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Thursday, 24 September 2009

Mike Desario End time Series: Exposing the dangerous lies behind the mark of the beast

First Read : MARK OF THE BEAST: TAKE IT OR LEAVE IT! MANY CHRISTIANS HAVE ALREADY TAKEN THE MARK

http://watchmanafrica.blogspot.com/2008/11/mark-of-beast.html


THE MARK OF THE BEAST

By Mike Desario

http://standingthegap.org/The%20Mark%20of%20the%20Beast.htm

"And he causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads." Rev13:16

What is this Mark spoken of in the Book of Revelation and how will it be implemented upon mankind? Will a charismatic world leader suddenly come to power in the Middle East, solve the geo-political problems between the Western and Arab nations, then proclaim himself the new savior of mankind? Will the World at large then receive his ‘mark’ implanted through some high-tech electronic device under the skin of their forehead or hand? Or perhaps all this is just some movie plot designed to sell you an interesting story line with religious overtones about the end of the world?
This subject however is no joking matter to millions of professing Christians in the US and world who are eagerly awaiting for the return of the Lord Jesus Christ to ‘Snatch’ them away from any ‘tribulation’ that may occur in their lifetimes as a result of an anti-Christ figure rising to power over the nations.

They fear anything related to the Number 666 and entertain numerous conspiracy theories concerning the Governments ability to inflict just such a system upon its people to enslave them. But given the present condition of the professing church, somewhere between lukewarm, corrupt and dead spiritually, much of the hype concerning the ‘end times’ is just another means to keep the focus off the Truth.


Ask yourself, if Satan is behind all the evil that exists in the world and the plot to overthrow the Kingdoms of the earth, would anything he put into action be done in an ‘obvious’ manner? Would he not work his schemes on mankind with much stealth, cunning and massive deception? The Bible says that he can actually appear as an angel of light and minister of righteousness when spreading his lies and deceit. (2Cor11:13-14) MOST professing Christians are deeply deceived already by his lies that promise them liberty in Christ while they remain slaves to their own inner corruption. Is it any wonder then that this ‘mark’, that they think will be so obvious as a chip under the skin, is just another in a long list of STONG delusions brought about by professing Christianity’s LACK of Love for the Truth?


The Apostle, who wrote the Book of Revelation, said this, 1John2:15-17,

"Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life, is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away and the lust of it, but he who does the will of God abides forever."

Jesus said, concerning the lust of the eyes, Matt5:28-29 ,

"But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. And if your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you. For it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell."

Jesus also said this concerning the eye, Matt6:22-23,

"The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is single, your whole body is full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness!"

Scripture teaches unquestionably that the ‘evil eye’ (Mark7:22) is the single most source of Lust and Corruption of man’s inner being. The remedy is a radical removal of this source and a singleness of devotion to the True Light giver, Jesus Christ. But from WHERE does this ‘evil eye’ ignite these deadly passions within and henceforth cause the whole body to be cast into hell!?

Revelation 13:18, says that 666 is the ‘Number of a man!’ Is this merely the ‘number’ of his name as many have been lead to believe through present day teaching. Howbeit when our decimal numbering system was not invented until around 800AD? Who translated the original notation by John and what ‘system’ did he use to distinguish the weight of these numbers? In ancient Greek the letters of the Greek alphabet contained numerical value, each corresponding with a certain value weighted against Roman numerals. This translates into our 666, the number contained in our English Bibles and feared by millions of professing Christians as some mysterious individual yet to be revealed who will number the people of earth as his servants.

However NOTHING could be further from the truth. Unknown to the Apostle John at the time, the number of man is indeed 666. The Carbon Atom consists of 6 protons, 6 neutrons, and 6 electrons, the Atomic number of Carbon is 6. The human body consists of 18% carbon (a multiple of 3x6) & over 60% oxygen! The Number of man is indeed 666! Our own flesh contains this ‘mark’ by the every fact that we exist as human beings.

But what does it mean to ‘receive’ the mark on the forehead or hand? Will the Beast and False Prophet force you to take this mark as a form of worship or will you escape their clutches in the nick of time because you ‘believe’ in Jesus? The Truth may surprise you!

Strange translations.

The word translated ‘forehead’ in Rev13:16 and elsewhere in Revelation is NOT used anywhere else in the New Testament. The Greek Word is ‘Metopon’, a combination of two Greek expressions, meaning simply, ‘With an eye.’ (Ops….an eye, Meta…with) The ‘hand’ in the ancient world denoted a place of honor where some sort of designation as to your status in life would be displayed. This 666 is NOT the number of an individual man, but as the word in verse 18 translates, ‘anthropos’ or MANKIND.

The MARK then represents the Lustful eye of man, attached to the things of this world, ‘receiving’ from his own ‘animal’ like nature, the pride of life.
The image of the Beast John beheld was the VERY image of unregenerate man, professing to a form of godliness but denying its Power to destroy the sin nature inside! Beast is translated as a ‘savage, ferocious animal’ Is this NOT a perfect description given of man in his godless state of rebellion?

"Lovers of themselves, lovers of money, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanders, without self-control, brutal, despises of good, traitors, headstrong, proud, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness, but denying its power!" 2Tim3:2-5

Jesus said you must CUT off the offending member or risk being throw whole into hell, Matt5:27-30. You are told NOT to present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but to God as being alive from the dead! Rom6:13. Eph5:30 says we are members of His body of His flesh of His bones! Therefore put to death your members which are on earth, lust, uncleanness, passion, evil desires, covetousness and idolatry. Col3:5 James says that its LUST that is at war with our members, James4:1.

Everything goes back to the ‘eye’ and man’s attempt to serve TWO Masters. When only Singleness of eye will put to death (or cut off the offending members, metaphor) the deeds of the body in order that he may live. WHO is it that dispenses this ‘Mark’, look again at Rev13:16, WHO causes man to ‘receive’ this mark….THE FALSE PROPHET! Again, Scripture DOES NOT teach that this is an individual person rising up out of the masses, but a SYSTEM at work from the beginning enslaving men in their own lusts.

"For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work!" 2Thess2:7
"But there were false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you!" 2Pet2:1
"MANY false prophets have gone out into the world." 1John4:1
"Even now MANY anti-Christs have come." 1John2:18
WHO is causing professing Christians to ‘receive’ this mark? THOSE who preach the Grace of God as License for immorality! Such teaching is rampant in the present day church. The False Prophet is proclaiming a FALSE Gospel! That’s the deception, the STRONG DELUSION spoken of in 2Thess2:11. The PERFECT LIE! Everyone is looking for an outward sign of End time Prophecy when it’s in their OWN Flesh they are held captive. "For to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that ones slave whom you Obey!" Rom6:16.


Peter and Jude spoke plainly of these men and how to recognize them. They will teach destructive heresies, exploit you with deceptive words and cause the way of truth to be blasphemed, 2Pet2:1-3. They will walk according to their own ‘lusts, self willed and presumptuous, 2Pet2:10. They have ‘eyes’ full of adultery that cannot cease from sin, beguiling unstable souls and they love the wages of unrighteousness, 2Pet2:14. Like natural brute ‘Beasts’ made to be caught and destroyed, 2Pet2:12.
Jude added, ‘They are spots in your love feasts, clouds without water, trees without fruit, twice dead, pulled up by the roots!’ Jude12. ‘They are sensual persons who cause divisions, not having the Spirit’ Jude19.

Scripture often refers to corrupted man as a ‘dog’ returning to its own vomit or a ‘sow’ wallowing in the mire, 2Pet2:22. Christ calls false teachers ‘Savage Wolves’ who are known by their fruits, Matt7:15. Outside the Great Kingdom will be the ‘dogs’, immoral, murderers and idolaters who love and practice a lie, Rev22:15. At the end no one is magically transformed into a holy and upright Saint, pure and chaste for the Lord, Rev22:11 States,
"He who is unjust, let him be unjust still, he who is filthy, let him be filthy still, he who is righteous, let him be righteous still, he who is holy, let him be holy still."


If the Nature of the Beast remains in you and your flesh is in control, you have ALREADY received the ‘mark’ spoken of by John. If you are double-minded, impure and friends with the world you need to ‘cut off’ the offending members, humble yourself and draw near to God. (James4:7-10.) The False Prophet is teaching you a gospel of sin! Although it appeals to your flesh now, it will indeed exclude from the Kingdom at the Great Judgment.

Why ‘pluck out’ an eye to enter into life? To what purpose would removing this important member of the body serve, if the remaining eye remains corrupt and full of darkness? The simple answer of course, is NONE whatsoever! ONLY if the remaining eye is fixed in Singleness of purpose and devotion on Christ and the Narrow Way to the Kingdom, would it be sound and FULL of Light. That’s why Jesus said you CANNOT Serve Two Masters, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit, Matt6:24, 7:18. Those who attempt to serve God in this manner are ‘double-minded’ and unstable in every way. Unfit for the Kingdom!

The Beast John saw rising up out of the sea in Revelation 13, with all its horns, crowns and heads represents mankind in all his regalia. He draws his power and authority from the great Dragon (Satan, the Prince and power of the air & god of this age, Eph2:2, 2Cor4:4, 1Jh5:19) Through man, this dragon makes war against everything decent and holy, despises the Saints of God and works his most devious schemes and deceptions against them. Men delight imitating this animal nature, taking on its attributes, mimicking its savage instincts. They fight and war, kill and destroy, dog eating dog in a world perishing in its own corruption.

Those who attempt to ‘buy and sell’ in this world without the ‘mark’, meet with a constant source of frustration. The ‘Sound’ eye is SINGLE, full of honest, sincerity and serves its Master in just such manner with ‘singleness’ or sincerity of heart, Col3:22. Redeemed by a ‘Purchased Price’ (1Cor7:23) the Saints of the Most High God triumph over the ‘mark’! Although they may be severely persecuted, stripped of earthly goods and put to death, they will OVERCOME the Beast by the Blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony! (Rev12:11)

In Mystery Babylon the fallen worship the Beast and his image. They bow at the shine of vain amusement and heap unto themselves teachers to tickle their ears and turn them away from the truth. They walk as enemies of the Cross of Christ, whose god is their belly and whose glory is in their shame, their mind set on earthly things. The Great system of wealth and fortune, adorned in the finery of modern convenience will become their smoldering ruin. And all who have ‘received’ the ‘mark’ will perish in torment, the smoke of which will ascend forever and ever.

While the professing church waits for the ‘rapture’ they serve the Beast and the False Prophet, having received his mark through the corruption of their own eye. Lusting after the things of the world and calling it ‘Christian’ they have tested the depths of Satan and toy with immorality. A bed of affliction awaits them and great tribulation unless they repent and return to their first love. Rather than strengthening the little that remains of godliness in there midst, they rely on dead works to substitute for true holiness. Many have already had their names blotted OUT of the Book of Life and are completely unaware! The remainder sleep the deadly slumber of death, not hot, or cold, but ‘lukewarm’ (wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked!) primed to be spewed out of the Master’s mouth. Rich and increased with goods, the modern church is gathering in the Tares for the final burning and refusing to heed the WORDS of warning contained in Scripture before it’s too late. (Rev2:1-11, 18-27, 3:1-6, 14-22)

There are many mysterious symbols and strange illustrations contained in the Apocalypse that have confused readers for generations. What did John see in this fantastic Cosmic Vision of end time events? Was it the close of an age, the final Judgment of mankind or the ravings of a lunatic? Whatever is your understanding of this Book looking back or forward through time, one thing is certain, it’s the Corruption of the FLESH that Christ came to destroy, so that man would no longer have to serve his own ‘beast’ like nature. The ENTIRE focus of Christ’s message is aimed at saving man from the corruption that is in the world through LUST! (2Pet1:3-11)

All things that pertain to life and godliness, the exceeding great and precious promises, the Divine Nature of Christ, each one is a vital element in man’s eternal redemption. Through these he can add to his faith, make his calling and election sure, never stumble or fall away, and NOT lose sight of the fact that he was Cleansed of his former sins to live a life worthy of the high calling in Christ Jesus. By which he will have an entrance into the everlasting Kingdom supplied to him abundantly IF he endures to end in Christ.

