Free eBooklet on the End Times!

James Preston Reply 7:27 AM
Ok ok! I'm sorry! More End Time stuff. If you're not into it, don't unsubscribe or unfollow. Simply ignore. It'll be over soon.

It'll be over soon because I am very excited to actually officially announce that I will be releasing my first official book soon! This was never meant to be a book, it was meant to be a short magazine article. But the more I wrote, the more I realised it wouldn't fit a magazine article. So, while my first book (yes that's on the cards too) is set to come next year some time, this has turned into my first book. It's more of a booklet than a book, but it sure is long enough to be called a book.

So obviously, this Booklet is consuming quite a bit of my spare time that it only makes sense to share what I have written with you here. Rather than try come up with brand new material each week.

Today's post comes from my Introduction to the booklet. I felt like the booklet needed an introduction. Before this, I just jumped straight into the study. But realised it needed a bit of context.

I hope this introduction inspires you a touch to be the worldchanger God created you to be. And also whets your appetite for the free booklet which hopefully will be available within the next 2 weeks or so!

What you have here is my initial title for the Booklet. Please give me your thoughts. Is it a bit too heavy-handed? What do you think?

Anyways, enjoy...

DISMANTLING THE END-TIMES OBSESSION
INTRODUCTION

This entire booklet is an introduction, really. An introduction to the various views on the End Times. Most people I know don’t have much of a view on the End Times. But there is that select few that are so vigorously passionate about it that every news headline is another piece in the puzzle of the consummation of the ages. You know who I’m talking about.

This booklet probably isn’t for those people. Although I wish it were. The reality is, such people would shrug this book off as radical left-wing liberalism.

This book is for those of you who don’t quite know where you stand on the End Times. And hopefully open your mind to alternative perspectives to what Western Christianity has been exposed to for so many years.

You see, the reason the dispensationalist “rapture theory” has become so popular in the Western Church is because very few theologians have been passionate enough about the End Times to propose an alternative. And the reason for that is well-studied theologians are so aware that the End Times is so subjective that preaching it with such strong opinion is probably too irresponsible. And yet, by keeping quiet, they have allowed the “rapture theory” to consume the church and become the norm of her End Time beliefs.

The fact of the matter is the “rapture theory”, or dispensational premillennialism, is only one of four theories on the End Times which all hold equal Scriptural, and early church theological, support.

I have written this book to help open your mind, and introduce you to the alternatives. I am not a theologian. I am a minister of the Gospel who has been studying and preaching the Scripture since 2002 with desperate passion, hungry only to see the power of God’s Gospel impact the world like He said it would.

So I don’t sit here today claiming to be an expert. I am not. I readily put it to you that I don’t know what will happen tomorrow. next week, next year, or the next decade. I am happy and secure to tell you that I don’t know whether all the Christians will get raptured before a devastating time of tribulation for planet Earth.

I don’t know whether World War 3 will break out, or whether society will descend into chaos as the result of disease epidemics or financial crisis. I really cannot say what will or won’t happen in the future.

What I can say is that I am hopeful. Very hopeful.

I believe in a God who is bigger than the world’s problems. And more secure than any of us could ever imagine. And this God stepped deep into the bowels of broken humanity to fix her up and make her better.

I believe in a God who redeemed us so greatly and so majestically that what we are capable of would make most of us shake our heads in disbelief.

I believe we are more powerful than we think we are. I believe in the power of Love. Unconditional Love. It is the most powerful force in the Universe. And when applied appropriately, can literally turn things upside down.

I believe in that. Turning things upside down.

I believe we can turn things upside down. I believe we can turn things around. I believe the world doesn’t have to descend into chaos. Not if we have something to say about it. And we must.

God is waiting for us to make our moves. He has been waiting ever since He said through His son that we are the salt of the Earth and the light of the world, here to make things better.

After the Cross, you would’ve expected Jesus to start the overturning of the kingdoms. The disciples most certainly did. That’s why they asked Him if He was about to restore the kingdom to Israel in Acts 1:6. Instead, Jesus brushed the question aside, and gave them a promise that He was going to pour out His Spirit on them in order to be the salt and light He always destined them to be. And then He left them. For 2014+ years.

That’s what I believe.

