CHURCH IN THE LAST DAYS

We in the West are waiting for a move of God, and yet in many parts of the world, a great outpouring of the Holy Spirit is already taking place that rivals the Book of Acts.

Thank goodness God is revealing to Pastors like Francis Chan and John Comer – see recent post “Do You Really Believe God is in Control”, that the church has deviated from His design for the church, as outlined in the Book of Acts.

Non Biblical Churches, which include many, if not most, of the Institutionalised churches, Mega churches and Prosperity Doctrine churches, to name the principal groups, are not producing disciples of Christ committed to the call of God on their lives. Sadly, what most churches are doing has little to do with what the Bible teaches e.g “Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” James 5:16, What about “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2

The model of the institutional church isn’t structured to foster close biblical relationships. In most, you can go on almost indefinitely enjoying your uninvolved routine merely consuming but never contributing to the community you call church.

The church is not a building or a place to go, but a body (ekklesia) of believers.

One of the places, where a great outpouring of God’s spirit is evident, is Iran, the most unlikely place from a worldly, so called natural viewpoint, but typical from a Biblical perspective. View the following video and be challenged or encouraged or both.

GROWTH OF CHRISTIANITY IN IRAN

Report from CBN News on Christians in Iran. Watch this short video and be encouraged. You will see Dylan Thomas of FAI talking about what God is doing in Iran. If you haven’t viewed the first “Sheep in Wolves Clothing” video that I recently posted then can I suggest you do so, if you want to learn more.

CHURCH IN THE LAST DAYS

Expect God’s judgement on His church in these last days.

Both Ananias and Sapphira, together with Simon the sorcerer, attempted to introduce into the glory of the early Church corrupt values that would have defiled and greatly diminished her glory. However, it was stopped at the door and the glory was protected and allowed to increase.

In like manner, the true judgements of the Lord that produce holy fear and genuine repentance will return to the Church in these “last days”, so there can be a thorough cleansing and the glory of the Lord can be restored. Already, we see a great falling away in the church as it compromises with the world’s values. This will increase as tribulation builds: “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake” Matthew 24:9.  But we also know the “end times” church will receive Holy Spirit power, as in the early church as described in the Book of Acts, so that “this Gospel of the Kingdom will be preached to all the world as a witness to all nations, and then the end will come.” Matthew 24:14

Smith Wigglesworth prophesied correctly back in 1927:

“There must be special preparation for the return of Christ and at least half of all believers will be totally unprepared. We have to see that these days have to come before the Lord can come. There has to be a falling away. I want to speak to you very exactly. All the people which are pressing into and getting ready for this glorious attained place where they shall not be found naked, where they shall be blameless, where they shall be immovable, where they shall be purified by the power of the Word of God, have within them a consciousness of the very presence of God within, changing their very nature and preparing them for a greater thing and causing them to be ready for translation.

This is the day of purifying. This is the day of holiness. This is the day of separation. This is the day of waking. O God, let us wake today! Let the inner spirit wake into consciousness that God is calling us.”

What an appropriate call for our day. Let us prepare now for what Jesus is calling us to do preach the Gospel of the Kingdom to our circle of contacts, our community where God has placed us.

WHEN WILL THE CHURCH BECOME AN ACTS 4 CHURCH?

When will the church in the west become an Acts 4 church? Only when the circumstances around us mirror the conditions of the early church. Fortunately, we are seeing many examples of it happening in the Middle East where the church has come under intense Islamic persecution. We are being given an example of what our Lord requires of us during the prophesied coming Tribulation.

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In Egypt, where more than forty churches were destroyed in the months following former President Morsi’s (Muslim Brotherhood) removal from office via a military coup in July 2013, Christians who had not fled the country continued to calmly meet for worship and show forgiveness to Muslims who broke the steeples of their churches as they screamed, “Allah is great”! As one church’s caretaker  said, sitting in front of a devastated church building, “Whatever they didn’t take they destroyed”. Believers met while sitting in front of a wall with graffiti proclaiming “Egypt is Islamic!”

