The Prophecy Driven Life by Dr. Jeffrey Ady
The Prophecy-Driven Life:
Watching, Praying, and Preaching
in the Last of the Last Days
Jeffrey C. Ady, PhD.
Hope Chapel Ala Moana
Naming “The Prophecy-Driven Life”
What does it mean to be “prophecy-driven” in a world and social system that is, at its core, “present-driven”? “Prophecy-Driven” is to be primarily informed and motivated by the Word of God in general—and by the predictive statements it makes about the End Times in specific. Living the “Prophecy-Driven Life” is, as Christ Jesus put it, is to actively “watch and pray” as Biblically-predicted events unfold and ensure that one is spiritually prepared to meet the Lord when He returns. My goals in this essay are to present a prophecy-driven eschatology, distinguish it from a “present-driven” life, and finally to describe what the “Prophecy-Driven Life” might look like, given Biblical passages that appear to speak to a “Prophecy-Driven” worldview and way of life.
Is it indeed possible for someone like me who has been fascinated by the Bible’s predictions of last-days events for decades—and who has seen events around the world coalesce, over the past handful of years in particular, to present dramatic and amazing fulfillments of such predictions—to become so enthusiastic and focused in my teaching and preaching that others might call me a “prophecy nut” or some such epithet? Yes. And there are quite a few of us “prophecy nuts”, but I would hazard the guess that quite a few of us would describe ourselves as “watchers”, people who are keenly aware of the importance of the times we inhabit, and closely observing events around the world as they actually and literally fulfill Biblical predictions of what will occur just before, during, and after the return of Jesus Christ for His Church and the denouement of the Age of Grace. We “watchers” are viewed by most in the Body of Christ as living and functioning on the margins…hence “watchmen on the walls”.
Yet it stands to reason that, as humanity reaches the End Times, the Lord wants members of His Church to become more mindful of the Bible’s predictions of end-time events and ever-more outspoken on the Word of God’s message to humanity in these days.
In addition, I believe I have received from the Lord a kernel of understanding that I have eventually come to call the “Prophecy-Driven Life”. Ironically, I was a bit ashamed to call it that at first. In my initial diagramming I was using terms such as “eschatology-driven”. Then the Lord asked me: “Are you so ashamed of ‘prophecy’ that you’re afraid to use the word as I gave it to you?” Indeed, I had to confess I was! The prevailing winds of contemporary culture, even within the churches today, had me cornered and my own timidity had been found out. But no more. I have made the choice to use the word “prophecy” to identify something that “drives” a mindset and lifeway that God appears to be highlighting for the present and for the days ahead as both desirable and necessary, and not as something for “prophecy nuts” or kooks on the fringes of what is commonly held to be the mainstream of evangelical Christian life.
And it is by no simple coincidence that the eventual “Prophecy-Driven Life” I’ve settled on reminds me of another, hugely popular, “-Driven Life” three-word moniker beginning with a “P”. The Prophecy-Driven life definitely has a “Purpose”—a powerful and Divine Purpose—with goals found in our “more sure Word of prophecy” and effects profoundly touching lives everywhere in contemporary society, both in Christian life and outside our churches.
Before I begin to describe the “Prophecy-Driven Life”, though, I wish to define two basic terms. The first is “prophecy” itself; the second is “eschatology”. “Prophecy” refers to predictive texts in the Biblical Scriptures, both in the Old and New Testaments. I do not take “Prophecy” to mean utterances or writing produced by anyone in the Church Age claiming to occupy the “office” of a “New Testament Prophet” in the sense that such a “Prophet” exists or functions in the same way prophets did in Old Testament times, e.g., one individual chosen and set apart by God to speak to entire nations or societies on God’s behalf. There is a contemporary “Prophetic” movement today in Pentecostal and Charismatic circles which has seen a great number of people claiming to be “Prophets” of God with a capital “P”, and many of their teachings have produced much confusion in the churches concerning how Biblical prophecy is to be interpreted. Most of the modern-day “Prophets” teach against the literal interpretation of the Bible’s prophecies, which is a great and grievous irony. The warnings we find in Colossians 2:18,19 and 2 Thessalonians 2:3 against deception seem very appropriate here.
“Eschatology” is the study of the teachings in the Bible concerning the end times, or of the period of time dealing with the return of Christ and the events that follow (Christian Apologetics Research Ministry, online Dictionary of Theology. http://carm.org/dictionary-eschatology). Beyond that definition, however, “eschatology” can refer to an individual’s belief system regarding the End Times, or even a group’s approach to it, such that descriptions or arguments could be made of “my eschatology” or “my church’s eschatology”. This use of the word “eschatology”, then, does become important to the discussion of the “Prophecy-Driven Life”.
“Prophecy-Driven” is to be primarily informed and motivated by the Word of God in general—and by the predictive statements it makes about the End Times in specific.
Living the “Prophecy-Driven Life” is, as Christ Jesus put it, is to actively “watch and pray” as Biblically-predicted events unfold and to ensure that one is spiritually prepared to meet the Lord when He returns.
