Saturday, July 26, 2014

The Peer-Driven Church

To watch this video, click on this link:

"Woe unto them that call evil good, 
and good evil; 
that put darkness for light,
and light for darkness;
that put bitter for sweet,
and sweet for bitter!

(Isaiah 5:20)

Peer Pressure is the easiest way to manipulate people. This piece of comedy satire in the video vividly explains what is happening to to people in our churches and across our society.

As you watch the above video, note the self-doubt. The confusion. The pressure to conform. How the pressure is ramped up by calling upon an "authority." The high stakes! The emotional appeals!

In 1972 when I was a student in an Educational Psychology class we were put through a similar group psychological experiment. We were positioned in a large circle. One person was designated as the first person and given a message to deliver. A group of approximately 8-10 people after them were given the same message.

But the rest of us didn't know that they had been given this message. We only knew that we were given the assignment to find group consensus.

These first people had been secretly told to assert strongly that "Black Is White." As the people began go around the circle, more and more pressure was brought to bear. Each secretly-informed person would more assertively and authoritatively state, "Black Is White."

There were only a handful of the rest of us at the end who were not privy to the secret. So by the time it got to our last section of the circle we were puzzled and confused. We were supposed to say "Black Is White" in order to accomplish group agreement.

What happened to us? We did the same thing you see happen on the video!

This comedy routine, even though a satire, is the most perfect example I've ever seen of how this peer-driven process works.

Peer-driven is a sophisticated psycho-social marketing technique. It is used in the evangelical church world to pressure people into conforming to new norms, beliefs, attitudes, values and behaviors. It is a very effective method employed by trained leaders to cause people in the pews to change, to follow new teachings and new teachers, to believe new doctrines, to read new books, to join new groups, to adopt new behaviors, etc.

Have you ever wondered why evangelical leaders shifted the focus to "relationships" and "community" over the past few decades? It was to institute a peer-driven culture. What is the final authority? It isn't the Bible anymore. It is whatever the group says. "Black is White."

For example, peer-driven can resemble a phenomena called "Groupthink":

Groupthink is a psychological phenomenon that occurs within a group of people, in which the desire for harmony or conformity in the group results in an irrational or dysfunctional decision-making outcome. Group members try to minimize conflict and reach a consensus decision without critical evaluation of alternative viewpoints, by actively suppressing dissenting viewpoints, and by isolating themselves from outside influences.

Loyalty to the group requires individuals to avoid raising controversial issues or alternative solutions, and there is loss of individual creativity, uniqueness and independent thinking.
[Source, links removed]

There is a reason that the Bible compares people to sheep. We are prone to follow the leaders, and we like to follow our peers.  

Watch and weep!

"My sheep hear My voice,
and I know them,
and they follow Me."

(John 10:27)
By Sarah H. Leslie

[Note: This comedy group's routines are posted all over YouTube, but beware that it originated with BYU TV.]

Monday, July 21, 2014

“Let no man deceive you…”

Bible Prophecy, Circa 1600

Excerpted and adapted from Matthew Poole’s Commentary on 2 Thessalonians 2:3-7*

Read Part 1

When this commentary was written The Reformation was in its earlier years. There was much speculation about the popes being the antichrist (or, at least, antichrists). Poole himself indulges in some of the ideas swirling around about how these Scriptures might be fulfilled. These speculations are not included in the portions excerpted below since they are situation specific to his historical age. 

One thing is noticeably different in our era. We now have Jews restored to their native land of Israel. It is clear that this possibility was nearly inconceivable to the early Reformers. Therefore, things that we might take more literally in interpreting prophecy Scriptures in our day, were formerly viewed as allegorical or as a mystery. 

Interestingly, Poole believed that the man of sin arises in the context of the environment of a corporate apostasy of the entire church world. His comments, therefore, are very relevant to our postmodern prophecy era when there are many attempts being made to deceive the saints about the Second Coming of Christ, and by the same means  and methods as specifically warned about by the Apostle Paul in 2 Thessalonians chapter 2. 

VERSE 3: “Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;”

“Let no man deceive you.” Here the Apostle Paul urges again his charge against this error, though in other words, and begins his arguments to refute it. He had adjured the Thessalonians not to be shaken (vs. 2), and here he cautions them against being deceived, for the one makes way for the other. So also not to be troubled (vs. 2), for troubled minds are apt to be made a prey to seducers.

And the caution in the text proves that their shaking and trouble did arise from some deceivers that were among them, rather than any misunderstanding of their own of what he wrote in the former Epistle [1 Thessalonians] about Christ’s coming.

To be shaken in mind is bad, but to be deceived is worse, for it is a going out of the path, as the word signifies. And therefore Paul’s caution against it is universal, both as to persons and ways. Let no man deceive you, though he pretend to revelations, or be of the greatest reputation in the church.

“By any means.” Either of craft [this includes the idea of witchcraft, ed.], flattery, pretending love, or plausible arguments, or misrepresenting the Apostle’s words, or forging of letters, or misinterpreting Paul’s Epistle or any other part of Scripture, or feigned miracles, etc.

Then Paul enters into arguments to confute it, which are:
  1. The general apostasy.
  2. The revelation of the man of sin.
“For that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first….” or an apostasy, a recession, a departing, or a standing off, as the word imports…

[Apostasy] is either civil or spiritual.… But the Apostle writing to the church speaks not of civil government, and the affairs of state, and speaks of such an apostasy which would give rise to the man of sin, and the revelation of him. And this man of sin rises up in the church, not in the civil state; and the consequence of this apostasy is giving men up to strong delusions to believe a lie, and then follows their damnation. And the cause of it is said to be, not receiving the truth in the love of it, so that it is not a civil, but a spiritual apostasy….

And it is not of a particular person, or a particular church, but a general apostasy of the church (though not of every individual). That [apostate] church is afterwards called the temple of God, where the man of sin sits, and is exalted above all that is called God, which cannot be any particular church. And would not the Apostle have specified a particular church?

Neither is it some lesser apostasy which may befall the best church, but such as would be eminent, that greater apostasy.... [T]he Apostle says not apostate, but apostasy, else a man of sin could not rise out of it, and exalt himself above all that is called God, and worshipped. It is an apostasy from sound doctrine, instituted worship, church government, and true holiness of life…. Neither is the apostasy all at once, but gradual: for out of it arises a man of sin, who grows up to this manhood by degrees, and sin and wickedness are not completed at first, as well as holiness….

