experts and they’re not. They’ll jump to any passage of Scripture and rip it out of its historical context and then say that this has confirmed their dream or experience.

The result is that like this Christian in the group today, many Christians will be living terrified. What happens after awhile when nothing happens? There’s always a possibility that not only will they stop believing YouTube prophets, which would be a good thing, but they will stop believing the Biblical prophets, including Jesus. Christianity gets married to the end times madness.

Another greater danger is our appearance to unbelievers. These kinds of people are the ones the media loves to point to as examples of Christian thinkers. They won’t go to any of the real intellectuals in Christian circles to hear their thoughts for the most part. Instead, it will be going to those who are sensational.

There’s a reason James says not many should be teachers. If you are a YouTube prophet type, please hesitate before you put that video up. If you are wrong, you are leading others astray. I’m not saying that God can’t speak through a dream or experience. He very well might have. I am saying to be very cautious before you treat it as an authority and before you encourage others to treat your own dreams and experiences as an authority.

It’s also why to an extent, I’ve taken with calling these people out on their videos on YouTube and more of us should. We do not need this representation of Christianity to the world and it is one that undermines our doctrines of Scripture. It’s especially important to be able to defend young Christians from teachings like this.

As I told this person in the group, I have been through several end of the world scenarios. I went through Y2K, Harold Camping twice, the four blood moons, 2012, Rosh Hashanah this year, everything. If I was a doctor and I never made the right diagnosis, would you listen to me? If I was a politician who never kept my word, would you vote for me? If I was a lawyer and I never won a case, would you want me to represent you in court?

Then why listen to end times prophecy experts who have the same record?

In Christ,
Nick Peters

 

I Survived The End Of The World….Again

What are we to say about end of the world predictions? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Many of you know about predictions being made about Rosh Hashanah this year. September 23, 2017 was supposed to be a date of huge prophetic significance. Well, that is if you listened to the “prophecy experts.” For the rest of us, we preferred to call it “Saturday.” Okay. Some of us called it Batman Day and went to our local comic book store to get a free Batman comic.

As for me, I decided this time I’d be an exception and make some predictions as well. I made these three. The amazing thing is as far as I have seen, they have held out.

Prediction #1: Nothing of eschatological significance will happen.

Prediction #2. People making these predictions will not repent when shown they were wrong but will simply recalculate.

Prediction #3. At the next event that they deem to be unusual, these people will start the whole cycle all over again.

The sad thing is this is an easy set of predictions to make because it happens so often. Has John Hagee repented for the Blood Moons hysteria that led to absolutely nothing? Nope. How many people have repented after a book that claimed XYZ was the antichrist was written and now that person is long dead and gone? Sorry. Not happening.

As I have said, being a prophecy expert would be a great job to have. You can say whatever you want and claim it’s from the Bible, be a best seller, have a great following with people hanging on your every word, be entirely wrong and demonstrably so, and yet still be regarded as an expert. All that’s left is for these people to go into politics.

If there was anything else I was noticing regularly, it was people on YouTube making videos and what would they point to? Experiences and dreams over and over. Scripture could be turned to, but only as an afterthought to confirm what was in the dream. To those who are saying that there are no coincidences with Christ, sure, but sometimes things happen that aren’t all about you. That dream you had last night? Maybe it was from God. Maybe also it was your brain sorting things out because you had too much pizza the night before.

You see, you don’t know that everything in a dream or your experience is a direct message from God. You don’t. This is what is said about Scripture. Try interpreting Scripture. (You know, that book that says about what you say is the return that no one knows the day or the hour.)

Why is it that I get on this so much? It’s not just because I’m an orthodox Preterist in my eschatology. My wife sure isn’t and she has a huge problem with these people as well. It’s because these people and this mindset give people excuses to not believe the Gospel. If they can’t trust you on what the Bible says in this case, why should they trust you on the resurrection?

Keep in mind, the Bible nowhere tells us to be predicting when Jesus will return. It doesn’t. If you are doing the Great Commission, it won’t matter anyway. If He returns tomorrow and you’ve been doing it, great! You’re ready! If He returns 1,000 years from now and you were doing it in your lifetime, great! You’re ready!

There are too many Christians out there that are so obsessed with the future return of Christ that they’re not doing anything with Him in the present. Instead, it’s becoming an embarrassment as this is the picture the world gets. Fox News even had a story about “Biblical Numerologists” saying the end of the world was coming. How much egg does the church have on its face because of these kinds of actions?

That’s one reason I want to take a hard stand against this from now on. Please Christians. Do not buy books that are claiming to be expert guides to prophecy. Do not go to ministries that claim to have the inside scoop on what’s going to happen in the future through prophecy. Do not support and encourage Christians that are trying to date the time that Jesus will return.