Those who insist on the more theatrical view of prophecy have probably already fallen prey to the false prophet (or risk the danger of strong delusion) and his wiles. FEW today are circumspect concerning their faith, redeeming the time wisely, realizing that the days are evil. FEW Guard their hearts, Test the spirits and know the difference between truth and error. The prevailing winds of false doctrine are at Gail force in our time and NO ONE is sounding the alarm!

So sleep on church, enjoy the party, raise your voices to heaven and shout for Joy! Perhaps you can drown out the cries of the damned and the shrieks of millions of souls falling daily into hell fire while you stuff your face full of food and satisfy your belly with worldly pleasures! You have sown to the wind and will reap the whirlwind.

You have plowed wickedness and reaped iniquity! Sow for yourself righteousness and reap in mercy! Break up your fallow ground and seek the Lord while He may yet be found! The Day of the Lord will be darkness and not light, a Day of vengeance and flaming fire from above, to punish those who will not OBEY the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. Those who have received the ‘mark’ …..the evil eye of the flesh they have REFUSED to pluck out and cast from them….will be removed from His presence forever, but His Saints will reign with Him in eternity.

"He who has an ear to hear, let him hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches."

Also see

UNVEILING THE LIE

http://www.standingthegap.org/

Mike Desario’s tracts

http://www.matthew548.com/Mikes.html

Jack shearer end time series: CAPITALISM AND CHRISTIANITY, the bitter truth the rich hate

CAPITALISM AND CHRISTIANITY

http://www.antipasministries.com/html/file0000053.htm


"In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act."
- George Orwell



"Someone who lacks independent wealth has no claim to even the SMALLEST portion of food ..."
- David Ricardo


"And he (i.e., the "false prophet") causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: "AND THAT NO MAN MIGHT BUY OR SELL, SAVE HE THAT HAD THE MARK or the name of the beast (i.e., the Antichrist), or the number of his name." (Rev. 13:16-17)

INTRODUCTION:

Wow! What a reaction our last newsletter ("The Deceitfulness of Riches and the Marxist Paradigm") generated! It seems that whenever we touch the matter of "money" and the "rich," people - especially our American readers - appear as if out of nowhere to assail and denounce us. [Note: this doesn't happen with our readers in Bulgaria, or in Russia, or in Botswana, or in Zambia, or in Kenya, or in Brazil, or in Egypt, or in Abu Dubai, or in Costa Rica, or in Peru, etc. (and yes, we do have readers in all these places).] You would think that we had blasphemed God - and maybe, insofar as the god they apparently serve is concerned (i.e., money), we have. I wonder if these same people would respond with such vehemence and fury if we had attacked the poor, the displaced, the homeless, the outcasts, the friendless, etc. I doubt it!

We are called "Marxists," "ner-do-wells," "hypocrites," and other things too hateful and odious to be mentioned here. It seems that nothing draws the ire and outrage of Christians in America (not all of them, for sure, but certainly a lot of them) against us more than when we touch the matter of wealth.

Most of the people who attack us start out with a broad and sometimes even magnanimous comment about the "general truth" of what we are saying, but that usually "peters off" into an attack against our "bias" insofar as the rich are concerned. Typical of this kind of letter is the following:

"... (Your article) is indeed full of truth and I applaud that. However ... there seems to be a hostile thread toward those who have money and that's sad ... In your dissertation on the dangers of having money, you seem to elevate those with little or no money to a more wholesome, pure and honest level of servitude, implying that those who have been "blessed" with poverty have a less difficult path to God than those with financial substance. I must disagree ... Blessings to you guys as you follow the leading of our Lord - as controversial as it may become.

A second letter reads as follows:

"I didn't subscribe to your Newsletter. It was sent to me by a friend. I read your letter on Money and you have many Bible passages that pertain to money and its relationship to sin. I would like to say that generally speaking what you are saying about money in your letter (i.e., article) is true ... However, the real problem lies in the depraved heart of man ... Sure the love of money is the root of all evil, but what about the wealthy man who uses his wealth to support missions, gospel ministries and such ..."

A third person writes:

"There is a consistent substance to Steven's [i.e., Stevan (S.R. Shearer's) - editor] writings that I have trouble with. I have tried to rationalize it away as there is a lot about Antipas that I like. A couple of weeks ago someone posted a message that struck a cord with me ... As I read it my thoughts were, " taking the words right out of my mouth". [Note: we quoted from this letter in our last article; this is the letter from "R" that referred to us as "Marxists" - editor.] I don't want to get into a debate about this, so I am reluctant to mention anything, but I will tell you one of the things that has consistently bothered me. The notion that it is more spiritual to be poor ... (In) one of Steven's newsletters he characterized the enemy as someone reading his Wall Street Journal, driving his SUV and talking on his cell phone. This poor vs. rich theme is in all of what he writes."
It seems that money is the "third rail of America's form of Christianity" - touch it (i.e., "diss it," as they say where we live) and you die.


All of these people are evidently concerned at our lack of "equity" insofar as the rich vis a vis the poor are concerned. They complain that we seem to favor the poor over the rich - that we seem to think that "... it is," as the first letter writer above acerbically puts it, "more spiritual to be poor" than it is to be rich; that - as the third letter writer above sarcastically suggests we say - "... those who have been 'blessed' with poverty have a less difficult path to God than those with financial substance."

THE POOR AND THE BIBLE

But that's what the Bible indicates! That's exactly what the Bible suggests: for example, Jesus didn't say "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a poor man to enter into the kingdom of God;" but He did say that about the rich:

"And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a RICH man to enter into the kingdom of God." (Matt. 19:24)
And He said this not once, but twice in the same passage of Scripture:
"Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a RICH man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven." (Matt. 19:23)

Moreover, the Bible doesn't speak about the "deceitfulness of poverty," it does say that, however, about wealth and riches (Matt. 13:22 and Mark 4:19), specifically, it suggests that riches choke the efficacy of the Word of God in our hearts -
"Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower.

"When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side.

"But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it;
"Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.

"He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the DECEITFULNESS OF RICHES, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful. (Matt. 13:18-22)

The Bible doesn't tell the poor "woe unto you that are poor." Nowhere does it say that! Nowhere! But it does say that to the rich:
"But woe unto you that are RICH! for ye have received your consolation.
"Woe unto you that are full! for ye shall hunger. Woe unto you that laugh now! for ye shall mourn and weep." (Luke 6:24-25)

The Bible doesn't say, "Go to now, ye poor men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you. Your poverty has corrupted you ..." But it does say that about the rich:

"Go to now, ye RICH men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you."Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are motheaten.
"Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days. (James 5:1-3)



The Bible doesn't say, "And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said, Blessed be ye rich: for yours is the kingdom of God." But it does say that about the poor:

"And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said, Blessed be ye POOR: for yours is the kingdom of God." (Luke 6:20)

The Scriptures don't say, "Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the rich." But it does say that about the poor:

"Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God CHOSEN the POOR of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him?" (James 2:5)

THE BIBLE IS AN AFFRONT TO THE RICH

What are we to say about all this? - Yes, the Bible very evidently does favor the poor over the rich - VERY CLEARLY IT DOES!! And, moreover, it doesn't beat around the bush about its favoritism; it says it very plainly and openly:

"For ye see your calling, brethren, how that NOT MANY WISE MEN AFTER THE FLESH, NOT MANY MIGHTY, NOT MANY NOBLE, are called:

"But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;
"And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are." (1 Cor. 1:26-28)
Obviously, rich Americans will find this offensive. Why? BECAUSE THEY ARE RICH! - at least in comparison to those living in the rest of the world. Obviously, they would be offended by our comments concerning SUVs. It's not the poor who parade around in them pretending to be on Safari in Kruger National Park or in the jungles of the Amazon - it's the rich! They're the ones who read the Wall Street Journal; not the poor; the poor aren't following the stock market, it's the rich who are. They're the ones who talk on cell phones and the ones who live in Yuppie Land. They are the ones who invest their money in the stock of companies who treat their employees like slaves in Indonesia, El Salvador, Thailand, etc. - maybe not so much the ones who subscribe to our website, but certainly the ones who attend the services at Crystal Cathedral in Southern California, or at Capital Christian Center in Sacramento, California, or at Thomas Roads Baptist Church in Lynchberg, Virginia, or at James Robison's church in Texas, or at James Kennedy's church in Florida, or at Tim LaHaye's church, etc., or who tune in to Paul Crouch at TBN and Pat Robertson at CBN.
Naturally, all these people will reject what the Bible has to say about the rich; of course they will complain bitterly that "This poor vs. rich theme is in all of what he (i.e., S.R. Shearer) writes." But the very real fact of the matter is, THIS IS ONE OF THE GREAT THEMES OF THE BIBLE: THE OPPRESSION OF THE POOR BY THE RICH:
"Do not RICH men OPPRESS you, and draw you before the judgment seats?" (James 2:6)
Moreover - and much more ominously - the Bible says that in making such an ostentatious display of their wealth and in oppressing the poor, they (i.e., the rich) are storing up God's wrath against themselves (Rom. 2:5). That's the truth of the matter - and only Western Christianity (and especially the Christianity of America) would miss this point.

REJECTING THE COUNSEL OF GOD

Again - why do the rich rage against all this? Why do they call this "class warfare?" BECAUSE THEY ARE THE ONES AGAINST WHOM ALL THIS IS DIRECTED! Duh! (to put it in the vernacular) - what else would one expect from those against whom these verses are directed? This is how the Pharisees (i.e., the religious establishment of Christ's day) reacted to Christ when He spoke against them and called them "serpents," "vipers," "poisonous snakes" (Matt. 23:33), and "whited sepulchers, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness" (Matt. 23:27).
Moreover, this is precisely how they (again, the "religious establishment") reacted to Christ when He asked them, "HOW CAN YE ESCAPE THE DAMNATION OF HELL?" (Matt. 23:33):
"And when the messengers of John were departed, he began to speak unto the people concerning John, What went ye out into the wilderness for to see? A reed shaken with the wind?

"But what went ye out for to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? Behold, they which are gorgeously apparelled, and live delicately, are in kings' courts.
"But what went ye out for to see? A prophet? Yea, I say unto you, and much more than a prophet.

"This is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.
"For I say unto you, Among those that are born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist: but he that is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.

"And all the people that heard him, and the publicans, justified God, being baptized with the baptism of John.
"BUT THE PHARISEES AND LAWYERS REJECTED THE COUNSEL OF GOD AGAINST THEMSELVES, being not baptized of him. (Luke 7:24-30)

WE HAVE NO PERSONAL INTEREST IN
OFFENDING THE RICH! - WHAT'S IN IT FOR US?


