Newsletter 123 Spring 2017

 In this edition

“the end of all things is at hand; therefore

 Preparing for a time of great tribulation

Book Review – The Good Shepherd Calls

D is for Deception

“Hated by all nations for My names sake.”

The Ark Fellowship

United Nations Absurdity

Balfour 100

Perhaps it is a parable

Erdogan – quoted from Joel’s Trumpet

“the end of all things is at hand; therefore …..” 1 Peter 4: 7

We are rapidly moving towards the end of this present age and the return of Jesus Christ. I cannot tell how long it will be before we reach the climax of the age. It may be this year, next year or in five years time that we are plunged into the final chain of events which will lead up to the Second Coming. However I do sense that now is the time to prepare.

Jesus said of these closing years that, “..in those days there will be tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the creation which God created until this time nor ever shall be, and unless the Lord had shortened those days, no flesh would be saved, but for the elect’s sake, whom He chose, He shortened the days.” Mark 13: 19 – 20. These are words which can alarm us. It is easy to understand why, the teaching that we will not be part of this tribulation is popular. Many believe the Lord will gather His church out of the world before these things take place.

I do not hold that view. I find the most straight forward interpretation of scripture, places the gathering of those who remain and the physical return of Christ to this earth, as events which occur very close together in time. It is also clear from scripture that the coming of the Lord will be a surprise to the world. The exact time has not been revealed in order to catch Satan off guard. [Matthew 24: 43]. Because the day and hour have not been revealed we are called on to always be ready.

To place the coming of the Lord after the tribulation, while saying that we are to always be ready because He is coming at an hour we do not expect [Mathew 24: 44] seems to be a contradiction. I believe that it is intended that we accept the contradiction. If we do, it leads us to live in the ever present blessed hope of our Lord’s return, while preparing for a time of tribulation. We move away from fruitless and often divisive debates about times, to focus on obedience to our Lord’s command to watch.

Therefore, if we are called on to face the possibility of tribulation, how are we, to prepare? We will look at 1 Peter 4: 7 – 11 for guidance.

Preparing for a time of great tribulation

Continuing in 1 Peter 4: 7 we read “But the end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers.” The first steps in preparing for the days which are rapidly approaching are to be serious, watchful and prayerful.

Serious

An athlete seeking to win a medal is serious about his training. In dedication he makes no provision for the flesh but is single minded in his preparation. The desire to win overcomes thoughts of comfort and pleasure. We are seeking to win the upward call of Christ and should in these last days be just as single minded. In Hebrews 12: 1 we are encouraged to “…… lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.”  Our inspiration is Jesus who has gone before, suffering on our behalf. The race before us is strewn with obstacles. Deceptions and persecutions will stand in our way. Satan will strive to prevent us completing the course. If we run the race “looking unto Jesus” He will be with us to guide us through.

To be serious is also translated as to be sober or of a sound mind. The need to be of a sound mind in response to the times in which we are living is taken up in Romans. “….it is time to awake out of sleep: for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light. …… put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfil its lusts.” Romans 13: 11 – 14.

Have we been asleep? Have we ignored the signs that this age is coming to an end? Are we assuming that life will continue as it has been? Now is the time to wake up and recognise that everything will soon change. Bible prophecies of the end times will be fulfilled. Jesus said that the time before His return would be like the days of Noah. In contrast to the world, Noah listened to the Lord and in faith prepared for the judgment which was coming. A sound mind believes God’s word and recognises that judgment must come on this rebellious world. We need to be diligent in putting on the armour of light which is the Lord Jesus Christ. Clothed in His likeness we will stand in any storm.

Watchful

“Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation.” Matthew 26: 41.

The need to be watchful in prayer is something that Peter learned the hard way. There was a time when the Lord Jesus asked him to watch and pray. Instead he fell asleep. Lacking the strength that comes through prayer he fell to temptation. Three times he denied His Lord.

Jesus warned us that the closing years of the age would be marked by many deceptions. These deceptions will be accompanied by signs and wonders. The arch deceiver’s intention is to cause Christians to deny their Lord. We are to be vigilant in our prayers to prevent being taken in by these deceptions. We need to understand the unique time in which we live so that we can guard against the wiles of the Devil. The repeated command of our Lord is to watch. If we watch we will not be deceived.

Prayerful

Last November my wife and I were expelled from the fellowship of which we were a part. There is a history connected with this which I have no wish to go into. All I will say is that facing a developing situation I laid it before the Lord asking that He would either vindicate me or reveal if I was wrong. Twice the Lord intervened to confirm that I was not at fault. Despite that the Lord still allowed us to be put out of the church.

