And Then the End Shall Come, Part 2

By Francis Frangipane

It is no secret that we live in prophetic times. Besides two world wars, earthquakes and famines, our generation has seen the return of Israel to its land, and we have personally witnessed the spectacular increase of knowledge and travel (Dan. 12). Spiritual signs are like towns we pass through en route to a further destination: they reveal approximately where we are as we approach the Lord's return.

Yet it is important to not assume we are further than we are. There are two major end time signs that we have not yet passed through. I'd love to be wrong, but it's my opinion that those planning for an immediate rapture should probably unpack. For, while we should be dressed in readiness, the gospel of the kingdom has not been proclaimed worldwide (Matt. 24:14) nor has the Antichrist been revealed (2 Thess. 2:1-3). Both these things must occur before Christ returns.

The Great Harvest
Even while Jesus spoke of the signs of the end, He also warned that false movements would arise. He said, "See to it that you be not misled; for many will come in My name, saying . . . 'The time is at hand.'" He warned, "do not go after them" (Luke 21:8). Since the first century there have been many times when people were caught up in a false anticipation that the time was at hand. Even today, while we are certainly much further along than previous times, we simply have not yet entered the time of final things.

Consider The Message translation of Luke 21:8-9: "Watch out for the doomsday deceivers. Many leaders are going to show up with forged identities claiming, 'I'm the One,' or, 'The end is near.' Don't fall for any of that. When you hear of wars and uprisings, keep your head and don't panic. This is routine history and no sign of the end."

In the sequence of final end time events, Jesus said that certain "things must take place first" (Lk 21:9). As we stated, a major reality that must come to pass is the worldwide proclamation of the gospel. Jesus said after the gospel is fully proclaimed, "then the end shall come" (Matt 24:14). Today this is the fervent revelation of the heart of God, and everything that is occurring in the earth today--the war on terrorism, globalization and the opening of closed nations--all must be interpreted in light of God's heart to bring redemption to the unsaved world.

The Antichrist
Another major sign preceding the Lord's return is the emergence of the Antichrist. While the spirit of the Antichrist has empowered "many antichrists" since the first century (1 John 2:18; 4:3), the Scriptures warn that a singular leader will arise. Paul tells us that the positioning of this individual on the world stage is itself another major sign of the Lord's return.

Listen to the apostle's warning. Remember, he is writing about the "coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and our gathering together to Him." Yet, Paul expresses a deep concern that Christians would "not be quickly shaken from [their] composure or be disturbed . . . to the effect that the day of the Lord has come" (2 Thess. 2:1-2).

Paul is seeking to break the power of deception that was hitting the church in Thessalonica. He continues, "Let no one in any way deceive you, for [the day of the Lord] will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God" (2 Thess. 2:3-4).

Paul says plainly that the day of the Lord will not come unless the Antichrist is revealed. This will be the last major event that must occur before the return of the Lord. First, is the great, worldwide proclamation of the gospel and then, following or at least running concurrently, would be the emergence and international influence of the Antichrist. Somewhere in the sequence of these two events God will restore Israel to Himself; but that discussion is for another article.

Speculation abounds as to who the Antichrist is. Over the last 40 years, many have been identified as the "man of sin"--from John Kennedy, to the last three Popes, to Kissinger, Gorbachev and even recently Prince Charles, plus a dozen others in between. Yet, Paul describes the Antichrist as having certain, unmistakable characteristics. He "opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship." Then he actually sits in the "temple of God, displaying himself as being God."

Has anything even remotely similar occurred? No. This "son of destruction," with apparent godlike powers, will have a worldwide following (logically, at least 500 million followers). Has that happened yet? No. He'll provide a temporary, but false international peace. Did I miss something? Is the world finally at peace? The Antichrist will sit in the temple of God. Right now, the Al-Aksa Mosque is secured on the temple mount in Jerusalem. Beloved, there isn't even a temple where the Antichrist can sit.

A number of Christians have been convinced that the Euro, which is the currency being introduced in most of Europe, is the currency of the Antichrist. Yet God's word says "all" nations will be economically influenced by the Antichrist, not just little Europe. The fact is, China, North and South America, Russia, India, Africa and the Islamic world have absolutely no plans for the Euro. There is no worldwide currency, no mark of the beast.

The person described as the Antichrist in the Bible is just not here yet. Regardless of who informs you of their secret insights, that so and so is the Antichrist--whether it's the National Enquirer or your favorite Christian author--remember, the Antichrist, when he appears, will be unmistakable. The Jewish temple will be restored; a true international currency will be in place and there will be a worldwide movement following a leader who, with supernatural powers, calls himself God. You won't need the National Enquirer to point him out. He will be obvious to every true Christian. Whether you ascribe to a pre-, mid- or post-tribulation rapture of the church, the Antichrist must come first.

The Real Problem
In my thirty three years of ministry, I've often seen Christians excited about "end time" prophecies. Currently, a minor ripple of excitement is stirring regarding an "army from the north" prophecy that speaks of an attack against the USA. I first heard this prophecy in the early 1970s. Who is this army from the north? Canadians? Eskimos? Really, when Christians blindly accept, and then spread, these aberrant prophecies, it's like spraying the unsaved with "repellant."

