.... they shall be mine, says the LORD of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; ... - Malachi 3:16-17.
My wife and I have just returned from a ministry trip to UK – May 10 to June 16, 2011, which included a three day Conference at Bawtry in south Yorkshire, where I was invited to speak on the theme, I go to prepare a place for you – John 14: 2. In view of the topic, the increased difficulty of travel, plus the impact of the many worrying, confusing and at times plainly grotesque happenings in our world, I was reminded of the old song, composed by Albert E. Brumley, that we used to sing with gusto:
This world is not my home; I'm just a-passin' through.
My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue.
The angels beckon me from heaven's open door,
And I can't feel at home in this world any more
That sentiment is stronger today than ever, and so it should be. Like the migratory bar-tailed godwit that flies 11,000 kilometres (6,875 miles) from Alaska to New Zealand or the arctic tern that migrates more than 17,000 kilometres (10,625 miles), when the time for their setting off draws near, become restless and excited, so the true Christian senses we won't be here too much longer. It's happening and this is one of the signs that the trumpet (1 Corinthians 15:52) will soon summon us upward and, like those migratory birds, the true Church inevitably engages in the bridal preparation referred to in scripture:
Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready - Revelation 19:7.
Of course there are other signs, empirical evidences that are pointers to the near return of Christ:
Birth pangs – Jesus warned, “... these are the beginning of sorrows (Greek [Strong 5604] ?d?? (odin) = the pain of childbirth; intolerable anguish)” - Matthew 24:8.
Apostasy of Faith – Jesus questioned, “ ... when the Son of man comes, shall he find faith on the earth? - Luke 18:8, cf. 2 Thessalonians 2:3.
Worldly indifference and callousness – Jesus prophesied:
... as it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man. They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all. Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built; But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed - Luke 17 26-29.
The “end-time” spiritual instinct (what A. W. Tozer would have referred to as “the magnetic draw”) is not present in the unbeliever or carnal Christian and they also reject the empirical evidence that is so clear to the Bible-believing Christian.
I encountered an example of this on Tuesday February 22, 2011, the day of which John Key, New Zealand's PM later said, “[it] may well be New Zealand's darkest day.” I was drinking coffee in a cafe in the West-End of Brisbane, waiting for our grandson Joshua Pitman, who was having his infected leg checked at the hospital, when Kath called my mobile to tell me about the devastating Christchurch earthquake. I broke the news to a man sitting next to me who immediately verified it on his iPhone. I said to him, “Have you noticed the increased frequency of these natural disasters? The Bible warns that this will happen in the end times.” His response was dismissive, “It's all happened before.” Little did he know that the Bible describes him and his response:
.... scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying, "Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation." For this they wilfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water, by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water. But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men – 2 Peter 3:3-7 (NKJV).
The birth-pangs are numerous and the apostasy is endemic and still the indifference prevails – eating and drinking; marrying and giving in marriage; selling and planting and building, what could be more normal, natural, ordinary? And indeed this is what we see. Disaster here and there, and life everywhere else continues on as if nothing happened. Only Bible-believing Christians have a true sense of what is happening and what to do about it, just as Daniel predicted:
none of the wicked shall understand, but the wise shall understand - Daniel 12:10.
... but the people who know their God shall be strong, and do exploits (take action) - Daniel 11:32.
Both the world and Christendom in general are dismissive about the end of the world and/or the rapture of the Church. Only true Bible-believers are alert to and accepting of both and this drives us to:
And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them - Ephesians 5:11.
And to:Prepare ourselves to meet Christ
And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure - 1 John 3:3.
Back in the mid 1990's I did a series of talks to a small group in Hamilton, New Zealand, entitled The Bride of Christ. This developed out of a series of articles which I wrote for the late Barry Smith's paper, Omega Times. Barry was warned by AoG pastors in Australia that if he continued to publish my writings his platform opportunities would be affected. Barry and I agreed that he had enough battles of his own without fighting mine, so the series was wound up. That event sparked the formation of CWM and the launching of CETF. The series of audio tapes on The Bride of Christ went worldwide, as did CETF, and the rest, as they say, is history.
One of the tapes in the series is entitled, It's Clean-Up Time in the Church, which in a small way proved to be prophetic. Encouraged by our literature several decided to make a stand, including Peter Fowler (PF) who brought a serious charge against AoG's front running preacher and pastor, Frank Houston (FH). Frank was disciplined by AoG who forbad his preaching in Australia and New Zealand for life. FH is now dead and PF, with whom I had an extensive email correspondence, has disappeared after achieving an undisclosed settlement with AoG-NZ. Peter Fowler told me that he would be pleased to be put in touch with any person who had suffered abuse similar to his own. If anyone can contact PF I would appreciate their asking him to get in touch with me – see back page of CETF or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The true Bride of Christ will not avoid or ignore the truth, nor will they shy away from true repentance, which requires total disclosure. It's Cleanup Time in the Church. The Bride of Christ must make herself ready to meet her Bridegroom.
WHEN HE COMETH
Words: William O. Cushing, 1856. Music: Jewels, George F. Root, 1866 (MIDI, score).
When He cometh, when He cometh
To make up His jewels,
All His jewels, precious jewels,
His loved and His own.
Like the stars of the morning,
His brightness adorning,
They shall shine in their beauty,
Bright gems for His crown.
He will gather, He will gather
The gems for His kingdom;
All the pure ones, all the bright ones,
His loved and His own.
Little children, little children,
Who love their Redeemer,
Are the jewels, precious jewels,
His loved and His own.
Once more we commend the articles in this issue of CETF to your prayerful consideration and ask you to sincerely and earnestly pray for the forthcoming CWM Conferences in New Zealand and Australia on the theme of The Vanishing Gospel and the Call of God to Preach The True Gospel. This is undoubtedly the most important issue facing the church in our time – see separate promotional literature enclosed.
By Phillip Powell