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Rainbow Divider

Chapter 1

This Present Darkness

Never in the history of this sin-darkened world have God’s people faced so great a challenge as they do in this hour. True, the Church has faced terrible seasons of darkness, evil and persecution, but the spiritual darkness of today is on a scale never seen before.

We are witnessing what Paul described in II Thess. 2 and variously translated as: “the falling away,” “the apostasy,” “the great revolt,” the Rebellion,” “a definite rejection of God,” “the final rebellion against God.” It is bad enough to live in heathen darkness, ignorant of God and truth, but to have encountered truth in any measure and to reject that truth in favor of darkness and sin is to invite the wrath of God. II Peter 2:21, Rom. 1:18ff.

The wrath of God that results from rejecting truth takes a particular form: men are turned over to Satan and his hosts with no hope of recovery, no way to escape final judgment and hell. Today, we are witnessing this process on a world-wide scale. Satan cannot act unless God permits it: he is a tool, an instrument of God’s purpose. He has been somewhat restrained during the gospel age that the gospel might go forth and reach the elect. Now, in the end of the age the restraint has been removed. The result is “evil’s undiluted power to deceive” (Phillips), “strong delusion” (KJV), “a fatal delusion” (Weymouth), “that they all might be damned” (KJV), “who refused credence to the truth” (Knox), “but have preferred disobedience” (Goodspeed).

Satan is doing what he has always done. The difference is that the restraint is gone. In Rev. 12:12 we read, “... Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.”
 Not Just The World

This fatal delusion is not confined to “the world.” It has also overrun and largely swallowed up what is called “the church.” Religion is Satan’s greatest tool to deceive since it is supposed to be a source of spiritual enlightenment. He has, however, used it as a spiritual trap leading to death.

Jesus pictured this in Matthew 7:13-29 where He spoke of two gates and two ways. The thing we need to realize about these two gates and ways is that both are presented to men as ways to heaven. Those entering the wide gate do so in the belief that heaven awaits them at the end of that way. They are shocked to discover that they are rejected (verse 23) in spite of their “many wonderful works” which they believe are done in Jesus’ name.

“Many” travel that way; “few” the one that truly leads to life. Most religion that appears to be “Christian” is actually a fantasy in which people find out too late that they are bound for hell. Their “table,” that which should be a source of spiritual nourishment, is actually a snare and a trap (Psa. 69:22). See also Isaiah 28:7-8.

In the midst of all of this darkness, God has a remnant! Although they may at present lie scattered abroad throughout the systems of men, wearing many religious brands, they alone, by the grace of a Sovereign God, are capable of hearing the voice of the Son of God and escaping this present darkness. He has reserved them to Himself as He did in Elijah’s day. Rom. 11:2-5.

Rev. 12:15-16 pictures symbolically what is taking place: “the serpent” (Satan and all his evil host) “cast out of his mouth water” (the communication of his spirit, primarily through doctrines and ideas) “as a flood” (a lot of them!) “after the woman” (his primary target is God’s people) “that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood. And the earth” (the world of natural men incapable of spiritual understanding) “helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood” (received Satan’s lies) “which the dragon cast out of his mouth.”

When we see large numbers of lost religious people drinking up doctrines and ideas, a spiritual alarm should be sounding in our hearts. Satan’s whole approach to man is to appeal in some way to his natural desires and appetites. The word of God, the preaching of the cross, comes not to cater to our natural desires, but to deliver us from them, that He might transform us and fit us for “new heavens and a new earth wherein dwelleth righteouness: (II Peter 3:13).

A Lack of Knowledge

In Hosea 4:6 we read, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge ....” God’s people are affected in varying degrees by the apostate condition of Christianity and by the flood of darkness in general.

There are many warnings in the word directed to genuine believers. Paul warned of the danger that we could be “spoiled” through “philosophy,” “vain deceit, after the tradition of men” (Col. 2:8). Peter warned believers that “the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” (I Peter 5:8).

The entire book of Galatians was written to counter false teachers who had hindered (5:7) and bewitched (3:1) the young believers with a perversion of the gospel (1:7). Are we immune to this today? Do you suppose that there just might be some genuine believers today, sovereignly brought to true faith in Christ, who nonetheless are “hindered” in their efforts to serve the Lord by false doctrines and experiences?

Paul was very concerned in II Cor. 11:3-4 about the possibility of believers’ minds being “corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ” as a result of exposure to “another Jesus,” “another gospel,” “another spirit.”

The truth is that you cannot read very far in the teachings of Jesus or any of the apostles without encountering sobering warnings concerning satanically-inspired deception. Satan cannot touch the salvation of a truly born-again believer, sealed with God’s Spirit, but he can sure mess up our lives if we, through ignorance or carelessness, allow him to do so.

