Articles, Prophetic Articles, The Tribulation

PAUL, TIMOTHY, AND THE END TIMES AND THE ASCENDANCY OF EVIL

 

PAUL, TIMOTHY, AND THE END TIMES

https://gracethrufaith.com/end-times-prophecy/paul-timothy-and-the-end-times/
A Bible Study  by Jack Kelley
Paul’s letters to Timothy are the instructions from a mentor to a young pastor, one of the first ever, and contain advice on what to do and how to do it, as well as what not to do. It’s the kind of thing you’d expect given the relationship.
But for no apparent reason Paul tucked several warnings about the end times into various places in his instructions. These are things Paul knew Timothy wouldn’t have to deal with because he clearly described them as characteristics of the Latter Days. We’ll take them each in turn.
1 Timothy 4:1-2
The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron.
When I read this one I always think of certain televangelists who espouse a perversion of the prosperity gospel. They know what they’re teaching is a compilation of half truths and outright lies, so in effect they’re twisting God’s word to steal from their followers. And without the least bit of shame they enjoy the lifestyles of the rich and famous at the expense of their contributors who, according to some reports, come primarily from the bottom 25% of the economic scale.
Taking advantage of their followers’ lack of Bible knowledge and misguided desire for a more abundant life , these predators foist one get rich quick scheme after another on their desperate flocks, bilking them out of the few discretionary dollars they have and leaving them worse off in the bargain. And they do it in the name of God. It makes you wonder what He’ll say to them come judgement time.
But the prosperity teachers aren’t the only ones in this category. There are others who teach things they know are contrary to what the Bible says. Some of these things come under the heading of conditional salvation, grace plus works, partial rapture, and other false teaching that can steal the joy of your salvation and rob you of your certainty. Their objective is to imprison you within boundaries of rules they themselves can’t follow. Read Colossians 2:8-23 for Paul’s opinion on these modern day legalists.
Then there are those who either treat the prophecies of our time as if they were already accomplished in history, or as if they’re never going to be accomplished because they’re all allegorical. These teachers also know what they’re saying can’t be reconciled with Scripture, but they ask you to believe it anyway, trusting in their superior intellect or advanced education instead of your own common sense. They take passages that can be clearly understood just as they’re written by anyone with an average intellect and make them hopelessly confusing by violating the rules of context, re-defining terms, and making that which is real into something symbolic.
2 Timothy 3:1-5
But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God – having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them.
Just as you become convinced that Paul is describing the unbelieving world in our time and are vigorously nodding your head in agreement, he says that these people have a form of godliness but deny its power. Then you realize he was writing about those believers in name only, who spend 6 ½ days each week living lives indistinguishable from unbelievers, grabbing all they can get from our material world by any means necessary while contributing little or nothing to the work of the Kingdom. These people lead two lives, the one they’re serious about, and the one that’s just for show. Guess which is which.
Paul was not blind to the behaviour of these people, nor was this the only time he warned us to stay from them. Listen to what he told the Corinthians.
I have written you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people – not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat (1 Cor. 5:9-11).
Notice he said “anyone who calls himself a brother” instead of “anyone who is a brother.” I think he was doubting that someone who behaves in this manner could have been saved in the first place.
2 Timothy 4:3-4
For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.
Here the focus is on the emerging church movement in all its various forms. In business schools, students learn to develop strategies based on a driving force. One such driving force is the market. A market driven strategy requires the business enterprise to focus on what they perceive to be the wants and needs of their target customers and adapt themselves to meet these needs in a more effective way.
Correctly predicting the growing demand for a religious organisation that could meet the needs of a self centred, self sufficient generation, the leaders of the emerging church movement developed such a strategy. They took the focus off God and put it on the congregation. Entertainment replaced worship, philosophy replaced theology, and good works replaced victorious living.
Borrowing a phrase from Dominion Theology they began calling it “bringing Heaven to Earth” to make it sound more appealing to their idealistic target market. Little do their followers realise that for believers, these good works will be burned up in the fire (1 Cor. 3:14-15), and for unbelievers they’ll be woefully insufficient for entry into the kingdom (John 3:3). God has His own strategy for bringing Heaven to Earth and it doesn’t include the emerging church. Commenting on their works in his letter to Laodicea, Jesus said,
“I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.” (Rev. 3:15-16)
