Armageddon Plain of Megiddo
Plain of Megiddo, possible location of Armageddon
Plain of Esdraelon Palestine
It is part of the Plain of Esdraelon, the great battlefield for Palestine.
Mushroom Cloud
Mushroom Cloud
Heaven, a Place on Earth
According to Scripture, Heaven will be a place on earth.

THE END OF THE WORLD

Countdown to Armageddon


Part 1: Apostasy

In the movie The Birds, there's a drunk in the local restaurant that, every time someone mentions the prevailing bird menace, announces, "It's the end of the world!" and everyone in the restaurant rolls their eyes. That is our attitude toward those who believe the End is near. Yet, Jesus said there would be signs to let us know the End was near, just as there are signs in Nature to let us know spring is near.

When Jesus' disciples asked Him, "Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the End of the Age?" Jesus told them to look for wars, famines and earthquakes: but that those were merely the beginning of birth pangs preceding the End. He talked about tribulations and His followers being killed and hated by all nations. Then He said, "At that time, many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another. Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many. Because lawlessness is increased, most people's love will grow cold. But the one who endures to the End, he will be saved. This Gospel of the Kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the End will come." (Matthew 24:1-14)

For the most part, what Jesus was describing is apostasy: the abandoning of one's beliefs or religion. Timothy also talks about this in chapter 4 of his first epistle, as does the writer of Hebrews in chapters 3 and 6. Many believers will fall away from the faith before the End of the World occurs, and, in case you haven't noticed, that is exactly what is happening in the Christian Church today. But it isn't happening in a dramatic way, like many of the events in Church history - such as when Moses led the Children of Israel out of Egypt, or Martin Luther posted his 95 Theses on the door of Wittenberg Castle Church in 1546. No, this is a gradual falling away, a subtle shifting of beliefs away from the Bible and toward something else - "deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons," according to Timothy.

I've included a review of the new novel The Shack on my web site, Waitsel.com. That novel, which is very popular among Christians right now, endorses a way of thinking about God that is away from Scripture and toward something else: something that is more about feeling than thinking, more about grace than truth, more about the God we personally want than the God who eternally is. We are making God over in our own image, and we are saying that each person has a right to define Him in their own way.

For the past several months, Oprah Winfry has been hosting an online discussion with author Eckhart Tolle on his new book, A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose. In case you're unfamiliar with Tolle, he wrote a previous book called The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment. I listened to that book on CD because it was recommended by a Christian friend. It is basically about living in the moment - the Now, as he calls it - or at least that is its superficial theme. But Tolle is very subtle: he has a soft, hypnotic voice and message that seduce the listener into not listening and thinking critically, but rather just feeling. His basic goal seems to be to turn a person's brain into mush so that he is unable to do anything BUT feel. Feeling truth, rather than thinking it through and accepting it on faith, is his philosophy and religion, and Oprah has embraced it fully and is now promoting it to her audiences.

Here is a video showing the anti-Christian bias of Oprah's new religion. In it, someone asks her how she reconciles her new beliefs with her Christian background, and she says that there cannot be just one way to God, but there must be many ways. (Yet, Jesus said, "I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No man comes to the Father but through Me." John 14:6) She says that she felt there was something wrong with her Baptist upbringing - not that it contradicted Scripture. As she is interviewing Tolle, she asks him if it is not true that, according to his philosophy, God must be felt, not believed in by faith, and he says that's right. (Yet, Jesus said, "He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, 'From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.'" John 7:38) Jesus never spoke of feeling, only of believing and having faith. Oprah and Tolle even go so far as to say that when something is a belief and not a feeling, it is not truly God. Watch the video and decide for yourself: http://youtube.com/watch?v=JW4LLwkgmqA

In the late 1960's and early 70's, the predominant philosophy was, "If it feels good, do it." Now the mantra is, "If it feels like God, it is God." Most Christians are no longer interested in the Christian disciplines as taught by Jesus or the Apostle Paul. Reseaching Scripture, thinking through our beliefs, applying them consistently and having faith are considered "old school" today. But even walking by the Spirit requires that we discipline our minds to think God's thoughts, regardless of how we feel. Feeling has nothing to do with it. Feeling is about us, not God. Feeling is easy. That's why we enjoy listening to music and watching movies: because they require nothing except that we feel. But reading a book, especially the Bible; writing, other than e-mails; conversation, other than talking on our cell phones; prayer, other than some quickly spoken words; service, other than our kids' ball games - those things all take discipline. Because of that, we tend to avoid them. Give us the quick, the easy, the latest, the hottest, the most popular - in short, what the world is into. That is the religion that is infiltrating the Church, and it is disguising itself as "the Emerging Church" and other harmless-sounding movements; but it is nothing more than what Timothy describes as deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons.

God never said that walking with Him would be quick, easy, popular or feel good. As a matter of fact, His commands are generally difficult: wait for Me, seek My face, die to self, lead every thought captive, forgive your enemies, help the weak and poor, fight injustice, stand against the devil, overcome evil, etc. Seldom is the way of righteousness easy. Nor is it usually hip or cool, because God's ways are not our ways (Isaiah 55:8). As Proverbs says, "There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death." It says this twice (Proverbs 14:12 and 16:25). When are we going to realize that the Christian life is not supposed to be easy and cool and about us? When are we going to stop searching for our own way to God or godliness and accept His way: Christ, and the discipline that accompanies being His disciple?

The End of the World is upon us. My Messianic Jewish brothers see this far more clearly than my Gentile Christian brothers. "Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom." (I Corinthians 1:22) So, maybe that's something God built into Jews - to look for signs. But the rest of us had better wake up and start reading the signs as well. We need to decide that if there is going to be a falling away, we are not going to be part of it - by God's grace - and that we are going to fight for our brothers and sisters who are being influenced by deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons. In an age when Christians are woefully ignorant of Scriptures, they are vulnerable to any and every false influence that comes along. The End, like the Beginning, is in God's hands, of course; but there is a reason Christ told his disciples to be aware of the signs of the times - obviously because there is something He expects us to do in response to them.

Waitsel

Waitsel Smith, April 10, 2008

COMMENTS FROM READERS LIKE YOU:

[Send me yours and I'll include them on this page.]

Your writing on Apostasy is very interesting. I took a little time to listen to Oprah's link and to hear the confusion created by basing our beliefs on feelings. As we know feelings are not dependable and may come from places not yet healed by the touch of God. Provocative and challenging. I look forward to having more time to explore. - Willa, Atlanta


Text © 2008 Waitsel Smith. All rights reserved.

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