The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body–whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free–and we were all given one Spirit to drink. (1 Corinthians 12:12-13 NIV)

Near the end of a recent conversation, my brother in Christ offhandedly commented, “You know, if people heard us talking this way, they’d think we were crazy.”

Our discussion had focused on what God wants his people to do while the world is descending into the abyss. At the end of our meeting, I was rewarded with this potential leader’s question, “What do you need me to do?”

I gathered my thoughts while taking in the import and sincerity of what he was asking. “Keep on doing what you’re doing,” I said. The Lord had created in him a momentum in Biblical insight, wisdom and right actions that was unmistakeably geared to the end times.

How do I know we are close to the imminent day of disaster? The news media gives plenty of reasons, yet the biggest I see has nothing to do with the secular world. I believe the end of the West as we have known it is near because the body is coming together. In the past months, I have seen several committed believers seeking a place of service during the time of the end. Hearts are being stirred to join others in the Kingdom and to take part in something big.

Two issues need to be uppermost in the mind of modern saints: First, we must cultivate corporate thinking. Our minds must be renewed to think as a body, for that is how God created us. No one should think more highly of themselves than they ought (Romans 12:3). Instead, think network. Be eager to associate with those of low position, for we are all the body.

…so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. (Romans 12:5-6 NIV)

Having the mind to gather others into small communities for teaching, preparation for persecution and service, runs contrary to the prominent message of Christian individualism (“What can God do for me?”). My counsel to believers is to begin immediately to form natural fellowships for Scripture study. Also, use them for creating bonds of love and loyalty to Christ and each other.

This leads to the second matter, similar to the first: Uppermost in our mind, we must grow in love so we excel at it. Love nurtures a servant’s attitude and heart. Love will conquer and love will endure (1 Corinthians 13).

Put away all malice and prejudice, or else risk being removed for the sake of the body’s health. God’s people will not show favoritism. Love unites Jew and Gentile, slave and free, etc. This is more than unity within our churches. It should not be a surprise, but God’s plan is to reunite Israel, that certainly includes our Jewish brethren (Acts 1:6).

If we are the body, we will manifest many gifts while maintaining “oneness”. There is no doubt we will be part of a unified body of Christ at the end, or we will not be at all!

It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Then we will no longer be infants,… (Ephesians 4:11-14a NIV)

Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another–and all the more as you see the Day approaching. (Hebrews 10:25 NIV)

Christians, who take their faith seriously, tend to love the fellowship of believers. In nations like China, where following Christ is not without risk, meeting together has for decades been an art-form. In the early days of the Communist Peoples Republic of China, a great purge was launched to eradicate religion in general, but “The White Devil’s Religion” Christianity, in particular. Churches were boarded up, leveled or converted for the use of the local Communist party. Bibles were confiscated. Executions of Chinese Christian leaders was common. Imprisonments were ordered. Persecutions were an everyday occurrence. By the late 50’s, it was estimated that the Christian population had decreased eighty percent. The church had declined from 25 million in Pre-Mao 1949 to around one-half million ten years after the Revolution.

Shut off by their atheistic leaders from the outside world, there was little to encourage the suffering, scattered and solitary Christian in China. Their sanctuaries were, for all practical purposes, non-existent. Then a radical change began to take place. Christians who were hungry for fellowship began meeting in secret, out-of-the-way places. The underground church was born in China out of necessity. Government raids and jailed leaders could not stop what the Lord had begun.

In an effort to stop the growth of the underground church movement, the government of China offered a carrot to its leaders. The Three-Self Patriotic Movement (TSPM), which had been banned, was re-opened and sanctioned for public worship services–with certain restrictions, of course. Having services in a Protestant worship setting was an attractive alternative to the rigors of operating underground. But the “certain restrictions” proved a stumbling block to most underground pastors.

