Friday, 22 November 2013

A TRUMPET SOUNDS - FIGHT OR FLIGHT?


A TRUMPET SOUNDS – FLIGHT OR FIGHT?

 

In the midst of all the clamour of “wars and rumours of wars” and the terrorist threat, Christians all over the world are hearing a trumpet call – an alarm – sounding with increasing urgency – a signal to prepare. The question is, prepare for what? 

 

Some are certain that it heralds the soon return of the Lord to snatch away the Church in the “Rapture” so they are getting ready for flight.  What a relief!  Jesus is coming to take us away from it all, while the rest of the world descends into utter chaos and the horror of the Great Tribulation.  We are told that no prophecy remains to be fulfilled before this great event.  Jesus could come at any minute now.  Scores of books and videos are on the market with graphic descriptions of what could be the fate of those unfortunate enough to be “left behind”.

 

There is no doubt that this is the popular interpretation of the trumpet sound.  A flight to the Heavens is much more appealing to our sense of self-preservation than hanging on in this old world the way things are shaping up.   Pack your bags, prepare to leave any minute now!

 

Others are hearing the trumpet differently.  No, that’s not the call for “Retreat.”  The trumpet is sounding:-

“Proclaim this among the nations

Prepare for war!

Wake up the mighty men,

Let all the men of war draw near,

Let them come up.”  Joel 3:9

 

So they are getting ready for fight.  Rouse the Army, check out the armour, sharpen the sword!  The Battle is upon us with the promise of great and glorious Victory.

 

So who is right? And does it matter?  What’s the difference?  There is an old joke which says “I’m not pre- millennium or  post- millennium, I’m pan millennium – I believe it will all pan out in the end.”  In other words it doesn’t matter what we believe about the end time.

I would suggest that it matters a great deal whether the Army is getting ready for retreat or for advance.  It is no longer good enough to be vague about it all.  God works in the world through His people and they need to hear loud and clear what the Spirit is saying to the churches.

 

If your Eschatology is Escapology, please for Jesus’ sake hear me out.  It could be that God has an even greater destiny for the church than what we have imagined previously - a destiny that gives greater glory to the Cross of Christ than the popularised retreat scenario. 

As for the assertion that all is fulfilled that has to be fulfilled before the Lord comes – The Word of God tells us that:-

 

Jesus is coming for a glorious Church without spot or wrinkle’ [Ephesians 5:26]

That hasn’t happened yet.

The Body of Christ is to rise to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.[Ephesians 4:13]

That hasn’t happened yet.

Jesus is waiting till His enemies are made His footstool [Hebrews 10:13]               pg2

That hasn’t happened yet.

The heavens must retain Jesus until the time of restoration of all things [Acts 3:21]

And “Elijah” must come first and restore all things.  Matthew 17:11

That hasn’t happened yet.

Jesus prayed that His Church be one, that the world may believe [John 17;21]

That hasn’t happened yet.  Will any prayer of Jesus go unanswered?

The Church has to kick down the Gates of Hell [Matthew 16:18,19]

That hasn’t happened yet.  The whole sense of this great promise of Jesus is that it is the Church that is to be on the offensive, not on the defensive.

 

It may be a good idea to stow away the suitcase and start sharpening the sword after all.

 

Perhaps you might think that I just don’t know my Bible or haven’t been taught correctly.  I cut my Christian teeth on the Rapture- at- any- moment teaching and swallowed it charts and all.  However as one of my favourite hymns says “The Lord has yet more light and truth to break forth from His Word.”  More light and truth are there for those who will ask, seek, and knock. I did, and what I discovered blew the old theory to bits.

Now don’t misunderstand me.  I believe in a “Rapture” as is plainly stated in 1 Thess. 4:15-17.  As to when it takes place is another matter.  If you read the passage carefully you will note that nowhere does it say that the Church is taken back to Heaven.  It simply says that we shall always be with the Lord, and as another old hymn says “Where Jesus it, ‘tis Heaven there.”  Why would a Christian want to be anywhere else?

Think of the time when Jesus rode into Jerusalem that last Passover week.  “A great multitude” went out to meet Him and escort Him into the city. [John 12:12,13 also Luke 19:37-41]. That was and is, the way to welcome a King.  What “rapture” it will be indeed to go out and meet the King of Kings and escort Him to the throne.  The first time His throne was a Cross, the next time it will be the throne of the Eternal Kingdom.  Bring in the Day!  “Blessed is He Who comes in the Name of the Lord!”
 
