Prophecies, Panic, and God’s Covenant of Peace – Part 2

(Part 2)  Fight for Survival vs. Faith in the Savior

The Choice

The future looks unpromising – dangerous – fearful – deadly. But there is a chance to survive it. You need a reliable manual – a guide written by an expert – in order to do so. You have two available, and you can take your choice. Look below to take a peak inside each manual, and let your heart determine which set of instructions you must follow.

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Do not fear, for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you; surely I will help you; surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” (Is 41:10 NAS). “I have told you these things so that in Me you may have perfect peace and confidence. In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer – take courage, be confident, certain, undaunted – for I have overcome the world. – I have deprived it of power to harm, have conquered it for you.” (John 16:33 Amp). “If you live in Me – abide vitally united to Me – and My words continue to live in your hearts – ask whatever you will and it shall be done for you.” (John 15:7 Amp.). “Peace I leave with you; My peace I now give and bequeath to you. Not as the world gives, do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled; neither let it be afraid – stop allowing yourselves to be agitated and disturbed; and do not permit yourselves to be fearful and intimidated and cowardly and unsettled.” (John 14:27 AMP).

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Get ready; serious trouble is coming: economic disaster, devastating famine, horrible fires and destruction, cataclysmic events in the elements of nature, foreign invaders waging war against United States citizens on our own soil! God is sending forth His judgment, and His people had better get ready: Now is the time to get really serious about your Bible reading and prayer life; mourn and weep and cry out to God. Rush to the banks and pull out all of your money and convert it to gold; rush out and buy months’ worth of all kinds of food and supplies and hoard it away; draw up a disaster survival plan and buy all the necessary equipment to be able to survive any kind of catastrophe. If you are not thoroughly prepared in this manner, you won’t make it; you will be taken down by all of these horrible events, just like the rest of the world that is without God.”

It’s Time To Make Your Final Decision

Now … My Dear Blog Reader … if you were given an opportunity to choose between these two manuals for survival – these two sets of instructions for yourself and your family – which would you choose? Be very careful as you contemplate this question, because you are, in fact, being given exactly that choice. In truth, you are not being given the choice as much as you are being required to choose. In fact, your back is against the proverbial wall even as you read these words, because this old world system is getting worse and worse, just as God said it would, thousands of years ago. And as we face the facts about this world system and its eventual demise, we are being called upon by a multitude of voices to respond — in one way or another. And respond we must. But to which set of instructions?

In ‘Part One’ of this series, I mentioned experiencing a recent phenomena, and I think it’s worth bringing up again as we move into ‘Part Two.’ As a minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ for about 40 years, I have been called upon to counsel and pray with hundreds of hurting, confused, and fearful people. Those events are nothing new.

But what is new to me – at least in the measure I am currently experiencing it – is the onslaught of mature Christians who, although they have studied the Word of God for years and are familiar with its promises, now find themselves in turmoil from hearing the fearful, even threatening words of self-proclaimed prophets in the land. A significant number of these “prophets” seem to have jumped onto some kind of bandwagon of doom in the face of our tipsy economy, and these Christians are suddenly finding themselves in a state of confusion, upheaval, and even fear as they try to sort out all of these predictions of destruction and doom, as well as instructions for survival of the same.
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I have noticed repeatedly throughout my lifetime that whenever one or two serious or catastrophic events take place, spiritual leaders feel called upon to explain the situation to the people who look to them for guidance. To a great extent, that sense of responsibility in men and women of God is a good thing. But what I have often seen is that because a catastrophe takes place, there is so much emotional upheaval attached to it that even true prophets of God can let their own emotions and their personal doctrinal beliefs slip into the way and cloud their judgment and their ability to hear from God clearly.

One or two well-known prophets jump in and say this thing was an act of God – or this event is a precursor to all of the horrible things predicted in the end times – and suddenly scores of other spiritual leaders who know they are used in prophetic gifts believe they need to interject the way they see things as well. And since the prophecies that are getting all of the attention are bent in the doomsday direction, the rest tend to follow suit.
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As a result, contrary to the instructions from God, which tell us, “Do not anxiously look about you. Stop allowing yourselves to be agitated and disturbed … intimidated … and unsettled,” the Christians who listen to all these prophets are losing sleep, losing their appetite for food, worrying, fretting, and struggling to try to figure out just which ones of these “prophets” are right.