Grounded and Settled

Paul spoke in Eph. 4:11-16 of the need of believers to grow up, to get beyond being “children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive.” His desire (and the Lord’s!) for believers was that they be “grounded and settled” (Col. 1:23), “rooted and built up in him and stablished in the faith” (Col. 2:7).

Jesus promised “rest for your souls” to those who would take his yoke and learn of him (Matt. 11:28-30). That surely is the need for the scattered remnant in this hour.

Satan gains entrance to and influence over people through lies. His lies are much like the famous “trojan horse” of history. Like the ancient city that unwittingly brought enemy soldiers inside their gates hidden in a wooden horse, so do men open their lives up to the influence and control of demons by receiving their lies. Of course, those lies are cleverly designed to disguise their true character and to appeal to our nature.

Demons are very skilled at helping us to rationalize when we embrace falsehood. A rationale is basically a bit of reasoning to help us justify something we’ve already embraced in our hearts. It is a device that helps a man to receive darkness and then to pacify his conscience with a fantasy that it is not really darkness after all. That is why we are warned to cast down “imaginations” (reasonings) “and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (II Cor. 10:5).

The truth of God sets us free (John 8:32). It breaks the hold of devils and brings peace. Truth does not need a rationale to get past our conscience. It can and does walk in the light of day and simply “tells it like it is.” II Cor. 4:1-2.

What is Needed

What is needed in our day is what was needed in Christ’s day: someone sent of God who does not speak “as the scribes,” but as one having authority (Mark 1:22). If a preacher does not have God’s authority and enabling to preach, what does he have? How can he help people? All he can give out is whatever traditions and ideas he has ingested, whether from men or devils, plus any ideas he might come up with. Usually, though, tradition is a hard taskmaster and its captives know not to stray too far!

What a contrast there is between most of the “ministry” of today and that of Paul who said, “For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect ....” (I Cor. 1:17)! Did you know that unless the cross is preached by one who is both sent and anointed by Christ, it has no effect? Think about that! How many are there today who sing of the cross and the blood yet have never known their benefits! They may have heard something that was called “the gospel,” but, lacking the present tense anointing of Christ, it was powerless to impart spiritual life to the hearers. I Cor. 2:1-5.

What is needed is men of God, called, anointed, having authority from heaven to simply declare the word of God without fear or compromise. The multitudes will not take heed, but God’s sheep have a God-given spiritual sense that enables them to recognize the Shepherd’s voice.

The call of God concerning Babylon to “Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues” (Rev. 18:4) has never been more urgent. Babylon is this world system. Much of religious Babylon, however, is religion that uses Christ’s name but rejects His active leadership. As a result, devils rule, all the while supposedly honoring Christ. Only sheep have the capacity to discern the spirit behind a thing, yet even they must be taught and that discernment must develop and mature.

One would almost have to live in a cave to be unaware of some of the great winds of spiritual change sweeping the earth. Multitudes are being swept up by this movement or that, believing that they are caught up in a great move of God. As I hear and read of many of these things, I find myself continually saying, “If only they knew ‘such and such,’ they wouldn’t fall for that.” Even God’s elect are vulnerable to many hurtful things through ignorance.

The Purpose of This Book

I feel greatly privileged to have for many years now been in a place where I have been under the ministry of Christ by way of the anointing. The ministry of Christ is always relevant to the need of the hour — and even of the moment! It sheds needed light on the present darkness.

As a result I, and many others with me, have experienced a degree of understanding that has brought rest to our souls. Of course, we “know nothing as we ought to know it” (I Cor. 8:2), but what is that if He Who is the way, the truth and the life is with us till the end of the age?! He can and will impart whatever knowledge we need. The rest, we can safely leave in His hands!

What we have been so blessed to receive is neither because of us nor for us alone. It is by His grace and it is for His people scattered in many places.

What I desire to do in this book is to share a number of basic truths that have served to anchor my soul and to help me to recognize, at least in a measure, the spiritual deception that is taking place. Most of these truths have been enlarged upon in previous articles, however, I felt it would be of value to gather these truths within the scope of a single book to bring them into greater focus as a source of protection for God’s people.

This Present World

One area of truth that has helped me a great deal concerns the nature and destiny of this present world. What lies in the future for this world? How long is that future? What is God’s program concerning this world? What is He doing? What should the focus of our thinking be?

The simple truth is that this present world order belongs to Satan and his legions of demons. In Luke 4:5-6, during his temptation of Christ, the devil showed him “all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time” and then said, “All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it.” Jesus, using the word, refused the temptation but did not dispute his claim.

Paul called Satan “the god of this world” (II Cor. 4:4). In I John 5:19 we read, “... all the world is under the influence of the evil one” (Twentieth Century New Testament). Other translations agree. See also John 12:31, John 16:11.

