Be Very Alert! No 192

Be Very Alert!- By Val Hollard (NZ)

On Watch at the Door.                                                                                           No 192, April 14, 2015

PLATITUDES ON BIBLICAL PROPHECY

Recently someone asked me why I thought so many people were not interested in biblical prophecy. Here I will make rather liberal use of some comments by Alan Kurschner of Eschatos Ministries after he was asked why so many in the church today are apathetic to learning about Christ’s return and longing for His return. As Kurschner says, it will help you to be equipped to respond to these platitudes.

Some comments people make are: It will all ‘pan out’ in the end; this doctrine divides the church; etc. If we cannot discern the events preceding the return of Jesus, we will be in danger of falling into deception.

“What only matters is the fact that Jesus is returning.” This platitude implies that other issues relating to the return of Jesus are not important, such as the day of the Lord’s wrath, preparing for a coming persecution and the timing of the Rapture. These issues did concern the apostles and the early church and should concern us.

Jesus warns us, “See, I have told you ahead of time.” (Matt 24:25) In the context of end-times persecution, Jesus asks, “When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8) In the context of the Antichrist, Paul commands, “Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way.” (2 Thess 2:3) In the context of the mark and image of the Beast, the book of Revelation warns, “This calls for patient endurance on the part of the saints who obey God’s commandments and remain faithful to Jesus.” (Rev 14:12) There is also a special blessing on those who read the prophecies of the book of Revelation and who hear and obey what is written there. (Rev 1:3; 22:7)

We should not just affirm that Jesus is returning in an apathetic manner, but take serious note of all the warnings. If you are really longing for the return of Jesus you will want to know all about the conditions surrounding His return, and this includes the coming persecution by the Antichrist. Difficult times are coming on the church (and are already here for millions) and Jesus has told us in advance so we can be prepared for them. Satan would like the church to remain ignorant and apathetic.

“There are so many views out there.” Actually, there are not a lot of different views. When someone says there are ‘so many views,’ they are saying we can’t be sure which one is correct. Eschatology is not the only doctrine on which people have varying interpretations. Kurschner says because alternative interpretations exist should be more reason to concentrate our attention on biblical prophecy – not by ignoring it. This takes time and effort, but do not be discouraged. God is gradually opening the eyes of the diligent and faithful. It is also time to recheck all that one has blindly absorbed in the past.

“Theologians have been debating this for centuries” The debate has been mainly in the last two centuries, even more so in the last one. Even if it has been debated for many centuries, it is not a good enough reason for us to stop searching for the truth. There has been debate over many other doctrines for centuries too. Debating something can help to get a clearer understanding of the issue. It will be interesting to see the outcome of the debate coming later this year when Alan Kurschner (pre-wrath) and Tommy Ice (pre-trib) debate the timing of the Rapture.

What many Christians fail to understand is that by searching the Scriptures with much diligence and prayer, they can come to a good knowledge of the truth by themselves. In His discourse in Matthew 24, Jesus taught that believers should understand the conditions of His return and the season. If we don’t understand them, we could well fall prey to the deceptions of the Antichrist.

“Who are you to think that you have the right answer?” Many feel threatened if you have studied prophecy and they have not. Often they do not believe that Scripture actually reveals a right answer. In Thessalonians 2:3, Paul says, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, “Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way.” How can we avoid being deceived if there is no “right” answer? We should be striving for the right interpretation.

Jesus also warns in Matthew 24:25, “See, I have told you ahead of time.” We need to know what Jesus is warning about so we can act accordingly.

Knowing about the second coming of Jesus is critical and should propel us to search the Word for truth and pray for illumination.

“Acts 1:7 teaches we should be concerned with evangelism not the second coming.” In Acts 1:7-8, Jesus said, “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by His own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” This text is used by many to say we should not concern ourselves with prophecy but focus on evangelism. However, to take that view contradicts many other teachings. In Acts, Jesus is not saying that we should ignore prophecy; He is simply saying that we don’t know the times or the dates. Jesus had taught them much about the coming kingdom but they were expected to be His witnesses throughout the earth before then.

In Acts 17:31, Paul uses the second coming of Christ (judgment) as the basis for his evangelism when he was witnessing to the Athenians. We can use prophecy when witnessing, especially as we see so many prophesies being fulfilled at this time: e.g. nations coming against Israel, the rise of Islam, the apostasy in the church, the increase of violence. There are hundreds more prophecies about the second coming than the first, and Scripture urges us to understand these things.

Are you waiting for everything to ‘pan out,’ or are you really longing for the return of Jesus, searching the Scriptures daily to understand the signs of His return?

HELL IS FOR REAL – BUT IS IT FOREVER?

