Sunday, April 05, 2009

The End Times
I Pet.4:7 - But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer.

It has fallen out of vogue in many evangelical circles to speak about, much less suggest the thought that we may be in what the Bible refers to as the “end times”. Indeed the segments of the church that have grown are those whose focus is on practical living, wealth, repackaging of the church to accommodate either the past or future, and other issues that leave any discussion of prophecy as fringe. And in many quarters the chronology and sequence of coming prophetic events consumes the arguments rather than a passionate and burning message of hope and warning. Look around us and assess the global events that literally consume the front page of our news stories.

The collapse of the global economy has been foretold by both famous and insignificant preachers for decades, and with lightening speed we have seen breathtaking prosperity turn into a shocking economic meltdown. The word “billions” as it applies to debt is now obsolete and has given way to the word “trillions”. And the leaders among us believe that accruing massive debt, more debt than can actually be imagined, will be the answer to our problems. This situation did come by the hands of Republicans or Democrats, this crisis is a revelation of the greed and hedonism of all men and we have believed the lies of the devil spoken through the lips of other deceived men who have told us we deserve to be kings. The consequences have only just begun.

In the midst of this grave situation, Iran continues to build a nuclear weapon and North Korea has just launched an intercontinental ballistic missile disguised as a communications satellite. Wars and rumors of wars traverse the airwaves, and disease, poverty, violence, and wickedness expand daily. All these things can be explained and overlooked as just part of the global process and the birthpangs of the new age, however this scenario may be too obvious to be recognized for what it is. Sadly, the church feels no urgency or unction to be stripped of our graveclothes and rise up in resurrection power.

There is no hope but Christ, and the age in which we live will continue to more violent, more perverse, more greedy, and more narcissistic in its pursuit to achieve a new level of human nirvana. And while this tidal wave of prophetic events continues to cover the world, God’s people have become enamored with America, politics, buildings, systematic theology, and all sorts of self gratifying expressions of so called orthodoxy. Some churches are consumed with gimmicks, others are self absorbed, others have constructed themselves as truth warriors, while others seem ambivalent to truth. And the overarching truth that indicts almost every corner of evangelicalism is the powerless state of the church.

We used to be just prophetic spectators, but now we cannot even claim that. Is there nothing that will awaken God’s church? Ride through your community and pass a score of evangelical churches at night. Pass the seeker churches, the mega churches, the reformed churches, the liberal churches, the Baptist churches, charismatic churches, go ahead and pass them all some weeknight and you will see one thing they all have in common. They are all practically dark and empty. While the world disintegrates and collapses upon itself God’s people are asleep. Where are the all night prayer meetings? Where are the nightly watches of intercession? Where is the feeling in the community that the Christians are stirring and repenting of their cultural bondage and are spiritually energized with God’s love and God’s warning?

And in this age of economic crisis we begin to see more sermon messages about finances and how to survive the economic crisis which completely countermands what the Spirit want to do and say during this crisis. God doesn’t desire to show us how to survive, He desires to change us and fill us with His Spirit so that we may preach His gospel in power and passion. Is that all we have in Christ, the ability to survive? Is that what the kingdom of God is all about, just wading through the ebbs and flows of this world? Are we as God’s church just supposed to bail out the water from our own boat or are we called to throw out the lifeboat to those already drowning?

The fear of terrorism has been largely a distraction from the underlying power of human sin. It has provided a nice strawman upon which we can be fixated while the enemy is sowing his deeds all around us. And while Americans proudly pronounced a success in no more attacks since 9/11, the entire economic foundation was decaying right under their self righteous noses. If you have any discernment, you will begin to see more violence, more workplace rampages, more mass killings, more high school murders, more corruption, more lying, more stealing, more adultery, and more open manifestations of sin that anyone could have imagined.

And during these coming days some in the church will proclaim it was just as bad in centuries gone by, some will say it will get better, but most will say very little of any value. God is calling His people to deeper waters, some will hear, but most will remain in spiritual Babylon, soothed by mini-victories that can be duplicated by self help groups, Muslims, and moral support groups. The call of the gospel will continue to bow low to accommodate a response without any inconvenience, and some will offer the gospel packaged in the demands of the law. Some will condone sin while others will hate sinners. Some will make truth irrelevant while others will make it a religious icon.

And during the decades some have used prophetic warnings to their own profit, while others have used them as self righteous tools to castigate sinners and saints alike. And Satan will use that to deceive us into believing that there is nothing to fear and every warning is a cry of “wolf” or an overreaction to current events. You may believe that if you wish, but perhaps something much more sinister is afoot here, and just perhaps the situation is desperate. But obviously we are not.

A knowledge of these things alone is as useless as being ignorant of them. Just enunciating the warning, like this post, is equally as impotent without corresponding action and Holy Spirit power. Warning a man that he is drowning without throwing him a lifesaver and having the strength to reach him is hollow. We need a massive awakening throughout every corner of evangelicalism. The question is this:
Is our desire for it even strong enough to energize a pursuit?


ncgal55 said...

Great article Rick.

Vince Cancilla said...

Great article; I especially like the point about becoming enamored with systematic theology --- point proven: you have a total (including mine) now of 2 comments on this post, whereas your ones about Paul Washer's Calvinism excites massive threads and the Calvinizers come bursting out of the woodworks.