Sunday, August 16, 2015

Why Are Churches Failing to Preach about the End Times?..........

Why Are Churches Failing to Preach about the End Times?

Jesus devoted a significant portion of his preaching and teaching to the subject of his second coming—his return in power, and the end of the world. Similarly, his apostles and disciples who wrote the New Testament under divine inspiration also spoke at length about Christ's return.  But the subject is seldom mentioned in churches today. Why?

After his death and resurrection, Jesus appeared alive to his followers over the course of some weeks. Then, as they watched, he rose into the sky until he disappeared from their sight. Two angels told the disciples,

"'You men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who was received up from you into the sky will come back in the same way as you saw him going into the sky.'"

Acts 1:11 

How often do we hear this mentioned in church?

Jesus himself spoke repeatedly to the disc
iples about his return, his second coming.  It will not be like his humble birth in a barn or his submissive death on the cross.  Rather, Jesus said he will return with great power and glory.

"'Then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory.  Then he will send out his angels, and will gather together his chosen ones from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of the sky.'"  

                                          Mark 13:26-27

How many pastors quote this passage in their Sunday sermons?

Jesus will return as King of the kingdom of God. When he was put on trial before the high court of the Jews, and the high priest demanded to know whether Jesus was the Christ, the Son of God,

"Jesus said to him, 'You have said it. Nevertheless, I tell you, after this you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of Power, and coming on the clouds of the sky.'"

Matthew 26:64

Jesus knew that the Jewish religious leaders would understand this to be a reference to the book of Daniel, where the prophet wrote,

"I saw in the night visions, and behold, there came with the clouds of the sky one like a son of man, and he came even to the ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. There was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all the peoples, nations, and languages should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed."

Daniel 7:13-14

This was a major thrust of Jesus' preaching and teaching, but it is seldom if ever mentioned in Christian churches.  Why?

Many of Jesus' parables are devoted to the subject of his return in power, describing how people would be caught by surprise, and would be rewarded or punished at that time.  You may wish to read, for example, the parable of the ten virgins, the parable of the talents, and the parable of the sheep and the goats—all found in the twenty-fifth chapter of the Gospel of Matthew—and the parable of the faithful and wise servant at the end of the twenty-fourth chapter. You may wish to read them on your own, because they are seldom read in church.  Or, if they are read, they are used as a springboard to discuss some other topic, not the topic of Christ's return and the end of the world.

Jesus encouraged us to

"'Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.  . . . be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.'"

Matthew 24:42-44 

This was a powerful exhortation that Jesus repeated to his audiences. But how often is it repeated in Christian churches today?

We can "be ready" by living our lives the way the Bible teaches us to live, and we can "keep watch" by eagerly praying for Christ's return and by paying attention to world events that point to the imminence of his coming.  Looking into the prophecies and their fulfillment is part of our keeping watch and being ready.

But watching for Christ's return is not popular—not even among church-goers.  Why not?

After Jesus' death and resurrection his apostles and other early followers  faithfully preached the message he had taught them, and they recorded this message in their writings that now make up the Bible's New Testament.  

But, even at that time there were portions of the Christian message that were unpopular and that people did not want to hear. THIS IS THE PROBLEM IN TODAY'S CHURCH!

For example, when the Apostle Paul shared the Gospel message with Roman governor Felix, the governor listened gladly to the part about putting faith in Christ, but he did not want to hear the part about the lifestyle Jesus commanded his followers to live, and about God's coming judgment:

"He listened to Paul talk about believing in Christ Jesus. But Felix became afraid when Paul spoke about living right, self-control, and the time when God will judge the world.  He said, 'Go away now.  When I have more time, I will call for you.'"

Acts 24:24-25 

Powerful and influential people today often behave in much the same way as governor Felix, responding favorably to appealing parts of the Gospel message, but not wanting to hear the parts about living right, self-control, and the time when God will judge the world.  

In so-called "Christian" countries, such people may even join a church and consider themselves to be Christian.  

As major financial contributors, or as people who do a lot of the work in the church, they may tell the pastor they don't want to hear him preach on certain topics that they find offensive, or that they think might offend others in the audience. THAT IS MOST CHURCHES TODAY!

The Apostle Paul faithfully preached the full force of Jesus' message, even though he was jailed and eventually killed for doing so, but many church leaders over the centuries have compromised the message to please their listeners.  

"For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear." 

           2 TIMOTHY 2: 3


Likewise today, the pastor of a church may feel obliged to leave out offensive topics from his Sunday messages, in order to keep his job and to avoid losing church members.  I have heard even Bible-believing pastors of Bible-believing churches admit that they have done this—leaving out mention of money, or of certain sins, or leaving out the full force of God's judgment message—at the request of influential members of their church, or out of fear of losing their job.  DO THEY SERVE GOD OR THE god OF THIS WORLD, MONEY? 

Some churches today that call themselves Christian preach a Jesus who loves and accepts everyone and everything, who doesn't require anything of anyone—and who isn't ever really coming again to call people to account.

The real Jesus would be ridiculed and opposed if he showed up to preach on earth today. The main theme of his preaching was a call to 'Repent!'  That word is found most commonly today in cartoons comically portraying a foolish-looking crazy person in a beard and white robe carrying a placard with that message. The call to repent is seen as a joke.  And if preached seriously from the pulpit, then people are offended, because they don't want to be told that their lifestyle is condemned by God.

