Ministry Comments

For Then Shall Be Great Tribulation

On September 25th those who understand God’s plan for the salvation of mankind will be celebrating the Feast of Trumpets.  It is called the Feast of Trumpets because in the Bible the blowing of the Trumpet is a  sound that signals the occurrence of a major event.  This major event pictured by the Feast of Trumpets  points to the greatest event that will have ever occurred in history.  It signals the return of Jesus Christ, which follows the period of tribulation: the unrestrained venting of Satan’s wrath on this world.

Matthew 24:21:  21 For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.  KJV

Matthew 24:29-30:  29 Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken:  30 And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.  KJV

The return of Jesus Christ has a number of ramifications, the two most spectacular being:  the resurrection of God’s saints in the First Resurrection, and the destruction of Satan’s government over the earth.

As stated, before Christ’s return on the “Day of the Lord” as it is called in the Bible, the world will experience the greatest full-on expression of Satan’s rage ever turned loose on this earth.  It is a time so terrible and chaotic, it will bring this world very close to total destruction.  If Christ does not return at this moment in time, the Bible tells us all mankind would perish:

Matthew 24:21-22:  21 For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be, 22 And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.  KJV

The warfare at the time of Christ’s return is different from the crazed and chaotic viciousness that accompanies Satan’s time of wrath.  Satan’s wild thrashings and ragings will erupt in an attempt to destroy mankind.  In  his demonic, deluded  reasoning  he will believe he can prevent Christ from overthrowing him in order to establish God’s Kingdom on earth—even if it requires destroying the entire earth to prevent it.  We are beginning to see the horrid events that precede this all-out loosening of the bands that hold Satan’s wrath in restraint as we view the troubles erupting in the Middle East now.  In direct contrast to this maniacal chaos, the warfare Christ utilizes will be aimed directly at those who perpetuate evil.  Upon  his immediate return, he will destroy those who are given over to warfare as rebellious instruments of Satan.  Christ will aim to bring peace to this earth by first turning the hearts of mankind from evil and ridding the earth of violent men who oppose him.

After  Christ puts Satan and his followers down, the world will be in an unrecognizable state.  The destruction resulting from Satan’s wrath will be global, leaving the earth in a state of chaos and confusion reminiscent of what we found in the opening statements of the Bible:

Genesis 1:2:  2 And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep……  KJV

The world’s population will be greatly diminished, but those who remain will be blessed to experience the rejuvenation of the earth that occurs under Christ’s government.

Isaiah 13:12:  12 I will make a man more precious than fine gold; even a man than the golden wedge of Ophir.  KJV

Matthew 24:29-30:  29 Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: 30 And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.  KJV

Knowing that the Bible clearly prophesies all of these things are to come, it is fair to ask the question, “Does God warn the people of the earth of the suffering that lies ahead?”  The answer to that is, of course He does.  He has already warned the earth, especially in this end time, through the work done  powerfully by this church as it was under Mr. Armstrong; and He continues to warn via the ongoing efforts of those who accept the instruction to continue that work until Christ returns:

Matthew 24:44-46:  44 Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh. 45 Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season? 46 Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing.  KJV

It is also clear from scripture that even during the tribulation, God will send two servants whom he has especially commissioned to warn the earth of what is to come if they do not turn from their evil ways.  They will be given special power that lends authority to their message:

Revelation 11:3:  3 And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth.  KJV

But how is their message received by the unrepentant people of the earth at that time?

Revelation 11:7-10 :  7 And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them.  8 And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified.  9 And they of the people and kindreds and tongues and nations shall see their dead bodies three days and an half, and shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves.  10 And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another; because these two prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth.  KJV

It is clear that Christ must return in power to put down the spirit of rebellion that will reign over the earth during the horrible period of the tribulation.  Men’s hardened  hearts will not be humbled  until Satan ‘s influence is wiped clean from this earth and those people who follow after his rebellious spirit are expunged.  That is the sad fate that awaits all those who have learned to love the evil ways of this world.

