by Paul Benson
Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Titus 2:13
The Return of Jesus Christ to planet Earth is at the very heart of the Christian faith. Down through the ages the gatherings of believers resonated with the preaching on, and anxious anticipation of, his glorious Coming to judge the Earth. But for the most part this topic has become less and less the focus of modern ‘ministry’.
And quite alarmingly (at least to me) very few seem much taken aback by this radical departure from the preaching on a subject matter that has captivated the attention of the Church for nearly twenty centuries. Why is this?
For many the mainstay of Bible teaching has become a focus on the prosperity and preservation of self; and a vigorous examination of what faith and positive confession can produce for you in this life. An eternal focus has been replaced with a temporal one!
Others have become completely enamored with the pursuit of signs and wonders; willing to travel far and wide hoping to experience some manifestation to assure them of their connectivity with the Father.
And for a great part of the Western Church the preaching on the long awaited Arrival of Christ to this planet has been set aside to promote a misguided expectation of an imminent departure of the Church. An escape from the prophesied extreme trials and persecutions the Body of Christ will endure in the final days of this age. The wondrous message of the Advent has been overshadowed by a deceptive narrative of a pre-tribulation ‘rapture’ of the Church.
The Purpose Of The Great Tribulation?
I wholeheartedly believe all these facets of wayward focus are undeniable signs of the prophesied end-time apostasy. And I also believe this will all be severely dealt with and purged from the Body of Christ before Jesus finally returns to gather his Bride unto himself. These wrinkles in her Garment will be completely ironed out by the events soon to transpire!
I have heard many a message on the purpose of the great tribulation; but only a few have ‘got it right’ in my opinion.
Many teach the only purpose of the tribulation is to bring national Israel back to God; and the Church is exempt (and therefore removed) from this period of intense cataclysm. But Jesus himself said that like a snare it will come upon the WHOLE world (Luke 21:35). The purpose of the tribulation involves the populous of the Earth in its entirety, not just Israel!
Others teach it is the time when God vents his stored up anger upon a rebellious humanity. A large segment of the Church is mistakenly teaching that this time of tribulation is the outpouring of the *wrath of God. But this notion is actually quite out of sync with the Word of God.
*(The time of tribulation CANNOT be the wrath of God or it would make the very words of our Lord Jesus to be untrue. I explain in detail why this claim of the time of tribulation being the wrath of God is not correct doctrine HERE.)
The wrath of God will befall the wicked upon the Return of Christ to Earth, not before! The events that transpire in the final days of this age are one giant ‘last call’ to repentance for mankind, including those professing faith in Christ!
The real purpose of the great tribulation is a sifting of humanity!
In the closing stages of this age the wicked and the righteous will see a great gulf develop between them. (A separation that should already be quite evident in the life of one professing faith in Christ, but is sadly for the most part missing in this age of apostasy!) The Mark of the Beast, and the hardships and persecutions involved in refusing that Mark, will widen this rift in humanity immensely!
And possibly the greatest purpose of this time of great tribulation is the sifting of the very Church itself! Those on the fence will have to jump off on one side or the other. ‘Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision’ are the words that come to mind here! By the Mark of the Beast the *Tares among the Wheat will be identified, singled out, and marked for destruction. And at the end of this time of tribulation the true Wheat, having been thoroughly threshed (removing its chaff), will at long last be gathered into the Master’s garner.
*(The true Biblical pattern of the Harvest of humanity versus the false teaching of modern theory is discussed HERE if you are interested.)
The Importance Of Preaching On The Return Of Christ To Earth
God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. John 4:24
Most modern preaching in general, including the pre-trib rapture teaching, does not confront the wicked with the horrible and eternal fate that awaits them; nor does it stir them to anger, the way the true message of Christ’s Return does. Although the pre-tribbers do tell the world (erroneously) that they will face the wrath of God during the tribulation, their ‘POOF! we are gone’ message seems to illicit little response from the lost. Their words are for the most part brushed aside with a big: ‘Whatever!’.
Though countless believers have suffered even unto death for anointed preaching on the Coming of Christ to judge this world and destroy the wicked I have never once heard of someone killed or beaten for preaching the pre-trib rapture myth. It just does not seem to provoke the wicked to anger the way the truth of God’s Word does. The reason for this is simple. The wayward doctrines and theories of man do not convey the life and power found in the truth.
God does not anoint fables!
The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth. Anointed words are words of truth. We cannot just preach any old thing we think folks want to hear and expect it to have a life changing effect on them.
It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. John 6:63
Some words are just words. Other words are full of spirit and life. Words are like seeds. Some are fertile and some are sterile. When you take the wonderful Gospel of Christ and alter it into a man-pleasing and ear-tickling counterfeit it is no longer the Good Seed that produces life. It becomes a sterile hybrid. The brunt of modern ministry is comprised of these lifeless words.
If we are going to see the lost impacted to the point of seeking repentance and the path that leads to life we are going to have to return to the true message of the Kingdom. It’s the only way!
The True Revival Message
Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: Hebrews 12:14
When conversion to Christianity does not produce conversion of heart and lifestyle something is terribly amiss. Every true historical revival has been birthed by a repentance focused message with a strong emphasis on the Cross of Christ as the means of escaping the wrath of God. And the fruit of true revival has always been a resurgence of righteous living. This is an absolute undisputed fact.
Although many a circus has come to town claiming to be revival (and some garnering quite a following in our area) the lasting fruit of souls truly converted to righteous living, and devotion to the will of God, only follows the preaching of the truth. The counterfeit Gospel produces counterfeit Christians. Religious converts still in the grips of sin and rebellion, but possessing an assurance of salvation that is sadly but a false assurance. The fact that these Unconverted Converts number in the multiplied millions in this nation is a glaring testimony against the lifeless words of the backslid pulpits of the American Church.
The message of the end-time revival and the final in-gathering of souls that lays ahead will be one that firmly confronts the world with the reality of the Return of Jesus Christ to judge the world and punish the wicked for their rebellion with a never ending retribution. And it will boldly lift up the work of his Cross as the only escape from this coming horror. That has always been the crux of the Gospel. It has never changed.
Though man has increasingly sought to ‘upgrade’ the Gospel to make it more palatable to the lost, we must realize the power of the message is in the truth of the message; and the departure from that truth has led to the current sterility of modern preaching.
As the trials and tribulations of the final days purge the Church of the unbelievers and make-believers, and burn away the dross of a compromised Gospel, the message presented will once again return to the original message of the early believers that carried so much life and power. The focus will once again be on the dire condition of the lost, the wonder of the Cross to answer that perplexity, and the reality of the soon Coming of Jesus to judge those who inhabit this planet according to their works.
It will be a message of truth and a message of life. Those who hear and embrace that truth will find life eternal.
But why should we wait for that day? Let’s lead the charge! Let’s return to that pure and simple Gospel that Paul called the everlasting Gospel. Let’s flush the modern hybrid gospel of man-pleasing pacification down the stool like the pile of dung it truly is! It is a stench in the nostrils of God, and should be similarly a great offense to us! Is it to you? It sure is to me. I want no part of it.
We will NEVER see a true spiritual revival in this nation (or as individuals) without a return to the true message of the Word of God. Period!
The King is Coming to judge the Earth!
Let’s lift our voices and boldly declare that fact to the world. The convicting power of that message has stirred the masses down through the ages. It will do the same today. Yes, many will mock and some will surely persecute; BUT SOME will be convicted to the point of repentance and will seek refuge from damnation in the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ!
I think it is about time we got back to preaching on the reality of his Return.
THE KING IS COMING!
Let’s tell the world. And let’s keep telling them whether they want to hear it or not!
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