An introduction to the
written by Gavin Finley.
GOD IS CALLING US INTO HIS WITNESS;Dear Saints,
IT IS A STRAIT AND NARROW WAY.
BUT THE HIGHWAY OF HOLINESS LEADS ONWARDS;
TOWARDS THE GATES OF SPLENDOR.
esteemed in the service of our Lord Jesus Christ,
I bid you greetings in His wonderful name!
In this letter and articles that follow I invite you to consider the scriptures regarding the climax of this age. Somewhere up ahead there is a difficult period of history for all mankind. The Judeo-Christian people are prophesied to enter a crisis of unprecedented severity. But even in this very process our God is extending an invitation to all mankind. He is calling them to Himself and into His divine purpose. It is a romance and an adventure that is far more glorious than words can describe. It will be a difficult passage. But the saints, the elect, the "called out" company of God, will rise and shine in the gathering darkness. (Isa.60) That strait and narrow way will actually lead the redeemed company of end-time pilgrims into the gates of splendor.-Mat.7:13-14
It is only because very few seem to be teaching these hard yet awesome truths that I have resolved to bring you this word. My hope and prayer is that in spite of the somber message you will also discover that along with this comes a wonderful word of encouragement and exhortation. It is my burden and joy in these writings to inform the saints concerning their critical and essential role of witness in the future trials. Let us prepare ourselves spiritually for that task.
Yes our God has sent us an invitation. He is calling His people to Himself for a magnificent purpose. The much maligned Way of the cross is actually a divine serendipity. Our Redeemer will lead us into glories we cannot yet see or even imagine. I am fully convinced that if we keep our eyes fixed upon Him, even in the trials, He will carry us in transport across a spiritual threshold. In that passage we shall find ourselves embracing our destiny with understanding, with cheer, and with a set purpose.
For a brief personal bio click here.
A CALL TO DEVOTIONBrothers and sisters let us resolve, even at this very moment, to seek the face of 'the God who is there'. He is very near. He is as close as the mention of His Name. He knows precisely where we are. And He is calling us to Himself. By His divine empowering grace He stands ready to guide us onwards. The promised Holy Spirit outpouring will be our covering. -Joel 2:28-32. The signs and greater works will follow, (-Mark 16:17-18) even as our walk of faith turns into an all consuming race for the finish line. -Heb.12:1
And what is the purpose in all this? What is our true calling and destiny as human beings? If we look at ourselves in the mirror we see a mortal creature of flesh and blood. But we are more than that. We are also spirit beings. We are creatures of eternity. We realize that when we pause to reflect on our lives. What then is the meaning and purpose for our passage through this world? Question number one of the Westminster Catechism gives us the answer.Q. 1. What is the chief end of man?We were created for ultimate happiness in God. Therefore, in His divine purpose He has laid out future history such that we will come to a point where we remember Him. Only then we shall come to discover and to remember who we really are. Our identity and our esteem can only be truly known as we enter into union with the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. It is His desire that we come to know Him intimately. And this is precisely the reason we shall at some point find ourselves entering into the end time drama. Our God is calling His people out of the shadow lands. He is wooing us even as a Lover entreats His betrothed to come with Him into His own country. He is drawing His people towards Himself. By His Holy Spirit He is leading His end-time pilgrims out of the darkness and into His marvelous Light.
A. Man’s chief end is to glorify God,
and to enjoy him forever.
Our God is the sovereign Being of the cosmos. He is also our Kinsman Redeemer. He has purchased us with His own blood. He is the One who is taking the initiative here. The unfolding of holy history is essentially the Revelation or unveiling of Jesus Christ. He is bringing us into a blood covenant communion in depths we have never known before. For those who will respond to His call this will not be an impossible journey at all. But it will be awesome beyond description.
We need to know this ahead of time. The days up ahead will call for a deeper relationship with our God than we presently experience. May we all respond in a positive way as that Day approaches. Because in our present world epic events can and often do unfold very quickly. When events come quickly to a head many will be surprised. They may not be prepared in God to go on with Him. Those days will call for special patience. Our Apostle Paul tells us that many lacking a relationship with God will fall away from the faith. It will be a time of transition. Paul told us that there will be an awful apostasy in those days. (2Thes.2:3) The nations will increasingly rage against the coming Messiah. -Psalm 2 Many in the comfortable western nations of "Christendom" will be caught off guard. When things don't go the way they have planned many will actually rise up in anger against God. They will curse Him. They will desert the true Christian faith.
During the end time drama many will come to know God who had never had much time for Him before. The trumpet call will sound in those days. And many will respond. There will, in fact, be a great end time revival. The lights will shine in the darkness as the myriad company of Abraham come forth. The Jewish nation and many previously unreached people out in heathen lands will respond in that Day. They will call upon the Name of the Lord. And they will be saved. (Joel 2:31-32) Many great mysteries are destined to unfold before our eyes. Marvelous things will open up. Things we could never have imagined before.
WE ARE CALLED TO FINISH THE RACE;It has been a long and epic journey for the people of God. The pilgrimage began in earnest with our spiritual father Abraham. 4,000 years ago he stepped out in faith and left the city of Ur and its idols. He was led forth by God to the promised land. Abraham is the father, the progenitor of a family of people who all walk by a personal faith in YHVH, the God who says "I am". He is the God who is, always has been, and always will be. He is the One who revealed Himself to man, coming as God in the flesh, even our Lord Jesus Christ. Thus He became known as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
ON BEHALF OF ALL THE SAINTS WHO HAVE GONE BEFORE US.
Many were destined to follow in the footsteps of Abraham. (Heb.11) The coming years will see that journey come to a magnificent climax. After many adventures a remnant of God's people will return, even to Zion. (Isa.35:10) By God's grace the saints will arrive safely at their destination. The end-time pilgrims, a single elect, will stand at last before the gates of the Holy City, the New Jerusalem, a city not made with hands.
Yes, the road has been a long and difficult. But in spite of the dangers those watersheds of holy history have repeatedly seen God's magnificent Providence. Now, on the threshold of the seventh millennium from Adam, it seems that the end of this portion of the journey is in sight. It seems we are approaching that final epic passage. It is the last leg of an epic relay race.