It is only natural for people to reject criticism that is directed against themselves. But I implore you - especially those of you who have money, i.e., who "drive the SUVs," who "talk on cell phones," and who "read the Wall Street Journal," please do not take offense at what we are saying; please don't reject it as simply the blather of Marxist ideology. I can tell you that our intention in discussing money has not been to purposefully offend you or anyone else. THERE CERTAINLY IS NO GAIN IN THAT FOR US! Indeed, every time we discuss the issue of money, it seems to drive people away from our website. What's in that for us? One brother writes:

"I think highly of ... the brothers ... at Antipas. I just can't support this ministry (financially) any longer for the reasons I have mentioned (i.e., our stance with regard to the rich and money - editor). I hope its clear that I agree with much of the message you are spreading, but I have very serious concerns about a few things I have mentioned."

Again, I ask you, what's in it for us if we drive people like this away? - and this particular brother has actually supported the ministry. What do we get out of offending supporters like that? If money is what we cared about, we would never mention it again! - that's for sure! But that's not what we care about. What we care about is YOU!! We would rather have you angry at us now and, as a result, suffer the loss of your support in this present life, than "water down" our message to you in order to gain your financial backing, and have you offended at us in eternity because we failed to preach to you an unadulterated Gospel. The very real fact of the matter is, that's what the "end of days" is all about - MONEY! That's what Rev. 13:16-17 very clearly indicates. Unless we come to grips with the hold money has on our lives, and quit kidding ourselves about it, we'll never make it through the "Deception of the End of Days." It's unbelievable how blind we are to the matter of wealth! How utterly hypocritical we are when it comes to our money.

THE INCONGRUITY OF IT ALL

For example, why is it so difficult for Christians in America to see the incongruity of being "right" insofar as abortion, homosexuality, militant feminism and so forth are concerned while all the while refusing to acknowledge the rapacious, greedy and even predatory character of the corporate allies they have chosen to ally themselves with in their battle to "take America back for Christ," to say nothing of the money-grubbing and avaricious life-styles many of them have adopted on a personal level? And all this in contravention to the lifestyle of Christ - the Lord of all the universe, the One who dwells in "unapproachable light" - who chose a life of poverty in His sojourn on this earth, and so much so that He could say of Himself:
"... Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head." (Luke 9:58)

Is it so difficult to see the utter hypocrisy of speaking out against the SLAVERY of drug addiction, while all the while investing money in the "high-return" stock of corporations that enslave poor peasants in virtual "SLAVE-labor camps" in Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines, El Salvador, Guatemala, etc. in order to make the products that make life comfortable in the United States and Western Europe.
This is what drives ordinary people on the Left crazy! This is what makes the Christianity of the Western World out to be the sham it has become. THE RELIGION OF THE RICH! The religion of the "Master Race" (i.e., the whites of the so-called "First World")! Yes, abortion, homosexuality and all the rest are wrong! - very wrong! But so are the predatory economic policies that the "Christian West" perpetrates on the poor of the world. Jesus said:
"Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.
"Ye blind guides, WHICH STRAIN AT A GNAT, AND SWALLOW A CAMEL (Matt. 23:23-24)
And isn't that exactly what the Religious Right is doing here in America? They harangue Americans about abortion, about gays and lesbians, about sexual sin, about "family values," and all the while statistics by the Gallup and Roper polling organizations - to say nothing about any number of other studies on the subject, many of them commissioned by Christian organizations and published in journals like Christianity Today - reveal that there is as much drug addiction, divorce, and sexual sin among so-called "born-again" Christians as there is in the general population. Jesus said:
"... why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
"Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?
"THOU HYPOCRITE, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye." (Mark 7:3-5)
THOU HYPOCRITE
"Thou HYPOCRITE!" That's what Jesus said to the scribes and Pharisees. You say one thing, and do another! - isn't that what the Religious Right is doing when they condemn the Left for the very same kind of immorality that they practice? - only the Left does it out in the open and boasts about it, while the Religious Right does it under the table and tries (mostly unsuccessfully) to keep it a secret.
Isn't that what Newt Gingrich - who was for a very long period of time the "darling" of the Religious Right - was doing during the Monica Lewinski affair: condemning Clinton for his sexual dalliance with Lewinski while all the while he was carrying on the same kind of sordid affair with one of his secretaries in the offices of the Speaker of the House of Representatives? This is to say nothing of the shameful way Gingrich dumped his first wife, Jackie, in 1980. According to insiders, Gingrich came to his wife of 18 years while she was hospitalized for cancer. He announced that he wanted a divorce, and handed her a yellow legal pad with a list of provisions for handling the split up; he then badgered her to sign the hand-drafted document; and after she did so, walked out on her never to see her again. And what was it that she had done to deserve this kind of treatment? Lee Howell, a former friend who had asked Gingrich to be the best man at his wedding in 1979 offered an explanation. According to Howell, "Jackie was kind of frumpy in Washington, and she was seven years older than he was. And I guess Newt thought, 'Well, it doesn't look good for an articulate, young, aggressive, attractive Congressman to have a frumpy old wife'."
And then there is the matter of Rep. John Livingston (R) of Louisiana - the former Speaker designate of the House of Representatives and the author of the federal "Three-strikes law." Livingston was "outed" for having a "love child." Livingston's supporters claim that his sexual indiscretions were "ancient history," but the fact of the matter is, reporter Allan MacDonell appeared on the syndicated television news show Extra and charged that Livingston's "indiscretions" had continued well into the present.
And that's not the end of it. Take Rep. Henry Hyde (R) of Illinois. Hyde, another favorite of the Religious Right, called his sexual faux-pas a "youthful indiscretion." Trouble was, Hyde was 46 at the time he took up with Cherie Snodgrass - a married woman half Hyde's age who had three children - often keeping her up all night and away from her children "nightclubbing." Fred Snodgrass, Cherie's ex-husband, said of Hyde's seduction of his wife, "All I can think of is, Here is this hypocrite who broke up my family."
And what about Rep. Dan Burton (R) of Indiana, another Religious Right favorite who had a long-lasting sexual fling with an ex-model named Claudia Keller whom he set up in an apartment and paid $40,000 a year?
Then there is Tom Delay (R) of Texas, another "dear" insofar as the Religious Right is concerned, who is alleged to have had countless numbers of sexual encounters with prostitutes (in fact, Newsweek Magazine is reputed to have in its possession a picture of Delay locked in a sexual embrace with a Mexican prostitute), and who is also to be rumored to have a grown daughter not by his wife.
And did any of these men come clean on their own accord? No! - not one of them! They were all "outed" by Hustler Magazine's Larry Flynt. In other words, they were "forced out into the open." Their professed shame resulted not so much from their sexual peccadilloes, as it did from being caught. AND MAKE NO MISTAKE ABOUT IT, NONE OF THESE MEN ARE OBSCURE "NOBODIES!" THEY ARE ALL EXTREMELY PROMINENT POLITICAL FIGURES STRONGLY SUPPORTED BY THE RELIGIOUS RIGHT! Moreover, every single one of them has campaigned on a platform of "moral values."
And what about those in the Religious Right itself? What about Jimmy Swaggert? What about David Hocking? What about Ralph Wilkerson? - well, you know all of them. It's a shame to even name them, and not just the leaders of the Religious Right, but the congregates and the "pew sitters" as well? Don't you think that unbelievers and the Left notice these things? These inconsistencies? Of course they do! - and it is precisely for this reason that the name of Christ is blasphemed among the gentiles (i.e., the unbelievers). The Bible says:
"Behold, thou art called a Jew (in our case, a Christian) ... and makest thy boast of God,
"And knowest his will, and approvest the things that are more excellent, being instructed out of the law;
"And art confident that thou thyself art a guide of the blind, a light of them which are in darkness,
"An instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes, which hast the form of knowledge and of the truth in the law.
"THOU THEREFORE WHICH TEACHEST ANOTHER, TEACHEST THOU NOT THYSELF? thou that preachest a man should not steal, dost thou steal?
"Thou that sayest a man should not commit adultery, dost thou commit adultery? thou that abhorrest idols, dost thou commit sacrilege?
"Thou that makest thy boast of the law, through breaking the law dishonourest thou God?
"FOR THE NAME OF GOD IS BLASPHEMED AMONG THE GENTILES THROUGH (i.e., because of) YOU ... " (Rom. 2:17-24)

DISDAIN FOR THE POOR

All this is to say nothing about the way the Religious Right slavishly mimics its corporate sponsors in its obvious disdain for the poor; for example, the manner in which the Religious Right begrudges the poor any kind of real welfare assistance while all the while saying nothing about the billions and billions and billions of dollars of "corporate welfare" that its secular allies in the corporate world receive, which is many, many times greater than the total of all the welfare programs of the poor combined. IT SEEMS THAT WHILE WELFARE IS OKAY FOR THE RICH, IT ISN'T FOR THE POOR. And what about the support the Religious Right lends to the "free trade" economic policies of its rich corporate sponsors which ship millions and millions of American jobs out of the United States to the "slave-labor camps" they have set up in the Third World? - policies that, incidentally, are largely responsible for the poverty of today's "working poor" in this country.
And then there is the matter of today's "workfare" programs that the Religious Right supports at the behest of Corporate America, programs that in "temperament and philosophy" resemble the hideous "workfare" programs that the Rev. William Wilberforce and his Calvinist-like cohorts in England forced on the starving Irish during the Great Potato famine of the mid-1830s, and which forever earned the enmity of the Catholic Irish over and against the Protestant English; "workfare" programs which today force poor, single mothers up at 5:00 am to leave their children with "whomsoever," while they embark on a two and sometimes three hour bus ride across town to work at minimum wage jobs that pay no benefits and not enough money to pay for rent, utilities, food and a cheap car.

These are the kind of Christians who want to live safely in their gated communities, preach to the Left a Puritan moral ethic (that they themselves don't even keep), and blame the poor for their own poverty while they - whether they realize it or not - support elite economic policies that strip the poor of the very "living wage" jobs they need to support themselves with. Is it really that difficult to see the utter hypocrisy in all this? Is it really that impossible to recognize the shallow display of virtue in a kind of Christianity that seeks to enforce personal morality on the poor while all the time it pushes mean-spirited, selfish, and sordid economic policies designed to grind the poor into the dirt?
And this is not a new phenomenon in the so-called "Christian West" of the late twentieth and twenty-first centuries. It's been going on for a long time.

CHARLES FULLER: AN EXAMPLE
OF WHAT WE ARE TALKING ABOUT


Take Charles Fuller, for example; Fuller was a great Christian philanthropist of the 1930s and 40s, and underwrote many Christian projects of that era including Cam Townsend's Wycliffe Bible Translators, Lewis Sperry Chafer's Dallas Theological Seminary, Bill Bright's Campus Crusade, and a myriad of Henrietta Mears' evangelistic projects at UCLA. He was also the founder of Fuller Theological Seminary in Southern California (to which he gave his name), and the prime mover behind the establishment of the National Association of Evangelicals. He is held up today as a model for all good Christian businessmen to shape their lives after. But a closer examination of Fuller's life might lead to another conclusion. The fact is, Fuller's philanthropy RESTED ON A FOUNDATION OF HUMAN MISERY of the worst kind! - the kind that was forever immortalized in John Steinbeck's heart-rending novel, The Grapes of Wrath.

Fuller's wealth derived from his immense citrus grove holdings in Southern California. He was director and leader of the California Orange Growers Association in the 1930s, a group of farmers whose neat white-fenced farms and Christian churches rested on a foundation of CHEAP LABOR. Fuller also owned a chain of department stores in Santa Ana and Riverside. During the Great Depression, a steady stream of displaced farmers from the impoverished "dustbowl" states of Oklahoma, Kansas, and Arkansas (known derisively as "Oakies" and "Arkies") trekked across the deserts of west Texas, New Mexico and Arizona to find work as "day-laborers" in the citrus groves of Southern California and California's San Juaquin and Sacramento Valleys.