The remainder of this essay is devoted to three major sections:
(1) Describing four vital facets of a Prophecy-Driven eschatology;
(2) Distinguishing the “Prophecy-Driven Life” from the “Present-Driven Life”
(3) Describing what the “Prophecy-Driven Life” looks like from the viewpoint of the New Testament Gospels and Epistles.
The Prophecy-Driven Eschatology: Four Vital Facets
To complete this preliminary sketch of the Prophecy-Driven Life, I wish to introduce four features of an eschatology that should be typical of the Prophecy-Driven Life. These characteristics reflect an individual’s degree of maturity in Christ, assume healthy relationships in a Gospel-oriented and Bible-teaching church, and are predicated on personal integrity and a close walk with the Holy Spirit.
Now to the four facets.
First, the Prophecy-Driven eschatology is based on the preponderance of Scripture. Rather than depending on the shaky foundation of one or two proof-texts taken out of context, this end-times understanding takes the whole of Biblical predictive texts into account and allows them to speak with one coherent voice.
Second, the Prophecy-Driven eschatology emanates from an intersubmission to a community of faith in Christ. The Prophecy-Driven believer doesn’t act as a lone wolf in the sheepfold. He should be committed to a local church in which there is a loving, caring, mutually accountable relationship with pastors and other leaders so that his gifts and message find a meaningful and discipled field of application.
Third, the Prophecy-Driven eschatology reflects a clear conscience and pure motives. The message should never be clouded by the rancor of bitterness, accusation or rejection. Too many times I have seen what should have been a warning of judgment to come [which is the Scriptural prediction] expressed instead as a desire for judgment on those who disagree or those who did that person harm in the past—especially on blogs, websites where there is no editorial control. In my view, this compromised message reflects a “bitterness syndrome” in which the eschatological message is overshadowed by a root of bitterness from the writer’s past (See Heb. 12:15). What we are reading may be a continuation of an interpersonal drama rather than a useful eschatology. This requires a great deal of patience and insight from the Holy Spirit on the reader’s or listener’s part. If there is any question regarding this third facet, look closely at the other three facets, as they may provide important clues.
Fourth and finally, the Prophecy-Driven eschatology is led and informed by the Holy Spirit. It cannot be something merely constructed by human ingenuity. We need the Holy Spirit’s assistance in interpreting the Holy Scriptures. And whenever the Spirit is truly in charge, self-promotion is absent and the message is all about the quickly coming Jesus. Finally, when the Spirit leads, His method is faith working through love. The gentle, confident faith of God provides a reason for hope; the irresistible, welcoming charity of God mends broken hearts, preparing them for a reunion with the Bridegroom.
Distinguishing the “Prophecy-Driven Life”
from the “Present-Driven Life”
The very language I use in the phrase “Prophecy-Driven” may conjure images of the Old Testament prophet, an individual chosen and set apart by God to speak on behalf of Jehovah to the nation of Israel and to individuals, and often those in authority. Old Testament prophets often stood in stark contrast against their societies that were in rebellion against God and given over to idolatry. These prophets’ mandates were to act as “watchmen on the wall,” warning of judgments to come, calling for repentance before God, and predicting, at times, captivities and restorations that would occur far into the future.
Yet in New Testament times—and at present I believe we are still in a New Testament-oriented arrangement—the Old Testament office of the prophet has changed such that the prophetically-gifted minister or elder in a congregation might “forth-tell” and provide Divine insight into congregational and personal situations many more times than “fore-telling” and predicting future events, though we are given examples of both activities in the book of Acts, especially through the ministry of Agabus, a singularly theatrical New Testament prophet who spoke both of a drought coming to the area of Judea [Acts 11:28] and what the apostle Paul would expect to happen if he went to Jerusalem [Acts 21:11].
Yet it is clear from Jesus’ commands that all believers are given a mandate to watch and pray with respect to His return, regardless of how the Holy Spirit has endowed one or another with “prophetic” abilities to serve the Lord in individual and congregational life. Jesus said in Mark 13:37: “…what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch.” So when discussing the “Prophecy-Driven Life” I have in mind a focus of life and mind that has been prescribed in the Word of God, described by Christ in the Gospels and by the apostles in the Epistles, and something that is possible for every believer.
The question of “balance” inevitably comes as some may wonder whether the “Prophecy-Driven Life” offsets the “Christ-Centered Life” or a life that is centered on the “Gospel”, or a life that is lived around the locus of the atoning death and resurrection of Christ. Is the “Prophecy-Driven Life” off-balance? I don’t believe it is. Does it replace or in any way delimit the evangelical orthodox focus on a life lived as a new creation in Christ, made possible by the Atonement, sealed in victory over death by the Resurrection of Christ, and sealed in adoption forever as children of God our Father by the down-payment of the indwelling Holy Spirit? Most certainly it does not!