Christian and Messianic believers are obviously in the loop here.
And how do we know this is truly the case?
Because the baton is now being personally passed to us.
Are we ready?
THE PRINCES OF THIS WORLD HAVE SET THEMSELVES AGAINST THE MESSIAH.And what do the principalities and powers of this world think about all this? Well, they realize that their time is short. not surprisingly they are deeply disturbed about it. (These are those angelic and human rulers in high places our Apostle Paul spoke about.) He told us quite clearly that they would be against us.
CHRISTIAN BELIEVERS, AS MEMBERS OF HIS BODY, ARE HIS WITNESSES.
ACCORDINGLY, THE WORLD WILL BE AGAINST US IN THE COMING END-TIME DRAMA.For we wrestle not against flesh and blood,The nations have already been stirred up. They have begun to rage against the coming of Messiah and His Kingdom. (Psalm 2) This past century has seen two awful world wars. We have also seen the re-emergence of a sovereign Jewish state. The nation of Israel re-emerged into history in May of 1948. Now the nations are raging against the new little nation of Israel. The Jewish nation carries the seat of God's power on earth, even the Throne of David. The present world system hates His rule. The heathen gentiles, and especially crusaders, lust for dominion over Jerusalem, the holy city. But this is the place where Messiah will come to rule this earth. The nations and the principalities and powers don't like that idea at all. They quietly support the PLO. They try to hold back the inevitable fulfillment of prophecy. The human pawns in all this drama do not realize what they are doing. They are being driven by the princes of darkness. The angelic rulers of hideous wickedness rule in the lower heavens. They hate the Throne of David and the coming rule of Messiah. This is the root cause of Antisemitism.
but against principalities, against powers,
against the rulers of the darkness of this world,
against spiritual wickedness in high places. - Ephesians 6:12
There is also an international conspiracy to place a news blackout on the Gospel as well. The "good news" of God's plan of salvation invites human beings to repent of their sin and to invite Jesus Christ into their hearts and lives. Thus the Kingdom of God is established in human hearts.
The news about the coming rule of Jesus Christ upon this earth for one thousand years is unpopular in this present evil age. The world seeks to deny His return. This glorious future reality is also being denied in the churches of this world. But the scriptures speak clearly. Christ is indeed coming back. He will judge the nations. (Mat.25:32-46) Then He will proceed to establish a future glorious Millennium of Messiah.
The current world system hates this whole idea. They hate it with a passion. The nations are in a rage over the coming of our promised Messiah. And so the angelic principalities and powers that currently bear rule over the nations know that their time is short. This raging of nations is quite understandable. And it is growing louder. It will come to a crescendo as the second coming of Messiah draws nearer. King David wrote a song about this end-time conspiracy against the coming Messiah 3,000 years ago. It is recorded for us in Psalm 2.
This coming history, troubled as it will be, is unavoidable. There will be no peace in Jerusalem, Israel, The Middle East, or this world, until the Prince of Peace comes. His rightful place of rule is in human hearts. It is also upon this earth in Jerusalem. This is the epic contest of Good vs. evil. And this struggle with its ultimate victory is the essence of the end-time drama. The Revelation is in actual fact the unveiling, (or Apocalypse), of Jesus Christ.
We as Christians are right in the middle of all this. We are not "outta here" as our pre-tribulation rapture doctrine has it. And like Esther, who came into a potentially deadly time of crisis, we too have been called "for such a time as this". (Esther 4:14) Already our Judeo-Christian God is becoming an embarrassment to the New World Order and to the ecumenical movement and United Religions Initiative. (They think He is too exclusive.)
Historic times lie up ahead. Like it or not, the time will come when western evangelicals will be called up onto the stage of history. There the saints will bring their final and climactic witness to Jesus Christ. He alone is holy. He alone is worthy. It was our Lord Jesus Christ Himself who said,"I am the Way, the Truth and the Life".Those who are embarrassed or offended by His statement will 'fall away' from the faith in the prophesied great apostasy. (2Thes.2:3) The Church will be coming up for her final exams. And only those who know Jesus Christ personally will stand in that day. A remnant will pass with flying colors. These are the 'saints' spoken of by Daniel and John. They are end-time pilgrims. Are we going to be in that number?
No one comes to the Father but by me". -John 14:6
Pray God that we shall.
Two sequential global regimes are prophesied to come to power. First will come the harlot system, the dominant power in the first three and a half years of the final 7 years of this age, the 70th week of Daniel. (Rev.17:1-19:4) Then at midweek and three and a half years into those final seven years will come the Abomination of Desolation and the revealing of the Antichrist as the Beast. He will try to establish his 666 system and will actually be allowed time to rule for the last half of the 7 years. (Rev.13:5)
Both of the harlot and the 666 Antichrist will persecute the covenant Congregation of God during the final 7 years of this age. (Rev.17:3-6, Dan.7:7-11) This is an act of desperation by the powers of darkness.
Will they succeed? Not at all. (Dan. 7:18) They have already been defeated by Jesus Christ at the cross of Calvary.Having disarmed principalities and powers,And what about their campaign against the saints, the faithful witnesses of Jesus? It will fail just as miserably as it did when they tried to stamp out Christianity during the first three centuries of church history. For every saint that died for the faith back in those days ten more popped up. The only way to defeat God's covenant people is to somehow get them to compromise their faith. As Balaam discovered, all frontal attacks on the people of God are exercises in futility. These attacks on God's agents are doomed to abject failure. In the end time drama the saints will overcome. (Rev.7:9-17)
He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it. (Col.2:15)
They will overcome evil with good.
And in their faithful witness they will win.
They will win big. (Dan.7:27)
And they will win for all time. (Rev.20:4-6)
So. All that being understood.
Shall we answer the challenge?
THE APOCALYPSE, IS THE REVELATION OR UNVEILING OF JESUS CHRIST.The word 'apocalypse' means 'unveiling'. Indeed the book of Revelation, penned by the Apostle John, is the Revelation of Jesus Christ. He will come again as Messiah in the final days of this age. Even now He works within the hearts of those who invite him in. The indwelling Christ is the Seed of Abraham. (Gal.3:29), In Him we find our new and ultimate Christian identity. He changes us from inside out. And we become a new creature in Him.
