Seers and the End of the World
As a Seer, one of the main questions I receive is about prophetic visions and dreams regarding the end of the world. I believe that proper Biblical understanding should guide our theology, not prophetic experiences.
The main issue that I have seen is that people have divergent prophetic experiences, so how do we know which vision was correct? That is where the Bible steps in and we must test our experience. We must not believe every prophet, spirit or prophecy; they must be tested and evaluated.
“Do not treat prophecies with contempt but test them all; hold on to what is good.” (1 Thessalonians 5:20-21)
“Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things. For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” (2 Peter 1:20-21)
“But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse!” (Galatians 1:8)
“Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” (1 John 4:1)
In the field of endtime teachings, the charismatic movement has displayed an incredible lack of discernment and deep gullibility. For example, one Charismatic TV preacher claims that he knows his endtime teachings are right because he prays in tongues while studying. I have heard countless stories of brother so-and-so or sister-whoever that had a vision of the rapture, the antichrist or a coming great tribulation. While it is possible that they did have a vision, this does not automatically mean it was from the Lord.
Take for example the fact that much of the modern Evangelical understanding of the Rapture came about from the prophetic visions of Margaret McDonald a 15-year old girl in the 1830s. Here in her own words:
“When I say, they are looking from the cross, I feel that there is much in it - they turn from the blood of the Lamb, by which we overcome, and in which our robes are washed and made white. There are low views of God’s holiness, and a ceasing to condemn sin in the flesh, and a looking from him who humbled himself, and made himself of no reputation. Oh! It is needed, much needed at present, a leading back to the cross. I saw that night, and often since, that there will be an outpouring of the Spirit on the body, such as has not been, a baptism of fire, that all the dross may be put away. Oh there must and will be such an indwelling of the living God as has not been - the servants of God sealed in their foreheads - great conformity to Jesus - his holy holy image seen in his people - just the bride made comely by his comeliness put upon her. This is what we are at present made to pray much for; that speedily we may all be made ready to meet our Lord in the air - and it will be. Jesus wants his bride. His desire is toward us. He that shall come, will come, and will not tarry. Amen and Amen even so come Lord Jesus.”* (See Endnote)
Although the Rapture visions from McDonald have become the majority view in Evangelical Pop Culture, through the successes of the Scofield Reference Bible (1909) the Late Great Planet Earth (1970) and the Left Behind Series of the 1990s. In contrast there have been several books written about prophetic experiences, which present a different view of the End Times. For example the Final Quest series by Rick Joyner and Visions Beyond the Veil by H. A. Baker both seem to present a future war between Christians and evil spiritual forces. Rather than Christians avoiding a coming conflict by being raptured away, these seem to point to Christians living through the Tribulation period. Perhaps the correct interpretation of these visions is actually about our current spiritual battle in the spirit realm, but many interpretations have been applied.
One recent author has attempted to provide an interpretation of his son’s prophetic experiences in Heaven is for Real by Todd Burpo. His four-year old son, Colton, had a near death experience in which he had many visionary experiences. In his own words:
“Dad, did you know there’s going to be a war?”
“What do you mean?” Were we still on the heaven topic? I wasn’t sure.
“There’s going to be a war, and it’s going to destroy this world. Jesus and the angels and the good people are going to fight against Satan and the monsters and the bad people. I saw it.”
I thought of the battle described in the book of Revelation, and my heartbeat stepped up a notch. “How did you see that?”
“In heaven, the women and the children got to stand back and watch. So I stood back and watched.” Strangely, his voice was sort of cheerful, as though he were talking about a good movie he’d seen. “But the men, they had to fight. And Dad, I watched you. You have to fight too.”
According to Colton Burpo his father, a pastor, we would still be on the earth to experience the future book of Revelation events. Yet according to Margaret McDonald’s visions, all Christians would have been raptured before this. So how do we determine whose prophetic visions are correct?
This question gets even trickier when major trusted Charismatic leaders have differing views regarding the End Times. It is important that we not rally around a theological belief system simply because a lot of people respect an individual on TV, because that leader prays 24/7, or because they have had incredibly detailed visions about the future. It is our responsibility to be like the Bereans.
“Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.” (Acts 17:11)
Our theology must be completely founded in the Word of God.
These believers were listening to the Apostle Paul himself and yet they are commended for taking the time to research and examine his teachings in the light of Scripture. I would encourage every reader to do the same. Do not accept an End Time teaching because of who is saying it or because of their prophetic experiences. Our theology must be completely founded in the Word of God.
End Time theology falls into four basic categories:
Idealist: An Idealist believes that most of the prophetic passages in the New Testament are symbolic of the Church’s struggle against darkness and we are not looking for literal fulfillment.
Historical: A Historicist believes that the prophetic passages in the New Testament have been unfolding over the course of the past 2000 years of Church history.
Futurist: A Futurist believes that most of the prophetic passages in the New Testament have not occurred and will happen in our future. (Within this system, there are divergent views regarding how the future will play out: Pre-Trib, Mid-Trib, Post-Trib, etc)
Preterist: A Preterist believes that most of the prophetic passages in the New Testament were completed by the 70AD destruction of Jerusalem.
Throughout the Church and even among Charismatics there is much disagreement and debate as to which of these is right. Although many individuals are scared of taking a strong stance or are afraid to study these topics because they seem so confusing, this is an important topic. Your understanding of the future affects how you live day-to- day in the present. The truth is that only one of the four views is correct and the other three are false, yet the debate over which one is the right one continues onward.
Although prophetic experiences sometimes confirm correct theology, the issue in this arena is that with four different categories of belief, many are willing to accept one of the four not because Scripture has convinced them but because they have been convinced by the prophetic experience of another.
For example, I recently had an individual emailing to tell me that he knew that there is a future rapture because he knows of a nine-year old boy with downs-syndrome that has seen a vision of the Rapture. Because this experience is charged with so much emotion, it is important to remember that the Word of God is the ultimate authority. Perhaps there is another downs-syndrome child that has had a vision of Christians not being raptured and living through a future tribulation. Then how would one determine which child is correct?
We must hold our visions up to the light of the Word and be willing to test them accordingly. If an End time vision is incorrect, there are several options as to why that could be:
- The devil might be bringing false experiences to create bad teaching and fear.
- The individual might be looking for more credibility or attention.
- A personal grid of theology might be slanting an individual’s prophetic experiences. It is our responsibility to test and judge, not to blindly receive everything someone is teaching. “Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things. For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” (2 Peter 1:20-21) All prophetic experiences must agree with the whole Word of God. As you will notice I have specifically not revealed my personal stance regarding the End Times (See Endnote). It is not my goal to sway you toward my beliefs. It is my goal to sway you to study the Bible for answers. I want to encourage you not to take my word for it, but to test all things with the Word and hold fast that which is good.
Ask yourself the following questions:
- Is my view of the End Times based on my personal prophetic experiences, the experiences and teachings of others or on my own responsible study of the Word?
- Are you willing to change your understanding of the End Times if you find that the Word teaches something different?
*Endnote: If you are interested in reading the views of this author see read more of Raptureless: Third Edition, or download the free first edition below.