Warnings and Cautions
In this generation there is a great deal of interest in prophecy. There are some dangerous temptations in the study of prophecy. Some teachers and writers go far beyond the boundaries of sound scriptural interpretation. There have already been many wild and irresponsible claims made by prophecy teachers, and there certainly will be many more errors taught during this time. The effect of this will be to mislead many and to discourage many others from study of this important aspect of the Scriptures.
Several cautions are in order for those who wish to know the truth but do not want to not be misled by false teachers. Here are some of these warnings and cautions:
1 - We cannot know the date of Christ's return. Jesus said, "No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Matthew 24:36 (NIV)
He also said: "Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him. Matthew 24:42-44(NIV)
In answer to their question about when He would establish His Kingdom, Jesus answered, "It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority." Acts 1:7 (NIV)
In another place, where Jesus' disciples wrongly thought that the Kingdom was going to appear at once, He gave them a parable about ten stewards, each of whom received money to invest. They were told to "Occupy until I come." (Luke 19:13 KJV) We do not know when He will return, but we should be busy about His business until that glorious day.
2 - We can not know who Antichrist will be. According to 2 Thessalonians 2:1-8, he will not be revealed until the Holy Spirit, the Restrainer, has been taken away, presumably by the Rapture.
3- We must base our views on Scripture and proper methods of interpretation, and use supplemental information only for illustration.
4- We dare not be dogmatic about how future events will unfold. Like those who were looking for Christ's first coming, we should have carefully developed ideas of how His second coming, and all the related events of prophecy, might occur, but we should be open to other possibilities.
5- We must maintain respect and fellowship with other Bible-believing people who do not understand prophecy the way we do.
6- We must not ignore the importance of prophecy in the Bible. It is wrong to loose interest in this part of God's Word just because it is difficult or confusing, or even because others have made serious errors before.
These cautions, and many others, have been expressed in two good recent books: Soothsayers Of The Second Advent, by William M. Alnor, and 99 Reasons Why No One Knows When Christ Will Return, by B.J. Oropeza. Both of these men are associated with the Christian Research Institute in Irvine, California, founded by the late Dr. Walter R. Martin. Hank Hanegraaff, president of that organization, who is now known as "The Bible Answer Man," around the world, is an voice for caution. In the foreword to Oropeza's book he reminds us that 1 Peter 1:13 tells us to be sober-minded and alert. He suggests that we be prepared for Christ's coming at any time, but realize it may not happen for another thousand years. (B.J. Oropeza, 99 Reasons Why No One Knows When Christ Will Return, p. 9)
These two books list scores of examples of those who have set dates for Christ's return, have strongly suggested the name of Antichrist, or have made other serious errors which have discredited their scholarship. Because of their theological traditions, the authors include some objections to a pre-Tribulation Rapture (ibid., p. 15). But their general approach and warnings against extremism are a welcome message to all true students of the Bible.