IN THIS GRAND ADVENTURE OF THE END-TIME WE TOO, AS MEMBERS OF
HIS BODY ARE DESTINED TO DISCOVER OUR NEW IDENTITY IN HIM."Therefore, if any man be in Christ he is a new creature:
old things are passed away;
behold, all things are become new." - 2Cor.5:17
In Christ we set out on a pilgrimage. It is a journey which leads to high adventure. Like the navy we are given information on a "need to know" basis. Our orders are progressively unsealed as we move forward and are proven faithful on the journey. And so we make our discoveries in progressive fashion as we walk out our lives with Him.
Through Christ we come into the family of faith, even the Commonwealth of Israel. (Eph.2:11-13). As a wild olive branch we are grafted into the olive tree. The olive tree is one of the biblical pictures of the nation of Israel. (Rom.11:17-25) Our new family in Christ/Messiah is the family of Abraham. This family has a long and esteemed history. (Heb.11) The Song of Moses, a song of deliverance, began with the crossing of the Red Sea. This was three and a half millennia ago. Our journey of discovery will end up in an even more glorious deliverance.
John too saw the final completed company of God gathered out from all nations, races and ethnic backgrounds. The Tribulation Saints will sing that magnificent Song of Moses, as they stand before the crystal sea. (Rev.15:2-4) This is the vision of splendor that was seen by the patriarchs the prophets and psalmists of old. The saints who have gone before us, the hymn writers, and also some composers and poets have glimpsed its glory.
It is a wonder beyond human description.
There is more to the story. We are also called to a wedding feast. Oh yes, our God is into celebrating! When all is said and done we can expect that the Master of Ceremonies will pour that legendary 'best wine'.
Because it has been held 'in reserve' until the end. (John 2:10).
See Robin Neil's article on 'The Fourth Cup'.
HISTORY HAS A DIVINE PURPOSE. IT GOES SOMEWHERE!Dear fellow Christians. We are in the loop here. We need to wake up and smell the coffee. Holy history has a divine purpose and an awesome conclusion. We are the people of destiny. We are not just cogs in a ceaseless meaningless cycle of life and death, ying and yang, winter and summer, marriage and funerals, sex and death. Nor is life just the ying and yang 'balancing' of light and darkness. History is not just a progression of endless empty cycles as eastern mysticism would have it. God is in control in the heavens and on planet earth. He is the Grand Choreographer of the play. He casts the characters and sets the scenes . It is His play, the song of the ages. And it will show forth His glory. This is His story and the saga of his covenant people in the passing parade of men and nations upon this earth. And we are there!
FOR GOD'S PEOPLE THE PILGRIMAGE LEADS TO A MAGNIFICENT CONCLUSION.
Beloved saints, we are the covenant people of God. He always remembers His own. He has engraved them on the palms of His hands. -Isaiah 49:16 They have come to live in the secret place of the Most High. There they abide under the shadow of the Almighty. - Psalm 91:1 He is the Way and He leads them out of their present earthly encampment and onwards into His glory. History does not just go around in endless circles like the sun and moon and the generations of men. Rather it is teleological and linear. Our God has His guiding hand on it. There is a beginning and an ending to the story of this age. There is a Main Character or Protagonist, who is God in the flesh, coming into the cosmos in the person of our Lord Jesus Christ. There is an antagonist, Lucifer or Satan, who is the prince of darkness. He too must try to put forth His god-man, the Antichrist. A series of human and national stories are wrapped up within this main story. Then there is a definitive conclusion to the matter. There will be a final drama of the ages. Lucifer and his angelic rulers will surely be cast down in an awesome coming time when the sun turns to darkness, the moon to blood, and the stars fall. The events leading up to the cataclysms of the 6th seal (Rev.6:12-17) will be played out among men here on the earth and among warring angelic powers up in the lower heavenly realms. This leads on to a magnificent climax and a glorious conclusion at the end of the story.
OUR VITAL ROLE OF WITNESS IN THE END-TIME DRAMA.The church saints of this age have a vital part to play in all this. When the church wakes up from her slumbers she will realize that she is being summoned to her place of witness. She is, after all, the "called out" ekklesia operating in the Eternal Covenant of God. At the appointed time she will go on stage. The curtain is about to go up on the final acts and scenes of this age. The saints of God, as in days past, are up front and center. We are not "outta here" before this saga unfolds as we have been told. As a matter of fact we are the key witnesses of the New Covenant. This will become abundantly clear as we come into the end time drama. God has scripted this role of witness for us. He is calling upon all of us to follow Him. He is also calling upon us to follow in the footsteps of the saints who have gone before us. Indeed they will be looking to us to finish the race. We shall not be running on behalf of ourselves alone here.We shall also run on behalf of all the saints who have gone before us! - Heb.11:1 - 12:1 What an incredible honor this will be! And then, when all is said and done, and that Day finally arrives, we shall sit down with them and with our Lord Jesus Christ at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. It is quite likely that we shall have some wonderful stories to tell around that table of God's provision for us during those final trials. This is the marvelous heritage of the end-time pilgrims. Who, as a a follower of Jesus Christ, would want to miss that?
Our witness, in the end-time is essential. Only the Gospel will bring redemption to this world. And the Great Commission is far from completed. Our Jewish brothers and sisters will also be saved. They are due to come to national repentance and salvation at the climax of this age. -Rom.11, Zech 12:7-13:1 Our Redeemer is the Lion of the Jewish tribe of Judah. The partial blindness of national (Judah) Israel in not recognizing their Messiah will be healed. The partial blindness of the church in not recognizing their true place of destiny in the Commonwealth of Israel will also be healed. See Eph.2:11-13 and Gal.3:29.
Dispensational thinking and putting the Church/Congregation of Israel into separate boxes continues the family feud between the two houses of Israel. And and eschatology that abandons the ship seven years before it comes into port and nurtures a vaguely anti-Semitic notion of the Jews being 'Left Behind' is a sad chapter in Church history. Such a notion and such an end-time scenario is not an agenda that jives with the character of our God. No, not at all. And our Jewish friends, yet to be saved, are not drawn into the grace of God by such irresponsible escapist cowardice. The specter of abandonment does not help in our ministry to our Jewish brethren and the restoration of all Israel. In fact, such an eschatology of abandonment aggravates the family feud by feeding more bad thoughts into the Breach of Jeroboam.
