I haven't necessarily missed the whole point of the End-Times, I don't think, which is faithfulness and soul-winning - it's just that the purpose of this post is not to discuss the importance of soul-winning.
In another Post I may discuss soul-winning, eternity and urgency. I may discuss the soon return of the Lord, because I believe in all those things.
What I am discussing here is whether or not current affairs indicate that ours must be the last generation.
I question whether today's technology, travel, deception, wars, rumours of wars, nation rising up against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in divers places are any more significant in our generation than what has already happened in previous generations over the past 2,000 years.
I'm not actually asserting that our generation is definitely not more signficant - I'm merely questioning whether it really is.
When challenged, it's typical of people who can't substantiate their position from the Bible to switch the topic, to switch the focus, to something like soul-winning and eternity - and those topics are important. But the result is the question never gets resolved: so the same erroneous end-times predictions get repeated over and over again.
(It's like pro-gay activists, when they realize they're unable to substantiate their own position from the Bible, they switch the topic and start discussing instead whether people are being judgmental. But being judgmental was never the topic - the topic was, "Does the Bible say homosexuality is okay?" Most people are afraid of being accused of being judgmental, so they back down, and the pro-rights activist goes away without having to resolve the question.
Or it's like pro-socialists, when they realize they can't substantiate their position from the Bible, they switch the topic and start discussing instead whether you lack compassion. But the question was never, "Should we show compassion?" The question was, "Does the Bible teach communism?" Most people are afraid of being accused of lacking compassion, so they back down, and the socialist goes away without having to resolve the question.)
Same with End-Times pundits. When they realize they can't substantiate their own assertions from the Bible, they quit trying to answer the specific question and instead switch the topic to the questioner's lack of focus on soul-winning or lack of focus on something more important. It happens every time. And because most many people are afraid of being accused of lacking focus on soul-winning or other important spiritual things, they back down, and the end-times enthusiast goes away without having to resolve the question. The result is that the same erroneous predictions get repeated over and over again.
Some of the repeat predictions are quite entertaining! Like this week someone told me the earth is going to be scorched by solar activity this year and governments all over the world including the USA are even now preparing underground cities for people to take shelter - Lol!
I've made a list of all the dates which people claimed was to be the return of the Lord, and their reasons. It's now eight pages long and keeps getting longer. May I use it as a party-joke? It makes me laugh out loud nowadays.
I don't happen to feel afraid of being accused of lacking focus on soul-winning or more important things. I'm not naive to such smoke-screens which people put-up instead of facing the inadequacy of their own assertions. Therefore I don't have any need to back down from the question, when someone's last line of defence is to try to shift the focus away from the question.
It doesn't intimidate me when someone tries to squirm their way out of answering the question by switching the focus to another topic or by turning it into an accusation against me, even if they're winning way more souls than me.
I've never questioned, "Should we focus on soul-winning?" or, "Is Jesus coming again? The answer to those questions of course is yes, and yes.
My question hasn't even been about the integrity of people who said things which didn't come true.
My question has always been and still is quite simple: do current affairs really mean our generation is way more significant than previous generations?
Is the earthquake that happened in Chile in February in which there were 486 confirmed fatalities really more significant than the Shaanxi earthquake in January 1556 in which there were 830,000 fatalities?
Is the Swine Flu of 2009 in which 10,000 people died really more Biblically significant than the Spanish Flu in 1918 which killed 20-100 million?
Is the Eyjafjallajökull eruption in April in which there were no casualties and no damage to property - even though flights were interrupted across Europe for a few days - is it really more eschatalogically significant than the Mt. Tambora eruption in 1816 which had a death toll of 92,000?
Is the September 11 attacks in the USA in which there were 2,973 victims really more prophetically significant than the Sunni Islamic Ottoman empire which spanned 7.2 million square kilometres of Europe, the Middle East and Africa, waging endless wars killing an innumerable number of people all the way from the year 1299 until the empire finally came to an end in 1923?
Is hurricane Katrina in which 1,836 people died in 2005 and lots of damage was done to property in the city of New Orleans really more significant than the destruction of the city of Jerusalem in AD70 in which 60,000-1,100,000 civilians died, the 1000yr old Temple was destroyed, after which the location remained desolate for nearly 2,000 years?
Are such calamaties really escalating in our generation at a rate and with a ferocity and casualties far worse than at any other time in history? Are men's hearts today failing them for fear, more than during any other event in history?