There they ran smack into the "slave labor camps" of the California Orange Growers Association and other assorted grower organizations. The camps the growers provided their workers with - and for which they charged a small fortune, sometimes up to half their worker's paychecks - often had no toilet facilities (laborers were forced to dig holes in the ground) or if they did, they were totally inadequate to the number of laborers who had to use them. In addition, the camps often had no running water (laborers had to get their water from polluted creeks in the area), and no electricity of any kind. All the workers received from the growers was a patch of empty ground - all that for half their paycheck! In other words, Fuller and his cohorts were charging workers for a plot of dirt to put their tents on - and that's all. Laborers who gave the growers trouble or who complained were labeled "communists" and "black-listed."
FULLER AND THE STRIKE OF 1936
In June 1936, 2,500 of Fuller's citrus workers went on strike in Orange County for a wage increase. They wanted to increase their wages from twenty-five cents to forty-cents an hour [and here one needs to be clear, the actual wage many of Fuller's workers received was only half this amount (i.e., about 15 cents) - the other half Fuller deducted from their paychecks for the little bit of ground the workers pitched their tents on]. The California Orange Growers Association, which Fuller headed, refused to bargain.

Supported by local Protestant clergy and the Associated Farmers of California - a grower's organization financially backed by Standard Oil of California - the growers instead pointed to the supposed presence of Communist party members among the organizers of the farm-workers' union. That was all Fuller needed to justify calling in the Orange County sheriff. Four hundred armed deputies descended on the farm-workers' shantytowns with tear gas and clubs. Men, women and children were mercilessly beaten and gassed. Santa Ana, the quiet town where Cam Townsend had biked to high school as a child, was transformed into the site of a "concentration camp," where hundreds and hundreds of workers were herded into a stockade that Fuller had built BEFORE the strike commenced. Fuller, it seems, had actually planned for his use of clubs, guns, tear gas, and his use of concentration camp-like detention centers. The strikers were then marched into court and summarily found guilty by judges and juries who had been "bought and sold" by the growers. They were then jailed: husbands were separated from their wives, and children torn from the arms of their mothers and placed in "receiving homes" where many of them were later "adopted out," despite the anguished cries of their mothers and fathers who had no one to turn to for help.

Fuller repeated this process throughout the 1930s and '40s, not only in his citrus groves, but in his chain of department stores in Santa Ana and Riverside. For example, in the late 1940s Fuller ruthlessly put down a strike at one of his department stores, and after successfully winning the strike against the workers, he sent that portion of the strike fund (about $3,000) that he had not used to Wycliffe as a "Thank-Offering" to God for his success against the workers.

CHRISTIAN PHILANTHROPY AT THE
EXPENSE OF THE WORKING POOR


Christian philanthropy founded on the bashed heads of workers - many, if not most of them, fellow-Christians? What an unbelievable disgrace and shame to the NAME of Christ! And this is not some process that ended in the 1930s and '40s - this heartless and cruel system is presently going on now in the "slave-labor camps" established by the corporate elites (and supported by their minions in the Religious Right as well as Protestant missionary groups like WYAM and Wycliffe) in the Philippines, Thailand, Saipan, El Salvador, etc.

Is that where our form of Christianity has taken us? Is that what we are engaged in? - building up the Kingdom of God based on the misery and anguish of the poor? Many CHRISTIANS TODAY SEEM TO FIND NOTHING WRONG WITH THIS - THEY BELIEVE THAT IT'S OKAY TO BASH PEOPLE'S HEADS IN FOR THE SAKE OF CORPORATE PROFITS SO LONG AS THE ONE DOING THE BASHING IS NOT A HOMOSEXUAL, IS AGAINST ABORTION, AND IS FOR "FAMILY VALUES." God help us all if that's the kind of Christianity that we are involved in today!!

CAPITALISM: IS IT REALLY "GOD ORDAINED?"

The Religious Right claims, and their secular allies in the corporate elites similarly believe, that capitalism is God's ordained economic system for this world - almost as if Adam Smith, David Ricardo, and Thomas Malthus were Biblical figures on a par with Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Nehemiah, and so forth; and that the system they devised - i.e., capitalism - finds its origins in the Bible and should be adhered to with as much ardor and ebullience as one would adhere to the injunctions of Holy Writ.

But that's utter nonsense! No where in the Bible can one find even the smallest suggestion that the "Dismal Science" of Adam Smith, or the dreary and gloomy economic system that Malthus and Ricardo contrived are biblically based.
This evil and pernicious world of Oliver Twist that Smith, Ricardo and Malthus conceived is entirely a man-made system; it has NOTHING to do with God or the Bible! NOTHING!

The repugnant and even vulgar thought - central to the system of capitalism - that the world should be divided into a management class of "haves" (i.e., the rich) and a laboring class of "have nots" (i.e., the poor) simply does not exist in the Bible. The very real fact of the matter is, the severe and cold "Calvinistic" economic system of Ricardo, Smith and Malthus - based as it is on the Darwinian maxim of "survival of the fittest" in which the most productive are supposed to rise to the top of the economic pecking order and the least productive are supposed to fall to the bottom - is utterly repudiated by the Scripture.

How you say? - through the device of the "Jubilee," a God-ordained mechanism aimed at preventing the untoward accumulation of wealth - central to the system of capitalism - in Old Testament Israeli society. You never heard of this? - well, I'm not surprised! It's not something that the elites of this world or their "toadies" in the Religious Right would find it convenient to talk about too much.

THE YEAR OF JUBILEE

In the Old Testament (in the Book of Leviticus) the land of Israel was to be divided EQUALLY in perpetual allotments to its citizenry. Each family was to receive a roughly equal share of the land. Now the Bible envisioned that in the course of time, some would not do as well as others and, as a result, would have to sell their land and their houses. But every fifty years, the Bible established a "Year of Jubilee" in which everything had to be restored to its original owner:
"And ye shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof: it shall be a jubilee (i.e., a time of rejoicing") unto you; and ye shall return every man unto his possession ... (in other words, everyman in Israel would have his former possessions returned to him).
"A jubilee shall that fiftieth year be unto you: ye shall not sow, neither reap that which groweth of itself in it, nor gather the grapes in it of thy vine undressed.
"In the year of this jubilee ye shall return every man unto his possession.
"IN THE YEAR OF THE JUBILEE THE FIELD SHALL RETURN UNTO HIM OF WHOM IT WAS BOUGHT, EVEN TO HIM TO WHOM THE POSSESSION OF THE LAND OF THE LAND DID BELONG originally)." (Lev. 25:10-11, 13, 24)

Hardly a system of things that would be approved today by Bank of America and Wells Fargo, and by the "Captains of Industry." How long do you suppose modern capitalism would survive under this kind of system? Not very long I should imagine. And be clear here, this is the only "system of economics" (so to speak) that the Bible ever actually set up - and it's certainly not a capitalist system or a system that would be very much approved by the Rockefellers, the Fords, and the DuPonts of this world. Where is there here any chance for the massive accumulation of wealth by the few at the expense of the many upon which the system of capitalism is so entirely dependent? It doesn't exist! THE PURPOSE OF THESE REGULATIONS WAS TO PREVENT THE ACCUMULATION OF WEALTH BY THE FEW AT THE EXPENSE OF THE MANY - even on a legitimate basis!! That was the spirit behind these regulations and ordinances! - and that is precisely what the SUV Christians of today would no doubt call "Marxist!" Pretty hard to justify the accumulation of wealth that makes possible the gated communities of Yuppie Land-Christians under that system of things, isn't it?

Where is there here the opportunity for the conquest of Africa by the European colonial powers if at the end of fifty years, the British, the Belgians, the French, and the Spanish would have been forced to give back to the original inhabitants of the land the possessions they had stolen, or even legitimately bought - after all, the Bible admitted to no difference here! The land had to be returned! Where is the possibility that Exxon, Shell, BP, etc. could have raped the Iranians, the Iraqis, the Arabians, the Nigerians, etc. of their wealth under such a system. This is definitely not a system the World Bank or the WTO would very much approve of! Certainly not Ford, or GM! Certainly not General Electric or Microsoft! SO MUCH FOR THE THOUGHT THAT THE CAPITALISM PRACTICED BY TODAY'S SECULAR ELITES AND APPROVED OF BY THE RELIGIOUS RIGHT IS SANCTIONED BY THE BIBLE!
MARXISM IS NOT GOD-ORDAINED EITHER

Now this is certainly not to say that Marxism is God-ordained either. BUT THE RELIGIOUS RIGHT AND CHRISTIANS IN GENERAL ARE NOT "DUPED" OR ENTANGLED IN THIS SYSTEM OF ECONOMICS. AND, MOREOVER, AS WE SAID AT THE BEGINNING OF THIS ARTICLE, THE MARXISTS AND THE SOCIALISTS DON'T SPREAD THEIR MISERY IN THE NAME OF CHRIST. BUT THE CAPITALISTS DO.

But if capitalism is not God-ordained, then where did it come from? How did it get so established in the minds of Christians today - especially the stingy and mean-spirited form of it that the Republicans are involved with.

Jack shearer end time series: Take it or leave it, you must go through the Great Tribulation

CHAPTER VIII
TRIBULATION & JUDGMENT


http://www.antipasministries.com/k3x8IwX92lMwOp64eqzC/chapter8a.htm

"... tribulation brings about perseverance, and perseverance proven character, and proven character hope: and hope does not disappoint because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us ..." (Romans 5:3-5)


PART 1: TRIBULATION REVEALS
WHAT IS ALREADY FORMED


INTRODUCTION

We have by now learned that we - as Christians, as the church of God - are going to go through the Tribulation. We now turn to deal with the following matters:
• God's purpose for us in the Tribulation.
• The Two Witnesses

TRIBULATION REVEALS WHAT IS ALREADY FORMED
IN US; IT DOES NOT ADD ANYTHING NEW TO US


Oswald Chambers once wrote, "We are in danger of forgetting that we cannot do what God does, and that God will not do what we can do. We cannot save ourselves nor sanctify ourselves, God does that; but God will not give us good habits, He will not give us character, He will not make us walk aright. We have to do all that ourselves, we have to work out (i.e., develop) the salvation God has worked in (us) ..."

What Chambers was saying is that if we fail to take advantage of those opportunities now to "develop our salvation" [i.e., to bring it to maturity, to develop Christian character in ourselves, to have Christ's life actually worked out in us (Phil. 2:12)] then we will fail when a real crisis (test) finally comes.

Many of us, nonetheless, continue to think that if God gives the call, we will somehow or other rise to the occasion. We imagine that we will be OK; sadly, however, the crisis (test) will only reveal what has already been developed in our lives as Christian character - it will not add anything new into us. If we have not risen to the occasion before in the little things of life - we will surely fail when the real test comes. All that a crisis (test) does is reveal what we are already made of. If we have yielded to temptation and weakness before in the little things, we will yield to temptation and weakness in the big things. If we are not in God's will in the things that are nearest to us, when the crisis (test) comes, instead of being revealed as ready, we will be revealed as unready. A crisis reveals character that has already been formed - it does not in itself create new character.

The Bible says that someday our Christian character is going to be put to the test - that the time will come in all of our lives that pretense will have to yield to reality; when what we are really made out of will be dragged out into the open for all to see, and we will be revealed for what we really are. If we have not "practiced the presence of God" in our lives, if we have not learned to yield ourselves to the leading of the Holy Spirit, if we have not taken the time to study the Word of God and know for sure what it really is all about, if we have not been living a sanctified life in the circumstances that we are presently in, if we have not been instant in prayer in the little things, then the crisis (test) will reveal all that!