If God says something will happen in prophecy, it will happen. He doesn’t need your help. You have your marching orders already. That’s the Great Commission. Too many people try to find out who the antichrist is and spend less time thinking about who Jesus is. Too many out there can “prove” in minute detail every single point about what’s going to happen in the Great Tribulation, but they can’t give you a case for why you should think Jesus rose from the dead. That’s a problem.

As long as the Christian community supports such people, it will be encouraging them and helping to further embarrass. It is understandable some people have a hard time believing in Christianity for reasons like miracles and the like. We don’t need to give them another reason or have them think the Bible can’t be trusted because we are saying it is clearly teaching X when it is not and that can be too easily demonstrated.

I get that some of this crowd are waiting for Yom Kippur which is at the end of the month, but if nothing happens, then what? Will there be any repentance? If not, then you have to ask who these people are doing what they’re doing for the most? Is it really the honor of Jesus they think most of or their own?

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Sometimes An Eclipse Is Just An Eclipse

What happened because of the eclipse? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

You would think I’d be used to it by now, but sadly I didn’t realize the depths that too many of my fellow Christians read into things. Like the pagans of old who saw every event in the sky as a portent of the gods, so too many Christians today did the same with the eclipse. It couldn’t be that this was just something that happens. No. This has to be a sign.

One video I heard my wife watching made a claim that the Bible even tells us that these are signs. Look at Genesis 1. The sun and moon and stars are signs. Yes. They are signs to tell the days and seasons and things of that sort. They are not meant to be read as signs of prophecy.

“But it says the sun will be darkened and the moon turned to blood.”

Here’s the thing also. Peter said that had happened. He spoke about the prophecy as a past event. One of the great mistakes of our day and age is we think the text is constantly speaking of literal realities. Hebrew prophets didn’t speak like that. It’s no more literal than when we say one sports team massacred another that it means the police were called to arrest that team.

That doesn’t mean in either case there is no truth. The truth in prophecy is often political events being described using cosmic language. The truth in sports is terms of violence often being used to describe how thoroughly one team beat the other in the event. Somehow, many of us Americans have this idea that you have to read something in a wooden literal sense or else you’re just not taking Scripture seriously.

Here’s an example of reading our modern ideas into the text. Many times, when scientific discoveries have been made, it’s been claimed that the Bible said it all along. Geocentrism and Heliocentrism can both be read into the text. The Bible hasn’t changed. The context hasn’t changed. People have just come to the text assuming it speaks in scientific terms and today, it’s approached assuming it speaks in literalistic terms.

I wish I could let you all be assured today that you don’t need to believe someone reading something into every single cosmic event. Let’s just do a brief recap. How many times have people been wrong about the return of Jesus, the “rapture”, or the antichrist? How many? I still see people for some reason talking about the four blood moons even though absolutely nothing happened!

Unfortunately, some people don’t get this memo. Consider this one my wife was watching before the eclipse just to see what was being said.

Keep in mind we have someone here saying that the Holy Spirit has told them something. Christians. Always be on guard with that and do what Scripture says. Test everything. If someone says the Holy Spirit says X will happen, and it does not happen, you can be sure they are not getting their message from the Holy Spirit.

This is also someone who was saying 100% that the Sign of Jonah was the solar eclipse. The Sign of Jonah is spoken about in Matthew 12. We’re told what it is. The Son of Man will be in the belly of the Earth for three days and three nights. That’s not a solar eclipse. That’s the resurrection of Jesus.

Along those lines, it’s always fascinating to me how everyone is convinced that we have to be the generation. It has to be us! This is normally based on Israel so everyone said that within a generation of 1948, which was said to be forty years, Jesus will come.

Nothing happened.

Then we went from the time of the Six-Day War.

Nothing happened.

Now one would hope that when nothing happens with the solar eclipse which is supposed to be all over the Bible in prophecy, that one would admit they spoke falsely. One would hope. Sadly, if prophecy experts have a penchant for anything besides repeated error, it’s the idea of not admitting error. Just yesterday another video was put up with even more bizarre claims.

Something that also needs to be said to someone like this is to please stop talking about dreams. In the comments section of these videos, so many people are sharing about dreams that they’ve had. Sometimes an eclipse is just an eclipse. Sometimes a dream is just a dream. It could just be a sign that you had too much pizza for dinner. Jeremiah warned in his day about people talking about dreams.

Jeremiah 23:25-32.