Dear saints, here is the botton line on all that foolishness. There is no "apartheid" of God's single undivided Elect! There is no God ordained eternal separation into a "church" section and an "Israel" section. There must be a restoration before God wraps up the history of this era. And we see this in Zechariah 12, Joel 2, and all throught he wonderful poetry of the Old Testament. A man made cleaver of hyperdispensationalism crafted that artificial division. As God views it and throughout the Bible from cover to cover there is only one ekklesia/congregation and nation of Israel. The end time will see a single remnant emerge from the crucible, a "chosen people" of God. They are a "royal priesthood and a holy nation". -1Pet.2:9
Many joyful re-unions are in store for God's covenant people. And many glorious mysteries are yet to be unveiled. The saints of old who have gone before us would give anything to take part with us. Those saints who have gone before are looking to us to finish the race. And the angelic cloud of witnesses is watching. -Heb.12:1. So. All that being understood, we simply cannot even think of skipping out and abandoning ship now. Not before we have played out our vital and essential role of witness at the climax of this age.
Brothers and sisters we must face the holy scriptures on this. In spite of the assurances of compromised religion the teachings our Bible are very clear. The pilgrim pathway will lead the people of God right up to, into, and through to the end, of the final 7-year crisis of human history known as the "70th week of Daniel". -Dan.9:24-27 Our God is calling us to face this reality and to joyfully accept what He is going to do in and through us. He will make ample provision for us. Let us always keep our eyes on Him.
THE HOLY SPIRIT WILL BE PRESENT IN A COVERING GLORYThe Way up ahead is strait, and narrow this is true.- Mat.7:13-14. And yes it is difficult to surrender up the rule of our flesh-life. It is not easy to allow Christ to take His rightful place on the throne of our heart, mind, and will. But the role He has choreographed for us as a witness to His covenant is not impossible. When God's people seek His face they have always discovered His divine Providence as they journeyed. Our Redeemer will never leave His people desolate. He has made abundant provision for us in the sending of His Comforter, the Holy Spirit. He has been sent to strengthen us and to be our personal Guide. God will provide for His people in the days ahead just as He has always done. His Holy Spirit will power up to cover us in increasing waves until the final climactic blaze of glory at the end. Joel saw this final crescendo, the peak of the Holy Spirit outpouring occurring quite late in the final 7 years of this age. In fact he saw it in the time frame of the cosmic disturbances of the 6th seal with the sun turning to darkness, the moon to blood, and the stars falling. Also in Joel's view was the end time deliverance of Jerusalem at the Battle of Armageddon. -Joel 2:28-32
OVER THE SAINTS AS THEY COME INTO THE DRAMA OF THE LAST DAYS.
The Holy Spirit will never desert us. The Spirit of YHVH/God is omnipresent, hovering over all space and time.-Ps.139:7-12. No doctrine of man can ever evict Him from planet earth. Not even for the final 7 year climax of the age. The 180 year old pre-tribulation rapture doctrine which suggests that our Comforter, the Holy Spirit, exits the earth in last seven years of this present age is an awful and unscriptural untruth. To say that the Holy Spirit will abandon the Judeo-Christian people in the 70th week amounts to grievous dissemination of false information to the saints. Such false information can and does demoralize Christian believers. It is also a slander on the character of YHVH, our sovereign God who has promised,
"I will never leave you nor forsake you."
So that we may boldly say,-
"The Lord is my helper,
And I will not fear what man shall do unto me". -Heb.13:5-6
What has God asked us to do? Before His ascension, Jesus Himself personally charged us with the task of fulfilling His Great Commission. In this He gave us His personal assurance that He will be with us and alongside us right through to the very end of the age.-Mat.28:18-20. This is His blood covenant promise of His lovingkindness towards us. He said,
"Behold! Look here! Pay attention!
I am with you always,
Even to the end of the age."-Mat.28:30
Beloved of God, the holy scriptures are open to us. Is our Bible God's authoritative holy Word? Or do we impose upon scripture our own religious fancies? Like our for-bearers in ancient Israel do we "do right in our own eyes"?-Deut.12:8.
Many Christians in the west will be brought up to testify of Christ in the coming trials. Yet how many are preparing their minds in the holy scriptures? And how many are preparing their hearts with diligence in the Holy Spirit? Have we been properly warned about what is to come? Where are the watchmen? -Ezek.33:3-6 Are they asleep?
THE CHURCH AS 'SLEEPING BEAUTY';It would seem that a soporific fog of religious disinformation is wafting over the western church. She is spiritually unprepared to journey onwards because she is self-absorbed. She is in a stupor of narcissistic self-centeredness. She has forgotten her calling. And as wayward Gomer she no longer considers it a priority to remain faithful in the end-time witness or understand that the way of the cross is a necessary part of the passage toward her destiny. Like the Lady of Shalott she is now drifting aimlessly down the river. She fondly views her own image mirrored in her own local pools of water. And there she slumbers amidst the narcissus flowers.
- AWAITING HER PRINCE.
The western church is asleep.
Painting by J.W.Waterhouse (1849-1917)
Is she the quintessential Sleeping Beauty?
And why is she sleeping? Is she just tired?
Or has she been drugged with a soporific potion?
What is that piece of fruit in her mouth?
What spiritual food has has she been eating?
And who gave it to her? Who is she now in love with?
And towards which city is she now slowly drifting,
As the broad stream carries her far away?
A prince will awaken the Judeo-Christian people.
Painting by John Grimshaw (1836-1893).
But who will that be? Which one is the prince of her dreams? Like the Lady of Shalott does she fantasize of a prince who is just another worldly champion? -John 5:43 Does she lust for another sword wielding knight dressed in the shining armor of Roman iron and military might? Or is her true Prince the One who is born from above and coming back to deliver her?
The slumbering Church is reminiscent of what we see in the classical Greek legend of Odysseus. Preoccupied with pleasure, eating the lotus, and resting in the bosom of Circe the church sleeps on.