Yet, as recalcitrant as humans are, God will still send out his warning message because He is righteous.  We, in His church, must not forget that He has warned all of us that these evil days lie ahead.

By Their Fruits You Will Know Them

In this Minister’s Commentary I would like to focus on the scripture in Matthew 7:20 which states, “by their fruits you will know them.” Since God’s church has been scattered and battered, there have been challenges to many of the teachings held by the modern era of God’s church. One of those challenged teachings has to do with whether Peter was the designated human leader of the Jewish early church. It goes undisputed that Christ is the head of the Church of God, but the question arises concerning Peter’s position as chief apostle of the church, especially during the time it was composed primarily of Jewish converts.

Since the breakup of the Worldwide Church of God, some organizations teach that it is not clear Peter was the designated leader. Those who are not certain of this should review the record of God’s word before trying to debate the question. The following is a brief chronology of the approximate first 20 years following Christ’s resurrection.

In John 21 Christ clearly singles out Peter to ask for his loyalty. Then he tells Peter to “feed my sheep”. This comment is not directed to any other of the disciples, but to Peter alone. Even John, Christ’s good friend, who later recorded the event, was not included in this directive of loyalty and commission. If John had wondered who was to lead the church, he would not have verified Christ’s commissioning of Peter in his account.

In Acts 1:14 the apostles and other disciples are gathered together in “one accord”. At the moment a governmental decision had arisen, and it is clear Peter was the one to set in motion the event that would resolve their problem of who was to replace Judas:

Acts 1:15: And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples, and said…KJV

In chapter 2 of Acts the church is gathered together “of one accord” on the day of Pentecost. Upon receiving the Holy Spirit many begin to speak in the tongues (languages) of the visitors from various nations. It is Peter’s address that is quoted, calling the convicted individuals to repentance. While the other apostles were involved in the preaching, it is clear Peter was the spokesman charged to call the believers to repentance.

Chapter 3 of Acts records the instance Peter and John approached a lame man. While John was present, it was Peter who commanded the man to “rise up and walk”. I recommend that you read this entire chapter.

In chapter 4 of Acts Peter and John are brought before the high priest where they are questioned. Again, it is Peter who responds:

Acts 4:8: Then Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, said unto them…KJV

In chapter 5 of Acts, Ananias and Sapphira are broght before the the apostles. In this instance it is again Peter who pronounces their sentencing for having “lied to God”.

Again in Chapter 5 Peter is portrayed as the one who passed by the sick and they were healed. In verse 29 it is Peter who, as obvious spokesman, replied to the High Priest and the council that they were to “obey God rather than men”. These instances do not mean that the other apostles did not do great works, but it is always Peter who is portrayed as the spokesman and leader.

Again, in Acts 8:14 Peter and John were sent to Samaria to baptize those who had received the word. While there, it was Peter who condemned Simon, the sorcerer, for trying to obtain power from the Holy Spirit to do his own works. Chapter 9 is the account of Peter being used in the healing of Aeneas and Dorcas.

As you read through the first 15 chapters of the book of Acts, it becomes apparent Peter is the dominant spokesman. It is he who is most often cited by name, and if it is Peter and John, Peter always is named first.

Then the reader comes to chapters 10 and 11. These chapters are some of the most significant chapters in the New Testament. In them God shows the meaning of the scripture that says, “first to the Jews, then to the gentiles”. God uses Peter, a conservative man of the Jewish culture, to bring the message to the church that the gospel was meant for all men.

It is interesting to note that chapter 9 of Acts is the account of Paul’s conversion. But Paul’s commission to the gentiles does not begin until after Peter, in chapters 10 and 11, informs the church that the gospel is to be preached to all mankind, not just to the Jews.

In chapter 12 the subject is largely about Peter’s imprisonment and miraculous delivery from prison.

Finally, in chapter 15 Paul, along with Barnabas, appears before the Jerusalem council regarding questions as to the Gentiles’ adherence to Jewish customs such as circumcision. Once again it is Peter who takes command and quiets the raucous assembly so that Paul and Barnabas can be heard (read verses 6-12).

