David Reagan — Spiritual Apostasy in the End Times
Christianity today is being bombarded by heresy and apostasy, all in fulfillment of end time Bible prophecies. In response to this crisis, Lamb & Lion Ministries recently sponsored a conference on the theme of “Spiritual Apostasy in the End Times.” Our four speakers discussed a variety of topics related to apostasy in the Church today. For some highlights from the conference, please stay tuned.
I want to conclude this morning on a positive note. Not all the spiritual signs of the end times are negative in nature. The Bible clearly prophecies that there is going to be a great out pouring of the Holy Spirit in the End Times. The prophecies concerning this out pouring are often expressed in symbolic terms as the early rain and the latter rain. This of course is a reference to the two rainy seasons of Israel, that symbolism is used to express the idea that there will be two great out pourings of the Holy Spirit.
The first was at Pentecost that was the early rain. But Joel chapter 2 says point blank, that the second great out pouring of the Holy Spirit, the latter rain, will occur after Israel is re-established in the land. After the children of Israel are re-gathered from the four corners of the earth and put back in the land. That occurred in the 20th century, it is continuing today, and of course it began to accelerate after the establishment of Israel on May the 14th, 1948. Today as we look around the world, we can see many manifestations of this out pouring of the Holy Spirit.
For example world evangelism, in 1949 Billy Graham’s ministry took off like a rocket. And since that time his ministry alone has reached more people with the message of the Gospel then all of the evangelist in the history of Christianity for 2000 years before him, due mainly to the use of modern technology like satellite television and radio. Or consider the rediscovery of the Holy Spirit, at the beginning of the 20th century both Catholics and Protestants taught cessationalism both taught the Holy Spirit retired had retired in the First Century.
By the end of the 20th century after the impact of the Pentecostal movement, the charismatic movement, the third wave movement by the end of the 20th nearly all churches were teaching the Holy Spirit is alive and well. The Holy Spirit indwells the believer, the Holy Spirit gifts the believer, the rediscovery of the Holy Spirit it self is a sign that we are in the finally outpouring. Another would be Messianic Judaism.
Last night Marty Goetz you saw an example of what God is doing in Jewish hearts. In 1967 following the Six Day War the Spirit of God fell upon Jews all over this world. Thousands and millions of Jews began to turn to Jesus and accept Yeshua as their HaMashiach in 1967 when the Six Day War occurred there was not one Messianic congregation on planet Earth, not one. Today there is over 500, and there are hundreds of thousands, even millions of Jews all over the world, who are celebrating Yeshua as their Messiah.
In fact Marty left this morning to go to a major, the biggest Messianic convocation of the year that is held in the Philadelphia area, where thousands and ten of thousands of Jews will be celebrating Jesus as their Messiah. Another would be the understanding of Bible prophecy. Over and over it says in the Old Testament both in Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Daniel, that the end time prophecies will not be understood until the time comes for them to be understood, Daniel chapter 12. Daniel said, “Lord I don’t understand these prophecies.” You know what God told him? “It’s not for you to understand, it is for you to write them.
When the time comes for them to be understood, they will be understood.” And what happened in 1970 Hal Lindsey wrote a book called, “The Late Great Planet Earth,” and the New York Times recently certified that that book was the number 1 best selling book in the world, second only to the Bible for 10 consecutive years, from 1970-1980. And what did he do? All in the world he did was stop providing supernatural explanations of Revelation, and instead providing down-to-earth realistic explanations, because suddenly people could understand things in the book of Revelation they had never understood before. And why was that?
Historical developments and technological developments. For example all of end time prophecy focuses on one thing, Israel, Israel. How could you understand those prophecies before 1948? How could you understand them, when Israel did not exist? How could you understand them when there was no prospect that Israel would ever exist? Up until the very day Israel came into being people said, “It will never exist.” And when it came into being people said, “It will be gone within a week, the Arabs will destroy it.”
To this day Israel continues to exist because God says in Amos 9, “I will put you back in the land and you will never be uprooted again.” And He is keeping that promise; He who watches over Israel neither slumbers nor sleeps. So just the very understanding about this, so many, many prophecies that can not be understood apart from modern technology. For example, in Revelation chapter 11 it says there is going to be two great witnesses of God who will be preaching the Gospel all through the first half of the Tribulation and then suddenly they will be killed by the Antichrist, and the whole world will rejoice and their bodies will lie in the streets of Jerusalem for 3 1/2 days and the whole world will look upon them.
There was no way to understand that prophecy before the late 1960’s. How could the whole world look upon two bodies lying in the streets of Jerusalem? Today we don’t even stop and think about it, you just point a TV camera, zap it up to a satellite and the whole world can watch two bodies lying in the streets of Jerusalem. There are many, many prophecies like that, that we are understanding for the first time as a result of the development of history and like the development of the European Union and technological developments. Or another, Davidic praise worship.
