Time Has Come (Pt. 6)


I am a builder.  I have always enjoyed planning and working on new building projects and seeing them come together step by step.  I learned early on that in reading blueprints, if I wanted to get the entire picture, I had to view each individual overlay of the master plan – an overlay for the foundation, one for the infrastructure, another for the plumbing and wiring, another for the interior walls, roofing, exterior surfaces, even an overlay for the landscaping and parking lots – and then lay them on top of each other.  Only after studying the individual overlays together could I get an accurate picture of what ws going to come into existence.

To truly understand the book of Revelation, you must review the prophecies of Daniel, ponder the words of Jesus from the Gospels, and then consider Paul’s writings to the Thessalonians.  As you add each of these layers to the book of Revelation, you can begin to see the entire picture as the Lord intended it to be seen.

One of the most important overlays to understanding Revelation is the Second Coming discourse given by Jesus to His disciples and recorded in Matthew 24 and Luke 21.  Many of the “signs of the times” mentioned by Jesus are similar to those in the vision John received and recorded in Revelation 6.

John Kilpatrick is the former pastor of Brownsville Assembly of God Church in Pensacola, Florida, a place where a genuine revival broke out on Father’s Day 1995 and continued unabated with spontaneous services every night for five years, with more than four and a half million people going through the doors during that time.  For years John studied the passages relating to the Second Coming.  In regard to the words of the prophets and the predictions of Jesus, he said, “These days are not coming they are here.”  John added, “Every major sign of the Second Coming is in motion right now.”

You don’t need to be a Bible scholar to know that the planet is groaning.  Populations are increasing while the resources needed to sustain them are decreasing.  The oceans are dying, clean air and water are becoming scarce, natural disasters (earthquakes, tsunamis, wildfires, floods, crop failures, bacterial mutations, and shifting weather patterns), conflicts (terrorism and wars), false religions (cults and pseudo religions), and a worldwide economic meltdown are reported daily in the news.

Something big is about to happen.  We need to prepare to see Jesus!  Knowledge that we are living in what the Bible refers to as the “last days” should motivate Christians to live closer to Jesus than ever before and to more actively seek out opportunities to share the gospel with people who don’t yet know the Lord.  The clock is ticking and time is running out.  Yes, difficult days are upon us, but do not lose hope.  Jesus Christ will return, and He will take you to live with Him eternally.  Right now, however, we need to brace ourselves for some shocks.

How do I know this?  Because Jesus Himself said so in Matthew 24.

(Excerpt from “Time Has Come”)

Time Has Come (Pt. 5)

Most Christians believe that Jesus will one day return in power, glory, and judgment to reward His followers and to punish those who have rejected God. But the question that divides the hearts and minds of many believers—and sometimes even divides Christians into separate camps and denominations—is whether believers will experience some or all of the tough times described in the book of Revelation and other prophetic scriptures.

For many years I preached that Christians would not have to endure the horrors of the Tribulation, that Jesus would return and take His people out of this world. Admittedly, most of my thoughts on the matter were not original, nor were my views based on years of studying the Scriptures and reaching valid biblically based conclusions. For the most part, I simply believed what I had heard sincere men and women of God teach, namely, that Jesus was coming back before the seven-year Tribulation in an event called the Rapture.

Although the word rapture does not appear in the Bible, we based our ideas on a passage from Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians. The apostle encouraged believers with these words:

For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord (1 Thessalonians 4:16–17, nkjv).

Although this passage does indeed describe the Second Coming, we drew some unwarranted conclusions about when and how this event would occur. This “catching away” of the saints, which is what the word rapture means, was to take place secretly, as far as unbelievers were concerned. Only believers, it was thought, would be able to experience and witness the appearing of the Lord. Suddenly, Jesus was to appear in the air, and in the twinkling of an eye we would be gone, whisked off the ground to meet the Lord in the sky. The dead in Christ, believers who had died prior to His coming, would rise first, and together we would all meet Him in the air. From there He would take us to live with Him eternally. Later, Christ would return again, this time in power and glory to judge the world and set up His eternal kingdom. The Rapture was to happen, of course, before any events of the Tribulation began to pummel the earth.

One of my favorite prophetic Scripture verses is, “Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man” (Luke 21:36, nkjv). I placed a heavy emphasis on the word escape, because I was convinced it went against God’s loving nature to allow His people to go through the horrors of the Tribulation.

My thinking on the subject changed when, in prison, I searched out the passages that described the Rapture that precedes the Tribulation. To my amazement, I could not find any. I found certain scriptures that other preachers .and I twisted and conveniently interpreted to fit my “prosperity” messages, but when I allowed the Bible to speak for itself, I realized that my notions of a pre-Tribulation Rapture were not based in scripture.

(Excerpt from “Time Has Come”)

This Generation Will Not Pass…

Matthew 24 is a passage of Scripture that tells what to look for just before the Lord returns.  Jim preaches from it often.  Right after the Word tells about wars, earthquakes, famines, etc., it says that this generation will not pass away before we see the coming of the Lord. 

What generation?  The generation that is living at the time those things spoken of in Matthew 24 are happening. 

The New Living Bible says it like this:  “I tell you the truth, this generation will not pass from the scene until all these things take place.”

