Archive for July, 2010

End Time Study–Pt.6

Saturday, July 31st, 2010

The end-time church that is revealed to us next is the church of Sardis, the dead church (Rev.3:1-6). Sardis is the picture of the church that has maintained its profession without possession and its reputation with no works to support it. It possesses a great tradition but its present task is unfinished. A few faithful souls are in it, to them the Lord comes with a challenge.

As we read verses one through six we find something missing that was given to the churches prior to Sardis –this letter does not start out with pleasantries. This is a dying church and Jesus goes straight to the problem in an attempt to resuscitate it. Along with the church of the Laodiceans, this church receives the most blame brought against it from Jesus. He begins this letter with His accusation against the church. “You have a name that you are alive, but you are dead.” He is saying here to the church, “You have the reputation of being Christians and are thought to be alive in Me and spiritual things, but you are spiritually dead. You do not have the life that I give to souls. You have not walked consistantly with Me before man. You have not been steady in your lifestyle of Christlikeness. You have grieved My Spirit and I have withdrawn from you most of My light and power. You’re not dead yet, but you are dying.”

As I read these scriptures I must ask myself, “Am I more dead than alive, spiritually?” We all should ask ourselves this question in order to examine our relationship with God. I believe it is very easy for us to fall into a state of complacency and not even realize it. We need to make sure that Jesus is in complete control of our lives 24/7. It is easy to claim Jesus as our Saviour and to go through the motions of serving Him while all along we have grieved the Holy Spirit and He has departed. We may have a form of godliness but we deny the power of God that changes lives inside out. Unfortunately, this is the state of the church today, the end-time church.

In most churches today the Holy Spirit is no longer in charge. Man has his programs, plans, agendas and the best of the business minds to run the church. He is so busy having church that he is failing to be the church. Man has lost the power over sin, flesh and the world. He has lost his love for one-another, for the lost and for God and His Word. Man no longer fears God but treats Him as a “Big Sugar Daddy.” Man serves God as long as He serves him. Man claims to be alive in Christ while all along he is dead in his treaspasses.

Should we get quiet before the throne of God we just may hear Him crying out to the church today as He did in verse two to the church at Sardis, “Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die.” Jesus is saying to His end-time church, “You have lost ground by carelessness, inattention and complacency. Wake up! And stay awake! Strengthen your convictions and desire for Holy things, your zeal and love for God. These attributes are barely noticeable and are becoming weaker to the point of dying completely.” I have often wondered how a born-again person full of His Spirit can be a participant in things that are known to be sinful and yet feel no conviction for his actions. If one is participating in known sin and feels no conviction or remorse then his claim of being a christian would be somewhat questionable. Our works are not “perfect before God,” they do not measure up to His standards. Man may view us as being saintly while God looks upon us with disdain.

The church today, as with Sardis, needs to repent at once for departing from our zeal and love for God. If we do not wake up from our complacant slumber then He will come upon us as a theif. Just as a theif comes unexpectantly, so Jesus will come to His church. He will come in judgement and cut us off from His abundant life. He is sounding the alarm through His 5-fold ministers that we must make ourselves ready for His soon return. We will either repent or be cast off and blotted out of His book of life.(Ex.32:32,33;Deut.29:20;Ps.69:28;Ps.109:13;Ps.139:16;Rev.3:5;Rev.22:19). No one can claim ignorance when he stands before God if he has heard the messages delivered by God through His preachers or even if he owns a Bible or has access to the truth but has denied it. Yet, as with the church at Sardis, God will have a holy remnant of people in His church who have not given in to this world. Those who have deliberately chosen holiness as a lifestyle. Those who walk in purity now will receive white raiment to wear for eternity. Only the righteous and pure will have their names remain in the Book of Life (vs.5).

Jesus concludes this letter by giving the church the promise that He will confess the overcomer’s name before His Father and angels. He who overcomes this world and its sin shall be represented by Jesus on judgement day, He will be our Advocate(I John2:1). If we have confessed Him before man by living a life that reflects His holy presence while on this earth, then we can rest assured that He will confess us as His own before the Father. But if while professing His name on earth , yet not walking in His holiness and reflecting His image before man, He will deny us before the Father(Luke12:8,9). This is the warning of Jesus to the end-time Sardis church.

