Wednesday, May 9, 2012

World Conditions at the Rapture‏

I'm summarizing an article that was printed in "Prophecy in the News Magazine", May 2012--by Gary Stearman

Gary warns that "Prophecy Burnout" can be a very real thing--as we concentrate on looking for the return of Jesus.  Believers can watch, for what seems like forever, and still the Lord tarries.  But at the same time, KNOWING end time prophecy brings peace of mind, and much comfort in times of sorrow, and in the course of normal daily life, it provides mental satisfaction.  We know Jesus is coming...

The signs which are usually cited are from a list, given by Jesus in Matthew 24.  These are so familiar to the prophecy student:  false christs, wars and rumors of wars, ethnicities rising against ethnicities (kingdom against kingdom), famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in diverse places.  This list of SIGNS, known as the beginning of sorrows (BIRTH PAINS, LABOR CONTRACTIONS) signal the approach of that time of intense judgment called the Tribulation. 

There are people who declare that the Rapture is a SIGNLESS event, meaning that there's nothing to watch for.  However, the Apostles of the early Church had much to say about the closing days of the Church Age.  When we look around today, it's apparent that the geopolitical and societal climate of the world MIRRORS what the Apostles wrote so many centuries ago.

Sharon says:  Yesterday, on my Facebook page, I had a run-in with a person who declared that "the dispensation of grace" (the age of grace) was an error.  Today, as I REVIEW what Gary Stearman wrote, I see he ECHOES and SUPPORTS my assessment, and this idea is NOT in error at all.  I'll quote Gary (before I continue this summary).  We need to have a clear grasp upon DISPENSATIONS.

"Since Pentecost, and for a finite period ending with the catching away of the Church, we are said to live in 'the dispensation of grace.'  Paul announced the beginning of this period in Ephesians 3:2, as he wrote, '...ye have heard of the DISPENSATION OF THE GRACE OF GOD which is given me to you-ward...' 

"He used the word 'DISPENSATION' to describe his ministry, as in 1 Corinthians 9:17, where he said, 'For if I do this thing willingly, I have a reward:  but if against my will, a DISPENSATION of THE GOSPEL is committed unto me.'  Or, in Colossians 1:25, where he writes, 'Whereof I am made a minister, according to the DISPENSATION OF GOD which is given to me for you, to fulfill the word of God.'

"In these instances, Paul expresses THE FACT that the Lord has impressed him into the service for the purpose of founding the doctrinal centerpiece of the Church Age (dispensation).

"The term 'DISPENSATION' describes a condition of stewardship--the FOUNDATIONAL doctrines of the Church given through Paul.  But, it is also intimately connected with the CONCLUSION of the Church Age.  This is easily observed in Ephesians 1:10, where Paul speaks of the END OF THE AGE:

"'That in the DISPENSATION of the FULNESS OF TIMES He (Jesus) might GATHER TOGETHER in ONE all things IN CHRIST, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even IN HIM.'

"Paul speaks of 'times,' PLURAL, rather than 'time,' SINGULAR.  This is an ACKNOWLEDGMENT that the DISPENSATION OF GRACE is only ONE PART of a larger picture.  Former time periods began with the FIRST--Innocence--and the Garden of Eden.  After that, came  Conscience, Human Government, Promise, Law and the PRESENT AGE, GRACE.  After THIS AGE ENDS, the seventh (Kingdom) age will feature the physical presence of Christ.

"But NOW, more than ever, the teaching of classical DISPENSATIONALISM is being held up to ridicule...."  End of Gary's quote.  (I ran into that ridicule about DISPENSATIONS yesterday on my Facebook page, and now, I thank Gary for this explanation.)

To continue with this summary:

Many dispensational premillennial people believe that the Rapture will be a SIGNLESS EVENT, meaning that NO PROPHECY needs to be fulfilled BEFORE the Rapture...which will come quickly and without warning.  Yet, signs of "the day of the Lord" (the Tribulation period) show "the nearness" of that hour.  AND at the same time, a warning is given by Jesus, "Watch therefore, for you KNOW NOT what hour your Lord doth come."  We can surely see THE DAY (Tribulation) approaching, and yet we will NOT know the hour of the Lord's coming.  This appears to present us with a contradiction.  If nobody but the Father knows when Jesus will come, then WHY look for signs?