So no, I don’t know what will happen tomorrow. But I do know what I have been given today.

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That's it for now! The introduction has quite a bit more, but without the rest of the Booklet it won't make much sense here. For now, please give me your CONSTRUCTIVE thoughts and criticism in the comments below!


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4 Reasons From A Pastor Why The World Will Not End Soon

James Preston Reply 11:20 AM
Ok, so yes... another post about the End of the World. This is my third in a month. I apologise if you're getting tired of it. But I just can't help it. With so much bad news in the media in recent weeks, fear-mongering is at an all-time high. And someone needs to be a voice of reason! Especially in Christian circles, where the apocalypse has been the centre of discussion for the last 100 years or so (since World War 1).

Having said that, I do realise that I am not the authority on world events. No one is. I can assuredly tell you that there is no "prophet" on earth who could give you even a decent estimation as to how the world may "end" or when. Not even Jesus Himself laid claim to such predictions, stating "of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone." (Matthew 24:36)

So the reality is this... things are volatile right now. I am very much aware of that. And things could go wrong. They could possibly get worse...

  • The world's current financial systems seem to be on their last legs
  • The Middle East is in turmoil
  • Russia are looking to take over Northern Europe
  • The USA's police force is causing mass rioting
  • The list goes on

I don't know what could happen in the future. But I believe and hope that the future is brighter than what we are experiencing right now! After all, the Gospel that us Christians are meant to be believing is one that is meant to impart HOPE!

So yes; I say what I say as an optimist. One who is convinced of the goodness in society. I say it with hope. Hope that 2000 years ago Love was sown into the world and it is growing at a rapid rate. Sure, the "tares" may be growing with it (Matt. 13:24-30), but Love is the harvest. This world is not a harvest field of hate and corruption, it is a harvest field of Love. Hate and corruption are the small weeds in the field that don't deserve the credit they are getting in the media today.

Explanatory disclaimer over. Let's get to what I really believe...

These points come out of a sermon I preached on Sunday night 17 August.

1. God doesn't want His children to fear

Like any good father, God doesn't want His children to live in fear. That means that He will do everything He can to ensure His children can overcome challenges and not have to worry or fear about the future. And if worst comes to worst, we can endure painful tribulation with His supernatural strength getting us through it, knowing there is a reward of His eternal Presence on the other side of this life.

But in general, in this life, He doesn't want us living in fear. He wants us living in peace with one another, and looking forward to a bright future.

1 John 4:18
There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.

God IS Love. It is not in His nature to perpetuate fear.

2 Timothy 1:7
for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.


2. History is full of horrendous events, yet Jesus didn’t come back. What makes us think current events are any different? 

Think about these events for a second...

- Desolation of Jerusalem (70AD)
- Pompeii (79AD)
- The Crusades
- Bubonic Plague (Black Death)
- American Civil War
- World Wars 1 and 2

These are just a few from memory. There are many many more terrifying events that have bedevilled this planet since the crucifixion of Christ. The humans that were on the receiving end of these terrifying, apocalyptic events must've thought for sure that the end was near.

These events also seemed to fulfil many of the seeming prophecies about the End Times. But Jesus didn't come back. What makes us think current events are any more special (or worse) than these above events?


3. God has given US the world as our inheritance, so the enemy’s rise of power is both illegal & temporary

We know that hate, selfishness, greed, control, don't come from God. They are from the other camp. And this world doesn't belong to that camp. It belongs to those in the camp of Love.

Psalm 115:16
The heavens are the Lord's heavens,
    but the earth he has given to the children of man.

God gave earth to us humans. We gave handed it to the enemy in the garden of eden, but Jesus redeemed our title-deed and He gave it back to us. It's time we stood our ground and took this world back. This world belongs in the hands of Love.

God is not going to come back and do this for us. He is waiting for us to step up to the plate.

The promise of the Gospel includes the promise of inheriting this world!

Romans 4:13
For the promise to Abraham and his offspring that he would be heir of the world did not come through the law but through the righteousness of faith.
Galatians 3:14 then goes on to say "in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles"


4. The Gospel is a Message of Hope and Power, not fear and defeat - move in the opposite spirit!

If your faith causes you to fear the future, I doubt it is based on the Gospel the apostle Paul preached.