Well, wait just a minute! If God says that He is not the author of confusion, and He is not the one who gives us a spirit of fear, then I think it’s time we took a long, critical look at this tsunami of doomsday predictions – these so-called “words from the Lord.” And since Jesus said we could judge whether a tree is good or bad by the kind of fruit it bears, lets’ look at the fruit coming forth as well.

Some of these “experts in the end-times” are holding their own seminars, some are being invited into pulpits by pastors of large churches, and some are spouting their doomsday messages and selling their wares (of survival food) on Christian TV. Now, please don’t misunderstand: I am not against Christian TV. I have appeared on Christian television a number of times in the past and hope to do so again because it is a mighty tool for the Kingdom of God. But just like any other tool, it’s value and its effectiveness for God’s work depends on whose hands use that tool.

Television that preaches doom and destruction is not preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And the problems caused for viewers of those programs is multi-layered. The Christians listening to these “prophets” must first figure out which ones are right in each category, because then they have to try to figure out how to get the money and the means to be able to purchase all of the “survival” food and supplies they are warned that they need, and how to make a safe place to hoard all of it. Then they must also figure out whether to take all their money out of banks, stocks, bonds, IRA’s, etc. and convert it to gold – which will be much harder to store, carry around, and spend.

Believing the words of these “prophets,” they are almost sure that they will lose their homes and a number of other possessions, and they are fearful of spending any money on anything new. They are fearful for their children as well and feel the need to discourage them from moving ahead with plans for their own young families concerning homes, jobs, and investments.

The pressure is such that some of these Christians are even fearful of planting “too much” in the Kingdom of God for fear they won’t have enough to purchase all that their family will need to survive these catastrophes coming upon the nation and the world. Or they are doing their “planting into God’s Kingdom” by sending their money to ministries who are selling the “survival food” packages, and they consider that supporting the Gospel. The problem with that attitude is that none of that money goes to preaching the pure Gospel of Jesus Christ to the millions who still don’t know and understand it and who are headed for hell while Christians store up food and medicine for the “coming holocaust.”

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I’m not talking here about those Christians who have been exceedingly blessed financially by the Lord and who feel called to use some of those finances to buy and store various kinds of food and supplies with which to help people in need when there are catastrophes that take place. There is definitely a place and a need for such benevolence. There are terrible events that take place in a cursed world, and people often need help to survive and recover. Any Christian who honestly believes the Lord (not some man) has moved upon him to acquire extra supplies for the care of others during emergencies is totally within the will of God in doing so. But those actions – and the motives behind them – are something totally apart from what I’m discussing here.

Reality Check

Not every one of these so-called “prophets” is the same, but many are fast becoming clones of each other. I’d like to do a short reality check concerning just one of these doomsday “ministries.” I will not use names. The purpose of this article is not to beat up on any man or woman who is preaching these things because they truly believes them. I do not want to hurt any other Christian, no matter how misled he is. However, when I specify the facts in question here, many thousands of readers will instantly recognize the propagators of this doctrine.

One ministry in the midwestern U. S. has been forcefully pushing these “prophetic warnings” down people’s throat for at least the past four our five years. They have grown more foreceful with each passing year, and a couple years ago began to push the “survival” packages of food. That has grown to the point that they now have a huge display on their production stage of boxes and boxes of enough food to feed a family for a year. They claim to offer it to their followers at a “reduced” price, and encourage them to stock up because the food will literally last indefinitely. The past couple of years they have also begun to push all sorts of solar energy equipment, emphasizing that with the ever-eminent threat of the E-bomb, we will be stripped of all power and be thrown back into the dark ages for producing heat and light. So they are also offering that equipment to their followers at a “reduced price.” Of course, along with these offers, come the warnings that the quantity of the products is fast being depleted, and people must order now, or have to pay a much larger price later – or possibly have to do without it at all.

We are talking thousands of dollars here. Millions of viewers are being brainwashed into believing that they are being irresponsible if they do not send in their thousands to buy and hoard these products for their family. So they are sending in that money – purchasing these products that are in “critically short supply,” instead of sending money to a ministry that is laboring to preach the pure Gospel of Jesus Christ – and to bring healing, sustenance, and life to those who do not have any hope at all – because they do not have Jesus.

Now, the reality check: This same ministry produces its TV programs from its own huge complex in the midwest, and one of the mainstays of that complex is a restaurant the ministry owns and runs – and from which the daily broadcasts are aired. By their own admission, the leaders of this ministry (those who are doing the preaching and prophesying) are opening these “critical survival supplies,” preparing the food, and selling it as normal meals to patrons in their restaurant. What? One minute they are telling viewers that these supplies are the only thing that will make them able to survive the coming holocaust, and the next minute they are using up huge quantities of those same “critical supplies” in order to make money in their own business?

