By Richard Nicholson, Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean
2 Corinthians 10:4-6 (NIV): 4 The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
Matthew 24:4-11: Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. 5 For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many. 6 You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. . . At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, 11 and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people.”
With recent events swirling and cultural and political paradigms seeming to shift almost daily, my feeling is that we are being conditioned for the end times. We are being prepared for the Great Tribulation. Whether one is pre-trib or post-trib or some modification thereof, what is obvious is that tough times are coming!
In Matthew 24, in response to his disciples’ direct question about it, Jesus gave us all very clear indicators about what those tough times would look like. He cites international conflicts (“wars and rumors of wars”) as the order of the day, with religion as the driving force behind them.
He also notes that environmental and ecological issues, along with the acceleration and intensification of natural disasters, would multiply. More superstorms are on their way, perhaps in unusual (“diverse”) places and contexts.
This intensification and acceleration of world events, the compression of time and circumstance, is in itself a sign of the end, much like contractions (“birth pains”) signal the imminent arrival of a baby.
Evangelical believers will be targeted or marginalized (“you will be hated of all men”) as the world cites our one-way only thinking as intolerant and narrow-minded. We will be seen as the cause of the world’s problems!
In this context the world will see the emergence of the toughest, boldest, and most anointed end-time army the world has ever seen, those who “stand firm to the end.” This is the “manifestation of the sons of God.” In other words these events will pull back the curtains on God’s final response to the wickedness in the world to reveal this end-time army that will insure that “this gospel of the Kingdom will be preached as a witness to all nations.”
But leading this list of signs of the times is that men’s belief systems will get messed up before the end comes. False Christs and false prophets will proliferate, leading to religious deception (notice that Jesus uses the word “deception” three times in the above passage), which results in extremism and religious fanaticism and people who become unbalanced in their views. Doctrinal confusion will reign, resulting in religious bigotry as people become hateful and arrogant toward those of other beliefs. Finally, there will be a wave of spiritual seduction, which will produce blind cultic activities and demonic practices, with a renewed resurgence of ancient satanic rites and rituals.
In the oft-quoted verses above that refer to the weapons of our warfare and strongholds, it is very clear that arguments, pretensions (proud and haughty views), and errant thoughts are these strongholds. Our weapons are the powerful truths that we teach and preach, with which we are called upon to demolish these false premises that the world holds dear!
The need of the hours if for sound doctrine and a complete knowledge of God’s Word. Today there are thousands of independent, even Pentecostal churches led by pastors with charismatic personalities but who are off on their theology and practice. It is time to take on and demolish these false ways and declare the uncompromising truth of God’s Word. IF WE ARE TO REMAIN FIRM (TOUGH) TO THE END, WE MUST HAVE SOLID FOUNDATIONS IN THEOLOGY AND DOCTRINE. IT IS THE ORDER OF THE DAY!