I’m grateful to my good friend Neil Mackereth for this paper. I’ve known him since his stimulating summer-time evening courses several years ago in Winchester Vineyard Church. The appendices to this will follow in my series of End-Times Briefings.
Jesus said: “But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.” John 12:32 NIV (other versions say “I, if I be lifted up ……..”)
And: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matt 18:3 NIV
“But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.” 2 Cor 11:3 KJV
The Lord has been laying on my heart the need for simplicity. I have felt a growing urgency for clarity and, in particular, the avoidance of theological obfuscation with words such as ‘theological obfuscation’!
First, I am convinced that we stand on the threshold of an unprecedented outpouring of the Spirit. The associated revival will tax our mental and physical resources – we should be preparing now. Our Gospel message to enquiring non-believers needs to be simple and unmistakable.
Secondly, I feel called to express in plain English the End-Times timeline and why we need to re-engage with those parts of the Bible that Satan has sought to sideline. I see the two stages as closely linked: a mighty revival followed by a rapid advancement of God’s End-Time plan.
SIMPLICITY IN EVANGELISM
Convoluted language or clever dissertation that either seeks to exalt the writer, impress the reader or promote a doctrine that is not based on Jesus Christ and Him crucified, is a dangerous distraction that can, at worst, lead people away from salvation. Any doctrine that suggests a soul can get to God by a route other than through the Cross of Jesus Christ, is an abomination that renders the Cross unnecessary and the Word of God untrue.
Covid-19 is a great simplifier: it cuts through the glitz, the glamour and the dross. It shows us what is important, what has real “value”, where our priorities are, and it demonstrates that man is not in control of everything. It also provides exceptional opportunities for evangelism. Keeping the message simple is a challenge. Committed Christians recognise that there is a divine design behind events, and understand that His ways are not our ways. It comes with our growing trust in the wisdom of God. Non-believers are looking from the outside in and do not have that bedrock of faith. We don’t need to explain the detail (unless we are asked): our job is to honour Jesus and lift His name on high, in all that we do and say. The Holy Spirit brings people to conviction, repentance, commitment to Jesus and Baptism in water and the Spirit. In other words, the saving of souls is a sovereign work of God.
Do not be led astray (beguiled) by subtle manipulation of information, which is the way of false prophets. Always seek guidance, clarification and confirmation. Test everything in prayer and stay close to the Word of God: He gives due warning and never misleads. “For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.” Matt 24:24 (see also Mark 13:22).
In my endeavours to keep the message for non-believers short and simple, I have tried to encapsulate the Gospel in 100 words, avoiding the “religious” terminology that often becomes the habit of committed Christians. I found it a rewarding exercise!
God created us, loves us and gave us everything we need, but we wanted more. We rebelled and sin came into the World. God is absolutely pure and cannot tolerate sin: the penalty is death. God made a plan to save us. He sent His perfect son, to teach us His Father’s ways, and to pay the price for our sin by dying for us. On the third day of His crucifixion, God raised Jesus from the dead; thus demonstrating there will be eternal life for those who believe in Jesus and commit to following Him. That IS Good News.
SIMPLICITY IN END-TIMES PROPHECY
Having addressed the challenge of trying to prepare a simple Gospel message, in readiness for an expected avalanche of enquirers, I want to try to apply similar principles in an endeavour to “uncloak” End-Times scripture. What follows is not for those who have an in-depth knowledge of End-Times theology!
Watching the news over recent weeks, I’ve been bemused by the pattern of reporting. I feel as though I’m living in an alternative universe, where that which is predictable and obvious is seen as a unexpected and overwhelming. For weeks we have watched the Chancellor spend billions of pounds (for good reason) and now the media reports SHOCK, HORROR, economic indicators are showing a severe downturn! We have been told for weeks and weeks that companies are closing, businesses are going into receivership, thousands are being laid off, the travel industry is doomed, etc, etc, Today the BBC report SHOCK, HORROR, unemployment has risen dramatically!! And then: DOUBLE SHOCK, DOUBLE HORROR, a lot more people are claiming unemployment benefit!
The Christian corollary may be total surprise, dismay, disbelief (and even outrage) that many Christians will express, as the last 20% of all Biblical prophecy is fulfilled.
Acres of text has been written, over thousands of years, examining all sorts of theories and concepts that seek to interpret and explain what various writers “meant” in the biblical books that refer to End-Times. I offer some key points, in the hope that they will give readers some understanding of what is happening, as events unfold. Better still, I hope to motivate you to want to study the subject in more depth. To keep it simple and manageable I have decided to provide, at Annex A, a timeline for End-Times, based initially on Matthew 24, then developing a selection of prophetic indicators from other books in the Bible. I then provide, at Annex B, an introduction to the Book of Revelation. Lastly, at Annex C, I provide a one-page key points summary of why Revelation is so important. [RB: note these appendices will appear herein as End-Times Briefings]
I am convinced that having this information will soon prove vital to our well-being.
Neil Mackereth, 21st May 2020
He also contributed a briefing paper in this blog’s series of posts in the lead-up to the 2016 Referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union: UK/EU In/Out #2 – Stay or Leave?