This chapter is being written with a spirit of caution and I pray for favor from you, my brethren, that you take no offense. An important issue is at hand that needs to be addressed in Independent Fundamental Baptist churches. These thoughts are prominent in my mind because they’re part of a personal process I’ve had to go through.
First, it is commendable that for more than sixty years, the primary focus of the Independent Baptist movement has been to fulfill the great commission by laboring in fields that are “white already to harvest.” I’m a child of the King because an obedient soulwinner went about sowing the seeds of the gospel door to door. So as a result, I’ve been a Fundamental Baptist since 1992 and I’m grateful for my wife and family in Christ.
However, it is lamentable that Baptists as a whole have an inadequate understanding of the book of Revelation and consequently have embraced false teachings. In fact, the more one reads the book of Revelation, the clearer it becomes that Baptist pastors are guilty of reiterating the erroneous conclusions of other men while not proving these views with scripture themselves. As the 2nd coming of the Lord Jesus Christ draws closer each day, blood-washed Bible-believing Christians have an obligation to teach and preach sound doctrine to those under our leadership.
The time is now to abandon the modern Baptist’s inclination to be uninformed on end-times prophecy and the false teachings associated with the return of our Saviour because this widespread problem is not without consequence. If God’s men are in error, then the flock likewise is in error. Consider where you place yourself in your understanding of this topic and be reminded of these exhortations:
2 Timothy 2:15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
Titus 2:1 But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine:
In recent decades, Baptists have embraced certain cunningly devised fables like the theory called the pre-tribulation “rapture.” Over time, this unscriptural myth has worked its way into church constitutions even though Baptist preachers are unable teach it or answer questions with any depth because of its convoluted nature. This teaching contains serious chronological errors which pervert what the scriptures actually teach on the 2nd coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. If you think what you just read is absurd, you’re not alone. Baptists are known for their firm doctrinal stances even when they’re not studied on a matter. And when it comes to end time prophecy, we’ve been stuck in a rut for several decades repeating the words of other men that we’ve deemed trustworthy.
It is embarrassing that with just a few articulate questions, ordained men of God can be shown to be a novices on the book of Revelation and the 2nd coming of Christ. I discovered this doctrinal anomaly over the course of several years as none of God’s men were able to answer my sincere questions. One such question concerned Jesus Christ “coming in the clouds” in Matthew 24:30, being compared to the “coming in the clouds” 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17, and compared to the “coming in the clouds” in Revelation 1:7. Preachers of righteousness are generally confident and assertive so it’s rare to see them fumble for words. But my honest questions had many of God’s men visibly uncomfortable yet in the same breath they’d inexplicably dismiss any notion that their view on the 2nd coming could be problematic. This particular matter of end-times prophecy unfortunately brings out the unfitting characteristic of a prideful false-confidence in God’s servants.
Recently, I attended a service and heard a respected evangelist who claimed expertise on prophecy. He publicized in his brochure that he was a “Professor of Eschatology” in a Fundamental Baptist College, so I was of course interested in hearing his thoughts. After the service we spoke for more than an hour and this man of many credentials was revealed to be lacking in knowledge on basic teachings found in the book Revelation. Furthermore, many things he believed were extra-biblical and easily shown to be assumptions or just plain incorrect in light of scripture. Yet this sincere man stubbornly attempted to defend the false doctrine of an imminent, pre-trib return of Christ but was incapable of addressing any the major conflicts in his view. No disrespect intended, but this senior saint was just a parrot repeating the words of other men and likely has spent little time before the Lord searching out the scriptures regarding Eschatology.
Why is it so unthinkable for Fundamental Baptists to consider that they’re grossly in error on any doctrine? Why also do preachers stubbornly cling to a specific doctrinal teaching when they’re admittedly not very knowledgeable on end-times prophecy? Time and time again I’ve witnessed preachers maneuver away from this subject uninterested in hearing the words of a sincere Bible student who has studied the matter out before the Lord and compelled to expose deception within our ranks.
Warning: Popular men of yesteryear have caused a great deal of damage to the current doctrinal stance of Fundamental Baptists. I’ve read the words of John R. Rice, C.I. Scofield, Clarence Larkin, H. A. Ironside, Oliver B. Greene, Grant Jeffrey, Dwight Pentecost, John Walvoord, Chuck Missler, Hal Lindsey, Tim Lahaye, the tactless Peter Ruckman, and many others. Many of these men have heretical views yet are frequently quoted as authorities on end-times matters. Their works contain serious flaws and have greatly contributed to fundamental Baptists abandoning the plain teaching of the bible on the end times.
Admonition: Just get in the Bible and read it because the answers are found in the Bible! Claiming the verses below is an important step in overcoming end-time deception.
Matthew 24:4 And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you.
Matthew 24:15 When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:)
John 14:26 But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.
My testimony is this: After praying for Holy Spirit discernment and many months of reading passages over and over found in Daniel, Matthew 24, Mark 13, Luke 21, 1st and 2nd Thessalonians, Revelation, and many Old Testament chapters that deal with the end times, I was able to overcome several false teachings. Don’t get me wrong, the Lord Jesus Christ surely is going to come “in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory” and no one can know the hour of that day. However, we can know that certain events are required to happen before his return and that contradicts the extra-biblical doctrine of imminence.
Here are some questions to ask yourself:
- Are there any events that are required to take place before the Lord Jesus Christ returns for the saints? Hint: 2 Thessalonians 2:3 Let 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;
- Is the trumpet in Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21, the same trumpet as in 1 Thess. 4:16 and 1 Corinthians 15:52?
- What does “the day of the Lord” mentioned many times in scripture have to do with the return of Jesus Christ?
- Was ignorance concerning the prophecies of the 1st coming acceptable to God?
- Can you name any of the 7 seals? 7 trumpets? 7 vials? In order?
- Did you know that the words imminent and rapture are not found in scripture at all?
- Did you know that a tribulation lasting 7 years is not found in the Bible?
- Did you know that there is no single verse that says Jesus will return before the antichrist rises to power?
In closing, allow me to bring to your attention to a few details found in the first few verses of Revelation. The very first verse states that the book is written specifically to believers so it should not primarily be considered to be a warning to the unsaved and we really should find out what it says.
Revelation 1:1 The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John:
Verse three explains that there is a blessing to be gained from reading, hearing, and keeping the things written in the book of Revelation.
Revelation 1:3 Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.
Verse 7 is a crucial verse in the book of Revelation declaring the two main themes of Revelation which are the 2nd coming of Christ and the impending judgment of the world.
Revelation 1:7 Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.
In just three verses from Revelation, we see that they’re packed with information and it’s possible to list many details from just these few sentences. Please read and re-read them several times to glean as much detail as you can from each verse. These details become helpful as you set out to study the end times by comparing scripture with scripture while rightly dividing the word of truth.