In Eph. 6:12, Paul tells us who our true adversaries are. Listen to various translators:

“... against the world-rulers of this darkness” (ASV);

“... the Sovereigns of this present darkness” (Conybeare);

“... the master-spirits of this dark world” (Goodspeed);

“... great evil princes of darkness who rule this world” (Taylor);

“... with the despotisms, the empires, the forces that control and govern this dark world” (Weymouth);

“... the spirits of evil in the heavens” (Conybeare);

“... against huge numbers of wicked spirits in the spirit world” (Taylor).

While these hordes of wicked spirits are no match for God nor an obstacle to His purpose, this world is given over to their rule. The real power behind governments, nations, movements, philosophies of every kind is demonic and in opposition to God’s Spirit and Kingdom over which Christ rules. Even those movements — religious and otherwise — that appear to stand for righteousness would quickly crucify Christ were He to walk among them as He did almost 2000 years ago. The anointing would expose the true spirit behind them just as it did that of the supposedly Bible-believing, God-fearing Jews of the first century. Luke 4:16-32.

All of the spirits behind all of the wickedness this cursed world has ever known are alive today — and they know their time is short. Nations rise and fall. People live and die. The spirits who inspire them to do evil don’t die with them: they are with us today — and they are angry.

God only interferes in the present world order where His purposes are concerned and His purposes concern His people, the elect, those He delivers from the power of darkness and translates into the kingdom of his dear Son (Col. 1:13). This world is an arena, a furnace of affliction (Is. 48:10) in which God’s elect are born to everlasting life and prepared for another world to come. This world is temporary and in the next it will not even be remembered (Is. 65:17).

In this world, each one of God’s children is placed under the care of angels. Heb. 1:14. Psa. 91:11-12. Psa. 34:7. In addition, we have Christ’s promise to be with us till the end of the age. Matt. 28:20.

There is a pattern that we can see in the scriptures with respect to sin and judgment. Sin brings death. It is a process much like a crop that produces a harvest. Many a nation has arisen on the world scene with lofty vision and youthful vigor only to crumble and disappear or be radically altered, replaced by a new power.

Man without God is doomed to failure in his attempts to build kingdoms. Beginning with the tower of Babel, we can see the rebellious pursuit of power and glory by man and the intervention of God when that rebellion reaches a certain point.

Point of No Return

When any nation or people arises and pursues its own ends in rebellion against God it ultimately reaches a point of no return. There is nothing left but judgment. This principle applies to individuals, families, towns, cities, nations and to the world as a whole.

At the time of Christ’s coming it will apply to the world — all but the tiny remnant of those whose hope lies in His return. Rev. 22:11 says, “He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still.” Verse 12 begins, “And, behold I come quickly ....” At the time of Christ’s coming there will be an uncrossable line drawn between the righteous and the wicked.

There are two direct comparisons made by Jesus between the conditions at the time of His coming and events of history. It would be wise if we were to pay close attention to these examples and learn from them.

The first of these examples is that of Noah and the time of the flood. The general condition that existed is described in Gen. 6:5: “And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.”

When we read things like this we are prone to think only of evil as man sees it: riots, murders, atrocities, violence, chaos, immorality, etc. However, Jesus described it differently. In Matt. 24:38 he said they were “... eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage ....” In other words, life seemed outwardly normal.

What constitutes evil in God’s eyes is when man pursues a course of self-will and self-pleasing that effectively says, “Leave me alone, God. I don’t need or want you, nor will I listen to anything you have to say.” That kind of a heart condition can indeed manifest itself in violence and moral corruption of every sort, but it can also wrap itself in robes of religion and self-righteousness that men esteem very highly. Matthew 23.

Luke 16:15 says, “... Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God.”

One of the factors that produced the condition in Gen. 6:5 involved the breakdown of the separation between those who served God and those who didn’t. Gen. 6:2 says, “... the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose.”

In spite of the spiritual heritage of these young men, pleasing their flesh was more important to them than serving God. Instead of seeking God and submitting to His will, they did the choosing. That principle, in one form or another, has been the basis of Satan’s assault against God’s people down through the ages. Movement after movement has started out with a measure of life and separation from the world only to succumb and lose any real distinction. Some even evolve into a dead religious form of separation, but in reality they are “of the world and not in it.”

What God wants is for us to be “in the world and not of it” (John 17:15-17). What sets us apart from the world and points our feet down a different road is the truth God reveals to our hearts.

It is on the heels of Gen. 6:2 that we read in verse 3, “And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years.”

God had one man who remained true to Him and He revealed to Noah the coming destruction. In addition, He gave very clear, detailed instructions to Noah concerning his preservation during the flood. The result was that not only Noah, but also his family was spared.

