Faith PrepperPreparing for the Coming Darkness
As we see the day of His return approaching, we must be more diligent to make sure we don’t fall for the great deception Jesus spoke about (Matt. 24:4) and prepare ourselves for the coming apostasy (2 Thes. 2:3). Why? Because as our Lord warned the deception would be so great even the elect, if possible, would be deceived and fall away (Matt. 24:214).
So what are we to do? How do we become a faith prepper and guard ourselves against such great deception? The answer is simple to understand, yet difficult to do. In Cliff Notes style:
You must personally experience God yourself.
Second-hand faith won’t cut it.
Your faith must be first-person, personal.
You cannot live on the faith of another.
And your encounters with God must be on-going and habitual.
Especially as we see the darkness approaching.
This is what becoming a faith prepper is all about.
In essence, you must know God. Intimately. Personally. And you do that by learning to hear His voice.
“And this is eternal life, that they may know (ginōskō) You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” (John 17:3)
The key to not falling for falsehood and deception is an experience with God. After all, a relationship between two people must include talking and listening from both parties. And so it is the same with each of us and the Lord. We talk. We ask. We beg. Sometimes we demand. But does God ever speak personally to us? If so, how? And how often?
When we have the discernment that Jesus spoke about to know the “signs of the times” (Matt. 16:3), it becomes clear we are living in the last days. In fact, there are several key signs that bring us to this conclusion.
- The regathering of Israel into their own land
- The surging apostasy
- The coming Middle East peace
- The reuniting of the Roman Empire (East, West, both?)
For the church today, the most important of these prophetic signs is the rising tide of apostasy or defection from God and the Christian faith. We see this happening almost daily within the ranks of the church. As we have already discussed, apostasy means to “depart, revolt, or forsake. It is a deliberate defection from a formerly held religious position.” Apostasy doesn’t necessarily mean a total rejection of God or the authority of His Scripture. Apostasy can come in stages. It usually begins with a defection from a section of Scripture or a specific teaching that is incompatible with the current cultural church mood. Some examples are the issue of homosexuality, divorce, women pastors, abortion, or a myriad of other issues that divide the Body today. And once a small defection takes place, full-blown apostasy is not far behind.
But this shouldn’t surprise us. After all, Jesus said in Matthew 24 the greatest sign of His return was deception. And He warned His disciples about that deception four times (Matt. 24:4, 5,11, 24). He even went so far as to say the deception at the end would be so great that, if it was possible, even the elect would be deceived (Matt. 24:24). And the elect includes Peter, Paul, James and John, Martin Luther, D.L. Moody, Spurgeon, Billy Graham, and you and me. That’s a sobering thought that should not be taken lightly.
So what can we do to prepare for the coming apostasy?
Jesus chastised the religious elite of His day for their confidence in predicting things like the weather, but not being able to discern the signs of the times. In fact, He called them hypocrites. Remember? “When it is evening you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red’; and in the morning, ‘It will be foul weather today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ Hypocrites! You know how to discern the face of the sky, but you cannot discern the signs of the times” – Matthew 16:2-3. I wonder if He would say the same about His church today? After all, it appears we all seem to know everything about everything. Just ask us.
It seems we resemble those that Isaiah was called to address.
Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and prudent in their own sight – Isaiah 5:20-21.
But there is one prophetic statement of Jesus regarding the times before us that is hard for many, including me, to understand. That is until today. Jesus said “because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold” (Matt. 24:12). Got that. He also promised that “a man’s enemies will be those of his own household” (Matt. 10:36). How is that possible? How can our love for our spouse or children grow so cold we will treat them as enemies to the extent of hatred and betrayal? (Matt. 24:10). How can that be true? What sort of perverted human would turn on his own family for the sake of himself? What kind of depraved mind or personality disorder would produce sociopaths with a love this cold?
In a word, it’s called narcissism. And it is the ultimate end-time personality disorder.
When Jesus began His earthly ministry, His initial message was the same as John the Baptist. He said, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt. 4:17). And throughout the next three years, one underlying theme in His teaching was about life in His Kingdom. When Jesus sent out His disciples to preach His message, He said, “As you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand’ ” (Matt. 8:11). Jesus even told those close to Him why He spoke to the crowds in parables. And His answer had to do with concealing from some the knowledge of the kingdom of heaven. He said, “Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given” (Matt. 13:11).
Finally, He shared parables specifically pointed to revealing what the kingdom of heaven, His Kingdom, was like. He said it was like a “man who sowed good seed in his field” (Matt. 13:24). Or, it was like a “mustard seed” which, being small, grew into a tree “so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches” (Matt. 13:31). Jesus likened His Kingdom to “leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal till it was all leavened” (Matt. 13:33). And to express how wonderful His Kingdom is for those who possess it, He said it was like a “treasure hidden in a field” (Matt. 13:44) or a “pearl of great price” (Matt. 13:46) that was worth all one had on earth.
Jesus then asked His disciples, “Have you understood all these things?” They said to Him, “Yes, Lord” (Matt. 13:51).
I wonder what our answer would be today? Do we understand His Kingdom? Do we fully know what it means to follow Him? Can we honestly say we are proficient in following Jesus?
I’m not so sure. And maybe you aren’t either.
When Jesus instructed His disciples, and the others, about what it meant to follow Him in Matthew 16:24-25, He spoke of “desire to come after me” and then “let him deny himself.” We looked at desire in our last message, and now we will turn our focus to what He meant by “deny himself.” Note the requirement and sequence in the verse below. First, there must be desire (“if anyone desires to come after Me”). Then, a denial and the corresponding action showing the commitment to deny himself (“take up his cross”). And finally, the invitation to “follow Me.” Jesus shows surrendering to Him must follow in this order. In essence, first meet the conditions, and then come “follow Me.”