Who can argue with the methods used by the Underground Church? The unsanctioned Chinese Church has all the characteristics of the Church of the first century. Again, accurate figures are difficult to come by, but some mission experts estimate the present Christian population in China to be 100 million plus. It is believed the underground church is exploding throughout China at the rate of 20-30,000 converts a day!

China, the world’s most populous country, is on track to soon dominate the globe economically, militarily, industrially, and politically. Western believers would do well to imitate their underground church’s Book of Acts methodology as well, instead of the TSPM. We would be well-served to develop a lean, mobile and fervent fellowship; a Church that operates under the radar with an undying hope and willingness to suffer, such as we see among millions of Chinese Christians.

Much more could be written. I encourage blog readers to purchase The Heavenly Man: The Remarkable True Story of Chinese Christian Brother Yun (Kregel Publications). As far as understanding where God is going, reading about Brother Yun might be the wisest thing we could do.

” For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.” (2 Timothy 4:3 NIV)

Two days ago, I was checking out a popular Christian station and the celebrated preacher was speaking on Ezekiel 47:12. Naturally, I wanted to listen because prophecy is a major interst of mine. He entitled his message “On Demand Blessings”. It was passionately delivered; every phrase met with the sound of the organ. There was a hypnotic atmosphere with a spellbound congregation caught by the camera.

It occurred to me this man was a shyster and a charmer. He claimed the fruit of every believer (who were the trees) would be supernaturally blessed, IF they planted a monetary seed-gift. The preacher requested $47:12, $147.12, and, for a few elect, a gift of $1047.12. He promised for this one time gift that God would bless the giver for a year. Every financial need would be met. He spoke dogmatically as hands were raised to the heavens.

Church-goers are foolish if they accept this without checking the Scripture. According to Ezekiel, the prophet, “Fruit trees of all kinds will grow on the banks of the river. Their leaves will not wither nor will their fruit fail. Every month they will bear fruit because the water from the sanctuary flows to them. Their fruit will serve for food and their leaves for healing.” (Ezek. 47:12 NIV)

The prophecy that begins in Ezekiel 40 speaks of the Millennial temple and the land that Israel will possess. When Jesus establishes his kingdom on earth, water from the sanctuary will flow into the Dead Sea. This “living water” is the embodiment of the Holy Spirit which brings life where there was none. The Dead Sea, with its high salt content, has little life, yet Ezekiel 47 promises it will be like the Mediterranean and the salt water will become fresh. The trees that yield the fruit are a type of the tree of life which is in the paradise of God (cf. Revelation 22:1-2)

This is a wonderful promise, a vision of the renewed earth. But, if we listen to teachers who misrepresent and spiritualize Scripture, we cheat ourselves of the golden treasure within the Word of God. Wake up! Prophetic truth must be defended whatever the cost. EJ

sign of the fish

“Some faced jeers and flogging, while still others were chained and put in prison. They were stoned; they were sawed in two; they were put to death by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated–the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground.” (Hebrews 11:36-38 NIV)

Our brother Judah recently asked the question that makes up our title. It occurred to me that others–especially in the West–want to know “What is the underground church?” It’s the right question at the right time.

As the passage in Hebrews 11 (above) describes, saints have endured periods of great distress. The people of God have often known times of siege. Second Timothy 3:1 warns, “There will be terrible times in the last days…” With the brutal first-century executions of innocent Christians in Rome during Nero’s reign, we can imagine why Peter wrote “The end of all things is near.” (1 Peter 4:7 NIV) There was no warning before terror struck.

Desperate times call for desperate measures. Huddling together in a cave is a sign of desperation. Foraging in the desert is evidence of tough times. Living in catacombs under the city they once called home, was for Romans identified by the sign of the fish. They could exist underground or be entertainment for the Coliseum crowd that rooted for the lions.

My definition of an underground church is “a fellowship of believers who continue to serve Christ while under siege.” War has been declared for reasons beyond their control. They are hated without reason. They must endure great hardship and suffering, but they don’t have to die. If they do not move to God’s place of safety, they will not survive.

