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Most Recent Update
Jan. 17, 2012
The Profit of Prophecy
(Why Study Prophecy?)
P-R-O-F-I-T. People always ask, "What's in it for me? What do I get out of it?" This morning we'll answer the question in connection with the study of prophecy, "What is the value of studying prophecy?" There are six things that I want to point out. First of all, will you open your Bibles to the book of Revelation, chapter 1? We're going to say first of all, The study of prophecy will guarantee a special spiritual blessing.
The Study of Prophecy Will Guarantee a Special Spiritual Blessing
Now, let me tell you, God gives a blessing to those who study His Word regardless of which part of the Word you study but there's something special about prophecy. I call it the dessert of the biblical feast. After I preached for a week on prophecy in one church a lady said, "I enjoyed prophecy so much I asked my pastor to speak on it all the time." Well, that's like asking the cook at your house to prepare nothing but desserts. You need the vegetables and the protein, the spinach and the meat, and all of that too you know. But in the Bible prophecy is like the dessert of the spiritual banquet. God promises a special blessing if you'll study it.
So here in Revelation, chapter 1, verse 3, we read:"Blessed..."
That means happy.
"...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."
There are three things here that you must observe if you are going to benefit from God's promise.
First of all it says,
I'm glad to see that most of you have brought your Bibles this morning. That is a very necessary thing. You've got to read it for yourself. You know in the land of the Soviet Union they weep at the thought of getting a Bible. Bibles are so very precious. We oftentimes don't appreciate the privilege that we have in having copies of the Word of God. They're freely available in America and we must never cease to thank God that we have the privilege of reading for ourselves. But this is necessary. Bible says, "[The Bereans] ...searched the Scriptures daily,... [to see if] ...those things were so." (See Acts 17: 11.). (Read also Acts 17: 2, II Tim. 2: 15, 3: 16.). Every person who hears the preacher preach ought to read it for himself, and say to himself, "Is that what the Bible says?", and see for himself what God really has to say. You know, if every Christian did that there would be a lot of preachers losing their jobs on Monday morning. In a lot of churches right now the Bible is not being preached. Book reports are being given. Humanistic philosophies and all kinds of intellectual garbage are being presented, and people are not being fed on the Word of God.
But here it says,
So you want to read it for yourself.
Then the second thing that it says,
If reading it by yourself would've been enough you wouldn't have had to come to church this morning. You could've stayed home and read it for yourself. God has given to some of us opportunities He has not given to others to study the Word and to have various experiences which illuminate the Word. He has ordained that men should receive blessing through the preaching of the Word. So not only do you read it for yourself, but you gather together to hear the Word explained. The exposition of the Word we call it. So here God says you get a special blessing if you read it for yourself and then if you listen to somebody explain it.
"Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein..." (Rev. 1: 3)
The third thing is keep what you hear.
Now that doesn't mean you rush to the bank and put it in a safety deposit box like you would your securities. It means keep it like you keep the commandments. Put into practice what you learn.
In other words, order your lives according to what you have heard. Now let me explain, when we talk about prophecy we're talking about predictive prophecy. There are two kinds of prophecy in the Bible. The one is foretelling, telling in advance, predictive prophecy. That's ordinarily, the way we use the word. The other one is simply forth telling, proclaiming the word. We are using it in the sense of predictive prophecy in connection with this message and indeed all the messages in this series. But right now I want to call to your attention that keeping what you hear means to order your lives on the basis of the information that God has given by telling you the future in advance. If you do this God says you'll get a special blessing.
"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." (Rev. 1: 3)
God guarantees a special spiritual blessing for the study of prophecy, and I have heard thousands of people give testimony to the fact that He does just that. Many, many people are witnesses to the fact that God keeps His word in this regard.
The Study of Prophecy Will Guard Against Theological Error
Now in the second place will you turn with me to Matthew 24? Twenty-fourth chapter of Matthew and we'll look at number two. The reasons why we should study prophecy. Matthew 24.
And then Jesus says,
Jesus told them what was going to happen and He said it was going to be so serious that even my followers would be deceived except for the fact that I'm telling you in advance. I'm saying, therefore, we can make the declaration The study of prophecy will guard against theological error. Jesus said there are going to come a lot of false teachers in the last days, it's going to be spiritual deception and right now we're having a flood of them. From the little teenage Indian guru, the boy with stomach ulcers who claims to be God, to Mister Moon who has millions of followers bowing at his shrine. There's just a flood of individuals all over the world claiming to be God, claiming to be Christ. Jesus said, "This is going to happen; people will be led astray. Many will be deceived," but He said, "I have told you in advance." (See Matt. 24: 25.). Inasmuch as the Lord warned us ahead of time He expected that when it happened we would not fall for such falsehood, for such false leaders. "I have told you in advance." That's what He said. That's one of the values of studying prophecy.