Have we too forgotten our calling?
Have we forgotten our destiny?
OUR HIGH CALLING IN CHRIST.The church has been called to witness. That much is sure. And holy history up ahead awaits our entrance. Let no man or devil persuade us otherwise. But if we enter the end time darkness unwarned, without the oil of the Holy Spirit, and without our lamps trimmed and shining brightly against the coming spiritual night then the extraordinary events to come may catch us unprepared. In the confusion and anger of that day, many, who presently profess faith in Christ, may "fall away".-2Thes.2:3 Let us keep our eyes on "Him who is able to keep us from falling".-Jude 24.
God has promised to keep/preserve us Gr."ek"(in, through & out from) our hour of trial.-Rev.3:10 We are not just spectators as our marketplace church culture may have conditioned us to believe. Nor are we "outta here" prematurely 7 years before the resurrection-rapture at the end of the age.
It is a sad state of affairs when Western Christians, called out to be the witnesses of Christ refuse to even think about going up to bring their testimony before kings and rulers. But this is precisely what we are seeing with the immensely popular, (and lucrative), teaching of a Pre-tribulation Rapture. Desertion in the face of danger is abhorrent to both God and man. God, through the Apostle Paul, rebuked those sailors as they attempted to desert their stricken vessel. Everyone was certainly in deadly peril. The ship was being driven towards a lee shore in a gale. (Acts 27:30-32). The fear of imminent disaster was upon them. But it didn't happen. God was looking out for them.
Is the evangelical family, the Church of the west like those sailors? Are we too entertaining notions of "deserting up the ship"?
Our Lord Jesus has a high calling for each and every one of His people. Yet the Nicolaitan religious spirit of the day fosters a formalized corporate church culture. This has kept us in the dark about the future. Current church leaders have failed to prepare us for personal witness. We may even consider ourselves as peons and our lives as spiritually inconsequential. But our Savior has personally called us to witness on His behalf. The New Covenant is a blood covenant. Very few Christians in the privileged countries know this. However, the saints who are presently under persecution overseas are fully aware of this reality. They walk it out daily. And like a mother facing childbirth, they have the wisdom to know why this period of travail must come to pass. -Dan.12:10
WILL THERE BE A PRE-TRIBULATION RAPTURE?Dear saints, in some future year Israel and the nations will sign a 7 year covenant with a global peacemaker giving him authority to disarm the world of weapons of mass destruction and establish a humanistic attempt at world peace. At that time the shofars will be blow, sounding forth an alarm and heralding the beginning of the 70th week of Daniel, the last 7 years of this age. There will be no rapture at that time to precede the resurrection (1Thes.4:15-17) which Jesus told us clearly would come at the "last day". (John 6:39, 6:40, 6:44, 6:54) So the the resurrection-rapture comes on the last day of this age. Search the scriptures. It will soon become apparent that the comfortable notion of an early "special express" pre-tribulation rapture is not in the Bible. This religious fable has been quite successful, however. Being of low spiritual cost this "easy believism" sells well in the religious marketplace. A weak yet easily sold Christianity that is willing to de-emphasize the reality of the cross also has one other benefit, (albeit a short-term one). A cheap gospel avoids offending the stony hearts amongst us. We cater to the very ones that may not stand in the evil day for the witness of Christ. Why? Well we bend over backwards in order to keep up our numbers. Our numbers also keep up the political front to help maintain what favor the church establishment has with the ruling powers. And of course keeping up our numbers keeps the dollars rolling in. Many compromises have been made. Such are the ways of mammon. And we wonder why the western church is compromised and failing. And we ask why we are losing our teenagers to paganism.
DISINFORMATION REGARDING THE END-TIME
IS WHAT WE MUST EXPECT IN A SPIRITUAL WAR.
Pre-tribulation rapturism fits the category of a shallow "easy believism". It calls for zero end time commitment. It is essentially a dereliction of duty, in military parlance it is a shameful business of "going AWOL" or "absence without leave" for the last seven years of this age. And we wonder why the west is seeing more and more Christians unwilling to commit to Jesus Christ or to each other in marriage? Yes, the times to come will call for a deeper devotion and commitment to our Redeemer than the church presently has. And so unless our Christianity comes up to speed on this matter of commitment and equals the life and death blood covenant commitment level of the gangs in our street and the 500 Christian believers overseas who die for the faith every day then we shall continue to lose the culture.
And our children will continue to be swallowed up in Babylon.
HOW THE PRE-TRIBULATION RAPTURE DOCTRINE VANISHED FROM CHINA.What sort of a track record does pre-tribulation rapturism have? Let us take a look at the evidence. The historical record shows that this easily swallowed doctrine actually weakens Christian moral fiber. Corrie Ten Boom, a devoted proven believer, whose family hid Jews in Holland during the Nazi occupation in World War 2 shares that the pre-tribulation rapture doctrine failed the Chinese church miserably in 1949. When the deadly persecutions of Christians began under Mao Tse Tung's Red Guard an awful despair set in. With no rapture forthcoming many in the Chinese church believed that they had been abandoned by God. Church leaders reported a great "falling away" at that time. Did pre-tribulation rapturism help the Chinese church in their hour of trial? Hardly.
AND WHY IT IS ABSENT IN THE PERSECUTED CHURCH OVERSEAS TODAY.
It is now fifty years later. The Chinese church today doubles its numbers every seven years. Like the early church it too flourishes under persecution. Inside the vibrant expanding house churches of China today the pre-trib rapture teaching is long forgotten. It has been discarded. The doctrine has been tested over there in the fiery crucible of history.
...........And it was found wanting.