They’re excited about the great entertainment, the stimulating talk, and the good works, but not about the Lord.
Irrespective of that, both the seats and the coffers soon filled, signs that their market driven strategy was working, and for many the emerging church was soon the place to be. This was especially true for those who had become bored with traditional Church and wanted a place where they could feel good and do good with no messages about sin and salvation to convict them. The gospel was not missed in its absence.
Besides, “All of our attempts to define the right form of the Gospel are just human interpretations,” the movement’s leaders claim. “We must avoid a naive or excessive confidence in any telling of the Gospel story, since no articulation of the gospel today can presume to be exactly identical to the original meaning Christ and the apostles proclaimed.” In a sense, they’re saying since its impossible to know what the Gospel story really is we shouldn’t put too much faith in it.
Learning about the rapidly approaching End Times and the need to be ready for it has also been skipped. Instead, the “excessive” study of prophecy is called a distraction from the real work of the Church. These things were done by design, since the goal is to have non-believers make up at least half of their congregations. The market is much bigger that way and the non-believers help move the believers away from theological absolutes, like the need to be born again and the importance of prophecy.
In the next verse of His letter Jesus offered additional criticism.
“You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.” (Rev. 3:17)
His letter to the Church in Laodicea contains no commendation for their works and offers no escape from the end times judgments, just a plea to be allowed back into their midst (Rev. 3:20).
But Wait There’s More
Over fourteen years earlier in his second letter to the Thessalonians Paul had first warned us about the apostasy of the latter days, calling it one of the signs that would mark the end of the age. In 2 Thes. 2:1 Paul began to address their questions about two events, the (2nd) coming of our Lord, and our being gathered to Him (the rapture). He was responding to information they had received saying the day of the Lord had already come. He told them not to worry because several things had to happen first.
Paul didn’t go into things like the regathering of Israel, the beginning of Daniel’s 70th Week, or the building of a Temple. Israel had not been dispersed yet, and the Second Temple was still standing. He focused on events that are more gentile in nature.
A careful reading of 2 Thes. 2:3-8 shows the order in which he said these things would take place. He said the apostasy would happen first (verse 3), then the rapture of the Church when the Holy Spirit is taken out of the way (verse 7), and finally the revealing of the anti-Christ followed by the 2nd Coming (verse 8). (If you don’t read this passage carefully, you could become confused by Paul’s mention of the anti-Christ in verses 3-4. But verse 8 clearly places the official unveiling of the anti-Christ after the removal of the Holy Spirit.) Even a casual observation shows that we’re well into the time of the first sign.
What should be our reaction to this? First is to remember that God’s Word said this would happen so there’s no point in bemoaning the fact that it’s happening. Instead we should be encouraged to know the end of the Age is getting closer. Jesus said the true Church would become weaker and less influential as the end approaches (Rev. 3:8). As the world moves further and further from God, those of us who follow Him will naturally feel less comfortable and be less welcome here.
If you live in the United States, stop confusing your country with your church. No believer outside the US makes this mistake, and the fact is the Church has neither a home nor a land on Earth. Our citizenship is in Heaven (Phil. 3:20) and we look for a city whose architect and builder is God (Hebr. 11:10).
No matter where we live in the world we have to remember that we’re aliens here and our visit is about over. Soon we’ll be going home where we belong.
In the mean time we have to stop depending on organized religion to meet our needs. In some places the Church is being forced underground. In others we’re going willingly. But either way the gulf between religion and the Church is growing wider by the day.
If you can’t find a God worshiping, Bible teaching church where you live, don’t settle for what you can get. Gather a small group of like minded believers and worship at home. Paul and Timothy didn’t have a huge bureaucracy behind them. They didn’t have million dollar buildings or professionally designed programs. They didn’t even have the New Testament. Yet they found a way to worship God, and to help others do the same.
Stop supporting groups who are trying to bring Heaven to Earth and start sending your treasure to Heaven. I could tell you stories all day along about what God can do with a hand full of people He can trust. Ask the Lord to identify a need for you to meet in His name and then work in His strength to meet it. Apart from Him nothing you do has any value to the Kingdom (John 15:5).
Dig into prophecy. It’s the single biggest topic in the Bible and more is written about our life and times than any other period in history. Know what you believe and why you believe it.
Do these things and you can make the time we have left the most rewarding and enjoyable time you’ve ever known. You can almost hear the Footsteps Of The Messiah. 03-26-11