Do you realize that without exception all the great denominations of this land have started down the road of apostasy as a result of spiritual deception? One of the reasons why this has been possible is because they have not been firmly and clearly presenting the truth that has to do with what we call eschatology or Bible prophecy. For example, one of the teachings that are so common in all the large religious circles of our day, the large denominations, is that some how if we can all stick together and work together and share our resources in common with each other and discuss our differences, sit down around the conference table to settle everything we will by our own effort bring in the kingdom of God on earth. So people are hearing constantly from religious leaders how by the ecumenical movement and all the things that that group stands for we will eventually bring in utopia. Now the answer to that is that's a beautiful dream, but it's all false.
If the people knew the prophecies they wouldn't fall for it because the disciples said to Jesus, "What's the sign of Your coming of the end of the [age]?". (See Matt. 24: 3.) Jesus proceeded to give a long list and one of them was false Christs involving religious deception. Another one was wars and rumors of wars here and there all over the world. Trouble. Trouble. Trouble. Nations in such a state of perplexity they wouldn't know which way to turn. People losing their minds worrying about what's happening on the earth. Paul said that in the last days there would come those who were "Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth." (II Tim. 3: 7). Those things are happening right now. In connection with that same prophecy of Paul to the young pastor Timothy he said, "...perilous times shall come." (II Tim. 3: 1). Perilous means difficult. Now does all of that sound as if the world is going to get better and better? Does that sound as if men can pick themselves up by their own bootstraps and issue in utopia? No it doesn't. It was Paul who said, "...evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse..." (II Tim. 3: 13). And Paul said, "...when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them..." (I Thes. 5: 3).
I'm saying that when you study all the prophecies and put them together you get a picture of what's going to happen. Then when you see that happening instead of being discouraged you'll say, "The Bible must be true. God is on the throne." and you will not fall for such theological error. One of the doctrines that is sweeping Christendom is the false doctrine of the Fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man. Now that sounds so beautiful that even the politicians use it in the same phrase with motherhood, and they think that nobody can object to that. They do not know that that is Satanic and totally unbiblical. There is no such thing. God is not the father of us all. True, the Bible says, "Have we not all one father?..." (Mal. 2: 10), but if you study the context that's the Jews talking about their father Abraham. Now you read all the Scriptures and then you discover that Paul said, "...[we] are all the children of God..." (Gal. 3: 26). Is there a period there? No, there is not. We're "...all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus." (Gal. 3: 26). So, we are not only one family, we are two families. There are two fathers. I can prove that to you real quickly. Jesus said to the hypocritical unbelieving religious leaders of His day, "Ye are of your father the devil..." (John 8: 44). So those who have not been born again are automatically in the family of Satan and are called children of darkness. Those who by choice receive Jesus Christ and are washed by the blood of the Lamb are born again, born of the Spirit and are taken out of the family of Satan and are born into the family of God. I'm saying, the study of prophecy will straighten people out on all of these things, and not allow them to be led into theological errors of which there are so many. So we can say in the second place that The study of prophecy will guard against theological error.
The Study of Prophecy Presents Proof of the Truth
In the third place in this same chapter we can say, The study of prophecy presents proof of the truth.
Look with me at verse 32,
"So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know..." (Matt. 24: 33)
K-N-O-W. That's a good word. That's a good word. The secular educational system of this world is based upon a false premise; namely, that you cannot know anything for certain. But the word know, K-N-O-W, is used many times in the Bible. If you want to know what you can know for sure then you can turn to the Bible and here is one of them. You can know for sure that when the fig tree is budding and all these things are happening that it (Jesus' coming, the Rapture) is near, even at the doors. What does it refer to? Well, in the beginning of this discourse the disciples said to Jesus, "Tell us, when is it going to happen?" "What is it going to be like when You come again?" "What is the sign of Your coming and of the end of the [age]?" (See Matt. 24: 3.) Jesus proceeds to give answers. He doesn't evade the question. He gives at least a dozen of them, and with the other Bible authors we have many prophecies pointing to the end of the age. Let me enumerate some of the ones that Jesus gave because it's appropriate to do so.