Mankind in general did not know that their fate was sealed nor did they pay any attention to Noah when he told them. The flood came as a sudden shocking surprise for which they were completely unprepared.

Remember the words of Jesus comparing that day with this. Remember also the words of Peter (II Pet. 3:5-7) when he warned that while the ancient world perished in a flood by the word of God, our world, by that same word, is “reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.”

“Perdition” is another word that describes a hopeless state of lostness and separation from God. This passage speaks of the same time and condition that Paul spoke of in II Thess. 2. It points most particularly to our day.

Sodom

The other example Jesus used concerned the deliverance of Lot from the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah and the other cities of the plain. Jesus described life in Sodom prior to its destruction (Luke 17:28): “... they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded.” That description paints a picture of men and women living life as usual, planning for a long future.

Thus we can see that although God saw them as wicked enough to destroy, outwardly there was a degree of normalcy. Life went on. The social order functioned. The people were blissfully unaware of the sudden destruction to come.

And sudden it was. Hear the words of Jesus in Luke 17:29-30: “But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed.”

If that is not a clear warning that sudden destruction will fall when Christ comes, what is it? What purpose was there in Jesus’ words if the popular theologians of today are correct in proclaiming that Christ’s coming will lead to a thousand years of peace for this world? Who will Christ reign over if those who are left behind are all destroyed? What His coming will bring about is a rain of fire that will destroy everything and everyone except the elect.

The outstanding characteristic of the wicked lifestyle of the inhabitants of the cities of the plain was homosexuality. Demons had so perverted their minds that they had totally embraced sexual perversion. The evil seed of that wickedness had reached the point of no return. Destroying that society was akin to cutting out a cancer lest it spread. What of our world today that is being steadily brainwashed to regard homosexuality as a perfectly respectable alternative to normal sexuality? I am not suggesting a spirit of hatred and intolerance toward people, but if we are going to call ourselves Christians, we had better stand for the truth regardless of what the world says.

Homosexuality is simply one form of demonic brainwashing. It is a sinful condition from which people need deliverance. Only Christ through the gospel can deliver anyone from the power of whatever sin stands between them and God. Rom. 1:16-32. I Cor. 6:9-11.

Psalm 105:7 says, “He is the LORD our God: his judgments are in all the earth.” Life in this world is full of trials of every sort — wars, famines, diseases, natural disasters — permitted of God in part to bear witness to man of his condition and need of God. Had he any spiritual understanding, man could be warned by these things and be saved from the wrath to come. The trouble is that men
are blind and unable to see the hand of God in human affairs. Actually they are more than blind. They are willingly ignorant. II Peter 3:5.

The Amorites

There is a significant insight given us in the words of God to Abraham (Abram, at the time) in Gen. 15:16: “... the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full.” This statement was made as God told Abram of the future of his descendants. He foretold their 400 years of slavery and subsequent deliverance.

The Amorites were one of the Canaanite peoples. They were descendants of Canaan, son of Ham, and heirs of the curse recorded in Gen. 9:25. God saw the principle of sin at work and foresaw the time when their “iniquity” would be “full,” requiring judgment.

By that time, the Israelites had become a great nation, delivered from Egyptian slavery, tried in the desert, and ready to fulfill God’s promise to Abram that they would inherit the land. Their victory was also God’s judgment on the wickedness of the Canaanites. Only God can arrange such things!

This pattern can be seen throughout history as God has used one nation as an instrument of judgment against another. He even used heathen nations to judge the sins of Israel and then judged them in their turn. See Isaiah 10 (and many other chapters in Isaiah) for example.

The judgments witnessed by Noah and Lot, however are most telling. The recipients of those judgments had no future, no opportunity to repent once destruction was underway and no inclination to repent when forewarned. This is a picture of our day and only God knows how close we are. The world is brazenly planning for many a tomorrow that will never come.

God’s word concerning the Amorites gives a further insight into our day. The fact that evil flourished among them unchallenged by God was no indication that He was unaware or uninterested. It simply wasn’t time. The harvest was not fully ripe. God has allotted to man a space of time and only when that time has expired will He intervene.

He is fully aware of the evil that flourishes in this present hour. Let no one be deceived by His relative silence (II Peter 3:3-7). Though the world is unaware of it, the hour of destruction has been set. God knows exactly when it will be. While we know of the certainty of what is coming (as Noah did) we do not know the day nor the hour (Matt. 24:36).

Two Harvests

There are two processes at work in the earth. each rapidly nearing completion. Both are pictured as harvests in Rev. 14:14-20. In verses 15-16, we see one harvest portrayed symbolically as an angel with a sickle literally reaping a crop from the earth. The accompanying words include, “the time is come,” and “the harvest of the earth is ripe.” In this harvest we see God’s work in His people completed.

