How should premillenialists regard the revelation of translation of Evan Roberts, published in England (in the December issue of “OVERCOMER”) and the message, “Be ye ready”?
All well-balanced students of the Word who understand the clear teaching of the Bible regarding the time of our Lord’s return, namely, that “It is not for [us] to know the times nor the seasons which the Father hath put in His own power” (Acts 1:7), and “Of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no not the angels which are in heaven,” will regard this message with apprehension and pain.
It is true that Mr. Roberts does not state the time, but his words seem to clearly imply that our Lord’s return for those who are ready will be within ten years. In another article in the same umber he says plainly, “It appears that the special message of the Spirit to the prepared believer today is, ‘Thou shalt not die, but thou shalt be caught up to meet the Lord in the air.'” This certainly is an explicit statement that the Lord will come for the prepared believer today before his death. This certainly is unscriptural. We believe in the imminence of the Lord’s coming; we believe that He may come before we die, we believe that He may come very soon, and hope that He may. We know that we ought to “be ready” at all times, but when any one undertakes to prophesy that He surely will come before we die, he gets on dangerous ground. Good people have done this time and time again in the past, claiming they had a revelation, and their predictions have failed, and the whole precious doctrine of our Lord’s return has been brought into disfavor by this sort of thing (against which the Word of God so plainly and forcibly warns us). We are very sorry that Mr. Roberts has been led to make this utterance. He may be right; we hope that he is right, but he certainly is unscriptural when he undertakes to declare positively that the Lord will return before we die. Any teacher, no matter how used of God in the past, is at once discredited when he undertakes to set a time for the Lord’s return (Matt. 24:44).
There are other things in the article which have a bad sound. The article seems to imply that it was his praying through and having out the conflict with the evil spirits that has prepared the way for the Lord’s return very soon. There are quiet a number of people who of recent years have seemed disposed to regard Mr. Roberts as a prophet and as an inspired teacher. This is very unfortunate. God did raise Evan Roberts up for a certain purpose, and did use him wonderfully, but like many another who has been greatly used of God, people began to look at him instead of God who was back of him, and to exalt him in a way that it is perilous to exalt any man. Mr. Roberts was carried off his feet when overworked and apparently in a more or less strained condition, nervously and mentally. There have been many instances of the same kind in the history of the Church.
In this same number of the Overcomer, there is an article on the “Translation Message of Evan Roberts,” in which one of his admirers says, “To Evan Roberts, working as a man of God, not to be believed means the absolute isolation of his spirit from those who do not believe his testimony. He says, too,’It is waste time to combat stubborn unbelief, when other immediate and urgent things of the kingdom of God call for attention.'” This has a bad sound; unbelief in Evan Roberts is not unbelief in God. Evan Roberts is not infallible, and our Lord Himself warned us against calling any man “Master.” Here is one of the perils of our times and of all times. When any man is used of God, a great many people are willing to swallow anything and everything he says. This is contrary to the Word of God. The fact that a man is mightily used of God, does not prove that he is infallible or inerrant, and to take the attitude toward Evan Roberts or any other man, that Evan Roberts seems from this article to expect, is to put a man in the place of God.
In the next paragraph of the article referred to we read, “Since he is a ‘man of spirit,’ dominated by the spirit-life in strong spiritual maturity, as the result of implicit obedience to the laws and leadings of the Holy Spirit in years of hidden walking with God, he is well able to understand the mind of the Spirit. He cannot open the things of God to those who are severed from him in spirit by doubt or unbelief.” This seems to demand belief in Evan Roberts as we believe in God. The Lord Jesus could say and had a right to say, “Ye believe in God, believe also in me” (John 14:1). Evan Roberts has no right to say it, nor has any other man.
Immediately following we read, “Yes. He is the same Evan Roberts as in the days of the Revival, and these laws of the spirit have been recognized and fulfilled up to the measure of their knowledge, by those around him, who cannot get conversation with him, even if present in the same house, if these laws of the spirit are ignored; and thus he is a ceaseless ‘touchstone’ to all who are in contact with him, whether they, too, ‘walk after the spirit’ in close fellowship with God.” This is shocking! To make any man the “touchstone” to all others is putting a man in the place no man, no matter how Spirit-filled, has a right to occupy. It would be no wonder if a young, overwrought man should have his head turned by this sort of thing. This is unwholesome, utterly unwholesome.
Originally from, The King’s Business “Questions and Answers” by R.A. Torrey,
February 1914, pp. 114-115