Foolishness of Preaching

The Foolishness of Preaching
The End of the World

Mo Hafley


Just about the time you think the false teacher has exhausted his pathways of perversion up pops another. If it is not original, it is an offshoot of one previously existing. It is no different concerning the end of the world. I am certain the defenders of the faith become weary from fighting the foe coming from every direction (Gal.6: 9; Neh.4: 12).

Some years ago I saw a documentary by Walter Cronkite concerning the running of the marathon in the Olympics. I recall vaguely the story of one runner who came into the stadium as he completed the 26 mile run. The huge crowd shouted encouragement as he stumbled and staggered around the track. He was so exhausted from having run the great distance that he came to what he thought was the finish line and collapsed thinking he had won the race. However, some 20 minutes later another runner came jogging into the stadium and won the race.

How terrible to have run as hard as the first runner and collapse thinking he had won only to awake to hear he had lost. He was so close, but so far. Being close didn't count in that race nor in our spiritual race to heaven (Heb. 12:1-2). What if I die believing I have completed the race God has appointed for us, but fail to finish my course (2 Tim.4:7)? Will he reward me with the crown of righteousness (2 Tim.4:8; cf. Matt.7:21-23)?

Many are the teachings which have convinced man that he has finished the race to heaven. When these arise at judgment, they will find they had never crossed the finish line. Others will find they had been running on the wrong track. If you think the marathon runner was disappointed when he realized he didn't receive the temporal crown how about those who find they have lost the eternal crown? The crown for which we strive is not corruptible. It will not age, tarnish, turn yellow or fade away (1 Pet. 1:4). We must be absolutely sure we are running the track that God has appointed and not man.

Let us look at some of these false teachings and the tracks upon which many are running only to hear from the Lord "Depart from me ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels" (Matt.25: 41). We shall not attempt to cut all the limbs off these doctrines for after you have felled the tree the limbs do not have to be removed to kill the tree.

The Universalist

The Universalist believes at the end of the world all will be saved. He says God is too merciful to punish anyone. This doctrine would have us line up at the starting block of disobedience. If all will be saved, no matter what they do, because of the goodness and mercy of God, what do I have to worry about?

Without faith it is impossible to please God (Heb. 11:6). Are those who do not please God still going to heaven? Paul says that God will take "vengeance on them that know not God and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ" (2Thes. 1:8). Is the Lord's vengeance shown by sending the unbelievers and disobedient to heaven?

The Romans had "obeyed from the heart" the doctrine that was delivered them (Rom.6: 17). They were then free from sin and servants of righteousness (vs. 16,18). The Universalist would tell us whether one is the servant of sin or righteousness he is still going to heaven. The inspired apostle disagrees again. Galatians 5:19-21 tells us those who commit such sins, as those listed in those verses, cannot go to heaven (cf. 1 Cor. 6: 10-11).

The Premillenialist

The Premillenialist wants us to believe there is a semi-final race called the rapture, Of course he has his scripture , l Thess. 4: 13-17, which proves(?) there will be a rapture. He describes the rapture as the time when the Lord will secretly take all the saved from the earth for a period of seven years. This is done because, they say, there will be the battle of Armageddon (Rev. 16:14-16). This battle will be so horrible that the Lord will have to come, with his saints, to save the earth from total destruction. Then he will set up his kingdom and reign on earth for a thousand years. Thus, we have premilleniailism. Does this teaching agree with the Bible?

What we can read in the Bible is clear and understandable. Here is what we know about the second coming of Christ and the end of the world. It will not be silent and secret. It will be with a shout and with the trump of God, 1 Thes.4: 16. It will come unexpectedly as a thief in the night (2 Pet.3:10-13). John has it narrowed to a single hour (John 5:28-29). In that hour all that are in their graves, the good and evil, shall hear his voice and come forth. Here again we see the second coming will be obvious to all, even the dead. There will be no time for a seven-year rapture.

The kingdom has already been set up (Col. 1: 13). Paul said the Colossians had been translated into the kingdom. You can't be in something that doesn't exist. Jesus and John the Baptist said the kingdom of heaven was at hand (Matt.3: 2; 4:17). If the kingdom hasn't been set up then it wasn't "at hand" as Jesus and John said. I think the millenialists have missed it, not Jesus and John.

