When I first started this blog site it was with the subject of Eschatology in mind, hence the name, “Closingstages.” Because of unforeseen circumstances at the time what evolved was subject matter centered around Apologetics, in particular, false doctrine which has saturated the I.C. (Institutional Church) leaving in its wake philosophies and teachings contrary to Historical Biblical Christianity. The quintessence of these new philosophies, in the words of Bill Johnson, “re-presents” Jesus to the world as a mystical God who can be experienced through a felt-faith and mystical experience rather than by a practical faith streamlined by Scripture.
What I didn’t realize at the time was that both Eschatology and Apologetics go hand in hand. In other words, within the texts of Eschatology we find where the Church is diminished greatly by the influx of False Christ’s and False Prophets who corrupt the professing Church just prior to the return of Jesus Christ. We also discover that this is both the test and purging the true Church must endure as a testimony for the sake of the Name of Jesus Christ. When Jesus’ disciples inquired about the sign of His coming and of the end of the age (Matt. 24:3) Jesus warns them of religious deception, false signs and wonders, social and political upheavals, calamities, lawlessness and persecution which will be precursors of His return. It must be noted that at the heart of these signs are the sudden appearance of False Christ and Prophets upon the world scene who will misrepresent Jesus as well as His teachings. Three times Jesus warns His disciples of the dangers of false Christ and prophets within the Olivet Discourse:
“And Jesus answered and said to them: Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name saying, I am the Christ and will deceive many.” – Matt. 24:4-5
“Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many.” – Matt. 24:11
“For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you beforehand.” – Matt. 24:24-25
Henry Locker notes “there will be many counterfeit spiritual movements competing with the church for the allegiance of human hearts.”1 It appears there will be an increased spiritual hunger within humanity however absent of spiritual discernment. With the increase of false christ’s and prophets, persecution against God’s people will erupt and as the world sinks into a strong moral decline true Christianity will become a hated minority.
There is then two elements in view, the corruption of world societies which includes not just the lack of morality within people as a whole but political and cooperate greed and upheavals. Second, an altered form of Christianity counterfeited as true representatives of Christ. Unfortunately, the fruition of both are prevalent at the present hour. This has to happen because it is prophetically spoken, humanity will zenith in such a godless world actively opposing God it will commence the end time scenario taught by Jesus and the Apostles starting with the rise of the Antichrist:
“And in the latter time of their kingdom, when the transgressors have reached their fullness, a king shall arise, having fierce features, who understands sinister schemes.” – Daniel 8:23
“When the transgressors have reached their fullness” express’s the full capacity or a certain limit beyond which mankind’s iniquity cannot be allowed to go. A point where Divine Intervention interposes, but not before a king with fierce features (Antichrist) will ruthlessly persecute God’s elect in the Tribulation Period. It speaks of the wickedness of the world in general just before Christ’s second coming. The Hebrew word for “fullness” is tāmam meaning to be complete, to finish, to conclude. At its root, this word carries the overtone of finishing or bringing closure. Mankind will have exhausted sin to its extensiveness, then the end of the age begins with the rise of Antichrist/Beast ending with the Day of the Lord’s Wrath.
Again in the Olivet Discourse Jesus sheds light on the increase of iniquity in the latter days:
“And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold” – Matthew 24:12
The word “abound” in the Greek means the magnitude, extent and multitude of mankind’s sin. The world will reach a place where wickedness will be rampaging, so much so that human affections will be less and less evident. However, this verse also speaks of not only humanity in general, but also the professing church as trials and persecutions will foster apostasy and false prophets from within, hence, the love of many to Christ and His doctrine, and to one another will be diminished.
A waning love is the picture given here which decreases gradually in intensity like that of the moon which shows a decreasing illuminated surface between a full moon and a new moon. The agape (Christian) love for Christ and each other will be reduced to the infidelity of the faith and the absence of belief itself. It will be because of the name of Jesus that many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. A shadow of this waning love can be seen in the church today. Never before has the church been divided as it is today. In spite of the Bible’s teaching that there should be no schism (division) in the body, that the members should have the same care for one another (1 Corinthians 12:25), denominational and doctrinal lines have been established partitioning the body of Christ into neat little groups all opposing one another.
