Resources to aid your Understanding
TITLE: BE MENTALLY AND SPIRITUALLY PREPARED
Subtitle: Are You Truly Ready For Tomorrow (Or Perhaps Something Sooner)?
The Boy Scout motto of "Be Prepared" is a frame of mind that all of us should adopt. The saying that "to be forewarned is to be forearmed," is something I mention often because being caught completely off guard is not much fun! Of course my wife accuses me of being a pessimist, but I prefer to think of myself as being a realist--one who is aware that "Murphy's Law" (If it can go wrong, it will) may strike at any moment and when it does, I am not overly surprised. A Pollyanna attitude that leads to unrealistic optimism may be pleasant while it lasts, but a fall from such lofty heights is rough on one's mental outlook--which reminds me of the Lord's Words to His disciples:
"You also must be ready therefore; for the Son of man is coming at an hour when you do not expect Him" Matthew 24:44 (Parallel Bible, KJV/Amplified Bible commentary, emphasis mine).
Many take this to mean that one cannot know the time of the Rapture, but in the context of the chapter it clearly applies to Israel and not the Church. As I have pointed out before, at the time the Lord spoke these Words the Church was still a divine mystery. But even though the specific warning is for the Jews at the end of the Tribulation Period, it is still very much applicable to God's people today. The Apostle Paul was speaking about this kind of readiness when he said:
"This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come" 2 Tim. 3:1 (KJV).
And the overwhelming majority of conservative Bible teachers agree that we are obviously living in the very last of those "last days" because of world events now taking place. The perilous times are upon us and we need to be aware that our lives can be turned upside down--literally in a matter of a few minutes. The events of 9-11 should have demonstrated to the most staunch optimist that our comfort zone is very tenuous at best.
A well-known quote from advice columnist Ann Landers was, "Wake up and smell the coffee!" In other words, get your head out of the clouds and pay attention to reality. And the present reality is that we are living on a financial, political, and moral precipice that is crumbling. Multiplied thousands are losing their jobs to other countries where the wage scale is much lower (such as China, where slave labor produces much of their trade goods) and heavy industry in this nation has been systematically decimated over the past 35-40 years. We have been reduced to a service oriented economy instead of a strong manufacturing one. Secure and good paying jobs are becoming as scarce as hen's teeth and many college graduates with years of experience are being forced to compete for minimum wage, entry-level positions. The Federal government is running the printing presses day and night cranking out fiat money backed by nothing more than promises and when the bubble bursts, chaos will reign supreme. And beloved, that is exactly the plan! The United States has served its masters well and is now expendible. Our military is being used to achieve objectives consistent with that plan and when the time is right, the power base will shift from the West to the East (quite possibly the Middle East) under the guidance of a great world leader yet to be revealed.
What are we to do? Can we stop this juggernaut and save the day? No! God has ordained that these things shall come to pass and in Romans 13:1-7 told Christians to be subject to "the powers that be." Notice the emphasis of verse 2:
"Therefore he who resists and sets himself up against the authorities resists what God has appointed and arranged--in divine order. And those who resist will bring down judgment upon themselves--receiving the penalty due them" (Parallel Bible, KJV/Amplified Bible commentary, emphasis mine).
In light of this, we need to pay close attention to the Lord's reply as He responded to a request for delay of discipleship:
"Another of the disciples said to Him, Lord let me first go and bury [care for till death] my father.  But Jesus said to him, Follow Me, and leave the dead [in sin] to bury their own dead" Matthew 8:21-22 (Parallel Bible, KJV/Amplified Bible commentary).
As someone has said, "First things first!" We must live our lives according to priorities set by the Lord and obeying Him must always be number one. All events taking place in this world are unfolding according to His Sovereign plan and we must never attempt to change the outcome through active resistance. The Holy Spirit literally resides within each and every born again believer and His influence will be felt by those around us in direct proportion to the degree we submit to Him. As we obey the command to "mortify (kill) the deeds of the body" (Romans 8:13 and Colossians 3:5)--that is, accentuate the spiritual and eliminate the sins of the flesh--the Holy Spirit will not be quenched by our actions (1 Thessalonians 5:19) and His supernatural power will be exerted in and through us. Pouring water on a fire "quenches," or extinguishes it, and that is what sin does to our potential for Christ. So if we truly want to play a vital role in bringing about His Kingdom upon earth, we must do His work His way--by cooperating with the Holy Spirit to exert spiritual influence upon society. If we fail--and we all do at times--God's plan is in no way threatened because the outcome is certain. However, the extent of our reward at the Judgment Seat of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:10) will be determined by how well we obey Him in this life.
