How Should Believers Respond to Prophecy?

Posted on October 28, 2020

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By David Ettinger

Too Much Hostility!
Bible prophecy can be exciting, disturbing, divisive, or all three. Actually, only option number one is acceptable. Why? Because the Bible is filled with prophecy. It is filled with prophecy because God put it there and wants us to be excited about it.

However, believers too often develop a skewed perspective regarding it. Whether one is Pre-Trib, Mid-Trib, Pre-Wrath, or Post-Trib regarding the return of Christ and the Rapture of the Church, believers should be at peace with one another.

Unfortunately, extreme students of prophecy go to war over opposing views and express their disagreements with hostility. Is this what the Lord intended when He so caringly placed His precious prophetic pronouncements into the Book He authored? No. This being the case, how does God expect believers to respond to prophecy? Let’s look at three prophetic passages.

1 Thessalonians 5:11
1 Thessalonians 5:1-11 addresses the issue of the Day of the Lord – that time period when Jesus Christ will return to Earth to rapture the Church and punish the wicked.

The Apostle Paul wrote this passage because believers were being told that the Lord had already returned and that they had missed His return. To combat this error, Paul explained that believers at that time will witness Christ’s return, and not be caught off-guard by it. Paul also explained that believers would not fall prey to God’s wrath, but that “we will live together with him” (v. 10). Basically, Paul’s message to believers was: 1. You did not miss Christ’s return. 2. You will not suffer God’s wrath. 3. You will spend eternity with Jesus. 4. Times and dates are not the issue (v. 1).

happy gal

What IS the issue is that believers should take heart at such wondrous truths. Prophecy, therefore, should provide great encouragement, comfort, and confidence to Christians, knowing God controls all things. It is no wonder this passage ends this way: “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing” (v. 11). Believers should respond to prophecy by allowing it to be a catalyst for encouraging others.

Hebrews 10:24-25
Here, the unidentified author is addressing the believer’s privilege to “draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings” (v. 22). Jesus is our gateway to the Father, and we can come to Him in prayer as we are, so long as we are covered by Christ’s blood. Elsewhere in Chapter 10, we are told to persevere because we know there is a day when Christ will return to Earth. Verses 36-37 speak of the return of Christ and the establishment of His Kingdom.

Knowing the prophetic end-game for believers is our citizenship in Christ’s Kingdom, the author urges believers to “consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”

The “Day” in view here is the Day of the Lord. What should be the response to the prophecy of God’s coming wrath and subsequent establishing of His Kingdom? It should inspire us to build up and strengthen the body of believers.

2 Peter 3:11-12
Chapter 3 of 2 Peter speaks of the Day of the Lord, and the picture painted of it is bleak: “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief [for unbelievers]. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare. … That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat” (1 Peter 3:10, 12). Bleak indeed!

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However, once that purging is accomplished, verse 13 assures believers that “in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.” In short, there will be terrible bad followed by wonderful good (for the believer).

But, as to the horrific purging coming upon unbelievers at the time of God’s judgment, Peter tells us we are to live soberly and seriously: “Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming” (vs. 11-12).

So, how should believers respond to this incredible portion of prophecy? Believers are to respond by living holy and godly lives.

How to Respond to Bible Prophecy
As you can see from these passages, believers are never instructed to fight, argue, and malign one another over prophetic viewpoints. Rather, believers are to read prophecy, consider prophecy, and respond to prophecy just as the Bible tells us to. Prophecy should inspire us to encourage one another, spur on one another, and to live holy and godly lives which honor the Lord!

“Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification” (Romans 14:19).