A few who saw that what happened was wrong have joined us. In this embryo fellowship, which recognises that the end of the age is drawing near, we have been led to see that our focus needs to be on prayer, especially corporate prayer.

Some will see that as hiding away from involvement with the world. That is wrong, for prayer must precede any effective involvement with the world.

Many fear the coming time of tribulation. Especially the reign of the Beast as described in Revelation 13. Too often that reign is talked up as if it is Satan’s time of victory. It is not. The reign of the Beast is Satan’s last frantic attempt, after being thrown out of heaven, to reassert his crumbling authority on this world. God will be sovereign over that time and will use it to condemn those who love unrighteousness.

The more who stand firm in faith and prayer, the faster Satan’s empire will crumble. The question posed by Jesus in the parable of the persistent widow [Luke 18: 1 – 8] still stands. When Jesus returns will He find such persistent faith on the earth. We are to prepare for these times by being more persistent and effective in our prayers.

Love

Having laid a foundation in being serious, watchful and prayerful, 1 Peter 4: 8 moves on to exhort us to “have fervent love for one another”. Love is the glue which will hold a fellowship together, especially in times of suffering. Our next step of preparation for tribulation is to ask the Lord to grant us real deep love for all our brothers and sisters in the Lord.

Because we are frail beings disputes and upsets can arise in any fellowship. “Love will cover a multitude of sins.” Fervent love will overcome and restore.

Hospitality

“Be hospitable to one another without grumbling”. 1 Peter 4: 9. As the end times close in, more and more of the faithful will suffer. To be hospitable is to be ready to share. If we cling to what we possess it will probably be taken from us. If we share with those in need our possessions are transformed into treasure in heaven. Generosity is pleasing to the Lord. To prepare for these times, recognise that we are stewards of the possessions with which we have been blessed. Prayerfully seek His guidance on how we are to use them.

Ministry

Finally in this brief outline of our response to the end of all things being at hand there is a focus on ministry. “As each one has received a gift….” The emphasis is on body ministry. The Bible assumes that all have received gifts in one form or another. If a church it is to be strong and able to stand in times of persecution, it needs all its members to be functioning with the variety of gifts, which Our Lord has given.

The glory of God

“…. that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.” 1 Peter 4: 11.

God is sovereign over all our circumstances. If He calls on us to suffer we are to patiently bear it. In time, that suffering will prove to be for His glory.

 A testimony from experience

Corrie Ten Boon faced suffering in a Nazi concentration camp. From her experience she was able to pass on the following advice:

How can we get ready for the persecution?

First we need to feed on the Word of God, digest it, make it a part of our being. This will mean disciplined Bible study each day as we not only memorize long passages of scripture, but put the principles to work in our lives.

Next we need to develop a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Not just the Jesus of yesterday, the Jesus of History, but the life-changing Jesus of today who is still alive and sitting at the right hand of God. We must be filled with the Holy Spirit. This is no optional command of the Bible, it is absolutely necessary. Those earthly disciples could never have stood up under the persecution of the Jews and Romans had they not waited for Pentecost. Each of us needs our own personal Pentecost, the baptism of the Holy Spirit. We will never be able to stand in the tribulation without it.

In the coming persecution we must be ready to help each other and encourage each other. But we must not wait until the tribulation comes before starting. The fruit of the Spirit should be the dominant force of every Christian’s life.

Many are fearful of the coming tribulation, they want to run. I, too, am a little bit afraid when I think that after all my eighty years, including the horrible Nazi concentration camp, that I might have to go through the tribulation also. But then I read the Bible and I am glad. When I am weak, then I shall be strong, the Bible says. Betsy and I were prisoners for the Lord, we were so weak, but we got power because the Holy Spirit was on us. That mighty inner strengthening of the Holy Spirit helped us through. No, you will not be strong in yourself when the tribulation comes. Rather, you will be strong in the power of Him who will not forsake you. For seventy-six years I have known the Lord Jesus and not once has He ever left me, or let me down.

“Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him”, (Job 13:15) for I know that to all who overcome, He shall give the crown of life. Hallelujah!”

– Corrie Ten Boom – 1974

For the full article go topics ‘Facing Suffering for Christ

Answers in Prophecy

The meetings are now held at The Barn Church, Francis Edwards Way, Bewbush, Crawley, West Sussex RH11 8GG

Sessions run from 7.00 pm to 8.45 pm on Saturday evenings and generally will be in two parts.

We will continue the series of studies in the book of Revelation. This is a twelve part series covering the whole book. The other session will be on a topical or prophetic theme as listed below.

There will be a coffee break between the sessions.