Bob Simon reported on 60 Minutes that Egyptian Copts believe suffering deepens their faith. “We were surprised that there was no anger, no call for revenge.” he added, after attending a worship service in the one room not burned to the ground in one church. Bob Simon explored this further with Bishop Thomas , a Copt leader, who replied, “Forgiveness is a very important principle of the Christian life. When you are able to present forgiveness and love, you are able as well to ask for justice. One day, justice has to be fulfilled.”

Middle Eastern Christians have learned what it mean to bless those who persecute them, but also insist on justice where possible.

In other words, Copts are willing to die for their faith, but they also will continue to insist on constitutional protection of their people, as any Christian should. When Jesus said “turn the other cheek”. He said it in a society that guaranteed no rights for His followers. If we live in a country that does protect those rights, we should insist on them for as long as the legal code covers us, which it probably will in the early days of the Tribulation.

Christians in Syria have learned how to do this. many have chosen to stay in their towns and cities, even if Islamist’s rebels have overrun them and looted, tortured, raped and killed them. As Open Doors USA spokesperson, Emily Fuentes has reported, based on eye witness accounts:

There are some Christians who are fleeing because they have no other choice, but there are many Christians that have really felt God’s call to stay in town, even though they have been attacked and targeted because of their faith. They realise that God is using them, and are reaching out to their Muslim neighbours.” 

Can you put yourself in that setting? Close your eyes and picture that for a moment. What would you feel? How would you act? At least, say a pray for your Middle Eastern brothers and sisters that are living this right now.

Churches have become de facto refugee care centres in the Middle East, not houses of worship alone.

In the parts of Syria where church buildings have not been desecrated, they have become de facto relief agencies, providing clothes, food, and Christian teaching. These churches are seeing people come to faith in Christ as the congregants love everyone who has been made homeless, not just for Christians. This is in stark contrast to the Islamic approach to provide aid for Muslims only. What an amazing witness, to care for everyone in the midst of intense suffering. The church has done this throughout history and no doubt will do it again during the coming Tribulation.

What will we do when faced with a similar situation, will we run or stay? Will we stay to win our attackers and fellow refugees to Christ? Will we show grace to other Christians who choose differently to us? Maybe, we will be in a church where people go separate ways as persecution intensifies.

Can I suggest church, we need to start to pray and prepare now, to know what God will have us to do to help our brothers and sisters under persecution around the world, not only in the Middle East, but also to know what we should be doing to prepare, in our own church, community, and nation.

 

PROPHESIED PERSECUTION OF THE CHURCH IN THE LAST DAYS

Chinese President Xi Jinping  believes in the absolute power of the Party and wants his government to exert control over every aspect of Chinese life.  Since coming to power in 2012, Xi has severely cracked down on human rights, religious freedom and freedom of expression.  Christians in China are experiencing some of the worst persecution in decades.

The recent arrest of a prominent church pastor underscores the level of persecution against Christians.  Authorities in the city of Chengdu, in China’s southwest, recently arrested pastor Wang Yi, along with his wife and 100 members of his Church.  Authorities shut down the church and charged pastor Wang with “inciting subversion of state power.”

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Wang’s church, like scores of other congregations, is outside government control as part of China’s burgeoning so-called underground or house church movement.  Todd Nettleton of Voice of the Martyrs, says this movement has touched every corner of China.  “All across China, there are house churches, or what they call ‘family churches’ and the reason the Communist government is so worried is because there are far more Christians in China than there are members of the Communist Party,” Nettleton said.

In recent months, Beijing has waged a brutal and widespread crackdown to stop the growth of these unregistered churches. “This crackdown is a direct response to the fear of the Communist Party leaders who see the church growing faster than the party is,” Nettleton said. Fenggang Yang, a leading expert on religion in China, says what started several years ago as a small campaign against unregistered churches has turned into all-out war.  “The campaign started first in Zhejiang province from 2014 to 2016,” Yang said.  “Now, it is a nationwide campaign.” Now authorities routinely target houses of worship, destroy crosses, burn Bibles and arrest pastors.

