Why study the End times?
A lot of people think studying the end times is as waste of time. They think that “no one really knows for sure so why bother?” The truth is that understanding the events that will unfold in the coming years is critical to understand lest we be offended at the nature of God.
I want to put this out there from the start: I subscribe to a Pre-Tribulation catching up of the saints. I have studied all the different convictions and to be honest, the only other one that makes sense to me at all is Pre-Wrath. Any view that is not some form of Premillennialism is not biblical and as Pentecostals, we must reject.
Having spend years under Mike Bickle at the International House of Prayer (1999, 2002-2006), I heard him tell us many times, “Question anything you don’t see with your own eyes in your own bible.” Oddly, this was the reason that I had serious challenges towards the end at IHOPKC. I simply did not see the Church going through the tribulation in Revelation.
One thing I did gain from that season was being pushed into the study of the end times to find out what I really did believe and being able to defend it against people around me who mostly disagreed with me.
The End times will offend
Those who do not understand the events and the seasons that will come are going to be offended at God. As some times of trails come and we see an increase in martyrdom and suffering, people who have been taught that “God is all love” will be offended and fall away from the faith. We are told this will happen in scripture.
One thing that we know is that there will be an increase in natural calamity. Matthew 24 tells us about things that will happen in the last days. While there is a duality of fulfillment to the fall of Jerusalem, this does not in any way discount the coming events leading up to the catching up of the saints. (Many call this the rapture of the Church)
We are seeing more hurricanes and typhoons today than we did just a few decades ago. The power of these storms like Yolanda in 2013 are breaking records. Earthquakes like what we saw in Haiti will only happen more often and with more power. This will cause many nominal believers to have their faith shaken because they will blame God.
However, those that understand the end times will see disasters as an invitation of the mercies of God. The purpose of the disaster is not the judgement but it is the venue to allow revival to break loose in the weeks and months afterwards as people seek answers.
Most will not understand the nature of God and His dealings with humanity. They think all this is reserved for the opening of the bowls and seals. What many will not grasp is earthquakes and hurricanes will prior to the removal of the church and not just after.
Suffering is coming to the Western Church
One of the great disservices of many Pentecostal church is the preaching of the prosperity message. The word of faith message from 1990’s has done far more damage than good. It created a mentality that you can “believe by faith” your way out of any suffering or persecution. I remember hearing Rod Parsley even preach a sermon about “missing the mess” who was you can miss any suffering by faith. This view must be rejected.
Suffering and Persecution is very common among believers in part of Asia and Africa. They have been tried by it. Largely in North America, any form of it is completely foreign to us. This will change as we draw closer to the catching up. Martyrdom is not just going to be about being at the wrong place at the wrong time.
Without question, there will be state sponsored assassinations of believers. Christians will be arrested, tried, convicted and put to death by the government simply for preaching the message of repentance. Make no mistake about it: martyrdom is coming to America soon!
Another thing that many do not understand without study of the end times is that believers will be on the losing end of the economy in the last days. Poverty among Christians will become common. Our provision will be supernatural and found in our community much like the early church experienced: they had all things in common.
Those who are not students of eschatology will be greatly offended at the price of being part of the faithful at the end of the age. As a result, they will turn their back on God and renounce their faith for economic prosperity.
Clothed with power
In the face of disaster and martyrdom, it will become more important any ever to be clothe with power from on high. Luke ends his gospel with Jesus telling his disciples to stay in the city until they have been “clothe with power.” (Luke 24:49) In fact, this is where he picks up as starts the Book of Acts. Luke ends with the command to walk in the power of God and Acts begins with the command of when the Holy Spirit comes on you, you will receive power. (Acts 1:8)
It will be more important than ever to be filled with the Holy Spirit with the biblical evidence of praying in unknown tongues. While many have made it for years without it, this will not be an option at the end of time. The current attitude towards the Baptism of the Holy Spirit as a mere footnote of the faith in many Pentecostal church will be forced to change as disasters unfold.
It is in this context of a critical need for understanding and true Pentecostal power that the prayer meetings will no longer be the three old ladies but it will be full of people crying for the catching up of the saints. (Revelation 22:17) Most of what we know as the prayer movement today is lacking Pentecostal power but in the coming years, Pentecostals will lead the way in prayer.
Returning to Apostolic Ministry
The word apostolic has been highjacked by the Oneness crowd but there will be a return to being apostolic people as we draw closer. In our study of the end times, there will be a fresh look at what the early church understood as ecclesiology. The current model that is far more Catholic than apostolic will weaken as students of the faith look at the early church and let the text lead their convictions.
When I was called to the ministry in 1998, there was not much discussion about the Book of Acts outside of spiritual gifts. There was not much in the way of good reading material outside of highly academic works. Over 20 years later, there is more people taking a look at how the early church lived and operated than there was when I started.
Many who have taken this time of inquiry have come to a common belief that the Assembly is to be two things: City focused and each location would be more a mission base than a gathering point. This is a major shift from where we were in 1998. The biblical evidence for a local assembly is lacking. The believers related at a city level. (Church at Ephesus, Corinth, etc)
It is important to understand that the study of the Book of Acts will become very important to those who want to walk in the power of the Holy Spirit in light of disasters and suffering.
The need for Pentecostal Polemics
Much of what we see in the name of polemics is from people I consider to be heresy hunters. They are people are not Pentecostal or even believe the Holy Spirit moves today. They seems to be more fundamental baptist in theology than anything else. In most cases, they are Pentecostal haters.
Part of the problem is that we do not really have solid Pentecostals that defend our faith against the cults of the day. Cults are going to increase in the midst of people being offended at God. However, where are the Pentecostal theologians than will combat any and every crazy idea some group forms around?
In far too many cases, we have tolerated bad teaching in name of “eat the meat and spit out the bones.” There has been numerous cases where Pentecostals allowed damnable doctrines such as the prosperity gospel to be proclaimed from our pulpits.
I firmly believe that polemics from the view of Pentecostalism will become a greater need as we get closer and closer to the catching up. Cults will increase and as they do, the critical need for defense of the faith will also increase.
It is my prayer that us Pentecostals will prepare ourselves spiritually and mentally for the coming crisis in the earth and be ready to swing the sickle for the end time global harvest!