Remember Bankcard, barcoding, Y2k, Gulf War, 1980s planetary alignment, Fabian Society, Illuminati, Pine Gap, 1970s oil crisis, Cold War, WWII, WW1, Hitler, American Civil War, bubonic plague, Middle-Ages persecutions, numerous historical wars, worldwide empires and economic systems, historical volcanos, pestilences, famines, false Christs, and the destruction of Jerusalem - seeing those tragedies weren't signs of the last generation, upon what grounds are we thinking the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in April in which 11 people died must be a more sure sign of the end?
It's just a question - I'm not even asserting an alternative view - I'm just asking a question. It's amazing how people report that I have an alternative view when really it's they who have a view - I'm just asking a question.
The onus of proof is on those who are making the assertions. Although I haven't said so before, I do think it's become an issue of integrity. If a person makes assertions knowing that he can't back it up without caring so long as it wins souls anyway - well it's still a lie.
I've made other types of mistakes in the past in my life, but I desire to become exemplary especially with my words, like Samuel of whom it is said that he "...grew, and the LORD was with him, and did let none of his words fall to the ground."
None of his words fell to the ground! President Bush said of Prime Minister Howard, "When he says something, you can take it to the bank". I want my words to be like that. In the Judgment we will give account of every idle word we have spoken.
I wouldn't want a single person to go to a lost eternity because my repeated carelessness about end-times predictions turned someone away from having faith in the integrity of the Scriptures.
It's not good enough to say, "Oh well, it makes us evangelize. It wakes people up to realize we're in the last hour". If what we are saying isn't true, it lacks integrity. Sooner or later, it's going to turn someone off from believing.
There is enough power in known truth without needing to concoct spectacular stories which may or may not be true. A person should at least say that it's only an opinion. He should tolerate questions.
If an end-times proponent repeats similar errors over and over again instead of learning from his past errors; and then when someone questions it, if instead of addressing the question with integrity he changes the topic or shifts the focus into an attack on the person asking the question meanwhile repeating the same errors without caring as long as it wins souls and sells books - what's up with that!
"Be ye perfect as I am perfect," says the Lord.
I'm not asserting an altnerative view. Who knows, maybe my questions will be answered and I will start believing exactly as others do. But for now, I have a question, not a view.
My question is not about the soon return of the Lord or about soul-winning - I have no questions about that. I only question what are the grounds for being so sure that the microchip really has any more to do with the mark of the beast than barcoding, Bankcard, tattooing, Catholic indulgences or Nero did.
Down through the centuries, Bible commentaries such as Wesley, Matthew Henry, Geneva Study Bible, and Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown had a different take on end-times Scriptures. The view often repeated today is a more recent Americanized view popularized by Schofield and Hal Lyndsay - it isn't the traditional view that was held by many of the great revivalists, reformers, evangelists and missionaries of the Church.
Many people today now repeat the ideas which were popularized by the Americans Schofield and Lyndsay without checking first what other great men of God traditionally believed about the same Scriptures, and often without even checking to see if the Bible really said such things at all. Like:
Where does the Bible say there is going to be a seven-year Tribulation?
Where does the Bible say there is going to be a one-world Government?
Why isn't the Antichrist mentioned in the Book of Revelation?
Why isn't the term "The Great Tribulation" in the Bible (KJV)?
Why did Jesus say all those signs would be fulfilled within His generation? why did He say some people wouldn't even have died yet before it happens?
Wasn't part of Matthew 24 an answer to the question about the fall of Jerusalem which later happened in AD70? If all of Matthew 24 is about the end of the world and the second coming, why did Jesus tell them to flee from the city of Jerusalem, and to pray it doesn't happen in winter, and to wish not to be pregnant at the time? Why would it matter if Jesus was coming? and why the Jerusalem-focus if it applied universally to Gentile believers also?
Why did Jesus say the twelve apostles wouldn't even have had time to finish their tour of preaching throughout Judean cities before these things happen?
Why is everyone concerned about Gog and Magog attacking Israel later this year when according to the Book of Revelation the battle of Gog and Magog won't take place until after the 1,000 years?
Where does the Bible say a replica Jewish temple will be rebuilt? Do you believe it must be rebuilt, brother?
Why did John expect his first-century readers to be able to identify the beast based on the numerical value of his name, in the first century?