The meaning is quite clear:  BELIEVERS MUST AT ALL TIMES BE READY FOR THE COMING OF THE LORD.  He will come LIKE A THIEF upon those who DO NOT WATCH, and those people can suffer loss.

Consider the admonition to the Church of Sardis (the dead Church):  "Remember, therefore how you hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent.  If therefore you shall NOT WATCH, I will come on you as A THIEF, and you shall NOT KNOW WHAT HOUR I will come upon you."  Revelation 3:3.

In the prophetic application, the Sardis Church represents the Churches of the Reformation in the sixteenth century--which is the time when the latter-day Church awakened after the dark ages to enter a final countdown to the end of the age.  Sardis represents a Church which was FROZEN INTO a mistaken eschatology (end times) interpretation that had solidified out of the false teachings of Augustine from the fifth century.  Sardis wrongly holds to the idea that the events of THE REVELATION have, for the most part, already been fulfilled.  Jesus told Sardis that if it did NOT repent of this, they would fail to recognize the signs of the end; they would NOT be watching, and the Rapture of the Church will catch Sardis by surprise (because not watching).

What is implied here is that a Church which FAILS TO WATCH will be surprised by Christ's coming.  On the other hand, IF people watch, they WILL KNOW He is coming.

What do the Apostles say about the end of the Church Age--things that will signal that the Lord's coming is near?


What Paul declares in Romans--we have the SIGN of a REBIRTHED nation of Israel.

Romans 11:11-12--"I say then, Have they (Israel) stumbled that they should fall?  God forbid:  but rather through their fall SALVATION IS COME to the Gentiles, for to PROVOKE them (Israel) to jealousy.  Now if the FALL of them (Israel) be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of THE GENTILES; how much more their fulness?"

This shows the future days in which the Jews will be brought back to their land--as is also prophesied in Ezekiel and Daniel.  Gary then gives a detailed description of two things.  1.  A revived revelation of understanding, directly from the Bible, that Israel must come back to their land (J.N. Darby saw this in scripture; so did E.W. Bullinger--in the 1800s).  2.  At the same time, Jews were stirred to return to the Holy Land.  I'll add # 3.--And in the sky, in 1896-97, an eclipse cycle upheld that understanding--and in 1897, the FIRST Zionist Congress was held in Basle, Switzerland, near the same time as the eclipse.

Fifty years later, in 1947, the Jews were recognized by the United Nations, and in 1948, the new nation of Israel was born.  In leading up to this, World War 1--and the Balfour Declaration-- prepared the land for the Jews.  World War 2 and the Holocaust prepared the Jews for the land.  Therefore, as scripture declared, the nation of Israel was indeed reborn in the latter days.  We see this very thing in Paul's writing--as he wrote to enlighten the Church:

"And so shall ALL Israel be saved:  as it is written, 'There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob:  For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins,  As concerning the gospel, they (Israel) are enemies for your sakes:  but as touching the election (Israel), THEY ARE BELOVED for the Father's sake.  (Notice that Israel is called "THE ELECT" here.)  For the gifts and callings of God are without repentance."  Romans 11:26-29.  (Meaning that God will NEVER abandon Israel, to whom He gave those EVERLASTING COVENANTS.)

THE REBORN NATION OF ISRAEL IS A SIGN THAT THE RAPTURE IS IMMINENT.


What Paul declares in 1 Corinthians--the resurrection and rapture of the Church put into THE CONTEXT of the Jewish Feast Calendar.

We see THE ORDER of the FIRST RESURRECTION in 1 Corinthians 15:20-26--"But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become THE FIRSTFRUITS of them that slept.  For since by man came death, by man (Jesus) came also the resurrection of the dead.  For as IN ADAM (our earthly birth) ALL die, even so IN CHRIST shall ALL (who trust in Him) be made ALIVE.  But every man in HIS OWN ORDER:  Christ, the FIRSTFRUITS:  afterward THEY that ARE CHRIST'S at His coming (the Rapture of the Church).  THEN COMES THE END, when He shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; and when He shall put down ALL RULE and ALL AUTHORITY and POWER (after the Tribulation).  For He MUST reign (in the Millennium) till He has put ALL enemies under His feet.  The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death (after the Millennium)."

