How can we begin to understand the times in which we are now living?
America (the land that proclaims 'In God we trust') emerged from WWII as a 'super power'. Post war recovery produced a vibrant economy with breakthrough technical advances (that are continuing today). However, World tensions soon brought the Korean War; the divisive Vietnam War; student rebellions; racial turmoil; etc, and the beginning of action to remove the God who had blessed America for 200 years!! The 9-11 attack on America brought a brief 'spiritual' awakening, but the continuing involvement in conflicts around the World is devastating America both economically and spiritually. Why is this happening? A very simple answer - “The wicked shall be turned into hell and all the nations that forget God” (Psalm 9:17) (See Deuteronomy 28:14-68). “For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not believe the gospel of God” (1Peter 4:17). Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near Me with their mouth, and with their lips do honor Me, but have removed their heart far from Me, and their fear toward Me is taught by the precept of men; Therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvelous work among this people, even a marvelous work and a wonder; for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hidden”. (Isaiah 29: 13-14).
When God has warned us that He will do a 'marvelous work and a wonder' and that judgment must begin with the 'house of God' (the Church), what is the condition of the 'Church' that requires judgment to begin with the 'believers' in Christ?! Isn't the 'Church' the most favored group that will be 'Raptured' before the tribulation?! If there is something we don't understand, would it not be prudent to search the Bible to find out why and how the judgment must begin with the Church?!! Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but He revealeth His secret unto His servants the prophets. (Amos 3:7).) Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts. For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little. (Isaiah 28:9-10)
Let's look for an answer using 'precept upon precept' - Why do we see Islam being allowed to slaughter Christians? - Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity: wherefore lookest thou upon them that deal treacherously, and holdest thy tongue when the wicked devoureth the man that is more righteous than he? (Habakkuk 1:13). God answers - … O Assyrian, the rod of mine anger, and the staff in their hand is mine indignation. I will send him against an hypocritical nation, and against the people of my wrath will I give him a charge, to take the spoil, and to take the prey, and to tread them down like the mire of the streets. (Isaiah 10:5-7). God is not mocked (Galatians 6:7). For a nation that claims - "In God we trust" but rejects Him - It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. (Hebrews 10:31). The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Prov 9:10). To chastise God's people the 'Assyrian has been used, and is again today. Tribulation by Islam is now the way He is judging/purifying an apostate 'end-time church'!! However…it shall come to pass, that when the Lord hath performed his whole work upon mount Zion and on Jerusalem (Isaiah10:12)…I will break the Assyrian in my land, and upon my mountains tread him under foot (Isaiah 14:25).
Let's now take a closer look at why 'Judgment must begin with the house of God' (the Church) - Francis Schaeffer authored over 23 books. The Following excerpt is from - The Church at the End of the 20th Century (copyright in 1970), – “Does the church have a future in our generation? ...I believe the church is in real danger. It is in for a rough day. We are facing present pressures and a future manipulation which will be so overwhelming in the days to come that they will make the battles of the last forty years look like child’s play”. (I believe Schaefer's prediction is manifest today). Google search -There are literally thousands of different Christian denominations in five major 'families' of churches/communion. Within that number, we are warned -…many shall come in my name and decieve many (Mathew 24:5; Mark 13:6; Luke 21:8). How are we to determine the true 'Church'? - But the hour cometh and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth (John 4:23).
For 2000 years the 'Blessed Hope' for followers of Jesus has been His return to inaugurate His Kingdom, however - …let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and the man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition (2 Thessalonians 2:3). We have been warned that there will be many false prophets coming in 'sheep's clothing' and as 'angels of light'. Has anything in the past 100 years done more to create a deluded/apostate/self-centered (I, Me, My) 'church' than the footnotes of the ubiquitous Scofield Reference Bible that promises the imminent pre-tribulation 'rapture' of the 'Church'?!
Many TV ministries expound on grace/salvation and how much God loves us, quoting the first part of the following passage - Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. (Ephes. 2:9-10). Then, ignoring the last part of this same passage, some go so far as telling there flock that if they try to do anything, beside what Christ has done for us on the cross, they are sinning!! If that is true, how do we interpret the many passages about good works? - Isaiah 1:17, Matthew 16:27, 25:31-46 Titus 3:8, 3:14, Hebrews 10:24, James 2:14-26.
The Lord is…not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9). The mission of the Church is not about ourselves, rather to - …Go into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled (Luke 14:23). This is a 'good works' the 'Church' should be busy doing instead of expecting the 'imminent' rapture before the tribulation.
If the “church” is supposedly raptured before the tribulation, to whom is Jesus giving the following assurance or encouragement? - But when they shall lead you, and deliver you up, take no thought beforehand what ye shall speak, neither do ye premeditate: but whatsoever shall be given you in that hour, that speak ye: for it is not ye that speak, but the Holy Ghost. (Mark 13:11) …but the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits. And they that understand among the people shall instruct many: yet they shall fall by the sword, and by flame, by captivity, and by spoil, many days. Now when they shall fall, they shall be helped with a little help: but many shall cleave to them with flatteries. And some of them of understanding shall fall, to try them, and to purge, and to make them white, even to the time of the end: because it is yet for a time appointed. (Daniel 11:32-35) - And of some have compassion, making a difference: And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh. (Jude 1:22-23) …Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand …and when he shall have accomplished to scatter the power of the holy people, all these things shall be finished. (Daniel 12:7) And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened. (Matthew 24:22)
When the Son of man shall come in his glory…Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? … (Then to those on His left hand) - Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal. (Matthew 25:31-46)
'The American dream'- the materialistic good life in a 'land flowing with milk and honey' experienced by the 'Baby-boomers', has made their generation very vulnerable to the false message of a painless Pre-tribulation transition into God's Kingdom. It is evident the majority of the 'Modern Church' has naively fallen victim to this lie!! Many TV ministries boldly preach the 'pre-tribulation rapture' assuring their flock that they are SO special that they are exempt from tribulation!! Sadly, many are sincere/dedicated people completely unaware of the role they are fulfilling!! The preaching of this false doctrine has created a modern Laodicean type of Church that is being told (and believes) they are the Philadelphia Church!!
How 'playing church' may appear to God - …Bring no more vain oblations, incense is an abomination unto me, the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; iniquity, even the solemn meeting. Your new moons and your appointed feats my soul hateth: they are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear them. And when you spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you, yea when you make many prayers I will not hear: your hands are full of blood. (abortion) Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil. Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow.(Isaiah 1:13-17)
Corrie ten Boom: …“Go back and warn Americans that their moment is coming! Tell them they must get tougher spiritually. And please tell them to stop preaching non-tribulation doctrines!” To all who profess to be watchmen - (Ezekiel 33:1-6) - is your ministry preparing multitudes for the test that is surely coming to America?!! One of human nature's greatest weaknesses is our inability to see ourselves (Paul on road to Damascus, David confronted by Nathan). It may be time for the 'church' in America to learn from Pogo - "We have met the enemy and he is us."