“if indeed you continue”

Friday, February 23, 2018

Increasingly, it’s time to “be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints” (Eph. 6:10–18).

God’s gift of salvation has come to us “by grace through faith” (Eph. 2:8–9), teaching that God “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim. 2:3–4), and that, contrary to human nature, Christians must not “render evil for evil” (1 Thess. 5:15), and “not to resist an evil person” (Matt. 5:39), but to “love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you…that you may be sons of your Father in heaven” (Matt. 5:44–45).

Therefore the murderer is not to be killed, but the evil spirit of murder driven from him by a life-giving faith in Christ; the thief not imprisoned, but the dark principality of theft driven from him by an all-supplying faith in Christ; the adulterer not stoned, but the wicked spirit of lust driven out by a sanctifying faith in Christ, etc. Why? – because God desires all men to be saved.

A true Christian’s spiritual eyes have been opened to see that behind every work of evil lies an evil spirit, a ruler of darkness, a hostile principality and host of wickedness that causes people to commit evil acts. Therefore, as ambassadors of Christ we do not administer wrath against people controlled by the “rulers of the darkness of this age”, but to do good and pray for their salvation, “Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?” (Rom. 2:4).

Until Jesus returns, the world will get darker and more violent, because Satan knows his time is short. Increasingly, the “rulers of the darkness of this age” are ascending from the pit to cover the earth. “And they had as king over them the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in Hebrew is Abaddon, but in Greek he has the name Apollyon” (Rev. 9:11). This accounts for the sharp rise in murders, rage, theft, suicide, violence, hatred, corruption, immorality and disobedience.

Many Christians who hold to the false pretribulation rapture effectively stick their head in the sand and think there’s nothing to be concerned about for God will snatch them out of this world any second now before malevolent tribulation forces affect them, but they deceive themselves, because Christ gathers His elect saints “Immediately after the tribulation” (Matt. 24:29–31).

Our faith can remain strong in the midst of tribulation forces “if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature under heaven” (Col. 1:23). However, many will be caught in “the falling away” (2 Thess. 2:3), for when the tribulation is revealed “many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another” (Matt. 24:10). Why, because Jesus foretold it.

The burden of my heart is this: because the church has largely departed from end-time truth, and rests ignorantly in the pretribulation rapture and “Left Behind” lie produced by evil spirits, most Christians cannot discern evil spirits creating false unions with Rome and many other spiritual traps set by demonic spirits who come only “to steal, and to kill, and to destroy” (John 10:10).

Since the pretrib rapture crowd believes they will not be on earth for the tribulation, they gladly remain ignorant of it. But avoiding the gospel’s end-time truths will not diminish the reality of an imminent tribulation. Sadly, falsehoods in the church keep most people in blissful ignorance, but that ignorance will lead to a slaughter of unimaginable proportion, for, it was Almighty God Himself who said that “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” (Hos. 4:6).

God warned us whose hope it is to be participant in “the first resurrection” (Rev. 20:4–6), “at the last day” (John 6:40, 44, 54), “looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13), when “we shall all be changed – in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye” (1 Cor. 15:51–52), when “the Lord Himself will descend from heaven” (1 Thess. 4:16), to “Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition” (2 Thess. 2:3).

Many pastors, teachers and church leaders, however, know the truth of all this but remain silent, having a greater fear of men and false tradition than of God. They could otherwise prepare their congregations in the truth for the posttribulation rapture that both Jesus and His apostle’s taught. In this case silence is not golden, but is an end-time death trap and contempt for the truth.

A God-fearing, Spirit-led man will boldly declare the truths Christ taught and make no apology for it. It’s time to resist the protectionist mentality of an indefensible tradition set to sweep many to their destruction. It’s time for men of God to boldly stand and teach the truths for the time of the end – the same truths Jesus taught, and rescue many from “the falling away” (2 Thess. 2:3).

That’s called being Spirit-led – knowing and believing the truth and waging spiritual warfare in the Spirit, “pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God” (2 Cor. 10:4–5) in those who teach falsehood, and praying against evil spirits who cause evil and unbelief. We must clothe ourselves in the truth of God.

Pray with me that the church be delivered from false traditions and teachings that promote the flesh and remove God’s authority. If you care about those under your charge, if you care for the church, if you care for praise from God rather than man, then join me in fervent prayer.

Now is the time to, “be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil” (Eph. 6:10). One can only do this “if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard” (Col. 1:23). Are you prepared to endure to the end?

Marlin J. Yoder

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