In fact, the “Prophecy-Driven Life” requires that one be born again and maturing in Christ in the context of a vital relationship with the Spirit and an organic, ongoing membership in a larger community of faith—that is, participation in a local church congregation that teaches and practices the Biblical and original Gospel of Jesus Christ the Redeemer and Soon-Coming King. The fact that three of the four Gospels [Matthew, Mark and Luke] record Jesus as telling us to watch and pray with respect to signs of the end of the age and of His return—and that every instance of His telling us so is using the linguistic element of an imperative—a command—pulls the “Prophecy-Driven Life” right back to the center stage of the Gospel-life that Christ describes and that virtually all of the New Testament Epistle writers refer to. Eschatology is a topic that shows up all over the Gospels and Epistles. If there is any “imbalance” to be worried about, it is that in our days, far too many people have NOT been watching and praying about their readiness for the End Times and Jesus’ return!
Furthermore, we are told in Revelation 19:10 that the “testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy”. The New Living Translation renders it as “For the essence of prophecy is to give a clear witness for Jesus.” J.B. Phillips translates it as “This witness to Jesus inspires all prophecy.” And the Amplified Bible renders it as “For the substance (essence) of the truth revealed by Jesus is the spirit of all prophecy [the vital breath, the inspiration of all inspired preaching and interpretation of the divine will and purpose, including both mine and yours]. What emerges from these various renderings of the verse is that all Biblical prophecy points to Christ, His Person, His first coming in the flesh to earth, His redemptive work on the cross and His resurrection, His heavenly ministry, His imminent return for His Church, His heavenly unsealing of the various judgments on the earth during Daniel’s 70th week, His second coming to the earth to vanquish Satan and rescue a redeemed and believing Israeli national remnant, His ministry as the Judge of the nations at the close of the Tribulation, and to inaugurate a thousand-year reign that will purify the earth in preparation for a final judgment of sin and its author, Satan, and a final riddance of the latter and a recreation of earth and the heavens.
It is no small discovery, then, that fully two-thirds of the Bible texts are devoted to prophecy. And four-fifths of that have already been fulfilled—to the letter! The remaining one-fifth is yet before us. Students of the Bible—and all those who claim to live by it—may wish to reconsider their approach to Biblical prophecy. This is especially true as we find ourselves in the midst of days when geopolitical forces are rearranging the world in unprecedented haste, fulfilling the Bible’s predictions of last-days patterns, alliances and political structures, undeniably resulting in the rebirth, rise and complete isolation of national Israel. The “Prophecy-Driven Life” becomes absolutely necessary—more so because it was commanded by Jesus Himself. I would say that the “Prophecy-Driven Life” is (1) Described in the Word of God in numerous places [which I will review in detail next], (2) Prescribed for all believers, and is (3) Possible for all believers under the power of the Holy Spirit and under the guidance of the Word of God.
The “Prophecy-Driven Life”, then, features an eschatology that is at the center of one’s self-concept, worldview and theology. This believer sees himself (I will be using the generic “he”, “his” and “him” in these descriptions of the Prophecy-Driven believer; while fully understanding that of course such believers can be either male or female, I am using the generic male for the sake of simplicity.) as a watchman on the wall, as one who is keenly aware of world events unfolding as they fulfill Biblical predictions of what will happen in the End Times, and sees himself as responsible for telling his fellow believers, as well as those outside his faith community, about these developments. The Prophecy-Driven believer sees the world differently: He sees the current Age of Grace coming to a rapid close, and knows that the Bible predicts that the world will soon undergo more and increasingly severe “birth pangs” as we get closer and closer to the end of this Age. The Prophecy-Driven believer also sees God differently: He sees God as intimately and irrepressibly involved in human events and affairs all around the globe, and in charge of human affairs, both at the individual and global levels.
With an eschatology playing a central role like this, the Prophecy-Driven believer finds that his conduct, speech and expectations are fundamentally affected by this eschatology.
With respect to conduct and speech, the Prophecy-Driven believer encourages fellow Christians to be watching and prayerful. The Prophecy-Driven believer also sees himself as responsible to the world outside his faith community—bringing his eschatology directly into his witness to the world around him. He not only tells people about Christ and His saving love and power, but he also tells them that His return for His own is very, very close. As a result, the Prophecy-Driven believer prays differently many times: “Come quickly, Lord Jesus!” is a frequent prayer, and I’m sure that many readers will agree with me in praying this prayer often. “Maranatha!” is the Aramaic expression from the Apostles’ times. But there are also the Prophecy-Driven prayers of “Father, may I be found worthy to escape these things which will soon be coming as a snare upon all those who dwell upon the whole face of the earth” and “May I be counted worthy to stand before the Son of Man [Luke 21:36]. There are likely many other prayers to the effect of “Father, pour out Your Spirit upon my family members that they may be ready for Your Son’s coming for His own…” or “…my co-workers” or “my best friend [name]…” or “…[insert name]…”
A final aspect of the Prophecy-Driven Life is the believer’s expectation set. One’s eschatology being “switched-on” and Biblically-informed, he may have expectations reflecting New Testament norms going all the way back to expectations recorded by the NT authors: The continuous expectation of the imminent return of Christ for His church; the rapidly-approaching close of the Age of Grace; the oncoming judgment of God on a Christ-rejecting world; the Second Coming of Christ with His Saints to put down all rebellion, to judge the living and the dead, and to inaugurate His millennial global reign; the final disposal of Satan the accuser; and ultimately the creation of a new, eternal heavens and earth. An important characteristic of this expectation set is that it is held to be deeply personal—“it concerns ME”—and the believer holds these expectations as articles of faith, expectations that are precious and dear. “My Savior is coming back at any time for ME” is a powerful and deeply motivating expectation. The Prophecy-Driven Life, in sum, is really the Gospel-Driven Life in a Prophecy-Fulfilling World.