The deluding influence of false teachers lessens the zeal for Christ in many, some openly desert the faith while others grow indifferent to it. The Malign teachings of most today are causing a defection of Orthodox Christianity as the I.C now embraces doctrines foreign to the Word of God. We live in a time were the I.C lure’s people into a spiritual stupor that gradually desensitizes people to true spiritual values. As Matthew 24:12 states; it’s because of “lawlessness” that love will grow cold. Lawlessness is described as transgression of spiritual law and crimes against God, unrighteousness, and a deviation from rectitude. It has more to do with moral and religious correctness than it does with outright sin. Maltreatment of the Word God and misrepresenting Jesus Christ is the highest form of lawlessness.
THE I.C (Institutional Church)
“But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!” – 2 Timothy 3:1-5
The object of the verses above are the reference to the perilous times of the “last days.” The last days obviously is that period of time during which the affairs of the world will be closed up. A time of persecution, and of trial are characteristics of the last days, however, these verses speak of the condition of the church as the context shows, many will have a form of Godliness but deny its power. Further down in verse eight it likens the professing church to Jannes and Jambres who resisted Moses and in like manner, they also will resist the truth having corrupt minds, disapproved concerning the faith. The question is, do we see the above today and is it indeed a sign to this generation that we are fast approaching Daniels 70th week? The answer to both is a resounding yes! The Church in the last two centuries has been splintered into so many different denominations having their own system of organization and beliefs, all which are so far apart from Biblical truth it makes ones head spin. Remarkably, the very conditions that exist among the unbelieving world in their savagery and uncivilized state in the last days will characterize professing believers. The repetition of the word lovers in the context above is another key unlocking the times we now live in. In verse two we find “lovers of self,” and “lovers of money.” Narcissism is the excessive self-admiration and self-centeredness which is paramount in today’s society, people are conceited and egotistical and money rules the hearts of men today. Then there is the expression “despisers of good” which literally means “no lovers of good.” And then in verse four we read of “lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God.” Characteristics of life in America and the world abroad. Bottom line, many in the I.C. maintain a facade of faith, but their conduct denies its validity, especially in leadership.
As I stated above, Matthew 24:4-5 says; “Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name saying, I am the Christ and will deceive many.” Below is a quote from Bill Johnsons Facebook dated 12/29/12.
According to Wikipedia 2013, this view springs from the Manifest Sons of God (ones who have come into the full stature of Jesus Christ) who would receive the Spirit without measure. They would be as Jesus was when he was on earth and would receive a number of divine gifts, including the ability to change their physical location, to speak any language through the Holy Spirit, and would be able to perform divine healings and other miracles. They would complete the work of God, restoring man’s rightful position as was originally mandated in Genesis. By coming into the full stature of Christ, they would usher in his millennial reign. Extreme versions of this interpretation referred to Jesus as a “pattern” Son and applied “ye are gods” (Psalms 82:6) to this coming company of believers. Joel’s Army has been connected to Dominion Theology and Five-fold ministry thinking. It has been described in the 21st century as a “rapidly growing apocalyptic movement,” prophesied to become an “Armageddon-ready military force of young people with a divine mandate to physically impose Christian “dominion” on non-believers.
There have been many wild clams from Bill Johnson from open portals to heaven, spiritual latter’s into heaven, Angelic visitations, to glory clouds manifesting in his church. Taking the context of Johnsons quote it becomes clear he embraces dominion theology passed on from the Manifest Sons of God and Joel’s Army. Unfortunately there is a big problem with Johnsons quote, it is grossly unbiblical. Coming from a man who holds the office of Apostle and prophet you would think he would adhere to the principles of Hermeneutics in his interpretation of Scripture. First, there is no mention of a transformational army of God anywhere in the context of Matthew 24:6, nor in the Word of God at all for that manner. Second, if the verse was speaking of an end time transformational Army of God why then does go on to say, “For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom?” Matthew 24:7. Third, why does it say in the same verse quoted by Johnson, “See that you are not troubled, for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet?” Matthew 24:6. And forth, it is clear by the context that verses 4-7 are called the beginning of sorrows commonly called “birth pangs” (Matt. 24:8).