25 I have heard what the prophets have said who prophesy lies in my name, saying, ‘I have dreamed, I have dreamed!’ 26 How long shall there be lies in the heart of the prophets who prophesy lies, and who prophesy the deceit of their own heart, 27 who think to make my people forget my name by their dreams that they tell one another, even as their fathers forgot my name for Baal? 28 Let the prophet who has a dream tell the dream, but let him who has my word speak my word faithfully. What has straw in common with wheat? declares the Lord. 29 Is not my word like fire, declares the Lord, and like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces? 30 Therefore, behold, I am against the prophets, declares the Lord, who steal my words from one another. 31 Behold, I am against the prophets, declares the Lord, who use their tongues and declare, ‘declares the Lord.’ 32 Behold, I am against those who prophesy lying dreams, declares the Lord, and who tell them and lead my people astray by their lies and their recklessness, when I did not send them or charge them. So they do not profit this people at all, declares the Lord.

Please note that I am saying nothing about the salvation of people like this. I don’t doubt that these people really love Jesus and want to be good Christians and have a great devotion to Him. I am saying though that I don’t think it’s built on a good foundation. I have no doubt that too many of these Christians have all their charts and graphs about the end times, but if you ask them to make a case for the resurrection, they won’t be able to do it well. They are more prepared to argue eschatology than they are the resurrection.

So why do I get upset about this? Because people like this sadly make it harder for the rest of us who try to uphold Christianity in the public square of ideas. For your public presentation of atheism, you’ll have someone like Richard Dawkins, who those who are sitting on the fence will be more prone to take seriously because he’s a scientist. When they look at Christianity, they see people like John Hagee, Joel Osteen, and Benny Hinn representing us. Don’t expect to see N.T. Wright, William Lane Craig, Mike Licona, or others like that be seen in that regard.

And every time the world just laughs and laughs thinking that this is how Christians are and indeed, some of them are already showing up making a mockery of this. When a Christian makes a claim that an event will happen and it doesn’t happen, especially when they claim that it comes from God, and any non-Christian can immediately verify that it didn’t happen, why should they take seriously the claim that Jesus rose from the dead, which they cannot immediately verify did or did not happen?

Every time, the name of Christ is shamed because of actions like this and as I said, you do not see admissions of error. A few years from now, John Hagee will put forward another book on prophecy, but it will contain cut and paste from many of his older books. It will be the same old thing. I have said before it must be nice to be a prophecy expert. You can say whatever you want, be a bestseller, get everything wrong, and people will still buy your next book and still call you an expert.

Christians. Please don’t ever encourage someone making predictions about the end times. Rebuke them. They are doing a great harm to the body of Christ. If more of us spent more time exegeting Scripture than our dreams, we would be better off. If we were as excited about the Great Commission as we were about the “rapture”, we would be better off.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

 

Deeper Waters Podcast 5/27/2017: Brian Godawa

What’s coming up? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Nero. No matter what your stance on end times is, the name evokes strong thoughts right away. We can easily think of Christians being lit on fire to light up the ceremonies that Nero was hosting. If we try to think of a Roman emperor that could be seen as the embodiment of evil, Nero would be right up there on the list.

That’s why many of the orthodox Preterist persuasion also see him as the beast described in Revelation, and even if one is a futurist, they should have no problem granting that Nero was certainly a beast at least. What would it have been like to have been living in the time of Nero? What if you were a Christian in Rome? What if you were a Jew? What if you were a soldier in the military? What about the great fire? What was also going on at the time in Jerusalem while Nero was having his rule?

My guest this week has written a fictional story set in the time of Nero and focusing on what happened in Rome and in Jerusalem. The writing is lively and engaging. The story will open your eyes to what was going on at the time and includes numerous historical figures as well. The book is called Tyrant: Rise of the Beast and the author is Brian Godawa. So who is he?

Brian Godawa is an award-winning Hollywood screenwriter (To End All Wars), a controversial movie and culture blogger (www.Godawa.com), an internationally known teacher on faith, worldviews and storytelling (Hollywood Worldviews), an Amazon best-selling author of Biblical fiction (Chronicles of the Nephilim), and provocative theology (God Against the gods). His obsession with God, movies and worldviews, results in theological storytelling that blows your mind while inspiring your soul. And he’s not exaggerating.

So we’ll be talking about life in first century Rome in the time of Nero and what life would have been like in Jerusalem. What did it mean to be a Christian? How much danger was someone really in? Perhaps, as a result, many of us will take our Christianity a lot more seriously here.

We’ll also be discussing the writing process. How does one go about writing a book with historical figures in it? Especially when you have actual figures from the Bible in them, how does one walk that line? There is a desire to remain fully faithful to the text of course, but at the same time one does have to take liberties as well since these events aren’t included in the text.