What's THE ORDER of Jewish feasts that's seen here? 

The Lord died for us on Passover, becoming our sacrifice for the cleansing of sin.  His body was broken for us and hidden in burial, as revealed in the Feast of Unleavened Bread.  On the Feast of Firstfruits, Jesus rose from the dead (the first of those who will receive glorified bodies).  Then comes Pentecost, the birth of the Church, and the coming of the Holy Spirit.  The Church Age will be fulfilled, represented by Pentecost, which then brings us to the Resurrection/Rapture of "THEY that ARE CHRIST'S at His coming" (at the end of the Age of the Church).  THEN COMES THE END.  The next order of Jewish Feasts will bring the in fulfillment of the Second Coming of Jesus (Feast of Trumpets/Rosh Hashanah, Atonement/Yom Kippur, and Tabernacles/Succot). 

Another interesting fact, taking us back to Pentecost--the DISPENSATION of the Law BEGAN on Pentecost, AND the DISPENSATION of the Church BEGAN on Pentecost, so it's not too far of a stretch to say that the NEXT DISPENSATION, that of THE KINGDOM, "could begin" on Pentecost--(starting "the day of the Lord"--which includes the WORK of God's DEALING with Israel--BEFORE the Tribulation, INCLUDING the SEVEN-YEARS of judgment, and ENCOMPASSING the entire Millennium--that's the FULL SCOPE of "the day of the Lord").

The sequence of resurrection in 1 Corinthians 15:20-26 shows the RAPTURE of those who belong TO CHRIST in His Church.  THEN COMES THE END!


What Paul declares in 1 and 2 Thessalonians--here we find the BLESSED HOPE of the Church in its FULLEST description.  Writing to the Thessalonians, Paul urges WATCHFULNESS, and that was 2000 years ago!!!  Jesus will come as A THIEF to those who do NOT watch.  1 Thessalonians 5:1-4.

"Therefore let us NOT sleep, as do others, but let us WATCH and BE SOBER.  For THEY that sleep, sleep in the night; and THEY that be drunken, are drunken in the night.  But let US, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation.  For God has NOT appointed US to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ."  1 Thessalonians 5:6-9.

In this passage, it's the FINAL salvation that's in view, in THE CONTEXT of being delivered, via the Rapture, from the devastation and wrath of the day of the Lord.  In "that day of the Lord" will be this:  "For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be,  And except those days be shortened, there should no flesh be saved:  but for the elect's sake (Israel) those days shall be shortened."  Matthew 24:21-22.  The Church is NOT appointed to THAT wrath, declares Paul.

2 Thessalonians adds to the doctrine of the Rapture:  This epistle was written SHORTLY AFTER the first one, and it seeks to comfort, reassure and console those who have been CONVINCED that they're ALREADY in the terrible Tribulation.  False teachers had come, dramatizing the horrors to come, and preached that the Church would go through the Tribulation.  Paul makes it clear, in no uncertain terms, about what he had told them in his earlier teachings.

"Let no man deceive you by any means:  for that day (the day of the Lord, the Tribulation) will NOT come, except there come a falling away (departure) first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; who will oppose and exalt himself above all that is called God, or that is worshiped; so that he as God sits in the temple of God, showing himself that he is god.  Remember ye not, that, WHEN I was with you, I told you these things?"  2 Thessalonians 2:3-5.

The day of the Lord CANNOT precede those events which will reveal the man of sin.  First there will come a falling away (BEFORE the day of the Lord)--whether this is an end time apostasy (as some say), or A DEPARTURE (as say others)--the Rapture of the Church.  THAT COMES FIRST.  Then the Antichrist will be revealed, and that revealing BEGINS "the day of the Lord."  Paul makes it clear--the Church will NOT be here during the day of the Lord (the Tribulation)!

