Escapism vs. Reality – Where Do You Stand?

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head-in-sand-410-200Recently an article came across my desk that really disturbed me.

To be honest I have tried to push it off multiple times, but it just kept haunting me. The fire in my bones will not let me leave it be.

In this article the author talks about moral decay, the economy, and even makes the statement that “Total and worldwide financial disaster is inevitable.”

“Nature – The world can’t take much more of this punishment.”

“War – The hate cannot be held back any longer.”

“Immorality – The restraining force on immorality has all but fled, mostly leaving us to our own self-destructive tendencies.”

You know what? I agree with this, but what I cannot agree with is what is to come.

His solution, “The Hopeful Escape” and I guess it is with his lack luster do nothing attitude that caused the fires to burn in my bones.

Here is what the author said..

“Despite the soon break of the gathering storm, and despite the hopelessness about the future that it brings, believers in Christ can know that it is not our future. Our future plays out in the polar opposite. Instead of living in a world gone mad, we foresee a new home in Heaven. Instead of persecution by a crushing tyrant, we face a loving and benevolent King. Instead of living under wrath, we see living under love. And, where there is only hopelessness left on earth, there is hope, peace and joy awaiting us (Rev. 21-22).

The change on our horizon is bright, for the King of Kings is coming to take those who are saved up to live in Heaven with Him forever and ever.”

What is troubling is that more and more ministries are taking on an attitude of  “Why should I worry about the evil in the world, I am going to be raptured away.”

Folks, you all know that I stand on an imminent return, but it seems that so many who profess a Doctrine of Immanency have pushed it to the side and turned the rapture into a form of escapism instead of something that goads us into action.

We as students of bible prophecy KNOW what we are to expect. We KNOW that there will be hard times ahead, we KNOW that persecution takes place, we KNOW that tyrants abound and many have and will pay the ultimate price in standing for Christ.

I mean are we to expect a wonderful happy world one day and the next when the rapture takes place all of a sudden things are really bad?

ostrich-headThe laws of nature, God’s law, dictates that things progress from good to bad and from bad to worse. That is because sin is prevalent in the world and is our sin nature. So prior to the tribulation it should be no surprise that things will get worse.

Where did this whole “escape” come from?

Scripture tells us …

Titus 2:11-14  For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,

12  Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;

13  Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;

14  Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.

I see “looking for the blessed hope” but where is our “zealous good works” for the kingdom?

Have we become a “peculiar people”?

In this God’s Word is describing a people who make a difference to the point that they stand out in a crowd.

Problem is that we have become lax and now ministries are giving the people what they want, some ‘what me worry” excuse and condoning the church to just sit around and do nothing.

Nowhere in scripture are we guaranteed some easy rosy life.

Christ Himself stated the following…

Luke 9:23-27  And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.

24  For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.

More and more I am seeing sound ministries trying to sugar coat the real world and what is taking place in it.

Paul told us that perilous times shall come.

Well folks, I am here to say that they are right here, right now in 3D Technicolor staring us right in the face.

Tell me if the following things are not here…

2 Timothy 3:1-5  This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.

2  For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,

3  Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,

4  Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;

5  Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.

Now let me say that I am more than ready for Christ to return, believe me. This world sickens me and I truly understand when the bible uses the word “vexed”.

All that Paul wrote to Timothy in chapter 3 is right in our face and in some cases being shoved down our throats.

So yea, I am ready to go home.

But as I have said, I am deeply troubled by the whole “God is not going to let us go through the tough times” idea that is being perpetuated out there.

In fact this whole idea is anti-biblical.

Romans 8:36  As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.

Paul himself tells us as Christians we are sheep for the slaughter.

Peter, writing to the Christians who were being martyred he wrote the following…

1 Peter 1:6  Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations:

7  That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:

8  Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory:

9  Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.

Even today, we read of Pastor Yocef Nadarhani in Iran being the latest Christian who will most likely be martyred for his faith in Jesus Christ.