How many people could have survived with those boxes of supplies that they have sold in the restaurant?  How many will now have to die of starvation because these ministers who claim to care so much about the needs of their viewers are actually selling the food they could have used to stay alive? There’s something wrong with this picture.

The point here, of course, is that if these ministers genuinely believed everything they are saying about the desperate, deadly future that awaits their viewers, they would be holding onto all of that food that they possibly could so that viewers could have it for themselves and their families. They wouldn’t be selling it daily for profit.

Now, this situation is just one example, and I have used it because it allowed me to get very specific. But this problem is much bigger than one ministry. We are facing a virtual epidemic of dire predictions and self-proclaimed experts’ advice that have Christians’ minds in a whirlwind of confusion.

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So Does God Give Warnings?

It is true that God has, at various times throughout history, given His people warnings about some coming events so that they can be prepared for them. But warnings from God are very specific and carry with them very specific instructions about what to do – instructions that don’t require the hearers to sort through a variety of predictions and preventative measures, trying to figure out just which ones are accurate and which ones are not. Nor do God’s warnings leave His people feeling overwhelmed by such a massive list of responsibilities that they find themselves confused, tormented, and terrified – afraid to even do anything about continuing to actively build the Kingdom of God. Neither does God instruct His people to go out and do something to protect themselves when He knows they are not in a position to be able to follow those instructions. If these predictions which include instructions to go out and buy up large quantities of extra food, medicines, and supplies in order to store it up for future hardship are truly from God, then He is playing a cruel joke on the large number of His people without extra money with which to buy those supplies.

The Christians who are taking these “words of God” to heart are now consumed daily with striving to search out the latest news bulletins to see just how bad the economy is each day, how much the war in the Middle East has escalated in the past 24 hours, and what other anti-Christian bills the new president has signed into law. They’re convinced it’s important that they know these things so that they can stay constantly aware of how bad and how dangerous everything is – and so that they can spread the word to others daily. They have lost their Christ-centered focus completely, and for them being a Christian is now all about trying to do everything just right so that all of these catastrophes won’t destroy them and their families.

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Jim Sutton, gospelgifs.com

Well, we’ve looked long enough at some of the unscriptural characteristics of this latest array of negative prophecies – and their fruit. In ‘Part Three’ we will look at some ways to align ourselves with what God really says our response should be in the face of what’s happening in our nation and our world.

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When Should Christians Suffer?


This article was originally posted several months ago, but its message is one that so many people are confused about that I felt I should offer it again now.

The word of God has much to say about suffering. It’s a subject with which everyone has had some personal experience, and therefore, a subject of much discussion in Christian circles. One group of Christians believes that those who live for the Lord shouldn’t have to suffer anything at all in this life. And then there are the Christians on the other end of the spectrum who believe that everything Christians suffer is either from God Himself, or deliberately allowed by Him as a part of working His perfect plan in our lives. Actually, if we look carefully at the Word of God, we find that both of those groups are mistaken.

The problem seems to arise from failure in many Christian circles to realize that, according to the Word, there are three different types of suffering that befall the believer. Each of these kinds of suffering needs to be understood and dealt with in a different way. When Jesus said that a would-be disciple must take up his cross and follow Him, He wasn’t referring to accepting any bad thing that happens in life as a cross that we must obediently carry.

If illness, loss of income, physical or mental handicaps, drunken, abusive spouses, or rebellious children are the crosses we carry for the Lord, then every human being alive, whether he’s born again or not, is carrying a cross for Jesus – because every one of us has had to deal with one or several of those problems during our lifetimes. These kinds of things befall all people. But the key word here is “befall.” These things fall on us – we do not choose to pick them up and make them part of our lives.

Jesus makes it clear that the cross He requires must be willfully and deliberately picked up by each of us individually – even as His was. It must be the same cross – the cross of dying to sin, the world, and our flesh. Then, and only then, will we be able to live the life of a disciple by his resurrection power. So suffering cannot all be lumped together as a cross we carry Jesus.

Now that we have determined what is and is not a cross for Christ, we need to take a look at the three different kinds of suffering that the Word of God shows us may take place in a Christian’s life. For the purposes of this article, let’s refer to these three types simply as A, B, and C.

