5 Ways to Sift out the Scoffer
By Jonathan C. Brentner
It’s ironic when you think of it. Those who attack prophecy teachers for saying we are in the last days are themselves fulfilling a key biblical prophecy of the last days.
Peter wrote this about these end time scoffers, “…knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation” (2 Pet. 3:4-5).
The group the apostle addressed denied the Genesis account of the flood and hence the reality of God’s judgment. Today this scoffing springs from a variety of sources, including those in the household of faith.
Let’s examine some of the traits of the scoffer who ridicules our hope in Jesus’ soon appearing:
1. Scoffers Provide False Evidence
Proverbs 12:17 says, “Whoever speaks the truth gives honest evidence, but a false witness utters deceit.”
Many scoffers provide false evidence from church history. The most common fabrication I see states that no one believed in the rapture until the late nineteenth century. The scorners typically base this on the assertion that the word ‘rapture” does not occur in Scripture and no one in the church used the term until about 150 years ago. These things are true, but they do not prove their premise.
As I pointed out in another post, there is significant evidence from early church writing of a return of the Lord to take His church out of the world before a time of great tribulation. People did not call it the “rapture” at the time, but the teachings closely mirror what we today refer to today as the “rapture.”
2. Scoffers Rely on One Proof Text
Proverbs 2:4-6 says, “If you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God. For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.”
Some scoffers use Matthew 24:34 as their sole proof text. These Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.” That, they claim, proves that all the previous events Jesus’ talked about in Matthew 24 took place in the first century AD including Christ’s return to earth in 70 AD.
However, this assertion overlooks two critical aspects. First, there are other credible interpretations of this verse that do not conflict with so many other prophetic passages. Second, no one in the early centuries of the church believed that Jesus returned as He spoke about in Matthew 24:29-31.
Furthermore, in 95 AD the Apostle John described the second coming as a still future event and one that “every eye will see” (Rev. 1:7). Christ’s return will be spectacular; no one earth will miss it!!
God does not put all His wisdom on the “bottom shelf” and this is especially true in regard to prophecy (see Prov. 2:4-6). The Lord carefully weaves His revelation of the end times through a variety of passages throughout the Bible; it’s foolish to use one proof text to which one makes all others prophetic verses conform. Understanding comes as we apply what the Reformers called “Scripture interprets Scripture.”
3. Scoffers Claim they are the Only Ones who Believe Scripture
Proverbs 21:24 says, ”‘Scoffer’ is the name of the arrogant, haughty man who acts with arrogant pride.”
One accusation I repeatedly face is that I receive my teaching from another source than Scripture. Instead of recognizing that it’s a matter of interpreting a particular text differently, these scoffers typically end the conversation saying, “at least I believe what Scripture says.” Or, they claim I am just following tradition. Either way, they accuse me of ignoring the words of the Bible in my teaching.
Such ridicule leaves me wondering if they really read the article they are ridiculing.
Arrogance is the exact opposite of a teachable spirit. Pride characterizes the scoffer who dismisses all those with whom he or she disagrees as being disobedient to God’s Word.
4. Scoffers Ignore the Wisdom of Godly and Excellent Bible Teachers
Proverbs 15:12 says, “A scoffer does not like to be reproved; he will not go to the wise.”
Scoffers place the founding of the doctrine of the rapture and its resulting popularity on the shoulders of one man, John Darby. They claim he received “the doctrine of pretribulationism from Edward Irving, a pre-Pentecostal of doubtful orthodoxy, and Margaret MacDonald, who had a vision under demonic influence.”[i] The opponents of the pretribulation rapture (the belief that Jesus comes for His church before the tribulation) discredit it solely on what they regard as its source.
However, the belief in a pretribulation rapture caught fire in the twentieth century because of godly men who diligently sought to understand what Scripture said about it. Bible scholars such as Lewis Sperry Chafer, Howard Hendricks, J. Dwight Pentecost, Charles Caldwell Ryrie, John Walvoord, Louis Talbot, and Charles Feinberg, just to name just few, laid a firm biblical foundation for it. Belief in the rapture grew rapidly as others recognized the validity of their teaching on the rapture.
From these men sprung a vast number of preachers from the seminaries where they taught who filled churches in the past century proclaiming our blessed hope in Jesus’ appearing before the terrors of the tribulation. In addition, teachers such as Vernon McGee and the evangelist Billy Graham played a huge role in increasing the visibility as well as the biblical basis of the pretribulation rapture.
Scoffers who attempt to make the credibility of the rapture stand or fall on the credibility of one man show their disdain for biblical wisdom by ignoring the hundreds of biblical scholars, expository preachers, and evangelists who promoted their belief in it based on their understanding of God’s Word.
I realize many sincere and Christ-honoring writers and teachers of the Bible disagree with me on the matter of the pretribulation rapture. I am addressing those who scoff at the doctrine based on false evidence without considering the teaching of those who sought to establish a solid biblical basis for it.
5. Scoffers Demonstrate Great Disrespect for those with Differing Opinions
Proverbs 29:8 says, “Scoffers set a city aflame, but the wise turn away wrath.”
On social media, I have seen those who advocate the soon return of Jesus characterized as “demonic.” I remember JD Farag once commenting on the degrading level of comments under his prophecy update videos. I have had to ban several people from my Facebook page because of insulting attacks against me that served no other purpose than to demonize me.
Paul’s words in 2 Timothy 2:2:24-25 convict me in this matter as well, “And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth.”
I can be fierce at times when defending what I believe, especially when confronting false teachers such as the preterists. But even then, the verses above remind me of the need for gentleness in dealing with those who disagree with me. My intent is to bring others, including scoffers, to realization that our time is short as I strive to teach the biblical basis for our hope in Jesus’ soon return.
Please know that I respect those who disagree with me regarding the rapture. What I am addressing in this post is the scoffer who does much damage through the baseless ridicule of what others believe.
In order to teach others, one must possess a teachable spirit, one that listens and responds to others in humility and love. Please know that I recognize my need for this first and foremost.