Have you ever wondered why the Lord has often allowed His followers to die as martyrs? During the early days of the Church, thousands were crucified, fed to the lions, or forced to die by the sword in the Roman coliseum--all for the entertainment of the mob. What possible good could have come from this unspeakable suffering on the part of His saints? Only eternity will reveal the full extent of what God accomplished through it all, but history shows it played a huge role in bringing down Emperial Rome! Christianity spread throughout the known world as persecution forced God's people to flee from those who would do them harm. And everywhere they went the love in their hearts and the Gospel upon their lips banished spiritual darkness, so that entire continents were evangelized. The Lord Jesus Christ was honored through the deaths of the martyrs because most were filled with the Spirit and died "well"--actions which stood in stark contrast to those who were unbelievers.
And as unpleasant as it is to contemplate, we must face the realization that it is going to happen again! According to the Word of God, a time is coming in which the brutality of Emperial Rome will seem tame by comparison. Two thirds of the world's population will be exterminated in order to "cleanse mother Gaia" (earth) of those who are deemed to be consumers and not producers. Persecution of Christians is becoming more and more of a problem around the world and is only going to get worse. So by paying close attention to current events one cannot help but notice a clear trend--a backlash, if you will--against those who take a stand for morality and decency. The anti-abortion struggle and on-going controversy about homosexuality are but two of many conflicts between believers and the world at large. All references to Jesus Christ have long since been purged from public life and in time will doubtless be viewed as a crime against humanity. The generic term of "god" is still being thrown about by politicians bent upon securing the vote of unsuspecting Christians, but hopefully God's people are awakening to that particular ploy. Now that I have passed the 64 year mark, I look back upon a process of moral and spiritual deterioration that is almost unbelievable. Only senior citizens who grew up in a different America can fully appreciate what I am saying and it breaks my heart to have to point out the judgment of God that is coming--apparently in the near future.
An elderly (well over 90) preacher friend of mine believes the Church will exit earth in the same manner in which it came in--under severe persecution--and with each passing day, I find that I agree with him more and more. The world at large hates Jesus Christ and everyone associated with Him, so please do not be deceived into thinking that our neighbors will stand with us when the going gets tough. When crunch time comes and choices have to be made, we are going to be faced with a devilish hostility born of desperation. So by using the Book of Revelation as a guide, we should be able to forsee that day in which the world's economy will be in shambles and a panic-stricken public will lash out at us--accusing believers for dividing and ultimately destroying the country through prolonged conflict over such issues as abortion and homosexuality. These "hot-button" topics continue to cause a simmering level of resentment that is just beneath the surface, but will doubtless explode under the right circumstances. It is totally irrelevant to them that the standard of righteousness is found in the Bible because precious few acknowledge it as being God's Word, let alone agree with its precepts.
The Holy Spirit speaking through the Apostle Peter, informed the believers of his day that the persecution they were experiencing was a part of end-time events. And as we note from the following passage, it was said to be "near":
"But the end and culmination of all things has now come near; keep sound-minded and self-restrained and alert therefore for [the practice of] prayer.  Above all things have intense and unfailing love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins--forgives and disregards the offenses of others.  Practice hospitality to one another--that is, those of the household of faith. (Be hospitable, that is, be a lover of strangers, with brotherly affection for the unknown guests, the foreigners, the poor and all others who come your way who are of Christ's body.) And [in each instance] do it ungrudgingly--cordially and graciously without complaining [but as representing Him].  As each of you has received a gift (a particular spiritual talent, a gracious divine endowment), employ it for one another as [befits] good trustees of God's many-sided grace--faithful stewards of the extremely diverse [powers and gifts granted to Christians by] unmerited favor.  Whoever speaks, [let him do it] as with the strength which God furnishes abundantly; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, the Messiah. To Him be the glory and dominion for ever and ever--through endless ages. Amen--so be it.  Beloved, do not be amazed and bewildered at the fiery ordeal which is taking place to test your quality, as though something strange--unusual and alien to you and your position--were befalling you.  But in so far as you are sharing Christ's sufferings, rejoice, so that when His glory (full of radiance and splendor) is revealed you may also rejoice with triumph--exultantly.  If you are censured and suffer abuse [because you bear] the name of Christ, blessed [are you]--happy, fortunate, to be envied, with life-joy and satisfaction in God's favor and salvation, regardless of your outward condition--because the Spirit of glory, the Spirit of God, is resting upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified.  But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or a thief, or any sort of criminal; or as a mischief-maker (a meddler) in the affairs of others--infringing on their rights.  But if [one is ill-treated and suffers] as a Christian [which he is contemptuously called], let him not be ashamed, but give glory to God that he is [deemed worthy] to suffer in this name.  For the time [has arrived] for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will [be] the end of those who do not respect or believe or obey the good news (the Gospel) of God?  And if the righteous are barely saved, what will become of the godless and wicked?  Therefore, those who are ill-treated and suffer in accordance with God's will must do right, and commit their souls (in charge as a deposit) to the One Who created them and will never fail [them]" 1 Peter 4:7-19 (Parallel Bible, KJV/Amplified Bible commentary, emphasis mine).