I have been rather surprised to learn of a view of hell called Conditionalism or Conditional Immortality which is apparently increasing in popularity. Dr David Reagan, who heads up Lamb and Lion Ministries, believes that at the end of the millennial reign of Jesus, all the unsaved will be resurrected, judged and consigned to hell. (Rev 20:11-15) So far so good! Then, he says, the unjust will be tormented in hell for a period of time in proportion to their sins. He quotes Matthew 11:22-24. Luke 12:47-48, and Hebrews 10:29. Then the unsaved will suffer destruction – they will cease to exist. He also quotes other passages which he says teach destruction.

Luke 12:47-48 teaches about degrees of punishment, just as believers will receive degrees of rewards. It says nothing about varying periods before annihilation. The unsaved dead are judged at the Great White Throne according to what they have done, and then thrown into the lake of fire which is described as the second death. (Rev 20:11-15) The Bible does not speak of annihilation after that.

Many more people believe in the existence of heaven than in the existence of hell. God is seen as a God of love and the idea that He would send people to everlasting torment doesn’t fit in with their human expectations. But the Bible clearly teaches that hell is a real place where the wicked will be sent permanently.

In numerous passages the same Greek word for everlasting or eternal is used for what believers will experience in eternity and what the wicked will experience in eternity. The clearest example of this is Matthew 25:46: Then they (the cursed) will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life. The phrase “eternal punishment” in Greek is kolasin aionion. The phrase “eternal life” is zoen aionion. The same adjective cannot mean one thing when tied to punishment and another when modifying life. Matthew 24:46 says nothing about varying durations.

Many cannot understand the huge contrast between the sinfulness of sin and the holiness of God. Hell will be an exceedingly horrible place. Just contemplate the wrath of God in the Trumpet and Bowl judgments in the book of Revelation to see the wrath of God on those who did not repent when they had the chance!

Many people believe that they are basically good, never having committed murder or other violent crimes. They may not be in the least bit interested in responding to the Gospel message if they think they can enjoy life now without biblical restraints and a life committed to God, and then be snuffed out after a possibly short time in hell.

The doctrine of eternal torment is sobering. It should fill us with praise to God that He sent Jesus to die in our place so that we will receive eternal life instead of eternal torment. It should fill us with a passion to reach out to those who do not understand the terror that awaits them outside the mercy of God.

“…thrown into hell where ‘their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.’”(Mark 9:48)

NEWS BRIEFS

Preacher fined for ‘emotional harm.’ A street preacher in the UK who was charged with making “homophobic” remarks has been declared guilty of breaking English law and must pay a fine for his speech, including to a man to whom he quoted Scripture from the book of Leviticus.

Heaven tourism: After the Southern Baptists in the US passed a resolution on “the sufficiency of Scripture regarding the afterlife,” LifeWay Christian Resources has stopped selling all experiential testimonies about heaven in nearly 200 Christian bookstores. The resolution resulted from an inquiry into 90 Minutes in Heaven by Don Piper, which is being made into a movie. The book recounts Piper’s supposed experience of heaven following a severe auto accident and has sold 6.5 million copies in 46 languages.

The extinction of Eastern Christianity: In Iraq, there were 1.4 million Christians in 2003, now there are 270,000. In Syria, there were 1.1 million Christians before the civil war, there are now 400,000. Everywhere from Libya to Iraq, ISIS is beheading Christians or converting them to Islam. In 1948, virtually all Jews left the Middle Eastern Arab countries and now it is the turn of Christians. Now Jews are fleeing from Europe, and many Christians no longer see it as a safe place. Around the world, the persecution of Jews and Christians will continue to increase until the return of King Jesus.

Recently, Indiana (US) passed a Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Now a large gay group is demanding that Churches which teach against homosexuality should lose their tax exempt status or even be shut down. It is interesting that gays never suggest that mosques be closed down as Islam also teaches against homosexuality.

A belief in God can make people healthier and happier. New studies have shown that prayer can prevent people from getting sick, and when they do get sick, prayer can help them get better faster. People who are “more religious” and pray more have better mental and physical health. A majority of the studies also showed that regular churchgoers live longer. There is a seven-year difference in life expectancy between those who never attend church and those who attend weekly.

Recently there have been serious signs that some would like to reform Islam. The Norwegian translation of the Qu’ran has been abridged to take out the less charming parts. Islam is presented as if it were already reformed. Norway also has plans to deport at least 7,800 illegal asylum-seekers this year. The reforms started with the heroic and honourable initiative at the end of 2014 by Egypt’s President, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, criticizing the ideology of Islam. He comments on how it is hostile to the whole world, and calls for a “revolution” in Islam.

EXTRA ITEMS OF INTEREST:

An increasing number of people are going back to ‘Hebrew Roots.’ Watch this: The Sabbath and the Covenants (92 Min)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tXkkjhtuVi8

The Clarion Project has good fact sheets on ISIS and Iran:
http://www.clarionproject.org/

The Third Temple and the Islamic Antichrist:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tNOlxoPWl48

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