“And that man of sin be revealed.” The next argument is from the revelation of the man of sin. This is also to precede Christ’s last coming. It is a Hebraism. A warlike man is styled a man of war; a bloody man, a man of bloods; a deceitful man, a man of deceit, etc. So a man eminent in sin is here called a man of sin. Not only personally so, but who promotes sin, propagates it, countenances it, commands it.
  • In sins of omission, forbidding what God requires.
  • In sins of commission, requiring or allowing what God has forbidden.

In sins of the first table [first 5 Ten Commandments, ed.], corrupting God’s worship by superstition and idolatry, taking God’s name in vain by heartless devotion, dissembling piety, dispensing with perjury and false oaths, taking away the Second Commandment and the morality of the Fourth Commandment, and making men’s faith and obedience to rest upon a human authority, etc.

In sins of the second table [second 5 Ten Commandments, ed.], to dispense with duties belonging to superiors and inferiors; with murder, adultery, fornication, incest, robbery, lying, equivocation, etc. And besides all these, promoting a false religion, and destroying the true, by fines, imprisonments, banishments, tortures, poisons, massacre, fire and faggot….

But as this apostasy brings forth this man of sin, so as he rises he helps it forward, so that he both causes it, and is caused by it. As corruption in doctrine, worship, discipline and manners brought him forth, so he was active in corrupting them more and more.

“The son of perdition.” (Another Hebraism....) He is so either
  • actively, as he brings others to destruction, and so may be called Apollyon (Rev. 9:11), or rather
  • passively, as devoted to perdition (as Rev. 19:20), the beast and false prophet are both cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, and the beast that was, and is not, it said to go into perdition (Rev. 17:11).

The destroyer of others both in soul and body will be destroyed himself. First, morally, by the Word and Spirit (2 Thess. 2:8), and then judicially, by God’s revenging justice in this world, and that to come. The Apostle, at the very first mentioning him, declares his destiny. At his first rising and revealing, mentions his fall and ruin.

VERSE 4: “Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.”

“Who opposeth,” [Poole here describes the Greek ἀντίκειμαι (antikeimai)]. A further description of this man of sin, by his opposition and exaltation. The oppose, or rather, opposing, expressed in the participle of the present tense, denoting a continued act, or that which he bends himself strongly to.

But against what?... [W]e may well conceive, it is Christ Himself whom he opposes, and his name given him by the Apostle John doth evidence, when he is called antichrist, or the antichrist, one that is against Christ. Not that he openly and professedly opposes Him, but as Judas kissed his Master, and betrayed Him…. It is iniquity in a mystery. He serves Christ, but it is to serve himself upon Him. He acknowledges Him in all His offices, and yet doth virtually deny and oppose Him in all.

Called antichrist, as opposite the unction of Christ. Christ signifies anointed, and so he opposes Him in the offices to which He is anointed, while he owns His natures. He professes himself a “servant of the servants of God,” and yet persecutes, curses, proscribes, and kills them, opposing Christ in his members. He makes war with the saints (Rev. 13:7). He hath two horns like a lamb and speaks as a dragon (Rev. 13:11), and speaks lies in hypocrisy (1 Tim. 4:2).

“Exalteth.” And then he is described by his exaltation [Poole describes the Greek word]. He exalteth himself: it is not from God. He exalteth himself, or lifts himself above all that is called God, though not really and essentially God. The Apostle knew that in the Old Testament magistrates were called gods (Ps. 82:1,6), and 1 Cor. 8:5: “There be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth.” Magistrates and rules are of several degrees, some inferior, some superior, some above them all—and that not only in spirituals, by excommunications, but in civils, by deposing kings, disposing kingdoms, yea, making emperors to wait at his gate, hold his stirrup, prostrate themselves to kiss his toe, and then to tread upon their neck…. So that by these two words in the text (opposeth and exalteth), the Apostle describes him both in his enmity and pride, opposition and exaltation.

  • First, he assumes to himself a higher power than those that are only called gods. Theirs is human, his is Divine; theirs on the bodies or estates of men, his over the conscience; theirs only to the living, his to men’s souls after death.
  • Next he makes himself like God, and is as God, as the king of old Babylon said, “I will be like the Most High” (Is. 14:14). As God’s residence of old was in the temple of Jerusalem, so he, as God, sits in the temple of God. Not that temple that was built by Solomon, and afterwards rebuilt, and to be built again… for it is now destroyed, and if it be built again by this man of sin,… would the Apostle call it “the temple of God”? (2 Cor. 6:16, Rev. 3:12, etc.). But it is a spiritual temple, as the church is called (1 Cor. 3:16-17)….. He sitteth in the temple, the church of God, not that it can be the true church where he thus sits and acts, but rather the synagogue of Satan….
  • [Then] “Showing himself that he is God.” Not saying it with his mouth… but making such a show before men…. He shows himself as a God before men, and claims a power to be judged of no men, and to be a judge of all men. 

VERSE 5: “Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things?”

The Apostle Paul tacitly upbraids them for their forgetfulness. To forget the things that have been taught us is a great evil. Solomon often cautions against it (Prov. 3:1; 4:5) and it is often reproved (Heb.12:5; James 1:24) and the contrary required (Mal. 4:4; John 16:4; Jude 17; Rev. 3:3).

David hid the Word in his heart (Ps. 119:19). The Apostles did take care to tell the churches of the apostasy that could come, and of false prophets and teachers that would arise, as Paul the elders of Ephesus (Acts 20: 29-30) and Peter (2 Pet. 2:1) and of the coming of antichrist (1 John 2:18). And more fully, although obscurely, in the book of Revelation.

And the Apostle here in this verse minds these Thessalonians that he told them of the coming of the man of sin before the coming of Christ, so that they should not have been shaken in their minds about Christ’s coming in that present age. And they told the churches of these things, that they might not be surprised by them, or offended at them, when they came.

VERSE 6: “And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time.”

“And now ye know what withholdeth.” The Apostle it seems had told them, as of His coming, so of what at present withheld the revealing of him….
  1. It was something that the Apostle thought not safe openly to declare in writing; else he would not have written of it so obscurely.
  2. It was both a thing, and a person; a thing in this verse that which withholdeth; and a person, as in the next verse (verse 7) he who letteth. [There is an exposition of the Greek κατέχω (katechō) at this point, ed.]
  3. It was also such a thing and such a person as were to be removed out of the way, not totally, but as they were hindrances of this revelation….
“That he might be revealed in his time.” As God appoints seasons for all His works, so for the revealing of him, as also for his ruin.