In this nearly 2000 year old passage we see teaching which clearly states God's people were experiencing a "fiery ordeal" (vs.12) and that the "end and culmination of all things has come near" (vs.7). Why would God make such a statement through Peter when He knew that many more centuries were in store for the Church? The answer is found in another passage written by Peter, where we find him saying:
"But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day" 2 Peter 3:8 (KJV)
In other words, time itself has no bearing upon God and theologians teach that He lives in a state of "ever-present now"--a realm outside of time and space as we experience it. So the "last days" began with the Church and continue to this present hour--the "end and culmination of all things" being that much closer! Surely we can see that wickedness is rampant and men's hearts are returning once again to the point where they are "only evil continually," as was the case in the days of Noah:
"And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually" Genesis 6:5 (KJV).
The first time this degree of evil was reached, God's judgment destroyed mankind by a world-wide flood, but the judgment now pending will be by fire:
"But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men" 2 Peter 3:7 (KJV, emphasis mine).
"Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?" 2 Peter 3:12 (KJV, emphasis mine).
In closing, we want to make a plea to two different groups. To those who do not know Jesus Christ as personal Lord and Savior, we beg you to come to Him for salvation before it is eternally too late. Then to believers we want to impress upon you the urgent need to wake up and realize that current teaching about the rapture is leading many to think God is going to spare the Church from all the "bad stuff" associated with the the tribulation period by removing it from earth. We too believe and teach that God is going to remove His Church prior to antichrist confirming the covenant with Israel (Daniel 9:27)--signalling the actual onset of the Tribulation Period--but we must caution believers against the kind of Pollyanna thinking that rules out the distinct possibility (if not probability) of persecution and hardship prior to that event.
Some have accused us of trying to spread gloom and doom, but that is certainly not our intent. Genuine believers are eternally secure and no matter what the world, our sinful flesh, and the devil may throw at us (1 John 2:15-17)--we are more than conquerers through Jesus Christ. Keep looking up, because our ultimate redemption is getting closer by the second!
If you have been born again and received Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, but have been very lukewarm in your spiritual walk with Him, you need to immediately ask Him for forgiveness and for renewal. He will instantly forgive you, and fill your heart with the joy of the Holy Spirit. Then, you need to begin a daily walk of prayer and personal Bible Study.
If you have never placed your trust in Jesus Christ as your Savior, but have come to sense His reality and the approaching End of the Age, and want to receive His FREE Gift of Eternal Life, you can do so now, in the privacy of your home. Once you truly believe in Him as Lord and Savior, you are spiritually Born Again, and are as assured of Heaven as if you were already there. Then, you can rest assured that the Kingdom of Antichrist will not touch you spiritually. If you would like to become Born Again, turn to our Salvation Page now.
We hope you have been blessed by this ministry, which seeks to educate and warn people, so that they can see the coming New World Order—Kingdom of Antichrist—in their daily news.
Return to Pastoral Articles index
Finally, we would love to hear from you. You can write us at:
Cutting Edge Ministries, C/O Pastor Ron Riffe
P.O. Box 26
Gordo, AL 35466
You can also E-Mail Pastor Ronald Riffe regarding questions or comments about this article.
God bless you.