Inasmuch as He says,
Now what are "...all these things..."? Well, first of all, He said there's going to be religious deception, spiritual leaders leading the people astray. Then He said there would be an increase in earthquakes, an increase of famines, an increase of pestilences, strange sights in the heavens, Jerusalem trodden down of the gentiles till the end of the age. Nations in such a state of perplexity that they don't know which way to turn to find the answers, people losing their minds worrying about what's happening on the earth, conditions being as they were in the days of Noah, that's the way it's going to be. Then Jesus said, "Now when you ...see all these things, (then you) know (K-N-O-W) that it is near..." (See Matt. 24: 33.). When you see the prophecies being fulfilled that I (Jesus) have told you about then you know that the next prophecy, the coming of the Lord, is near. I like to preach for a whole week at a time on The Signs of the End of the Age. The things that I enumerated, and others too, because I'm persuaded that in an unprecedented manner we're seeing these things fulfilled now on a world-wide scale. Being fulfilled in a way that has never taken place in the history of the world. Phenomenal increase of earthquakes. Phenomenal increase of wars and rumors of wars here and there all over the place. They're coming so quick and fast you don't even pay attention when you hear another one. Well, just each one of these things, same way, expanding and exploding right before us. Now Jesus said, "...when... (you) ...see these things, (then you) know..." (See Matt. 24: 33.), and I'm saying this establishes a principle. The study of prophecy presents proof of the truth. This is what's going to happen Jesus said. Now when you see it happen, then you know the next thing is going to happen.
When our son, (who is now just about as tall as his daddy, not quite. He had hoped that he would exceed, but then he doesn't have as many bumps on his head as I have either,) when he was just a little fella, (And, by the way, it didn't happen too far from here. Winona Lake, Indiana. We were living there then.), he went down the driveway with his little wagon one day and he gathered up stones. He saw something fascinating in the rocks and it was as if he was gathering jewels. He came home with his little red wagon full of rocks and he thought he really had something. He loved the things of nature and we were glad for that. Things that God has made are fascinating to study. So I was standing there looking at his little wagon full of rocks and trying to figure out how to admire his interest in the rocks.
Then I decided to tell him something else about nature. I said, "Paul one of these days you're going to be out here playing and you are going to hear a strange sound in the sky and you're going to look up and you're going to see some birds like you've never seen before. They're going to be flying from the south toward the north." I pointed the direction they were going to be going. I said, "They're going to be making a strange sound like you've never heard. They're going to be flying in formation." Then I explained how they will form a great V in the sky. I said, "Now Paul, when you see that, you will know that they are wild geese because wild geese only do that. This is the time of year they should be flying north. Very shortly we will be seeing them." He listened carefully and didn't make a comment. But a few days later I was in my study and I heard his little feet coming down the hall real fast. He came dashing in and he said daddy, daddy the wild geese are flying just like you said. He saw the V formation of birds in the sky and heard this strange call, and he knew it was the wild geese like his daddy had told him.
Now, if I had known that I would be using that for a Biblical illustration to illustrate this truth I would've carried this a little bit farther. I would've said, "And Paul, half a year after that takes place you'll see them again flying the opposite direction. Then if you see them flying north you will know that I spoke the truth, and then you will know that the next prediction will come true also if they fly north like I'm saying, then you can be sure they're going to fly south like I'm saying." Well, I didn't know I was going to use it for an illustration so I didn't carry it that far. But it illustrates what I'm trying to say. I told Paul what was going to happen. When it happened he knew that I had told him the truth. Now if I had based that fulfillment on the one to come he would've believed the other one also. That's exactly what Jesus did. He said, now here are the things that are going to happen, and when they happen then you will know that the next is going to follow. Therefore, I'm saying, The study of prophecy presents proof of the truth.
When you try to witness to somebody concerning the things of the Lord you will say, "The Bible says", and then you will get the answer, "But how do you know the Bible is true?" Well, there are many reasons we know the Bible is true, but one of the big ones is fulfilled prophecy. Nobody but God can write prophecy and be 100% accurate and yet that's exactly what He has done. A great portion of this book that we're studying is prophecy and no prophecy has ever failed in any detail and none ever will. We have seen enough fulfillment to know that the rest will be fulfilled likewise, and that's what I'm trying to say.
The study of prophecy presents proof of the truth.
The Study of Prophecy Will Prevent Discouragement in a Dark Hour
Now let's go to number four. For this one we turn to the writings of Doctor Luke. The book of Luke, chapter 21. It's the same Olivet discourse. Matthew, the tax collector, was led of the Holy Spirit to record certain things. Doctor Luke, the beloved physician, was led of the Holy Spirit to record some of the same things and some additional things.
