Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Facing Our Coming Challenges With Faith

That is the central message in Hal Lindsey's latest video update and it is well worth watching if you are struggling to cope with what we all know is coming.

These are interesting times and undoubtedly scary for those of us who can see what is coming. The main question for a prophecy watcher is how much carnage we will witness before the gathering up. 

No one knows. Only God knows that one. We do know that we will experience the "gathering up" prior to the Tribulation, but the question remains - how much will we see and experience prior to these two main events (Rapture of the Church and the Tribulation). 

Either way (avoiding a lengthy discussion of the pre-Tribulation Rapture which has been discussed many times before) we have to look at it like this:

The "birth pains" illustration of the last generation holds ever so true - and based on that description, we know we are drawing very very close to both events (Rapture-->Tribulation). That should be exciting news to a believer. We're finally, almost there. It's so close we can almost touch it. 

Even though we are in the midst of seeing significant movement towards the Tribulation and all that it brings it (financial collapse, famine, warfare, lawlessness, evil, carnage, suffering, etc.) - we have to remember that Jesus told us that we would see the beginnings of such things:

"...but see to it that you are not alarmed" (Matthew 24:6). 

We have to look away from the things that are potentially scary - which is a lot these days (totalitarianism, martial law, gun confiscation, imprisonment, famine, etc.), and look towards Him

We cannot let "them" steal our joy at what is coming. The groom is coming for His bride - that promise has been made abundantly clear (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18, 5:3-9, 1:10, Revelation 3:10, John 14, etc.). We also know that this coming is close. Very close. 

We also know that the current state of affairs is temporary (for believers), as the evil and darkness that we see descending can only go so far as long as the "restrainer" walks on this earth - aka the presence of the Holy Spirit that resides within believers:

Referencing the coming Tribulation (aka "The Day Of The Lord") the apostle Paul had the following to say:

"Don't let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction.

He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshipped, so that he sets himself up in God's temple, proclaiming Himself to be God."

And now you know what is holding him back, so that he may be revealed at the proper time.

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. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming."

(2 Thessalonians 2:1-9)

So much is wrapped up in this passage, and I highly recommend Renald Showers "Maranatha, Our Lord Comes" for a detailed review of this passage (and many others). 

We can clearly see here, that the antichrist 's environment is beginning even before he is "revealed" (which happens at the event of Daniel 9:27 and the "confirming" of the covenant, which begins the 7 year Tribulation), and this environment "the secret power of lawlessness" where we find ourselves today - as Jesus stated "the beginning of birth pains" (Matthew 24:8). 

But the bible tells us that this period can only last so long - because the reign of the antichrist and the Tribulation is approaching but can only proceed so far because of the "restrainer" - also known as the Church and the Holy Spirit. Here, I will shamelessly quote from "Signs Of The Coming Christ" mainly because I don't want to recreate work already done :)

"Here, the "restrainer" clearly refers to the Holy Spirit's presence in the Church, as this interpretation represents the best answer to the grammatical, contextual and theological questions in 2 Thessalonians. Other possibilities as to the identification of the restrainer, such as human government or some powerful human figure seem highly unlikely. Understanding the role of the restrainer further confirms that it is the Holy Spirit residing within the Church:

 first, this restraint must represent a worldwide influence which suggests omnipresence; second, the restrainer must have supernatural power in order to be able to restrain such potent forces such as worldwide apostasy and the emergence of the antichrist; third, the restrainer must have some logical reason for ending the restraint of lawlessness and the ability of the Antichrist to seize absolute power. 

There is simply no other choice than the Church, including the presence of the Holy Spirit as representing this Restrainer (2,3). In addition, the scripture speaks of the Holy Spirit as the One who restrains Evil (4), both in this world (Genesis 6:3) and in the heart of the believer (Galatians 5:16-17).

This "restraint" most likely includes both a spiritual and literal restraint. Spiritually, the presence of the Holy Spirit on earth has a restraining influence upon evil. Man alone or any form of government is unable to do this. 

However, once the "restrainer" is removed - he will be revealed, and can assume his power unencumbered by the presence of the Church. This was the assurance Paul was giving the Thessalonians - that they couldn't be living during the Tribulation, because the Church must be removed first.

Note the chronology of events:

1) the restrainer is removed
2) the lawless one (Antichrist) is revealed, and
3) Jesus will destroy him and begin his 1,000 year reign on earth. 