If you say now, "I have no time for prayer, I have no time 'to practice the presence of Christ', it's so impractical to yield to Christ in this or that business decision now - but when the time comes, I will do it," our answer to you, sadly, is "No you won't!"

Many people think of David as a man of faith, and that when he went out to face Goliath, he relied on that faith to get him through - and that certainly is true. But what so many Christians fail to see is that the faith David had was not a blind faith - it was a faith that had been well developed. His faith was a developed faith - and it was in the strength of that developed faith that he went out to face Goliath. David had developed his faith years before as a youth tending his father's sheep on the back side of the desert - out of the way where no one saw. He had tested it against a lion and a bear - and he had prevailed. When he finally met Goliath, then, he was simply walking in the way he had been moving all of his life. The path of faith he relied on when he faced Goliath was a well worn path - he knew it well. He was ready for Goliath. It was not blind faith that saw him through, it was developed faith. The story is recounted in First Samuel. The Bible says,
"And David spake to the men that stood by him, saying ... Who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God? And when the words were heard which David spake, they rehearsed them before Saul: and he sent for him. And David said unto Saul, Thy servant kept his father's sheep, and there came a lion, and a bear, and took a lamb out of the flock: And I went out after him, and smote him, and delivered it out of his mouth: and when he arose against me, I caught him by his beard, and smote him, and slew him. Thy servant slew both the lion and the bear: and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be as one of them, seeing he hath defied the armies of the living God. David said moreover, The LORD that delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, he will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine. And he took his staff in his hand, and chose him five smooth stones out of the brook, and put them in a shepherd's bag which he had, even in a scrip; and his sling was in his hand: and he drew near to the Philistine. And David put his hand in his bag, and took thence a stone, and slang it, and smote the Philistine in his forehead, that the stone sunk into his forehead; and he fell upon his face to the earth. (1 Sam. 17:26-51)

Let us, therefore, develop our faith now, while there is yet time - for soon our test will come, and our faith will be revealed for what it really is - either to honor or to dishonor:

For there is nothing hid, which shall
not be manifested; neither is any
thing kept secret, but that it
should come abroad. (Mark 4:22)


JUDGMENT

The word, "Judgment," conjures up fantasies of old, bent, black robed figures glowering down with solemn, pitiless faces from lofty heights; cavernous halls with high ceilings and polished marble floors; echoing footsteps and hushed whisperings. It is a word around which swirls vague feelings of sorrow and distress, dread and foreboding, alarm and fright. And always, there is about the word a gloomy and oppressive pallor; a dull, aching sense of impending doom.

The Scriptures anticipate a day of coming judgment - one that will make men's hearts stop beating in fear and their blood run cold with terror. The Bible refers to it over 150 times in both the Old and New Testaments. In the Old Testament, the Psalmist writes:

"... for He cometh [this Judge, who flies on the wings of the wind with fire in His eyes and darkness under His feet; whose pavilion round about Him is dark waters and thick clouds (Psalm 18:8-12)], for He cometh to judge the earth: He shall judge the world with [pure] righteousness, and the people with [absolute] truth." (Psalm 96:13)
And in the New Testament, Paul exclaims:

"... He hath appointed a day in which He will judge the world..." (Acts 17:31).

In the vernacular, or common language of the people, this day of horror has been referred to as Judgment Day - and perhaps even more to the point, as Doomsday. Its anticipation has always struck fear in the hearts of men and women. Indeed, so great has been man's dread of Judgment Day that in the year 999 a paralyzing terror gripped all of Europe in anticipation of the turn of the Millennium. It was commonly believed by prince and peasant alike that Judgment Day was New Years Day, 1000 A.D. The ordinary cares of life were given up. The land was left untilled. Houses and buildings of every type were allowed to fall into disrepair. Throngs of common people slept in the porches and in the shadows of holy buildings and churches. Kings and emperors begged to be admitted to monasteries. A wild and uncontrollable dread and sense of foreboding seized the entire continent.

And make no mistakes about it, that same terror is still alive - lurking just beneath our Twentieth Century veneer of sophistication and science. It comes to us when we are alone - at night; it's in our music, our movies, our art. It is a phantom that defies the scientist's efforts to dislodge it, and the psychologist's attempts to explain it away.

JUDGMENT: THE ACT OF
DECLARING SOMETHING'S WORTH


But beyond our fears, beyond our foreboding, what does the word "judgment" really mean? Judgment is the act of DECLARING the worth of something, of ANNOUNCING its value. We do it every day, in countless ways. When we shop, we make judgments as to which foods are best for us, which coats are warmer for the winter, what car is best suited for our needs, where we should live, the house we should live in - all these decisions are or will be products of a judgment we have made or will make. And all these judgments [which have been manifested or DECLARED in our purchases] were preceded by some form or process of TESTING. True, the testing may have only occurred in our minds at a very rudimentary level, but it occurred nonetheless. The judgments or decisions [which is another word for judgment] that were made as to which products to purchase were the results of that testing. A JUDGMENT IS ALWAYS PRECEDED BY SOME FORM OF TESTING.

TRIBULATION

This brings us to the matter of the Tribulation. The word, "Tribulation," means test. It is derived from the Latin word, Tribulum, which means to press and subject to stress as in a test. But the word means more - it means to SEVERELY test, to press to the point of ANGUISH - much as a test pilot tests an experimental plane and presses it to its very limits of toleration.

The Roman word, Tribune, is also derived from the Latin word Tribulum. A Tribune in ancient Rome was a magistrate or judge appointed to hear civil and criminal proceedings. It is the word from which our modern English word, "Tribunal," is derived - which means a seat of judgment. In all these instances, the word Tribulum [from which, once again, the English word "Tribulation" is derived] had a legal sense attached to it. It meant [in the sense that is appropriate here] pressure and stress applied to an object in order to test it.

This is the exact sense that the translators of the King James version of the Bible were trying to convey when they translated the Greek word, Thlipsis, as Tribulation in Revelation 7:14. As with the Latin word, Tribulum, the Greek word, Thlipsis, means pressure and stress applied to an object for the purpose of testing.

It is this sense, then, of the word, "Tribulation," which the translators of the King James version of the Bible wished to convey to the readers - A TIME OF TESTING!! This is substantiated by Revelation 3:10 when Jesus referred to the Tribulation as "the hour of testing."

WITNESSES

It goes without saying that in any test the presence of witnesses is paramount. They are required to OBSERVE and RECORD the results of the test. These observations and recordings, carefully compiled and documented, are then used as the basis of later JUDGMENTS [or decisions].

In a criminal case in a court of law, the judgment of the judge is preceded by a test of the evidence which has been compiled against the accused. It is on the basis of this test that the judge will make his decision as to the guilt or innocence of the accused. The process is known as a trial - which really means test. Once again, throughout the entire proceeding, WITNESSES are called forth to give evidence as to the guilt or innocence of the accused. These witnesses are people who saw or who can give FIRSTHAND accounts [or TESTIMONY] as to the guilt or innocence of the accused. Hear-say or second and third-hand evidence [gossip] is not admissible as evidence. The witnesses can introduce into evidence only that which they saw on a FIRSTHAND basis. In other words, they had to be present themselves when the alleged crime was committed.

THE CHURCH IN THE TRIBULATION

The Tribulation, then, is humanity's trial, its test before its Maker - a time of great separation, disunion, division, and parting. And the Church will be a part of this immense process.

Oh, you're surprised that the Church will be a part of this process? Well, be assured, dear Christian, your salvation is secure - it is not in question! Nothing can pluck you out of the Father's hand. Paul writes:

"Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
"For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers,
"Nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 8:35,38-39)
Why, then, is the Church to be a part of this process? If this process has nothing to do with our salvation, then why are we to be involved? The answer is twofold. The paramount reason is that the church is to be subpoenaed as a "witness" against this world and its present world-ruler or Kosmokrator - a subject which we will discuss at great length in the following sub-sections. There is, however, a second reason - one which is almost as important as the first, and one which is absolutely vital to the accomplishment of the first - for if the church is to testify against the world and the things of this world, it is necessary that it be shown to be not a part of the world - that it be once and for all separated from the world. And because of this separation (or "manifestation"), just and seeking men everywhere will be drawn to Christianity and the Lord Jesus Christ, producing even in such a time, the "Great Harvest of the Lamb. This is what all creation is waiting for. Paul writes:
"For [even the whole] creation ... waits expectantly and longs earnestly for God's sons [the Church] to be made known - waits for the REVEALING, the DISCLOSURE of their sonship." (Romans 8:19, Zondervan, the Amplified Bible )
The King James version translates it in this way:
"For the earnest expectation of the ...[creation] waiteth for the MANIFESTATION of the sons of God." (Romans 8:19)

And the NASB version translates it this way:
"For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the REVEALING of the sons of God." (Romans 8:19)

In this Paul is saying that the whole universe is waiting for something to happen insofar as the Church is concerned. It is waiting for the church to be "REVEALED," "DISCLOSED," "MANIFESTED."

These are interesting words that Paul has chosen to use with regard to the Church. In a back-handed way, what Paul is really saying is that the Church has been hidden and obscured in this present dispensation [age].

What? But hasn't the Church always been with us? Can't we see it all about us? In the hundreds and thousands of church buildings that seem sometimes to all but surround us? In the proliferation of a now almost countless number of Christian TV and radio stations? In the new manifestation of Christian political power in such organizations as the Christian Coalition, the Traditional Values Coalition, Christian Voice, etc.

But do all these church buildings, all this Christian activity, all these people claiming to be Christian and born-again really represent the Church? If they do, then God help us. Was the Thirty Years War - which made the streets of Europe run red with blood four hundred years ago - really a Christian activity? What about the Inquisition? What about the bloody war that rages even now in Ireland in the name of the Church? What about the Papacy? What about Jim Jones and the Jonestown Suicides? What about all this?

Andrew Miller, the well-known and godly Church historian, wrote in the last century:
"We must always bear in mind when reading what is called a history of the Church, that from the days of the apostles until now, there have been TWO DISTINCT and widely different classes of persons in the professing Church: the merely nominal, and the real - the true, and the false. This was predicted: "For I know this," says the apostle, "that after my departure [death] shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them." (Acts 20) His second Epistle [letter] to Timothy is also full of warnings ... as to the various forms of evil which were then but too plainly manifest ...

"... Some historians have not taken into account this sad mixture of evil vessels with the good - of true Christians and false. They have not themselves been spiritual-minded men. Hence they have rather made it their chief object to record the many unchristian and wicked ways of mere professors [those who said they were Christians, but were not]. They have dwelt at great length, and with great minuteness, on the heresies that have troubled the Church - on the abuses that have disgraced it. Much rather would we endeavor to trace, all down through the long dark pages of history, the SILVER LINE OF GOD'S GRACE IN TRUE CHRISTIANS; though at times the alloy so predominates that the pure ore is scarcely perceptible.

"[But] God has never left us without witness. He has had His loved and cherished, though HIDDEN ones, in all ages and in all places. No eye but His could see the seven thousand in Israel who had not bowed their knees to the image of Baal, in the days of Ahab and Jezebel. And tens of thousands, we doubt not, even from the darkest days of Christianity, will be found at last in the "Glorious Church," which Christ will present to Himself, on the long-looked-for day of His nuptial glory ..."

