PLEASE TEACH PROPHECY
Biblical Research Monthly, November 1942
By Dr. David L. Cooper
AS ONE looks out over the religious field, he does not find the stalwart giants of Bible students today as those of two decades ago did. It seems that one by one these great Bible teachers are being called home. At the same time there do not seem to be many arising to take their places. From one standpoint the picture looks very dark. But there is a bright side to this picture. Let us remember that God still has His seven thousand loyal servants who have not bowed the knee to Baal and He will always have them, I am persuaded.
During the summer I have traveled from coast to coast and made many trips which have taken me into various sections of the country. By my visitations and contacts with men, I am impressed this year as never before with the dearth of the teaching of prophecy. Nearly everywhere I go, people tell me that the ministers--even fundamental, evangelical ones--are either avoiding this portion of the Word or saying very little about it. There is a hunger on the part of many of God's choicest saints throughout the country for a clearer understanding of the predictions relating to the future. On the other hand, I am told that there is quite a bit of preaching on prophecy over the radio, which partakes of a very spectacular and sensational nature. Of course, such a type of ministry is frequently detrimental to the cause of Christ.
PEOPLE need a well balanced, spiritual ration. This is just as essential to the soul as the proper diet is to the physical body. The Bible furnishes just such a balanced spiritual meal.
The faithful, true, evangelical ministers of the Word, as reports come to me, are doing an excellent job in proclaiming the gospel message and are endeavoring to build up the saints in their most holy faith, doing so however largely from the letters and epistles of the New Testament.
It occurs to me, however, that a mistake is being made. One's ministry should embrace all portions of the Word. Paul urged Timothy to preach the Word (II Tim. 4). By the Word he meant all the Scriptures--the Old and the New Testaments. Of course, when he wrote this letter to Timothy, certain portions of the New Testament had not been written. He therefore meant by that expression those portions that had been given. Today, for one to preach the Word, he must include in his ministry the entire revelation of God.
I WISH to urge upon my brethren in the ministry to devote more time to the study of the prophetic portions of the Word and to give it to the people. Of course, if a man does not know the messages of the prophets, he should never attempt to discuss them. But every man who is qualified to go into the pulpit to proclaim the gospel should already have studied the prophecies and should continue to do so.
Paul stated to Timothy that, "every scripture inspired of God is also profitable for teaching, reproof, for correction, for instruction which is in righteousness: that the man of God may be complete, furnished completely unto every good work" (II Tim. 3:16,17). Any writing in the first century was called "scripture" but only those writings that were God breathed are profitable for doctrine, etc. Paul accepted the entire Old Testament as God breathed, as well as his own writings and those of his fellow New Testament writers. They are all profitable for doctrine and instruction, etc. In order that the man of God may be complete, he must study all the Word. The psalmist tells us, in Psalm 119:160, "The sum of thy Word is truth."
If a person simply studies the Scriptures in spots and avoids certain portions of it, he certainly cannot have the truth. This becomes apparent in the light of the psalmist's statement. I would therefore urge not only my brethren in the ministry but all Christians to study every portion of the Word, omitting none. Furthermore, I would urge the ministers to preach and teach on prophetic themes just the same as on any other subjects. No man's ministry can be full, rounded and biblical that omits the preaching and teaching of the prophetic word--even though one may proclaim with no uncertain sound and in the fervor of an earnest soul the gospel message. Let us therefore, brethren, study the entire Word, asking God to enable us to see the truth as it is in order that we may give it to His people.
THE unvarying attitude of normal people is to look toward the future. Paul spoke to saved people and yet said that they were saved by hope (Rom. 8:24). By this statement he meant to affirm that the people of God, if they are normal in their spiritual development, are looking toward the future with great expectation and desire. God has given the prophetic portions of the Word to satisfy this healthy attitude. Whenever therefore our ministry neglects the prophetic word, we are not meeting this spiritual demand of the people whom we are serving. Of course, under such a ministry the people cannot grow and develop as God intends that they should.
SINCE we are normally looking toward the future and since the Word is a light in the darkness of the evil one, one must have the light from the prophetic word to point out to him the path which he should take. There are certain definite trends in our day and time and great movements that, to the unlearned and untaught in the Scriptures, appear to be right and good. Only those who know the prophetic word and see the fulfillment of predictions can detect the evil and recognize the satanic operations in these otherwise seemingly good efforts. In many ways Satan slips upon the blind side of those untaught in the prophetic word.
MANY off color sects and cults of the present day are exploiting the teaching of the prophetic word, interpreting it for the purpose of forwarding their own peculiar views and tenets. Legion is the number of earnest, sincere Christians who have been led out of faithful, orthodox churches into these off color groups, simply because they have not been given the prophetic word for which their normal souls yearned and longed. They have therefore been won over by heretical sects and have gone into error. Because of this situation the evangelical churches that are standing for the faith once for all delivered to the saints should see that their people are given a full, rounded, spiritual diet, including prophecy.
WHY HAS God given us a detailed outline of the future? Why has He made known to us His purposes? The answer is plain. He wishes us to cooperate in an intelligent manner with Him in carrying out His "plan of the ages." I may illustrate this principle by the relationship which exists between my wife and me. She and I constitute a company. I must inform her of all of my plans, purposes, and intentions, and she must do the same to me in order that we may assist each other in performing our duties and in carrying forward the work of God committed to us. Only by knowing what God has revealed concerning the future can I adjust my program and make it fit into His benevolent plans.
FOR THESE and many other reasons, I exhort my brethren in the ministry to study carefully the entire Bible, including the prophetic portions, and build up their people in the most holy faith. It is well for us to read the writings of faithful men of God and see what they have seen in the Word. At the same time let us personally examine the Scriptures carefully to be certain that the things concerning which they write are in perfect alignment with the Word of God. One may force an interpretation upon a passage which is contrary to the facts of the context. His doing so however will not alter the unchangeable Word of God. Let us therefore study to know what it teaches and with boldness and in love proclaim it both in season and out of season.
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