After the restrainer is removed, we see what the Antichrist will be able to accomplish without the restraining influence of the Church, in 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12:

'The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, and with every sort of evil that deceives those who are now perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.'"

The whole point is this: We will see some things. We will see the "lawlessness" which is already at work. But this can only go so far as long as the presence of the Holy Spirit, via the Church (aka the bride of Christ) is present on earth. Once the restrainer is removed, then the signs that we see around us today will escalate into hyperdrive and the Tribulation will be on the threshold. 

How much will we see prior to Jesus' coming?

That is the million dollar question. 

But does it really matter? 

Think of what awaits us:

Eternity in Heaven. In the presence of Jesus. An epic reunion with those who have gone before us. Eternal paradise. Exploring the vast wonders of Heaven. Seeing the place that Jesus has prepared for us (New Jerusalem). Being in the presence of the apostles, the Old Testament Saints. No more tears. No more sadness. No more death. No more pain. No more suffering. Glory. Sinlessness. Unabated worship. And on and on this list goes. 

This is what awaits us. Those who have rejected Christ have the Tribulation looming. 

No matter what happens in this interval - the interval between seeing the early signs ("beginning of birth pains") and the gathering up - simply doesn't matter. We are just on the threshold of what awaits us. 

They can take our freedom. They can take our property. They can take our money. They can take our earthly possessions. They can take our only means of self-defense. They can impose whatever silly rules and regulations. They can impose tyranny. They can take away our freedom to worship in public. They can give us temporary hardships. 

So what? Let them. That's all they have. 

But they cannot take away what really matters. They cannot take our faith. They cannot take away Jesus. They cannot take away Heaven. They cannot take away God's promises. They cannot prevent the gathering up. They cannot take away anything that awaits us. 

So during these times, we can stand firm in God's promises. We have a wedding approaching. We have a reunion approaching. We have an appointment with Jesus - an appointment that was made centuries ago. 

Rather than have any fear or apprehension about what man will attempt to do in these last days, we can focus on Jesus:

"When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift your heads, because your redemption is drawing near"

"Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that the kingdom of God is near."

We also cannot forget Psalm 33. God laughs and mocks our all-powerful government figures - those people who are causing so much hardship and destruction here on earth, while plotting totalitarianism and tyranny:

"The Lord foils the plans of the nations;
he thwarts the purposes of the peoples. 

But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever,
the purposes of his heart through all generations.

From heaven the Lord looks down
and sees all of mankind;
from his dwelling place he watches 
all who live on earth

No king is saved by the size of his army;
no warrior escapes by his great strength.

But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him,
on those whose hope is in his unfailing love.

We wait in hope for the Lord
he is our help and our shield.

In him our hearts rejoice, 
for we trust in his holy name.

May your unfailing love rest upon us, O Lord,
even as we put our hope in you."

The bottom line?

Don't let them steal your joy by creating a fearful environment and their appearances of being "all powerful". They will most certainly try. In the eyes of God, their actions are laughably feeble. We must always remember that. 

They cannot take away Christ or His promises. They cannot take away what really matters. 

We are just on the threshold of His coming. And when it happens, "they" are going to be in for a rude awakening. 

Meanwhile, we'll be in the presence of Christ Himself, experiencing the vast wonders of Heaven. 

It's a promise and a guarantee. 

Maranatha! He is coming!


ChristineInCleveland said...

Love this, Scott! Wish I could hug you & all my brothers & sisters in the Lord who come here to read your wonderful words of encouragement! :)

Anonymous said...

This is so beautiful and so encouraging! Thank you, Scott. Your faithfulness to this message is more appreciated that you can ever know in this life. Looking forward to eternity alongside of you!


Dutch Treat said...

Scott, I wasn't planning to do any more of this; but in light of your post today I will post a poem I wrote the Christmas season right after 9-11 since it seems somewhat appropriate and see what you think. I'll put it on the next post.

Caver said...

Joining in appreciation for this day's entry. The right message for the right time.

AMEN, Amen, and amen! Lome Lord Jesus, Your bride is weary of this evil and awaits her Bride Groom with such anticipation.

Dutch Treat said...