In contrast to the Prophecy-Driven Life, a lifeway that is more akin to what might be seen as the default, or the “Present-Driven Life” features an eschatology that is at the periphery of one’s self-concept, worldview and theology, not at the center. This could certainly be true of a nonbeliever, but I wonder at times whether it may indeed be true of many Christians as well—believers with an underdeveloped eschatology, who are deceived, or who are caught up in the cares of this world and living a carnal life.
The Present-Driven life is characterized by an eschatology that, because it is underdeveloped and on the periphery of one’s spirituality, exerts minimal impact on one’s conduct, speech and expectations. Prayer and witness may never mention the return of Christ, especially its imminence. At best, one may mention End Times subjects to save face if a “prophecy nut” is accidentally invited to dinner, and in that case his or her eschatology may be put on display. “On Display” eschatology might also manifest in church fellowship settings, if in the rare case pastors or teachers have the courage to address End Times topics from the pulpit. The Present-Driven believer may express firm agreement or even joyous encouragement if the imminent return of Christ is preached. But after the church service is over, the imminent return of the Lord is quickly forgotten.
Another aspect of the Present-Driven life is one of short-term and low expectations. An underdeveloped eschatology probably does not energize End Times-related expectations in any particular way. If there are expectations relating to the Lord’s return, they may not be placed very high on the individual’s list of things to anticipate on a daily basis. One may see headlines or news stories about geopolitical developments in the Middle East and worry more about the impact of the price of gasoline and its draw on one’s pocketbook rather than engage in serious reflection on how these developments may indicate the ever-diminishing time we have before the Lord’s return.
The upshot of the Present-Driven life is the behavioral expression and experience warned against by the passage Proverbs 29:18 in which we read “where there is no vision, the people perish.” An alternative rendering of the Hebrew is “…the people cast off restraint”, and this connects powerfully with the injunction given by the Lord and by the Epistle writers against the drunken, sleepy lifestyle that is simply unprepared for the Lord’s return. Where there is no revelation of the will of God for the times we live in, we cast off restraint and live wildly and let our appetites rule. The very lifestyle Paul warns against in 1 Thess. 5:6-7 results. As the passage reads:
6 Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.
7 For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night.
Slumber, darkness, and drunkenness characterize the Present-Driven Life in that the cares of this world monopolize the mind and heart; the Light of the Word of God is held at bay, particularly with respect to what the Word says about the days we live in; and slumber replaces watching for the Lord’s return. The mind is dulled by the intoxicating cares of this world, especially when it comes to pleasures and distractions that are ready-made by our adversary to keep our focus away from Jesus’ imminent return. This mindset has been a long time in the making in popular Christendom, especially in the Western world, and particularly in the United States: For many years prominent Christian authors and teachers have popularized the “live for the moment—don’t worry about the future!” mantra so handily imported from Eastern mysticism. Even Jesus’ teaching on the “mount” that we should not “worry about tomorrow” (Matt. 6) has been enlisted in the relentless crusade against an active, alert eschatology. From there it is one simple step further to say that “Jesus Himself said that we aren’t to worry about the future…so why should I? It’s crazy to be so focused all the time on Jesus coming back and God’s judgment raining down on the whole earth for those left behind. Lighten up, and maybe we’ll have more people attend our church meetings!”
But the hipness and jocularity fade quickly in the face of our modern, highly networked information system, which reports almost constantly the deteriorating conditions around the globe, covering in overlapped, 24-hour news cycles political crises, global economies at the edge of chaos, countries and alliances on the brink of war, the Middle East constantly about to erupt in flames, and nobody with answers…only a desperate lack of leadership from the local level all the way up to the global elites. The joy of living for today disappears as a wisp against this gale of ill tidings, and the ill tidings produce an intoxicating fear [Luke 21:26], a paralyzing anxiety very much like drunkenness. Is it any wonder that many of those caught in this state of mind reach for chemical antidotes?
In addition, Jesus casts additional light on this syndrome in Matthew 24:48, 49: He tells the story of the wicked servant who, upon given responsibility over his master’s house while the master is away, begins to think that his master “delays his coming”, beats his fellow servants, and “eats and drinks with the drunken”. When his master returns unexpectedly, he is punished severely. Jesus’ focus in the parable isn’t on the wicked, unprepared servant. His main message is His command for us to watch and pray, for we do not know the day or the hour of His return. Of note in this account, however, is the element of fellow-believer abuse—perhaps persecution of those “prophecy nuts”? Where did this abusive behavior come from? That is a troubling question.
