I greet you once again in the Name of Jesus!
What perilous times we live in! A Pastor friend of mine compiled a list of some of the historic things we have seen recently. Consider:
- NASA says Hurricane Harvey was a “1000 year” historic devastation in Texas.
- Hurricane Irma fastest wind-speed recorded in meteorological history.
- Hurricane Maria greatest devastation of Puerto Rican in history.
- Hurricane Katia and Hosea killings.
- 278 dead from these storms. Billions of dollars blown away.
- Worst and most expansive wildfires in U.S. history sweep the United States. The fires began in fall of 2016, and they have never stopped, and are still burning right now, in October of 2017. Hundreds of homes are gone. People are dead. Billions of dollars up in smoke.
- Historic earthquakes south of the border kill many people. Tremors felt across the U.S. Should we be concerned?
- Worst mass shooting in American history took place last night (as I write these words) in Las Vegas. 50 people are dead. Mowed down by a shooter in a high window overlooking a country music show.
- Nuclear saber-rattling with North Korea
- Nuclear saber-rattling with Iran.
- In the midst of all the disruption a good man, Judge Roy Moore, runs for U.S. Senate. All elected leadership unleashes everything they have to stop him, (30 million) because they DO NOT want a real Christian in the U.S. Senate. (He wins the runoff election anyway. He wins the primary anyway)
- The American church remains overwhelmingly lukewarm. The word “repent” is a dirty word in most circles. The largest church in Iowa sends out a church bulletin encouraging their people to watch their former gay worship leader/drag queen, sing on a TV show and blaspheme the name of Christ. [From a Facebook post by Pastor Cary Gordon]
I think in connection with this list of the words of the Apostle Paul to Pastor Timothy, “BUT UNDERSTAND this, that in the last days will come (set in) perilous times of great stress and trouble [hard to deal with and hard to bear].” [2 Timothy 3:1 AMP]
Next follows an extensive list of the conditions that the Holy Spirit said would exist in the world in the time of the end, just prior to Jesus’ Return. I believe I can say without fear of contradiction that we live in the time of which the Spirit spoke. Yes, He is Coming, and His return is nearer now than at any point in history. He will Come in the air for the Church, and Return seven years later with the Church (with the holy angels, the Old Testament saints, and the dead in Christ to receive their resurrection bodies), to judge the world, put down His enemies, and set up His Kingdom. God’s plans and purposes are perfectly on track.
As I write these words the Jewish year 5777 has come to an end, and we have begun year 5778. Rosh Hashanah (the “head” of the year) began the evening of September 20, and came to an end on the evening of September 22. The Feast of Trumpets occurs in connection with the start of the civil year. I believe (as we stated in our last post), that Jesus will catch away the Church some year in conjunction with the Feast of Trumpets.
As most of you know, many were saying that the rapture of the Church would occur this year, sometime around September 23rd in conjunction with the Feast of Trumpets. In the months leading up to this date there was increased interest in Bible prophecy. In fact, the Facebook group I operate, News and Current Events in the Light of Bible Prophecy, saw a pretty significant uptick in people asking to join the group. Other ministries dedicated to the study of Bible prophecy saw increased interest as well. I have observed through the years that interest in prophecy seems to ebb and flow, increase and decrease, and rise and fall; usually surrounding some event (like a great increase in earthquakes, national or internatonal calamity, or a life-altering event like 9/11), or some prediction like we saw recently. People out of fear of the future seem to want to know what the Bible has to say about the future, and of course that is where Bible prophecy comes in.
September 23rd (and the days following) have come and gone. The Feast of Trumpets has already occured (which I believe is a picture of the rapture), Yom Kippur (Atonement, which prophetically pictures the Second Coming of Christ ) began on the evening of September 29th, and ended on the evening of September 30th, and as of this writing the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot, which prophetically pictures the Kingdom Reign of Messiah Jesus) begins later this week as I prepare this post.