It's the same Olivet discourse, but now in the writings of Luke, chapter 21.
We read, verse 28,
What do they refer to? The same things that I enumerated awhile ago.
"...when these things begin to come to pass..." (Luke 21: 28)
All over the world they're having trouble. False leaders leading people astray. Everywhere, earthquakes breaking out all over the place. Devastating earthquakes increasing enormously. Pestilences, diseases, taking so many people (by death) and the human race being unable to do anything about it. Strange, strange, things taking place in the sky. Nations in such a state of confusion and perplexity they just don't know which way to turn to solve their problems.
When these things begin, Jesus said, "Then the best thing you can do is go out and commit suicide." No, that's not what it says. That's what some people are doing, but that's not what it says.
I'm saying, The study of prophecy will prevent discouragement in a dark hour. Right now conditions on a worldwide scene are in such a mess that if you know anything about what's going on it must be very very discouraging if you don't know the Bible prophecies. When I hear some of the men in high places say some of the things that they are saying, I have heard some of them, I can tell that they think there is simply no way out and that this old world hasn't long to go. They're making some dire predictions these days. Well, if only they knew the prophecies. If I didn't believe the Bible and I didn't know the prophecies, right now I would be very very discouraged. There does not appear a solution anywhere on the horizon to any of the great problems that the world faces right now, and I don't care which one you name: war, peace, famine, racism, and pollution. There is no solution in any of the capitals in the world. Men, politicians, leaders do not have the solutions to these problems. That's why I say it would be very very discouraging right now if you read nothing but the newspapers and listen to the reports that come from people who know. But I am telling you, that if you know the Bible prophecies, then, when you see all these things instead of discouraging you they will encourage you because you know God is on the throne. His word is being fulfilled, and we haven't got long, we're taking off for heaven. The study of prophecy will prevent discouragement in a dark hour. That's one of the values of studying it, and that's what we're told from these verses.
Now notice that word "begin", it is important. Not when it's half over. Not when it's almost all together over. Not when it's all together finished. That's when He's coming in the Revelation when it's finished. At the end of the tribulation you know He'll come in the sky in mighty power when "Every eye shall see Him and every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord." (See Phil. 2: 10 - 11.). Then He'll come to reign as King of Kings and Lord of Lords and He'll set everything straight. But listen, these things that point to His return are going to get started before the beginning of the great tribulation, the period of awful, awful judgment and out pouring of God's wrath. These things are going to begin and when they begin Jesus said, "...then [you] look up...". The solution is not out on the horizontal but it's up, straight up.
"...look up,...for your redemption draweth nigh." (Luke 21: 28)
What Jesus was saying was when all these things that I have predicted begin to come to pass in an unprecedented manner so that they can constitute a sign of the end of the Age, and answer the question, "What's the sign of Your coming?" (See Matthew 24: 3.) "...when [you] see all these things... (beginning then you) ...know that it (the Rapture) is near." and on the basis of that I am saying, "It is near." The coming of the Lord is very near. I think it's my generation that will see the return of Jesus Christ. If you study the prophecies and you see all these dark things happening you will not be discouraged, but rather you will be encouraged and step up your effort because you know this is the final approach for takeoff (being taken up in the Rapture). The study of prophecy will prevent discouragement in a dark hour.
The Study of Prophecy Encourages Spiritual Growth and Godly Living
Now turn with me to II Peter, chapter 3, and we'll look at number five. II Peter, chapter 3. And now we'll say, The study of prophecy encourages spiritual growth and godly living. The study of prophecy encourages spiritual growth and godly living. Peter makes some tremendous predictions, and in another message I'll be talking about this. But look at verse 10 and following.
"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 (the heavens, part of the second heaven, the earth, and the elements) shall be dissolved,..." (II Pet. 3: 10 - 11)
Or the Greek says, "...let loose...".
"...what manner of persons ought ye to be in all manner of holy conversation and godliness,.
"...wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?"
Now Peter has made some tremendous prophetic announcements concerning the end of the world and how it's going to happen and what (happens) after that and so on. And now he gives us the value of knowing that.
"Wherefore,..." (II Pet. 3: 14)
Which means "Therefore,...".
Because you know this old earth one day is going up in flames, and God is going to make a new eternal earth, because you know that "...beloved, seeing ye look for such things, be diligent..." (II Pet. 3: 14).
Now here is the value in the "hear" and "now" of studying prophecies that will be fulfilled in the future.
"...seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of Him in peace, without spot, and blameless."
The value of studying predictive prophecy.
