Category: Second coming

Preceding forces of God’s new world – 1 Thessalonians 5

The resurrection of Jesus Christ caused the new world of God to break into this world just as God planned it in Paradise.  This new world of God cracked through the thick concrete layer of death, hate, corruption – like the sprouting of new green grass.  Essentially it was the launch of the Gospel’s Genesis narrative – the story of creation.  Jesus was indeed the innovative gardener commissioned to plough in the new world of God into this old earth.  This new world is coming to full fruition with the Second Coming, but before that a few things will happen.

The grunts of the age-old earth

There is a causal relation between the sign-language of nature and the actions of God.  Nature (“weer”) and coming again (“weerkoms”) are interrelated. The grumbling howls heard from deep within, and above the earth, stipulates: The fullness of time is at hand! (e.g. hurricane Sandy in New York).

Anarchy and ungodliness

There were three epochs (periods) in history of super-ungodliness; interludes so wicked that God Himself had to intervene and still will.

The first was the times of Noah (Gen. 6:5-7; 1 Pet. 3:20). The second is the last days  (Matt 24:37-39; Luke 17:26-29; 18:18b; 2 Thess. 2:2-8).  And then there is a third era of super godlessness (Rev. 16:13-14):  And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet.  These unclean spirits today disseminate their gross atrocities across the entire world.  It seems as if law and order has collapsed in many parts of the world and in South Africa.

In his book, People of the lie, Scott Peck differentiates between common human sin and evil.  There is even evil in the Church where there is obsession for power and money, and very little love.  Today evil is increasing at a staggering rate to include: child pornography, drug related crimes, poverty, prostitution and unregulated abortions – you name it.  These are signs of the end-times.

Pluralism versus true worship

The Apostle Paul maintains that there are but two ways to worship.  Either you worship God or you worship creation (Rom. 1:25).

The worship of creation presupposes that all is one and that there is no Creator / Redeemer-God outside of the creation.  The cosmos has a personality.  Earth, (with a capital E) or Mother Earth, created herself.  This is a characteristic of our time.

New Age spirituality of self-realisation or mind power is presented.  God is in all and all is in God.  We find ourselves in the zodiac age of Aquarius. Think about key phrases like constitution, gender roles, globalization, the Green Movement, environment activists, multi-cultural diversity, yoga exercises, tattoos, (a mystical association with a good or bad symbol for empowerment,) idolization of angels, Chrislam, (God of the Christian and god of Islam are identical), all is one – and so on.

As opposed to this, a Christian believes that God as Creator is separate from his creation.  God must be worshipped as Creator, Ruler and Sustainer of everything and in Christ Jesus, God the Creator becomes our Father.

These are only a few signs of the end-times.

Our prayer in consolidation with the Church through all the ages is (Rev. 22:20):  He who testifies these things says, Yes, I am coming quickly, Amen. Yes, come, Lord Jesus.

With thankfulness to the Lord!

A reconciled world – when will it no longer be an option?

A dangerously polarised world

Our dangerously polarised world is of great concern for the United Nations.  The world cannot afford any form of tension that may lead to a third world war. We have produced weapons with the potentiality to destroy all life on our planet, with possible devastating consequences if these weapons fall into the hands of irresponsible people like terrorists. A reconciled world on every level of our existence has become crucial.

Karin Armstrong

In 2005 Kofi Annan appointed Karin Armstrong (a former nun and theologian of the Roman Catholic Church) to partake in the United Nations initiative “The alliance of civilisations”.  In 2008 she was rewarded the Franklin J. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Medal for her work on religious liberty.  In 2010 she published a book of great impact: The Case for God – What religion really means. Reading her book, one noticed that Armstrong is well aware of the danger of a third world war, and also that many wars are started due to religious convictions and differences.  It is clear to her that a reconciled world is indeed crucial but will remain a futile dream unless the different religions are also willing to reconcile with each other.

God is incomprehensible

In her effort to reconcile the different religions, Armstrong is realistic enough to accept its diversity and each one’s firm conviction that they worship the only true and real god or gods.  So, a way of reconciliation should be found in spite of diversity and strong dogmatic differences.   Very “cleverly” Armstrong found a way by emphasising that the main religions of this world commonly believe that God is not creation but creator, and that creation is unable to describe or understand the creator.  She writes:  “He (God) was not good, divine, powerful or intelligent in a way we could understand.  We could not even say that God ‘existed’, because our concept of existence was too limited.  Some of the sages preferred to say that God was ‘nothing’ because God was not another being. You certainly could not read your scriptures literally, as if they referred to divine facts.” (p. 2).  In saying this, she has put God so far out of man’s reach and comprehension that man can say almost nothing about Him.  When religious scriptures do talk about divine facts, it should not be seen as facts, but rather mythological speech that was typical of the primitive man to give expression to the unsayable God.

The outcome of such reasoning is that no religion dare speak about God in terms of rigid dogmatic facts.  God is not to be understood, but to be experienced.  Armstrong is convinced that regardless what religion you belong to, if you fully partake in the different rituals and liturgical acts, you will come to the ‘knack’ of religion, that is a form of “ekstasis”, in which you will experience God.  That is common to all religions and will satisfy one’s deepest longing for God.