Suffering Type A:

This suffering results from our own sin or foolishness. Galatians. 6:7 says, “Be not deceived: God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” Psalm 107:17 says, “Fools because of their transgressions, and because of their iniquities were afflicted.” And Proverbs adds to this truth in chapter 18, verse 7, saying, “A fool’s mouth is his destruction, and his lips are the snare of his soul.” The verse 21 of that same chapter adds, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” Going a little farther into Proverbs, to chapter 19, verse 15, we find this: “Slothfulness casteth into a deep sleep, and an idle soul shall suffer hunger.” Now, these verses give us just a few examples of the fact that God’s Word says when we disobey Him, or remain ignorant of His ways, we will suffer.

This suffering is not God’s will at all. He has not deliberately allowed it; rather we have caused it.

Now let’s take a little side trip here to consider this word “allow,” as it is used in reference to God. Most of the time when Christians say God has “allowed” something, they mean that He has deliberately considered whether or not to let the thing take place in His child’s life and has decided that He wants it to happen. In reference to that idea, this article will refer to that concept as “deliberately allowing.” However, there is the fact (so often missed by Bible readers) that God is required to “allow” some things to happen in the earth even though He does not want them to happen. He has not considered whether to let those thing happen and decided in the affirmative. He is simply bound by His own Covenant and His own word of promise to let man do what he chooses by his free will to do, and to let the devil do what man has legally allowed him to do. Many people get uncomfortable – even angry – when faced with the idea that God doesn’t always get His way in all things. But it is God Himself who says that He does not.

Many times throughout the Old and New Testaments, God verifies that He did not want something to happen to His people, but because they would not follow the dictates of His Covenant (which would have protected them) He must stand back and let those things happen. We will mention only three examples in this article, but any reader who truly wants to get to the truth about this issue can do further personal study on the subject and find others.

Example 1: Ezekiel 22: 29-31. Israel has been guilty of horrible actions, and God says according to His Covenant, they deserve wrath and punishment. But He says that He does not want to pour out that punishment, and He searches the entire nation for just one man who will stand and intercede for Israel and open up the way for God to pour out mercy instead. But He says He cannot find one man to pray, so He has no choice but to allow the wrath and punishment that Israel has justly earned. God does not get what He wants.

Example 2: Matthew 23:37: Jesus weeps over Jerusalem because He (and the Father) have desired that the people will come to Jesus and allow Him to “gather them under His wings as a mother hen,” but they refuse. He does not get his own way.

Example 3: 1 Peter 3:9: God is not willing that any should die unsaved. But he does not get His way.

Now, some people think that these facts interfere with God’s sovereignty. Not so at all. It was God’s sovereignty that allowed Him to decide to make a Covenant with man, which would govern exactly how He would deal with His people, and what would be required of them and of Him. He is the one who made the sovereign decision to bind Himself to that Covenant, both by the Covenant itself and by His solemn promise that He would never break it. He used His sovereignty to willingly put Himself in a position of having to keep His own word. He will never go back on it or change it even one “jot or on tittle.”

So now let’s get back to Suffering Type A, that which comes as a result of our own sin or foolishness. It is part of the “law of sin and death,” that is in eternal motion in God’s universe. (Romans 8). Oh, yes, we can attempt to save face by trying to convince ourselves and others that we are suffering because God is “taking us through something to mature us.” But that’s a lie, and clinging to it will only work to keep us in a state of immaturity. If I don’t have a good relationship with my boss at work because I’m late too often, or always have a negative attitude, it sounds more pious to say, “I’m being persecuted at work because I’m a Christian.” Or to claim, “God is testing me with all this persecution to see how faithful I will be.”

If I’m a student who’s being disciplined severely at school because I haven’t been diligent in my work, or I’ve acted outside of the accepted conduct rules, it’s much easier on my conscience to tell myself, “I’m just misunderstood by all these authorities at school. I guess that’s just a cross I have to carry.”

And if my body is sick because I won’t let go of unforgiveness and resentment, but continue to feed on bitterness, I can comfort myself by saying, “Well, I’m sure the Lord has some reason known only to Him for letting me go through this battle. He will get glory out of it.” (Now, that’s one of the biggest lies the devil ever told anyone, anywhere. There is not one single example in the entire Word of God where God received glory or honor of any kind because someone was sick. He never received any glory until the people were healed. But that’s another point entirely, so we can save it for another article.)