VERSE 7: “For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way.”

“For the mystery of iniquity doth already work.” The way was prepared by degrees for the man of sin. Before he came actually to be revealed, or constituted in his complete existence, and this was by the working of the mystery of iniquity.

A mystery is something in general which is abstruse, intricate, and not easily discerned. And there are mysteries in doctrine, and in practice; mysteries of godliness and mysteries of iniquity, mysteries of the kingdom of God, and of the devil’s kingdom. So there are the deep things of God (1 Cor. 2:10) and the depths of Satan (Rev. 2:24).

The mystery ushering in the man of sin is a mystery of iniquity. It is not open sin and wickedness, but dissembled piety, specious errors, wickedness under a form of godliness cunningly managed that is here meant…. And it is a mystery that works. It doth and exert and put forth itself, but secretly, as a mole which works underground. And its working is not against the being, providence, and attributes of God, or natural religion; but is to undermine Christianity in the peculiar doctrines, worship, and practice of it.
  • In doctrines are brought in privily damnable heresies (2 Pet 2:1.
  • In worship, inventions and commandments of men, under pretense of greater reverence, devotion, and humility (Col 2:22-23).
  • In practice, dispensations to moral impieties under color of service to the church.
And this mystery, says our Apostle, already works;
  • in the false doctrines of the false teachers of his time,
  • in the traditions and inventions of men obtruding themselves into the worship of God in his time,
  • in the affectation of pre-eminence in the church in his time,
  • and making merchandise of the Gospel in his time,
  • and gain godliness;
  • and in mingling philosophical notions with the simplicity of the Gospel,
  • and gratifying the flesh under a form of godliness and pretense of Gospel liberty.

And it was not among the heathen, or the Jews, but among the professors of Christianity, that this mystery was then working…. And when the man of sin was fully revealed all these corruptions did center in him, as sinks in the common sewer; the lesser antichrists in the great antichrist.

“Only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way.” The idolatries and persecutions of the heathen emperors must be taken out of the way, to make way for those that arise under a Christian, or rather antichristian, state, the dragon giving his seat, spirit, and power to the beast. And the power that was in the Roman emperor, whether heathen or Christian, must be taken out of the way to make room for the exaltation of this man of sin. For notwithstanding all corruptions in doctrine, worship, or practice which might be introduced before, yet he is not fully revealed till he hath his jurisdiction and secular power also in his hand. And then this mystery of iniquity is arrived to its height, which John saw written in the forehead of the great whore (Rev. 17:5), Mystery, Babylon the great, etc….

To Be Continued….

*From A Commentary on the Holy Bible by Matthew Poole, Volume III: Matthew-Revelation (Hendrickson Publishers), p. 758-759. These excerpts have been amended, abridged, and reformatted for blog usage, along with some updated punctuation, spelling and word usage. 
Note to reader: This excerpt from Matthew Poole’s Commentary, circa 1600, is an example of what evangelical prophecy leaders and organizations used to teach 20-40 years ago. Not so long ago, before the postmodern prophecy paradigm era, this sort of article was commonplace. Writings such as this served as an encouragement to the reader to 1) expect the Lord's imminent return and 2) be ready to meet the Lord "here, there or in the air." Believers exhorted one another that He could return at any time because all events on earth were coinciding to fulfill Bible prophecy, and that before the end the Gospel of salvation should be shared far and wide, especially to family and friends. As yet another sign of the times we note that publishing such an article today, especially with this eschatology, is likely to be met with scoffings (2 Pet. 3:2), even open disbelief (2 Pet. 3:4). For some of you, this may be the first time you have ever encountered this (now) old-fashioned Bible prophecy teaching. Read and consider: what if it is true?

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Bible Prophecy, Circa 1600

“The Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ”

Excerpted and adapted from
Matthew Poole’s Commentary on 2 Thessalonians 2:1,2*

VERSE 1: “Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto Him,” 

The Apostle Paul now comes to refute the opinion that some had received as if the day of Christ was near at hand. Having said, 1 Thess. 4:17, “We which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air,” etc., then some might think His coming would be in the Apostle’s time….

And because this mistake might be of dangerous consequence, therefore Paul is very vehement and particular in refuting it. For hereupon they might be brought to question the truth of the whole Gospel when this should not come to pass. They might be unprepared for the sufferings that were to come upon the church; their patience might fail in expecting this day, and their minds be doubting about the coming of Christ at all.

This opinion would also much narrow their thoughts about Christ’s kingdom, and the enlarging of the Gospel among other Gentiles. And the profane might abuse it to sensuality, as 1 Cor. 15:32, “Let us eat and drink; for tomorrow we die.”

The coming of Christ was what they desired and rejoiced in, as that which would truly bring rest to them, and tribulation to their adversaries. And by this Paul doth therefore beseech or adjure them. And therefore we must understand this of Christ’s last coming, as the word παρουσία (parousia) in the text, is still applied to this coming (1Th 2:19; 1Th 3:13), and not of His coming to destroy the Jewish church and state, for that coming was at hand.

The phrase “by our gathering together unto Him”—at His last coming, when the whole body of Christ shall be gathered to Him, to meet Him in the air: 1 Thess. 4:17, “Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” And then the sense is As ye hope ever to see such a blessed meeting, and to be of that number, so take heed of this opinion…. And so the Apostle Paul adjures them not to be soon shaken in mind, but to stand fast in the truth about the doctrine of Christ’s coming, which they had been taught. And therefore it was the greater evil to be soon shaken; as the apostle upbraids the Galatians (1:6)….

VERSE 2: “That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.” 