What is in the context is Jesus’ warning of “many coming in My (Jesus’) name saying, I am the Christ, and will deceive many” (Matt. 24:4), and “Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many” (Matt. 24:11). If in fact Johnsons quote means exactly what he claims, why would any believer be troubled by a transformational Army of God, especially since they themselves would be a part of that army? And when you understand the word “against” where it applies to nation rising against nation it is speaking of nations superimposing on one another. The word is dealing with opposition, noting enmity or disapprobation, not transformation. And that the events mentioned in Matthew 24:4-7 are the beginning of sorrows it clearly is not speaking of a victorious army of God ushering in the Millennial Kingdom. “Sorrow” is talking about travail, catastrophes, snares, and pain, not transformation.
What Matthew 24 is dealing with is the intolerable anguish the world will experience preceding the advent of Jesus Christ defined in Scripture as Daniel’s 70th Week. When a man like Bill Johnson changes the plain meaning of Scripture by spiritualizing and allegorizing text, he is (In the Words of Jesus Himself) a “false prophet.” Johnson, by doing so, not only perjures himself with propaganda contrary to biblical truth, he misrepresents Jesus Christ Himself by opposing the doctrine of Christ as taught by Jesus Himself!
So let’s look at the transformation progress Bill Johnson talks so much about. Bill Johnson has been senior pastor of Bethel Church, Redding Ca. since 1996 and has developed the teachings of Cultural Transformation since that time. Yet in 2011, based on the FBI-reported crime rate2, Redding California is listed as one of the most physically dangerous cities for American women in the country.
Worse and Worse
In spite of Johnsons pipe dream of Cultural Transformation I sometimes wonder how he does with changing his physical location and the ability to speak any language through the Holy Spirit. After all he does travel the world speaking at conferences. Their Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry has 1,200 students enrolled with over 370 from other countries and he leads a network of churches dedicated to global, multi-generational revival known as Global Legacy. His commitment to revival cannot change Biblical truth and the bible paints a totally different picture of the later days, one where both society and the church alike tarnishes.
“But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived” – 2 Timothy 3:13
Interesting is the meaning of the word “impostors,” which we render seducers that signifies jugglers, pretenders to magical arts; a cunning cheat, and falls under the general law of depravity. They are the advocates of error with the capacity to convince others to believe what is false to be true and right. To wax worse literally means, “advance in the direction of worse,” and as [Bengel] states: “He who has once begun to deceive others, is the less easily able to recover himself from error, and the more easily embraces in turn the errors of others.”3 They drive forward advancing their agenda knowing all the tricks of the trade.
Failed End Time Prophecies4
Many have predicted the end of the world, the list below are only a few. Not listed are Herald Camping, Jack Van Impe, and Hal Lindsy. Matthew 24:36 is not taken seriously as many play on doomsday scenario’s to further their ministries and book sales. Although the Scripture does paint a very dark picture of the End Times, the focus should always remain on the hope of Christ’s return, redemption, and eternal life. Any individual to dabbles in date setting is immediately disqualified as a prophet of God. Scripture is clear that “no man” can know the day or hour. Jesus gave signs and then gave explicit detail of those signs that believers would be aware the day draws near. Yet in spite of the clear teaching that no man can know the day and hour countless people are bent of setting dates. As you will see below, this is not new and has been going on for centuries.
The Prophet Hen of Leeds, 1806
History has countless examples of people who have proclaimed that the return of Jesus Christ is imminent, but perhaps there has never been a stranger messenger than a hen in the English town of Leeds in 1806. It seems that a hen began laying eggs on which the phrase “Christ is coming” was written. As news of this miracle spread, many people became convinced that doomsday was at hand — until a curious local actually watched the hen laying one of the prophetic eggs and discovered someone had hatched a hoax.