Matthew says this about how Jesus began his ministry:

"Jesus began to preach, and to say, 'Repent!'"

                                                               Matthew 4:17

And Luke shows that Jesus concluded his ministry on earth with the same theme:

"that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name to all the nations."

                                                                                                                                      Luke 24:47

Decades later when the Gospel message had already spread throughout the Mediterranean area, resulting in the formation of many Christian churches, the risen Christ appeared to the then aged Apostle John in a lengthy vision that John wrote down in the Bible book now called the Apocalypse or Revelation.  It is a book of prophecy detailing with the events leading up to the end of this world. HISTORY ENDS ACCORDING TO GOD'S PLAN. DOES THE CHURCH PREACH THIS MESSAGE? NO IT DOES NOT, BECAUSE IT IS UNPOPULAR AND UNCOMFORTABLE. WE ARE THE LAST GENERATION, THE BIBLE CLEARLY SAYS SO AND THE CHURCH IS SILENT! 

In that vision Jesus commanded John to send messages to seven major Christian churches of that day, the churches in "Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea." (Rev. 1:11)  The messages to most of those churches included a call for their members to "Repent!"—even though they were already Christians:

To the church in the city of Ephesus, Jesus said:

". . . Repent and do the things you did at first.  If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your . . ."

          Revelation 2:5 
To the church in the city of Pergamum, he said:

". . . Repent therefore!  Otherwise, I will soon come to you and will fight . . ."

                                                                                                            Revelation 2:16 

To the church in the city of Sardis, the risen Christ said:

". . . Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; obey it, and repent.  But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you. . . ."

                                                                                                                                Revelation 3:3 

To the church in city of Laodicea, Jesus said:

". . . Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline.  So, be earnest, and repent.  . . ."    

                                                                                                             Revelation 3:19 

Jesus calls five of the seven churches to "repent" for straying, in various ways, from following him.  I purposely quoted just a few words from the messages to these churches—enough to show that Jesus was calling their members to repent—but you would benefit from reading these messages in their completeness in Revelation chapters 2 and 3.

So, Jesus calls on us to "Repent!"—change our hearts and lives—when we first turn to him to as our Savior and Lord.  And he repeatedly calls Christians to "Repent!" even later during our walk with him as his followers.  When we regularly read the Bible and prayerfully think about the things it says and how those words apply to our lives, God's Holy Spirit shows us the changes we need to make to grow up as God's adopted children and to become more like Jesus.

The remainder of the book of Revelation presents a long series of visions full of signs and symbols:  "A great and wondrous sign appeared in heaven" (12:1), "Then another sign appeared in heaven" (12:3), "And I saw another sign in heaven" (15:1)  The exact meanings of these signs and symbols have been the subject of debate for centuries, but the basic overall message is clear: 

God will intervene in human affairs to put an end to man's governments and to establish the worldwide rule of the Kingdom of God. 

In the process, God sends one plague or disaster after another—diseases, scorching heat, pollution of the seas and rivers, destruction of "a third of the trees" (Rev. 8:7), and so on—to punish rebellious mankind and call people to repent.  "The other people who were not killed by these terrible disasters still did not change their hearts . . . and turn away from murder or evil magic, from their sexual sins or stealing."  (Rev. 9:20-21)  Or, as another translation words it, "The rest of mankind who were not killed by these plagues still did not . . .  repent of their murders, their magic arts, their sexual immorality or their thefts." 

Revelation goes on to show the world's governments and armies suffering defeat at a "place that is called Armageddon in the Hebrew language" (Rev. 16:16), after which Christ rules for a thousand years.

The message that people need to repent, and that God is going to judge the world, has never been popular.  But it has been the message of the prophets and the Apostles down through the ages.  It may not be popular in churches today, but it was the message Christ gave to his followers to preach.  And it is the message that people in today's world need to hear, as the foretold events are playing out, we are in the last days!

Human nature is incredibly self-deceptive. Sometimes the truth hurts, and our hearts—"deceitful above all things and desperately wicked" (Jeremiah 17:9)—will avoid admitting the truth at all costs. The heart is so deceitful that it will often not admit it can be deceived!

These days, deceit is the name of the game, even in the church. 

Just as soon as His disciples asked Him, "What will be the sign of your coming, and of the end of the age?" Jesus brings up deceptions: "Take heed that no one deceives you. . . . Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many" (Matthew 24:3-4, 11). He is saying that an increase in lying and deceit will be a hallmark of the end time. 









Jesus speaks particularly of religious deception, especially of those who "will come in My name, saying, 'I am the Christ,' and will deceive many" (verse 5). Most likely, He did not mean those who acclaimed themselves to be the Messiah, but those who would use Jesus' name to preach falsehood. Every "Christian" church of this world professes Christ as Savior, but do their ministers preach the truth He brought? 

Are many "Christians"—1.9 billion strong around the world —being deceived by a false gospel? This prophecy is fulfilled every Sunday around the world. SADLY MOST SEMINARIANS AND CHURCH LEADERS ARE ILL EQUIPPED TO PREACH THE WHOLE TRUTH.

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