Here are the facts from church history. When persecution and affliction comes to a church unprepared to suffer for the faith then a state of bewilderment and confusion sets in and it despairs. A false sense of betrayal then leads to a bitterness against God and towards fellow Christians. Fear, depression, (which is often repressed inner anger against God), declining morale, and apostasy from the faith soon follow. This is why we should make the scriptural truth available to those who are genuine in their devotion to God. A ship in passage with a faithful crew deserves an accurate chart. Similarly the pilgrims must have correct information as they navigate onwards into the end-time. Misrepresentation of God's holy Word concerning the last days is a very serious matter. Disinformation is worse than no information at all. It causes the saints grievous harm. May God help us all to think and perhaps even tremble before we speak a word about the last days. May we hesitate to say anything without ensuring that it is soundly based on scripture. The lives of millions of saints depend on correct information. We simply must get it right. End-time teaching, like creationism, is not an "added extra". It is vital and essential information concerning the sovereign hand of God in holy history and the witness of His saints.
THE CUP OF CHRIST;The cup of Christ is an awesome reality. Jesus faced that cup on the night in which He was betrayed. Gethsemane, (Heb."oil press") is a place of crushing. This is the place where Jesus entered into His personal agony of soul. It is here, under enormous pressure, where He sweat drops of blood. Jesus asked His disciples to keep watch with Him there for "one hour". But facing the full significance of the cup of Christ overwhelms us.-Mat.26:36-46 Like Daniel, in the power of our flesh we are inclined to faint away as we too face the reality of that cup which our Lord Jesus has shared with us. But God strengthens us and lifts us up.-Dan.10:15-19. At Gethsemane our Savior won the victory over the forces of darkness. And it is at Gethsemane, or "oil press" that the true oil of anointing flows. Here at that shunned and forbidding, even "negative" place, is where we must come to find the oil. The oil of anointing breaks the yoke of bondage and sets the captives free. -Isa.10:27 And in the parable of the ten virgins, the 5 wise virgins made it a priority to find the oil for their lamps against the coming night.
SHALL WE DRINK IT WITH HIM?
Do we have the oil?
It is at Gethsemane, even in a place of betrayal, that we make our discoveries. In this dark night of the soul friends betray us. A crushing bitter anguish grips our hearts. If there are tears to weep those tears will fall here. It is also a bittersweet place. Here we experience the sweet consolation of our Lord. And we fellowship with those whom we now recognize to be our true friends. Here we take our resolve to drink the cup of Christ and to follow Him to the end. There is an awesome anointing here. Gethsemane is not just a "negative" place for "victory minded" Christians to avoid. This is the garden where our Lord Jesus defeated the angelic principalities and powers that bear rule in this evil age. Here in the gathering gloom at Gethsemane, even as we keep watch with Jesus in His sufferings, the Holy Spirit is poured out. The oil of His Presence flows down from the presses. Our Lord Jesus Christ had His victory here. And this place of betrayal and grief is now transformed. For those who remain with Him it has now become the place of enlightenment and divine supply. Here at the place of the "oil press" our lamps and vessels are filled with oil. The Light and the cheering Presence of our Lord Jesus surrounds us, even as the shadows lengthen and darkness falls.
OUR GOD WILL NOT FORGET USDear saints, We are the beloved congregation of God. Our Savior will never leave us desolate. The oil of His Presence will keep our lamps shining brightly, even in the night watches beyond the midnight hour. I entreat all to be patient in this. The reception of these truths is not just an intellectual/Berean one. It is also is an emotional process of the heart. We are being drawn into a relationship of intimacy, even as a bride remembers her Beloved, and makes herself ready.
Our God will never abandon us. When David was hunted down by his enemies in the "valley of the shadow of death" God's glorious Presence overshadowed Him. Our God visits His persecuted people in those wilderness places. In the same manner as He came and communed with David He will "prepare a table" for us as well. He will sit down and sup with us, even "in the presence of our enemies". -Ps.23
The deeper truths of the communion cup seem strange to our western minds. We live in a milieu of lukewarm Laodicean and Disneyesque religion. Melodrama rather than drama, sex and vilence, is our usual cultural and religious fare. But the scriptures tell the different end-time story. Are we interested? Or not?
In this time of discovery and transition we must be patient with ourselves. And we must be patient with those who teach us. Remember that the mark of the Christian is love. -John 13:35 And keep in mind that these truths of the last days may have been held back until this time for good reasons. Perhaps it has been God's permissive will for this end time information to be hidden. Carnal Christians do not deserve to know these things. The sealing up of these truths may be quite understandable given the violent and unholy record of our past church history. Do we sail out "under sealed orders"? The prophet Daniel was told by Gabriel, the angel of God's throne, that the words of Daniel's prophecy would be "sealed up until the time of the end".-Dan.12:4 Perhaps as a people our orders are progressively unsealed as we voyage on. Perhaps the revelations come to us from God on a "need to know" basis and as we prove ourselves trustworthy to receive the end time information with patience and grace. The Word of God exhorts us to remember the fruits of the Holy Spirit.-Gal.5:22-23 These are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Like the sweet fruit of the grape and the fig that surround the seeds within so the fruit of the Spirit surrounds Truth. Remember too that it is our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, who is opening the seals to usher in the end time events.-Rev. 5. He sets the agenda. He is also the "author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross".-Heb.12:2 He did that for us at great cost. So we can depend on Him to see us through.
Our future journey in Christ will lead us solidly onto the pilgrim's pathway. The political protection which we, as western believers, have enjoyed will not last forever. That (relative) peace has been afforded us by the sword of secular rulers. Western kings and princes have traditionally held a ceremonial sword into which had been inscribed "Defender of the Faith". The established church, as the quintessential "damsel in distress" was initially seduced by the Roman Caesar Constantine in 325 A.D. Since that time, and under the spell of the medieval romances, the established church has over and over again been wooed and won over by these secular kings and rulers. Like Israel of old, she has swooned before the princes of this world. She spends a lot of time dallying in politics with her political protectors. She has also lusted after the power of their sword. But with the thorny authority of the sword has come corruption. Like ancient Israel, and like Hosea's wanton wife Gomer, the western church has forgotten her true Husband. She has allowed herself to be corrupted by her worldly lovers. Much of the western church has lived under state protection ever since the deal was made with the Roman Emperor Constantine back in 325 A.D. The Council of Nicea set the pattern of church-state relations that continues to this day. But in the future times it will be different. When the faithful remnant church brings her "final witness" in the 5th seal no earthly political power will be there as her covering. In that hour of trial the true church, a company of end-time pilgrims will enter into the divine serendipity. Our God, whose name is "Wonderful", or in Hebrew, "SURPRISE!" will surprise us and surprise the princes of this world yet again. Because he is coming back personally to take care of business!