End Time Study–Pt. 5

Tuesday, July 20th, 2010

The next church in our study of the end times, that is reflected in the church today, is the church of Thyatira, the corrupt church (Rev.2:18-29). Jesus, as with the other letters to the churches, begins by pointing out the commendable things about this church. He acknowledges that they do have a love for God and each other. He lifts them up by referring to their faith in Jesus for salvation resulting in good works such as aiding the poor. They persevered while under persecutions and afflictions and continued in good works. Jesus recognizes that they have not only retained what they had received at first but they also grew in grace, faith and the knowledge of Jesus Christ. Yet with all this good they had issues in their ranks that needed to be addressed; namely, they allowed a woman with a Jezebel spirit, who called herself a prophetess, to teach in their services. This resulted in the people of the church being lead into spiritual adultery and a lackadaisical attitude toward sin.

As the church enters the last of the last days she too will have many good works for which she is to be commended. However, this end-time church shall also have in it a spirit of Jezebel. As Jesus uses the name Jezebel He is referring to a spirit of manipulation. He gives it the name Jezebel because she was the ideal personification of a person controlled by a spirit of manipulation to be found in scripture. So when the name Jezebel is used when referring to someone it means that the person’s character is likened to that of Jezebel, a manipulator.

Jezebel was an idol worshipper who induced her weak husband, Ahab, into her idol worship. She manipulated him to establish idol worship throughout his kingdom instead of the worship of the true God Jehovah. The name Jezebel implies one that is highly persuasive, gifted and artful. He is characterized as being determined and firm in the accomplishments of his purpose. One with a Jezebel spirit will even proudly flaunt his power to manipulate. The name here in verse twenty of chapter two is applied to a person who is capable of exerting a wide and persuasive influence over others. He is one who has talents of a high order. One who is a thorough advocate of error. He is unscrupulous in the means by which he employs for accomplishing his end. He has his way at any cost.

This was the condition of the church at Thyatira. There was a woman there who corrupted the true religion and harassed the followers of Christ in that city. And so it is in the end time church. Those under the influence of a Jezebel spirit, a spirit of manipulation (found in both male and female), will rise to positions of power and influence in the church. Whether they be found in the pulpit or the pew, they will corrupt the church. They will replace the gospel with a watered-down compromise version of the truth. They will replace the emphasis of prayer and the leading of the Spirit with programs and the plans of man. They, like Saul of Tarsus before his conversion, will believe themselves to be doing the will of God while all along they are deceived and deceiving others.

This Jezebel of Thyatira went so far as to call herself a prophetess. She actually thought that she was speaking on behalf of God to reveal His plan, purpose, will and design for His people, while all along she was deceived. She was instructing others in an erroneous understanding of Biblical truths. She manipulated the servants of God, His ministers, in order to pervert their religion. She promoted a spirit of the religion of man instead of the true religion of Christ.

The true religion of the Bible has nearly disappeared from our churches in these last days. It has been replaced by the humanistic religion of the world’s mindset. The modern religion does not call for repentance. It flaunts its right to determine right from wrong based on man’s intelligence, emotions and feelings. There are no absolutes. The Bible is open to whatever interpretation the one reading it determines. Even when in error one will persuade others that they have no right to tell them they are wrong.

This spirit of manipulation is not only in the church today, but it is growing. We have many self-appointed prophets, prophetesses, apostles, teachers, bishops, etc. Our televisions are full of “ministers” with big titles and full of the spirit of Jezebel. I heard one recently call herself Bishop, Apostle, Prophetess, Pastor, Doctor, Reverend so and so. I thought this woman needed a reality check. How could one address an envelope to her, for that BIG donation, when a standard envelope would not be large enough to print her titles on? Plus, how can one person fill all these offices and titles? I believe someone has a pride issue.