I hope you’ll be listening to the next episode and really considering what it would have been like to be a Christian in the time of Nero. Many of us don’t really realize what was going on at the time, but there was a time when being a Christian was a dangerous practice. It started around the time of the resurrection. Please also go on ITunes and leave a positive review of the Deeper Waters Podcast.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

 

End Times Evangelism Messages

What is our focus in evangelism? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Last night, Allie and I were looking for a Christian movie to watch. (To which when she asked why we don’t have a lot, I replied that most of them are just awful.) We had been watching The Gospel of Matthew put up on YouTube by The Two Preachers and so after looking for another movie there, we went to their channel to see what they had. One video was about Christmas, to which they gave the right answer. The overwhelming majority were all about end times.

The ones that we saw began with usually reading a verse. Of course, no context was given to this verse. It was just assumed that this verse had to be fully literal and had to be about our times which would have to be the end times and could have no prior fulfillment. (The prophets obviously weren’t interested in the present needs of the people. They just wanted to tell them about events over 2,000 years later.)

Then there would be some sensational story which was meant to back the event. The last video we saw talked about how important this was because so many people are converting because of these end-times warnings. In fact, many of the skeptics have to be believing it somewhere because they keep watching the videos.

By this logic, I must be believing atheist books since I read them so often.

We were also given the challenge that if these aren’t signs of the end times, then give what the signs are, using passages like Matthew 24. Of course, I would ask why Matthew 24 couldn’t have already been fulfilled. You know, the whole “This generation will not pass away” thing. The futurist paradigm should not be assumed. It should be argued for, much as I would gladly argue for my orthodox Preterism viewpoint.

Something that did catch me (Allie caught something else that she can write about if she chooses) was the claim that they are seeing many people convert to Jesus through end-times warnings. That could very well be true, yet I wonder is that truly the goal? I have my own problems with the idea of conversion. Making getting conversion to be the goal is like getting people to be married is the goal. Getting married is easy. Having a marriage is work. Getting converted can be easy. Being a disciple is difficult.

First off, I have this big concern about so many end times predictions being made because they can so easily be found to be false. Anybody remember 88 reasons Jesus will return in 1988? Yep. That took the world by storm and now, it’s an embarrassment to Christianity. What about people like Harold Camping and John Hagee and others? The response could normally be “Well yeah, all those people got it wrong, but we’re the ones who have it right!”

After all, you know, our generation is just so awesome that surely Jesus has to return for us!

Second, let’s look at an authoritative list of sermons that we have. How about the book of Acts?

“Are you sure you want to do that? Don’t you know that Peter’s first sermon in the book is about the last days?”

Yes. And those days were his own times right there. It wasn’t some time off in the future. The same is found in Hebrews 1 as well. What does Peter go on to say? What is the sign of the last days? God has raised up His Son Jesus. The resurrection was the focus of the message. Because Jesus was resurrected, He is Lord and Christ. Peter didn’t stay on the experience. He used the experience to get to Jesus.

You can find a list of Acts sermons here. Go through. See how many times Paul spoke about the end times or anyone else. No. They spoke about the resurrection. One heading here even is “Paul proclaims his righteousness and judgment to come.” That has to be it!” Well, no. You go there and Paul talks about the resurrection.

Paul was a guy for whom the resurrection of Jesus was central. He built his faith on that. He built it on it so much that in 1 Cor. 15 he said that if Jesus was not raised, we above all men should be pitied. It was the resurrection that established the end times doctrines and what was that end times doctrine? Oh yes. Resurrection.

When we make the focus be on something other than the resurrection, we are treating that as the foundation of our faith. You should believe in Jesus because of this end times doctrine. No. You should believe in Jesus because He rose from the dead. All the strange phenomena in the world doesn’t matter if Jesus is not raised. It’s just strange phenomena then.

My challenge to the Two Preachers then is to focus on the resurrection. Go through the videos and see how many are about the end times and how many are about the resurrection. See if that seems to be a problem or not. It’s also what I would recommend to other Christians. Some Christians major so much on end times that they have their charts and graphs all filled out, but they know nothing about how to show Jesus rose from the dead.  I’m not saying the Two Preachers couldn’t make a case. I hope they could. I’m saying we have a problem in our church when more people know about the end times than they do about the resurrection.

Some of you will disagree with me on my view of the end times. God bless you. I have no problem with futurists as people. Why would I? I’m married to one. I have a problem with futurism being the focus. (I would have a problem with Preterism being the focus instead of Jesus in fact.) I would say the same with YEC or OEC or inerrancy or any other doctrine.