This is followed by a second angel and a second harvest. This one is described differently. The angel was told to “thrust in thy sharp sickle, and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth; for her grapes are fully ripe.” This harvest was cast into “the great winepress of the wrath of God” (verse 19).

As much as we might long for the coming of Christ and final deliverance, it will not come until precisely the right moment. God will not lose even one of His own (II Pet. 3:9, John 6:37). In the meantime, we walk by faith and not by sight (II Cor. 5:7) depending on God’s grace (II Cor. 12:9) and looking to the Captain of our Salvation, who has promised never to leave us nor forsake us (Heb. 13:5). “In your patience possess ye your souls” (Luke 21:19).

The World’s Future

The idea that this present world has a fairly lengthy future to look forward to has long been rooted in man’s thinking, including that of the vast majority of professing Christians. Elaborate systems of belief have arisen over the centuries, supposedly based on the Bible, yet differing radically from one another! One thing they possess in common, however, is a sort of Christianized version of the age-old human longing for and belief in an era of peace and prosperity — a golden age — for this world.

The truth is, if a man concludes that a certain belief is true, he can find apparent support in the scriptures for his ideas, no matter how they may differ from those of someone else, equally sincere. Only an honest dependence upon God to reveal His word as He sees fit will rescue us from the Babylon of confusion that exists in our day. God is both able and willing, as He was in Noah’s day, to reveal the truth His people need.

The word most often associated with this “golden age” among professing believers is “millennium.” A millennium is simply a period of 1000 years such as from 1001-2000. In fact, with the rapid approach of the year 2000, it is common to hear people refer to the coming millennium with no religious implications at all. To them it is simply a measurement of the passage of time on the calendar.

Broadly speaking, there are three main positions theologians take with respect to “the millennium,” when used by Bible teachers to refer to a golden age.

The first, and by far the most loudly trumpeted, is premillennialism. With variations, this is essentially the belief in a future literal reign of Christ over the nations of this world lasting 1000 years. Thus the end of the world is believed to be at least 1000 years in the future.

The second, embraced by a significant number of religious groups and teachers, is postmillennialism. In general, this doctrine claims that the church will, through the proclamation of the gospel, gradually conquer the world and bring about an extended era of peace and righteousness to this world. This era, not necessarily a literal 1000 years is somewhere in the future and it is taught that Christ’s return will occur after (“post”) this era. He will come to judge and separate and only then will this world order end. Hence, in this view, the coming of Christ and the end of the world could be thousands of years in the future! Although this view is not so loudly trumpeted as is that of the premillennialist, a lot of people believe it.

The third position is amillennialism, simply the belief that the Bible does not promise a golden age for this present world. I have heard
people mistakenly characterize this position as follows: “Oh, you believe we’re in the millennium now!” Of course not! A statement like that simply reveals how deeply the idea of a golden age is rooted in people’s thinking. The fact is that a term like “amillennialism” would be totally unnecessary were it not for the widespread belief in a millennium!

This belief, rooted in Judaism, began to be embraced by some Christian teachers after the New Testament era. Had it been an issue at the time of the Apostle Paul, I guarantee he would have had something to say about it, pro or con. His ministry was such that he didn’t hesitate to speak out clearly and forcefully about any issue that affected God’s people (Acts 20:27).

Debate?

It would be easy to simply make this a matter of theological debate, my ideas and scripture interpretations and reasonings against those who differ. It is this process that has heavily contributed to the present confusion. I don’t have the power in myself to search the scriptures and arrive at the truth and neither do you! If the Lord doesn’t intervene and reveal His word to us, we wander in darkness.

Noah didn’t engage in debate when he preached for 120 years, warning his generation of the coming flood. He simply proclaimed God’s revealed message and the hearers either rejected it and perished or embraced it, helped build the ark, and were saved.

For about 50 years now, one conviction has characterized the ministry of Bro. Thomas: the nearness of Christ’s coming and the end of the world and the need of God’s people to wake up and get ready. Attached to this message has been a growing sense of urgency. Either this conviction is from God or it’s not. There is no middle ground.

You, the reader, do not have to be in doubt about this matter. There is a catch, however: you must will to do the will of God (John 7:17). This is the condition we must meet if we expect God to reveal Himself to us concerning doctrines and ministries we encounter.

Most people are unwilling to do this as they are married to a religious system, or a tradition, or their own concepts. They are unwilling to write God a “blank check” in the matter and thus entertain the possibility of being wrong and having to change.