I often admonish people that if they are going to seek any of the nine manifestation gifts of the Holy Spirit they should seek the gift of discernment. The followers of Christ need to discern what spirit is speaking when someone is preaching, teaching or giving a word of prophecy, wisdom or knowledge. Many false prophets, teachers, preachers, etc., have been sown into the church, the weeds with the wheat (Matt.13), the goats with the sheep (Matt.25). The only way of not being deceived is by the gift of discernment, knowledge of the scriptures and a father-child relationship with God, through prayer. Remember, there will be a great falling away from the truth in the end times and for this to happen there must be a deception that so resembles the true church that even the very elect may be deceived (Mark 13:22).

But even those who are controlled by the spirit of Jezebel have the mercy and grace of God extended to them. Even the false prophetess of Thyatira, as well as Jezebel of the Old Testament, were given a season of time in which they could repent. With Jezebel of the Old Testament, God sent a prophet to pronounce a severe judgement upon her and Ahab. Ahab showed tokens of repentance so God put off the punishment which also spared Jezebel temporarily. Thus, God gave Jezebel a space of time to repent, but instead of repenting she seduced even her sons into the same sin. She had no remorse for her actions. She was content to continue in her manipulative ways and her relentless attack upon those who stood for truth. She refused to see her wrong and to repent. Her punishment was declared in verses twenty-two and twenty- three. “Indeed I will cast her into a sick bed—I will kill her children.” Ahaziah, one of Jezebel’s sons, followed his mother’s teachings. He fell from a terrace and became bedridden in great pain. Jezebel’s other sons, along with her husband Ahab and his seventy sons, were slain by God’s hand.

And so it will be to the Thyatira end-time church. God will bring His judgements and expose the spirit of manipulation and the sins of the church. Those who have been lead away from truth by the spirit of manipulation into spiritual adultery will pay a price. For these reason I believe many in the church today are afflicted, diseased, suffering and being tortured in their souls. They have followed the deceived and no longer follow truth. The Lord searches the innermost being and heart of man and He allows punishment to come to those who break His laws of purity. If our hearts are set on Him then we shall receive the rewards of power and the morning star. To those who overcome shall power be given to confute, confound and conquer the false doctrines and the powers of darkness. We become the rod of iron, Jesus’ scepter, the instrument He uses for destroying false doctrines, false teachings and false teachers by exposing them.

As end-time overcomers we will destroy, pull down and break to pieces the works of the devil. We will operate in the same power that was given unto Jesus by the Father(Matt.28:18). This power is given only to the overcoming church. The one who will cast out the Jezebel spirit and sin. We then shall receive the Morning Star. Jesus said, “I am the Root and the Offspring of David, the Bright and Morning Star” (Rev.22:16). We get to be with Jesus for eternity. Aren’t you glad to be living in the most exciting times for the church—the end times?

End Time Study–Pt.4

Saturday, July 10th, 2010

Saturday, July 10, 2010
End Time Study–Pt.4
Before getting into our study for this week I feel compelled to admonish you to get your finances in order. Our economy is about to implode and only those who have prepared will survive the fallout from the economic storm that is coming.

Now, on to our study of the seven churches of the Book of Revelation. The next example of the end-time church is the church at Pergamos, the compromising church (Rev.2:12-17). This church was surrounded by sin and the powers of darkness. There were temples erected there to honor Zeus, Athena, Dionysas, and Asklepios (the god of healing, called the god of Pergamos). The liberal and laxidaical beliefs of the Nicolaitans flourished there as well. The place was so full of paganism and idol worship that Jesus calls it the place where Satan’s throne was and where Satan himself dwelled. Any place where Satan dwells, where sin abounds, where idol worship flourishes, is Satan’s throne where he is king.

Does this not describe the world setting in which today’s church is existing? The church (the body of Christ) is surrounded by sin and the powers of darkness. Just as it was in the days of Noah so it is in these last days. Violence, evil, wickedness and sin abound worldwide. No place is immune. Mankind, as a whole, has become worshippers of idols. We worship sports, leisure, recreation, pleasure, success, etc., etc.(II Tim.3:1-5). Some have made idols out of their churches, denominations, and even their ministers. We erect temples that glorify man’s achievements and programs and call them christian churches. We have in the midst of most churches those who are liberal and laxidaical when it comes to moral issues (Nicolaitans). Truly the church at Pergamos is a picture of the end-time church of today.

