Be Careful Studying the Bible, You Could Be Deceived

Ok, ok, I admit I’m about to contradict myself and I say that to head-off the negative comments, the subject elicits enough of its own. In my last post, I argued that the reason end-time prophecy has been made complicated is because almost everyone comes to the biblical text with an end-time view before they have actually read the end-time prophecies themselves. Therefore, rather than our end-time view coming from Scripture, we read a view into Scripture. These ideas we bring to the Sacred Text are called presuppositions. And I spent close to a thousand words (which was way more than you wanted to read) in that post urging you to put yourself in theological neutral when you come to the Bible, throwing off all your preconceived views and read the Bible and let it shape your view.

But now in the first post of my follow-up series, The Endtime Views Series, I’m going to argue that there is a presupposition we all MUST take to the text. I realize the contradiction—throw off presuppositions last week and a presupposition is necessary this week.

But this presupposition that you must have guards against other presuppositions that are dangerous.

And what is this must have presupposition?

The presupposition of deception.

When we come to read, interpret, and understand the Bible we MUST know that the Bible warns that we haven an enemy whose number one tool is deception and that we are susceptive to that deception (1 Peter 5:8, John 10:10, John 8:44, Eph. 6:11-12, 2 Cor. 2:11). Not only are we warned that our enemy deceives, but we are warned that we will gravitate to teachings that allows us to carry out our own evil desires (2 Tim. 4:3-4). We’re also warned that our hearts can be fickle (Jer. 17:9), and that we struggle to give ourselves trustworthy self-assessments (James 1:23). And on top of all that every New Testament book, but Philemon warns of false teachers (1 Tim 4:1-4).

So, let’s think through this.

The last book in the New Testament was finished no more than sixty years after Jesus ascended into Heaven. The majority of the Epistles which tell the recipients that they have already been bewitched or led astray were only thirty years removed from Jesus’ return to the Father. Those first Christians only thirty to forty years away from the start of this Movement were warned they had been and could be deceived, they would gravitate to false teaching, and there would be false teachers.

Therefore, now nearly two-thousand years later, we’re in a mess. Satan and demonic

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vermin have had six-hundred times the amount of time they had to bewitch the believers of Galatia and Thyatira. We’ve had two-thousand years to bend and mold Scripture to fit our own desires. And in two-thousand years the false teaching profession has masterfully grown. We’re drowning in deception and each day new schemes are created. And if I make it sound bleak—it’s because it is. And it’s with the weight of this bleakness in which we should come to the Text. We should know that we’re a boat on the sea that can be easily tossed by the waves and pulled by the undertows. We need to know that EVERY pastor, scholar, teacher, professor, commentary writer, author, and advice-giving friend is also susceptible of being deceived.

When we see our enemy is scheming, doctrinal booby traps have been set, and we need Holy Spirit-provided armor then we are set to more accurately read and interpret the Bible. It is in the sweating that we may understand the Bible wrong that we can begin to accurately divide the Word. It is at this point that we have developed the presupposition of deception and we know to be careful studying the Bible—you could be deceived.

 

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Bonus: Helpful Hints to Utilize the Presupposition of Deception

So…now what? For one, don’t be too afraid to read and study the Bible, but we must respect that we are at war in finding the truth. But we can know the truth. We have been given the Holy Spirit to illuminate and guide us. We’ve also been given solid hermeneutical practices. I want to share a few things that I utilize to try to work through the deception.

 

  1. Read the Bible – Yes, it’s that simple, read what the Bible says. Meditate on what it says. Go beyond just isolated verses and read the context and the whole council. Don’t just take someone’s word for it, read it for yourself and again read in context.

 

  1. Seek God Holistically and Balanced – I know this sounds crazy but believe it or not many try to read and study the Bible without seeking any other spiritual growth or by the same token they do spiritual practices without reading the Word. In Ephesians 6, the Apostle Paul tells us to fight Satan’s attacks by putting on the full armor of God. He doesn’t just tell us to read the Bible or just share the Gospel. We’re to equally cover our life in all aspects of following Christ.

 

  1. Walk in the Spirit – This goes with the previous point, but make sure you have a regular time with God. A quiet time, devotional, or whatever you wanna call it. Regularly seek Him.

 

  1. Interpret Scripture with Scripture – This is a hermeneutical principle and there are other like principles I could list, but I don’t share this as a principle but as a reminder that you have to not just read the parts of the Bible you want to read. If we’re to interpret Scripture with Scripture then we have to read the whole council of God’s Word. For example, it was not until I immersed myself in the Old Testament that end-time prophecy came alive. And the whole council of Scripture also points us to understanding the reasoning and purpose of certain aspects like Samuel Whitefield has written about in his new book, It Must Be Finished.