Do you see that these alibis for sin-induced suffering will only keep us in immaturity? Unless we see the problem for what it is, we will not come to repentance. It is the honesty and repentance that brings us to maturity and to His mercy, which will be able to alleviate the suffering. Instead of being content to just sit back and say, “Well all suffering is God’s will for a purpose in my life,” let’s go to prayer and find out just which kind of suffering we’re undergoing. Ask the Lord if there’s sin or foolishness at the root. God doesn’t play games; He’ll tell us quickly if there is, assuming our requests are sincere, and He’ll tell us exactly how to deal with it.

Suffering Type B:

This type of suffering refers to the various evils in this world, resulting from sin in general and the resulting curse that is in operation everywhere. Some common examples are disease, birth defects, miscarriages, accidents, poverty, barren crops, destructive storms, violent attacks on our person, property, or nation, and so forth. All of these things are part of the curse of the broken law, according to Deuteronomy chapter 28. These are the things that Jesus bore for us, as our sacrificial substitute “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us ….” (Gal. 3:13). Isaiah 53:4-5 in the Amplified Bible is very explicit: “Surely He has born our griefs – sickness, weakness, and distress – and carried our sorrows and pain. … But He was wounded for our transgressions; He was bruised for our guilt and iniquities; the chastisement needful to obtain peace and well-being for us was upon Him, and with the stripes that wounded Him we are healed and made whole.” Those words translate from the original Hebrew text exactly, rather than shortening the definitions as some translations do.

Jesus bore all of these things in our stead. I find the word chastisement most interesting. It has two distinct meanings: a) beating and physical punishment; and b) teaching and training. You can see from the literal translation of Isaiah 53 above that Jesus bore the physical punishment for us (as our substitute), and that leaves us with only the teaching and training to walk through, if we are truly in Him. The Lord never wills sickness and infirmity or calamity on us to teach us something. He put all of that (as part of the curse) on Jesus. Rather, He tells us that it is His Spirit and His Word which will teach and train us. (See Prov. 2:1-6; John 14:26; John 15:3; and 1 John 2:17.)

So if we are undergoing these kinds of suffering in our lives, we need to take a definite stand against them. We need to find the promises in the Word that pertain to our situation, take that Word to the Lord in prayer for deliverance from that suffering, and persistently bombard that evil thing with the Word of power and truth until it yields, and we are free. These things are never God’s will. We must see them as the evil things that they are and refuse to accept them in our lives. It does our dear Jesus a great dishonor for us to grasp and hold on to any of these things that He already so horribly suffered for us and put away.

Suffering Type C:

Type C is the suffering of persecution and harassment from the devil and the world because we are living as Christ. This is the only type of suffering that we are to accept and live with. Moreover, the Word even tells us to rejoice in it and glory in it. “Blessed are ye when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely for my sake. Rejoice and be exceeding glad; for great is your reward in Heaven ….” (Matt. 5:11). He later says in Matt. 10:16-25, “Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves; be ye therefore wise as serpents and harmless as doves. But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues; … and ye shall be hated of all men, for my name’s sake, but he that endureth to the end shall be saved. … It is enough for the disciple to be as his master, and the servant as his lord. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household.” Then, of course, we have Jesus’ famous words from John 16:33: “These things I have spoken unto you that you might have peace. In the world you shall have tribulation; but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”

So is it wrong to pray for deliverance from some of this type of persecution? Certainly not. If you have loved ones or fellow servants in the Kingdom who are being tortured in a foreign land because they have taken a stand for Christ, by all means, pray for their deliverance. God still delights in delivering His people. And He in no way indicates that we should not seek His help in overcoming the enemy and his tactics even in persecution.

But my point is that it is only this type of suffering – persecution for the Gospel’s sake – that is related to taking up our cross. It is received by choice. If we are not a Christian, or choose to be a Christian in name but still live like the world, we will not be persecuted in this manner. Only when we decide to be a true disciple, will we endure this kind of suffering. And the farther we walk away from the world and into the ways of Christ, the greater will be the persecution. But if it comes, we have this assurance: “For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully. For what glory is it, if when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? But if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God. For even hereunto were ye called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example; that ye should follow His steps: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth: Who, when He was reviled, reviled not again; when He suffered, He threatened not; but committed Himself to Him that judgeth righteously ….” (1 Pet. 2:19-23.)

The key word here is “example.” Jesus is our example for how to endure the suffering of persecution. We must always respond in love as He did and trust ourselves to our Father God. But let us not get confused. The Word does not say He is our “example” for how to suffer the things that are part of the curse of the broken law: For that suffering He became our substitute, and there is a huge difference. If He has taken that suffering for us, then He intends us to walk free of those things as long as we walk in Him.