When one reads a cross-section of articles or posts written by Christian people across the land, you can get pretty much every flavor of thought and of course doctrinal position on a myriad of issues. When it comes to the subject of the troublesome time that we have moved into, it is the same. It is amazing how polarized people are, and sometimes the vitriol between the different camps. One of the controversies that brings much discussion, and often heated debate as well has to do with whether true Christians are pulled from this earth before, in the middle, or at the end of the Great Tribulation that Jesus spoke of—particularly between the “pre-tribulation rapture” people and the “post-tribulation” folks. That particular subject is something I am reserving for a series of its own, but I do want to speak to one of the issues connected to this. Many folks have a pretty liberal view on Christian living, and others are quite rigid, as well as everything in between.
We need to ask of ourselves, “What does God really want out of me?” Scripture teaches us much about “grace”, and its great benefits. Scripture also has a large number of Scriptures spelling out the walk of a true Christ-follower being much more astringent than so many in our modern “enlightened” society are willing to accept. I’m in no way advocating living a legalistic Christian life as the Pharisees did in the Bible. I am suggesting though that the true life of a Christ-follower is more committed and disciplined than what is typically taught.
I see us in a society that is way too easily falling for the temptation to take another bite of the destructive fruit from the tree of the “knowledge of good and evil” that Adam and Eve were commanded to stay away from in the original Garden of Eden. The tree of course, is no longer there, but the great hater of the human race has never ceased to offer the same fruit in an abundance of ways—and we humans fall for it.
One thing that I doubt many have a good concept of is how deeply the fallen Lucifer hates mankind. It is beyond any hatred that a human being is capable of. In light of the horrors of human history, that is a pretty strong statement. This fallen very high ranking angel not only hopes to defeat the God of Creation, which by the way is impossible because no created being is able defeat the One that created him. There is only one Almighty. People sometimes think that the battle between God and Satan is a close battle. Not so!
The problem is not whether God is going to win this battle, but whether mankind accepts the one and only Antidote offered to cure his fallen condition. That is of course the supreme sacrifice made by God Himself by stepping into the sandals of man and providing the innocent sacrifice that only God could provide to make it possible for man to be free from his lost condition which is carried through the bloodline. That is what provides not only a new life in this very temporary stay in a dying world, but as an inheritance provides a literal eternal life in the Presence of God Himself and enjoyment of life forever as it was intended from the beginning.
Here is where the battle for the soul of man is though. Adam and Eve were tempted in the garden and fell. Mankind since has chosen to either walk in life via his relationship with God as God provided it, or he has chosen to go his own way. The majority have chosen to go their own way and still do today. I mentioned a couple paragraphs ago how the devil hates mankind. He especially hates the true Christian. He will do anything in his power to bring that person down. This affects both you and me this very day.
The number one temptation for the American Christian today is the prosperity gospel, and the all-consuming desire to become financially successful, having all the money we want so that we can accumulate possessions as well as gain notoriety, fame, and power—even in the Christian world. It brings people to the place where they will be half-hearted, rich, prosperous, and needing nothing. That is precisely the description of the Church of Laodicea which happens to be the last church mentioned in the Bible before the return of Christ.
A couple days ago I reread parts of a book that I have had since 1974. It was written by David Wilkerson and is called, “The Vision”. I bought the updated version of several years ago when it came out in 2003, which is called “The Vision & Beyond.” The book deals with a vision that David Wilkerson had had back in 1973. I’m not going to go into the contents of the book at this time, but it had to do with things that God had showed him then which God said were on the way. He was laughed at, ridiculed, put down, and pretty much marginalized. It was highly unpopular to the clergy, and did not sit well with the general western Christian world. It was kind of a “stick in the eye” for many, kind of like the prophets in the Old Testament were. Now we are seeing how accurately his prophecies began to come to pass soon after the book came out and are now escalating in their fulfillment. Many of the heaviest of these events are ramping up and soon to be fulfilled.
Over the centuries, the devil has found every way possible of causing destruction to the human race. He especially hates born again Christians and has always found ways of doing damage to their walk with God. In David’s vision, he saw the devil approaching God one last time, as he did with Job in the Old Testament, and asked permission to tempt the last Christian. We are the last Christian testimony before the horrible Great Tribulation.
In this vision, this is what David saw, and I quote from the book on pages 47 and 48. “…and the Lord said unto Satan, ‘Where have you come from?’ Satan answered, ‘From going to and fro in the earth and observing the last Christian.’ And the Lord said unto Satan, ‘Have you considered these last-day Christians—how dedicated, how upright, how God-fearing, and Christ-loving they are? How they run from your evil plots?’ Then Satan answered the Lord, ‘Yes, but just take away the hedge you’ve built around them. Job wouldn’t forsake you in his poverty—but just increase and bless all the last Christians far beyond anything Job ever had and then see what happens. Make all these last Christians affluent like Job. Build them fancy new homes—give them fine automobiles—all the money and gadgets they need. Swamp them with campers, boats, world travel, fine clothes, exotic foods, land holdings, and savings accounts. See what happens to your last Christians when they become full, rich, increased with goods, and are in need of nothing. They will forsake God and become self-centered.”
I am old enough and was already in the ministry having been filling the position of pastor of a church for a few years when this book came out the first time. I have watched the Christian world since that time until the moment of this writing, and I’ve watched this very thing happen to the western church world. Not everyone fell for this, but so very, very many did. There were many that managed to come out of that mess, but many never did.
This plague is still infecting the church, including much of the leadership. Scandal after scandal is showing the enormous financial abuses that have gone on unchecked in many denominations, radio and television ministries, and individual churches. Years ago it was prophesied by Morris Cerullo that everything was going to be shaken, including the earth itself, nations, politics, the religious world, etc. That has been coming to pass.
To so very many people, going to church, reading and studying the Bible is done as an obligation. It is not the priority that it should be for a people that are facing unprecedented times when we are really going to need an intimate walk with God in order to navigate through all the challenges. Today we find it inconvenient to give God time. Giving Him time interrupts many things that we enjoy much more than listening to a teaching or reading from the Bible which has been gathering dust on the shelf for way too long. We are addicted to being entertained and find it a lot of work to take the steps necessary to get close to God. Yet, it is a promise that God has given us that “they that wait on the Lord will be renewed with God’s strength.
Question is: What are we going to do with ourselves when we don’t have TV to watch. What if we lose the majority of the pleasures and blessings that only we here in North America have? I presented a fairly long list of “what if’s” in a recent post. The majority of those have an awful lot of evidence coming to the forefront. We don’t want to think about it, and we certainly don’t want anyone to take us into a “negative space”! Yet, that is not going to stop what is coming!
I intend to continue a bit longer with this subject with another post or two, but I’d like to leave us with this thought. If there has ever been a time when we need to understand the meaning behind the parable of the ten virgins in Matthew 25. What is it that is different between the wise and foolish virgins? That will be part of the next post…
To be continued…