Currently there is no Jewish temple, but plans are afoot to build one. Currently, there's no world government, or Antichrist, but STRUCTURES are being set-up for the unfolding of these events. 

WE ARE TO WATCH--"And when these things BEGIN to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draws nigh."  Luke 21:28.


What Paul declares in 1 Timothy--warning about "doctrines of devils" and "massive deception."

"Now the Spirit speaks expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; speaking LIES in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; forbidding to marry; and commanding to abstain from meats, which God has created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.  For every creature of god is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving."  1 Timothy 4:1-4.

Only in the past century has scripture been twisted to become almost meaningless.  A characteristic of end time apostasy is that the Word is destroyed through the application of "higher criticism."  Doubts have been cast upon the INSPIRATION and INFALLIBILITY of the scripture.  "Modernists" question many aspects of the Word, saying that Church doctrines are equal in authority to the scriptures.  They also say that some of the Old Testament prophecies were never fulfilled, and in fact were reversed.  They question that Moses wrote the first five books of the Bible.  They question the book of Isaiah.  They declare that those who are unsaved will get a second chance.  And they say that sanctification is not complete at death--plus many other false things.  Also, teachings arose which say the the Church will unify the world--and bring-in a global religion.

The latter times will be rampant with a variety of false teachings, of which, we DO see.


What Paul declared in 2 Timothy--a powerful picture of how end time SOCIETY will ACT.

"This know also, that in the last days perilous times will come.  For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof:  from such turn away."  2 Timothy 3:1-5.

These end times are PERILOUS (the Greek "chalepos") which is defined as being FIERCE and RAGINGLY INSANE.  This same word is used to describe the Gergesenes demoniac--who was possessed with a legion of devils.  At the PERILOUS TIME of the end is a world in which the inhabitants display weird, preternatural (diverging from the normal) behavior and supernatural strength.  Exceedingly fierce is the social condition at the end of the Church Age.  (I've been seeing disgusting reports in the past several days which SHOUT that this crazy time has arrived.)

The last days will be insane, violent, dangerous and disgusting.  We're there!


What James declares about GLOBALISM--the characteristics of rich men who control the world.

"Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you,  Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are motheaten.  Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire.  You have heaped treasure together for the last days.  Behold, the hire of the laborers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth:  and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of sabaoth."  James 5:1-4.

Christian researchers have validated these verses.  It's well-documented that a "shadow government" exists.  These are secretive people who have conspiratorial connections with military and corporate "money-making" schemes (the military industrial complex).  They do so upon the backs of the laborers who are defrauded.  The rich control the wealth.  The common people get by with less and less.

When we see such greed and government chicanery, be encouraged.  The time allotted to this wicked world system grows short.  The coming of the Lord is not far away.


What Peter declares about the approaching Millennial Day--false teachers and scoffers abound.

In 2 Peter 2, he writes about latter day apostate teachers, saying in verse 1:  "...false teachers, who privily shall bring damnable heresies."

In 2 Peter 3:3-4, he reminds the Church about the end time doubters, who only mock at the idea of Christ's return--"Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, and saying, 'Where is the promise of His coming?  for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.'"

Two great truths are added here, to show the folly of the scoffers.  1.  There will be a future judgment, just as there was once a great Flood.  2. "...one day with the Lord is as a thousand years, and a thousand years is as one day."

The fathers of the early Church taught that the redemptive history of the world would be divided into six, one-thousand year days, followed by the seventh day of the Millennium.

By counting the time, and by seeing all the scoffers, we know that the time is very near to the Rapture.


What Jude had to say--he warned about false teachers.

Jude calls these false teachers "filthy dreamers" and "mockers"...those who walk after their own ungodly lusts."  Jude says that the motive of these false teachers is "sensual"--something that will feel good to the flesh.

Sadly, the Age of the Church ends in a degenerate organization.  Many of us, in these end times, despair over finding a place that teaches the whole word of truth.


John receives the vision of the seven Churches in the book of Revelation from Jesus--this PROPHECY spans the entire AGE OF THE CHURCH on earth.