What does “Prophecy-Driven” Look Like?
A Description of the Prophecy-Driven Life
from the Word of God
I believe it would be of great value to articulate what I see the Prophecy-Driven Life to look like, in practical terms. Thus I will endeavor to describe it in light of selected passages from the New Testament that I believe speak especially directly to it. I will begin with the Gospels and go through the Epistles.
The Prophecy-Driven Believer watches for prophecy fulfillment and is in constant communication with the Holy Spirit for wisdom from God on how to interpret events as they unfold (Matt. 24:42-51). He discerns his position on the prophetic timeline by interpreting global geopolitical events through the lens of Scripture (Matt. 16:1-3; Luke 12:54-57). Put another way, the Prophecy-Driven Believer observes events happening around the world and “puts two and two together”, connecting them with Biblical prophecies, looking for events that fulfill prophecy (Mark 13:28,29).
The Word of God is used as a map, as a blueprint, as a plumb line, and as a telescope, all by which the Prophecy-Driven Believer is ever watchful of world events, especially of events in the Middle East and Israel. The Prophecy-Driven Believer sees the reborn and resurgent national Israel as God’s “supersign” that the return of the Lord Jesus Christ is indeed very near, and is not only looking out as a watcher; he is looking up because he knows his redemption is drawing near (Luke 21:29-32; see Ezek. 37).
The Prophecy-Driven Believer keeps awake at all times in the sense of staying alert to prophetic fulfillment, remaining discreet, attentive, and ready for the Lord’s call and return, knowing that the Scriptural call to “watch and pray” is a command of Christ and not an option (Matt. 24:42, 25:13; Mark 13:33, 37; Luke 21:36).
The Prophecy-Driven Believer frequently prays for strength that he may stand in these days, and that he may be accounted worthy to escape the judgment that is to come upon the world, and that he may be accounted worthy to stand before the Son of Man (Luke 21:36).
The Prophecy-Driven Believer knows that it’s high time to awaken out of sleep, for now is our salvation nearer than when we first believed; we walk honestly, casting off the works of darkness and putting on the cloak of light. Above all, we put on Christ as our real identity, as our new wedding clothes, making no provision for the appetites of the flesh (Rom. 13:11-14).
Prophecy-Driven Believers thank God for His grace that is given them by Jesus Christ, so that in every thing they are enriched in Him; in all utterance, and in all knowledge; even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in them, so that they come behind in no gift, waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ—Who shall also confirm them to the end, that they may be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 1:4-8).
Prophecy-Driven Believers know that if their earthly bodies die, they have a heavenly body, eternal in the heavens. In this they groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with their heavenly house. For they are burdened by their fleshly bodies, but encouraged by receiving the downpayment of the Spirit so that they are always confident that while they are at home in this body they are absent from the Lord, but more confident and even more willing, rather, to be absent from this body and present with the Lord! Therefore they labor because they want to be accepted by Him, for they must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ (1 Cor. 5:1-10). The Prophecy-Driven Believer is not deceived into thinking that God can be mocked: He understands that sowing to the Spirit will result in everlasting life (Gal. 6:7,8). The Prophecy-Driven Believer buys up those moments that others throw away, improving every moment to make up for those lost in sin, for the “days are evil”, those we inhabit. We do this because we understand what the will of the Lord is (Eph. 5:16,17).
Prophecy-Driven Believers, because of the compassion and mercies they find in God, are likeminded, having the same mindset as Christ, living as a servant and humbling Himself even to the point of death on the cross. So we understand that God has highly exalted Him, so that at the Name of Jesus Christ, every knee should bow, and all things in the earth and under the earth and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father (Phil. 2:1-11). Such believers know they must be blameless and harmless, children of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom we shine as lights in the world, holding forth the light of Christ with joy (Phil. 2:15-18). For we are the true circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, having no confidence in the flesh, counting those things that we gainful for us as loss compared to gaining Christ. For we wish above all things to gain Christ, and to be found in Him, and to know Him to the exclusion of all else, to know Him, the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable to His death so that we might attain the resurrection from out of the dead with Christ—not that we have already attained it, but with singleness of mind we forget everything else, pressing forward to the high mark and prize of our high calling in Christ Jesus (Phil. 3:3,7-14).
Prophecy-Driven Believers seek those things that are above, where Christ sits on the right hand of God. They set their affections on things above, because they are dead, and their lives are hid with Christ in God (Col. 3:1-3).
Prophecy-Driven Believers have made the decision to turn from false idols and to actively serve the living God, and wait for Jesus to come from Heaven, expecting Jesus to rescue them from God’s wrath that will come upon the world (1 Thess. 1:9, 10). They believe that the Lord will establish their hearts unblameable before God the Father, at the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints (1 Thess. 3:13). They also do not sorrow as others who have no hope for we expect to be reunited with them as the Lord descends from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and those who are alive and remain will be caught up together with those asleep in Christ, meeting the Lord in the air: “And so shall we always be with the Lord.” Prophecy-Driven Believers are always comforting each other with these words (1 Thess. 4:13-18).