The truth is, if we are not willing to commit ourselves to do God’s will before we know what it is, why should He show us anything? What kind of faith is that? Do you really expect Almighty God to open Himself up to you so you can adapt what you like to fit your own concepts and then discard the rest? Is His Word a mere proposal to be debated subject to our wills?

If we cannot commit ourselves to His will, the only alternative is that we are left to our own resources to walk in darkness and the vanity of our minds. That is where much of Christianity is today. This is the reason for Jesus’ warning in Matt. 7:21-23 and John 12:35-50.

The Leader of the Church

God did not ordain that His Son become a figurehead over the church, although that is exactly what He has become to most. They use His name and profess to be His followers yet He has little or no influence over what they believe and do. Their religion has been reduced to a system with a life of its own to be embraced, protected and extended to others. Another word for “system” is “prison.” Our world is filled with religious prisons from which the true remnant need to be set free. Isaiah 42:22.

Christ was ordained to be the active leader of His church. We have not been left to choose our own preferred way any more than the Israelites were left to cross the wilderness and conquer Canaan on their own, each as he saw fit. Can you imagine what it would have been like had hundreds or even thousands of competing sects arisen each contending that theirs was the right way?! The only way they could have conquered Canaan would have been if the Canaanites had died laughing at the confusion! Every time they rejected the leadership of Christ through Moses (I Cor. 10:1-11) they got into serious trouble.

One of the main functions of Christ’s active leadership is communicating relevant truth. We need more than a body of “orthodox doctrine” (whatever that is) to learn and pass on. While there certainly are timeless truths (such as “Christ and Him crucified”), we need the word of God revealed as it applies to the specific day and hour. Only Christ by the Spirit can do that. Luke 4:21. Rev. 5:9.

Not Just Doctrine

When the Israelites were standing before the Jordan River, they didn’t need new recipes for baking manna! They needed the Captain of the LORD’s Host to make Himself known with specific instruction as to how to cross the river and conquer the land. To the extent they heard and obeyed, they prospered. Every time they rebelled in some way they failed.

Noah, likewise, didn’t need general instruction in serving God: he needed to know about the coming flood and how to prepare. Lot had to hear and obey a very specific and timely word: “Hurry and get out — now! I’m going to destroy this place.” The Word of God is not just doctrine, but a living word, relevant to the present need.

There is a principle stated in Amos 3:7 that can be seen throughout the Word: “Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.” Whenever there is anything God does that affects His people, that they need to know about, He always tells someone about it. When He reveals it to someone, they are responsible to tell His people in general. This kind of revelation doesn’t come to any and everyone, but to those God appoints.

The end of the age and the destruction of this world is not a mere academic question to be debated, with one man’s opinion as good as another’s. If God is speaking, we need to listen. If He is not, then we are truly in a wilderness of confusion. I believe He is speaking and that the sheep will hear.

Satan’s purpose in encouraging and inspiring false doctrine is to cause people to miss Christ and be destroyed. It is also to create confusion, to misdirect, hinder and spoil the sheep, those few who actually are God’s out of the whole.

Just as was the case in Noah’s day when false doctrine caused people to be unprepared and consequently to perish, so it is — and more so — in our day. False doctrine in Noah’s day was anything people believed that caused them to reject his message of warning.

Obedience

God does not speak merely to fill up our heads with ideas. While His Word does enlighten our minds with spiritual understanding, it also demands action, obedience. Read Heb. 11. In every case, the emphasis was upon what men did as a result of what they believed. What if their believing had been in error? What if they had heeded a different voice?

In Revelation, Chapters 2 and 3, we find messages directed to seven churches. Each message was specific and designed to meet the need of the local congregation. Each message revealed their condition and commanded appropriate action, coupled with a promise to overcomers. One exhortation was common to all seven churches: “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches” (Rev. 3:22, for example).

There are far too many voices in our day and eternal issues hang in the balance. What is the Spirit saying? What is our condition? What is coming upon the earth? What should we be doing to prepare? These questions matter!

When the disciples asked Jesus concerning his coming and the end of the world (Matt. 24:3-4), the very first words were, “Take heed that no man deceive you.” Ponder that. Wake up and realize that the time of the greatest manifestation of evil and spiritual darkness the world has ever known will be marked by an unprecedented spirit of deception, religious and otherwise (Matt. 24:23-24, II Thess. 2:9-11). Do not take things at face value. Seek God!

A Time Accepted

If there is one thing Satan wants to destroy above all others, it is the urgency of the gospel. Whereas the word declares, “... I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (II Cor. 6:2), Satan has a thousand ways to say, “There’s no hurry; another time will do.”

The scripture we just quoted clearly conveys several critical truths. One is that there is a “time accepted” and a “day of salvation.” No one can be saved at any other time. In the “day of salvation,” God says, “I succoured thee.” That is an old word meaning “helped.” No one can be saved without God’s active “help,” and that is only available at a certain time.