“Shaken in mind” σαλεύω (from saleuō) is an allusion to the waves of the sea that are tossed with the winds, as false doctrines tend to unsettle the mind (Eph. 4:14, Heb 13:9). To be established in the truth is often commanded (1 Cor. 16:13, Phil. 4:1, Col. 1:23, etc.). And by mind here is either meant
  • The faculty itself. The Apostle Paul beseeches them to keep company with their understanding, not to be removed from their mind. False doctrine is said to betwitch men (Gal. 3:1) and to make men foolish (see verse 3). As madness is called dementia, as that which does unmind men, and corrupt the mind, and pervert the judgment (2 Tim. 3:8,9), as Jannes and Jambres deceived the people by their enchantments, as the Apostle there mentions.
  • The judgment of the mind. Paul beseeches them to hold fast the right judgment they had entertained about Christ’s coming, and not to hesitate and waver about it, so the word mind is taken in 1 Cor. 2:16.
“Or be troubled” θροέω (throeō), alludes to soldiers affrighted with a sudden alarm. We find the word [and similar allusion] in Matthew 24:6: “And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled—see also Mark 13:7. And the opinion of Christ’s coming to be at hand might occasion this trouble in them, either lest they might be surprised by it, and unprepared for it, or by judging themselves mistaken in their former apprehensions about it. And those false teachers that broach this opinion, did also perhaps so represent this coming in such terror as to cause this trouble, as false teachers in general are said to cause trouble, Gal. 1:7: “there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.” The coming of our Lord Jesus Christ is in itself rather the saints’ hope and joy, than ground of trouble, as 1 Thess 1:10 (“And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come”) and 4:18 (“Wherefore comfort one another with these words”), etc. And so it may be some did pretend this opinion was of the Spirit, or some letter from the Apostle Paul—either his former Epistle (1 Thessalonians) to them, or some letter that was forged, or some word he had spoken or preached….

“Neither by spirit”—some extraordinary revelation of the Spirit, which the false teachers pretended to (1 Cor. 14:6, Gal. 3:2,5). Some would pretend the Spirit that called Jesus accursed (1 Cor. 12:3) and therefore the Apostle bids them to “Try the spirits” (1 John 4:1)…. The man of sin pretends to this Spirit though it is in truth the spirit of antichrist (1 John 4:3)….  It was foretold that in the last times there would arise “seducing spirits” (1 Tim. 4:1), just as there was in the times of the Old Testament false prophets that pretended to the Spirit (1 Kings 22:24, Micah 2:11). And the very heathen would pretend to divine oracles, inspirations, and revelations, especially their kings and lawgivers….; and still there are enthusiasts who make these pretences.

“Nor by word”— διά (dia) λόγος (logos) whereby some understand calculation by astrological rules, that the day of Christ was at hand. Others… from some natural causes reasoned that the dissolution of the world was night at hand. Some may have put words in the Apostle’s own mouth, which was pretended he had spoken or preached somewhere, though not written. Just as the church of Rome pretends to traditions, besides the written Word, upon which they ground many of their superstitions and idolatries, not warranted by Scripture. And as the Jews had a second Mishnah, and their Cabbala, collected in part from the sayings of Moses, or some other of their prophets, which they did not write. [These early examples are strikingly similar the postmodern prophecy paradigm teachings currently in vogue, ed.]

“Nor by letter”—some letter that was sent to them by some other hand, or else by some forged letter as if it were from the Apostle himself, or his former Epistle misunderstood.  [In other words, Letter may refer to the early extrabiblical pseudoepigraphical and apocryphal writings that had already begun to circulate at the time of the apostles, ed.]

“As that the day of Christ is at hand”—Objection: But is it not said that the day of the Lord, or the coming of the Lord, is at hand (1 Cor. 10:11; Phil. 4:5; James 5:7,8; 1 Peter 4:2)? Answer: The word used in those places differs from this in the text; for it signifies either that which is actually present, or very near it as Rom. 8:38; Gal. 1:4…. And in that sense Christ said, “Behold, I come quickly,” Rev. 22:7. But the error the apostle warns them of is, as if the coming of Christ would be in the age in which they lived. The apostles all said that the coming of the Lord was at hand, but their right meaning was perverted to a false sense, as seducers usually do.

To Be Continued….

*From A Commentary on the Holy Bible by Matthew Poole, Volume III: Matthew-Revelation (Hendrickson Publishers), p. 758-759. These excerpts have been amended, abridged, and reformatted for blog usage, along with some updated punctuation, spelling and word usage. 

Note to reader: This excerpt from Matthew Poole’s Commentary, circa 1600, is an example of what evangelical prophecy leaders and organizations used to teach 20-40 years ago. Not so long ago, before the postmodern prophecy paradigm era, this sort of article was commonplace. Writings such as this served as an encouragement to the reader to 1) expect the Lord's imminent return and 2) be ready to meet the Lord "here, there or in the air." Believers exhorted one another that He could return at any time because all events on earth were coinciding to fulfill Bible prophecy, and that before the end the Gospel of salvation should be shared far and wide, especially to family and friends. As yet another sign of the times we note that publishing such an article today, especially with this eschatology, is likely to be met with scoffings (2 Pet. 3:2), even open disbelief (2 Pet. 3:4). For some of you, this may be the first time you have ever encountered this (now) old-fashioned Bible prophecy teaching. Read and consider: what if it is true?

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Bible Prophecy, Circa 1911

Another Old Biblical Prophecy

 This is the interpretation of the thing: MENE; God hath numbered thy kingdom, and finished it. TEKEL; Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting. PERES; Thy kingdom is divided, and given to the Medes and Persians.... In that night was Belshazzar the king of the Chaldeans slain. And Darius the Median took the kingdom, being about threescore and two years old.
(Daniel 5:26-28, 30-31)

Rembrandt's Belshazzar's Feast (1635)
During the drunken feast, Belshazzar uses the holy golden and silver vessels, from Solomon's Temple, to praise "the gods of gold and silver, brass, iron, wood, and stone". Soon afterwards, disembodied fingers appear and write on the wall of the royal palace the words:

מנא, מנא, תקל, ופרסין
Mene, Mene, Teqel, Upharsin
The advisers attempt to interpret the meaning. However, their natural denotations of weights and measures were superficially meaningless: "two minas, a shekel and two parts". Therefore, the King sends for Daniel, an exiled Israelite taken from Jerusalem, who had served in high office under Nebuchadnezzar. Rejecting offers of reward, Daniel warns the king of the folly of his arrogant blasphemy before reading the text. The meaning that Daniel decrypts from these words is based on passive verbs corresponding to the measure names, "numbered, weighed, divided." (Source)

H.A. Ironside's 1911 commentary on Daniel 5:

God's Word had been fulfilled, and that night Babylon fell, never to rise again. In that destruction... we may see prefigured the overthrow of all Gentile power and dominion in the time of the end. It particularly pictures the end of that evil system designated in the book of Revelation as "Babylon the great, the mother of harlots and abominations of the earth" (17:5). This is the world-religious system that will be destroyed just prior to the return of the Lord from Heaven.