My previous post was a response to the beheading of 21 Coptic Christians by radical Muslims. They were Egyptian men whose sole crime was their faith in Christ. If any Coptic pastors are reading this, I strongly encourage you to take your flocks underground, at least until the danger is past. If you think it is cowardly to leave the four-walled building you’ve called home to where the Lord can hide you, then count on more widows, orphans and more funerals, including your own. The underground church is an alternative to being the entertainment for gruesome videos loved by the terrorists.

The bottom line is this: We have made the Church bricks and mortar when the Lord meant it as people. We foolishly invest our resources and energies into a building and its upkeep. But this is war. We are under siege from now until the end of the age. One bomb and that cement, wood and glass is blown to bits. One fire and our lovely church is a heap of ashes.

The Church has always been people, but idolatrous worshipers fixate on the material. When war breaks out and its time for saints to move, we wait too long. Hearts won’t let go of the past. Lot’s wife turned into a pillar of salt for a similar reason. Tarry, while the enemy plots his massacre, and we are playing into his hands.

I know of churches who have armed security protecting the Sunday a.m. crowd. Security killed a man in the foyer of a large Colorado Springs, Colorado, church before the lone gunman could open fire on the worshipers. What’s this? It is one response, but how many guns is enough? What kind of weapons are needed to meet force with force? What happens when the bad guys’ plan of attack takes into account “church security”?

if the shepherd’s job is to protect the flock, wouldn’t the church be better served to head underground rather than the more guns and ammo approach? What do we have to lose beside a costly structure that devours our resources and offers a false sense of security? Imagine what great good we’d accomplish if our budget went to providing for the saints.

The biggest obstacle to Western leaders preparing their congregations for the siege is the Pre-Tribulation Rapture (PTR) doctrine. I have the 70’s “Wish We’d All Been Ready” movie scene etched in my mind: The angel’s trumpet sounded on Sunday a.m. and the members disappeared. The sign outside read “The Rapture: First Thessalonians 4:13-18“.

How many pictures of little girls in bloody dresses and bullet-riddled bodies of boys will it take before we ditch this one fictional image and act? I’m concerned about the answer because I have children and grandchildren in churches that teach PTR fiction as if it were true.

In Part Two, we will look at the amazing growth when leaders adopt the Underground Church model. (It will make us wonder what they were thinking when they ceased underground operations in the 4th century.)

“Just as it was in the days of Noah, so also will it be in the days of the Son of Man.” (Luke 17:26 NIV)

Video of the beheading of twenty-one Coptic Christian men was released last weekend. The Jihadist assassins vowed not to rest until they spilled Christian blood in Rome. This was happening while two were dying from gunshot wounds in Copenhagen, one, a Jew attending synagogue.

Rising antisemitism and the murder of four other Jews in Paris last month convinced Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to take action. Yahoo News reported Monday in the post “Netanyahu urges Jews to move to Israel” the Israeli leader has called for an absorption of mass immigration from Europe.

Would the migration of Jews to the their homeland be a sign? Are these latest atrocities against Christians and Jews also a sign of the last days? Most assuredly they are!

The promise to the souls under the altar needs to be heeded. In Revelation 6 God comforted the martyrs with an assurance of his vengeance: “Then each of them was given a white robe, and they were told to wait a little longer until the number of their fellow servants who were to be killed as they had been was completed.” (6:11 NIV)

If we are to know what day it is on the prophetic calendar, we must apply one of Biblical interpretation’s five major rules: “Look for the near/far in prophecy.”

An example of “near/far prophecy”, and the deeper understanding it offers, is in Genesis 6. There the Lord tells Noah what he is about to do and why. “So God said to Noah, ‘I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them. I am surely going to destroy both them and the earth.’ ” (Genesis 6:13 NIV) Were these prophetic words just for Noah or were they also for us who live at the end of this present age?

