I would like to ask you a question
this morning. What is prophecy? Did you know the Bible defines everything
that it talks about? You do not necessarily need lexicons, Bible dictionaries,
or concordances. Those are helpful aids
and I recommend them, but if you only have a Bible, you can make it. The Bible is self-defining,
self-interpreting, and self-commenting.
The Bible Tells Us
The Bible tells us what prophecy is,
and to understand prophecy we need a complete revelation from God. For example, you cannot understand the book
of Leviticus without the book of Hebrews.
You cannot understand Isaiah without the gospels. You cannot understand Daniel without the book
of Revelation. So, we need the complete
revelation of God to have a complete understanding of the things God is talking
about in the Bible. This becomes clear
when one reads in the Bible that the very prophets who wrote the Bible really
did not understand it: They did not have
the complete revelation.
2 – The Bible uses three types of language. It uses a figurative language. An example of figurative language is when
Jesus said, Let the dead bury the dead (Mt.
8:22), and you know that corpses do not go around burying other corpses. That is figurative language He was
using. Also, the meaning of figurative
language is always clear from the context where you find it.
Then there is the symbolic
language. The Bible uses thousands of
symbols, and these symbols always represent something else. For example, the four beasts in the book of
Daniel, we are told, represent kingdoms.
The symbols that are found are always explained in the context where
they are found or somewhere else in the scripture.
Every symbol in the Bible is explained
somewhere in scripture. People say,
“Well, you cannot understand the Book of Revelation.” I had a Sunday School teacher (not you John)
tell me one time that he wished they would take “Revelation” out of the book,
because, he said, no one can understand it anyway. He was only showing his stupidity. Every symbol in Revelation is explained
somewhere in the Bible, and most of them are found in the book of Revelation
Finally, the most commonly used
language in the Bible is literal language.
If you can take it literally, that is the way you need to take it. If the plain sense makes sense, then don’t
look for any other sense. The Bible
means what it says, where it says, and how it says it. People try to change it around because they
are smarter than God. Let me give you an
example. I am a firm believer in
context. But people can take that too
far sometimes. God loved Jacob and He
hated Esau. Well, if you keep it in
context…. When I hear someone using that term more than they should, do you
know what that tells me. It tells me
they do not believe what the Bible said.
There is no mistaking when the Bible
is literal. I’ve had this happen and you
probably have too: When all you do is
read someone a passage of scripture and they do not like it, they say, “Well,
that is your interpretation. If they
don’t say that that they say “Well, you can take the Bible and teach anything
that you want to teach.” They know what
it means, but they are rejecting it. You
ought to take everything in the Bible literal if you can take it that way. It means exactly what it says. There is no
fooling around with God. If you do not
believe in the Authority of the Bible, you will not believe the Bible.
We need to avoid allegorizing
scripture. We need to avoid
spiritualizing scripture. There are
people who would spiritualize the whole Bible away until it did not really mean
anything when they were through with it.
There are three things we need to avoid when we are handling the Word of
3 – One of
these is misinterpretation. For example,
if I told you to open your Bible to John 3:5, and it says, Jesus answered, verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born
of water and of the spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. But I say, “Except a man be born of water
and the blood, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” Then I said, “You see there, you have got to
be baptized to be saved.” That is a misinterpretation.
John 3:5 is not talking about baptism at all.
There are no baptisms within 20 verses of John 3.
Then, there is a misapplication of
scripture. If I told you to turn in your
Bible to Acts 2:38, it would say, Then
Peter said unto them, repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of
Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the
Holy Ghost, and then I said, “This applies to you.” That would be a misapplication of
scripture. Acts 2:38 does not apply to
you. You are not a Jew in
Jerusalem. You are a Gentile, and that
passage does not apply to you at all.
This verse is the foundational verse for the charismatic movement, and
it is a misapplication of scripture.
Finally, there is the dislocation of
scripture. If I went back to the
scriptures and told you to go to the book of Isa. 50-53, and we read them, and
I said, “Those promises are to be applied spiritually to the church.” That is a dislocation because those promises
are to be applied literally to the nation of Israel in the kingdom. They have nothing to do with the church. So, we need to be careful about
The trouble is that people are not
willing to let the Bible say what it says, where it says it. They are not willing to do that. They want to change it, they want to correct
it, and they want to interpret it. They
want to do ‘this and that’ instead of letting it say what it wants to say.
4 – Look at the verse on the screen. Study
to shew thyself approved unto God (If you are a Christian who never studies
the Bible, you are not approved; your life is unapproved.), a workman that needeth not to be ashamed,
rightly dividing the word of truth.
The problem is that people do not take the time and the effort to study
out and rightly divide the Word of Truth.
It is really amazing the number of Christians who want to be spoon-fed.
If this is what you want, you are a
baby. If you are too lazy to get the
food out, take the lid off the jar yourself, get the spoon out, and eat it, you
are a baby. There are too many
Christians that way. They never study
the Bible. They want to be spoon fed
everything about it.
You should develop the habit that when
you have a question about the scripture, first of all, you do everything you
can to find the answer before you ask someone else. Learn how to use the Word of God. Learn how to get around in it. Learn how to use concordances. Learn how to use whatever you need to get the
answers to your questions. Then if you
cannot find it, go ask someone. The
trouble is that people do not let the scriptures say what the scriptures want
to say. They want to interpret them.
Search the scriptures
5 – There are four things we have to know if we
want to rightly divide the word of truth.
We have to know, first of all, who is speaking in any given
passage. Is God talking? Is it Moses or the apostle Paul? Who is it that is speaking? 2. Secondly,
to whom is that person speaking? Is he
speaking to Israel nationally? Is he
talking to a church? Is he speaking to
an individual Christian, Gentiles or the heathen? To who is he directing this message. 3. Third, what is he talking about in the
scripture? It is amazing that an
individual Christian will pick up his bible, read two or three chapters and say
that he has read his bible today.