There are those who teach that some time in the future literal Babylon is going to be restored, to be destroyed again; but a careful reading of Jeremiah 50-51 will make it clear that her destruction is to be perpetual. The city is never to be revived for the Most High has visited His judgment on it. But mystical Babylon will reach its climax after the church as been caught away to be with the Lord; the papacy and all her daughters will form one great apostate organization--the refuge of all the various portions of Bible-rejecting Christendom. The Babylon of history was a picture of this mystical Babylon.

Ancient Babylon... was the city of idolatry and the expression of the pride of man's heart, combining religion with self-seeking. Idolatry, properly speaking, began there. That was the place where the great tower was made, where men said, "Let us make us a name" (Genesis 11:4). They were not building a tower to escape another possible flood. They wished to create a center around which to rally, that they might make a great name for themselves on the earth. God had told them to scatter abroad, but they were determined not to obey Him. Willfully, they turned from Him to the worship of demons.That was the beginning of heathenism; there they commenced to worship and serve the creature more than the Creator. Every idolatrous system in the world is simply an offshoot of that first parent stem.

And so we find in the mystic Babylon of the last days, the union of all human churches, only to be superseded by the worship of the antichrist. After the body of Christ has been caught away to Heaven the professing world church will enjoy glory for a brief season during which the ten-kingdomed empire will be formed. Then the kings and nations of the earth will sicken of the contemptible sham and become utterly atheist. They will burn the harlot's flesh with fire, destroying forever the great world-church who says in her heart, "I sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow" (Revelation 18:7).

Some may be asking, "Do you not think that Babylon the great is already in existence? Yes: Babylon's description in Revelation 17 coincides too exactly with history's record of the papal church to warrant any denial of her identity. What other church has sat upon the seven hills of that great city which ruleth over the kings of the earth? What other church has been for long centuries "drunk with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus?" What other church possessed the power and wealth ascribed to her? And where else will we find a religious organization so delighting in names of blasphemy as she?

But the Roman communion does not alone constitute great Babylon. The harlot has daughters who, like herself, profess to be pledged to the heavenly Bridegroom while committing fornication with the world that rejected Him. "Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God?" (James 4:4) Spiritual fornication is, at large, the union of the church and the state. In a more personal sense spiritual fornication is the union of the individual Christian with the world. It is an unholy alliance, opposed to the whole teaching of the New Testament. So if Rome be emphatically the great harlot, the state churches are her offspring; and "As is the mother, so is her daughter" (Ezekiel 16:44).

Soon the daughters will be wending their way homeward, back to the arms of their evil mother. We hear much in our times of "the reunion of Christendom" and we need not think of it as the dream of impractical religious enthusiasts. Christendom undoubtedly will be reunited. Everything points to such an issue, and no serious student of the prophetic scriptures can question it for a moment. But when the union comes to pass, it will be a Christless reunion for it will not take place until the body of Christ has been translated. All who are left will have thrown off allegiance to the Word and Spirit of God and to the Lord Jesus Christ. The apostasy must take place first. Then the man of sin will be revealed.

Christendom's sin is the rejection of the Holy Spirit. With that necessarily comes the rejection of the Scriptures given by the Spirit's moving on the hearts and minds of "holy men of God." Couples with the denial of the truth of God's Word, the world church will desire recognition as a power in the world, lording its authority over men's consciences. So when the true church is caught away, all the professing systems will doubtless come together in one and proudly explain, "Is not this great Babylon that we have built?" Its members will rejoice in a united Christendom--united in rejecting Christ, despising the Holy Spirit, and dishonoring the Word of God! The system will be established on a carnal and Satanic basis. It will last only for a brief season before being overthrown with indignation by the nations; they will resent any religious obligations when the Spirit of life has departed.

This is where we see everything drifting....

Source: H.A. Ironside, Daniel, 1911. Excerpted from Loizeaux Brothers, Revised Edition, 1996, pp. 70-72.

Note to reader: This excerpt from H.A. Ironside is an example of what evangelical prophecy leaders and organizations used to teach 20-40 years ago. Not so long ago, before the postmodern prophecy paradigm era, this sort of article was commonplace. Writings such as this served as an encouragement to the reader to 1) expect the Lord's imminent return and 2) be ready to meet the Lord "here, there or in the air." Believers exhorted one another that He could return at any time because all events on earth were coinciding to fulfill Bible prophecy, and that before the end the Gospel of salvation should be shared far and wide, especially to family and friends. As yet another sign of the times we note that publishing such an article today, especially with this eschatology, is likely to be met with scoffings (2 Pet. 3:2), even open disbelief (2 Pet. 3:4). For some of you, this may be the first time you have ever encountered this (now) old-fashioned Bible prophecy teaching. Read and consider: what if it is true? See also: A Recurrence of the Times of Noah and Lot

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

A Recurrence of the Times of Noah and Lot

Old Biblical Prophecy

Note to reader: The article below is an example of what evangelical prophecy leaders and organizations used to teach 20-40 years ago. Not so long ago, before the postmodern prophecy paradigm era, this sort of article was commonplace. Writings such as this served as an encouragement to the reader to 1) expect the Lord's imminent return and 2) be ready to meet the Lord "here, there or in the air." Believers exhorted one another that He could return at any time because all events on earth were coinciding to fulfill Bible prophecy, and that before the end the Gospel of salvation should be shared far and wide, especially to family and friends. As yet another sign of the times we note that publishing such an article today, especially with this eschatology, is likely to be met with scoffings (2 Pet. 3:2), even open disbelief (2 Pet. 3:4). For some of you, this may be the first time you have ever encountered this (now) old-fashioned Bible prophecy teaching. Read and consider: what if it is true?

And as it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man. They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all. 

Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded; But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. 

Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed. In that day, he which shall be upon the housetop, and his stuff in the house, let him not come down to take it away: and he that is in the field, let him likewise not return back. 

Remember Lot's wife. 

Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it. I tell you, in that night there shall be two men in one bed; the one shall be taken, and the other shall be left. Two women shall be grinding together; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two men shall be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. And they answered and said unto him, Where, Lord? And he said unto them, Wheresoever the body is, thither will the eagles be gathered together.
(Luke 17:26-37)

By Johan Malan, Mossel Bay, South Africa (July 2014)

The Bible draws a comparison between the utter sinfulness that prevailed during the ancient times of Noah and Lot, and a similar situation which will be evident just prior to the second coming of Christ. History repeats itself in various ways – also with regard to the divine wrath which is poured out upon people who blaspheme God by continuously despising and rejecting the spiritual and moral principles of His kingdom. The following aspects of the comparison between ancient and modern times are pointed out in the Bible:

  • Apostatizing. In the times of Noah and Lot spiritual decline was widespread as virtually all people had forgotten God and gave free reign to the dictates of their depraved nature. They were wicked in every intent of their thoughts and not inclined to pursue God’s righteousness (Gen. 6:5). The same situation is characteristic of our time: “Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons” (1 Tim. 4:1). Under the influence of the devil, extreme evil will prevail in the lives of people, and they will be “led away with the error of the wicked” (2 Pet. 3:17).
  • Moral depravity. In the times of Noah and Lot the most licentious lifestyles were socially acceptable, among which was also sodomy. The men of Sodom took no interest in the daughters of Lot but were violently intent on sodomizing the angels (Gen. 19:1-10). Sexual perversion, particularly with reference to homosexual relations and practices, will again become the socially acceptable norm rather than the exception (Rom. 1:26-27). The family structure of society inevitably starts crumbling when government and church leaders also condone and openly accept these practices as the natural consequence of the freedom of choice which is seen to be part of basic human rights.
  • An apostate culture becomes dominant. In the times of Noah and Lot, the extensive apostatizing and moral decline in society gave rise to an utterly sinful culture which was completely averse to God and His holiness. These wicked people persecuted those who promoted God’s standard of honorable conduct. When Lot tried to oppose them they shouted at him and said: “Stand back! .. Now we will deal worse with you... and [they] came near to break down the door” (Gen. 19:9). Lot had to lock his door and hide himself in the house. In the end-time, an extremely sinful culture will again become dominant and people will generally be “without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, treacherous, rash...” (2 Tim. 3:3-4). These distorted inclinations will move the nations to conclude a covenant with the Antichrist who is described in the Bible as “the man of sin” and “the son of perdition” (2 Thess. 2:3; Rev. 13:3). During his reign, sin and unrighteousness will proliferate. The small minority of true believers will be heavily persecuted and forced to hide from the perpetrators of evil behind locked doors, while also trying to evade hostile governments that will hunt them down.
  • Anarchy and violence. In the times of Noah and Lot anarchy prevailed as people in these lawless and promiscuous societies did just as they pleased. Violence was the most common means used to resolve conflicts: “...the earth is filled with violence through them” (Gen. 6:13). That means that there was no central government with the capacity to maintain law and order, and for that reason people took the law into their own hands. Gangsterism, robbery and terrorism were the inevitable consequences of this state of affairs. In the end-time, communities will also become disorganized and lapse into a state in which nobody would be safe – not even children on their way to school, or within the school premises itself. Terrorism, military coups, wars and rumors of wars will dominate the news scene (Matt. 24:6-7). Violent behavior will occur in conjunction with other forms of immorality and apostasy, and even when God starts punishing and judging these wicked people during the tribulation period they will not stop sinning and rebelling against Him: “But the rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues... did not repent of their murders or their sorceries or their sexual immorality or their thefts” (Rev. 9:20-21).
  • Materialism and vanity. In the times of Noah and Lot people were excessively materialistic and only lived for the things of this world – particularly with regard to making big investments, amassing wealth, attending parties, reveling in eating and drinking and enjoying all the pleasures of life. They did not come to their senses before it was too late: “Likewise as it was also in the days of Lot: They ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built; but on the day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all. Even so will it be in the day when the Son of Man is revealed” (Luke 17:28-30). In the end-time, many people will also indulge in drinking and licentious pleasure-seeking in an effort to forget the sorrows of life. To them, the sudden coming of the heavenly Bridegroom for His bride will be like a snare which will take them captive for the judgements of God during the subsequent tribulation period: “But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly. For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth” (Luke 21:34-35). The wealth of rich people, who practice corruption and exploit others to achieve their goals, will be of no avail when the judgements of God are poured out upon the earth: “Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries that are coming upon you! ... You have heaped up treasure in the last days. Indeed the wages of the labourers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, cry out; and the cries of the reapers have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty. You have lived on the earth in pleasure and luxury; you have fattened your hearts as in a day of slaughter” (James 5:1-5).
  • Scoffing at believers and at the Word of God. In the times of Noah and Lot people scoffed at the believers and chose to ignore the prophetic warnings of forthcoming judgements. They regarded them as far-fetched speculation and continued with their reckless lives of fleshly pleasures and covetousness. Only Noah and his family (eight persons) were not guilty of this attitude and were worthy to escape God’s judgement of the Flood. A similar situation of the despising of biblical prophecies will repeat itself in the end-time: “...knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying, Where is the promise of His coming?” (2 Pet. 3:3-4). Those on the narrow way are a small minority.
  • Despising the time of grace. In the times of Noah and Lot God gave the degenerate sinners reasonable time to repent of their evil ways. They refused to repent and thereby sealed their own fate. They had only themselves to blame for their downfall and punishment. In the end-time, the great majority of people will not repent from their evil ways but rather embrace the false hope of manmade peace initiatives until it will be too late to escape divine judgements: “For when they say, Peace and safety! then sudden destruction comes upon them.... And they shall not escape” (1 Thess. 5:3).
  • The escape of believers. In the times of Noah and Lot God offered a way of escape to the believers at the critical moment before He turned on the wicked with wrathful punishment (Gen. 6:13-14; 19:15-17). The order of events was: First the prophetic warnings about the impending judgements, then the safeguarding of the believers who took heed of the appeal to repent, and ultimately the outpouring of wrath upon the wicked. Now, in the end-time, the world has repeatedly been warned against the impending judgements of God during the coming great tribulation. Since believers are not destined for these judgements we should prepare to escape them by expecting God’s Son from heaven, “even Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come” (1 Thess. 1:10; cf. 5:9).
  • The tragedy of religious formalism. In the times of Noah and Lot there was no security for nominal believers whose hearts were still devoted to the things of this world. Lot’s wife was a type of those believers who only have an outward form of godliness, but are still spiritually dead. This false pretense cost her the loss of her life at the last moment (Gen. 19:26). At the time of Christ’s second coming a similar situation will prevail. For that reason we are warned in the parable on the ten virgins that those among them whose hearts are not filled with the oil of the Holy Spirit will be left behind when the Bridegroom comes (Matt. 25:1-13). Self-justifying, lukewarm Christians who are deceived and erroneously regard themselves as “very good” are abominable to the Lord (Rev. 3:15-17; 2 Cor. 11:2-4).
  • Sudden disaster. In the times of Noah and Lot an awful disaster struck this world soon after the evacuation of the believers. Death and destruction occurred as never before in history (Gen. 7:4; 19:24-25). After the rapture, God’s judgements will again be poured out upon the wicked: “Behold, the day of the Lord comes, fierce, with wrath and raging anger, to make the land and the whole earth a desolation, and to destroy out of it its sinners” (Isa. 13:9; AB). The Lord Jesus warned that shortly before His second coming there will be a great tribulation as never before on earth, and if those days had not been shortened nobody would survive that terrible time (Matt. 24:21-22; 29-30).
  • The blessing offered through withholders. In the times of Noah and Lot the wicked did not realize how many privileges and blessings they enjoyed due to the presence of a few believers in their midst. God was prepared to pardon a whole city if there were only ten believers in it (Gen. 18:23-32). When this small group of believers were suddenly removed to a place of safety, the wicked were rapidly enfolded by the darkness of divine judgements. In the end-time, true believers also act as the withholders of evil, but the world will only appreciate the value of their role when they are gone. The church dispensation will continue until “he who now restrains [the true church indwelt by the Holy Spirit] is taken out of the way. And then the lawless one [the Antichrist] will be revealed.... The coming lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders,... that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness” (2 Thess. 2:7-12).
  • Prophetic blindness. In the times of Noah people scoffed at the builders of the ark, and in their ignorance were unaware of their peril “until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be” (Matt. 24:39).
Significance of the rapture
God’s end-time judgement upon sinners is a fact which cannot be denied. The physical deliverance of believers before the beginning of judgements is an equally important biblical fact which should always be kept in mind: “Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man” (Luke 21:36). Paul further explains this wonderful promise: “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words” (1 Thess. 4:16-18). What a wonderful future to look forward to!