 
Perhaps it would be helpful to explore the reason why we currently have “flight” and “fight” camps in the Army.  Yes there is another camp – they haven’t heard any trumpet call at all.  There is a saying that there are three kinds of people; those who watch things happen, those who make things happen and those who haven’t a clue what’s happening.
The “flight” camp are those who watch things happen.  They are “watching and waiting, looking above.”  When the Lord comes hasn’t got anything to do with them.  He will sovereignly come when He sovereignly chooses.  They are also closely watching the political scene and world developments which hold all the necessary clues to the arrival of that great moment when they will leave it all behind.
Then there is the “fight” camp.  They believe that they can make things happen – they are here to be history makers not history watchers.  They believe that they can, not only look for, but actually hasten the Day of God [2Peter 3:12]. In their understanding, Jesus won’t come until they’ve done the job He set the Church to do.  The flight camp would call them presumptuous.
Then there is the third camp who have become “dull of hearing” [Hebrews 5:11].  They haven’t heard anything out of the ordinary yet and aren’t expecting to.  They are not looking for flight at any moment and neither are they looking to fight either.  Trumpet!  What Trumpet? Battle! What Battle? They would probably call both the other camps  “presumptuous.”
 
Christians are hearing the trumpet differently because we have trained and strained our spiritual ears for different sounds depending on our interpretation of end-time events.  All would agree that the climax of history is when Jesus sits on the throne and the Kingdom comes on Earth as it is in Heaven.  What part the Church plays in Earth History leading up to this great and glorious event, is where the controversy lies.
 
The Church has always moved forward by revelation.  This is in accordance with Jesus’ promise that the Holy Spirit would continue to guide us into all truth and show us things to come.  [John 16:13]  As the cloud of God’s glory led His people Israel to their destination in the Promised Land, so in Church History, God has led His Church by His Spirit, bringing more revelation from His Word. 
“Surely the Lord does nothing,

Unless He reveals His secret to His servants the Prophets”  Amos 3:7

 
Denominations were formed because some people moved into new revelation of the Word, while others continued to camp around the last great truth and were closed to any further revelation - the “all truth” that Jesus promised had already been attained – anything else had to be heresy at worst or misguided at best.
 
Any revelation that is of God always sheds more light on the Cross, and what was accomplished there on our behalf. The Cross is God’s only answer and the sole means through which the Kingdom comes.  Anything that God does in the Earth has already been accomplished in seed form at the Cross.  Any “revelation” which is not according to this principle is suspect.
 
As I searched the Word for end-time answers, everything I discovered was pointing to glory and victory ahead for the Church.  Nowhere could I fit what I had been taught about the end times, into what I was discovering.  The Scriptures reveal that the Church of the last days will be a warrior Church filled with the glory of God, overcoming the enemy.  It will do what the “flight camp” is waiting for Jesus to do – vanquish the Enemy and establish the Kingdom. 
What brings more glory to Jesus – a victorious Church or a weak trembling Church waiting to be rescued?  I am convinced that Jesus intended total victory for His Church, and nothing less than total victory will do justice to the Cross.  Is leaving the world and its inhabitants behind to the mercy of the Enemy, total victory?
  Something of what I discovered in my search through the Scriptures, resulted in the book “The Fall of the Gates of Hell” but there is yet much more.  If it is the Spirit of Truth which is teaching us we should expect that He is also teaching the same things to others who are searching.  I was excited to discover the writings of Bill Britton who in turn records sharing with others of like mind.  What I had discovered was not new but it had been overshadowed by the more popular theory of the Rapture of the Church at any moment.
 
It was in Bill’s writings “The Rapture of the Church. What is it?” that I found out more about the origin of the teaching, something that I had been rather vague about.
According to Bill, the theory had its origins in 1830 through a prophecy by a young Scottish girl named Margaret MacDonald and also a similar prophecy by a Mrs Cardale a year later.  This “revelation” found its way into a book by R. N. Norton published in 1861.  Edward Irvine, founder of the Irvinites accepted and taught the new teaching and it was espoused by John Darby a leader in the Plymouth Brethren.   
 