Jesus said, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me” – Matthew 16:24-25.
The word deny (aparnéomai) when followed by the pronoun heautón (oneself, himself) means “to deny oneself, or to disown and renounce self and to subjugate all works, interests, benefits, and enjoyments to another.” The word is also translated “to speak against, contradict, to avoid, reject, nullify, to stand firm against, resist, oppose.”
When Jesus said we must “deny” ourselves, the impact of our denial affects all areas of our life.
We have looked at what it takes to become a Faith Prepper over the last few weeks. We did this by learning to pray at all times by letting the Holy Spirit, through God’s Word, direct your prayers. And we also spent some time learning how to trust at all times by allowing your faith to grow by having it exercised in often unpleasant situations. But even with all of this, we still are plagued with a few questions.
How do we go from talking about faith to living by faith?
How do we learn to trust the Lord in all things?
How do we know and understand His will?
What are the practical steps we need to take to surrender our all to Him?
And how can we go about doing just that?
The answer, according to Scripture, is found in the single word, surrender. It means “to yield, give up or over, submit, abandon, relinquish, cede, waive, or capitulate. From the Christian perspective, it means to relinquish ownership of what we consider ours: our property, rights, time, decisions, future, independence, basically our life.
Surrender, like most things, is a choice.
The classic passage on total surrender is found in Galatians 2:20. It reads: “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”
But there is so much more.
The following is an article by Hal Lindsey. It is just another sign that its time you became a Faith Prepper. Why? Because times for believers, especially in the United States, are going to get real bad, real fast. It is time to take the words of Jesus seriously and prepare your faith to have it severely tested. Soon.
So get prepared now!
Nikki Haley, former US Ambassador to the United Nations, recently characterized a Canadian vote at the UN as “a deal with the devil.”
That’s strong language coming from a well-regarded diplomat. I assume she meant it figuratively. But something literal is at work. Canada’s recent about-face on Israel is a capitulation to the growing forces of darkness in our world. In recent years, the nations of the UN have been making a lot of deals with the devil – the actual devil.
Haley was referring to a vote on an anti-Israel resolution sponsored by North Korea. That’s right, those paragons of respect for human rights – North Korea’s government leaders – sponsored a resolution condemning Israel for “occupying” East Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria. The resolution also says that the wall Israel built “severely impedes the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination.”
That wall was built to stop terrorist activity in Israel. It has been highly effective. It was necessary because Palestinian leadership continues to act as a major sponsor of terrorism. Israel tries to make peace while Palestinian leaders encourage their constituents to randomly stab people and blow things up. When Israel responds to these terrorist acts, the Palestinians decry Israel’s actions. Israel continues to try to make peace. But while they work for peace, they must keep their people secure. Thus, the wall.
We have previously looked at how to pray at all times and in all circumstances by letting the Holy Spirit, through God’s Word, direct our prayers. But next on the Faith Prepper list of required spiritual skills is learning how to trust Him at all times by allowing our faith to grow by having it exercised in often unpleasant circumstances. After all, faith grows when it is tested. And testing is usually unpleasant during the process but wonderful at the end.
The Greek word translated “faith” in the New Testament is pístis and means: “to win over, to persuade. Subjectively it means firm persuasion, conviction, belief in the truth” This definition is used over 250 times in the New Testament alone. Everything in the Spirit is based on faith and everything of faith is designed by God to bypass the senses. Everything.
In addition to this, all faith is not justified by merely having it. But all faith is justified by the action it produces. In other words, faith by itself is worth little. But faith, accompanied by actions or works based on that faith is alive and real. This is exactly what James was trying to tell us in James 2:14-26. Read it for yourself.
One of the attributes of becoming a Faith Prepper is learning how to trust God as His Word. I know many of us will say that we do. When pressed, almost al believers will state the mantra, “I believe everything God says, start to finish, from Genesis to Revelation.” After all, that’s the expected answer. To say anything less would make us seem like a lukewarm believer.
But the truth is, most believers, maybe ever you, don’t truly take God’s Word as the final authority in your life. How can I say that? Because God’s Word speaks to just about every issue we face today yet the church seems to be divided up into various opinions that differ greatly from one another. If God’s Word doesn’t change and is always true, how can that be? If God’s Word says something is wrong, for example, how can any believer who claims God’s Word as the final authority in their life, have a different opinion than what the Word says? It seems inconsistent, doesn’t it? Hypocritical.
As the adage goes, the Scriptures are true about everything it teaches. And it teaches about everything.
To test whether God’s Word molds your opinions or whether your opinions are determined independent of God’s Word, I have listed a number of controversial issues below. What is your opinion on these? And whatever your opinion is, does it line up with the Word of God? If it doesn’t, who is wrong, and what are you prepared to do about it?
When we look at the content of the prayers of the early church we are amazed they didn’t pray like much of the church does today— for the little answerable “fix”. Instead, they prayed for Kingdom matters, what we call Kingdom Prayers. Let me explain.
A “little answerable” is a prayer for a little “fix” that is often related to our sense of entitlement from God. These can be called horizontal prayers. We lose our job so we pray for a new one. A loved one is sick, so we pray for their healing. We don’t have enough money to make it through the end of the month, so we pray to win the lottery. And on the surface, these seem like proper, loving, spiritual prayers. But that’s not how the early church prayed.
A Kingdom prayer, on the other hand, is praying for something that has lasting value and importance in the Kingdom of God. For example, look at the following prayers and note what they are asking for (and what they are not): Ephesians 1:15-23; 3:14-19, Romans 15:5-6, 13, Philippians 1:9-11, Philemon 1:4-6.