 

  1. Keep Assessing Yourself – No matter how spiritual we may think we are, we still will always gravitate to teachings that allow us to live out our desires or take the path of least resistance. We must constantly be peering into our own hearts and asking if our interpretation is self-serving or the truth. And self-serving can also extend to preserving our status in our own churches and denominations.

 

  1. Go Back to the Beginning and the Restarts – Yes, we need to read and work through Scripture ourselves, but we will have to turn for help. We must “check” our work with trusted sources. There are tons of sources to turn to—commentaries, books, sermons, and preachers both past and present. I always check my work with the beginning of Christianity by returning to the Church Fathers especially the earliest ones. Does this mean they are right on everything—NO! But I believe they have the greatest opportunity to have a less tarnished interpretation. Next, I go to the various restarts, reforms, and revivals in Christian history to see what was sought to be corrected. Of course, the largest volume of these would be the Reformers. Again, they weren’t right on everything. But not just the reformers, there have been many times throughout history when there has been an attempt to hit reset on a doctrine or practice. A recent example is over the last ten to fifteen years, as Joel Richardson has brought to the forefront the understanding that the final empire of Daniel 2 could be the Islamic Caliphate rather than the Roman Empire. Richardson’s view is new, but it calls us back to reexamine the text. When a practice or doctrine is reviewed by returning us to the Bible that is a restart we should consider.
 
 
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Jake McCandless is an award-winning author and the executive director for Stand Firm Ministries and Prophecy Simplified . A long-time pastor who is now co-pastor of the innovatve “above-ground underground,” online church, Endtime.Church., Jake has a B.A. in Bible and Pastoral Studies from Central Baptist College, and an Advanced Masters of Divinity from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. His latest book Spiritual Prepper released through WND Books, He also is a regular contributor to WND News with voices such as Joseph Farrah, Pat Buchanan, Ann Coulter, Ben Carson, Chuck Norris, Joel Richardson, Carl Gallups. He also writes for the The Baptist Press along with other publications. He is also a regular guest on national radio and streaming web shows, along with hosting his daily radio program Prophecy Simplified Radio and weekly podcast Hold On.  Jake is married to Amanda and they have two daughters Andrea and Addison. You can follow all Jake’s work at www.jakemccandless.com. 
  

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Declaration Series IV: Bible Prophecy Doesn’t Have to Be Complicated, Read It

So, I have this tagline for my Bible prophecy teaching ministry and it’s not very helpful.

I advertise I want to be the boring prophecy guy. I know I need some marketing tips—you know anyone? And I learned really quick, prophecy-intrigued audiences don’t want the boring prophecy guy, they want the great-code-breaker or the wild conspiracist. But I have kept the tagline because there is not an end-time code to break (even if there are thirty books in Amazon’s prophecy Top 100 with that in the title). Now there are some mysteries, but not as many as we make it out to be. I’m convinced Bible prophecy doesn’t have to be as complicated as we make it. 

I want to be the boring prophecy guy because the Bible is clear on many aspects of the end-times, and those things are what we should focus on and they’re enough to understand what we need to understand. Bible prophecy is not complicated rather we are the ones who have muddied the prophecy interpretation waters, God’s Word has not failed. Bible scholars before us have created systems or views of prophecy interpretation and we now adopt one of those views before we read. We then read with those presuppositions which often creates great complications. That is why we’re so confused.

It wasn’t until I placed my heart and mind in theological-neutral and actually read the words of the prophets and Revelation that the chaos vanished, and truth rose to the surface. It was a painstaking journey through the Old Testament that brought the end of the age to focus. And this journey was after college and seminary. So, I acknowledge, such study is work, but, frankly, I found I hadn’t read and truly worked through the texts myself. And this arrival at actually just reading the texts and trying to push my presupposition aside was only a few years ago. I want to share my journey of end-time understanding to draw attention to the fact that we are setting our minds on an end-time view before even reading Scripture.

Long before I even read the “main” end-time verses, my mind was set on how they should be interpreted. Long before I read about the end-times, I had read and watched the Left Behind series. I had watched A Thief in the Night. I listened to DC Talk. The only sense of the end-time scenario I had was a pending, quick as lightning, neatly-folded-clothes rapture.