AN ANTIDOTE FOR FEAR: Well the end of another year is just about here; and at no time have people been more filled with fear. What's on TV and the newspapers gives us plenty to discuss; and seldom is there anything that doesn't frighten us. We settle disputes with violence at an alarming recurrence; and drive-by shootings are becoming a common occurrence. Air and water pollution are a constant cause of concern; and there's enough toxic waste around to make the world burn. Kids are gunning down other kids as never seen before, so that it's not even safe to go to school anymore. The changing economic climate causes many people to frown; and fortunes are lost whenever the stock market goes down. Economic slowdowns causes many people to fear, and worrying whether or not our jobs will disappear. Now the terrorism we see all over the world with dismay, has hit our own country in a mighty big way. The events of 9-11 hit us like a hammer of sledge; and the anthrax scare has everyone's nerves on edge. Now our fathers, husbands and sons may have to go to war; and who knows what other things are going to be in store. The recent events have left us all a bit perplexed; and many people are wondering what will happen next. It seems there is nothing good on which we can depend; and many people are wondering what where it will all end. We're constantly searching for answers to combat our blues; and looking through the Bible will give us some clues. For God's word says thing will get worse before it gets better; and it's prophecies are being fulfilled to the very letter. Yet despite all the gloom and doom it's important to note, that to counteract our fears there is an antidote. For long ago in Bethlehem a special event took place, which to this very day we continue to embrace. For God sent into this world His only begotten Son; and that through Him our eternal victory will be won. By putting our faith and trust in Him we'll have eternal life, where we will be forever free from pain and strife. For He died on the cross to save us from our sins, which we will fully realize when our other life begins.For when problems arise and it becomes difficult to cope, His death on the cross gives us much more than hope. So our nation whether in good times or when it's in despair, needs to humbly bow down and turn to Him in orayer. For if we seek His face though our trials be expanding, He'll fill us with a peace which passes all understanding. So put your faith and trust in Him and He'll open Heaven's door; so that when this life ceases you'll be with Him forever more. For even if this life is filled with fear and apprehension, He'll take you to a glorious place beyond comprehension, where we will live in total bliss and then, all fear will be wiped out, never to crop up again. With love, Dutch.

Anonymous said...

This is so beautiful Scott,reading this warmed my heart and it brought a HUGE smile to my face,I'm picturing being in Heaven alongside Jesus and so many who have gone on before us! Eternal paradise!All I can say is MARANATHA!

WVBORN56 said...

This is excellent Scott. Thanks so much for all you do! Looking forward to meeting everyone soon. Many blessings in 2013 to everyone...God Bless.

Buchi said...

Maranatha !!! Can't wait to be "home"!!!

Caver said...

Great commentary Scott. Thank You for a message I needed today. We're so ready.

See everybody under the Tree of Life soon.

Tammy said...

Today's post is one of my favorites since I found this site a few months ago. It made me smile! I long for heaven and await to hear the trumpet sound as we will finally see Jesus face to face. It's a hope I hold onto since my 2 year old son passed away almost 11 years ago and my 17 year old daughter who trusted Jesus as Lord and Savior at the age of 9 went HOME on 11-1-11. Come quickly Lord Jesus!

mary said...

this post really touched my heart today.Just a wonderful, comforting reminder that we are safe in our Father's arms, we belong to Him and no one or nothing can snatch us away.
There are so many lines that just jumped out at me.
I join with all the others and say THANK YOU my dear brother.I feel the love of Jesus on this blog.May God continue to bless you and your family.
This post is so special to me that I made a copy and put it in my Bible.
He's coming everyone!!

mary said...

those are heavy burdens you had to go through. Keep looking up sister.God will never let you go.
Dutch Treat,
I'll say it again... man you have a beautiful gift brother.
Thanks again.

Dave A said...

Thanks, Scott for another most encouraging message. And thanks, Dutch for that great poem. Is most fitting 12 years later.

Waterer said...

Dear Scott and Blog Family,
What a wonderful entry to return to after a week away. With thoughts of a new year and thanksgiving for the BLESSINGs of this one, I anticipate with you the coming of the LORD JESUS. That is on my mind always and a common expression among my friends ..” Maybe this year is THE year He comes to take us home”. Many thanks Scott for your clear and consistant message of close PRESENCE of Jesus and of His arrival to take us where He is.
Love to you all in Him!

Anonymous said...


This is so AWESOME! Thank you so much for this Blog.


PALADIN said...

Thanks for the reminder.

Whenever i get angry about the injustice we face on a daily basis i will read the bible passages you have posted here in this article.

Stand Fast with Jesus, for he is faithful !