Focus on the resurrection. That’s your foundation.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

What Is Not The Gospel

Do we make secondary issues the Gospel? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Recently, I wrote about the topic of “What is the Gospel?” At this point, I think it’s important to answer what it is not. Now when I say the Gospel is not X, that does not mean that X is unimportant. X could be an issue worth studying on its own. It could even be something that is true. What I am saying is that we don’t want to marry it to the Gospel where that if X is not true, then we have no Christianity. So what are some things that the Gospel is not?

First, the Gospel is not inerrancy. Again, this does not mean that that is false, but it does mean that an error in the Bible does not mean we pack it all up and go home because Jesus did not rise from the dead. As I have said before, imagine going up to a skeptic. Their argument that Jesus didn’t rise? The Bible has errors in it. (This does happen. Someone like David McAfee in his book Disproving Christianity, which I have dealt with, argues against Christianity not by even touching the resurrection but by listing Bible contradictions.)

Suppose you respond to this person who has given you a web site of 101 Bible errors by going off and researching all of those errors and proving to your opponent’s satisfaction even that they are not errors. Will he convert? No. He’ll just go get another list of 101 errors. You will in turn be playing “Stump the Bible Scholar” over and over. In fact, you will STILL have to prove the resurrection lest he say that treating the resurrection as a fact is an error.

There are also plenty of devout Christians who do not believe in inerrancy. I disagree with them, but I don’t doubt their sincere love for Jesus. Of course, I am not opposed to Biblical reliability or anything like that, but the Bible is not an all-or-nothing game.

Creation is also not the Gospel. This is a big one in that we often think that unless the world was created in six literal days a few thousand years ago, then Christianity is false. Not for a moment. Someone still has to answer the question “What do you do with Jesus?” We all still have to explain the historical data surrounding Jesus.

Creation is a big one because so many ministries make their focus on creation. It’s as if if evolution were proven to be true, we would all be doomed. How would evolution show Jesus didn’t rise from the dead? The historical evidence is still right there. It still has to be explained somehow.

By the way, I mention young-earth creationism specifically because that’s usually the one this gets married to, but I would say the same if you married Christianity to old-earth creationism or to theistic evolution. Again, I am not saying don’t care about your view of creation or that it doesn’t matter. I’m just saying it’s not an essential.

Calvinism or Arminianism is not the Gospel. For the former, you can actually see a lot of Calvinists out there saying “Calvinism is the Gospel.” Well what does that mean for those of us who aren’t Calvinists? We don’t believe the Gospel then? Are we just second-rate Christians? What exactly?

Calvinism might explain how a person comes to believe, but how does that explain what happened to Jesus? It doesn’t. A Calvinist and an Arminian could use the exact same arguments for the resurrection of Jesus. Of course, I have many friends who are devout Calvinists and I have no wish to dissuade them from that, but I just caution them to please not marry it to the Gospel. Calvinists usually are the main ones doing this, but I’d say the same to Arminians and in fact to Molinists as well.

Eschatology is not the Gospel. Eschatology does have some tie-ins obviously with the resurrection, which is an eschatological event, but your view on eschatology is not the Gospel. This is probably the biggest one for me on the list because I am a staunch defender of orthodox Preterism. If I was shown to be wrong, I would have a hard time explaining a lot of passages, but my view of Jesus would still stand as far as the resurrection is concerned.

One exception I could make to this is the view that everything happened in 70 A.D. This position is problematic to me because I think in the end, it has to deny the bodily resurrection of Jesus. Our future resurrection is said to be like His bodily resurrection. If our resurrection is not bodily, then neither was His, and that’s a big problem. That means Jesus did not really conquer death. Note then the one exception I have is an exception because of what it says about the resurrection.

As far as I’m concerned, these are the biggest kinds of issues often concerned with what the Gospel is. When I meet someone and I want to know if they’re a follower of Jesus, I ask them about their view of Him. I look for what they think about Him. If they accept His deity, bodily resurrection, and His being the second person of the Trinity, I normally have no problem whatsoever. Now could some of them have a false view of how they are saved? Yes. Some Protestants for instance can have a works view of salvation. I don’t think that disqualifies them. They can be saved in their ignorance. It’s also why I’m not ready to cast out my Catholic or Orthodox brothers and sisters.

When it comes to defending Christianity and the Gospel then, the #1 thing to defend is Jesus rising from the dead. If that’s false, then let’s pack it up and go home. If it’s true, then we will find an answer for the secondary issues somewhere along the way and even if we don’t, we still have Christianity.

In Christ,
Nick Peters