 

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THE ASCENDANCY OF EVIL

https://gracethrufaith.com/end-times-prophecy/ascendancy-evil/
Commentary by Jack Kelley
For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way (2 Thes 2:7).
The number of emails I receive from people who are discouraged, frustrated, even despondent, is steadily increasing. They point to current conditions in the world and wonder how much worse things can get.
You no longer have to be an astute observer to notice how rapidly our world is changing. It wasn’t that long ago when the standard measure was a comparison between what was acceptable to people in their time with what was acceptable in their grandparents’ time. Now we only have to compare what’s currently acceptable with what was acceptable just a few years ago to see measurable change. Not only are things changing, but the rate of change is accelerating.
A person with discernment can’t help but see a supernatural component in all this. It’s true that the heart of man is incurably wicked (Jeremiah 17:9) but these days society seems to be under a compulsion to see just how wicked they can become. All around us we see God’s Laws being conspicuously broken, His word being stifled, and His people, both Jewish and Christian, being persecuted. It’s like it doesn’t matter how twisted something is, as long as it’s a slap in God’s face, it’s bound to catch on.
This obviously couldn’t be happening without man’s active participation, but I’m becoming convinced there’s more to it than a natural progression of things. I think there’s growing evidence of a malevolent power accelerating this and to me that means the time during which the restrainer holds back the secret power of lawlessness (2 Thes. 2:7) is rapidly drawing to a close.
THAT DAY SHOULD NOT SURPRISE YOU
If you keep up with Christian or even conservative news instead of just relying on the main stream media, none of what I’m describing is new to you. You’ve already seen the increase in frequency and intensity of the the things Jesus called “birth pangs” in Matt. 24:4-8. And you’re aware of the same kind of destructive changes taking place in society.
As one example among many, our country was founded primarily on principles of religious freedom, but today, of all the religions practised in America, only Christians are seeing their freedom of expression restricted.  Laws have already been passed that limit our right to adhere to Biblical principles and more are coming. These laws began with prohibiting school prayer, then municipalities were made to stop erecting Christmas displays. These laws have gotten progressively more restrictive until now individual Christians risk being prosecuted simply for living according to their beliefs.
The Bible tells us we can expect these trends to continue. Speaking of the time before the rapture, Jesus had this to say to the Church,
I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name”(Rev. 3:8).
At the end of the Age the commendation Jesus will have for the Church is even though we have little strength, we have kept His word and have not denied His name. The Greek word translated “strength” also means “power, or ability.” As the end of our time here approaches we will no longer have much influence in the world, but we will have kept His word and not denied His name. For that He promised two blessings for us.
I will make those who are of the synagogue of Satan, who claim to be Jews though they are not, but are liars—I will make them come and fall down at your feet and acknowledge that I have loved you (Rev. 3:9).
A large component of Christianity believes that when Israel rejected the Messiah they gave up any right to the future promises God had made to them, and those promises were transferred to the Church. This belief is called supersessionism or replacement theology, and is the reason why many Christians believe the Church is now spiritual Israel, heirs to Israel’s destiny. Supersessionists believe the very existence of Israel in our time is in defiance of God’s word.
But Jesus said these people are liars and He would make them bow down at our feet and admit that He loves us.
Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come on the whole world to test the inhabitants of the earth (Rev. 3:10).
The Lord also promised that because we’ve kept His command to endure patiently, He will keep us from the hour of trial that’s coming upon the whole world to test the inhabitants of the earth.
The hour of trial refers to the end times judgments of Daniel’s 70th Week, the only time since the Great Flood when the Lord will subject the whole world to a judgment. And right now is the only time since He said that when all the signs we’ve been given to alert us to this coming judgment are in some stage of fulfillment. The Greek word translated “from” in Rev. 3:10 means “out of the time, place, or cause” of the end times judgments. We won’t be here when they happen and we won’t be here where they happen, because we’re not the reason they’ll be happening.
THIS TOO SHALL PASS?
Many people see the times in which we live as a temporary situation. They think if we just humble ourselves and pray, the Lord will preserve us through them and then everything will go back to being OK again.
But the Bible speaks of a time when that won’t be the case. At the end of the age the world will be subject to a series of judgments unlike any other and if the Lord didn’t return at the appointed time not a single human would survive them (Matt. 24:22). All indications are that we aren’t approaching one of the temporary periods of hard times we’re used to, but literally the end of the world as we know it.
One of the signs that this is true is that the world will suddenly become more rebellious toward God and the love of people toward one another will turn cold. Paul said,
“There will be terrible times in the last days.  People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy,  without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good,  treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God—having a form of godliness but denying its power” (2 Tim. 3:1-5)
This alone tells us that evil is on the ascendancy and we’re not just going through a temporary rough patch but are headed straight for the time of judgement.
AND THAT MEANS TWO THINGS;
1) Born again Christians are going to become less and less comfortable here, and
2) THE TIME OF OUR DEPARTURE IS DRAWING NEAR.
Jesus said His Kingdom is not of this world (John 18:36) and that means we who are part of His kingdom are not of this world either. Paul said our citizenship is in heaven and we eagerly await a saviour from there, the Lord Jesus Christ (Phil. 3:20). When Jesus comes for us, He won’t be coming to be with us here where we are, He will be coming to take us to be with him in His Father’s house where He is (John 14:2-3).
I believe one purpose of this ascendancy of evil is to divest us of all our misguided notions that this world is our home. It never has been our home, and it never will be. If it has been a pleasant place for us, that’s just a measure of God’s Grace. And if it’s steadily becoming less so, that’s an indication that our stay here is just about over. In the meantime our prayer should not be that God will make this world more comfortable for us, but that He would hasten to take us to our real home, where we will enjoy every conceivable comfort forever.
One of the Lord’s great promises to us is that when we see all these signs of the end times judgements begin to happen we should stand up and lift up our heads because our redemption is drawing near (Luke 21:28). That means every advance of evil in the world brings the day of our departure that much closer.
I’m not saying that we should celebrate the ascendancy of evil in the world. But I am saying that it shouldn’t come as a surprise to us that all this is happening (1 Thes. 5:4). It’s something the Bible has warned us about and its arrival is one more sign that our time here is drawing to a close, and we’ll be going home soon. Therefore encourage one another with these words (1 Thes. 4:18). You can almost hear the footsteps of the Messiah 05-09-15.
 

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