Connected to all of this is the key word “now.” “Now” for any individual is when God says, “Now.” The only opportunity any man has to be saved is when God, by the Spirit draws near, pressing the claims of the gospel upon his heart as a result of an anointed ministry of the word. That is the accepted time. To say, “yes,” at such a time — to surrender — is, with God’s help, to enter into everlasting life. To say, “no,” is to risk damnation. There is no guarantee He will call again.

A lost sinner is like a man drowning in the middle of a raging sea with no hope in himself of surviving. The gospel, anointed, alive with God’s power, is His hand reaching out to the sinner. When the sinner, blind to his true condition, thrusts away God’s mercy and the hand is withdrawn, what then?

When God ceases to strive, whether with an individual or with humanity as a whole, it is over. Prayer at that point is useless. Consider Esau who despised his opportunity when he had it. Later he sought a place of repentance, realizing only then the value of what he had lost, but was rejected, “though he sought it carefully with tears.” Heb. 12:17.

There will be a lot of praying when Christ comes and the world realizes its fate — as was, no doubt, the case in Noah’s day — but it will be too late. Just as God closed the door to the ark prior to the flood, so will the door to His kingdom close forever before His Son returns to gather home His own and rain fire on this world.

What Source of Wisdom?

If God is truly warning by the Spirit that this is exactly what is shortly to happen then what source of wisdom is behind these other views? I do not question either the sincerity or the intelligence of their adherents but we need more than sincerity and intelligence. We need to hear from God. When men rely on their own ability (or that of others) to study and interpret the Bible, confusion is the only possible result.

The most damnable error is the idea conveyed to the sinner that there is no real urgency to the gospel. Obviously there is little urgency in the notion of a “church triumphant” conquering the world sometime in the next few hundred or thousand years. What constitutes “triumph” depends greatly upon God’s purpose for this world and for His people in it. Was Noah a failure because he won only seven converts and the rest perished? Jesus said it would be like that.

What if there had been other voices crying, “Don’t listen to this gloom and doom ‘negative’ message: righteousness will triumph?” It would have sounded nice, but that wasn’t God’s message. What effect would such a doctrine have had on those hearing Noah’s warning? Do you see a different spirit at work? Both cannot be God!

Other spirits in our day are telling the people, “Yes, Christ is coming soon and we’re going to suddenly disappear and be with Him, leaving the world to suffer seven years of terrible trouble before He returns for His second ‘second coming’ to reign for 1000 years. You need to buy my video tape or publication so that when we disappear in ‘the rapture’ your loved ones will know how to be saved.”

Words fail attempting to express how diabolical is the wisdom behind such a teaching! It’s somewhat akin to Noah leaving behind boat-building instructions so people could be saved after the flood began!

While the practice of selling video tapes for loved ones left behind is perhaps one of the more extreme results of popular teaching today, yet, at its best, premillennialism plainly implies a second chance for sinners. The idea is clearly conveyed to sinners that while they ought to “get saved” now and avoid the real trouble, it’s OK to “wait and see.”

This idea is straight from the pit of hell! How dare people call themselves Christians and teach such things?! Wake up! Where in all of the teachings of Jesus or the Apostles do you find such an idea?

Preparation

Central to the message of God to and through Noah was the need to prepare for what was to come. Their safety and preservation depended upon hearing and obeying God’s specific instruction. Knowing the flood was coming was one thing. Building an ark able to withstand it was another!

Most of the teaching one hears today regarding the future of this world shares this characteristic: it leaves people unprepared for what is to come. The postmillennialist says, “There’s no flood coming: we’re going to straighten out this mess!” Most other popular teaching says, “Don’t worry! God’s going to rapture us out before the serious trouble starts.” Then you have those groups, overrun by Humanism, who believe man will solve his own problems, that his future is in his own hands.

Noah walked a lonely road but he turned a deaf ear to other voices, choosing to believe God. His faith was translated into action (Heb. 11:7) and the result of that action was salvation.

What voice are you listening to? What voice are you giving heed to, trusting in to give you understanding of what is taking place and what you need to do? Is it the Great Shepherd’s Voice? Is it the water of life and the bread of life that satisfies the thirsty, hungry soul? Or is it one of the many voices of religion that have put people to sleep when there is a desperate need to be awake?

God’s Voice

God’s voice does not come from the halls of religion. Religion trains its messengers to give out a mixture of dead second-hand truth and error that dulls the people’s ears and drugs them into a spiritual stupor. It fixes people’s minds so that they are unable to recognize and receive God’s voice.