THE PARABLE OF THE WHEAT AND THE
TARES: A PARABLE OF THE TRIBULATION


Jesus himself, speaking in a prophetic parable concerning this condition of the Church, said:
"The kingdom of heaven [the Church] may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field.
"But while men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed tares also among the wheat, and went away.
"And the slaves of the landowner came and said to him, Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?
"And he said to them, An enemy has done this! And the slaves said to him, Do you want us, then, to go and gather them up?
"But he said, No; lest while you are gathering up the tares, you may root up the wheat with them.

"Allow both to grow together until the harvest; and in the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers, First gather up the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them up; but gather the wheat into my barn. "Then He left the multitudes, and went into the house. And His disciples came to Him, saying, Explain to us the parable of the tares of the field.

"And He answered and said, The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man and the field is the world; and as for the good seed, these are the sons of the kingdom; and the tares are the sons of the evil one;
"And the enemy who sowed them is the devil, and the harvest is the end of the age; and the reapers are angels.

"Therefore just as the tares are gathered up and burned with fire, so shall it be at the end of the age. "And will cast them into the furnace of fire; in that place there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
"Then THE RIGHTEOUS WILL SHINE FORTH AS THE SUN in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear." (Matthew 13:24-30; 36-43)
Now in connection with the parable above, it is interesting to note how the harvest was carried out in the ancient world and how the wheat [the good seed] was separated from the tares and the chaff [the bad seed]. BOTH WERE HARVESTED TOGETHER! Then through a process of winnowing, the wheat was separated from the tares and the chaff. The process of winnowing was accomplished in this manner: first, the harvest was crushed and spread out on a large floor; then workers took shovels and threw the harvest into the air by the shovel-full. The tares and chaff, being lighter than the kernels of wheat, were blown away by the wind, usually into another bin, while the kernels of wheat, being heavier, fell again to the threshing floor. In this way the wheat was separated from the tares and the chaff. The chaff and tares, being good for nothing, were then gathered together and burned, while the wheat was gathered together, bundled and stored in the barn.

Now it is important to note in this process, that the wheat itself is not being tested at all. Wheat is wheat!! Tares are tares!! There is nothing in this process which is meant to test the quality of the wheat. Neither is there anything in this process that the wheat is supposed to do. The wheat is required to do nothing. Works are not involved!! The wheat needs to do only one thing - be what it is inherently - wheat. The process is a SEPARATING PROCESS. It is not a process of works. The purpose of the entire process is quite simple: to separate, and by separating to MANIFEST or DISCLOSE, or REVEAL (Romans 8:19) the wheat from the tares and the chaff.

PART 2: THE TRIBULATION AS A
WINNOWING OF GOD


"Though the fig tree may not blossom, Nor fruit be on the vines; Though the labor of the olive may fail, And the fields yield no food; Though the flock be cut off from the fold, And there be no heard in the stalls - "YET I WILL REJOICE IN THE LORD, I WILL JOY IN THE GOD OF MY SALVATION."
(Habakkuk 3:17-18)

INTRODUCTION

In a day when it has become so popular - even fashionable - to be referred to as "born-again" that political figures [whom the Bible calls the basest or lowest of people (Daniel 4:17)] refer to themselves as "born-again" to get votes, there certainly can be no doubt concerning this matter. Indeed, what can one say to all of this when even the owner of Hustler Magazine [one of the most notorious pornographic magazines in the country] refers to himself openly as "born-again."
Yes, there is a winnowing coming! John the Baptist, speaking prophetically, said of it:
"I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me [i.e., in the "end of days"] is mightier than I ...
"His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly purge His threshing floor, and gather His wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff [tares] with unquenchable fire." (Matthew 3:11-12)

And how will He accomplish this winnowing? By the Tribulation! The Tribulation is to be the great winnowing of God spoken of by John the Baptist! And what will this winnowing accomplish? A great separation between those who truly love Christ and those who merely claim to love Him, but whose hearts are far away. This is the EXACT context in which John uttered his prophecy:

"Then Jerusalem [i.e., the entire Jewish religious community], all Judea, and all the region around the Jordan went out to him [John]
"And were baptized by him in the Jordan, confessing their sins.
"But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, "Brood of vipers! Who has warned you to flee from the wrath to come?" (Matthew 3:5-7)

John the Baptist was a forerunner, a precursor to Jesus. His work was a work of separation - to separate the hypocrite from the believer, the wheat from the chaff, the Pharisees and the Sadducees from those in Israel who genuinely longed for the Messiah. So also with Jesus in the work of the Tribulation - to which John specifically pointed in this prophecy.

The work of tribulation is first and foremost a SEPARATING work. Specifically, it separates those who merely profess Christianity from those who truly believe. This is important. The work of tribulation - in the first instance - is a work directed not at separating the atheist from the believer, or the idolater from those who worship the one true God [idolaters and atheists are people who obviously and openly are not Christians], or any other such thing; but rather it is a work SPECIFICALLY directed at separating those who claim to be Christian [out of convention or advantage] from those who truly are. And this is precisely the work of tribulation in the Parable of the Sower. Concerning those who accept Christianity and profess it superficially for material advantage, Jesus had this to say:

"But he who received the seed [Gospel] on stony places, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy;
"Yet he has no root in himself, but endures only for a while. For when TRIBULATION or PERSECUTION arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles (other translations say "wither away")." (Matthew 13:20-21)

TRIBULATION: A WORK OF TRANSFORMATION
IN THE BELIEVER'S HEART


Yes, tribulation SEPARATES, but there is another more sublime work of tribulation; and this work of tribulation is not a separating work, but a purifying work directed not at the hypocrite, but at the believer. This work elevates, ennobles, glorifies, and transforms the believer. Paul says:

"... but we also EXULT in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; "And perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope;
"And hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us." (Romans 5:3-5)
Indeed, tribulation is the gate through which all true believers must pass into the kingdom of heaven; transformation is impossible without it. The Bible says:
"And when they had preached the gospel to that city and made many disciples, they returned to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch,

"Strengthening the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith, and saying, 'We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God'." (Acts 14:21-22)
And again, the Bible - speaking of those saints who through the transforming power of the Holy Spirit [during the Great Tribulation] have been translated to the very throne of God - says:

"After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands ...
"Then one of the elders answered, saying to me, Who are these arrayed in white robes, and where did they come from?

"And I said to him, Sir, you know. So he said to me, THESE ARE THE ONES WHO COME OUT OF THE GREAT TRIBULATION, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb." (Revelation 7:9,13-14)

TRIBULATION: GOD'S WAY OF MANIFESTING
HIS GLORY IN THE SAINTS


"There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job, and that man was BLAMELESS, UPRIGHT, fearing God, and turning away from evil.
"Now there was a day when the sons of God [angles] came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them.

"And the Lord said to Satan, 'From where do you come'? Then Satan answered the Lord and said, 'From roaming about on the earth and walking around on it'.
"And the Lord said to Satan, 'Have you considered My servant Job? For there is no one like him on the earth, a BLAMELESS, UPRIGHT man, fearing God and turning away from evil'.

"Then Satan answered the Lord, 'Does Job fear God for nothing? [Why shouldn't he respect you since you take care of him so well?]
"'Hast Thou not made a hedge about him [haven't you put a wall around him to protect him from me?] and his house [his family] and all that he has, on every side? Thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land.
"'But put forth Thy hand now and touch all that he has; he will surely curse Thee to Thy face'." [but take away the wall and let me at him, and he will hate you]
"The Lord said to Satan, 'BEHOLD, ALL THAT HE HAS IS IN YOUR POWER ...'" (Job 1:1, 6-12)
Why does God allow his servants to suffer? Why does God allow Satan access to them? Why does God allow tribulation to enter their lives? Many in today's Church, of course, deny that God does - but this is obviously not what the Scriptures say. But these same people would retort that God only allows suffering when there is sin - and, apparently, this is what Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar, Job's, friends said about Job during his sufferings: that Job was suffering because there was "hidden sin" in Job's life, and that this was the only reason that God would allow such suffering in one of his servants. But God was greatly angered by such thinking:

"And it came about after the Lord had spoken these words to Job, that the Lord said to Eliphaz the Temanite, 'My wrath is kindled against you and against your two friends, because you have not spoken of Me what is right as My servant Job has.
"'Now therefore, take for yourselves seven bulls and seven rams, and go to My servant Job, and offer up a burnt offering for yourselves, and My servant Job will pray for you. For I will accept him so that I may not do with you according to your folly, because you have not spoken of Me what is right, as My servant Job has'." (Job 42:7-8)

GOD'S PURPOSE IN TRIBULATION: TO MANIFEST
& DISPLAY HIS OWN GLORY IN THE SAINTS



GOD WAS GLORIFIED IN JOB!! Satan had said that Job loved God only because of the "things" God bestowed upon him. What a terrible thing to say. It is the curse of wealth. How does a rich man ever know that he is truly loved? The sad truth is, he doesn't so long as he retains his wealth. But should he lose it, then he will find out. Great crowds of people followed Jesus so long as he fed them and healed them of their diseases. But when tribulation arose because of the Word He spoke, the crowds disappeared. Oh, to be loved because of who you are, and not just because of the "things" you have! This is the love that God desires from those who follow Him. It is the love that Ruth gave to Naomi, and this even after Naomi had asked Ruth to depart from her because she [Naomi] had nothing further to give Ruth - she no longer possessed any "things" with which to "purchase" Ruth's love:

"But Ruth said, 'Do not urge me to leave you or turn back from following you; for where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God.

"'Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. Thus may the Lord do to me, and worse, if anything but death parts you and me'." (Ruth 1:16-17)
The Lord is looking for such to follow Him - those that will follow after Him long after the "things" are gone, the crowds have left, the popularity faded; when the clothes are tattered and torn, there is no food on the table, and persecution rages all around. These are the disciples of Jesus - with such people one can repose trust and friendship, true love is here to be found!

These are the disciples who can say with the prophet Habakkuk:
"Though the fig tree may not blossom, Nor fruit be on the vines; Though the labor of the olive may fail, And the fields yield no food; Though the flock be cut off from the fold, And there be no heard in the stalls –
"YET I WILL REJOICE IN THE LORD, I WILL JOY IN THE GOD OF MY SALVATION." (Habakkuk 3:17-18)
It is in this kind of love that the TRUE Church will be "revealed," "disclosed," "manifested" (Romans 8:19)! It is this kind of love which will expose the hypocrites for what they really are. It is this kind of love which will separate the wheat from the tares. And it is only in tribulation that this love is truly revealed in all of its splendor and peerless beauty. In this, God's glory can find rest; in this the presence of God securely dwells.

"... tribulation brings about perseverance, and perseverance proven character, and proven character hope: and hope does not disappoint because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us ..." (Romans 5:3-5)


PART 1: TRIBULATION REVEALS
WHAT IS ALREADY FORMED


INTRODUCTION

We have by now learned that we - as Christians, as the church of God - are going to go through the Tribulation. We now turn to deal with the following matters:
• God's purpose for us in the Tribulation.
• The Two Witnesses

TRIBULATION REVEALS WHAT IS ALREADY FORMED
IN US; IT DOES NOT ADD ANYTHING NEW TO US


Oswald Chambers once wrote, "We are in danger of forgetting that we cannot do what God does, and that God will not do what we can do. We cannot save ourselves nor sanctify ourselves, God does that; but God will not give us good habits, He will not give us character, He will not make us walk aright. We have to do all that ourselves, we have to work out (i.e., develop) the salvation God has worked in (us) ..."

What Chambers was saying is that if we fail to take advantage of those opportunities now to "develop our salvation" [i.e., to bring it to maturity, to develop Christian character in ourselves, to have Christ's life actually worked out in us (Phil. 2:12)] then we will fail when a real crisis (test) finally comes.