But here is the thing that really troubled me…

“The change on our horizon is bright, for the King of Kings is coming to take those who are saved up to live in Heaven with Him for ever and ever (Jn. 14:1-14; 1 Cor. 15:51-58; 1 Thes. 4:13-18). It will be an event called the Rapture, and it is coming sooner than we think. In fact, it could be argued that it has the potential to happen this very week due to the prophetic significance of the Feasts of Israel.

The Feast of Trumpets occurs on September 29-30, 2011. Will it herald the “last trumpet?” Only God knows for sure. The Rapture is an imminent event, and so we don’t know the exact day or hour it will finally occur. I can only speculate that with the rise of major world events tied to the prophetic significance of the Feast of Trumpets, that this week is one I’m keeping a very close eye on.”

fingers-in-earsFolks, I am not disregarding the rapture, no not at all. What bothers me is that instead of using this valuable time to make a difference and share the gospel; more and more ministries are adopting some Kumbayah, let’s sit in the lotus position and contemplate our navels attitude.

It has gotten to the point where we think we are doing some great work for the Lord by just holding on the little scrape of battle ground, and maintaining the status quo. While all along we run around and pat each other on the back for such a great job we are doing in behalf of God.

Rubbish!

We are losing the battle while the majority of the church is sitting on their rears doing nothing and using the rapture as their excuse to do so.

What should we be doing?

Christ, speaking to Peter about the coming church stated..

Matthew 16:18  And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

We as Christ’s Church are called to charge the gates of hell, and they cannot prevail against us.

Instead what are we doing? We sit around and wait for the rapture to come like some limp noodle.

If we TRULY believe in the Doctrine of Immanency we would be out sharing the gospel with every creature as Christ commanded us to do.

If we TRULY believed in the doctrine of immanency  we would not waste a moment to make sure that we have spoken to our loved ones, our friends, our co-workers about their eternal souls that will burn in hell if they do not come to the saving grace of Jesus Christ.

We should be on our knees praying for all those people fervently, knowing that they will be eternally separated from God the Father as well as separated from us.

Friends, the torment, pain, suffering will be unimaginable and yet this is what we are allowing those we know be condemed to; all because we don’t want to offend or call people sinners.

Christ Himself painted a small picture for us to give us just a glimpse into hell…

Luke 16:22  And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried;

23  And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.

24  And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.

Do you want your friends, family, co-workers, heck even your worst enemy to face this and worse for all of eternity?

This is what they will face if we are not out sharing the gospel in some way.

The Doctrine of Immanency is what lights that fire under us. It instills in us the reason to live a holy and acceptable life unto Him knowing that He can return at a moment’s notice and without warning.

But what is more troubling is the selling of false hope to the point where it is becoming common place.

Look at the statement that the author made.

” The Feast of Trumpets occurs on September 29-30, 2011. Will it herald the “last trumpet?” Only God knows for sure.”

I remember years ago one would never breach this topic and throw out some speculative date. Yet it is becoming more and more common place today.

It seems that we have run from crystal ball to crystal ball. We forget that truly only the Father in Heaven knows.

What right do we have to toss out some date just because it is the feast of trumpets? To be honest it happens every year and every year Rosh Hashanah comes and goes.

It was funny while I was at a conference a well known bible prophecy teacher came down on this and in jest said that if he was God he would return the day after Rosh Hashanah.

He then asked how many Christians would be ready for that?

He stated “not many” and I agree with him.

Because we no longer respect or revere the Doctrine of Immanency, and because we no longer have respect for the Doctrine of Immanency we now make the rapture some elitist escape ideal instead of something to spur us on in charging the gates of hell, being the salt and light of the world.

To attest to this fact just look around you, apostasy runs rampant, more missionaries coming home than going out, hedonism, perversion and the list goes on.

Why?

Because we have not occupied till He returns.

I do not see the times of the Gentiles being fulfilled. In other words we have not fulfilled what we need to do as the church, that being to share the gospel.

Do you realize that millions upon millions of people do not have the knowledge of the saving grace of our Lord Jesus Christ?