"...seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own steadfastness." (II Pet. 3: 17)
Do you realize that there are a lot of Christians right now who are falling from their own steadfastness because someone is leading them astray? Peter said, "Since you know what is going to happen", "...be diligent that ye may be found of Him in peace, without spot, [or] blameless." And "...seeing you know these things,...beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own steadfastness." (Read II Pet. 3: 14, 17.).
Verse 18 becomes very positive.
So what Peter is saying is that The study of prophecy will encourage spiritual growth and godly living. Since God has told us what is going to happen we know the future events. We ought to prepare for them and to do so that will encourage us now in this matter of spiritual growth and godly living.
So far we have said, 1. The study of prophecy will guarantee spiritual blessing, 2. will guarantee against theological error, 3. will present proof of the truth, 4. will prevent discouragement in a dark hour, and 5. will encourage spiritual growth and godly living.
The Study of Prophecy Demands a Decision
Now I'd like to take one more. And for this I want you to turn to the book of Romans. And we'll see The study of prophecy demands a decision concerning eternal destiny. That of course means the decision for salvation or damnation. The book of Romans, chapter 5. Fifth chapter of the book of Romans beginning with verse 6.
"For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly."
We have a mixture here of history and prophecy. Looking back into the past what Christ did, and on the basis of what He did, we look now to the future. This involves prophecy because He died for us and His blood was shed we by faith in Him can be saved from the wrath to come.
Paul continues verse 10,
"And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement." (Rom. 5: 11)
So in verse 9 we have the phrase, "...saved from wrath...". This brings the focus of our attention upon (to) the decision that every person must make on the basis of what God says concerning the future. God says the wrath of God is going to be poured out. But on the basis of what Christ did in the past, those who accept Him now can be spared from that wrath and have the gift of eternal life. Come to chapter 6, verse 23, where it's all summarized.
Romans 6: 23,
God reveals to us through the prophecies (His prophecies) that the final abode of the lost is in the fires of a devil's hell, and the final abode of the saved is in a place of bliss and joy and singing and pleasure and light and music called heaven.
Look with me at the book of Revelation, chapter 21, for our concluding verses. Revelation 21. Remember we are saying now in the sixth and last place that The study of prophecy demands a decision.
That decision will determine the eternal destiny of the soul.
Revelation 21, verse 7,
"...and I will be his God, and he shall be my son." (Rev. 21: 7)
And that refers to the redeemed ones in heaven.
That refers to those who have made the decision to reject the offer that comes through Jesus Christ our Lord.
The study of prophecy brings people to the point of decision. When you hear the Word of God and you hear what God has to say concerning the future and you know that God says there's a heaven for the saved and a hell for the lost then you're right at a crisis moment where you have to make a decision. That decision, if it is not changed in the future, will determine the eternal destiny of the soul. These then are very important reasons for studying prophecy.
As we conclude the service is there anyone here who needs to be making a decision now? All of this is of no avail if you need to make a decision and make the wrong one. God demands a verdict. When you hear God's Word it presents evidence and God demands a verdict. Everyone here now is going to make a decision. Those who are here, if such there be will decide, "Yes, I'm going to take Jesus as my Savior.", or they will decide, "No I won't." Those who are already saved are going to make a decision. The decision is, "Yes Lord, I love You, I'm going to draw a little closer. Fill me with Your Spirit. Help me to be a better witness, a better soul winner, a better Christian in the days ahead." Or it's, "No Lord, I'm glad You saved me, but I don't want to get any closer. I just want to go the way I'm going." Everyone must make a decision when the Word of God is proclaimed. God is waiting now for His answer. Tell Him what it is.
Our Heavenly Father, we thank Thee for the Word of God. We thank Thee that it is so plain. We thank Thee that the Holy Spirit, that is, the Author is always present to speak to hearts and reveal those spiritual truths which You would have us to know. Now God, we pray that if there is anyone in this audience that has not received Jesus Christ, who has never publicly declared Him to be Savior and Lord of their lives, then help them, Lord, to make that decision and receive Him now. And Lord, for every Christian we pray that You will help each one of us to love the Lord Jesus more than ever before, and to draw a little closer than we've ever been before. God, we pray that every Christian here may give himself anew to the indwelling Holy Spirit and desire above all else to be in the center of Your will and to be an effective witness for the Savior. God, finish the message in every heart and accomplish Thy purpose in each of us for our good and for Thy glory. We pray it in Jesus' name, Amen.
The Nathan Meyer Bible Prophecy Association (BPA)
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