Being acutely aware of the times and seasons maturing into prophetic fulfillment, the Prophecy-Driven Believer knows perfectly well that the return of the Lord comes suddenly and unexpectedly, just like a thief in the night (1 Thess. 5:1-2). The Prophecy-Driven Believer is watchful and sober, the heart protected by faith and love, the thought life protected by the hope of salvation in Christ. Knowing that they have not been appointed to suffer God’s judgment, but instead been set apart to obtain salvation and rescue from that wrath through what Christ has done, Prophecy-Driven Believers encourage and comfort each other with this great hope in view of their shared joyous destiny (1 Thess. 5:6-11). We know that our God will sanctify us through and through, because faithful is He who calls us, and faithful is He who will do it (1 Thess. 5:23,24).
The Prophecy-Driven Believers’ faith grows exceedingly fast and strong, and their love for each other abounds, so that we encourage others in the midst of trials and tribulations that we endure‑and it is a righteous thing for God to recompense those who trouble us. But we will find rest when Jesus Christ is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, taking vengeance with flaming fire upon them who don’t know God when He comes to be glorified in His saints, and to be admired by all of them who believe because of our testimony. We remember that the Apostles prayed that God will count us worthy of this calling, and fulfill all the good pleasure of His goodness, and the work of our faith with His power, that the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in us, and us in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ (2 Thess. 1:3-12).
The Apostle Paul beseeches Prophecy-Driven Believers not to be soon distracted from the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, or from our gathering together unto Him, by being shaken in mind or troubled in spirit by a letter from someone in his company or anyone else that the Tribulation Period and the Second Coming of Christ is already at hand, and that the rapture of the church is not ahead of us. We are not to let any man deceive us by any means! For the Tribulation Period will not come except first a great apostasy comes, and the Man of Sin is revealed.
Prophecy-Driven Believers know very well that the Holy Spirit in the Body of Christ on earth restrains this “AntiChrist” from fully manifesting, and he will only be revealed when God decides the correct time has come. Then the restraining ministry of the Holy Spirit will cease when the Lord comes for His Church. Then “that Wicked One” will be revealed, whom the Lord will utterly consume with the Spirit issuing from His mouth, and He will destroy him with the brilliance of His Second Coming (2 Thess. 2:1-8).
In view of these things that will soon take place, Prophecy-Driven Believers know they are loved by God, and remember that God has chosen them from the beginning for salvation, not judgment, through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth; this is what He called us to by Paul’s gospel, to the obtaining of glory by our Lord Jesus Christ.
We therefore stand fast and firm, holding to the traditions and doctrines we have been given in the Word of God, especially in Paul’s epistles.
So we can utterly rely upon our Lord Jesus Christ, and God our Father, who have loved us, to give us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace, comforting our hearts in every good work and word (2 Thess. 2:13-17).
The Prophecy-Driven Believer flees from the love of money and all sorts of greed, following instead after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, and humility. He fights the good fight of faith, firmly grasping eternal life, considering it a charge to which he is responsible until the Lord’s return (1 Tim. 6:1-14). The Prophecy-Driven Believer remembers always to stir up the gift of God imparted through the Holy Spirit by the laying on of elders’ hands, remaining in the Godly, miraculous mind of power, love and soundness of mind; not ashamed of the Gospel of the Lord, or of the sufferings sometimes associated with it, the Prophecy-Driven Believer takes part in suffering for Christ by the power of God. He knows Whom he believes in, and is persuaded that God is able to preserve him right up until the Day of Christ (2 Tim. 1:6-12).
Prophecy-Driven Believers study to demonstrate themselves approved by God, not ashamed by their work in the Word, correctly applying the Scriptures to the historical, literal, personal, geographical, and temporal references found in the Word. They know which promises and covenants apply to which individuals and groups of people and points of time on the prophetic timetable. As such noble and careful handlers of the Word of God, they shun profane, vain and increasingly ungodly misinterpretations of it. They flee youthful passions, and are gentle with all people, patient and ready to teach everyone, especially correcting in a spirit of humility those who oppose themselves with egregious misinterpretations of the Holy Word (2 Tim. 2:15-26).
Prophecy-Driven Believers also know that in the last days perilous times have indeed arrived!—and that they need to turn away from false believers who mimic a form of godliness but deny the Spirit, and who don’t possess or deliver the power behind the Gospel itself. They understand that all who live godly lives in Jesus will suffer persecution, but are committed to following the Apostle Paul’s teachings, especially that all Scripture has been breathed out by God, and is profitable for doctrine, apologetic argumentation, correcting false theories and practices, and educating all mankind in true Scriptural righteousness, so that their fellow brothers and sisters in Christ will be perfect, fully equipped with the Word of God. They take Paul’s charge personally—that they are ready to preach the Good News whether they feel ready to or not…patiently and with solid doctrine. For they know that the time has come when humankind does not endure sound doctrine for very long—rather, they heap up for themselves media products that appeal to their sensual appetites, and this practice turns their attention away from God’s Truth and into a mind-swamp of mythologies and conspiracy theories. But Prophecy-Driven Believers watch carefully in all things, endure trying circumstances, evangelize, and make full evidence of their calling in God, knowing that there is waiting for them a crown at Jesus’ appearing (2 Tim. 3:1-4:8).
