For the last several years I’ve read Charisma Magazine which advocates for the gifts of the Holy Spirit; I wholeheartedly agree they are for today. Anyone who is at all tuned in to how God is moving in third-world countries, particularly among Muslims, sees that many people are coming to Christ through dreams, visions, healings, and miracles. How anyone can say these gifts ceased at the end of the first century must be deliberately avoiding this overwhelming evidence. In addition, I’ve personally seen these gifts at work with words of knowledge, speaking in tongues with interpretation, healings, and more. That said, many well-known and respected men and women in the charismatic and Pentecostal community with prophetic gifts write in the pages of Charisma. More times than I can recount, they declare a coming revival of great proportions. These prophetic declarations have always confused me.
I’d like to see these wonderful revivals as much as anyone, but the problem I have is that I simply don’t see them happening when I look for Scriptural confirmation. Oh, there is a massive revival—of every nation, tribe, people, and language; but it doesn’t happen in this world as we currently know it.
The Bible clearly shows us that we are in an age of grace that we call the Church Age. According to the prophet Daniel, there would be 70 weeks of years from the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah’s Second Coming. This is a total of 490 years. What Daniel and any of the other Old Testament prophets didn’t see was the gap of the Church Age. We’ve counted down the first 69 of these weeks, or 483 years; but there’s still one more 7-year period to go.
Many passages in Scripture point to the degrading passions of man and how he will become more and more sinful:
“And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper” (Romans 1:28).
“But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves”(2 Peter 2:1).
“But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron” (2 Timothy 4: 1-2).
These passages show that the church is not immune, and many in the church will fall away from God.
Now, it’s a lovely thought that a great revival will put a halt to this entropy (2nd Law of Thermodynamics: everything in the universe runs down and moves from order to chaos). In fact, those who advocate for this grand revival typically hold to the erroneous positions of Preterism or Kingdom Now (aka Dominionism or New Apostolic Reformation). They believe the church is going to move into a golden age, in which the church grows and shines and attracts so many that the whole world is transformed. This leads ultimately to the point when the church presents this world on a Christian platter to Jesus when He returns.
Notice, in this view, that the emphasis is on the works of the church and not the redeeming work of Jesus Christ on the cross.
The Bible says nothing like this will happen. Where these people get this idea is beyond me. Scripture tells us that times will grow dark. Look at Jesus’ words in Matthew 24:4, 6, 9, 12:
“And Jesus answered and said to them, ‘See to it that no one misleads you…You will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars…Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name…Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold.’”
Then read the Book of Revelation. The Apostle John, echoing Jesus, says those who read this book will be blessed (Revelation 1:3). It’s an important book to read and understand. It seems to me that the Preterist/NAR folks have read this with a veil over their eyes. It’s a book meant to be taken literally, just like the other 65 books of the Bible. Yes, there is symbolism, but the Bible interprets itself. As the prophet Amos said:
“Surely the Lord God does nothing unless He reveals His secret counsel to His servants the prophets” (Amos 3:7).
God tells us what He has in store. Revelation is given to us by God to know what is to come.
What is coming is great upheaval in the world—much of which we’re seeing now as birth pains (Matthew 24:8). The Rapture of the Church is imminent. We’re so close to this event (which many unfortunately deny) we can almost touch it. Then, following the snatching away of God’s people, the 7-year Tribulation will come.
This is the most horrible time conceivable on the earth—ALL of it being the wrath of God as He rains down judgment upon an unbelieving world. Believers are gone. We’ve been caught away (Gr. “harpazo”) by Jesus when He comes in the clouds. We’ve been removed for this time because we’ve been saved by grace and don’t fit the definition of being unbelievers subject to God’s wrath.
During the Tribulation, untold millions of people will choose to believe in Jesus rather than take the mark of the beast, i.e. the antichrist. When they make this choice, they will be persecuted mercilessly, with the vast majority losing their lives through beheading. These are known as the Tribulation saints, and will comprise, as Revelation 6:9-11 says, those who have been slain because of their testimony, who cry out: “How long, O Lord?” THIS is the great revival of all ages, but it comes at immense cost.
All these prophetic voices today seem to miss this entire end-times scenario that the Bible foretells. My sense is that they’re in the theological camp that doesn’t believe in an imminent Rapture—that is, a pre-Tribulation Rapture—or perhaps in any Rapture at all. They seem to ignore, or don’t believe in, the coming Tribulation. They forget that God has said, “Vengeance is Mine” (Romans 12:19).
God so loves the world that He gave His only Son to die for our sins (John 3:16). He wants none to perish, but for all to come to a saving relationship with Him through Jesus Christ. But, although God’s patience is infinite, there’s also a time when He’s had enough. This world is rapidly approaching that point. The signs of the coming end of the age are converging and there for all who have eyes to see and ears to hear.
Jesus is coming soon. There will be a great revival. However, sadly, it will only occur once true believers are taken from the earth along with the dead in Christ (1 Thessalonians 4:13-17). At that time, the man of lawlessness—the antichrist—will be revealed, and the Tribulation will soon begin.
Read Revelation. If you aren’t currently a believer in Jesus Christ, the last thing you or anyone should ever want is to go through the Tribulation. By the sixth Seal Judgment, about two BILLION people alone perish through war, famine, plague, and persecution. It will be horrendous.
You will have two choices during that time:
- Choose Christ and likely die from persecution.
- Choose the mark of the beast and go to hell with eternal separation from God.
Choose Jesus NOW! I implore you.
And for those of you who already know Him, warn those who don’t. Time is running out. Soon it’ll be too late to make the easy choice of following Jesus. It won’t be long before that will be a very costly—yet immensely necessary—choice to avoid eternal damnation and suffering in the Lake of Fire.
Jesus is coming soon. As Luke 21:28 says: “Look up, for your redemption draws near!”
Maranatha. Come, Lord Jesus.
Gary Ritter is a lay pastor and serves as Missions Director at his church. He is also a prolific author. Sow the Wind and Reap the Whirlwind are the first two books in his Whirlwind Series. The third book, There Is A Time, will be published Fall 2018, along with a non-series novel of supernatural suspense, The Tattooed Cat. You can reach him via his website at www.GaryRitter.com or his Facebook Author page at https://www.facebook.com/gritter3390