 13th May 

Session 1 Revelation Study 8, Christ and the Harvest

Session 2 End Time Apostasy

10th June 

Session 1 Revelation Study 9, Christ the Just

Session 2 Do we still believe in eternal punishment?

8th July

Session 1 Revelation Study 10, Christ the Judge

Session 2 Economic collapse a threat or opportunity?

Book Review

The Good Shepherd Calls: An Urgent Warning for the End-Times Church

Is the Christian Church on the brink of a great revival or is it in the midst of a widespread apostasy? Roger Oakland the author of ‘The Good Shepherd Calls’, warns that it is not revival but apostasy which is infecting the church. He observes that the apostasy which started slowly a long time ago has now become an avalanche. Christianity is being redefined. The Bible is being abandoned in favour of a postmodernist view that seeks to be progressive and culturally relevant. Historic truths are no longer accepted or even acceptable.

The influence of the New Age movement is accelerating in many churches. Various contemplative practices aimed at setting the mind at peace are encouraged. Extra-biblical experiences such as transferrable anointing are treated as normal. A growing number are seeking to reunite the Protestant and Roman churches despite Roman theology remaining unchanged. For Roman Catholic clergy such relations are seen as the first step towards absorption back into the what they believe to be the true and only church.

There are claims that there is going to be a second Pentecost which will turn the world to Christ and establish the kingdom of God on earth. With these claims come a flood of new self-styled apostles. They condemn those who hold them to scripture with a challenge to show where the Bible endorses their opinions.

As a consequence of their deploring of Bible prophecy, Israel is no longer seen as significant. They become adherents of the false replacement theology.

An emphasis on church-growth has swept the world. Purpose-driven, seeker-friendly megachurches have exchanged what they see as restrictive old fashioned Christianity for market-driven, self-gratifying, self-realising, entertainment focused churches.

Oakland lists what he considers the three most troubling and dangerous books which have swept the world by storm:

The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren,

The Shack by Wm Paul Young

Jesus Calling by Sarah Young

Have you read any of them and not been concerned at what is being taught. If that is the case you need to read ‘The Good Shepherd Calls’ to understand how these books each deviate from sound doctrine.

Kindle edition available from www.amazon.co.uk.

 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel land and sea to win one proselyte, and when he is won, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves.” Matthew 23: 15

D is for Deception

Are you confused by the new terms creeping into the church? ‘D is for Deception’ is a booklet by Kevin Reeves published by Lighthouse Trails Research which sets out the language of the ‘New’ Christianity. A few of the terms from the booklet are listed below:

Absence of Thought: The mental state sought after by those practicing contemplative prayer or meditation. By repeating a word or phrase or concentrating on the breath or an object, the mind goes into an altered state of consciousness and all thought becomes absent.

Centering/Centering Prayer: Another term for meditation (going deep within your center). A type of meditation being promoted in many mainline churches under the guise of biblical prayer, but which is actually Buddhist or Hindu in origin.

Chakras: Believed by New Agers to be seven energy centers in man, aligned along the spine, which open up during the kundalini effect in meditation.

Channeling (see also Automatic Writing): Altered state of consciousness whereby the channeler opens himself up to inhabitation by spirits, often the supposed spirits of the dead or “ancient masters” who convey hidden mysteries. acting as a medium.

Christ-Consciousness: Taught by New Agers to be the state of awareness, reached in meditation, in which one realizes one’s own divinity and oneness with God, thereby becoming a “christ” or enlightened being.

Dominionism: The belief that God’s people will rise up as overcomers and put Satan and his minions under their (not Christ’s) feet. According to Dominionists, Christ cannot return until this is accomplished. The rapture is discounted as a myth, with the declaration that Christ will return, not for His people, but rather already in them (no physical return). The overcomers will then present to Christ a faultless world where He will then rule.

Emerging Church: Postmodern congregations that follow a loose set of doctrines promoting a redefinition of Christianity and incorporating into their fellowships some or all of the following: Roman Catholic mysticism and contemplative prayer, eastern meditation techniques, pagan religious practices such as walking the labyrinth, Lectio Divina, mantra, etc. Highly ecumenical. The focus is on social justice and cultural relevancy rather than the Gospel and the Word of God. Emphasis is on a social gospel as opposed to a personal Gospel.

Fractal: Directly related to what are being called the “new sciences” of “Chaos Theory” and “Fractal Theory.” Linked with the occult phrase “as above, so below.” Mentioned in William Paul Young’s book, The Shack.