Jesus seems to be upset by the fact that the church allowed people to serve in it while they held to the doctrine of Balaam. This was a people, though believing upon Jesus as the Christ, still wanted the things of the world. (To better understand who Balaam was and his “doctrine”, read Numbers chapters 22,24,and 31). Being like Balaam means you want to serve God yet you want the pleasures and successes of the world around you. Balaam was influenced by his surroundings. He wanted the honor, fame, wealth and power that had been offered to him. Yet, he feared God. So he devised a plan whereby he could obey God by blessing Israel and yet receive what Balak offered him if he would have cursed Israel. Balak was simply afraid of Israel and wanted them cursed so he and his kingdom would not be destroyed. Balaam, while blessing Israel, gave Balak a plan that would result in God’s anger being stirred up against Israel, which would ultimately bring them into subjection to Balak, thus sparing him and his kingdom.

So the doctrine of Balaam is where a preacher or minister in the church attempts to promote the cause of God by using an unholy partnership with the ungodly and the worldly, thus producing in the church a lifestyle of the world through the pleasing of the flesh. It’s using worldly means to accomplish godly results. This would be like a church that is built upon the marketing and business plans of the world. It may be large and prosperous but is it holy? Some churches use the world’s music, dress, language and Hollywood approach to influence their communities in order to attract them to their churches. This is the doctrine of Balaam. Mingling the world with the church. While society is doing all it can to separate the church from the state, it seems the church is doing all it can to marry the church to the state or, to say, the world. The church seems willing to compromise in the areas of holiness, righteousness and doctrinal purity in order to be people friendly. The message in today’s modern church seems to be, “Whatever you deem right for you, do it. After all who am I to tell you that you are wrong or, worse still, committing sin?” This is the mindset of the doctrine of Balaam. You can have your cake and eat it too. You can go to heaven without giving up the world and the lust of the flesh. This the Pergamos end-time church.

Because the church at Pergamos did not take a strong stand against loose morals in the church, worldliness, idolatry and fornication were abundant in the church. There were no restraints to prevent a person from doing their own thing, in or out of the church. Jesus is announcing to this church that He hates anything that allows men to be taught to do their own thing which is what a compromising church does whether directly or indirectly. Jesus knew that when worldly things are allowed in the church they tend to rub off on the saints. Have you ever considered that when a person takes a good shower and puts on brand new clothes then goes outside and rolls in the mud, the mud does not become clean. Just the opposite occurs, the clean person becomes dirty. So it is with the church. It can be full of clean saints but when the mud of worldliness is allowed in, and embraced, the clean becomes defiled (I Cor.5:5-7). This desensitizes the church or dulls its sin conscience. We soon learn to live with sin instead of rebuking it because we are taught not to offend anyone.

The sin found in Pergamos, the end-time church, is that of allowing human understanding and feelings to dictate the standards of the church instead of the Word of God. The Word of God is the plumb line by which everything is to be measured, especially in the church. To this church Jesus says, Turn right now!! I’m coming soon to judge you. I will fight against those who uphold or tolerate the doctrine of humanism in My church that I died for.”

The church today, for the most part, is living out the conditions found in the churches of Pergamos. By this we can realize that we truly are in the last of the last days. But the true church will be purged and cleansed from her whoredoms with this world by the Word of God. We shall see a return to purity and boldness to not only declare the absolute truth of God’s Word, but also to live it. The churches finest hour is quickly approaching!!!

If you are enjoying this study of the end times, please let us know. E-mail us at bljames1947.yahoo.com or simply add a comment to this blog.

end time study–pt.3

Wednesday, July 7th, 2010

Tuesday, July 6, 2010
End Time Study–Pt. 3
Let us continue our look at the seven churches of Revelation. The next letter to the churches with its message to the end-time church is written to the church of Smyrna (Rev.2:8-11). This church was in a region that was very hostile toward Christianity. Many martyrs would die here. The majority of the believers here were from the lower classes of people. They were poor by the world’s standards but were rich in grace. Christianity held on here better than any where else in Asia. This church is the only church that survived among the seven churches of Asia. They may have been economically poor, and even persecuted, yet they had a strong faith. As it was then, so it is always, when it cost something to serve Him it proves our love for Him and strengthens our faith.