Foreseeing his arrest, pastor Wang wrote a letter with instructions that it should be published if he went missing for more than 48 hours.  In it, Wang vowed to use non-violent methods to stand against Chinese laws he believed were against the Bible and God.

My saviour Christ also requires me to joyfully bear all costs for disobeying wicked laws,” Wang wrote.

Wang continued “I am filled with anger at the persecution of the church by this Communist regime, at their wickedness in depriving people of the freedoms of religion and of conscience.  As a pastor of a Christian church, I must denounce this wickedness openly and severely.  The calling that I have received requires me to use non-violent methods to disobey those human laws that are contrary to God’s word.  Separate me from my wife and children, ruin my reputation, destroy my life and my family, the authorities are capable of doing all of these things,” Wang warned.  “However, no one in this world can force me to renounce my faith; no one can make me change my life.”

The church needs to prepare for the coming tribulation which we know will escalate as we approach and move into  the last seven years before Jesus returns to rule and reign in the Millennium. Jesus refers to great tribulation in the last half of 70th week of Daniel and prior to the Rapture of the church at the trumpet blast at the seventh seal and before God’s wrath is poured out with the trumpet and bowl judgements. Time is wonderfully short before Jesus return, but we need to be bold and courageous and open to the Holy Spirits lead to pray for and evangelise the lost.

PROPHESIED LAST DAYS EVENTS – PROOF THE BIBLE IS INFALLIBLE AND INERRANT

The California Assembly approved a bill 50-18 that tells churches and other[s] with traditional beliefs about gender and sexual orientation that advocating for their views could get them sued.

AB 2943, declares ‘advertising, offering to engage in or engaging in sexual orientation change efforts with an individual’ is illegal under state’s consumer fraud law.” Note carefully the vote in the Assembly was 50 to 18 in favour of the bill. Talk about insane.

On April 17, David French noted that this bill “would actually—among other things—ban the sale of books expressing orthodox Christian beliefs about sexual morality. “Yes, ban the sale of books. What about banning the best selling book of all time – The Bible?

Perhaps those truly born again in the church will now see the utter intolerance of the radical left, but we know from Scripture that in the last days there will be a great falling away in the church. Jesus said, that even the elect will be deceived.

Thank goodness for Bible Prophecy, which besides being the ultimate truth of Holy Spirit inspiration of God’s Word, it tells us that when we see the events that are unfolding in our time, that we are approaching the last seven years prior to Jesus return (Daniels 70th Week). In the Olivet Discourse, Jesus tells us that Christians will experience tribulation and even see the Antichrist, “Therefore, when you see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place ” (Matthew 24:15).

Are we ready? Is the church even talking about these end times prophecies and the coming tribulation?

ALARMING EVIDENCE OF THE APOSTATE LAST DAYS CHURCH

What is unfolding is almost beyond belief but it further supports the thesis that Pope Francis is the prophesied False Prophet of Revelation.

Pope Francis is finalising a deal that could legitimise the most genocidal ideology in modern history. It elevates the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) as a religious authority over millions of Chinese. It violates core Christian principles that sustain the free world. It renders millions of Chinese vulnerable to state persecution.

In March, the Vatican will recognise the Communist Party as a spiritual authority with the power to appoint bishops. The idea is controversial, as The Australian has been reporting over the past few weeks. The accord will reverse decades of Vatican resistance to communism. It will give the Chinese state power over church leadership.

For many years, the CCP has been frustrated by Christians including Catholics who refuse to worship the gods of the red state: Marx, Lenin and Mao. Underground churches have developed in Christians’ homes where they defend the vital separation of church and state by resisting the communist bible and its politically correct, false Christ. Many believe these Christians, loyal to Christ’s teaching, are being led like lambs to the slaughter by the Vatican’s deal with the communist state.