Global P.E.A.C.E. Plan: Initiative originating with Saddleback Church’s pastor Rick Warren, where social justice “deeds” take precedence over doctrine and beliefs

Kundalini: Powerful energy associated with the chakras and brought on through meditation. Hindu in origin, kundalini manifestations include uncontrollable shaking, writhing, convulsions, trance states, a sensation of fire or electricity on or in the body, swooning, etc

New Age: In a religious context, an all-encompassing spirituality, sourced in ancient pagan practices that defies specific “doctrinal” definitions. It is geared toward New Age religion, which can incorporate teachings and practices from virtually any other religion or non-religion such as Buddhism, Taoism, Hinduism, Wicca, astrology, alchemy, veganism, homeopathic medicine, tarot cards, crystal gazing, etc.

New Apostolic Reformation (NAR): Teaches that there are apostles and prophets today in the church who are equal to or greater than the apostles and prophets who wrote the Bible and that to come into the fullness of Christ, the church needs to submit to them. Teachings include varying degrees of Latter Rain, Five-Fold Ministry, Dominion, and Kingdom Now theologies.

“Hated by all nations for My names sake.”

The Creation.com website reported on a survey carried out at Colleges in the USA. It illustrates how anti-Christian bias has taken root at many Universities both in the USA and UK.

When asked if they would support a law which forces Muslims to participate in activities on a professional level that go against their faith, students universally said no; but when the same question was posed with Christians instead of Muslims, they were unwilling to extend Christians the same rights!

Creation.com goes on to comment that the interviews show striking evidence that a new generation of young people are about to leave college and enter the public sphere who have no respect for the religious rights of Christians (but will respect other beliefs like Islam). This is the essence of ‘political correctness’: it is a thinly-veiled euphemism for an anti-Christian double standard. The goal is to eradicate Christianity from the public sphere and relegate it to the fringes of society.

Jesus warned that if the world hated Him it would hate and persecute His followers [John 15:20]. Relegating Christianity to the fringes of society is not Satan’s final goal. The total destruction of faith in Christ is his intention. In that he will fail for we are on the victory side.

The Ark Fellowship

Our former fellowship received a vision that the church should be an ark. It should be place of safety during the trouble which is coming. There needed to be; sound teaching to defend against deception, strong fellowship to support each other when trials rise up and a clear understanding of the times to help those who are perplexed by all that is happening in the world.

In the troubles which lie ahead Christians are to be the ones who express hope and confidence. The prophet Jeremiah looked at the ruins of Jerusalem and said “the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases.” He understood that the Lord had been true to His word. Likewise our hope will be a witness to the world. The Ark is also for those who see our confidence and want to know why we are so sure. The door of salvation will remain open until the Lord returns.

Sadly the former fellowship is not holding to that vision. Therefore it falls to those who have come out to pray towards fulfilling the Lord’s calling.

Initially my wife and I worshipped together at home. That helped us to empathise with the growing number of faithful followers of Christ who are finding it difficult to find a church which has not been corrupted in one way or another. As we were joined by others I felt it right to set down some foundations for a fellowship which would stand in the last days.

New Testament Foundations

Foundation 1. Faith in Jesus Christ is the rock on which His church is built. Obedience to His word is the proof of faith.

Foundation 2. The Holy Spirit emboldens and empowers the church for service. The New Testaments teaches that all who would follow Christ need to be baptised in the Holy Spirit.

Foundation 3. The Bible is the word of God. All parts are inspired and profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction and instruction in righteousness.

Foundation 4. Obedience to our Lord’s command to ‘watch’. Especially as we approach the end of the age and the nearness of Christ’s return.

Foundation 5. God still loves the nation of Israel. God will bless those who bless that nation.

Foundation 6. A New Testament church structure in which every member has a part to play in the body. There are multiple ministries which work together for the building up of the saints. Elders are those who have proven ministries and life styles which set an example to the church.

Foundation 7. Worship is to be in spirit and truth. No person is to usurp the place of Jesus Christ as the focus of all true worship.

United Nations Absurdity

The latest piece of United Nations absurdity is the election of Saudi Arabia to the UN Commission on the Status of Women. This is a body tasked with “the promoting of women’s rights, documenting the reality of women’s lives throughout the world and shaping global standards on gender equality and the empowerment of women.

Saudi Arabia is a country which was ranked fourth from bottom in a 2016 report on the global gender gap. Women can’t travel, work, marry or receive healthcare without the permission of a male guardian. Sharia rules on marriage apply which allow a man to have up to four wives and divorce a wife at will. If the wife wants a divorce she has to go to court, a procedure which rarely works in her favour. According to Wikipedia the divorce rate in Saudi Arabia is very high with 50% of marriages being dissolved.