The Millerites, April 23, 1843
A New England farmer named William Miller, after several years of very careful study of his Bible, concluded that God’s chosen time to destroy the world could be divined from a strict literal interpretation of scripture. As he explained to anyone who would listen, the world would end sometime between March 21, 1843 and March 21, 1844. He preached and published enough to eventually lead thousands of followers (known as Millerites) who decided that the actual date was April 23, 1843. Many sold or gave away their possessions, assuming they would not be needed; though when April 23 arrived (but Jesus didn’t) the group eventually disbanded—some of them forming what is now the Seventh Day Adventists.
Mormon Armageddon, 1891 or earlier
Joseph Smith, founder of the Mormon church, called a meeting of his church leaders in February 1835 to tell them that he had spoken to God recently, and during their conversation he learned that Jesus would return within the next 56 years, after which the End Times would begin promptly.
Halley’s Comet, 1910
In 1881, an astronomer discovered through spectral analysis that comet tails include a deadly gas called cyanogen (related, as the name imples, to cyanide). This was of only passing interest until someone realized that Earth would pass through the tail of Halley’s comet in 1910. Would everyone on the planet be bathed in deadly toxic gas? That was the speculation reprinted on the front pages of “The New York Times” and other newspapers, resulting in a widespread panic across the United States and abroad. Finally even-headed scientists explained that there was nothing to fear.
Pat Robertson, 1982
In May 1980, televangelist and Christian Coalition founder Pat Robertson startled and alarmed many when — contrary to Matthew 24:36 (“No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven…”) he informed his “700 Club” TV show audience around the world that he knew when the world would end. “I guarantee you by the end of 1982 there is going to be a judgment on the world,” Robertson said.
Heaven’s Gate, 1997
When comet Hale-Bopp appeared in 1997, rumors surfaced that an alien spacecraft was following the comet — covered up, of course, by NASA and the astronomical community. Though the claim was refuted by astronomers (and could be refuted by anyone with a good telescope), the rumors were publicized on Art Bell’s paranormal radio talk show “Coast to Coast AM.” These claims inspired a San Diego UFO cult named Heaven’s Gate to conclude that the world would end soon. The world did indeed end for 39 of the cult members, who committed suicide on March 26, 1997.
Nostradamus, August 1999
The heavily obfuscated and metaphorical writings of Michel de Nostrdame have intrigued people for over 400 years. His writings, the accuracy of which relies heavily upon very flexible interpretations, have been translated and re-translated in dozens of different versions. One of the most famous quatrains read, “The year 1999, seventh month / From the sky will come great king of terror.” Many Nostradamus devotees grew concerned that this was the famed prognosticator’s vision of Armageddon.
Y2K, Jan. 1, 2000
As the last century drew to a close, many people grew concerned that computers might bring about doomsday. The problem, first noted in the early 1970s, was that many computers would not be able to tell the difference between 2000 and 1900 dates. No one was really sure what that would do, but many suggested catastrophic problems ranging from vast blackouts to nuclear holocaust. Gun sales jumped and survivalists prepared to live in bunkers, but the new millennium began with only a few glitches.
May 5, 2000
In case the Y2K bug didn’t do us in, global catastrophe was assured by Richard Noone, author of the 1997 book “5/5/2000 Ice: the Ultimate Disaster.” According to Noone, the Antarctic ice mass would be three miles thick by May 5, 2000 — a date in which the planets would be aligned in the heavens, somehow resulting in a global icy death (or at least a lot of book sales). Perhaps global warming kept the ice age at bay.
God’s Church Ministry, Fall 2008
According to God’s Church minister Ronald Weinland, the end times are upon us– again. His 2006 book “2008: God’s Final Witness” states that hundreds of millions of people will die, and by the end of 2006, “there will be a maximum time of two years remaining before the world will be plunged into the worst time of all human history. By the fall of 2008, the United States will have collapsed as a world power, and no longer exist as an independent nation.” As the book notes, “Ronald Weinland places his reputation on the line as the end-time prophet of God.”
1. All about the Second Coming, Hendrickson Publishers, Inc. p.216
3. Jamieson, Fausset and Brown Commentary
4. Live Science: [End of the World? Top Doomsday Fears]