It would appear that today’s church is largely prosperious economically, yet it is poor in spirit, holiness and righteousness. But as the church enters a time of persecution, tribulation and judgement, I believe we will see a call for and a return to holiness and a right relationship with God. Peter expressed this mindset in his first letter in chapter four verses sixteen through nineteen which states, “Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter. For the time has come for judgement to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end to those who do not obey the gospel of God? Now if the righteous one is scarcely saved, where will the ungodly and the sinner appear? Therefore let those who suffer according to the will of God commit their souls to Him in doing good, as to a faithful Creator.” When persecution comes to the church in the U.S., as it has already come in some other nations of the world, will we bring glory to the Lord by our faith or will we dishonor Him by our murmuring and complaining? Rest assured judgement is coming to the church. In fact I believe that it has already begun. God has already begun to expose the hidden sins of the church. It is as though God is drawing an imaginary line in the sand of time to see where the church will stand when sin is exposed. God is allowing ministers and their families to be sifted by the enemy that they may see what He sees–their hearts. Ministers are being exposed as adulterers, fornicators, frauds and thieves, not only that they may have the opportunity to repent and be restored, but also to see how the church will react to the sins of the ministers. Unfortunatly, for the most part, churches are failing miserably. Ministers can stand in their pulpits one Sunday and confess adultery, fraud, divorce, or any other sin, and be right back in their pulpits the next Sunday. The ministers have disregarded what the Bible says about sin and the congregations have lost their sin consciousness.

Many ministers no longer speak out against sin because they want the congregation to be programmed to overlook, or at best, excuse sin so that when the minister’s sins are revealed the people will overlook them. The money keeps coming in. The requests for speaking engagements continue pouring in. The numbers increase as people realize that this minister is just “one of the guys;” he is just like them. Everyone is happy! Yet all the while God is grieved as His ministers and His people fail the test of loyalty to God and His Word. Judgement will reveal the phony ministers and the compromising congregations.

We are not only ill-equipped for the suffering of the end times but we have bought into the doctrine that we will be raptured before anything bad begins to happen. The church will go through the majority of the Great Tribulaton, but the true church will at the same time be like the church of Smyrna. It will be full of faith while being persecuted. God is bringing judgement to His church to test us. The hard times that await us will prove our faith. If our faith is in man or the things of this world, it will fail. If we are trusting in religion, denominations, the doctrines of man,the traditions of man or programs of man we will fail. Suffering for Christ is a privilege. If standing up for the gospel’s sake brings persecution to us, then so be it. We will not be ashamed of the gospel. After all Jesus has already said here in this letter that the believers will be persecuted, put in prison and go through tribulation, yet if they remain faithful a crown of life awaits them. The church is growing up and maturing through the chastening rod of trials and persecutions that she may be ready for the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. A glorious church refined by fire(ICor.3:9-15).

One other observation in this letter deserves our attention for the subject matter of our study, that being verse ten of chapter two which says, “—and you will have tribulation ten days—.” These are prophetic days like the days spoken of in the Book of Daniel. Prophetic days stand for years. With this knowledge we understand that this verse means that the end-time church will endure ten years (ten days) of tribulation. This would imply that the church will begin to experience persecution at an accelerated rate three years before the Great Tribulation even begins. There is coming a time in the very near future when being called a Christian will expose you to excessive abuse. All of this will be setting the stage for the anti-christ to rise to power.

Historically, the churches of Asia suffered grievious affliction for ten years while under the reign of Diocletian. One Hebrew meaning of the number ten is frequency. For a decade the Christians of Asia frequently suffered persecution and abuse. And so it will be with the end-time church. For a decade the true church will suffer persecution and abuse with these ending at the last trumpet of God and the church being gathered in the clouds. Thus we see another Hebrew meaning for the number ten, that being completeness in divine order or fulness of time. God has a plan and He is working His plan. When the fulness of time is complete, according to God’s plan and timetable, God will gather the saints of all the ages and then pour out His wrath upon the earth. But if the true church continues in faith and overcomes the trials of this life, she will not only receive a crown of life, she will “not be hurt by the second death,” the lake of fire(Rev.20:14,15). Let’s be overcomers.