Pew Research estimates that by 2030, China’s Christian population of 70 million would grow to between 250 million and 300 million. If the forecasts prove accurate, China will soon overtake the US as the most populous Christian country.

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The CCP response to the Christian renaissance is to crack down on the Christians over which it has no control, the House Church Movement, even to demolishing buildings and removing crosses from buildings. The party is rattled. It is desperate to revive belief in the dead faith of communism by cracking down on spiritual rivals.

President Xi Jinping has instructed CCP cadres to be “unyielding Marxist atheists”. The Global Times reported Wang Zuoan, director of the state administration for religious affairs, warning CCP cadres to be “firm Marxist atheists, obey party rules and stick to the party’s faith”.

If Pope Francis recognises the tyrannical regime as legitimate, it will surrender Catholic spiritual authority to communism. It will be a realisation of Hegel’s totalitarian dictum: “the state is God on earth”. By contrast, Christ’s teaching provides for the limited state, which is a bulwark against totalitarianism. On the separation of church and state, Christ said: “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s: and to God, the things that are God’s” (Matthew 22:21).

The most publicised opposition to the coming Vatican-communist accord was issued by Chinese cardinal Joseph Zen. He warned the pact was a blessing for a communist-ruled church. Its true effect will be to validate a corrupt system of state-governed religion and empower the persecution of Christians in underground churches who reject it. He believes the Vatican is selling out the Catholic Church in China.

Pope Francis, long rumoured to be a darling of the socialist cause, is closely associated with men schooled in liberation theology. In general terms, liberation theology combines revolutionary socialism with selected Christian teachings on poverty. South American priests led the ideological charge by joining Marxist revolutionary movements and appropriating Christ for the cause.

Concerns about growing Marxist influence on Vatican thought mounted earlier this month after Bishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, head of the Pontifical Academy of Social Science, said China was the best example of a Catholic society. Sorondo said the communist state had a “positive national conscience” and praised it for “best implementing the social doctrine of the church”.

THE REMNANT CHURCH IN THE LAST DAYS

There is always a true remnant left during times of apostasy and persecution.  It is the surviving vestige of the body of Christ that remains true to biblical principles in spite of cultural opposition. Elijah the prophet found out that God always preserved a remnant, by His grace, that held true to the faith.  1 Kings 19:18 “Yet I have reserved seven thousand in Israel, all whose knees have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.” and Romans 11:5 “Even so then, at this present time there is a remnant according to the election of grace.”

Characteristics of the “remnant church”:

1. More entrenched in the word of God as the world opposes them.

The more resistance they face, the remnant church will become more resolute in their faith. Instead of compromising the message of the Word, they may change their method of presenting the gospel but will never consider watering down biblical ethics, values and the message of the cross of Jesus Christ.

2. Vilified in society.

The remnant church was merely unpopular but has now reached the point of being hated. It is very apparent that Christian values are constantly mocked, such as by shows like The View, The Late Show With Steven ColbertReal Time With Bill Maher and the like.

3. Preach counter-cultural biblical messages.

Remnant pastors will continue to preach the gospel of Christ, which always has vast implications related to human sexuality, the sanctity of human life, the definition of marriage and family and such, albeit they apply the gospel to cultural issues in a wiser, more winsome way. The remnant church will remain faithful in preaching the gospel in spite of the backlash they will receive from church attendees and the public.

4. Produce committed Christians and make disciples.

Liberal, progressive, compromising churches are shrinking, while conservative evangelical churches are still growing in numbers but the big growth is happening in “house churches” that are committed to growing disciples. It takes great sacrifice to believe in Jesus in the midst of hostile environments (consider the Christians still living under persecution in Iraq, Syria, Iran, Northern Nigeria, Sudan and similar regions.) Compromising churches produce wimpy believers and the remnant church produces committed disciples.

5. Experience the presence and power of God.

The first century church was a hated minority, yet great power and the presence of God accompanied its ministry! (Acts 3-5.) The more difficult it is to confess the truth of the gospel, the more God shows off His glory! Where sin abounds, grace does more abound (Rom. 5:20).