The pilgrim path leads on. It winds on past the encampments of humanism, past the four horsemen and the other "lords of discipline". We skirt around the Crusaders giving them a wide berth. Our journey takes us right by our brothers in the camp of the Puritans. As Pilgrims we have always respected their Christian zeal to purify society and bring in godly government. But in the Puritan camps things are looking pretty grim. The decline in morals in western society is now beginning to vex them sorely. The moral decline in the church is just as bad. In their heart of hearts many are questioning just how the Puritan dream can be revived again. Their political battle for the culture is failing as well. The mood is dark and in some "patriot" quarters there is talk of turning their attention "from the ballot box to the cartridge box". But as Pilgrims we shall have none of this. We are the people of God's peace. We are citizens of another Kingdom and we are looking for another City. The Pilgrim's pathway is calling us, even the highway of holiness.-Isa.35:8-10
THE NATURE OF BLOOD COVENANT;The pathway ahead will be challenging. It will lead the saints into the arena of the end time. We cannot avoid this. At some time in the future, (and we don't know when), the people of God collectively will be called upon to make a conclusive and climactic witness. If a global peacemaker offers a seven year covenant with the world, Israel, and the church then that political protection issue will come to the fore in an epic and crucial way. In fact the choice we make to covenant with man or to covenant with God will become central drama of Christendom at the end of this age.-Dan.9:27 When the harlot system and the false messiah begin their regime then we shall be the ones called upon to bring that "final witness". Many will find themselves testifying before kings and rulers right up until the "times of the gentiles" come to a close. -Mark 13:9.
AND THE NECESSITY OF THE END TIME WITNESS.
Why is all this necessary? Well every Christian believer is in a two way blood covenant relationship with Jesus Christ. Our witness to the new covenant of Christ is an essential part of that covenant. That is what the communion service is all about. The communion is not just our reception of a ticket to heaven. The New Covenant is a two way commitment. The simple and faithful witness of the saints is inevitable. It comes by the outworking power of the indwelling Christ. God's promise of that power to witness is wrapped up within that covenant. Our witness of Christ is expected every bit as much as the bridal signature is expected at a wedding. The bride is giving witness before all those assembled. She signs on the dotted line to testify that she loves her Bridegroom and is fully committed to go with Him. In the Jewish wedding ceremony the consenting bride drinks from the cup affirming her total commitment to her Beloved. In this act she bears witness to Him before the world. She is thereby becoming part of His story. Under His love and in the power of His divine grace the bride tells all those gathered just who she belongs to. This is essential. It has to happen. Without her witness it is not a true betrothal or wedding at all. The bride signs the marriage register on the dotted line beneath the Bridegroom's signature. Oh yes! This is the true "bottom line". Similarly, the climactic witness of the end time church must come. It is the 5th seal. -Rev.6:9-11 That future witness of the end-time pilgrims will be a spellbinding and epic drama. In fact it is destined to wrap up holy history for this age.
Like marriage, blood covenant Christianity means total commitment. It is "til death do us part". Blood covenant commitment is carried to a far higher standard than the contractual relationships of the merchant/business world around us where deals and compromises are routinely made and just as routinely broken. The mores of our society are merchant mores and standards. But contract law just doesn't "cut it" for the relationship between God and His people.
THE KINGDOMS OF THIS WORLD, VERSUSWe have been blessed abundantly under the merchants it is true. Businessmen have given us more freedom than the kings and princes ever did. Dutch merchant vessels expanded trade to the orient, and took the gospel there as well. Under the cover of the merchants in Belgium, Holland and Germany, William Tyndale, a fugitive from King Henry VIII and his English churchmen, was given opportunity to translate the scriptures into English. Merchant vessels smuggled Tyndale Bibles across the English channel back to Britain. The British Empire saw more missionaries go out than ever before. Even today, 90% of our missionaries go out under the protection of the multinational merchant ethic of the Pax Americana. We owe a lot to our merchant and business friends. But can the church remain unspoiled and uncorrupted by her riches? And will the merchants take a stand beside us in our trials and tribulations? Probably not. And is the business world with its slavish rat-race for money, its compromise, and its materialistic and hedonistic mores actually contributing to the moral decline seen in us and in our children?
THE KINGDOM OF OUR LORD AND OF HIS MESSIAH.
Merchant values now dominate the church, particularly in the last half century of the Pax Americana. Big business has slipped into the church even as the Trojan horse was drawn into ancient Troy. We are scarcely aware of just how abnormal it is. We live in a religious bazaar. A smörgåsbord of worldly and religious goodies is laid out before us. Religious salesmanship and price cutting seeks to "sell" the gospel to the lowest bidder. Mammon, both secular and religious is all around us seeking to sell the gospel cheaply. Even the Word of God is mixed with sweet politically correct falsehoods to cater to the sweet hungry taste of the bulk of the crowd. Religion is bought and sold as a commodity. In the board meetings of religi-business it is whatever is popular with the crowds that ends up being taught. Tapes, videos, films and novels of the end time sell by the cartload. Are these teachings true to the holy scriptures? Or have they been "processed" for broad based acceptability and sale to the masses? Do we know?
Does wisdom and scriptural truth always sell well with the crowds in the streets? Unfortunately the answer is "no". King Solomon said that wisdom cries out in the streets, but few seek her. He said that His people hated knowledge and disdained God's counsel. He had promised to pour out His Spirit on them and make His words known to them. But they would have none of it. They would not hear. So because they despised His wisdom, when the day of calamity comes they will search for God but will not find Him. -Proverbs 1:20-33. This is a very very sobering word.
"Now is the day of salvation".-2Cor.6:2
Now is the time to seek God.
Tomorrow may be too late.
