Too Much Information
Vol: 161 Issue: 19 Thursday, February 19, 2015
As I was casting about for inspiration this morning, the words ‘be still’ kept bouncing around in my brain. Generally speaking, that would be bad advice for a writer with a deadline.
There is a lot going on in the world right now. Much of it is relevant to Bible prophecy, but not all. Some of it is white noise. I’m still working on sorting out which is which.
I feel a bit like the two kids in the Denny’s commercial trying to sort all the options ten dollars would give them. At the end, one kid makes a gesture like his head was exploding from too much information.
“Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.” (Psalms 46:10)
The Middle East continues to unravel – every day is a new surprise. The Bible outlines only so many possible options – I’ve explored each from as many angles as possible and in the end, I will probably still be wrong.
Back in the 1980’s, I knew that the Bible forecast the rise of a revived form of the Roman Empire and that it would take supremacy in the last days. For Europe to surpass the world’s two existing superpowers the US and USSR would have to decrease.
That was only logical.
And from the perspective of the early 1980’s, the most logical way for that to come about would be a limited nuclear war between the two countries. It fit both the times and the capabilities and there were plenty of Scriptures that seemed to point toward nuclear war.
I could argue half a dozen different scenarios that ended in with the Soviets and Americans each knocking themselves out of commission, necessitating a revived Roman Empire to pick up the pieces.
There was only one scenario that I hadn’t thought of.
The one that happened.
It never occurred to me that the Soviet Union would simply crumble. That the Berlin Wall would just come down. Looking back, with hindsight, it should have.
Instead, I was babbling away, happily sharing my pet theories with anybody that couldn’t escape me.
Every one of them was wrong.
It wasn’t the Bible that steered me in the wrong direction. My opinion in the mid 1980’s was shared, with minor variations, by almost all the important teachers of the time. They weren’t steered wrong by the Bible, either.
The Bible’s scenario continues to play out exactly as outlined. But interpreting the signs of the times is exactly that – an interpretation.
“Stand in awe, and sin not: commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah.” (Psalms 4:4)
There are times when one should interpret. . . and there are times when one should be still and contemplate. Like when there is too much information.
And with that, we suddenly shift gears: I was cruising the member’s forums (boy, do I love that place!) and I came across this question: “Are Preterists Saved?”
“The only reason I ask, is that if we are all given the Holy Spirit who indwells us, and that Holy Spirit guides us into all truth, then how can these folks be SO wrong about SO much of scripture?”
(It’s a fair question – mainly about interpretation, so the shift wasn’t really that drastic)
Preterism is an interpretation of Scripture (elevated to the point of doctrine by its adherents) that argues that all Bible prophecy was fulfilled by AD 70.
The antichrist was Nero, the destruction of the Temple fulfilled the prophecies of Revelation and that event signaled the transfer of the Covenant Promises from Israel over to the Church.
Most adherents to preterism would agree with the following tongue-in-cheek one-liner from this particular forum thread. (In this, they would be in harmony with most pre-tribulationists.)
“I have discovered through the years that only the people who agree with MY interpretation of scripture have a correct understanding, and everybody else is going to hell.”
Back to the original question, then. How can we all be led by the Holy Spirit and they be so wrong?
A preterist that trusts Christ for his salvation instead of his works is saved. So is a Catholic.
There is clearly a limit to the role doctrine plays in salvation. Consider the question asked of the Apostles by their jailer in Acts 16:30-31. (hint: only one reply is correct)
“Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, embrace the doctrine of dispensational pretribulationalism and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.”
“Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, do good and live a sinless life and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.”
“Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, join a Spirit-led church and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.”
“Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.” (Acts 16:30-31)
In the eleventh chapter of Genesis, the whole world has united under a single king, Nimrod, who conspires to defeat God by building a tower in case God decided to send another flood.
God, in His wisdom, confounds their speech and language, breaking them up into nations to prevent them from being united as a single voice. That is too much power to invest in one person.
The same applies with the Church. The Church has from the earliest been separated into factions according to disparate doctrines.
Emperor Constantine united the Church the way Nimrod united the world. The results? The Crusades. The Inquisitions. The pogroms against the Jews.
The Holy Spirit broke up that unity with the Reformation and has led the various denominations in the directions they have taken according to the same wisdom that is so evident to us in the Babel story.
There won’t be doctrinal unity again until after He is taken out of the way. “And then shall that Wicked be revealed. . .”
“Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.” (1 Corinthians 1:25)
God knows what He is doing. Tony’s one-liner hits on a profound truth. We aren’t saved by our interpretation of Scripture. One can be five miles off the mark and still be a saved believer.
If it was up to me, then “only the people that agree with my interpretation of Scripture have a correct understanding and everybody else is going to hell”—which is good reason to thank God it isn’t up to me.
Otherwise, Heaven might be a lonely, boring place to spend eternity.
Originally Published: February 16, 2011
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