The Bible says in the end times the tabernacle of David will be resurrected again. The Tabernacle of David was a tabernacle of praise, where people clapped their hands, they danced they sang, they shouted, they had expressive worship. Never in the history of Israel, never had there been expressive worship. It had always been ritual worship, the ritual worship of sacrifice, there was never any joy, the only joy you can find of worship in Old Testament Scriptures is spontaneous.
When for example Pharaoh and his armies were killed, drowned in the Red Sea, Marion began to dance and sing, but there was nothing in the actual worship of Israel until David came on the scene and revolutionalized all the worship. And the Bible says in the end times that kind of worship will be raised up again. It began in 1980 this is a photograph in 1987 of the Feast of Tabernacles in Jerusalem.
But in 1980 when Israel said Jerusalem is ours, and they officially annexed Jerusalem all of the embassies of the world moved to Tel Aviv what an insult except the International Christian Embassy and they said we are going to stand by Israel and they invited Christians from all over the world, 4,000 came they got the best practitioners of Davidic Worship in the world to come, like Randall Bane and they put on a display of Davidic worship. It was video tapped and 4,000 Christians took it back home to over a 120 countries and suddenly Davidic worship just exploded all over the world, just as the Bible said it would in the end times.
So we have many manifestations that we are living in this period of the great outpouring of the Holy Spirit. And the question is how do you and I respond to all of this? Well one thing we do is we open ourselves up to the fullness of the Holy Spirit. Basically the Church today is polarizing between those who are open to the Spirit and are being energized for powerful service in the Lord’s Kingdom. And the majority who are rejecting the Holy Spirit and compromising with the world. Jesus prophesized that this would take place in Matthew 13 beginning with verse 24, He told the parable of the wheat and tares and He prophesied there would be a dual ripening in the end times of apostasy and revival depending on whether or not people opened themselves up to the Spirit.
The second thing we are to do is test everything by the Word of God. Oh, how we need that today. The problem is that most Christians can not test anything by the Word of God because they don’t know the Word of God. There is an average of 5 Bibles in every home in America. It is the least read best seller of all times. And if you don’t read it, you don’t know it, how can you test anything? But we are told to test everything.
Paul commended people for testing him, he was an apostle of God, and he commended them for testing him with the Scriptures to see whether or not what he said was true. A third thing we are to do, we are to stand for truth and righteousness. If we don’t do it, nobody will, if we don’t do it nobody will. We are to be salt, we are to be light, we are to speak out, we are to stand up.
Don Wildman is one of my Christian heroes because he was a pastor of a little Methodist church in Topello, Mississippi when God tapped him on the shoulder and said, “Stand up and speak out.” And he did and within 10 years he had one of the biggest ministries in the United States speaking out against the filth and immorality, the violence on television, and movies.
All of Hollywood is scared to death of him, New York the media is scared to death of him. They don’t understand why he has so much power because he is just a guy from Topello, Mississippi. God has a great sense of humor. From Topello, Mississippi who has all these people scared to death because he speaks out. And you know who says is his greatest critic? He says his greatest critics are pastors. He said, “Everyday I receive at least 10 letters from pastors saying, ‘Why do you waste you time on this? You are losing the battle, things are worse then when you began.’” He said, “Let me tell you something God didn’t call me to win, He called me to stand.
Jesus Christ is the one who is going to win.” Fourth we are called to commit our lives to holiness, commit our lives to holiness. And what does that mean that means to simply make Jesus Lord of everything. Is he Lord of what you eat? Lord of your music? Is he Lord of what you read? What is He Lord of, make him Lord of everything, that is what called holiness. And finally we are called to share the Gospel with as many people as we can, as quickly as we can. So often pastors say to me I never teach on Bible prophecy because I consider it irrelevant, it is all pie-in-the-sky.
I have to deal with problems here and now. I have every problem known to man in my church, I got to deal with them. I say to them, “You do not understand Bible prophecy, because if you could ever convince a person, number 1 that Jesus is coming back, really convince them not here, but in their hearts. And number 2 that is an event that can occur any moment. Do you know what will happen? They will commit their lives to holiness and they will start sharing the Gospel with as many people as they can.”
How much more practical could that be, I don’t know. One final thing I would encourage. We are to live with an eternal perspective. Get our eyes off this world. I tell you recently I just stopped listening to the news, because all the news does is get me mad. My wife said, “If they would take a TV camera and focus it on me while I watched the evening news it would be the greatest reality show in America.”
As I am screaming and yelling and you know I just want to throw something through the TV. And finally I decided I can get along without that, I can just get along without it. I want to keep my eyes on Jesus and not what is going on in this world.
I want to live with an eternal perspective with our hearts tuned to the Lord’s return. And every morning getting up and looking up in the sky and shouting, “Maranatha, Maranatha, come quickly Lord Jesus.” That’s what we ought to be doing as we wait for the coming of the Lord. Thank you and God bless you.