    It eventually became enshrined in the notes of the Schofields Bible and became to some people as authoritative as Holy Writ.  Prior to this it had always been preached that the Church would go through all tribulation victoriously, and bring in the kingdom. As in:-
 
Stand up, stand up for Jesus, as soldiers of the cross;
Lift high His royal banner, it must not suffer loss;
From victory on to victory, His army He shall lead,
Till every foe is vanquished, and Christ is Lord indeed.”  AHB 509  [my emphasis]
 
So it was not a matter of new revelation arising out of the Word, but rather the new “revelation” being accepted and portions of the Scriptures being slotted into a new timetable or a chart.  The Bible was put through the “dispensational” filter, with some scriptures being relegated to “only for the apostolic age”’ and some being “only for the Jews.” In one publication, I read that Man fails in every dispensation from Adam to the Second Coming including the dispensation of Grace.  To say that Man under Grace fails is equivalent to saying that the Cross fails.  Never!  In the Cross God has made every provision for His Church to overcome the enemy and establish Kingdom. 
Jesus has done all that is necessary.  We just have not understood the magnitude of our salvation.  As previously stated all true revelation brings light on the Cross.  That’s where the victory was won.  It is the church’s privilege and responsibility to enforce that victory and bring in the Kingdom. 
The Cross was and is about, much more than getting us to Heaven when we die, wonderful as that may be. The Cross reversed the curse which came upon the earth.  Now if you’re an evolutionist and the Fall of Man is just a myth, then your concept of what the Cross restored will be limited. But if you believe, [as I do after much research]  in an original perfect Creation and a literal Fall, then you will be able to grasp more fully what the Cross has restored.  There is no aspect of salvation that is not covered by the Cross..
 
The state of Creation reflects the spiritual state of Man,.  That’s why, Paul states in Romans 8:19-21 that the whole creation groans and waits for the revealing of the sons of God, because then it will be delivered from corruption into liberty.  Most Christians read this passage in their minds as the creation waiting for the Second Coming, but that’s not what it says. Could it be that creation is waiting for the sons of God to stand up and BE the sons of God.
Dominion over the earth was given to Man at creation.. 
God said “Let us make Man in Our image, and let them have dominion…”  Genesis 1:26.  That dominion was handed over to the enemy at the Fall, with the resultant corruption of the Earth..
 Jesus’ mission was to take the authority which the enemy had usurped and restore it to  redeemed Man.
In giving the Great Commission, Jesus said,
 
 All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.  Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”    {Matthew 28:18-20] 
 
The Church has indeed gone into all the world in obedience to the command and multiplied millions have come into the Kingdom.  Disciples have been made from most nations.  And yet is this the full scope of the Great Commission?
What would happen if God’s people fully exercised their God-given authority over the enemy?
He is “the god of this age” – the one who has corrupted the earth and the lives of its inhabitants.  God still “so loves the world” and gave His Son for everyone.
 
Jesus has finished what He came to do and it is sufficient for what remains to be done.
 
 But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool.  For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.” Hebrews 10:12-14
 
What authority will Jesus have when He come again that He doesn’t already have?
None!  He already has all authority in heaven and earth, and has delegated that authority to the Church His Body.
As Man He delivered us from the kingdom of darkness and put the destiny of earth in our hands again. We have been waiting for Jesus to come back and do what He has commissioned us to do.  But the Word says He is waiting for His enemies [the principalities and powers of darkness] to be made His footstool.
 
In Psalm 2  God says
Ask of Me, and I will give You the nations for Your inheritance,
And the ends of the earth for Your possession.”
 
Prayer is the battleground on which we wrestle the enemy for the nations and the ends of the earth for the Kingdom. Even now thousands are coming into the Kingdom in answer to prayer especially among the Muslims. Great things are happening. There are many books out about the frightening things that are coming upon the Earth and most of them assert that the Church will be gone up in the
'Rapture' before things get really rough. How many of your loved ones will be 'left behind?.' If you had the choice would you stay and fight for them? That's exactly what the Army of God is here to do. We are here to bring down the Gates of Hell and release the captives.
 
"The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because the Lord has anointed Me to preach good tidings to the poor...to heal the brokenhearted....to proclaim liberty to the captives and the opening of the prison to those who are bound...to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord..."  Isaiah 61:1,2
 
Join the battle; Victory is assured. 
 
It's time! the trumpet is sounding
It's time! to prepare for war
It's time to march around Jericho
Walking in the Glory of the Lord.
 
It's time! to break down the barriers
It's time for Unity restored
It's time to overcome the enemy
Walking in the Glory of the Lord.
 
It's time! the Captain is waiting,
It's time to buckle on the Sword
It's time to possess the Kingdom
Walking in the Glory of the Lord.
 From a poem by Val