God sent a great flood in order to put an end to all godlessness and violence. Jesus informed his disciples (top) that when the Son of Man comes (future) the world will be in the same godless and violent condition as before the flood. The principle of “near/far prophecy” tells us what to look for in Genesis 6 that will be repeated before Our Lord returns. The word “violence” shouts at us.

When the blood of innocent Jews and Christians covers the ground–which is what we are witnessing–our Deliverer will arise. He will come forth in righteousness to save his people. “For out of Jerusalem will come a remnant, and out of Mount Zion a band of survivors. The zeal of the LORD will accomplish this.” (Isaiah 37:32, 2 Kings 19:31 NIV) All violence will end. The Lord God Almighty will see to it.

” Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, endures all things. LOVE NEVER FAILS.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8a, NKJV).

Today is a commercialized celebration of love amid varying degrees of amorous affection. People celebrate Valentine’s Day with that “special someone”. Others are broken-hearted because there is no significant other. For the people of God, the Trinity is the complete desire of our souls. God loves each of us so much that His own beloved Son became the perfect sacrifice; allowing every person the opportunity to share in the complete fellowship of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. (John 3:16).

The love that the Lord has for us is shown in the Gospel of John. Twice, scriptures refer to John as the apostle whom Jesus loved. (John 20:2, 21:7). What is interesting is that in the first reference, the Greek word (phileo: to be a friend to/fond of) is used while agape is used in the latter verse. Agape love is the deliberate assent of the will as a matter of principle and propriety. When we put both those words together, we get a complete picture of the way Jesus loves us: both from the mind and in the heart. Nothing is more complete.

In the book of Revelation, John greets the 7 churches in Asia Minor with the grace and peace of the Lord. He reminds them of the true love that freed us from the bondage of sin and death.(Revelation 1:5). For the overcomers, God’s promise is that even those from the synagogue of Satan will worship at our feet and will know that the Almighty has loved us.(Revelation 3:9)
Indeed, the end of all things is at hand and we need to be serious and watchful in our prayers. The fervent love for our brethren will cover a multitude of sins.(2 Peter 4:7-8). EJ

trance

“A horrible and shocking thing has happened in the land: The prophets prophesy lies, the priests rule by their own authority, and my people love it that way. But what will you do in the end? (Jeremiah 5:30-31 NIV)

As if mesmerized, all present nod toward the pulpit. Are the spellbound part of a mass hypnosis? The words roll off the tongue of the preacher (priest), “Jesus can come at any moment?” “His Coming is imminent. No more signs are necessary.” “The Lord will come for his Church like a thief in the night.” “We will be taken up in the rapture and changed in the twinkling of an eye.” So it goes. The robots are successfully programmed.

The mantra is reinforced by Christian television and books–even Hollywood has gotten into the act (ex. “Left Behind”, 2014). We could recite the story-line in our sleep. This is what most know of prophecy about the end times. But there is a problem; none of it is accurate.

Produce one clear Scripture that supports Jesus’ return can be at any moment. Ask the Pre-Tribulation Rapture (PTR) prophecy expert to cite a single verse, not just the required two or three Scripture witnesses, but one. There is none. So how did we come up with a doctrine that has no Biblical foundation? It doesn’t matter.

Teachers who repeat “No more signs are necessary” ignore the Lord’s prophetic “Olivet Discourse” (Matthew 24, Mark 13, Luke 21). Some, to their own peril, twist it until it doesn’t mean what it says. So what?

They also fail to consider Paul’s rebuke of the Thessalonian believers. He reminded them that the Lord cannot come in glory and the gathering of the saints cannot happen until (1) the rebellion occurs, and, (2) the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. (2 Thessalonians 2:3) It makes no difference.

Other passages confirm that signs are God’s way of readying his people for what comes next on the prophetic timetable. In Thessalonians 5, the phrases “the day of the Lord” and “like a thief in the night” catch our eye. When we see “like a thief in the night”, it is in the context of the disastrous consequences for the unsuspecting who sleep or remain in a trance (Matt. 24:43, 2 Peter 3:10, Revelation 3:3).

