The World Will End Soon, in 2011, or was that 2012 or is it 2018 or...........
by Rev. Dennis Hartman
Published Feb. 16, 2011
A Global Economic Melt Down Is Coming.
The United States Will Soon be Gone.
China Will Rule the World.
The Planets are Lining Up For Disaster.
Israel Will be Nuked.
And What Did Christ Say For Sure About the End Times???????
Acts 1:6-11 6 When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? 7 And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. 8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. 9 And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. 10 And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; 11 Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.
Over the years IMARC has touched on several key theological issues of our time. But there is another area in which IMARC has also been interested and have touched on both mockingly and seriously. That is, Bible Prophecy. IMARC does not take a particular position on this subject, except to defend Christ's bodily and physical second coming, the resurrection from the grave. At that point the world will be judged and so too all of our works. The point of contention is that we have a current crop of "Bible prophets" or teachers of prophecy, who do not know it all nor has God inspired them to prophesy as in the days of the Bible. IMARC believes that what is written is written and that all inspired prophecy is by God Almighty himself. That men wrote faithfully what God inspired them to write. That that prophecy is in the Bible, and there are those things that human interpretation can totally miss and thereby mislead people.
One objection is the date of the Book of Revelation in spite of the volumes of debate on its date it still is largely unproven no matter what the modern teachers teach. And that there is far to much sensationalism involved in the contemporary view of Pre-Millennial Dispensationalism no matter who teaches it. But before we move on, we need to digress here.
This view of Pre-Millennial Dispensationalism is generally rephrased as, "teaching just what the Bible says." In other words, it is no longer a theory or a model used to understand difficult prophetic passages, as much as it is now a so called fact. If it is a fact, then therefore they are teaching the facts. So they would deny that they hold to Pre-Millennial Dispensational view, but instead they are just teaching what the Bible says. This is no different then those who teach that the Bible only teaches immersion baptism, Calvinism, and the list goes on. Yet honest students of the Bible have long recognized that the above named concepts are only theories or tools in trying to understand the difficult passages of the Bible and are far from factual. Such honest students of scripture are generally more benevolent toward each others views because they see the real lack of lucidity in these positions. This is the real reason why Wesley spoke of the Catholic Spirit. Not to suffer denial of scriptures and doctrine, but to allow for differences of opinions among Christians. There is a growing tendency today for people who are sold on Pre-Millennial Dispensationalism to insist on using prophecy as the bases of reteaching many of the great doctrines of scripture. This is a fundamental error and it ought to be clearly denounce by the Church as much as any other heresy.
Therefore, this position (Pre-Millennial Dispensationalism) seems to be the worst offender when it comes to predictions in recent times. It has spread its idea's as if they are fundamentals of faith across the world spectrum of Christian theological thought. Of course if one holds to such a view, and watches the world events, he would be sure to find enough tidbits that would seem to fit the above model. Alas the same is true for those who hold to a post-millenial view of prophecy too.
When Jesus cited the above, he personally took time to served notice on this nonsense almost two thousand years ago. Note that his response came as an answer to the disciples question concerning when the end will come. He says, "It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power." Take note to the word "NOT." This is a clear admonition against the position of those who hold so dogmatically to any of the ideas that stem from Pre-Millennial Dispensationalism or any other theory of prophecy. Not only does Jesus serve us warning in Acts, but also in the Gospels. However today this is largely ignored or parsed away in spite or our Lord's clear statements. Prophecy has become a major money making tool and a real litmus test for many in Fundamentalist and Evangelical circles. Not to believe in Pre-Millennial Dispensationalism is to be called less then a real believer. Indeed, even an apostate. The same is true of immersion, eternal security and the Calvinist doctrines.
Some years ago, while taking a course on the history of Islam, there was a major research paper required for those of us taking it as post grad work. In this research there was discovered a transcript of a debate published by the "Ethics and Public Policy Center." A man by the name of Dr. Lamin Sanneh made the following remark as he compared the growth of Christianity to that of Islam. He says, "Christianity, by contrast, expands in a series of attrition and fresh growth - here today, there tomorrow." So what is he saying? Compared to Islam who takes strong holds by human force and logic, not so with the Spirit God. That is, the Church grows by fits and spurts. This compares to John 3:8 where our Lord teaches, " The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit." This then seems to be the style of growth in the universal Church victorious. The power of God moves silently but radically as it convicts mankind of their sins. It can work individually or in large groups. But most importantly is that it works at his own tempo. His timing and not ours. And at times when the hour is the darkest, his light of love and grace come streaming in. And of course, some times he choses not to do anything and remains in utter silence.
Look at history. The patterns of God's moving are all of their own. Many times in human history God intervened by one man who withstood reproach of the mighty, or an army that seemed to have every reason to win and made a move that cost them the battle. Why is it that people pray all their lives for a revival but it never comes to their community or country? Yet revivals come so easily in other places? There are two points to be made here. First is that God will do as he pleases. While praying for revival is very acceptable and that from time to time those requests are honored, he does as he will. This is part of the character of our Heavenly Father. The point is, that we have no right to think that we can order God to do anything or that we know exactly what God is doing in world events. Like when Jesus walked with us, we can only present ourselves and our needs to Christ. Second is that God loves the world that he created. And his love is aimed particularly at the human race. He loved us so much that he sent his son to be offered on the cross on our behalf. We do not have to offer our sons or daughters in order to gain favor with him. He freely gave all of himself for us.
Into this world then he gave the gift of the Holy Spirit. This gift lives in the hearts of every one who is born again. It is clearly received at the new birth or conversion to Christ. It is the Spirit that allows the church, no matter how diverse it is, to speak with one voice but in many different languages. It speaks only of the love of Christ and our desire to serve him in holy living. The Spirit never speaks of himself.
