Beliefnet
Is it the End of the World?

In the Bible’s book of John, chapter 16 and verse 33, Jesus Himself tells us that humans live in a world of trouble. But then, He says, Be of good cheer, because He has overcome the world!

It is one of the most beautiful passages in all of Scripture, but sometimes I’m afraid, even Christians forget it. Today, with so much geopolitical turmoil in the world, believers take their eyes of the Word and begin to sink into despair.

Morningside, the ministry headquarters of Jim Bakker in Branson, Missouri.

Morningside, the ministry headquarters of Jim Bakker in Branson, Missouri.

That’s dissipated to some degree with the election of Donald J. Trump as President of the United States, but there are still too many living in fear.

Some Bible prophecy teachers (or those who emphasize it, such as Jim Bakker) routinely warn of impending doom. Some of them make a handsome living off that fear, encouraging the stockpiling of food and guns. Yet today, as we head to Christmastime 2016, there is renewed optimism in America. While we know that no political leader will ever be the real Messiah, we can still enjoy any reprieve the Lord sees fit to give us.

So with that in mind, please enjoy the holidays and expect to meet the Future with optimism and gladness of heart.

The American Church, specifically Evangelicalism, is now in a place no one could have imagined in days gone by. For the longest, biblical teaching was at least available in plenty of venues. Where Bible prophecy teachers once taught that a “one-world religion” would be ushered-in, they assumed it would be a coalition of the Catholic Church and the New Age.

No one expected such an entity to include American evangelicals.

The Bible’s book of Jude speaks of this. This short letter was a warning from its author to the Church of the last days. Jude was telling people that certain men would infiltrate the Church and teach falsehoods.

That day has arrived in the West.

Celebrity pastor Andy Stanley for some time has been sounding-off about his views of the Church’s need for new pr; he wishes to see it marketed in a way that will attract unbelievers. This very premise, this model for “doing church,” is flawed and unworkable. The Bible doesn’t teach that unbelievers will be attracted to gatherings of believers. In fact, the Bible teaches that the Gospel itself is hateful to the world.

But Andy Stanley has taken pragmatism to new heights. From his admission that he jettisoned belief in the creation accounts in college, to his latest declarations that we must avoid encouraging people to believe the Bible as it’s written, Stanley had departed from biblical Christianity. Instead, he wishes to fashion a new spirituality.

To say such a thing in public is even now not popular. So far as I know, only Albert Mohler has had the courage to challenge Stanley publicly. Most celebrity pastors and ministries stand silent, staring at the floor.

Let me be clear: it is outrageous for a modern pastor to denigrate Scripture. Yet that is precisely what Stanley is doing. He has his defenders, naturally. There are pensions, and salaries, and perks at stake, and many modern ministry leaders circle the wagons—even when heresy and apostasy abound.

Andy Stanley signing books at a Catalyst One Day event at Cross Church in Rogers, Arkansas.

Andy Stanley signing books at a Catalyst One Day event at Cross Church in Rogers, Arkansas.

Stanley claims to want to make “the faith” acceptable for unbelievers. In fact, if this is true, he is still creating conditions for wholesale unbelief in the Bible. Remember Jesus’ words in Luke 18:7-8—

And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them?

I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?

Stanley’s pragmatic approach sounds so good, even to legions of modern evangelicals, many of whom flock to seeker-sensitive churches. Yet the Bible does not point to a future Church that is great in number. It does point to Apostasy.

That is a Church pastors like Andy Stanley are building brick-by-brick.

With the passing of Israel’s legendary Shimon Peres, an unusually high number of accolades is streaming into the Jewish state. Even President Obama ordered flags lowered to half-mast at federal buildings in the U.S. Montages of Peres meeting world leaders play on social media.

Peres, 93, served Israel in a variety of capacities, and his spearheading of the Olso Accords has invited both criticisms and bouquets. Once known more as a hawk (Peres was defense minister at the time of the Entebbe rescue), the urbane politician had moved to the left in the previous decades, being part of both the Labor and Kadima parties.
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Even his critics are largely silent for a few days, out of respect.

Not so the Palestinians. Hamas has called for a “Day of Rage” during Peres’ funeral. Meanwhile, the rival to Hamas, the Palestinian Authority, is silent.

An honest person will admit that the Palestinians, for a quarter-century, have squandered opportunities by the bushel-full. The leadership owes its wealth to the Peres Crowd, which worked tirelessly to prop-up a failing PLO and Yasser Arafat in 1990.

The Palestinian snub of Shimon Peres is one more reminder that the Palestinians are nowhere near ready for a state. The PLO/PA is a primitive, crude entity mired in seventh-century dogma.

It will be a cold day in Gaza before they’re ready for Palestine.

Tim LaHaye, the popular Christian author and speaker, died last month at age 90. To the end, he was vital and very engaged in one of his main passions: teaching Bible prophecy.

I met him 20 years ago and he was always the same. A very approachable, kind man. When his improbable success with the Left Behind book series began in the mid-90’s, millions became aware of the particular brand of prophecy LaHaye espoused, namely, the Pre-Tribulation Rapture. In short, this view claims that Jesus Christ will rapture, or “capture away from Earth” a remnant of believers before a time of great trouble falls over the globe.

In recent years, I’ve been intrigued to see the attacks on this view, from within the American Church. Specifically, from within evangelicalism, where LaHaye dominated for decades.

Times have changed.

Tim LaHaye speaking at the Pre-Trib Conference in Dallas, December 2014.

Tim LaHaye speaking at the Pre-Trib Conference in Dallas, December 2014.

I find that men like LaHaye and his colleague, Thomas Ice, are reasonable researchers and more than that, good men. Their detractors come close to something like loathing when discussing the prophecy guys.

But I would encourage you to check out the website for the Pre-Trib Research Center, in particular the articles, and see for yourself.

Another legacy of LaHaye’s, lesser known, is his work with creationists. When Henry Morris started the Institute for Creation Research in 1970, his friend LaHaye was there in support. Eventually, they, along with George Hillestad, founded Master Books, which is still the world’s most preeminent publisher of creationist books. LaHaye remained close with Master Books’ publisher, Tim Dudley, and was always interested in the latest offerings from the company.

I have always been interested in the fact that when one believes the creation accounts in Genesis, the person also tends to support prophecy teaching and the historic claims of Israel. Conversely, those who adhere to an “old earth” or theistic evolution stance tend to downplay prophecy and Israel.

Tim LaHaye was in the thick of those wars for 50 years.

Goodbye, sir. Many of us expect to see you again soon.

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