His faith was based on a POWERFUL, world-changing Gospel! In fact, it did indeed change the world! All until "religion" took over and got the better of it, using it for man's own selfish desires. (That's what religion does, it takes the Truth and turns it around for its own desires).

Romans 1:16 - 17 
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”

My friend, I don't know about you... but I live by faith. Faith in the fact that there is more good in this world than we realise. And we will see society get better. And I can be part of that.

Will you believe with me?

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If this Blog inspired you and made you think a little differently to all the fear-mongering going around right now, I would love it if you could please forward it on to someone who you think could do with some encouragement. Thank you.

Keep changing the world! It's what you were born for.


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The Essence of Christianity

James Preston Reply 7:18 AM
Christianity is selfless. The wisdom of this world can often, unwittingly, lean toward selfishness.

Now, the thing is: There IS wisdom to be found in the world, there are elements of truth and nuggets of golden wisdom to be found in the world, but if not sprinkled with the Love of God, this wisdom can become about how it helps ME and MY life being better.

 There is nothing wrong with "blessing". It is the heart of God. He created His children from the beginning and wanted to bless them!

But at the very core of the Christian belief is that any blessing, any ability and opportunity to live our dreams and our passion, is always to be a blessing to others and make the world a better place.

Are We In The End Times?

James Preston Reply 8:26 AM
This week's Blog is a pre-cursor to the release of my first book. I'm pretty excited about it, because, well... IT'S MY FIRST BOOK!!

But I didn't mean for it to be my first book. My first book was meant to be something a lot closer to my heart and life message. This was meant to be a shortish study on the End Times. But after weeks of trying to make it all work, this verbose writer realised the best way for him to complete this work was to just WRITE. It turns out I had a lot more to say than I initially planned. So the study has turned into a bit of a book. More of a booklet, but I will be putting it into PDF format so you can read it on your Kindle etc. Maybe even print it out.

So, this week I have spent much of my spare time writing. Especially this morning. From 4:30am to now (8:21am). This is what I have so far.

I will update this Blog Post later on in the morning with a few final paragraphs (for the day), and some emphases and headlines. The Booklet itself will be finished by Wednesday next week, with chapters and a cover and all.

If you are looking for some liberating End Time theology... READ ON! And please, let me know your thoughts...

----------------------

DISMANTLING THE END-TIMES OBSESSION
(My current title - if you have suggestions let me know!)

CHAPTER 1
The Great Tragedy

Ask a Western Christian “Do Christians get raptured before the tribulation or after the tribulation?” and most of them would know what you are talking about. In fact, most would have an opinion for you. But ask a Western Christian whether they are a “Postmillennialist”,  “Amillennialist” or “Dispensational Premillennialist”, and you would most likely get a few confused looks in response.

This is a great tragedy in the Western church. Allow me to explain why.

Christians are obsessed with the End Times. There are two primary reasons for this: Firstly, as Christians we are naturally excited for seeing Jesus in His manifest Glory. This is a good reason! Any Christian in their right mind should long and be excited for the day Jesus returns!

The second reason for our obsession with the End Times is slightly less honourable, and is due to humanity’s natural fear of calamity. The moment Adam and Eve ate of ‘The Tree’ their disposition became one of fear*. And since then, seated deeply within the consciousness of mankind is a fear that something bad might happen. Whether it be while walking in the street, or in the greater expectation of the future.

Combine this fear with Apocalyptic writings like St. John’s “Revelation” and you end up with Western Christianity’s obsession.

Humanity’s predisposition toward fear has skewed its approach to how it interprets the apocalyptic writings of Scripture.

Apocalyptic writings are books and passages based on visions the author had in order to encourage the people of their day during times of persecution. Modern Christianity has so associated these writings (Daniel, Ezekiel, Revelation) with tragedy and the end of the world, that society in general now uses the word “apocalyptic” synonymously with great calamity and destruction. This is unfortunate.

John, the author of the book of Revelation, wrote some incredible encouragements in his first epistle. Among my personal favourites is 1 John 4:18 -
There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.” (ESV)

Just think about that for a second…

No fear.

None.

