CHURCH REVIVAL-CHRIST'S RETURN
by Hans Stoffregen
There is a message being preached in certain "Christian" circles that grieves my spirit and compels me to respond. In a nutshell, what is being taught and widely accepted is that the Body of Christ, His Church on earth is in the midst of this great revival that will one day soon culminate in His return. In other words this revival is swelling the ranks of the Church to the point where all who are INTENDED to be saved will soon
BE saved and henceforth there is nothing left but for Jesus to come claim what is His. Those who are putting forth this message are nothing more than spin doctors, spinning the truth of God's Word into a lie; a lie that serves their own bellies. It is the spirit of Satan working through the pride of unrepentant man to undermine Jesus. It's nothing new! However it becomes more intense as we approach the end of this age. Listen to the Apostle Paul addressing the earliest Church:
"Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God which he hath purchased with His own blood.
For I know this, that after my departing shall GRIEVOUS WOLVES enter in among you, NOT SPARING THE FLOCK.
Also of your own selves shall MEN arise, SPEAKING PERVERSE THINGS, to draw away disciples after them." [ACTS 20:28-31]
These "wolves" who are using distortions of God's Word to devour sheep are invariably standing in front of a TV. camera reaching millions of viewers. They are often times also standing in front of one of these so-called mega-churches. The mega-churches are part of the props that help sell the illusion of a great revival to the TV. audiences. Carnal minds are being sold on the illusion that physical attendance
in a physical structure is equivalent to being a member of the body of Christ. The reality of that illusion is devastating. False prophets are preaching a select and distorted Gospel in order to swell attendance which in turn swells the offering plate which in turn enriches those presenting the message...ALL at the expense of someone's salvation. Hell is no longer preached because it makes people uncomfortable. Never mind that God made more references to hell than He did to heaven. We can't have uncomfortable sinners. Are these messengers saying that the Holy Spirit has the power to convict a sinner but not enough power to bring him to repentance? After all, isn't THAT the whole objective...ISN'T IT?? In conjunction with this omission comes a gross distortion. God's nature of love and mercy are isolated. No mention is made that He is also a just God who cannot condone sin and is capable of wrath the likes of which will one day soon make all creation tremble. From that omission we get- by implication- a gospel of salvation without repentance. Added to that we are told that prosperity is ours for the asking but in order to facilitate the process we are under moral obligation to enhance someone else's-namely the one doing the talking. Diseases no longer have power over us nor do the calamities of everyday life that plague others.
My God! With a message like that NO WONDER the seats are full at these mega-churches. They're promising a free ride here on earth with a pocket full of money to get us by until we can leave this earth. The kicker is that the NEXT place which will be even BETTER than this one. Now if THAT won't bring them in, then NOTHING will! So millions of people flock to these "bearers of good tidings" and throw their money at them and cling to the false hope they dangle before their faces. After all, giving money and "just believing" is so much easier than having to discover the reality of God's Word for themselves. Someone needs to understand that Jesus IS God's Word. You CANNOT have a relationship with Jesus vicariously through someone else. That's tantamount to placing them in position to be your god. And so it is against this backdrop that millions are accepting without question the message that the Church is amidst its greatest revival in preparation for Christ's return
Oh, it sounds good, no doubt. And if I wanted to look at the world around me with strictly a "world" view, I could accept it as true. After all, the church pews are full and based on the lavishly furnished churches, prosperity seems to abound. The message must be true because it s working for someone. The only problem I have with that approach is that when I accepted Jesus as my Saviour I also accepted Him as my Lord. In so doing I surrendered my way of seeing things to His. His perspective on ALL matters is:
"Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment."
I can't trust myself to see the truth in a matter. That sinful nature will cloud my vision every time. I need a higher standard of truth.
"Sanctify them through thy truth: THY WORD IS TRUTH." [JOHN 17:17]
Who hasn't figured out yet that appearances can fool you? That's a lesson even a child learns at an early age. Yet somehow as we reach adulthood we acquire this egotistical arrogance that says "It can't happen to me." All the while Jesus is speaking to us saying things like:
"Now the SERPENT was MORE SUBTIL than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made." [GENESIS 3:1]
"...SATAN himself IS TRANSFORMED INTO AN ANGEL OF LIGHT; Therefore it is no great thing if HIS MINISTERS ALSO BE TRANSFORMED AS THE MINISTERS OF RIGHTEOUSNESS; whose end shall be according to their works." [2 CORINTHIANS 11:12-15]
"And there was war in heaven...And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent called the devil, and SATAN, WHICH DECEIVETH THE WHOLE WORLD..." [REVELATION 12:7-9]
Those are dire warnings as to the nature of our enemy and the nature of our limitations. And yet...
The Apostle Paul did not leave a clear or lengthy record as to the rapture of the Church therefore I'll leave that to someone else. But what Paul DID leave a very clear and lengthy record on was the condition of the professing Church at Jesus' return.
See if you can spot the "revival" in Paul's words.
"Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto Him,
That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.
LET NO MAN DECEIVE YOU BY ANY MEANS: for that day shall not come, EXCEPT there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition..." [2 THESSALONIANS 2:1-3]
Paul says that Jesus will not come back before there is a "falling away" and the antichrist is revealed. A falling away by who and to what? This is not sounding like a church revival to me. It has the distinct ring of a church that has become a part of the world system that it is supposed to be separated from so much so that it is powerless against the rise of God's arch-enemy. But let's not jump to conclusions based on a few verses. Read on!
"Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times SOME SHALL DEPART FROM THE FAITH, GIVING HEED TO SEDUCING SPIRITS, AND DOCTRINES OF DEVILS..." [1 TIMOTHY 4:1]
"This know also, that IN THE LAST DAYS PERILOUS TIMES SHALL COME...
HAVING A FORM OF GODLINESS, BUT DENYING THE POWER THEREOF; FROM SUCH STAY AWAY." [2 TIMOTHY 3:1-5]
I don't know about anyone else but to me this is starting to sound like some very serious warnings about some very grievous times just before Christ's return. Of course ALL of God's Word is sacred but there is something about Second Timothy that gives Paul's words special significance. Notice that in chapter 4 at verse 6 he says:
"For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand."
Paul wrote Second Timothy knowing that he was on the verge of death. He said so! This was his last chance to impart whatever information he deemed most important to someone that was very dear to his heart. Timothy was Paul's protege!' Listen to what Paul said immediately prior to announcing his impending death.
"Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering AND DOCTRINE.
For the time will come when THEY WILL NOT ENDURE SOUND DOCTRINE: BUT AFTER THEIR OWN LUSTS SHALL THEY HEAP TO THEMSELVES TEACHERS, HAVING ITCHING EARS;
AND THEY SHALL TURN AWAY THEIR EARS FROM THE TRUTH, AND SHALL BE TURNED UNTO FABLES. [2 TIMOTHY 4:1-4 ]
I submit to you that the message of a great revival in anticipation of our Lord and Saviour's return is a CLASSIC example of the words Paul spoke to Timothy. The professing Church does not want to hear the truth so they flock to teachers who tell them what they want to hear. Ironically enough it was prophesied to be that way so God's Word is being vindicated as I speak. Even so, those who love the truth and have it in them are bound to speak it regardless of how it received. It is not man's place nor does man have the ability to make God's Word bear fruit. Our job is to speak the Word. The Holy Spirit will give the words life as God sees fit.
We pray this article has been of help to you.