I went into Bible College with this view while the only verse in Revelation I had really read was Revelation 3:15-16 (which again was prompted by DC Talk). In the summer, after my freshman year,  before I had any teaching on the end of the age, I picked up a book on Revelation from my local Christian book store. I actually knew nothing of the author nor his view, but as a passionate youth pastor, I spent the summer teaching through that book. A book , that I now know, only contained proof texts.

Finally, in my sophomore year I had Eschatology and was taught premillennial dispensationalism was the one and only way in which The Book of Revelation could be interpreted. Therefore, I chose my stance I was a Clarence-Larkin-chart-memorizing Dispensational Premillennialist, hard and firm, that the rapture would be before the tribulation. I read nothing from opposing views, rather swore them off as evil.

Fast forward to seminary, my first semester Systematic Theology class further persuaded me to be a staunch dispensationalist. But as I progressed in my studies and began to take on the air of a scholar—I came to believe that premillies were hoaky  and uneducated, and for one to truly be a scholar than he or she must be an amillennialist. Reluctant, to take the amillennial title, I just quit teaching and talking about end-times stuff—rather I became just focused on the Gospel. I took on a more-worthy cause because (I hope you read this with the sarcastic tone I’m typing in) the end-times is only peripheral to the Gospel, Missions, and Church planting.

Then came fourth-year summer term course on The Book of Revelation. That professor was a real scholar (again that tone), he taught that The Book of Revelation was just a spiritual metaphor to the completion of suffering. I now had my ammo to take on the banner of an amillie. And to sound even cooler, I was an amillennialist who viewed The Book of Revelation through an eclectic interpretation. Some literal. Most spiritual and metaphorical. It depended on which commentator sounded the best.

Let’s fast forward a few more years, I was pastoring and had realized (following my Hebrew grades) I was not a scholar. And my tree-stand readings had been from David Jeremiah, so again I came over to the premill camp, but I wasn’t sure about dispensationalism. As you can see I’ve had quite the end-time view journey, but this latest chapter of the journey has brought me to a point of stability. 

If you agree with Jake that Bible prophecy should lead to action. Then get his latest book, Spiritual Prepper.

Three years ago, I taught an Old Testament Survey course at a lay seminary. And it was through that painstaking study through the Old Testament focused on the covenants, that I finally dug in and read Scripture. Now I had read the Bible cover to cover, but never dug in and really focused on books like the Minor Prophets. That grind through the Bible with presuppositions thrown to the side woke me up. It woke me up to the importance of end-times prophecy and how that it was not as complicated as we make it.

A month ago, I celebrated my twentieth year in ministry. And I now realize I spent the first seventeen years treating end-time views like a pizza buffet. I would look at the options—premillennialism, postmillennialism, or amillennialism and then pick the one that sounded best. Pretribulation, mid-tribulation, pre-wrath, or post-tribulation—again which ever looked best. Futurism, preterism, or symbolism—again whatever flavor I felt like picking.

We can’t do this! End-time views or theological views of any kind aren’t slices of pizza on a buffet. Rather, they need to be birthed from the text. Scripture itself is to lend us the view we should take. And a straight forward reading of the Bible makes the selecting of views quite easy.

So, how have you come to your end-time view? Was it selected off a buffet or birthed from the text? Was it concluded from reading the Bible or through recommendation of a friend? Have you put in the hard work and actually read the Bible?

The issue is too important to just pick a view especially if you are teaching and leading others.

So, what are the end-time views I have now become convinced to be true? Well, if I told you that would go against the point of this post. Instead of me telling you that, how about you read the Scriptures because Bible prophecy doesn’t have to be complicated.  
 
Also join our newsletter. Twice a month get a load of tools to help you prepare for challenges now and in the future. Register here

 

 
Jake McCandless is an award-winning author and the executive director for Stand Firm Ministries and Prophecy Simplified . A long-time pastor who is now co-pastor of the innovatve “above-ground underground,” online church, Endtime.Church., Jake has a B.A. in Bible and Pastoral Studies from Central Baptist College, and an Advanced Masters of Divinity from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. His latest book Spiritual Prepper released through WND Books, He also is a regular contributor to WND News with voices such as Joseph Farrah, Pat Buchanan, Ann Coulter, Ben Carson, Chuck Norris, Joel Richardson, Carl Gallups. He also writes for the The Baptist Press along with other publications. He is also a regular guest on national radio and streaming web shows, along with hosting his daily radio program Prophecy Simplified Radio and weekly podcast Hold On.  Jake is married to Amanda and they have two daughters Andrea and Addison. You can follow all Jake’s work at www.jakemccandless.com. 
  

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