That’s a big deal! If there is no fear in Love, and God is Love, and Perfect Love casts out fear; why is it that so much of Modern Christianity’s message invokes fear? Even if it is around the end times.

Last time I checked, our Lord commissioned us to go and proclaim “Good News”. Something isn’t lining up.

Telling people that a world leader is going to rise to power and take control of all the world’s economy, and isn’t going to treat people very well or fairly, or that World War 3 is soon to break out, or that earthquakes are going to reshape entire cities, just doesn’t seem like good news to me. IE. Doesn’t seem to fit the instruction we were given by our Lord.

Herein lies part of the great tragedy: When it comes to “eschatology” (the study of the End Times), the Scriptures provide strong evidence for four primary theories. Not just one. Each of them as well supported as the other.

Now why is this a great tragedy? For two reasons: One: Of the four theories, the theory that is most popular in Western Christianity today is the most fear-inducing. Two: It is the least supported theory by the church fathers and theologians throughout history. Do you see the tragedy?

Christianity is meant to carry a message of Hope for the world. If our focus shifts from the hope-bringing Savior of the world onto a theory of how He will judge the world , a theory that is one of only three and isn’t even as well supported as the others, and doesn’t provide much Hope for the world but rather induces fear; then we owe it to ourselves to at least re-evaluate our position.

I wouldn’t be writing this if the overwhelming majority of Christian doctrine founded by the church fathers was clear on what should be believed about the End-Times. If the church fathers had agreed on a doctrine that said that many years in the future the world was going to go through a great tribulation so devastating God would have to “rapture” Christians away before it happened, then I would seriously consider this theory as a strong possibility of what could be expected.

But the fact is, the doctrine is not clear. It is not a clear doctrine dogmatically and unanimously decided upon and taught by the church fathers. In fact, it barely came up in their teachings. They were too focussed on what Christ’s work had accomplished and how it affected all of creation. And actually, almost the opposite is true: the church fathers, while clearly not focussed on this doctrine, taught radically differently things about the End Times than what is currently believed by most of Western Christianity.



CHAPTER 2
How I Got Here

Let’s come back to the church fathers’ focus on what Christ accomplished at the Cross. It was here that my journey began. God took me back to what really mattered: The Cross and what it accomplished. The further I delved into just how vast Christ’s Work was, the less I worried about any sideline doctrine. (when I say sideline doctrine, I mean a doctrine that does not affect our salvation, a doctrine that it is of less importance than say the Trinity). As I journeyed further still, I found myself in the disconcerting and humbling position of having to let go of so much of what I had believed for so long in my Christian walk.

The revelation of just how great Christ’s work on the Cross was is the single most important revelation to any Christian. It was here that I began to realise my understanding of the End Times just didn’t seem to line up.

I became consumed with Paul’s writings on the New Covenant. His epistles to the Romans, Colossians, Galatians, Ephesians, Corinthians, I was seeing them in a new light! For the first time in my own life I could see just how powerful and life-changing a revelation Paul had of what Christ accomplished! It changed his life forever! And it had changed mine.

Paul spent 14 years unpacking and studying the revelation he had on the road to Damascus. And those 14 years of deep study come through strongly in his writings. He clearly knew that Christ’s Work changed everything. Everything.

As I, along with many others undergoing a similar renewal around the world, delved deeper into understanding what Christ accomplished, I realised His work was too great to simply get people into heaven and save them from hell.

There was far more to it.

Just have a look at this remarkable statement Paul makes in his letter to the Colossians…

For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.
~ Colossians 1:19 - 20 (ESV)

Christ’s work on the Cross reconciled all things, whether they be in heaven or on earth.

All things?!

Christ’s work is greater than any of us could ever imagine!

Over and over I kept seeing the theme that Christ’s work infected every area of the very Universe itself.

As I became more clear in my understanding of the “Finished Work of the Cross”, I found myself reading articles in modern Christian magazines or hearing preachers on Christian TV and Radio speaking about the End Times with a strange dissonance in my heart. I could not align a God who “so loved the world that He gave everything He had for it” with a God who was going to destroy that same world with earthquakes and a rain of fire.

Eventually this dissonance became too much. I had to see if there really was more to it than what I had been taught my entire life about the End Times. And I was pleasantly surprised…

Turns out everything I, along with so many of my peers, believed about the End Times had a shakier foundation than a Tower of Pisa! I merely lifted one stone and uncovered a whole new world of End Time interpretation.

