Many who were once looking for the return of Jesus have fallen asleep. We now live in a period of time where numerous prominent Christian leaders are telling the Christian masses that paying attention to the signs of our times in light of the Bible is a waste of time. And many of them take it a step further and accuse those who believe what Bible prophecy says about the end of the age of being negative and self-centered.
In the still-popular Purpose Driven Life, Rick Warren was actually laying ground-work for the emerging church’s new reformation, a reformation that rejects thinking about the return of Christ and works more at convincing the multitudes that Christ is already in them as a global christ-consciousness. As you will see in the following documentation, Warren has a low regard for Bible prophecy. Perhaps this helps explain why so many who once were anticipating the return of the Lord have become occupied with worldly ambitions. Warren writes:
When the disciples wanted to talk about prophecy, Jesus quickly switched the conversation to evangelism. He wanted them to concentrate on their mission in the world. He said in essence, “The details of my return are none of your business. What is your business is the mission I have given you. Focus on that!”1
I find it simply astounding that a statement of this sort would be in a New York Times best-seller in the present-day Christian book market. Jesus was telling the disciples they could not know the day or the hour, but nowhere does Jesus ever indicate that “the details of my return are none of your business.” Rather than quickly changing the subject, we find in Matthew 24 and Luke 21 two of the longest passages in Scripture quoting Jesus’ own words, as He details the signs of His coming. In essence, Jesus was saying, because you cannot know the day and hour of My return, you need to educate yourself in Bible prophecy and take heed of My words about the end times. Later on, one of those disciples, John, was given an entire book to write on the details of Jesus’ coming. Jesus continually said to be alert and ready for when He returns. In both parables and straightforward talk, He spoke of this. In Luke 12:35-40, Jesus emphasized that it is essential to be prepared for His return:
Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning; And ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding; that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately. Blessed are those servants, whom the lord when he cometh shall find watching: . . . And this know, that if the goodman of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched, and not have suffered his house to be broken through. Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not.
And Jesus frequently referred to the Old Testament prophecies. Those prophecies became the evidence that Jesus Christ was indeed whom He said He was—“Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6).
But Warren tells readers to think about something other than Bible prophecy:
If you want Jesus to come back sooner, focus on fulfilling your mission, not figuring out prophecy.2
What’s more, Warren ends this section of his book by stating that Satan would have you “sidetracked from your mission” and by quoting Jesus out of context, saying, “Anyone who lets himself be distracted [by studying Bible prophecy] from the work I plan for him is not fit for the kingdom of God” (Living Bible). But Jesus was not referring to His return when He made that statement, which in the King James Version says: “No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62). The Purpose Driven kingdom of God leaves no room for Bible prophecy, and in fact, condemns those who study it. The apostle Peter, inspired by the Holy Spirit, had a different view. He writes:
We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts. (2 Peter 1:19)
Christians are called to witness and be watchmen. No Scripture exists that tells us to ignore the events that have been pointed out as signposts indicating the return of Jesus. If we do, we might be like the foolish virgins who fell asleep waiting for the bridegroom (Matthew 25:1-13).
1. Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Life (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2002), p. 285.
2. Ibid., p. 286.
(photo from bigstockphoto.com; used with permission)