Well, what was it about? ‘I do not know’ is the usual response. Christians have devotion in the morning and
by 9:00 at night they have forgotten what it was they have read about. They do not know what it is about. Ask yourself some questions while you are
reading the Book. Find out what it is
doing and what it is talking about.
4. Fourth, find out when it is taking
place. What dispensation is it? Ask yourself, does this apply to the church
age? Or does it apply to the Tribulation
Period? Does it apply to Israel in the
land? Or does it apply to Israel in
their dispensation? What dispensation is
he talking about in the scripture?
If you will answer those questions
while you are studying any given passage, you will not get into heresy. It is impossible to rightly divide the word
of truth without doing these things. If
you are not doing them, it will lead to every kind of heresy there is. Every single false teaching that is found
comes from not rightly dividing the word of truth. Do not ever try to make the Bible and say
something that it does not say.
6- What is Prophecy? Let us allow the Bible to tell us what prophecy is from the Book of
The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his
servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it
by his angel unto his servant John:
bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of
all things that he saw.
And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the
marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings
And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, see thou do it not:
I am thy fellow servant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus:
worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.
The Spirit of Prophecy
The testimony of Jesus is the spirit
of prophecy. The one that John bowed
down to said, “I am one of your fellow servants.” He said that he was a prophet, too, a fellow
prophet. “I am like you are, John. You
are a prophet and I am a prophet. And
what we are ordained to do is give testimony of Jesus.”
Prophecy is the testimony of Jesus
Christ. That is all it is according to
the definition given in scripture. 7 – Re:22:8: And I John saw these things, and heard
them. And when I had heard and seen, I fell down to worship before the feet of
the angel which shewed me these things.
The one John is bowing to is one of the prophets. The prophet tells John that he needs to stay
with the testimony of Jesus, and His testimony is the spirit of prophecy.
8 – If prophecy is the testimony of Jesus, we must
conclude that the entire Bible is in the testimony of Jesus Christ, from
Genesis to Revelation.
Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in
heaviness through manifold temptations:
That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that
perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour
and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:
Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet
believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory:
Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.
Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who
prophesied of the grace that should come unto you:
Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them
did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the
glory that should follow.
Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did
minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached
the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the
angels desire to look into.
Suffering and Glory
Notice the two great
themes of prophecy. in vs 11 9 –
The sufferings of Christ, the
The glory that should follow, the
Second advent. Those are the two themes
of prophecy – the first coming of Jesus Christ and the Second coming of Jesus
Christ. The testimony of Jesus is the
spirit of prophecy.
And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the
We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take
heed, ( The more sure word here is the written Word of God, and what he has
been referring to in the last few verses has been the mount of transfiguration
from Mt. 17, on which Peter, James, and John went up with Jesus. Jesus was transfigured before them, and they
heard a voice from heaven saying, “This
is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased, here ye him.”
Peter is saying here that with this written Book, you have a more sure word of
prophesy than if you heard a voice from heaven.
By the way, you are not going to hear a voice from heaven. If you hear voices, you better check it out
because it is not coming from God.) as unto a light that shineth in a dark
place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: (This is a
reference to the rapture)
Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private
For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God
spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.
What did they speak about? Jesus.
They wrote about the sufferings of Christ and the glory that should
follow. So, the prophetic scriptures from
Genesis to Revelation are the testimony of Jesus Christ. They speak of His sufferings and His glory.
The Old Testament prophet did not
quite have the perspective that we have today.
He is standing in the distant past and he is prophesying of two
things. What is the first thing? The sufferings of Christ are the first
thing. And what else? The glory that should follow is the second
(that is a crown.) What does the prophet see?
He does not see the valley between the sufferings of Christ and the
glory that should follow, which is the church age.
You do not find the church age clearly
given in the Old Testament. The OT
prophet sees the sufferings and he sees the glory, but he cannot reconcile the
two. He cannot understand them. We read that in 10 – 1Pe:1:11:
Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them
They could not get it all together
because how is the Messiah going to suffer and be the King, also? Of course, we can look back and see now from
our point of view. We can see the
division between the two mountain peaks of prophesy that are found in scripture.
Old Testament Visions
Let us get an example in Isa. 61 of
the Old Testament prophets not being able to see quite as clearly. Isaiah did not see the comma that he put in a
verse, but Jesus did see it. And it
comes out very clearly. Not only is
every jot and tittle important, but the punctuation as well. There is one comma
here that divides both advents in the same verse, and you can find similar
occurrences often in scripture.
Isa:61:1: The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon
me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he
hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives,
and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;
To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our
God; to comfort all that mourn; Can you
see the two advents? Where are
they? They are in verse 2: First advent – to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord. (comma); and the
Second Advent – the day of vengeance of
11 – (Jesus quotes this until the first comma and
then stops because the Second Advent will not apply when He is here the first
time, although Isaiah did not know this when he prophesied.) Lu:4:16: And he (Jesus) came to Nazareth,
where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the
synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read.
And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he
had opened the book, he found the place where it was written,
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the
gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach
deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at
liberty them that are bruised, (v. 19 is found in Isa. 61:2)
To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.
Acceptable Year of the Lord
And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And
the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him.
And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture (up to the comma) fulfilled
in your ears.
He did not say anything about the
judgment of God because that is the Second Advent. God will come back in fiery vengeance,
executing judgment on all of the ungodly, which is stated in the Book of Jude. This is the Second Advent. So both advents are given there in Isaiah,
but he does not see the distinction between them. The Lord makes that distinction when He
quotes the verse.