 

6. Excluded from mainstream secular evangelical churches and denominations.

Presently, it is still not as easy for the average person to discern between remnant and compromising churches. As the heat gets turned up more and more, compromising pastors and churches will choose to accommodate culture and compromise Scripture, thus making a clearer distinction between the remnant and mainstream church.

7. The remnant church will impact the world for Jesus Christ.

God allows difficult circumstances to weed out the un-committed followers from the committed followers (Gideon’s army of 300 in Judges 7.)

As it was during the days of Elijah, the early church period, and the time of the confessing remnant church in Nazi Germany, only the remnant has what it takes to bring about change! Only the remnant church has the conviction, the sacrifice, the devotion, the endurance, the message and the power to change the world. The compromising church will enjoy their temporary popularity in the present time, but those who are wise and turn many people unto righteousness will shine as the stars forever and ever (Dan. 12:3).

8. The remnant church will endure, whilst the compromising church will experience the wrath of God.

In Malachi 3:16-18 God promises that He has written a book of remembrance for those who speak of Him and fear His Name. The reward for them (the remnant) is that He will spare them as a man spares his son. The implications of this are vast. Whilst the children of the compromising church will probably become agnostic, the children of the remnant will carry the torch of Christ to the next generation, which will increase in strength and do greater works (John 14:12). The remnant church goes from strength to strength and faith to faith (Rom. 1:17). Meanwhile, the compromising church goes from strength to weakness and from faith to apostasy and eventually into oblivion.

I pray God will help us remain faithful to the end and participate in the remnant church!

adapted from article by Joseph Mattera in Ministry To-day – Characteristics of the Modern-Day remnant Church.

GOD’S WRATH IS COMING UPON HIS CREATION

The Bible is clear, Christians will endure great tribulation in the “last days” and our Middle Eastern Christian brothers and sisters are already experiencing it.

The following extract from an article by P. E. Harris, pastor at Seely Community Church, is a heart-felt rendition of the dangers of believing the notion that the Great Tribulation will be God’s Wrath. The entire article is worth reading (click on READ MORE HERE at the end):

“A few days ago on a Sunday, a demoniacally deranged man shot up a Christian church in Sutherland Springs Texas. The shooter was a radical atheist who wanted to kill everyone in that church. The list of the dead range from an 18-month-old baby to a 77-year-old grandmother. Unfortunately, this kind of violence against churches has become the new norm in the United States, and Christians are genuinely perplexed how something like this could happen here. But this phenomenon is nothing new to the Church of Jesus Christ. Both our Lord and the Apostles warned us in Scripture that times of persecution would come upon the people of God. They warned us that tribulation would follow genuine devotion to Christ.

We orthodox evangelicals pride ourselves in our ability to rightly divide the Word of God. We preach and teach the Historical / Grammatical method of interpretation, and rightly so. To us, the idea of reading allegories or other foreign ideas into the text is reprehensible. We also tend to pride ourselves on our ability to weed out theological positions that are purely based on false traditions and cultic mysticism, rather than solid scriptural evidence. This is because we rightly believe the Word of God is the inerrant final authority on all matters of faith and practice. For the most part, orthodox evangelicals contend for these hermeneutical principles in every area of theology, with one exception, eschatology. When it comes to the end times, preachers use all kinds of poetic license to develop their pet theories. No longer do they adhere to the notion that the Bible interprets the Bible; and that context determines the exact meaning of words. With eschatology, they tend to speculate when the Bible is silent, and they diminish the clear meaning of God’s Word when it does not fit their narrative. With eschatology, all the rules are thrown out so they can change the meaning of words (just like cult leaders do) to support their aberrant end-time doctrines.