It didn’t take long for me to make sense of the dissonance in my heart. There was good reason for it!


CHAPTER 3
Four Biblically-Sound Views On The End Times

Did you know that there are FOUR primary interpretations of the Apocalyptic Scriptures (Daniel, Ezekiel, Matthew 24, Thessalonians, Revelation etc.)? And of the four, the three others do not believe in a “rapture” like much of the modern western church. On that alone, that’s 75% of solid, theological support in favour of an alternative!

That’s right, we are talking, well-respected, often-quoted, highly-regarded, deeply-loved, heroes-of-the-faith men and women who have passed down to us years of Biblical Systematic Theology. These men and women would surprise most of the church with their End Time beliefs. And probably get kicked out if they were to come and speak on the subject at some of America’s great mega churches. Not all, but some.

So, what exactly did they believe?

Let’s find out…

The four views are primarily centred around “the millennium” as described in Revelation 20, and when Christ returns to Earth. That is the one thing all four viewpoints have in common: That Jesus will return in bodily form. But whether this be before the millennium, after the millennium etc. all depends on interpretation.

Viewpoint 1: Amillennialism

St. Augustine (AD 354 - 430) believed that there was no “rapture” as we know it today. He believed that the Millennium was happening here and now. After Jesus ascended into Heaven, He took His place and King of kings, and has been reigning from Heaven through His church in the spirit ever since, affecting and impacting Earth in radically positive ways. He was going to come back in glory, judge the world, defeat evil once and for all, and rule and reign for all eternity. This interpretation is called “Amillennialism”, and is one of the most supported interpretations by the church fathers.

Polycarp, a friend of John the Apostle, held to this view. Origen, Clement of Alexandria, and many other great church fathers taught Apocalyptic Scripture through this lens.

John Calvin and most of the Reformers held strongly to Amillennialism. Most Reformed Theologians still hold to it. Unfortunately, the Reformers were so strong in their opinions (something I need to be weary of) that their theology gave rise to Adolf Hitler’s skewed belief system and his subsequent attempt to decimate the Jewish nation. This is a prime example of religion. Religion will make you do horrendous atrocities in the name of God. God Himself will compel you to love all and sundry.

In more modern times, Amillennialism is still strongly held to by the Roman Catholic Church (don’t you love their new Pope by the way?) as well as the Eastern Orthodox Church. Anglicans and Methodists still openly hold to it, and the likes of Jay Adams, Herschel Hobbs and the great J.I. Packer all hold to this perspective, as well.

Amillennialists don’t believe in “the great tribulation” as some specific time period set aside for the world to literally go through hell. They believe the great tribulations as spoken about in Revelation 9 refers to the difficulty faced by Christians in a world not yet fully under the control of Christ’s Kingship. This could be radical persecution as faced by the early church and apostles or those in the modern-day Middle East, or any persecution Christians may face for their faith.

There is also a common theme among many of the End Time perspectives that Revelation 9’s seals and trumpets of destruction referred to the Romans’ decimation of Jerusalem in 70 AD. But more on that later.

Because of this theme that much of the apocalyptic Scripture was fulfilled in 70 AD, amillennialists don’t have any specific signs to point to when Christ may return. He could come back at any moment, and it is in the best interest of every man and woman to be ready and expectant.

Viewpoint 2: Postmillennialism

Postmillennialism and Amillennialism are very similar. So much so that the likes of Augustine, John Calvin and Jonathan Edwards often get confused as being one or the other.  As the name suggests, the only real difference is that Jesus will return after the millennium.

*** (TO BE COMPLETED…) ***


Viewpoint 3: Historical Premillennialism

The amillennial view on tribulation (and even the rapture) may seem radically different to what you’ve always been taught for so many years, but it is a common theme not only among Amillennialists, but among “Historical Premillennialists” as well. The second perspective of the End Times.

Some forms of Historical Premillennialism hold to a similar understanding of tribulation as Amillennialism. Although some Historical Premillennialists believe there may be a short time of intense persecution toward the end of time. But most believe the tribulation is merely the constant tribulation the church has faced throughout history.