Many of us, nonetheless, continue to think that if God gives the call, we will somehow or other rise to the occasion. We imagine that we will be OK; sadly, however, the crisis (test) will only reveal what has already been developed in our lives as Christian character - it will not add anything new into us. If we have not risen to the occasion before in the little things of life - we will surely fail when the real test comes. All that a crisis (test) does is reveal what we are already made of. If we have yielded to temptation and weakness before in the little things, we will yield to temptation and weakness in the big things. If we are not in God's will in the things that are nearest to us, when the crisis (test) comes, instead of being revealed as ready, we will be revealed as unready. A crisis reveals character that has already been formed - it does not in itself create new character.

The Bible says that someday our Christian character is going to be put to the test - that the time will come in all of our lives that pretense will have to yield to reality; when what we are really made out of will be dragged out into the open for all to see, and we will be revealed for what we really are. If we have not "practiced the presence of God" in our lives, if we have not learned to yield ourselves to the leading of the Holy Spirit, if we have not taken the time to study the Word of God and know for sure what it really is all about, if we have not been living a sanctified life in the circumstances that we are presently in, if we have not been instant in prayer in the little things, then the crisis (test) will reveal all that!

If you say now, "I have no time for prayer, I have no time 'to practice the presence of Christ', it's so impractical to yield to Christ in this or that business decision now - but when the time comes, I will do it," our answer to you, sadly, is "No you won't!"

Many people think of David as a man of faith, and that when he went out to face Goliath, he relied on that faith to get him through - and that certainly is true. But what so many Christians fail to see is that the faith David had was not a blind faith - it was a faith that had been well developed. His faith was a developed faith - and it was in the strength of that developed faith that he went out to face Goliath. David had developed his faith years before as a youth tending his father's sheep on the back side of the desert - out of the way where no one saw. He had tested it against a lion and a bear - and he had prevailed. When he finally met Goliath, then, he was simply walking in the way he had been moving all of his life. The path of faith he relied on when he faced Goliath was a well worn path - he knew it well. He was ready for Goliath. It was not blind faith that saw him through, it was developed faith. The story is recounted in First Samuel. The Bible says,
"And David spake to the men that stood by him, saying ... Who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God? And when the words were heard which David spake, they rehearsed them before Saul: and he sent for him. And David said unto Saul, Thy servant kept his father's sheep, and there came a lion, and a bear, and took a lamb out of the flock: And I went out after him, and smote him, and delivered it out of his mouth: and when he arose against me, I caught him by his beard, and smote him, and slew him. Thy servant slew both the lion and the bear: and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be as one of them, seeing he hath defied the armies of the living God. David said moreover, The LORD that delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, he will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine. And he took his staff in his hand, and chose him five smooth stones out of the brook, and put them in a shepherd's bag which he had, even in a scrip; and his sling was in his hand: and he drew near to the Philistine. And David put his hand in his bag, and took thence a stone, and slang it, and smote the Philistine in his forehead, that the stone sunk into his forehead; and he fell upon his face to the earth. (1 Sam. 17:26-51)

Let us, therefore, develop our faith now, while there is yet time - for soon our test will come, and our faith will be revealed for what it really is - either to honor or to dishonor:

For there is nothing hid, which shall
not be manifested; neither is any
thing kept secret, but that it
should come abroad. (Mark 4:22)


JUDGMENT

The word, "Judgment," conjures up fantasies of old, bent, black robed figures glowering down with solemn, pitiless faces from lofty heights; cavernous halls with high ceilings and polished marble floors; echoing footsteps and hushed whisperings. It is a word around which swirls vague feelings of sorrow and distress, dread and foreboding, alarm and fright. And always, there is about the word a gloomy and oppressive pallor; a dull, aching sense of impending doom.

The Scriptures anticipate a day of coming judgment - one that will make men's hearts stop beating in fear and their blood run cold with terror. The Bible refers to it over 150 times in both the Old and New Testaments. In the Old Testament, the Psalmist writes:

"... for He cometh [this Judge, who flies on the wings of the wind with fire in His eyes and darkness under His feet; whose pavilion round about Him is dark waters and thick clouds (Psalm 18:8-12)], for He cometh to judge the earth: He shall judge the world with [pure] righteousness, and the people with [absolute] truth." (Psalm 96:13)
And in the New Testament, Paul exclaims:

"... He hath appointed a day in which He will judge the world..." (Acts 17:31).
In the vernacular, or common language of the people, this day of horror has been referred to as Judgment Day - and perhaps even more to the point, as Doomsday. Its anticipation has always struck fear in the hearts of men and women. Indeed, so great has been man's dread of Judgment Day that in the year 999 a paralyzing terror gripped all of Europe in anticipation of the turn of the Millennium. It was commonly believed by prince and peasant alike that Judgment Day was New Years Day, 1000 A.D. The ordinary cares of life were given up. The land was left untilled. Houses and buildings of every type were allowed to fall into disrepair. Throngs of common people slept in the porches and in the shadows of holy buildings and churches. Kings and emperors begged to be admitted to monasteries. A wild and uncontrollable dread and sense of foreboding seized the entire continent.

And make no mistakes about it, that same terror is still alive - lurking just beneath our Twentieth Century veneer of sophistication and science. It comes to us when we are alone - at night; it's in our music, our movies, our art. It is a phantom that defies the scientist's efforts to dislodge it, and the psychologist's attempts to explain it away.

JUDGMENT: THE ACT OF
DECLARING SOMETHING'S WORTH


But beyond our fears, beyond our foreboding, what does the word "judgment" really mean? Judgment is the act of DECLARING the worth of something, of ANNOUNCING its value. We do it every day, in countless ways. When we shop, we make judgments as to which foods are best for us, which coats are warmer for the winter, what car is best suited for our needs, where we should live, the house we should live in - all these decisions are or will be products of a judgment we have made or will make. And all these judgments [which have been manifested or DECLARED in our purchases] were preceded by some form or process of TESTING. True, the testing may have only occurred in our minds at a very rudimentary level, but it occurred nonetheless. The judgments or decisions [which is another word for judgment] that were made as to which products to purchase were the results of that testing. A JUDGMENT IS ALWAYS PRECEDED BY SOME FORM OF TESTING.

TRIBULATION

This brings us to the matter of the Tribulation. The word, "Tribulation," means test. It is derived from the Latin word, Tribulum, which means to press and subject to stress as in a test. But the word means more - it means to SEVERELY test, to press to the point of ANGUISH - much as a test pilot tests an experimental plane and presses it to its very limits of toleration.

The Roman word, Tribune, is also derived from the Latin word Tribulum. A Tribune in ancient Rome was a magistrate or judge appointed to hear civil and criminal proceedings. It is the word from which our modern English word, "Tribunal," is derived - which means a seat of judgment. In all these instances, the word Tribulum [from which, once again, the English word "Tribulation" is derived] had a legal sense attached to it. It meant [in the sense that is appropriate here] pressure and stress applied to an object in order to test it.

This is the exact sense that the translators of the King James version of the Bible were trying to convey when they translated the Greek word, Thlipsis, as Tribulation in Revelation 7:14. As with the Latin word, Tribulum, the Greek word, Thlipsis, means pressure and stress applied to an object for the purpose of testing.
It is this sense, then, of the word, "Tribulation," which the translators of the King James version of the Bible wished to convey to the readers - A TIME OF TESTING!! This is substantiated by Revelation 3:10 when Jesus referred to the Tribulation as "the hour of testing."

WITNESSES

It goes without saying that in any test the presence of witnesses is paramount. They are required to OBSERVE and RECORD the results of the test. These observations and recordings, carefully compiled and documented, are then used as the basis of later JUDGMENTS [or decisions].

In a criminal case in a court of law, the judgment of the judge is preceded by a test of the evidence which has been compiled against the accused. It is on the basis of this test that the judge will make his decision as to the guilt or innocence of the accused. The process is known as a trial - which really means test. Once again, throughout the entire proceeding, WITNESSES are called forth to give evidence as to the guilt or innocence of the accused. These witnesses are people who saw or who can give FIRSTHAND accounts [or TESTIMONY] as to the guilt or innocence of the accused. Hear-say or second and third-hand evidence [gossip] is not admissible as evidence. The witnesses can introduce into evidence only that which they saw on a FIRSTHAND basis. In other words, they had to be present themselves when the alleged crime was committed.

THE CHURCH IN THE TRIBULATION

The Tribulation, then, is humanity's trial, its test before its Maker - a time of great separation, disunion, division, and parting. And the Church will be a part of this immense process.

Oh, you're surprised that the Church will be a part of this process? Well, be assured, dear Christian, your salvation is secure - it is not in question! Nothing can pluck you out of the Father's hand. Paul writes:

"Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
"For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers,

"Nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 8:35,38-39)
Why, then, is the Church to be a part of this process? If this process has nothing to do with our salvation, then why are we to be involved? The answer is twofold. The paramount reason is that the church is to be subpoenaed as a "witness" against this world and its present world-ruler or Kosmokrator - a subject which we will discuss at great length in the following sub-sections. There is, however, a second reason - one which is almost as important as the first, and one which is absolutely vital to the accomplishment of the first - for if the church is to testify against the world and the things of this world, it is necessary that it be shown to be not a part of the world - that it be once and for all separated from the world. And because of this separation (or "manifestation"), just and seeking men everywhere will be drawn to Christianity and the Lord Jesus Christ, producing even in such a time, the "Great Harvest of the Lamb. This is what all creation is waiting for. Paul writes:
"For [even the whole] creation ... waits expectantly and longs earnestly for God's sons [the Church] to be made known - waits for the REVEALING, the DISCLOSURE of their sonship." (Romans 8:19, Zondervan, the Amplified Bible )
The King James version translates it in this way:
"For the earnest expectation of the ...[creation] waiteth for the MANIFESTATION of the sons of God." (Romans 8:19)
And the NASB version translates it this way:
"For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the REVEALING of the sons of God." (Romans 8:19)

In this Paul is saying that the whole universe is waiting for something to happen insofar as the Church is concerned. It is waiting for the church to be "REVEALED," "DISCLOSED," "MANIFESTED."
These are interesting words that Paul has chosen to use with regard to the Church. In a back-handed way, what Paul is really saying is that the Church has been hidden and obscured in this present dispensation [age].

What? But hasn't the Church always been with us? Can't we see it all about us? In the hundreds and thousands of church buildings that seem sometimes to all but surround us? In the proliferation of a now almost countless number of Christian TV and radio stations? In the new manifestation of Christian political power in such organizations as the Christian Coalition, the Traditional Values Coalition, Christian Voice, etc.

But do all these church buildings, all this Christian activity, all these people claiming to be Christian and born-again really represent the Church? If they do, then God help us. Was the Thirty Years War - which made the streets of Europe run red with blood four hundred years ago - really a Christian activity? What about the Inquisition? What about the bloody war that rages even now in Ireland in the name of the Church? What about the Papacy? What about Jim Jones and the Jonestown Suicides? What about all this?

Andrew Miller, the well-known and godly Church historian, wrote in the last century:
"We must always bear in mind when reading what is called a history of the Church, that from the days of the apostles until now, there have been TWO DISTINCT and widely different classes of persons in the professing Church: the merely nominal, and the real - the true, and the false. This was predicted: "For I know this," says the apostle, "that after my departure [death] shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them." (Acts 20) His second Epistle [letter] to Timothy is also full of warnings ... as to the various forms of evil which were then but too plainly manifest ...