There is a massive multi-million dollar industry dedicated to the assumption that the great tribulation is equal to the wrath of God. These proponents of the pre-tribulation rapture make millions of dollars writing books and making movies assuring Christian they do not have to suffer persecution or tribulation for their faith prior to the rapture. But these massive, complicated and bulky theories are held up by the flimsiest of Scriptural speculation and wordplay. It is like trying to lift the weight of an elephant off the ground using a kite string. No matter how hard you try the weight will break that string. Defining the great tribulation as the wrath of God is the kite string that can’t support the theory. It is the lynchpin that connects the whole thing. Without it, the entire theory falls apart. The Left Behind doctrines are nothing more than giant sand castles, giving people the false hope of evacuation just prior to a tsunami of end-time persecution. So instead of soberly preparing people to face the tribulation to come, the American evangelical church is throwing parties in their fortresses made of sand. Instead of putting on the whole armour of God, the church is putting on its party hat. Instead of making solid disciples, the church is making spiritual revellers, drunk on the wine of end-time myths and fables. Once these notions are dispelled, the entire theory is washed away by the reality of Christ’s sobering predictions.

In Arndt and Gingrich’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, tribulation is defined by the Greek words thlibo and thipsis to primarily mean the distress of Christians as they are persecuted, afflicted and troubled by outward forces and circumstances. This definition is clearly taught by our Lord as He spoke to his disciples (the church) about the end-times,

“Therefore when you (the church) see the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (whoever reads, let him understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let him who is on the house-top not go down to take anything out of his house. And let him who is in the field not go back to get his clothes. But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! And pray that your flight may not be in winter or on the Sabbath. For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect sake those days shall be shortened.” (Matthew 24:15-22)

It is therefore evident by the context of Jesus Christ’s words that the great tribulation is defined as a time of horrible persecution of God’s elect, the church, who must flee from the wrath of Satan that comes by way of the Antichrist. The prophet Daniel said this period of time would last 3 ½ years and that “the power of the holy people (saints/elect) [would be] completely shattered.” (Daniel 12:7Therefore the elect must endure through the great tribulation. This is the plain and correct meaning of both texts. And as the Lord tells us in the Book of Revelation,

“Then one of the elders answered, saying to me, ‘Who are these arrayed in white robes, where did they come from?’ And I said to him, ‘Sir, you know.’ So he said to me, ‘These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.’” (Revelation 7:13,14)

To come out of something means you first have to be in something. These are Christians who were martyred in the great tribulation. Thus, the great tribulation is not God’s wrath on unbelievers, but Satan’s antichristian wrath upon authentic blood bought believers in Christ. The term “elect” means anyone who is in Christ at the time.

Apostle Paul tells us Christians are not “appointed to wrath” (1 Thessalonians. 5:9) and Revelation reveals God’s wrath is not poured out on this earth until the trumpet and bowl judgements in the last year of the 70th week of Daniel.

READ MORE HERE…

UNDERSTANDING THE TIMES: ISRAEL, ISLAM AND THE GOSPEL

Hi Brothers & Sisters, I mentioned in a previous post, I was attending a Conference in Tyler Texas, August 4th and 5th – Understanding the Times: Israel, Islam & The Gospel. My main reason for attending was to meet up with Dr Nelson Walters who was a speaker at the Conference. Nelson has agreed to be on the Board of an “End Times” Ministry I am setting up, to provide pastors and Christian leaders with Power Point Sermons and Video Sermons to equip the church in these “last days” to make disciples to complete the great commission – website http://www.powerpointsermons.net.  As well, I hoped to connect with some of the speakers at the conference who would become partners in the ministry. Two great connections were Joel Richardson and Mark Davidson.

Joel is author of many books but two I can recommend are Mideast Beast: The Scriptural Case for an Islamic Antichrist and Mystery Babylon: Unlocking the Bible’s Greatest Prophetic Mystery.

Mark is author of several books but as with Joel I can recommend two – Daniel Revisited: Discovering the Four Mideast Signs Leading to the Antichrist and Iran’s Great Invasion  and Why it’s next in Bible Prophecy.

If you want to get up to speed on what end time events the Bible has prophesied for the near future, then listen to Mark being interviewed on Wings of the Eagle. They were also active at the conference and a website to watch.