Prophecy-Driven Believers encourage aged believers to live lives of moderation and charity, teaching younger believers to be sober minded, in everything displaying a pattern of maturity that is unassailable as they all live godly, sober lives, looking for “that blessed hope,” and the glorious appearing of the great God and Savior Jesus Christ (Titus 2:1-13). For they understand that Christ doesn’t dwell in temples made with human hands, but in heaven itself, and look for him to appear a second time bringing salvation to the uttermost for those who are waiting for him (Heb. 9:24-28). They don’t cast aside their bold faith, which will pay off with rich rewards. For they understand that after they have been faithful, and done the will of God for a little while longer, “The One Who is coming will come.” He will not wait. The one who is in the right will live by faith. Prophecy-Driven Believers aren’t those who draw away from God unto destruction—no! Far from it—they believe, keep on waiting, and are saved (Heb. 10:35-39)!
Prophecy-Driven Believers don’t brag about expansive worldly plans (James 4:13)—in fact, they are always looking heavenward, for they expect that their redemption is near (Luke 21:28). They are fair in their dealings with others, and are patient, standing firm until the Lord comes…for they understand that His coming draws very near (James 3:13-5:8). They understand that they have been given a new birth into a hope that is alive because of the power and promise of the resurrection of Jesus Christ—it will be ours very soon. And it is an inheritance in heaven that will never fade, spoil, or run out…and it is reserved personally for every single believer, whose faith is kept safe by the power of God, and whose salvation will be completed and shown to each of us on our last day on earth. The Prophecy-Driven Believer rejoices now despite various hardships, because these trials are demonstrating that our faith is worth more than pure gold…and will result in praise and glorification when we meet Jesus face to face very soon. The Prophecy-Driven Believer loves Jesus even though he hasn’t seen Him yet face-to-face; he believes in Him despite not seeing Him yet; and his reward just might be greater than that of the original twelve Apostles (John 20:29). But the most wonderful payoff of this loving-and-believing-without-yet-seeing life is the Prophecy-Driven Believer’s ability to rejoice with unspeakable joy, being full of the glory of God, receiving the full object of his faith—the transformation and salvation of his eternal soul (1 Peter 1:3-9).
Prophecy-Driven Believers arm themselves with the same mindset that Christ had: suffering in our bodies means that we are finished with sin, so that we spend what time we have remaining in the Church Age doing the will of God. They know that the end of all things is at hand—as a result they remain sober, and keep a watch on global and local events, praying incessantly. They hold God’s love as the first value, using it to cover sin in the churches, caring for believers without bitterness, ministering to each other out of the gift each has received from the Spirit of God. And they know that it is a good and helpful thing to suffer on account of the Gospel of Christ, committing their souls to their faithful Creator (1 Peter 4:1-19). They commit themselves to feeding the flock of God, being responsible for oversight as the Spirit directs, not for selfish ambition or money’s sake, but out of love and a mind ready to serve. Neither do they boss everyone else around like little dictators—they gently lead, as examples to everyone else. For they know that when the Chief Shepherd appears, they will receive a crown of glory that will never fade (1 Peter 5:1-4).
The Prophecy-Driven Believer lives by the many great and precious promises found in the Scriptures, living in the marvelous grace found therein and participating in the Divine nature (2 Peter 1:3,4). Through the consistent application of diligence, the Prophecy-Driven Believer adds to faith in these many great and precious promises virtue, and to virtue knowledge, and to knowledge temperance, and to temperance patience, and to patience godliness, and to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness charity. It is important to note that the catalyst in each step in this addition process is “diligence” (2 Peter 1:5-7). While other believers who lack these characteristics are spiritually shortsighted and cannot see things far off—and this strongly suggests the inability to watch for and observe prophetic fulfillments—the Prophecy-Driven Believer possesses these qualities and is fruitful in the knowledge of Christ, and through the application of that same diligence makes his or her calling and election sure (2 Peter 1:8-11). It is through this transformational process that the Prophecy-Driven Believer is given an abundant entry into the eternal kingdom of Christ. Of special note in this passage from 2 Peter 1:2-12 is that the entire passage is bracketed by prophetic context: “Great and precious promises”…and “making your calling and election sure” and an “abundant entry into the eternal kingdom of Christ” both open and close this passage, thus stimulating a profound re-reading of the material between them in the existing eschatological context. Over the years I’d never connected the “great and precious promises”, “participating in the Divine nature”, and the “spiritual addition” passages with the prophetic context that surrounds them!
The Prophecy-Driven Believer understands this first: No prophecy of Scripture is a matter of personal or private interpretation, because no prophecy ever originated because some man willed it; he understands that men spoke from God who were moved and impelled by the Holy Spirit. Furthermore, the Prophecy-Driven Believer knows that we have the true, authentic prophetic word that can be relied upon, that makes authentic and reliable predictive statements about what will happen in the world and to humanity under the sovereign hand of a loving and just God, and understands that he does well to pay close attention to it as if it were a lamp shining in a dark place, until the prophecy is fulfilled (2 Peter 1:19,20).