While people are saying “Peace and safety,” destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. But you, brothers, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. You are all sons of the light and sons of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be alert and self-controlled. (1 Thess. 5:3-6 NIV)


Of course, the Bible has no relevance to the mindless masses if it contradicts their Group-think creed.

Confusing Paul’s teaching on the rapture in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 with his apostolic teaching on the general resurrection of the righteous in 1 Corinthians 15:42-58 has erroneously blended two events separated by a thousand years. The water has been muddied to create a false scenario (i.e. Jesus comes for the Church in the rapture and believers are changed in the twinkling of an eye).

Rapture is not resurrection, it is the rescue or the deliverance of the righteous.

Read your Bible. Ask yourself, “How can the general resurrection of the saints at the Judgment, taught in Revelation 20:11-15, precede the Millennium described earlier in Revelation 20:1-10? Does anyone care about the truth?

Prophets prophesying lies. Priests teaching by their own authority. People loving it that way. Question if this is you: What will you do in the end?

Snap out of it! Don’t drink the Kool-Aid. “Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead and Christ will shine on you.” (Ephesians 5:14b NIV)

General Patton

Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon, son of Jonah… And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” (Matthew 16:17a, 18-19NIV)

Seventy years ago, U.S. Major General George S. Patton’s 3rd Army had Adolph Hitler’s forces in full retreat. Patton wanted to enter Berlin’s swastika-covered gates and personally crush the serpent’s head.

Arguments and questions plaguing modern Christianity would all be settled if the faithful re-adopted Jesus’ assertive definition for “Church”. Compare the accepted understanding of “Church” with the Lord’s description in Matthew 16:18. The brick and mortar church resembles a fortress while Satan’s army has long been storming the gates.

How and when did the Church accept its false identity of passivity? Credit Constantine the Great (272 A.D.-337 A.D.). As Rome’s Emperor, Constantine bore the title of Pontifex Maximus (head of the pagan priesthood). In the Edict of Milan (313 A.D.), he decreed tolerance for Christians throughout his empire. Afterward, he set about making his new religion resemble the old.

At the end of this age, churches that maintain pre-4th century traditions will eventually succumb and return to their pagan roots. It is not a matter of reforming the Church, Biblical transformation of the Church is what’s needed. Like an army is to peace, so the Church is to the Millennium. It has always been a means to an end, specifically, the 1000-year reign of Christ.

Where there is great persecution, our brothers and sisters are at war. How many of the afflicted saints wonder when Western believers will rise from their padded pews and fall in at their side? What is needed is transformational leadership such as what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave to the American Civil Rights Movement or General Patton offered to those under his command in World War II.

If Patton was around to address Christ’s followers today, he might say, “Men, we are engaged in a battle we will win! Some of you boys I know are wondering whether or not you will chicken out under fire. Don’t worry about it. I can assure you that you will all do your duty. Your struggles will test you as a man. War, the supreme struggle, will provide you with your highest test. Do not forget who you are fighting and what you’re fighting for.

“I want you to also remember this: I don’t want to get any messages saying that we are holding our position. Let the enemy do that. We will be advancing constantly. We’re not interested in holding anything except his throat. We don’t take defensive positions. No defensive position has ever been successfully held against a determined foe. We will advance, advance, and advance. When in doubt–we’ll advance some more.

“Now there’s one thing you men will be able to say when you get to the next age–and you may thank God for it. Thirty years from now and you’re sitting around your fireside with a grandson on your knee
and he asks you what did you do in the great World War, you won’t have to say, ‘Well, I shoveled manure far from the battlefield.’ You will proudly say that you fought in the Great War among the bravest of the brave. And that you played a part in throwing Satan into the abyss so your grandson’s grand-kids can live in peace.