God’s voice comes of necessity from “outside the camp” through men who have been separated unto Him and taught by Him. It has a ring of authority about it that disturbs, challenges and awakens. It exalts the Living Christ and proclaims, not the dead creeds and traditions of religion, but the living message of God for the present day and hour. His voice is hated by religion because it exposes religion’s true condition.

In Acts 6:8-7:60 we have the account of Stephen, whose ministry was so anointed and effective that false witnesses were paid to stir up the people to bring him before the Council in Jerusalem on charges of blasphemy. Bear in mind that this Council represented the leadership of the “established,” “Bible-believing” religion of its day. They claimed Moses and Abraham as fathers and guarded their religious heritage with murderous zeal, believing that they were thereby serving God. John 16:2.

Hear the ringing indictment of Stephen, full of the Holy Ghost, in 7:51-53: “Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye.

“Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers:

“Who have received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept it.”

This was not just Stephen’s opinion. He wasn’t just getting carried away with zeal. This was God’s voice bearing witness through Stephen to the religious leaders of the Jewish nation.

Read also Jesus’ indictment in Matt. 23 culminating in verses 37-39: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!

“Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.

“For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.”

Throughout the Old Testament, the voice of God was expressed through prophets who were called, separated and taught of God. Their message to the nation of Israel as a whole was an unbroken of litany of indictments against apostasy and warnings of judgment. Their reward was persecution and murder. This demonstrates the true nature of “religion,” regardless of the heritage it claims. It is perhaps the greatest instrument of deception Satan possesses.

Along with causing people to respond to God’s message with hatred and persecution, Satan has always had those he has inspired to directly oppose and counter that message. Speaking of Old Testament days, II Peter 2:1 says, “But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you ....”

A good example can be seen in Jeremiah 28 where a man named Hananiah directly countered Jeremiah’s prophecy of the coming Babylonian captivity. Hananiah, claiming to speak for God, prophesied that the Babylonian yoke would be broken and the temple treasures returned within two years.

The Lord’s word to Hananiah was, “The LORD hath not sent thee; but thou makest this people to trust in a lie ... this year thou shalt die, because thou hast taught rebellion against the LORD.” He died that year. Jer. 28:15-17.

All of this occurred within the context of the Word of the Lord through Jeremiah, not only to Israel but also to the surrounding nations that they had all been given into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar (Jer. 27:1-11). Those who submitted were promised blessing and safety. Those who rebelled were warned of divine punishment.

It was this unpopular message that caused false prophets to rise up in protest. No doubt some of the heathen nations fared better than rebellious apostate Israel. It is worse for those who have had light and not walked in it (2 Pet. 2:21).

False prophecy actually serves a purpose in the plan of God: it is part of His judgment upon those who refuse to hear His voice. Listen to the Lord’s words in Jer. 27:15 concerning the false prophets: “For I have not sent them, saith the LORD, yet they prophesy a lie in my name; that I might drive you out, and that ye might perish, ye, and the prophets that prophesy unto you.”

The message of God today is about as popular as Jeremiah’s message, or Noah’s. Many are the voices saying it isn’t so. I saw an unusually clear example of this several years ago at a time when we were experiencing a fresh visitation of God’s Spirit. There was a renewed emphasis upon the approaching fiery end of the world characterized by a real Spirit of urgency and of the need to serve God in a clearcut way and to not be carried away by the darkness of the world around us.

One picture the Lord gave us was of a place of safety and light and peace while outside a black storm raged, uprooting and destroying. I believe that this is a true picture of what the remnant church faces in these last days and of the Lord’s provision for His own.

During that time I remember hearing a world-renowned preacher and religious leader preaching on television. It was evident that he was aware of the growing concern of some that the world would soon end. Right in the middle of his message he paused and with great emphasis said something like, “One thing I want to make very clear: the world is not about to end.” He went on to talk about the supposed coming millennium when there would be 1000 years of peace.

Pure tradition! I won’t make any personal judgments concerning the man involved: he is in God’s hands and the Lord knows them that are His (I Tim. 2:19). Even if he is basically a good man, good men can say bad things (Matt. 16:22-23). Good men can be spoiled by tradition (Col. 2:8).

God has not forgotten about us in this present darkness. He has manna fresh from the throne that can satisfy the hungry soul. He has a place of safety and blessing for us. It is the place of His presence where true believers have been brought into fellowship with one another and with Christ. It is a place where Christ is not a mere figurehead but the actual Head of the body, where His word, relevant to the present need, flows forth in life and power.

You will not find this place in the camp of religion. Religion builds monuments to the blessings of yesterday (Matt. 17:4-5). The word says, “Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach. For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come.” Heb. 13:13-14.

It is man’s way to establish a “continuing city,” an institution to organize and contain his religious efforts but you cannot institutionalize God or His Son. We are ever a pilgrim people. The city we seek lies beyond this present world.

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