"... Some historians have not taken into account this sad mixture of evil vessels with the good - of true Christians and false. They have not themselves been spiritual-minded men. Hence they have rather made it their chief object to record the many unchristian and wicked ways of mere professors [those who said they were Christians, but were not]. They have dwelt at great length, and with great minuteness, on the heresies that have troubled the Church - on the abuses that have disgraced it. Much rather would we endeavor to trace, all down through the long dark pages of history, the SILVER LINE OF GOD'S GRACE IN TRUE CHRISTIANS; though at times the alloy so predominates that the pure ore is scarcely perceptible.

"[But] God has never left us without witness. He has had His loved and cherished, though HIDDEN ones, in all ages and in all places. No eye but His could see the seven thousand in Israel who had not bowed their knees to the image of Baal, in the days of Ahab and Jezebel. And tens of thousands, we doubt not, even from the darkest days of Christianity, will be found at last in the "Glorious Church," which Christ will present to Himself, on the long-looked-for day of His nuptial glory ..."

THE PARABLE OF THE WHEAT AND THE
TARES: A PARABLE OF THE TRIBULATION


Jesus himself, speaking in a prophetic parable concerning this condition of the Church, said:
"The kingdom of heaven [the Church] may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field.
"But while men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed tares also among the wheat, and went away.
"And the slaves of the landowner came and said to him, Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?
"And he said to them, An enemy has done this! And the slaves said to him, Do you want us, then, to go and gather them up?
"But he said, No; lest while you are gathering up the tares, you may root up the wheat with them.

"Allow both to grow together until the harvest; and in the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers, First gather up the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them up; but gather the wheat into my barn. "Then He left the multitudes, and went into the house. And His disciples came to Him, saying, Explain to us the parable of the tares of the field.

"And He answered and said, The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man and the field is the world; and as for the good seed, these are the sons of the kingdom; and the tares are the sons of the evil one;
"And the enemy who sowed them is the devil, and the harvest is the end of the age; and the reapers are angels.

"Therefore just as the tares are gathered up and burned with fire, so shall it be at the end of the age. "And will cast them into the furnace of fire; in that place there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
"Then THE RIGHTEOUS WILL SHINE FORTH AS THE SUN in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear." (Matthew 13:24-30; 36-43)

Now in connection with the parable above, it is interesting to note how the harvest was carried out in the ancient world and how the wheat [the good seed] was separated from the tares and the chaff [the bad seed]. BOTH WERE HARVESTED TOGETHER! Then through a process of winnowing, the wheat was separated from the tares and the chaff. The process of winnowing was accomplished in this manner: first, the harvest was crushed and spread out on a large floor; then workers took shovels and threw the harvest into the air by the shovel-full. The tares and chaff, being lighter than the kernels of wheat, were blown away by the wind, usually into another bin, while the kernels of wheat, being heavier, fell again to the threshing floor. In this way the wheat was separated from the tares and the chaff. The chaff and tares, being good for nothing, were then gathered together and burned, while the wheat was gathered together, bundled and stored in the barn.

Now it is important to note in this process, that the wheat itself is not being tested at all. Wheat is wheat!! Tares are tares!! There is nothing in this process which is meant to test the quality of the wheat. Neither is there anything in this process that the wheat is supposed to do. The wheat is required to do nothing. Works are not involved!! The wheat needs to do only one thing - be what it is inherently - wheat. The process is a SEPARATING PROCESS. It is not a process of works. The purpose of the entire process is quite simple: to separate, and by separating to MANIFEST or DISCLOSE, or REVEAL (Romans 8:19) the wheat from the tares and the chaff.
PART 2: THE TRIBULATION AS A
WINNOWING OF GOD
"Though the fig tree may not blossom, Nor fruit be on the vines; Though the labor of the olive may fail, And the fields yield no food; Though the flock be cut off from the fold, And there be no heard in the stalls - "YET I WILL REJOICE IN THE LORD, I WILL JOY IN THE GOD OF MY SALVATION."
(Habakkuk 3:17-18)

INTRODUCTION

In a day when it has become so popular - even fashionable - to be referred to as "born-again" that political figures [whom the Bible calls the basest or lowest of people (Daniel 4:17)] refer to themselves as "born-again" to get votes, there certainly can be no doubt concerning this matter. Indeed, what can one say to all of this when even the owner of Hustler Magazine [one of the most notorious pornographic magazines in the country] refers to himself openly as "born-again."
Yes, there is a winnowing coming! John the Baptist, speaking prophetically, said of it:
"I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me [i.e., in the "end of days"] is mightier than I ...
"His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly purge His threshing floor, and gather His wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff [tares] with unquenchable fire." (Matthew 3:11-12)

And how will He accomplish this winnowing? By the Tribulation! The Tribulation is to be the great winnowing of God spoken of by John the Baptist! And what will this winnowing accomplish? A great separation between those who truly love Christ and those who merely claim to love Him, but whose hearts are far away. This is the EXACT context in which John uttered his prophecy:

"Then Jerusalem [i.e., the entire Jewish religious community], all Judea, and all the region around the Jordan went out to him [John]
"And were baptized by him in the Jordan, confessing their sins.
"But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, "Brood of vipers! Who has warned you to flee from the wrath to come?" (Matthew 3:5-7)

John the Baptist was a forerunner, a precursor to Jesus. His work was a work of separation - to separate the hypocrite from the believer, the wheat from the chaff, the Pharisees and the Sadducees from those in Israel who genuinely longed for the Messiah. So also with Jesus in the work of the Tribulation - to which John specifically pointed in this prophecy.

The work of tribulation is first and foremost a SEPARATING work. Specifically, it separates those who merely profess Christianity from those who truly believe. This is important. The work of tribulation - in the first instance - is a work directed not at separating the atheist from the believer, or the idolater from those who worship the one true God [idolaters and atheists are people who obviously and openly are not Christians], or any other such thing; but rather it is a work SPECIFICALLY directed at separating those who claim to be Christian [out of convention or advantage] from those who truly are. And this is precisely the work of tribulation in the Parable of the Sower. Concerning those who accept Christianity and profess it superficially for material advantage, Jesus had this to say:

"But he who received the seed [Gospel] on stony places, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy;
"Yet he has no root in himself, but endures only for a while. For when TRIBULATION or PERSECUTION arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles (other translations say "wither away")." (Matthew 13:20-21)

TRIBULATION: A WORK OF TRANSFORMATION
IN THE BELIEVER'S HEART


Yes, tribulation SEPARATES, but there is another more sublime work of tribulation; and this work of tribulation is not a separating work, but a purifying work directed not at the hypocrite, but at the believer. This work elevates, ennobles, glorifies, and transforms the believer. Paul says:

"... but we also EXULT in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; "And perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope;
"And hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us." (Romans 5:3-5)
Indeed, tribulation is the gate through which all true believers must pass into the kingdom of heaven; transformation is impossible without it. The Bible says:
"And when they had preached the gospel to that city and made many disciples, they returned to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch,
"Strengthening the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith, and saying, 'We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God'." (Acts 14:21-22)

And again, the Bible - speaking of those saints who through the transforming power of the Holy Spirit [during the Great Tribulation] have been translated to the very throne of God - says:

"After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands ...
"Then one of the elders answered, saying to me, Who are these arrayed in white robes, and where did they come from?
"And I said to him, Sir, you know. So he said to me, THESE ARE THE ONES WHO COME OUT OF THE GREAT TRIBULATION, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb." (Revelation 7:9,13-14)

TRIBULATION: GOD'S WAY OF MANIFESTING
HIS GLORY IN THE SAINTS


"There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job, and that man was BLAMELESS, UPRIGHT, fearing God, and turning away from evil.
"Now there was a day when the sons of God [angles] came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them.
"And the Lord said to Satan, 'From where do you come'? Then Satan answered the Lord and said, 'From roaming about on the earth and walking around on it'.
"And the Lord said to Satan, 'Have you considered My servant Job? For there is no one like him on the earth, a BLAMELESS, UPRIGHT man, fearing God and turning away from evil'.

"Then Satan answered the Lord, 'Does Job fear God for nothing? [Why shouldn't he respect you since you take care of him so well?]

"'Hast Thou not made a hedge about him [haven't you put a wall around him to protect him from me?] and his house [his family] and all that he has, on every side? Thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land.
"'But put forth Thy hand now and touch all that he has; he will surely curse Thee to Thy face'." [but take away the wall and let me at him, and he will hate you]
"The Lord said to Satan, 'BEHOLD, ALL THAT HE HAS IS IN YOUR POWER ...'" (Job 1:1, 6-12)

Why does God allow his servants to suffer? Why does God allow Satan access to them? Why does God allow tribulation to enter their lives? Many in today's Church, of course, deny that God does - but this is obviously not what the Scriptures say. But these same people would retort that God only allows suffering when there is sin - and, apparently, this is what Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar, Job's, friends said about Job during his sufferings: that Job was suffering because there was "hidden sin" in Job's life, and that this was the only reason that God would allow such suffering in one of his servants. But God was greatly angered by such thinking:

"And it came about after the Lord had spoken these words to Job, that the Lord said to Eliphaz the Temanite, 'My wrath is kindled against you and against your two friends, because you have not spoken of Me what is right as My servant Job has.
"'Now therefore, take for yourselves seven bulls and seven rams, and go to My servant Job, and offer up a burnt offering for yourselves, and My servant Job will pray for you. For I will accept him so that I may not do with you according to your folly, because you have not spoken of Me what is right, as My servant Job has'." (Job 42:7-8)

GOD'S PURPOSE IN TRIBULATION: TO MANIFEST
& DISPLAY HIS OWN GLORY IN THE SAINTS


GOD WAS GLORIFIED IN JOB!! Satan had said that Job loved God only because of the "things" God bestowed upon him. What a terrible thing to say. It is the curse of wealth. How does a rich man ever know that he is truly loved? The sad truth is, he doesn't so long as he retains his wealth. But should he lose it, then he will find out. Great crowds of people followed Jesus so long as he fed them and healed them of their diseases. But when tribulation arose because of the Word He spoke, the crowds disappeared. Oh, to be loved because of who you are, and not just because of the "things" you have! This is the love that God desires from those who follow Him. It is the love that Ruth gave to Naomi, and this even after Naomi had asked Ruth to depart from her because she [Naomi] had nothing further to give Ruth - she no longer possessed any "things" with which to "purchase" Ruth's love:

"But Ruth said, 'Do not urge me to leave you or turn back from following you; for where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God.

"'Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. Thus may the Lord do to me, and worse, if anything but death parts you and me'." (Ruth 1:16-17)
The Lord is looking for such to follow Him - those that will follow after Him long after the "things" are gone, the crowds have left, the popularity faded; when the clothes are tattered and torn, there is no food on the table, and persecution rages all around. These are the disciples of Jesus - with such people one can repose trust and friendship, true love is here to be found!

These are the disciples who can say with the prophet Habakkuk:
"Though the fig tree may not blossom, Nor fruit be on the vines; Though the labor of the olive may fail, And the fields yield no food; Though the flock be cut off from the fold, And there be no heard in the stalls –

"YET I WILL REJOICE IN THE LORD, I WILL JOY IN THE GOD OF MY SALVATION." (Habakkuk 3:17-18)

It is in this kind of love that the TRUE Church will

be "revealed," "disclosed," "manifested" (Romans 8:19)! It is this kind of love which will expose the hypocrites for what they really are. It is this kind of love which will separate the wheat from the tares. And it is only in tribulation that this love is truly revealed in all of its splendor and peerless beauty. In this, God's glory can find rest; in this the presence of God securely dwells.