It becomes obvious, then, when reading through these first 15 chapters of Acts that Peter is the main player on the stage. While other events are recorded and individuals are named, it is Peter who rises up as the spokesman and the one who takes primary responsibility in carrying forward the commission to preach the gospel. It is through him that the call for repentance goes out and the door to the conversion of the Gentiles is opened. Once the spotlight shifts to Paul’s commission to preach the gospel to the Gentiles, Peter falls into the background, but that does not imply he is no longer the leader of the church.

At the beginning of this commentary I mentioned that the principle, “you will know them by their fruits”, is important in this article. As you read through this account of Peter’s ministry, you can readily see that Peter bore the fruits of leadership. He was the one to whom Christ looked to fill that leadership role, yet He also made it clear that Peter would be a small “pebble” (petros) compared to his own stature as the Rock (petra) who would be the true head of the church – the one upon whom the church was founded.

The Time Leading Up To The Tribulation

Pentecost 2014 has past, and now we push on through the summer toward the Feast of Trumpets that falls on September 25th this year. In the Central Valley of California we groan a bit as we look out over the months ahead wondering if the drought we are experiencing will be coupled with excessively hot weather. It was 104 degrees in Modesto on Pentecost, and in Fresno it will climb to 107 degrees today. Days like this make you wonder if the theory of global warming isn’t proving to be a fact after all, never mind the excessively cold winter, just past, for many around the world. But why all this disturbance with weather? Are we just following some pattern that comes round every so many centuries? No, I don’t think so.

Thinking about what the Bible says the end time will be like, the things we are experiencing globally make you realize we are in the time leading up to the tribulation – a time of Satan’s wrath turned loose on this world. These weather disturbances are only a part of the problems this world is dealing with; and we, as Christians, need to realize things aren’t going to get any better.

That’s not good news, or is it? That all depends on where you’re coming from.

The news we pick up from our media is becoming ever more difficult to read or listen to. The Fresno Bee is filled with reports of murders, day after day. Two nights ago there were three gunshots fired directly behind our home, which is situated in a “safe” neighborhood on a “quiet” street. Even seemingly insignificant events like California Chrome’s failure to deliver the Triple Crown can enrage those who care about such things. Lack of fairness and justice continually dominates such events, pushing people into deep frustration and anger. It’s hard to find a place to look for good news anymore.

Recently I had to replace outdated equipment in my office; the main reason being Microsoft decided to discontinue support for its popular XP operating system, leaving XP vulnerable to hackers and hateful individuals who plant viruses and adware into individual computer systems. Why did Microsoft abandon this flagship upon which so many people depend? Much like the Y2K scare, many people are now forced to do what I have done, buy new. This may or may not prove to be good for Microsoft, but it has certainly placed a burden on those who have already paid considerable amounts to float the Microsoft ship. Greed. Lack of loyalty to its customers. Loss of pride. It’s all rolled up into this one act, which seems to be the nature of today’s businesses.

Where is all this leading? Read Deuteronomy 28:15 through to the end of the chapter. Compare it with the first 14 verses of the same chapter. Where do you think America stands? God is clear. For a nation that forsakes its God, the God of the Bible, there is no good news.

But for those who have not succumbed to this world’s collapsing morality, and have, instead, held to their conviction that God’s way is the right way, there is good news. The Bible does hold out protection through the bleak days ahead for such individuals. No, the Bible does not speak of a miraculous “rapture” – a relatively modern theory – said to take people off to heaven to await the final outcome of the great trouble now speeding its way toward those who approve evil. One could certainly wish for such an event, but God does not hold that out to us. However, there is protection promised to those who reject the way of greed and rapid moral decline. There is help for those who seek the God of the Bible. I advise you to read the 9th chapter of Ezekiel in order to understand God’s mind and actions toward those who “sigh and cry” over the evils consuming this world.