A J.R. Church Classic from May 1993

During the course of my ministry, I have traveled to hundreds of churches across America holding prophetic conferences at the invitation of pastors. Sometimes a pastor will tell me (with a heavy heart) that some of his members have stayed away from the meeting because of prophecy’s gloom-and-doom nature.

Prophetic studies seem to scare them. They do not understand that the prophets of the Bible were not pessimists. The prophets looked beyond the judgment of God upon a wicked and unbelieving human race and saw the glories of His kingdom. Sometimes young people will say, “I want the Lord to come someday but not now, for I have a life to live, things to do, and places to go.”

I can understand their concern, but may I say that the coming of Christ will not put an end to activities. The opportunities of life will only be enhanced when Christ returns. The sorrows of this life will fade in the light and joy of His glory. The suffering of this world will be turned into rejoicing.

I have had some to tell me that “Prophecy scares me.” To you may I say, your only fear is that of the unknown. A study of prophecy, on the other hand, will enlighten you and let you know what to expect in the future. There need be no fear if you have put your faith and trust in Jesus Christ. He will take care of you. One day Jesus allayed the fears of His disciples on the very subject when He said, “And fear not them which kill the body but are not able to kill the soul…” (Matt. 10:28). Furthermore, He said, “But there shall not an hair of your head perish” (Luke 21:18).

Because of the nature of a prophetic research ministry, I understand a few people, even some pastors, have expressed reservations about the validity of prophetic studies. Frankly, I think their fears are unfounded.

Christians should eagerly approach the subject knowing that in the last days (just before the coming of Christ) there should be an explosion of knowledge on the prophetic subject along with an increased interest by Christians around the world.

Just because there is a significant number of heretical views surfacing, does not mean that all prophetic probes are unworthy of our attention.

Is not history strewn with all manner of doctrinal viewpoints hatched by heretics? Yet they do not dissuade us from a study of the other great doctrines of the Bible. Then let us not shun prophecy during these most crucial days in the history of the world.

Christians do not need to fear the future because our faith in Christ releases us from the judgment to come and gives us an incentive to live victorious Christian lives. Only those who do not live by the standards taught in the Bible need to fear. The Book was not written to depress the believer with scathing judgment but rather to release the heart and mind from such mental anguish by teaching us the grace of God and His forgiveness.

In 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11, the Apostle Paul addressed the study of prophecy. He declared that we are children of the day, not of the night. And that we should comfort ourselves with a study of prophecy: “But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober” (1 Thess. 5:1-6).

 There is no need for us to fear the future. We should be excited about the prospects of salvation for we have been saved from the judgment to come.

Paul had described the “blessed hope” when he wrote of our Rapture and Resurrection, adding that we should “comfort one another with these words.” In 1 Thessalonians 5: 9-11, he wrote: “For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him. Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do.”

He said that we should rejoice in the study of prophecy, knowing that our future is secure in Jesus Christ. Fear of the unknown vanishes when the unknown becomes known. I regret to say this, but when a person expresses an unwillingness to study the prophets, it may be an indication of sin in their life. Only a sinner runs from God, fearing judgment.

When people study prophecy, they do not despair. They increase their efforts knowing that the time is short. Moses wrote of this when he penned Psalm 90:12-13, “So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom. Return, O Lord, how long? and let it repent thee concerning thy servants.”

He wrote, that if we knew how long it would be until the return of Christ, we could apply our hearts unto wisdom so as not to waste a single precious moment. It is becoming more and more evident with the passing of the day, that we live in that special generation destined to see the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. I believe we live in a day of greater soul-winning than ever before in history.

Dear friends, do not be willingly ignorant of the great prophecies to be found in the Bible. It is an inexhaustible paradise of prophetic truth. Dig in today and begin your quest for the greatest treasures to be found in a consistent study of biblical prophecy.

None of the wicked shall understand. Concerning a study of prophecy, it was to Daniel that God said  “…none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand” (Dan. 12:10).

Prophecies were written in such a way that those who have only a casual interest in the book will overlook them and will not understand. Even the parables of Jesus are prophecies. When our Savior would produce a parable, He would preface it by saying, “The kingdom of heaven is likened unto…” (Matt. 13:24, 18:23). That prepared the parable for a prophecy. Parables are not just simple earthly stories to help us understand heavenly truth. They were prophetic scenarios deliberately veiled in metaphoric language so that the “average” could not understand. Only the “wise” have understanding.

When making that statement, the Bible did not mean that all who do not understand are fools. I think the Lord simply meant that only those whose time has come will understand. Our Savior put it this way when He said, “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled” (Matt. 5:6).

So you see, even among Christians, there is only a select group who will be able to grasp the eternal verity of a prophetic passage.

Only the wise shall understand. For instance, in the winning of people to Christ will naturally have an interest in the events of the future. “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled” (Dan. 12:3).

The soul winner is a person who lives for the future. That kind of person is more likely to be interested in the study of prophecy.

The average Christian who lives only for today and not tomorrow is sometimes plagued by the thought that one day their world might be upset. Their lifestyle might be affected. Oh, they may be Christians, but they just don’t understand the prophetic nature of God’s message.

God knows the future from the beginning and has declared it in His eternal Word.

In 2 Peter 3:3-5 the Apostle Peter warned of skeptics who would try to divert attention away from the study of prophecy: “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…” 

Scoffers simply cannot comprehend the prophetic nature of the Bible. They just can’t seem to understand that God has planned for a glorious conclusion to the history of the human race. His Son shall come to establish a golden age and rule over the world for 1,000 wonderful years.

When the rabbis compiled the books of the Old Testament, they separated them into two major divisions, the Law and the Prophets. There is no hope in the Law, but there is a blessed hope in the Prophets.

The law declares our hopeless condition. It describes our sinfulness, our suffering, and the inevitable judgment of God. Paul put it this way in Romans 3:20: “Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.”

On the other hand, the prophets have written of the glory to come. Paul continues in Romans 3:21: “But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets.”

There it is! Paul looks beyond the law to the message of the prophets and declares that we have received the righteousness of God.

Any thinking Christian should be vitally interested in a study of the prophets, for they declare the “blessed hope.”

Whenever I find some special nugget of prophecy hidden in God’s great treasure trove of truth, He rewards my effort by opening a related Scripture to lead me deeper into the maze of His infinite design, to probe further into the complexity of the pattern of His inexhaustible plan of the ages.

There is nothing quite so exciting as a consistent study of the prophecies of the Bible. Indeed, the world will soon face the devastation of nuclear war. But what should be our attitude toward such a prospect? Well, the Apostle Peter answered the question for us in 2 Peter 3:11-14: “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.”

Dear Christian, let us live godly lives, witnessing and winning as many people to the Lord as we can while there is time.

Take this golden opportunity offered in these days and reach out to those people who are fearful. Give them God’s plan of escape. Now is the time to win people to Christ!

J.R. Church

J.R. Church

Prophecy in the News Founder

In November of 1979, Prophecy in the News launched its worldwide ministry from Oklahoma City, founded by J.R. Church, a Texas pastor with a heart and a vision for Bible prophecy, as well as reaching the world with the Gospel.

Church’s colleagues in the ministry, Noah Hutchings and Dr. David Webber at Southwest Radio Church, helped introduce J.R. Church to the fans of their far-reaching radio ministry and provided support as he built his prophecy ministry from its Oklahoma City base.