“And, oh, yes. I feel privileged to lead you men in battle, anytime and anywhere. That’s all.” “Dismissed!”

The Church militant will be the Church triumphant. Altering a quote of the World War I, General John J. Pershing, it might be said, “It didn’t hurt that the Church had so bold a leader, as to be dangerous to the devil.”

” Be dressed for action and have your lamps lit, be like those who are waiting for their master to return from the wedding banquet, so that they may open the door for him as soon as he comes and knocks…… If he comes during the middle of the night or near dawn, and finds them so, blessed are those slaves.” (Luke 12:35-36, 38, NRSV).

The most popular teaching on the return of Jesus is that He can return at any time. I hear over and over when I discuss the end times with someone that “no one knows the day or the hour.” However, within several parables, Jesus presents us with clues as to the time of His return. The main message is to be alert and prepared. In Mark 13:35, Jesus actually tells us that the master can return anywhere from evening until dawn. We learn from Luke, that the return may be anywhere from midnight until dawn. The King of the Universe wants us to be able to answer the call when he returns and those who are ready will not be surprised or caught off-guard. (1 Thessalonians 5:1-8).

The Olivet Discourse stresses the need to be on high alert and the faithful servant who is obedient will be given more authority when the master returns. (Matthew 24:45-48). The parable of the 10 bridesmaids shows the difference between the foolish and the wise. They all waited for the bridegroom but he was delayed. The unwise virgins did not have enough oil for their lamps so they had to go buy more. While they were gone, the bridegroom (who represents Jesus) returned and took only the obedient and prepared maidens into the wedding banquet. (Matthew 25:1-13) Midnight (Jerusalem time) is the common denominator in all 3 gospels. God is not delaying His return but is patient wanting all to come to repentance. Yet that Day will come like a thief in the night for those who do not heed the Scriptures. (2nd Peter 3:9-10). EJ

eat drink and be merry</a

Woe to you who are complacent in Zion, and to you who feel secure on Mount Samaria, you notable men of the foremost nation, to whom the people of Israel come! (Amos 6:1 NIV)

Writing on Bible prophecy that does not reflect the “Eat, Drink and Be Merry” attitude of the day is not the way to sell books. On the subject of the disaster God says is coming, it is rare to encounter a Christian who cares. The level of interest matters not, for the Word says, “Tell them anyway!”

The Prophet Ezekiel was among Judah’s first to go into captivity in Babylon. In exile, the Lord called saying,

“Son of man, I am sending you to the Israelites, to a rebellious nation that has rebelled against me; they and their fathers have been in revolt against me to this very day. The people I am sending you to are obstinate and stubborn… And whether they listen or fail to listen–for they are a rebellious house–they will know that a prophet has been among them… You must speak my words to them, whether they listen or fail to listen, for they are rebellious.” (Ezekiel 2:3-4a, 5, 7 NIV)

It should be mentioned that five generations earlier, Israel, the ten tribes making up the northern kingdom, were scattered by God in the Diaspora. Ezekiel was a Levite, a citizen of Judah. So why not say “I am sending you to the people of Judah”? To whom was Ezekiel called to prophesy?

King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon had already invaded Ezekiel’s land. Still many inhabitants of Jerusalem and Judea remained. If the people of Judah acknowledged their sin and turned to God, the Lord would be gracious and show mercy. Jeremiah warned them, yet they would not listen.

This prophecy is a prime example of a major rule for accurate Bible interpretation: “Look for the near/far prophetic.” Was Ezekiel prophesying to America’s last days? The profile fits. The U.S. was born in rebellion. Today we listen only to what we consider “positive and encouraging”. So the prophet’s words fall on deaf ears. We warm to the false message of “Peace and Safety”.

Nevertheless, truth will be spoken by the prophets of God. Though few Israelites heed God’s warnings, they will be spoken or written anyway.

Who cares? God does or he wouldn’t be so insistent on calling his people to repent.

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