Attitude of tolerance

In other words, according to Armstrong, God is seen to be unreachable and far away that all religions can identify with Him.  In fact, we then all worship the same God, and also experience the same God in the ‘knack’ of our specific religion!  And that is what religion is all about.  Therefore, we should develop an attitude of tolerance and understanding in terms of other religions – worshiping the same unknown God within the realms of their history and cultural background.  If we begin to understand this, we will stop trying to convert people to our religion, and show respect for the way others worship God.  We should not be in conflict with each other, just different in our approach to God.  If we truly understand this, then reconciliation in spite of diversity is possible.  It is only fundamentalists that are exclusive in their religious convictions, and we should steer away from that.  It can no longer be tolerated in our indeed dangerously polarised world!

It is important to understand the Karin Armstrong’s view is common to many leading and influential people of the world, and also many theologians.  One can accept that religions will experience pressure to become more and more inclusive in their views of other religions.  If any religion is antagonistic to other religions, persecution will inevitably be its future.

The Bible is real on Jesus

In contrast to this viewpoint, the majority of Christians do believe that Christ is the only way to God (John 14:6) and that the Bible is not mythological speech, but a book that witnesses to the reality of God and his plan of salvation.  This is done in an authoritative and relatively clear way.  By reading the Bible it is obvious that the pronouncements made about God and salvation are meant to be taken as something real and not as some sort of mythological statements.  Actually, the way in which the Bible is written, makes it impossible to see it as mythological statements.  The Christian religion is therefore, by nature, not inclusive but exclusive in terms of other religions.

We do accept that it is difficult to talk about God, and that He indeed transcends our greatest thoughts and words about Him.  However, this does not mean that we can say nothing about Him.  It is rather a case of not being able to say enough about Him. For example;  the Bible tells us that God is love (1 John 4:8,16), and that is true regardless whether we do or do not understand the real meaning and depth of love.  God is willing to clothe Himself in His self-revelation with broken and insufficient human words and thoughts.  This, however, does not make His self-revelation false or mythological, but only incomplete.

Reconciliation only through Jesus

The necessity of a reconciled world is understandable, but it is something that cannot be achieved by imposing a specific way of thought or ideology.  Reconciliation between man and man starts with reconciliation with God through Jesus Christ.  Only those who are reconciled with God can live in true reconciliation with one another.  True reconciliation is impossible between man and man whilst his heart is sinful and enslaved by ungodly things.  The Biblical truth of Proverbs 4:23 cannot be ignored:  “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.”  Man’s heart is the problem, hence the Bible’s prediction that this world will not become a better place but a worse place.  For as long as man ignores the reality of sin and his need for deliverance and reconciliation with God, his best efforts will fail.  May God help us to be faithful and zealous to His plan of reconciliation through Jesus Christ our Lord!

The second coming

1. Believers need to be able to read the times

Jesus criticised his followers for being able to read the signs of nature yet not being able to recognise the time of His coming (Matt 24).  Although nobody will know the hour or day of Jesus’ second coming, Jesus surely wants us to be able to ‘read’ the times of his coming and to be prepared for it.

In this seminar we tried to understand what forces are working in our world and the events around us in these gripping end-times.  The church needs to understand what is going on and be capable of equipping God’s people for the challenges ahead.

2. Antichrist time – a time of deception

The end-times will be antichrist times.  It will mean an enormous accumulation of the works of the devil, Satan.  The serpent of Genesis 3, which was the most subtle of all beasts of the field, became a great red dragon (Rev 12-13) that swept away a third of the stars of heaven with its tail and threw them to the earth.

In Revelations, Satan – the great dragon, the serpent of old – with the help of the beast coming out of the sea and the beast coming out of the earth, performed great signs which deceived and amazed the world into worshiping the dragon and following the beast.

Jesus (Matt 24) and Paul (2 Thess 2) confirm that there will be a time when Satan’s activities will escalate and be accompanied by signs and wonders, falsehood, deception and wickedness as never before.

3. Some of the things which will be of crucial importance, are:

3.1  Faith in Jesus Christ, God’s Holy Son

In a postmodern and global world, our faith in Jesus Christ will always be severely challenged.  This truth is more than a cognitive fact in our minds, it is a conviction of faith that has become part of our lives and in our daily living.  In a Christian’s daily life God will allow for one’s faith to be tested and pushed to the limit so that: “we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raised the dead” (2 Cor 1:9).   It is thus reasonable to assume that personal hardships may increase during this time.

3.2  Truth – what is right and what is wrong?

We are living in a postmodern world where all truths become relative and the Bible is perceived as a book written by humans only and thus all God’s truths are questioned.  (Keep in mind that this is the time of the greatest deception and you will realise the risk associated with the current world-view of our times.)

In this world, the fear of God, a high regard of the Bible, and obedience to God’s will, are of utmost importance.  Pastors and all Christians must strive to be experts in understanding the Bible.

3.3  Power of the Holy Spirit

In the context of the challenges of the end-times, it becomes important to envisage Paul on his knees before God the Father, praying that Christians be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man (Eph 3:16).  We seriously need to rethink and recapture the power of the Holy Spirit in the personal life of all Christians.

Maybe from a Christian’s perspective, the concept ‘end-times’  is not correct.  The end-times refer to the end of sorrow, pain, sin and Satan.  But for a Christian it is a beginning.   Jesus said that the end-times will only be the birth pains of the new heaven and earth – God’s dream for us over the ages… something marvelous!

Your friend,
Jan Hattingh