Last year a now infamous video was shown on Saudi national television in which a family therapist gave advice on how to beat a wife. The therapist is reported as saying, “unfortunately, some wives want to live a life of equality with their husband”. He added that “this is a very grave problem and then stressed that this was the main reasons a man may beat his wife.

 Balfour 100

In February the Palestinian Return Centre launched a petition calling on the British Government to apologise for the Balfour Declaration of 1917. So far the petition has gained 13,500 signatures.

We are glad that the Government has responded as follows:

“The Balfour Declaration is an historic statement for which HMG does not intend to apologise. We are proud of our role in creating the State of Israel. The task now is to encourage moves towards peace.”

The full response can be read at: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/184398

The Palestinian Return Centre is not letting the matter rest. In a statement to ‘The New Arab’ website it has said;

“We are also going to mobilise support for the campaign in other countries, we want to create an international day of action to pressure Britain to recognise its responsibilities,”

“We are considering creating an unofficial truth commission led by civil society to raise awareness about the legacy of Britain’s occupation of Palestine. We are also looking at legal avenues to hold Britain accountable for its colonial crimes.”

Pray that the Government does not waver in its resolve not to apologise.

Perhaps it is a parable

In describing how Trinity Broadcasting Network [TBN] expanded its work in the UK Matthew Crouch includes the following story:

“In the middle of our conversation however, my dad, who had been gazing out the window for some time, suddenly asked: “What are these fields of yellow crops we’ve been passing.” While Richard and I had been oblivious to the surrounding countryside, my dad, always a Missouri farm boy at heart, had caught sight of field after vast field of a bright yellow crop in bloom, and he was now insistent on knowing what it was these English farmers were growing. We turned to Richard, the only native Brit in the car, for an answer, but he was in the dark. Similarly, the Google app on my iPhone shed no light on what was growing in the fields.”

“As we drove along, mulling over the pros, cons, risks, and rewards of a TBN network blanketing the UK, my father continued to be uncharacteristically distracted by these mysterious fields of brilliant yellow. While a monumental decision concerning TBN’s future outreach loomed before him, Paul Crouch was fixating on fields of yellow flowers in the English countryside.”

“Suddenly our stoic Arab driver, who had been silent throughout the entire trip, turned in his seat and uttered one emphatic word that answered the mystery of the fields of yellow, and seemed to give my dad confirmation about his decision: “Mustard!” That one word was like a prophetic message from God, reminding my dad of Jesus’ admonition that if we have faith the size of a tiny mustard seed, we could move any mountain that stood in our way. Yes, a million dollars a month seemed like a huge obstacle, but with even a little faith in God that million-dollar mountain could be pushed aside and tens of millions of individuals and families would have the life-changing message of Jesus available to them right in their homes.”

There is a problem with this story. It was not ‘Mustard’ growing in the fields but ‘Rape’.

TBN’s schedules are packed with false teachers. They are popular, successful and usually rich. TBN has grown rich on the back of preachers who prosper by fleecing ordinary Christians. Much of the so called ‘Christian’ media is devoted not to the simple truth of the gospel but to self-serving rape of the Church. For a roundup of the money spinning techniques employed go to:

http://www.cultwatch.com/howpastorsgetrich.html

Erdogan – quoted from Joel’s Trumpet

“Since the failed coup of July 2016, Turkish authorities have arrested or detained roughly 160,000 people. While this includes virtually all of Erdogan’s political opponents, the primary focus has been on supporters of Fethullah Gulen, a highly influential Turkish imam whose followers were largely responsible for Erdogan’s rise to power. ……………… Now that all of his adversaries are either dead or in jail Erdogan has completed his plan to become the absolute dictator of Turkey. Let’s consider then who we are dealing with. First of all, it was Erdogan’s right wing Islamist party that essentially created ISIS. There is more than enough ample evidence that Turkey provided much of the support that ISIS needed in its early days to take root in Syria and Iraq. Despite the many atrocities of this group, they were the perfect junk yard dog for Turkey to use in its larger regional war with Bashar Assad, Iran, and the Kurds. So here is a supporter of radical Sunni jihadists who is now in control of the most strategically important piece of property in the region and the largest army in the Middle East. Because Erdogan controls the refugee spigot so to speak, he also has tremendous leverage over European leaders. Despite their repeated capitulation he continues to bully, manipulate, and threaten. In a recent comment, Erdogan cast Europe’s secular leaders as crusaders bent on a holy war. ……………. Add to all of this, Erdogan’s many anti-Semitic outbursts in recent years, as well as his increasing effort to cast himself as the new Sultan of Turkey and the new Caliph of the Muslim world, and it is clear that he is indeed emerging as a likely candidate to fulfil the role of the prophesied Gog.”