The Joshua Project shows that 6,889 individual people groups or 2.83 billion unreached people who have no knowledge of God, the Bible or His Son Jesus Christ. (1)

To put that in perspective the world’s population is currently estimated to be 6.97 billion by the United States Census Bureau as of July 1, 2011.

That means that 2.83 billion people or approximately 1/3 of the world who has no knowledge of the saving grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Let me remind you what Christ commanded…

Matthew 28:19  Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:

Mark 16:15  And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.

Now when Christ said “nations” this is not referring to countries with boarders. He is speaking of people groups.

Do you know that 2,848 people groups in the world have neither Scripture portions (God’s written word) or audio recordings (God’s spoken word) available in their primary language?(1)

Scripture says…

Romans 10:17  So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

6889 people groups (nations) have no idea who Jesus Christ is.

How can they when they don’t even have God’s word in their own language?

They are not going to learn of God’s blood atonement through the stars, the trees or some other all inclusive mumbo jumbo that is floating around out there either.

It is only by God’s Word and His Word alone that illuminates the path of salvation. That is a fact because  God’s Word states it as so.

So what does this boil down to? It means that not “all the world” has been evangelized for Christ and that we have not gone to “all nations.”

road-to-hell-rayHal Lindsey stated at the Understanding the Times conference back in 2005  that “when the last gentile hears the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, well strap on your rocket packs because we are going home.”

Well, to be honest, we have not fulfilled the time of the gentiles with approximately 1/3 of the earth having absolutely no knowledge of God, His Word or His Son.

Folks, God does not lie nor does he change His mind. He has given us the criteria that is needed. What has happened is that we have twisted and contorted His Word to fit our ideas of the way it should be. In other words, we have fallen  short.

We no longer occupy till He returns (Luke 19:13) nor are we ALWAYS ready to share the hope that is within us (1 Peter 3:15).

We are just sitting on our laurels waiting for the rapture to come along and sweep us away.

Folks, I know that this is rocking a lot of people’s boats and I will probably lose readers over this, but we must look at God’s Word and stop cherry picking what we want to believe in.

Hard times are coming, that is a fact.

Now we can sit around singing Kumbayah like the grasshopper did with the ants. OR we can start getting ready to weather these hard times so that we are better positioned to share the hope/Gospel that is within us.

Out of hard times the one thing that people are open to is hope, but how can we share the hope if we ourselves are standing in some soup kitchen line or begging on some street corner?

We have got to get away from this escapist idea and face up to the fact that we have made our beds and now we have the consequences to face.

We can wish and believe all we want, but God does not lie. He is not going to rapture out a church that has not finished its job.

Let me remind you also that He is not going to rapture us out just because the US is facing a time of hardship either. This is an elitist idea that some ministries are also gravitating to as well.

It is not our place to be throwing out dates, giving out false hopes, outlandish speculations or sugar coating the truth.

We are here to boldly proclaim the gospel and to let the world know that there are consequences in not accepting Christ as your personal savior. Those consequences are eternal damnation to Hell by a Just and Righteous God.

But the sad thing is that so many ministries out there are promoting this “happy happy joy joy” escapist attitude and so many more are buying into it.

Out of this, who will be the first to be blamed?

It sure won’t be those ministries selling the candy coated ideas.

People will blame God because He was suppose to whisk them all away but He didn’t and now they (the people who listened to the candy coated ministers) are feeling hardship in their lives.

I pray that people wake up while there is still time to do as Noah did and build an ark for their families.

The storm is coming, but like Noah and his family, we will have to weather the storm.

Now just to make it clear, In this I am not saying that we are in the tribulation. That is a whole different topic for an article at another time and besides we are all still here.

History repeats itself. Empires rise and empires fall, hard times come and go, there is a season for all things. Solomon clearly illustrated that.

So knowing that a season of hard times are coming. And knowing this you still have not built an ark for you and your family, let me ask, “how long can you tread water?”

But more importantly how effective for the Lord will you be when hardship takes place?

ray-gano

By Ray Gano

Endnotes

1 – http://www.joshuaproject.net/great-commission-statistics.php



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