We should react to the promise of the rapture in a number of ways if we wish to enjoy its full blessing. People who deny this promise are out of touch with the prophetic word, they forfeit many of its blessings, and are in danger of remaining behind and mistaking the Antichrist for the true Christ. We should watch out for spiritual deception and always be ready to stand before the Son of Man: “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming” (Matt. 25:13). “Therefore also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not expect Him” (Matt. 24:44).

The following are the blessings that are in store for believers who heed the command to be ready for the rapture:

Good news in the prophecies
The pretribulation rapture is the good news element in a dark scenario of end-time prophecies. Without this promise Christians would be left only with the bad news about the coming of the Antichrist and the tribulation period which they will have to face before Jesus comes. Their chances of surviving all the apocalyptic disasters of the great tribulation, as well as the battle of Armageddon, will be slim indeed. A situation like that can be equated to the Flood without the ark, or the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah without any provision for the escape of the believers from the scene of God’s wrath. Such a situation would be highly demoralizing and contradict a clear biblical principle that true believers are never the objects of God’s wrath: “For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation…” (1 Thess. 5:9). The righteous will not be destroyed with the wicked (cf. Gen. 18:23).

People who are cynical about the promise of the rapture and do not heed the exhortation to be prepared to escape the coming tribulation period reveal a very irresponsible attitude. What would have been the consequence for Noah and his family (and for the future survival of the entire human race!) if Noah had argued as follows: “God is a God of love and I do not really believe that He will send a flood to judge all people; therefore, I am not going to build an ark to escape this so-called judgement.” Or what would have happened to Lot and his family had he taken the following stand: “I think the prophesied judgement upon Sodom and Gomorrah should be interpreted symbolically. I do not have to escape for my life. Even if the disaster does occur I believe that God will protect us from His wrath here in this place.” Similar arguments are often heard today.

The coming judgements during the tribulation period are irrefutable biblical facts. Jesus said there will be great tribulation such as has not been since the beginning of the world (Matt. 24:21), and that we should be ready to escape it. The rapture is part of the good news of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus. He came to this sin-indulging world to pay the price for the salvation of sinners. He then returned to heaven to prepare a place for us, and will come back to take us away to our heavenly abode. If we are truly born again we will be worthy to escape the horrors of the coming tribulation on earth by way of the rapture. We do not have to despair at the knowledge of what is coming upon the world since there is a wonderful element of good news in the prophetic word.

A correct future expectation
If we believe in the pre-tribulation rapture we have the assurance of a truly biblical future expectation. This belief does not in any way contradict other biblical truths. This end-time perspective honors the Lord Jesus and recognizes Him as the key to all prophecy in Scripture, “for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy” (Rev. 19:10). Christians should remain focused on Him and wait for His sudden appearance – not for the Antichrist’s. Those who deny Him will remain behind after the rapture. Having rejected the way of escape and salvation offered by the true Christ, they will have to endure the Antichrist’s dictatorship and the terrible judgements to follow. What they experience on earth will be a direct result of the seals broken by the Lamb in heaven. Never deny Jesus Christ His central position in biblical prophecies. To expect His imminent return, and to arrange your life accordingly, is a command which is intended to be a strong, positive motivation to all Christians of all ages.
A motivation for steadfastness
The coming of the heavenly Bridegroom will occur during a time of religious compromise and worldliness. There will be a great falling away from the truth of God’s Word. A relatively small group of evangelical Christians will shine like lights in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation (Phil. 2:15). As in the times of Noah and Lot, the earth will be filled with violence, materialism, and sexual perversion. Unfortunately, the spirit of unrighteousness and immorality will also take its toll among Christians. They will relax their vigilance and make downward adjustments to their spiritual standards: “And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold” (Matt. 24:12). Some Christians will become backslidden or discouraged in the work of the Lord.