The crowds rejected Jesus 2 millenia ago. Pilate gave them a choice. Did they want to release Jesus? Or Barabbas? The crowds preferred to "buy" Barabbas. He was a "winner", (or so they thought). Their true Messiah stood before them, covered in blood. To them, Jesus was a "loser". "Away with Him! Crucify Him!" they cried. They had no desire for this One who was fully surrendered to the will of the Father. They had no love for the Sacrifice Lamb who would give Himself as "a ransom for many". They wanted a strong man, a striving politically active mighty man of the flesh. They wanted a "winner"! Their man would hack and bludgeon his way clear of all opposition. The crowds cried out for Barabbas to be released to them. They continue to do so today. Men of wrath now dominate the culture. The crusades of are not over.
It seems that we have forgotten the beatitudes. We have forgotten the manner in which Jesus said his kingdom operated. We listen to angry roaring orators and cheer them on. The "last crusade" is now being preached from many pulpits without people even being aware of what is happening. Have we have forgotten that our Messiah first came to us as the "Suffering Servant"? It appears that indeed we have forgotten. Because apart from our Roman Catholic friends the postmodern western church at large seems to have very little desire to identify with Jesus in His sufferings. Nor has our comfortable untested western church given much support to the suffering church overseas. This is to our shame.
BIBLE PROPHECY; GOD GIVES US A ROAD MAPWhy study Bible prophecy? Well it is important that we know that our God is sovereign in human history. And we should also be aware of who we are and what we are called upon to do, even as this humanistic world comes apart at the seams. Ignorance of end time Bible prophecy and our essential role of witness in it is deadly. It leads to confusion, fear, and demoralization. Fear is most often expressed in black depressive moods. This is internalized anger toward those we perceive to have broken covenant with us and let us down. Will some Christians feel that way about God in the end time? Pray God that this does not happen. Because God has a glorious purpose for His elect people as this age comes to a conclusion. It is because of anger at a perceived "raw deal" that many Christians will fall away from the faith.-2Thes 2:3. Many will also join armies and militias as the nations rage. But we as pilgrims understand what the fuss is really all about. The final witness is about to be called. That testimony will be concluded late in the final 7 years of this age at the fifth seal. The principalities and powers know what that means. After that witness their stars will surely fall; even at the 6th seal as the sun turns to darkness and the moon to blood.-Mat.24:29, Joel 2:31 The world system and its spirit rulers do not welcome our returning Messiah. They do not love His appearing.-2Tim.4:8 Not one bit. The nations rage against His coming Millennial rule.-Psalm 2 That is actually what the middle east crisis is really all about.
INTO THE END TIME DRAMA AND THE CLOSE OF THIS AGE.
With the Bible as our chart and the Holy Spirit our Guide we shall journey on. This is not merely an intellectual exercise. Nor is it just religious existentialism or emotionalism. Rather the pathway of the end-time pilgrims is a love walk of real and total commitment. We are being drawn into the heart of the Shepherd.
Here is a word of encouragement. Even under Roman persecution the early church was a growing overcoming church. They knew the meaning of "baptism of fire"-Mat.3:11. Today's western evangelical church does not. But we shall. The thought of the end time saints being tried as gold -Rev.3:14-22 is exceedingly hard for us to accept. We are comfortable in our present shallow relationship. But out of the crucible of the last days the Refiner shall do His work. And out will come the gold, and the glory. As our relationship with our Lord Jesus deepens we shall face these realities with joy. This seems unbelievable to us but even a quick look through Foxe's Book of Martyrs reveals that this joy under persecution indeed does happen. And it happens to saints who had previously led quite ordinary lives. This is a divine serendipity. The Light shines out of the lives of the saints and into the surrounding darkness of the peoples.-Isa.60:1-5
The final deliverance of Jerusalem at the end of this age is well known. Our Messiah will come in wrath and deliverance. The armies that gathered at Armageddon will be sown into the ground in the valley of Jezreel.-Rev.16:14-16 Jerusalem will be saved, both spiritually and physically.-Joel 2:28-32 But God will have some other hard pressed people to rescue. This is the "rest of the story". The returning Messiah will also visit the prisoners of Edom out at the ends of the earth. He will deliver the Woman of Revelation 12 from the face of the Dragon. He will return in a mighty deliverance at a spiritual place called Bozrah. The Bozrah/sheepfolds will be controlled by the sons of Esau, the Edomites. -Isa. 63. The "Breaker" will come to the saints penned up in the "sheepfolds of Bozrah". The returning Messiah as the "breachmaker" will break His people out in a glorious deliverance. -Micah 2:12-13 Then He will lead them out. This part of the story of the second coming of Christ is virtually unknown. The Bozrah deliverance has been omitted from current prophecy teaching. But whether we are in Israel or out among the nations our Messiah will return for us. His appearing and His subsequent presence with us, (Gr."parousia"), is our "blessed hope".-Titus 2:13 This magnificent picture of the end time deliverance is also seen in the constellation of the lesser sheepfold which was erroneously renamed by the Medo-Persians as Ursa Minor or 'little bear'. Also known as the "little dipper" it was known to the ancients as the "lesser sheepfold". Here is a chart of the "Breaker" leading His saints out of the lesser sheepfold at Bozrah. He is as Polaris with the axis of the earth is aimed towards Him. Polaris means 'turned upon' and our Messiah is the One around whom all the others stars rotate. He is like the bright north star the ocean navigators looked for when darkness fell. Truly the heavens declare the glory of God. Because up there in the night sky with the eye of faith we see a picture of our returning Messiah just as Abraham did four millennia ago. He is at the head of a stream of stars breaking out from the sheepfold in a magnificent deliverance.
Dear saints, as witnesses of Jesus Christ we need have no fear of future events. Our Messiah is the Breaker. He is the One who brings the breakthrough. Our job is to press in closely to Him. Until the time of our deliverance and the day of our translation into glory our Redeemer has us covered. Of that we can be sure. He has made abundant provision for our witness by His Holy Spirit. He asks us to trust Him. He asks us to draw near to Him. -Heb.10:22-23 Our difficult, yet glorious road of discovery is near. It is just up ahead.
It is the Highway of of Holiness, -Isa.35:8
It is the Paradise Road.
Grace and peace to all who love His appearing.
. . . . . . . . .
STAINED GLASSWORK OF JOHN BUNYAN, WRITER OF PILGRIM'S PROGRESS, FROM AN OLD CHURCH IN BEDFORD, ENGLAND.