1.  Ephesus--the Church of the Apostles, spanning the years from approximately 30 AD to 100 AD.

2.  Smyrna--the Church under Roman persecution, spanning 100 AD to 312 AD (under 10 Roman Emperors).

3.  Pergamos is the earliest stage of the Roman Church from 312 AD to 600 AD (when the first Pope was established).

4.  Thyatira is the time of the Dark Ages under a very corrupt Papacy.  600 AD to 1517 AD (and continuing to exist until cast into the Tribulation).

5.  Sardis is the Church of the Reformation, from 1517 to about 1700 (and continuing to exist to the Rapture where some NOT watching will be caught by surprise).

6.  Philadelphia is the Missionary Church from about 1648 through 1900 (and continuing to exist in small numbers until being caught up in the Rapture).

7.  Laodecia--the modern Apostate Church, from about 1900 until THE PRESENT (those who will be spewed from the mouth of Jesus when He appears).

We see that Apostate Church right now--and that tells us the end is here.

Gary says in his article, QUOTE--"...the pattern conforms perfectly with the scenarios presented by the other writing Apostles.  Here, Revelation shows a REVIVAL, then a growing apostasy that leads to judgment.

"The believing Philadelphia Church will be TAKEN FROM the world BEFORE it is judged, as recorded in Revelation 3:10:

"'Because you have kept the word of My patience, I also will KEEP you FROM THE HOUR of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, try them that dwell upon the earth.'"


So what do we see?  A remarkable consistency among the Apostles.  What they have declared gives us a dependable guide as to the times and seasons.

Paul shows us a regathered Israel, plus a Church that is caught up to heaven on the basis of THE PATTERN found in the Jewish Feast Days.  He also assures us that the Rapture will happen BEFORE the revealing of the Antichrist in the Day of the Lord.

The pastoral epistles, however, show us that the Church will see growing apostasy, perverse teaching and growing social INSANITY that reaches DANGEROUS proportions.

James tells us about the global money machine, which is given in the context of Christ's soon return.  He assures that the selfish end times rich men will be dashed to pieces.

Peter warns about growing false teachings--and reveals prophecy scoffers.  These scoffers assert that God has never interfered in the affairs of men.  Of course, these people are WRONG, and will soon witness THE PROOF of their ERROR.  Jude reinforces what Peter had said.

John, and his receiving the letters to the seven Churches from Jesus, ties the entire picture together, giving us a clear OVERVIEW of the whole AGE (DISPENSATION) of the Church. 

Through the Apsotles, we have a clear idea of how the end of the Church Age will look.  I'd say we're RIGHT THERE!

Gary writes, "Can we set a date?  No.  Can we observe trends that tell us the approximate time?  Yes, definitely.  And we are ENCOURAGED to DO SO.  The words of 2 Timothy 4:8 promise a reward for those who are diligent observers of the times:

"'Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day, and not to me only, but unto ALL them also that love His appearing.'"

Keep looking up!  This is NOT an exercise of false hope.  When we WATCH we receive commendation.  In the Old Testament, those who CAME UNDER "the wrath of God" were most always those who didn't listen to the prophets.

Let's listen to the prophetic word, read it, study it and know it.  A wonderful reward awaits those who are faithful to the Lord.

That's the end of this summary--and we certainly have much to ponder.

The conditions RIGHT NOW are EXACTLY what the Apostles recorded for the Church to see and know.  By that, we INDEED CAN SAY that the Rapture of the Church is IMMINENT.  Even so, come quickly Lord Jesus!

2 comments:

  1. Like your perspectives. Very wide range of considerations. Mine are limited to considerations on "The Balfour Century"
    Not that the two are mutually exclusive but you offer some helpful insights.

    ReplyDelete
  2. One consideration on the Asia churches, which we possibly see unfolding in a wider scale is Judgement by Islam on dead works, neither hot nor cold. Is a pity to see so many of the Asia minor churches gone to mosques, but we can say they were 'spewed out'. I pray it not happen in the west, but seems more likely unless something changes to the last 30 year pattern? Otis-a.com

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