The Jehovah's Witnesses

The Jehovah's Witnesses teach that at the end of the world "the literal heavens and earth will not be destroyed” (Let God Be True, p.56). They are wanting us to wear weights that will beset us in our race to heaven (Heb. 12: 1).

In my living room I have been asked by Jehovah's Witnesses, "Don't you want to live on earth forever?" My response is that the Bible says the world isn't going to be here forever 2 Peter 3:9-13. Jesus said, "heaven and earth shall pass away" (Mt.24: 35 emph. mine - mh). Jehovah's Witnesses say, "No it won't”. I prefer scripture over the wisdom of men. Jesus says in Matt.6:19-20, "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth... but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven.” Why would I want my treasures to be in heaven if I am going to live forever on earth? Is the Lord telling us to put all our hope faith and trust in going to heaven, but knowing all the time that you'll never get there?

Jesus also said, “I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you unto myself, that where I am, there you might be also.” He did not say, that where you are there I might be also. In verse 6 Jesus continues, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except by me" (John 14:2-3,6). The Father is in heaven (Mt.9:6) and there is no scripture that mentions his coming to earth only our going to heaven to be with him.

The A.D. 70 Advocate

The A.D. 70 Advocate says don't bother running the race, it's a thing of the past. Max R. King, of Warren, Ohio, is the champion of this doctrine. He debated this proposition in 1973: "The Holy Scriptures teach that the second coming of Christ, including the end of the world, and the resurrection of the dead, occurred with the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70." Read what he says in his book The Spirit of Prophecy page 186 under the heading "LITERAL OR SYMBOLIC LANGUAGE” -

One must have help from Max King to learn that such scriptures as the following don't mean what they say:

  1. "Heaven and earth shall pass away” (Matt.24:35).

  2. "They (earth and heavens, mh) shall perish; but thou remainest; and they shall wax old as doth a garment,- And as a vesture thou shalt fold them up, and they shall be changed:” (Heb. 1: 10-12 - Psm. 102: 25-27).

  3. "But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of person 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?” (2Pet. 2:10-12).

  4. "And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away, and there was found no place for them.” (Rev.20:11).

Read and study these passages (Acts 17: 11; 2 Tim.2:15; Eph. 3:4; 5:17). Have we missed the meaning of these passages? Do such words and phrases as: "pass away”, "perish", "melt with fervent heat”, "be dissolved” not mean what they say? I think your confidence in the clarity of scripture will be reaffirmed when you study these scriptures in the light of their context.

The angels in Acts 1: 11 "this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.” They saw him with their eyes, a visible ascent. Will it be a visible descent when he returns? Can we believe what God instructed the angels to say and what Luke recorded? The Hebrew writer records "and unto them that look for him shall he appear a second time...” (9:28). That agrees with the angel's statement. Max King says it is a spiritual coming. God has appointed the day and the judge (Acts 17:31; 2 Tim. 4:8; Jn. 12:48; Jas.2:12). On that last day all that are in their graves shall come forth the righteous dead and living shall "meet the Lord in the air and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (Jn.5:28-29; Acts 24:15; IThes. 4:17). That day has not occurred. Max King is the one who has missed the teaching of God.

Conclusion

Have we answered every argument concerning these false teachings? No, but it can and has been done. As we stated in our introduction that was not our purpose.

The fact that truth doesn't change the false teacher is not the fault of the truth or its teacher. The problem is with the heart of the false teacher (Matt. 13:10-23). Are there other false teachings concerning the end of the world? Will there be more? If the world stands it appears there is no end to the perversion of truth. That is why the Lord warns us in his word about them (Matt.7:15-20; Acts 20:28-32; Gal. 1:7-9; 1 Tim.4:1-3; 2 Tim. 4:1-4; 2 Pet. 2:1-3; l Jn. 4:1; 2 Jn 10- 11). "He that rejecteth me, and the receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day."

May God give us the heart of David, his servant and friend, in our search for truth. A few verses from Psalm 119 will be sufficient: “With my whole heart have I sought thee: 0 let me not wander from thy commandments. Thy word have I hid in my heart, that I might not sin against thee.” (vs. 10- 11); "Thou hast rebuked the proud that are cursed, which do err from thy commandments.” (v.21) "I will run the way of thy commandments, when thou shalt enlarge my heart" (v. 32).


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