With such power in the hearts of changed men, the world itself was bound to be changed too. It started on the day of Pentecost and continues until today. It is a restless Spirit that is in our soul. It is ever searching the hearts of men, those who are saved and those who are lost. It speaks every language of the world, and thrives in every culture. It is an unbending testimony and enemy against sin, and the arrogance of the highly educated elite political culture of our time. This is the same Holy Spirit that speaks to all levels of society around the world. It is he that gives power to those who will obey and to be the salt of the earth. It is he that convicts all of sin, and gives strength to those who seek to do his good will.
Since Pentecost the world has changed and is changing still. One does need to go far in history until this change becomes apparent. In his book, "What's So Great about Christianity," Mr. Dinesh D'Souza gives us about as good of an overview of the impact of Christianity on history as any. He clearly shows the impact and good that has occurred since Christ has baptized all who believe by pouring out his Spirit. He gave the Church the power it needs to overcome not only the world but to also, in many respects, transform the world. Since Pentecost the world has become more compassionate to the poor, sick, and the needy. It has made a difference where ever it went. It also liberated people from wicked and evil governments as well as evil itself. Ruthless dictators, socialist elites and atheist misfit leaders have in all to many cases painted a target on the Christian believer. Interestingly, because of the Spirit, he has given us the power to still love such people.
The Spirit speaks expressly freedom in Christ. Not freedom to sin, but from sin, or not to have to sin. It frees the human spirit that was in bondage to sin, and from the greatest slave driver of all, Satan, who is the father of all lairs and murders. It is this Christianity, even in its weakest form, that is the major threat to the worlds supposed new order. While the political elites have pitted Islam against Judaism, and Christianity, with their elitist styled multiculturalism, most, except for our nations elites, have now backed down and said that it was a bad idea. Yet after this honest admission, many of the political elites will not lift a finger to stop what they did. Why? Seemingly to them, Islam is more preferred then Christian faith that not only sets the heart free, but also demands real justice, and not the jaded "equality" on which they base their moral justification for their actions.
No matter. In all this, until our Lord returns, we have a command. That command is to move forward. Preach the word in season and out of season. To be faithful in that task. Never to back down. Pray for them that wrongly abuse us and for our leaders too. Or goal, whether Pre-Millennial Dispensationalism agrees are not, is to convert the whole world. We may become disheartened. But we are to take courage. We are to be doing until he returns. Instant in season and out of season, remembering that our real enemy is not those in the flesh, but the devil himself. The idea that when the "last elect person gets saved then the Lord will return," is found no where in scripture nor is there any warrant for that except if you are a Calvinist who sees nothing but that philosophy in the scriptures. We do not know what time God will direct his Son to return. Jesus said, that is none of our concern. What is important is that we move forward..
The bottom line is simple. The Church is not to be viewed as some strange creature or organization until God gathers Israel back to its land. This is a heresy base on the odd teaching of Dispensationalism. It is a shameful thing too. The Church has always been.
We sing there is "power in the blood." We preach that the gates of hell can not withstand the Church. Yet, with our modern understanding of prophecy, we cave and say, alas, these are the last days and we wait to be raptured out of this place of misery. Even the greatest teachers of Pre-Millennial Dispensationalism argue over when the rapture will occur. That is odd being that they have every thing else so correctly figured out.
I am not so certain that the "fat lady" has sung or is about to sing. While it could be that this popular position of prophecy is correct, and what we are seeing is the real prelude to the end of the world, I am not so sure of it based on scripture itself. I would ask, if you are so sure, would you give me all your earthly weath while you wait?
In conclusion let me cite once again Dr. Lamin Sanneh statement. "Christianity, by contrast, expands in a series of attrition and fresh growth - here today, there tomorrow." I summarized it by saying that the Church grows in fits and spurts. I also compared this to John 3:8 where our Lord teaches, " The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit." Then I said, "this then is the order of the Church universal."
My dear reader, who is to say that this is the final hour, and not just merely a low point of history? A point at which the church many times has found itself. The Bible simply says that we are to "Occupy till I (he) come(s)." No where in the Bible are we commanded to figure out how he will return or even when. Therefore, all these predictions that we read on the internet, in books at the local book stores, and hear on the radio and television, should be taken with a big grain of salt. Again while we do grant the possibility that Pre-Millennial Dispensationalism which has become the orthodox view of many in modern Christianity may be right, it also may be wrong. The view that IMARC is giving also has major support from the scripture, plus it does not have to be reinterpreted or to be carefully parsed to understand it. In this area I would strongly suggest that we become as wise as serpents, and as harmless as doves. Let us be more careful in the areas of Bible Prophecy. Our goal is naturally in direct competition with the worlds. A world which Christ came to save, and a world that can not have victory over Church. Are you taking the Gospel into the world and through the Gospel saving the souls of man? Are you planting enough seed so that the Spirit can send a harvest?
Pastor Hartman has been in the ministry for thirty seven years. He graduated from the Institute of Christian Service of Bob Jones University. He also holds B.S. and M.S. degrees from Columbus State University and did post grad work at the same school. He has taught in the public school system for fifteen years, and is currently working with a small private academy. He has traveled once to Russia, three times to the Ukraine, twice to England in a humble effort to help the missionaries spread the Gospel of Christ. After resigning form his pastorate in 2005, he does supply work for other pastors in the community. While he is Independent Methodist, he is currently attending and working with a neat conservative United Methodist Church. If you wish to contact Pastor Hartman, about this article, please feel free to do so.