What makes Historical Premillennialism different to Amillennialism is, as the name suggests, the belief that the Millennial reign of Christ as referred to in Revelation 20 will only begin upon His return. But like Amillennialists, they don’t believe in a “rapture”. It will simply be a case of Christ returning to Earth in glory and beginning His thousand year reign on Earth with the saints. After this thousand year reign will come judgment day, and the saved will spend eternity with Him in Heaven. (Remember though that we need to keep in mind the location of Heaven itself is debatable, as we see in Revelation 21 both “a new heaven and a NEW EARTH DESCENDING out of heaven” ~ Revelation 21:1 - 2).

This view on the End Times and apocalyptic Scripture is also strongly supported by the early church fathers such as Justin Martyr, Tertullian of Carthage and Papias of Hierapolis who was a first century student of John the Apostle himself. He coined one of my favourite lines on the subject…

After the resurrection of dead, there will be a Millennium, when the personal reign of the Messiah will be established on this Earth… All animals, feeding only on what the earth itself produces, will become peaceable and harmonious, submitting themselves to humanity.”
~ Papia of Hierapolis
“Fragments” (95 - 120 AD)

Like Amillennialism, this viewpoint was also popular among many Protestant theologians, specifically Baptist Theologian John Gill, along with Benjamin Wills Newton, founder of the Brethren movement. Charles Spurgeon was another famous Historical Premillennialist, and more recently Oswald J Smith, Corrie Ten Boom and David Dockery.

The Fourth and final viewpoint, Premillennial Dispensationalism, is so different from the other 3, that I am devoting an entire chapter to it, in order to give you a trail of how it came to be the most widespread End Time belief in the church today.


CHAPTER 4
How a War Started a Movement

Viewpoint 4: Premillennial Dispensationalism  

Let’s come back to Benjamin Wells Newton, founder of the Brethren movement… Here was a man with a passion to do the work of God, like many of us. (Heck, if you’ve read this far you must have a great passion!) But he had a close friend, arguably his best friend, who went on to become one of the most influential people in modern Christianity in the West. All thanks to World Wars I and II, and a chap named Hal Lindsey.

Benjamin Wells Newton and John Nelson Darby both left the Anglican Church in England in the early 1800’s, and went on to establish the Brethren Movement together. But another split was coming… John Nelson Darby became increasingly obsessed with “dispensationalism” - the various ways in which God deals with people throughout the various epochs of history. Newton believed, like many Christians, that there were 3 primary dispensations: The epoch of Adam to Abraham. The epoch of Abraham to Christ. And the epoch of the New Covenant after Christ’s ascension.

Darby on the other hand became engrossed in his study of the nation of Israel, becoming so encapsulated that his beliefs led him to separate God’s modern (post-Cross) dealing with Israel from how God deals with the church. A conundrum which led Darby to question what Christ’s work on the Cross actually accomplished. A conundrum that Benjamin Wills Newton could no longer tolerate. Neither could the world’s most famous preacher at the time, Charles Spurgeon, who published an entire article in response to what, in his eyes, had become a dangerous heresy.

Darby’s strange view on Israel led to his belief that God was going to “rapture” the church away from Earth before the great tribulation of Revelation 9, and begin a final establishment of Israel’s authority on Earth, from where He would eventually reign with all of the church.

It was here, in the mid 1800’s, that the popular “Dispensational Premillennialism” was birthed.

This is the theory we so commonly understand as the “pre-tribulation rapture”. That the church will get raptured, secretly and surprisingly, before the Earth undergoes horrendous tribulation of an anti-christ, natural disasters, and armageddon in Israel.

Although regarded as a heresy by much of the church for the most part of the 1800’s, the theory gained rapid popularity not long after World War II.

The Great Wars, from 1914 right the way through to 1945 (with a break between 1918 and 1939) were the beginning of a shift in the church’s hope for humanity. Humans were committing atrocities on each other on scales never before experienced. And thanks to new film and print technologies, the masses were witnessing these atrocities firsthand, entrenching the fear and depression. Suddenly, the hope that was so prevalent in the church as held out in the Gospel was replaced with an anxious fear of the future. The church no longer knew what it believed.