In order to fulfill the Feast of Trumpets (the type), Jesus would have had to caught away the Church (the anti-type), on September 23rd, or very shortly thereafter. We are still here however, proving once again the date-setters were wrong. Many have been very disillusioned over this. After all, as believers we love and long for the Return of our Lord. Predictons like we heard surrounding Rosh Hashanah 2017 caused the hopes of people to arise and excitement in the hearts of believers to abound. And yet, we are still here. Where do we go from here?
On the one hand, false prophets and false prophecies and predictions are themselves fulfillment of Bible prophecy. Jesus said, “And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray.” [Matt. 24:11 KJV emphasis added] Again, “For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect.” [Matt. 24:24 KJV] Jesus said we would hear false prophecies given by false prophets. We can say that those who propagated the “Revelation 12 Sign” and other predictions surrounding September 23, 2017 are indeed false prophets. Have any of them stepped forward to admit such and come clean to the Body of Christ? I personally haven’t heard or read any such words of repentance, and I don’t believe we will. There will just be other dates given and other prophecies spoken, and the gullible Word ignorant masses will swallow it again. This is a cycle I personally have seen repeated over and over again, and it has been this way for almost two-thousand years of Church history.
We get further testimony of the rise of false prophets and false teachers from the Apostle Paul, “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 Timothy 4:1 NKJV] Seducing spirits will speak through false prophets to bring forth teachings (doctrines) actually originating with demon spirits. Think of that.
The Apostle Peter also warned us of the rise of false teachers, “ But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction.” [2 Peter 2:1 NKJV]
The beloved Apostle John was calling for discernment among Christians when he wrote, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” [1 John 4:1 NKJV]
Yet with all of these warnings and biblical counsel to beware, it seems Christians are blown about with every, “wind of doctrine” and run to the next fad that comes through the Church. Beloved, it is an hour to be rooted and grounded in the Truth of the Word of God. It is, as the late Hilton Sutton once told me, our place of safety. Knowing what the Bible says is our protection against all of the craziness that has come into the Church in the last few years, and that would include wild predictions and false prophecies. Had more believers had a solid foundation of biblical truth, and been taught basic rules of hermeneutics (the art of biblical interpretation), the “Revelation 12 Sign” wouldn’t have been given any credence whatsoever. What about the Church of the Last Days?
While we can see characteristics of all seven of the churches of Revelation in the world today, I believe prophetically the modern church can be seen in the last two churches – Philadelphia and Laodicea.
PHILADELPHIA – THE REMNANT CHURCH
A remnant is a small part. It is what remains. It is small in quantity and in number. It is a vestige of what once was. What I am referring to as the, “Remnant Church” is just that, it is not the majority but the minority. You really won’t find the remnant church in, “Happy Church” or the mega-churches of the land. No, the remnant church is generally small in number, more times than not meeting in small rural churches or even homes. They may not have all of the programs and amenities, but they have the power of God and the genuine operation of the Holy Spirit. They may not have polished orators or platitude pronouncing highly paid pulpiteers (try saying that three times fast!) You typically won’t find the remnant church featured in Christian magazines or on Christian TV. They are not typically viewed as “successful” by worldly standards or statistics. The remnant church is not identified as either Catholic or Protestant, yet can be found in both. The remnant church is not identified by denominational affiliation, but can be found in all.
In fact, the Philadelphia Church, what I am referring to as the, “Remnant Church”, according to Revelation 3:8, has, “a little strength.” What does that mean? “A little” translates the Greek, mikros (me-cross) – small, little of size, space, of age (younger), of quantity, and of rank or influence. Secondly, Jesus says the remnant church has “a little” strength. This translates the Greek word, dunamis (doo-nuh-mus) – in this context referring to ability. It would seem this church doesn’t have a lot going for them. But wait, this is the church that Jesus will set before, “an open door.”. This is both a door of understanding and opportunity. Why is the remnant church, this church with, “a little strength”, given understanding and opportunity in the Last Days? Jesus lists two reasons:
- You have kept my Word – “Have kept” translates the Greek, tereo (tay-ray-oh) – to attend to carefully, take care of, guard, to keep one in the state it is, to observe, and to reserve. The remnant church is not changing, watering down, compromising, or explaining away the Word. The remnant church preaches and teaches the Word in it’s entirety, with no additions or subtractions, as it is, the very Word of God.