Unless you completely ignore the signs of the times, you must know that we ARE the last generation – it’s not a cliche’, it’s a reality.  We are truly a chosen generation – chosen to occupy this earth and see the Lord coming again in great Glory and Power.

Have you ever thought about why He would choose you and me to be here at this time in history?  Some think we’re here by accident – the product of happenstance.  Yet, those who are truly believers of Jesus Christ know that nothing in this universe is happenstance with our God. 

There are so many scriptures that tell us we are not an accident – we were planned before the foundations of the earth.  Think about that for just a minute.  Before our Creator made the earth that we live on, He knew us and knew we would occupy that earth at this crucial time in the history of the world.

We are a chosen generation.  With that, comes privilege, and with privilege comes responsibility.

Spiritual truths are being revealed every day that herald the Second Coming.  Light is equivalent to truth, and when we receive light or truth we have more responsibilities. So not only do we have more light today, but we also have more accountability.

The more truth that we understand, the more you and I are required to walk in the level of understanding we have been given and to carry that light to others.  That’s why many people will only go so far with God and then they balk at knowing the deeper things.  They know they will be held accountable!  I wouldn’t want to stand before God and tell Him that I refused His gifts because I didn’t want to be accountable for them.  As a matter of fact, there is a parable about that in Matthew 25, and the end of the one who would not use what God had given him wisely – well, let’s just say it doesn’t end well.

In the last generation, God is sending a message of truth to the entire world, and after you receive that message of truth, it draws a line in the sand for you. 

Now in the last generation, Jesus has chosen you to carry the message of truth to a sin-sick world.  Much of this world has so twisted things that they now call evil good, and good evil.  But truth is always the standard bearer in this earth.  The scriptures tell us that when evil comes in like a flood, the Spirit of God will lift up a standard against it.  Will you do it?  Will you be His standard bearer in these Last Days?

There has been so much talk and preaching about a purposeful life – but there is no greater purpose under heaven than to be a standard bearer for the Lord Jesus in these Last Days!

Will We Go Through the Tribulation? (Pt. 1)

Some dramatic events on God’s calendar must take place before the Lord returns to earth, and many of these are not going to be pretty.  Those Christians who have adopted a materialistic, escapist view of the Christian life may be terribly surprised.

Many of the world crises we are beginning to experience were predicted in the Bible hundreds of years ago.  What is shocking, however, is the rapid-fire speed at which these events are now racing ahead.  Against all odds, the frameworks of the world’s economic, political, and social systems are being shaken and are beginning to crumble.

Before going any further, allow me to make a confession:  I do not understand everything the Bible reveals to us concerning the Second Coming.  I consider myself a student of the Scriptures, but I must admit, I still have questions about many aspects of eschatology, the study of future things.  I do not know when Jesus is coming – it may be in my lifetime or it may not – but I believe He will return to Earth in power and glory, just as He said.

I used to listen in amazement (and sometimes with amusement) to some of the prophecy teachers we hosted at PTL.  With their charts and graphs they would dogmatically teach exactly when the events described in the book of Revelation were going to come to pass.  “This is going to happen, then this will happen, and then will be the Battle of Armageddon…” on and on they would go.  I do not mean to imply that these teachers were insincere in their teaching or unlearned in the Scriptures.  They were godly Bible teachers who felt strongly that they had exceptional insight or an unusual understanding of a complicated message.

Yet the truth is, we do not know when Jesus Christ is going to return.  I can point you to the Scriptures that describe what will happen before His coming; I can (and will in the pages ahead) show you Scriptures that describe His return in power.  But to set a date for His return is not my intention.  Jesus said, “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father” (Mark 13:32 NKJV).  In one of His last statements to His disciples, after the Resurrection and just before He ascended into heaven, Jesus said, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority” (Acts 1:7 NKJV).  For me to give you a play-by-play description of the events scheduled to take place in the future, events whose timing is known only to our heavenly Father, would be the height of presumption on my part.

On the other hand, I do not subscribe to the popular notion that it is impossible for us to know approximately when to expect our Lord’s return.  Many Christians are fond of saying, “I am neither pretribulational or posttribulational.  I am pantribulational.  I just believe it will all pan out in the end.”

That’s a cute (and non-confrontational) way to look at the last days, but it flies in the face of Scripture.  Jesus definitely gave us a lot of information concerning His return and, as I noted previously, numerous signs to watch for, signs indicating that the time of His return is near.

Sometimes I wish Jesus had been more specific in the information He gave to us.  Imagine all the theological arguments He could have prevented if He hand only said, “I am coming back at the beginning of the Tribulation period, or the middle, or the end of the Tribulation.”  Better yet, He could have said, “I am coming back on January 1, 20XX, so be ready.”

(To Be Continued)

Will We Go Through the Tribulation? – Part 2
Will We Go Through the Tribulation? – Part 3

Will We Go Through the Tribulation? – Part 4

Will We Go Through the Tribulation? – Part 5

Will We Go Through the Tribulation? – Part 6

Will We Go Through the Tribulation? – Part 7

Will We Go Through the Tribulation? – Part 8

Will We Go Through the Tribulation? – Part 9

Will We Go Through the Tribulation? – Part 10

Will We Go Through the Tribulation? – Part 11

Excerpt from Prosperity and the Coming Apocalypse

Published in 1998