On an interesting side-note: It was the hope that Christ was still reigning from Heaven, and that the church would eventually rise in victory, that inspired Corrie Ten Boom’s famous help of the Jews in the World War 2 concentration camps.

Unfortunately this hope wasn’t as widespread as it once was in the church, who had become gripped with paralyzing, defeatist fear.

This fear festered within the Western church, and fully gave birth in 1970 with the publishing of Hal Lindsey’s “Late, Great Planet Earth”. The masses couldn’t get enough of it. The book took modern events and aligned them with ancient Scriptural prophecies and at first glance it all seemed to make sense. Despite the fact that these prophecies could even more accurately be aligned with greater calamities, such as the destruction of Jerusalem in 70AD, Lindsey’s book confirmed the church’s worst fears: that the world was getting worse, and was on course for drastic destruction.

Within only a few years, the message had spread like wildfire throughout charismatic Christianity, with most of the Western church becoming obsessed with the mark of the beast and who the antichrist might be. It gave rise to worldwide home-video hit movies such as 1972’s “A Thief In The Night”, which in itself spurned an entire genre of End-Time-obsessed media, culminating in its climax: the “Left Behind” series of novels and films.

By the time “Left Behind” was released, Western Christianity was so enraptured (excuse the pun) with the Dispensational Premillennial viewpoint of the End Times that it virtually became the foundation of most church’s end time  standpoints, despite there being a vast array of deeply grounded resources offering alternative perspectives on apocalyptic Scripture.

Within only a few decades, mankind’s predisposition toward fear had taken the church down a road it should never have gone, and in some cases, completely shifted its focus off its King’s saving work and onto how He might return and deal with humanity’s depravity; which was the very thing He came to deal with at the Cross!

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A Letter To Sir Thomas Crickett (1971 - 2014)

James Preston Reply 7:30 AM
Dear Thomas,

I can't believe you're gone. You are way too young and have way too much ahead of you to leave us now. One thing I'm pretty sure of, Daddy didn't take you home. There is no ways He would've taken you home and left your beautiful family without you. That's not Dad. Why you went and why you didn't come back will always be one of those mysteries that I can't wait to find out from Daddy Himself on the other side of this life.

Everyone is shocked down here. Everyone. It has rocked us to the core. People like you aren't meant to die. Not now, at least!

We realise how fragile life is. The frailty of our humanity. Life is a gift that could be robbed from us at any time. And should be appreciated as often as possible.

But the sad reality is that the busyness of life gets the better of us. We get caught up in the rat race and too often forget to appreciate the moments that really count.

Your passing rattles us into an acute awareness of how important human connection and communication is. Because now that you're gone, we won't get another chance to do so until the next life.

You have unwittingly and unintentionally awakened us to what really counts. We will do more of what actually matters in life in honour of your memory.

I remember the last time I saw you. You were with your beautiful wife Nicci at the Pavilion Shopping Centre in Westville. I was having coffee with a church member, who was in deep conversation at the time. You guys didn't see me, and I thought about shouting out to you and saying "hi". But thought we were all busy and that we'd catch up another time before you left for England again. Alas we didn't. Now all I wish is that I had just screwed the busyness and said "hi"! I'm so so sorry.

Tom, you left an imprint on everyone who knew you. The phrase going around in the dust cloud of this shock is that you were "larger than life". It's the catchphrase because it's true. You really were larger than life.

There is no doubt that you were one of the naturally funniest people anyone could ever meet. You had a personality that infected the atmosphere, and people felt your presence long after you had left. Just as the fragrance of your presence will linger with everyone who had the pleasure of meeting you. Their memories of your personality will never be lost.

Tom, this Earth is going to miss you while you're gone. None more so than your beautiful family. We pray that Holy Spirit would give Nicci, Noa Joy and Elijah supernatural Peace and Comfort in this devastating pain. It can only be supernatural.

Thomas, we love you. And will miss you. And are just so so sorry for so many reasons that you're gone. I know that you're in the Best Place in the Universe right now. But I have a feeling you are shedding a tear for your wife and kids. Keep praying for them. They're going to miss you.

May we honour your memory by living life to the fullest.

We're gonna miss you, man.

Love James

Spiritual Blog of 2013!

Spiritual Blog of 2013!

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