Inactive Christians often compromise their dedication to the Lord and their responsibility to serve Him faithfully. Their spiritual decline may manifest itself in various ways. The most common way of backsliding is to abandon the need for sanctification and to become pleasure-seekers who attend worldly parties where people eat and drink to excess. They also become critical of evangelical Christians who do not approve of their depraved ways. The Lord Jesus warned against such sinful behavior and countered it by using the prospect of His sudden, unexpected return as a positive motivation to remain steadfast to the end: “Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his master made ruler over his household, to give them food in due season? Blessed is that servant whom his master, when he comes, will find so doing.… But if that evil servant says in his heart, ‘My master is delaying his coming,’ and begins to beat his fellow servants, and to eat and drink with the drunkards, the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him and at an hour that he is not aware of, and cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites” (Matt. 24:45-51).

Correctly determining and prioritizing works
To expect the coming of the Lord Jesus before the tribulation period, guides your actions in the right direction. You prepare for His coming and not for the coming of the Antichrist. The concept of the rapture explicitly confronts you with your responsibility to give account of yourself before the judgement seat of Christ immediately after being caught up to heavenly places (2 Cor. 5:10; Rom. 14:12). The following crowns will be awarded to the faithful:

  • The incorruptible crown for holiness (1 Cor. 9:24-27). A life of this nature is characterized by the power of the Holy Spirit which enables a believer to abide in Christ, resist the temptations of sin and spiritual deception, and to keep on serving the Lord despite severe adversity and opposition. All the other crowns are dependent upon the believer’s sanctification.
  • The crown of rejoicing for soul-winners (1 Thess. 2:19). When the saving grace of the Lord Jesus is proclaimed, people are invited to accept it by faith, thereby obtaining the promise of eternal life. We were commissioned to be Christ’s witnesses everywhere on earth (Acts 1:8) but not all believers are engaged in fulfilling their calling.
  • The crown of life for Christian martyrs (Rev. 2:10). All those who have suffered or even died for their faith, will be rewarded. This category also includes believers who were severely tested but carried their cross with perseverance (Jas. 1:12).
  • The crown of glory for faithful shepherds (1 Pet. 5:2-4). Peter makes it clear that the faithful shepherds are those who did not fulfill their ministry by constraint, or for dishonest gain, or for status considerations. False teachers who proclaim lies will not share in the rapture to appear before the judgement seat of Christ, since they do not belong to Him and are destined for perdition (2 Pet. 2:1; 2 Tim. 4:3-4).
  • The crown of righteousness for those who loved the appearing of the Lord (2 Tim. 4:8). To love His coming calls for dissociation from the depraved world and its (mostly) corrupt leaders while pursuing the kingdom of Christ. Believers are citizens of this heavenly kingdom over which Christ will reign as King on earth after His second coming (Phil. 3:20-21).
The fact that our works will be judged after the rapture, and that only those with eternal value will be rewarded, is of great significance in helping us to devote ourselves to objectives that are higher than the material things of this perishable world. After conversion, our lives should yield the fruit of the Spirit and we should not waste time and resources on earthly things, pleasure or futile works. After the foundation of faith in the Lord Jesus has been laid in our lives we should take care to walk according to the Spirit and not according to the flesh: “…let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.… Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble, every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire” (1 Cor. 3:10-13).

Will you be found a worthy servant or will you stand before the judgement seat of Christ on that day empty-handed, saved as by fire? (1 Cor. 3:15). If you lose sight of the possibility of the Lord’s imminent return you may lapse into complacency, spiritual inactivity, and even into sin: “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night.… You therefore, beloved, since you know these things beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked; but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and for ever” (2 Pet. 3:10, 17-18).

The faithful and wise servant keeps himself busy with the work of the Lord, always realizing that the time to work for his Master is running out. The Lord Jesus Himself said: “I must work the works of Him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work” (John 9:4). The night of God’s judgements during the great tribulation is fast approaching. Spiritually speaking, the tribulation will be one of the darkest periods in the entire history of humanity – and that should motivate us to work with greater dedication and commitment to the Lord while we are still in the day of grace.

Motivation for holiness
One of the strongest motivations that the promise of the rapture instils into a Christian is that of holiness. As members of the bridal church we should commit ourselves to the challenge of being presented to the heavenly Bridegroom as chaste virgins. That implies the responsibility to be vigilant by not allowing the wicked one to pervert or corrupt our minds and lives (2 Cor. 11:2-3). Jesus Christ gave Himself to sanctify and cleanse the church that He might present it to Himself holy and without spot or blemish (Eph. 5:25-27). We have a distinct responsibility to use the means of grace at our disposal to walk in the ways of the Lord and to become holy in all our conduct (1 Pet. 1:15). “Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of the Lord” (2 Cor. 7:1).

If we abide in Christ, we will have confidence when He appears and not be ashamed before Him (1 John 2:28). However, should we lose sight of His imminent coming and fail to live accordingly we may lapse into complacency, spiritual passiveness, and even into sin (Matt. 24:48-51).

Hope during trials and afflictions
Under the dark shadow of trials and afflictions, when our prospects on earth look bleak, the belief in Christ’s coming for us at the rapture is a light at the end of the tunnel. Through many sorrows and suffering, millions of Christians have clung desperately to the promise of the resurrection and our union with the Lord at the rapture. It gave them strength to endure, counting earthly things and even their own lives as of no account so that they might win eternity with Christ. So, take courage, lift up your head, and expect the coming of the Lord, knowing your future is safe and sure in His hands.

A sense of destiny
Like Abraham we should see ourselves as strangers and sojourners in a world that “lies under the sway of the wicked one” (1 John 5:18). Since our future is not here, we need a vision of the city with foundations, whose builder and maker is God (Heb. 11:10). In our pilgrimage through this world, we need a strong sense of destiny. When the Lord comes for us at the rapture, He will take us to our eternal home in the new Jerusalem (1 Cor. 2:9; John 14:2; Rev. 21:2).

We should not identify ourselves with this world and become one with its materialism, pleasure-seeking and moral and spiritual depravity. We should proclaim the praises of Him who has called us out of darkness into His marvelous light. The unbelievers around us are in spiritual darkness, but through our testimony we should show them the way to the Savior, who is the light of the world.

While serving the Lord as faithful witnesses, we should always keep our eye on Him as “the bright and morning star” (Rev. 22:16) that shines above the dark horizon of a troubled and hostile world. The morning star tells us the night is far spent and the day is at hand. Before Jesus appears as the Sun of Righteousness, when every eye shall see Him, Christians will have an awesome meeting with Him, the Bright and Morning Star, in the air!

The original article is posted HERE. For a related article, see also "In the Days of Noah."