Tuesday, June 2, 2015

WHICH IS IT AND WHEN?

I am sure many of you have heard the old saying - "Red sky at night, sailor's delight. Red sky in the morning, sailor's warning." Jesus had similar words of observation for the Pharisees, but highlighted their lack of noticing the fulfillment thereof. Matthew 16:2-3 says, “When it is evening, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.’ “And in the morning, ‘There will be a storm today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ Do you know how to discern the appearance of the sky, but cannot discern the signs of the times?" Here, I believe, we have a charge by Christ to be mindful of the signs given for His first coming. How much more should we be aware and perceptive of the signs concerning the Lord's return FOR His church. 2 Peter 2:11-12 encourages us - "what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming."

Observing the increasing frequency and intensity of the signs given for The Day of the Lord (2 Timothy 3:1-5; Matthew 24), Christians know that their Rapture is that much more closer. However, to me the question becomes - Are we living in the time of God's "pouring out of His Spirit on all flesh" (Joel 2:28-29; Acts 2:17-18) OR are we living in the time of "the falling away"/"rebellion"/"apostasy" (2 Thessalonians 2:3)?

Are We Living In The Time of God's "Pouring"?
Some definitions have to be established for further understanding. The Day of the Lord is a time frame yet future that begins when The Church is Raptured, the Restraining ministry of the Holy Spirit is taken out of the world, Holy Judgment begins to fall on humanity and creation, then Christ comes to physically rule the earth. The Last Days are referred by many scholars to mean the time frame from Christ's ascension until Christians are Raptured. 

An interesting note - Joel 2:28-29 is the first time God says, "I will pour out my Spirit on all people." For this passage, The Day of the Lord, the time of judgment on the earth is mentioned as the the time-frame. But, in the Acts 2:17-18 passage, which is quoting Joel, Luke locates the time for God to "pour out my Spirit on all people" in The Last Days or now until Christians are Raptured. It is not beyond God to pour out His Spirit in both time frames, but I thought it interesting both periods of time were mentioned for God's "pouring" to occur. 

Are We Living In The Time of Falling Away?
I can see this clearly. If promised persecution does not cause many to look for something more comfortable then one can easily observe hypocrisy within the very leadership of the church with gay pastors behind the pulpit. A huge contributing factor to this apostasy, besides all that is listed in 2 Timothy 3:1-5, is something has replaced the Christian's First Love.  Christ warns through John to the believers in Ephesus and all Christians throughout the ages about this forsaking of their First Love - Himself.

"Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers and sisters, not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by the teaching allegedly from us—whether by a prophecy or by word of mouth or by letter—asserting that the day of the Lord has already come. Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction." (2 Thessalonians 1-3)

Notice that "the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to Him" precedes The Day of The Lord. Paul heavily encourages the church here "not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by the teaching allegedly from us....asserting that the day of the Lord has already come." If The Gathering had come and The Day of The Lord had begun then Paul was Left Behind and that was not happening. Paul continues and encourages - "Don't let anybody sway you otherwise, "for that day" - Which day? The Gathering/Rapture and therefore the beginning of The Day of The Lord. ".......that day will not come until the rebellion occurs (the church's falling away or apostasy) and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction (The Antichrist). So, before The Rapture ("the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to Him") we have The Apostasy/Falling Away/Rebellion AND the Antichrist revealed because "that day will not come until...". This is meant to show you that it looks like we may know before we leave who Mr. Stupid, better known as "the man doomed to destruction" will be.

So, I believe we are living in a time frame since Christ's ascension where sin abounds and grace abounds all the more (Romans 5:20). Is God "pouring out His Spirit on all flesh"? My opinion is some flesh, yes, "all flesh" - no. How can you have a pouring out on all flesh when the flesh is falling away and prophesied to do so? Are Christians going to fall away first then have revival before Christ's return for His believers? Or is Revival going to occur and then the Falling Away? God has a promise through Joel/Luke and God has a promise through Paul. They are both statements of truth, the timing is the issue. So, Revival, Apostasy or both - Which Is It And When?