- You have not denied my Name – “Denied” translates the Greek word, arneomai (ar-nay-oh-my), to deny, disregard, to reject, or to reject something offered. From a Hebraic perspective, a person’s name represents all the person is. It speaks of their attributes and character. When it comes to Name of the Lord, His Name represents all that He is. It stands for His nature, character, attributes, ability, etc. The remnant Church does not deny or disregard all that God represents. The remnant believes what God says, stands for what God stands for, speaks what God says, and stands against that which God says is unholy, unnatural, and abominable. The remnant Church strives to do what the Father says to do, and not do what the Father says not to do. The remnant is not trying to see how much like the world and modern culture they can look like, but instead understand that believers stand against the world and are not being conformed to the present world-system, but instead are being transformed by the renewing of their minds by the Word of God. To do any less beloved, is to deny His Name.
Revelation 3:9 says, “Indeed I will make those of the synagogue of Satan, who say they are Jews and are not, but lie—indeed I will make them come and worship before your feet, and to know that I have loved you.” [Rev. 3:9 NKJV] In other words, the enemies of the remnant Church will be exposed for who and what they really are. The Lord gives special protection and favor to the remnant.
“Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.” [Rev. 3:10 NKJV]
This is the Church Jesus will especially take care of in these perilous last of the Last Days. Not only that, but this is the people who will be kept from the, “hour of trial” which will come upon the whole world. I submit to you this refers to the Great Tribulation period. The remnant Church, the Philadelphia Church, will be kept from and delivered from the Great Tribulation. This sounds a lot like what Jesus said in Luke 21:36,
“Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.” [Luke 21:36 KJV]
“Escape” what things? The events of the Tribulation Jesus had described in the earlier verses. He said there would be a Church, a group of sold-out overcoming believers, who would be kept from and escape the future Great Tribulation. I want to be in that number, how about you? This escape will come in the form of what we typically refer to as the rapture. In the light of the verses we have already examined, lets take a look at a well-known rapture passage, 1 Thessalonians 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.” [1 Thess. 4:17 KJV emphasis added]
I bolded the words, “caught up” to especially point them out to you. This is from the Greek, harpazo (har-pod-zo), which is to remove suddenly, pluck up, snatch, and deliver from harm or danger. So at the catching away (rapture), Jesus will deliver His Bride out of and from harm’s way. Glory!
Does the remnant church, the Philadelphia Church, have any Last Days responsibilities? Absolutely. Look at Revelation 3:11,
“Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.” [Rev. 3:11 KJV]
For the sake of space we won’t discuss the word, “quickly” here, but suffice it to say it does not mean soon. I want to focus however on the phrase, “hold that fast which thou hast…”. “Hold that fast” translates the Greek, krateo (craw-tay-oh), and it means to take hold, grasp, and hang on to. Take hold of, grasp, and hang on to what? What you have. Don’t let go of the Word in these troublesome days. Don’t lay your faith down. Keep trusting, keep believing. Don’t let your hope in the Return of Jesus go, no matter what you may hear. Hold it fast! If we do beloved, we are in the company of the overcomers! The Bible says, “For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God? [1 John 5:4, 5 KJV] Wonderful promises are made to overcomers throughout the 2nd and 3rd chapters of Revelation, I would encourage you to read through them and claim them by faith.
I am going to save the Laodicean Church – the majority church, for next time.
Until next time,
Pastor Kevin E. Johnson