The Prophecy-Driven Believer keeps a sharp watch out for false teachers, and is painfully aware of the ways of these wolves in sheeps’ clothes and the judgments of God on such people throughout history. But they also remember that God knows how to keep believers safe in the midst of evil and temptation and the unbelievers reserved for punishment on the day of judgment (2 Peter 2:1-9).
Prophecy-Driven Believers are mindful of the prophets’ words and the apostles’ commandment: That they remember, primarily, that in the last days scoffers will arise, questioning the Lord’s coming for His Church. They also bear in mind, second, that these “experts” are willingly ignorant of the miraculous and instantaneous creation of our world by the very Word of God, and third, that God’s timing doesn’t coincide with ours. They understand that God isn’t “late” or “forgetful”—rather, He’s right on time, giving everybody one last chance to receive salvation through Christ. He doesn’t want anyone to perish, really, but is patient toward believers, wanting everyone to come to repentance before Jesus returns for His Church (2 Peter 3:1-9). After that, the Day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, burning up both the heavens and the earth. Prophecy-Driven Believers, understanding this, keep their lives holy and godly, looking for and hastening the coming of that day, and look for a new heavens and a new earth, which will contain nothing but righteousness. As such, Prophecy-Driven Believers diligently keep themselves in a state of being found by Him in peace, without blemish and blame. They reason that the “lateness” of the Lord is really His patience, and remain wary of being led astray by wicked false teachers, growing in the knowledge of Christ (2 Peter 3:10-18).
Prophecy-Driven Believers don't love the world, for they know the world is quickly going to pass away; they know it is now the “last time”. Instead, they rely on the anointing they have received from the Holy Spirit, and can tell the difference between Christ and the antichrist spirit easily. They let that original blessing and Gospel continue unattenuated, continuing in the Son and in the Father. This anointing teaches them all things, and they know how to abide in Him so that, when He appears, they have confidence that they will not be ashamed when He comes for them (1 John 2:15-28). They are overwhelmed by the love the Father lavishes on them! And they experience daily the sonship of God, without quite knowing what they will look like when He appears. But they know that when He comes for them, they will be like him, and they will see Him as He sees them (1 John 3:1-3).
Prophecy-Driven Believers know how to identify the Spirit of God: Everyone who confesses that Jesus came the first time in a human body is from God. Every spirit that doesn’t acknowledge this fact is from Satan, and is part of that antichrist spirit that is already at work in the world. But Prophecy-Driven Believers are of God, and have already overcome them, because Christ in them is greater than that spirit that is at work in the world (1 John 4:2-4).
The Prophecy-Driven Believer is on the alert against apostates and false teachers who creep into the churches silently, turning the grace of God into immorality, speaking evil of things they are ignorant of, acting like clouds without rain. They remember Peter’s prophecy: Mockers would arise in the last time, walking in their own ungodly lusts. But Prophecy-Driven Believers build themselves up in their most holy faith, praying in the Spirit; they keep themselves in the love of God; they look for the return of the Lord Jesus Christ that will mean instant eternal life. While doing these things, they save some with compassion, others with appeals to fear. For they remember that Christ is able to keep them from falling, and will present them faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy (Jude4-24).
The Prophecy-Driven Believer keeps the word of Christ’s patience in his heart, for he knows that Jesus will soon come to take and keep him out and from the hour of testing that is to come upon all those who dwell upon the face of the whole world (Rev. 3:10). Because Jesus is coming quickly (Rev. 22:12, 20), the Prophecy-Driven Believer holds fast to his crown (Rev. 3:11)…which is likely the crown Paul mentions that is due to all those who love and look for Christ’s appearing (2 Tim. 4:8). The Prophecy-Driven Believer carefully attends to the prophecies in the Book of Revelation, knowing that as he does, he will be blessed (Rev. 22:7).
The Prophecy-Driven Life testifies of Christ in all words and deeds, for in all watching, prayer, intercession, self-examination before God, teaching, preaching, witnessing to those outside the family of God, the message of fulfilled prophecy is the message of Christ the soon-returning King! Indeed, “the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy” (Rev. 19:10)! In all things, the Prophecy-Driven Life is a clarion call to the church and to the world that Jesus is coming very, very soon! The Prophecy-Driven Believer is “the one who hears” (Rev. 22:17), and that one is commanded specifically by Jesus Christ to say “Come!” The Prophecy-Driven believer’s constant call is: “Come, Lord Jesus!”
The Prophecy-Driven Life is not just a doctrine.
It’s not just a “position” on eschatology, nor is it an argument about “pre-trib”, “post-trib”, or anything like that.
It’s the life that is lived calling for Jesus to come for us.
It’s the chaste and attentive life that is watching for the “blessed hope” of Jesus’ coming for His Church.
It’s the expectant and joyous life that is ready for Jesus when He comes for us.