Why did John say that one of the kings associated with the beast was someone who "now is", that is, who was already alive and in office in the first century?
If a future Antichrist is going to deceive the Jews into thinking he is their Messiah, wouldn't he have to be a Jew? The Jews know Messiah comes from the Tribe of Judah - a direct descendant of David. So the Antichrist can't be the European Union, or President Obama, or Islam.
And if the Bible does say such things, why not see what other great men of God besides Schofield and Lyndsay believed about those Scriptures?
Those are some questions which, when I ask, instead of giving me an answer, people always change the topic and usually accuse me of something like not focusing on souls.
They accuse me of having an alternative view, when really it's Schofield and Lyndsay who invented an alternative view to what was historically the Orthodox view.
To me, if predictions based on a premise keep failing, then the premise needs to be questioned.
I really want to know the truth. I have no interest in being sensational about things if my words are going to fall to the ground.
I don't want to be the author of a book like, "Eighty-Eight Reasons Why Jesus is Coming Back in '88" - regardless of how many souls the book might win.
"Buy the truth, and sell it not" - Proverbs 23:23
I think I can honestly say that I seek to be a lover of truth:
"...they received not the love of the truth..."
At the end of the day, truth will inspire more evangelism, and truth will win more souls for eternity, than anything else.
Are the current affairs of our generation really more signficant than that of previous generations? That's all I'm asking.
I still believe the task of the hour is soul-winning.
I still believe Jesus is coming soon. When I say soon, I mean "soon" compared with eternity. I tend to believe Jesus can come at any hour, although I'm not 100% sure about that.
Do you believe Jesus can come at any hour? Most people say they do, but really don't. For example, most End-Times preachers believe a temple must first be rebuilt in Jerusalem. How many years would that take to construct?
Most End-Times preachers believe the calamities we are experiencing are only "the beginnings of sorrows, but the end is not yet". So how many more years could it take before things escalate?
So, they don't really believe He can come at any hour. But I tend to believe, although I'm not sure, that Jesus could come right now, if the Father wills. It's possible for me to consider this view because I'm not so convinced like End-Times preachers are that a temple needs to first be rebuilt in Jerusalem.
I'm not so convinced that there needs to first come a major escalation in natural calamities. Those signs and calamities preceded the fall of Jerusalem in AD70, just like Jesus said they would; those calamities have also been happening in every generation ever since. I question whether it's factual that they have escalated in our generation or even whether they need to before Jesus can come back.
I know a lot of believers say calamities have escalated - but does anyone else think so? do unbelievers think so? are unbelievers hearts failing them for fear?
Because I question what has become the popular view, it means I actually have a stronger sense that Jesus could come at any hour than people can who have the popular belief system. In the popular belief system, Jesus can't come unless there is an escalation of calamities first; or perhaps He can't even come unless there is a rebuilt Temple first. But because I question whether that's necessarily Scriptural, it means I'm open to the possibility that He could actually come right now today.
In other words, even though End-Times pundits often switch the topic into an accusation of not focusing on souls and eternity - it means I can actually have a stronger urgency about such things than people can who hold theirpopular view - because I can be open to the idea that maybe nothing more needs to happen first before He can come: maybe He can come today.
Do you see what I mean? The popular view says, "This, this and this is now happening worse than ever before [even if it isn't happening] - therefore this and this may happen soon - and after that, Jesus can come"; whereas because I question that, I'm more open to the idea that says, "Maybe Jesus can come right now today because all those signs have already been happening for nearly 2,000 years". Get it?
I question whether the signs of which Jesus spoke were ever meant to indicate the final generation before Jesus comes. There probably will be no indication of the final generation. That day will take everyone by surprise.
Rather, I think the purpose of the signs was to indicate when the destruction of the Temple was near so that the disciples could escape the city with their lives (AD70); and it was meant to describe the signs which would accompany every subsequent generation, showing the entire Church age in every generation beginning on the day of Pentecost and continuing to the present, that these are indeed the "last days", the "last hour".
I think the Holy Spirit has always told believers in every generation that they need to be prepared for Christ to come at an hour when they think not. Does that mean there didn't need to be an escalation of calamities or certain things happening before Jesus could have come?
By being open to the idea that Jesus can come today, am I being too urgent? am I missing it that things first must escalate and a Temple has first to be rebuilt?
I welcome any helful input you may have.