In the seventies and eighties, many Christians (including yours truly) believed the Lord was coming soon. As a result, we Christians turned our back on our government and school systems. We abandoned our responsibility to be salt and light in the world, and then condemned the world for its lack of godliness. We were so eager for the Lord's return, that we accepted that only judgment awaited America and the rest of the world. As a result of believing a lie, we suffered spiritual paralysis, which allowed laws to be changed and our nation to slide into great perversion--all because we thought we were at the end of the age. What a travesty!

If the rapture of the church occurs tomorrow, wonderful! However, it is actually possible that this age won't end for hundreds of years. We need to pray, plan and act as though we could see several worldwide awakenings before Christ returns. I know I'm slaying some sacred cows here, but according to the Hebrew calendar, we are only at the year 5763. We have at least a couple hundred Hebrew years before we reach the year 6000 and, according to some interpretations, the beginning of the Millennium.

I'm saying all this, not to get us to become worldly, but to fully embrace God's call that we become Christlike. You see, if we accept that all that remains is the apostasy and then the rapture, we exempt ourselves from fasting and praying for our communities. If we have passed the season for revival, then why lay our lives down for cities and nations that God has no intention of redeeming? You see, we do need to recognize that, until the Lord comes, we are in the season of the harvest.

My friends, listen, missiologists tells us that, at current growth rates, there will be a billion new souls brought into the kingdom of God in the next 10 years. That is not a misprint. Jesus paid for them and God wants them in His kingdom. Do you think God is going to stop the harvest because of our ill-timed doctrines about the second coming? He will simply by-pass us and use others.

If we truly desire to accelerate Christ's return, then we must complete our part of the prophetic plan, which is to win the lost. If you are not praying for, and giving to, organizations that are training ministers for the great harvest, you might actually be delaying the Lord's return. It is time for laborers to be trained and sent. Every nation must hear the gospel and each soul written in the Lamb's book must be saved, and then the end shall come. 
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The Vision for Our Times

By Francis Frangipane

Christ, Our Prefect Mentor
Today, perhaps more than at any time in our nation's history, we stand at a crossroads. Will this nation move toward heaven or hell? Will we see a national awakening or national destruction? I am fully convinced that if we stand for our cities and neighborhoods--if a remnant in the church truly becomes Christlike in prayer, character and motives--we will ultimately see the glory of God fall again upon our land.

Yet, to possess the glory of Christ again through the church means, among other things, that godly leaders will need to mentor and train disciples in the way of the Lord. We simply do not have enough time to all mature spiritually at the current pace. We not only need revelation of the potential of Christ in us, but we need impartation from leaders who are walking in some measure of Christlikeness now (see Rom 1:11; 1 Thess 2:8). We need the spiritual fathers in the church to accept that, while they are not perfect, God can use them to mentor and train pastors, intercessors and the future leaders of the church.

The word "mentor" actually came from Homer's Odyssey. Mentor was the name of a loyal adviser of Odysseus who was entrusted with the education of the king's son, Telemachus. Mentor supposedly became a type of father figure to Telemachus while Odysseus was away fighting the Trojan War. Today, by common usage, Webster defines a mentor as a "wise and trusted counselor or teacher."

Paul captures the feeling of this special relationship between an established leader with his protege, when he wrote Timothy: "For if you were to have countless tutors in Christ, yet you would not have many fathers; for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. I exhort you therefore, be imitators of me" (1 Cor 4:15-16).

A mentor is a spiritual father or mother who trains, guides and disciples an individual for a certain period until, in some tangible way, that disciple receives some measure of the anointing that rests upon his or her mentor. Paul wrote that the outcome of his fathering Timothy was that Timothy (and evidently others) would become "imitators of [Paul]." In this instance, imitation does not mean we are false or without substance, but that an impartation of Christ's life has successfully been multiplied from one to another.

Jesus put it this way: "He who receives you receives Me, and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me. He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet's reward; and he who receives a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man's reward" (Matt 10:40-41).

A prophet or righteous man carries in his spirit a "reward" of impartable power. It takes humility in a disciple to overlook the weaknesses of a leader and recognize the gift God has placed in him or her for our benefit. This principle of impartation and replication was foundational in the New Testament. It is the reason why Jesus did not leave a thousand apostles; twelve were enough. It's why He only appeared to Paul, instead of appearing to ten thousand others, because one Paul would impart and replicate himself in ten thousand others. The Lord only needed one Paul as long as the apostle understood the principles of mentoring, impartation and replication.

The Book of Hebrews expands this somewhat and urges us to be careful. Listen to what the writer says concerning our training. He admonishes, "Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today, yes and forever. Do not be carried away by varied and strange teachings" ( Heb 13:7-9).

The goal is to see replicated in us the very life of Jesus Christ, who is the same yesterday, today and forever. We must choose our leaders wisely, considering the outcome of their way of life. Look at how they handle conflict or success; are they still reaching for Christlikeness themselves? If they are, we "imitate their faith." In other words, when we submit to someone, we are seeking to appropriate the heart attitudes and graces that has functionalized the nature of Christ in that leader. We do not want to be like them in the flesh, but to receive the Spirit of Christ that manifests through them. We are not seeking to copy their mannerisms, but to "imitate their faith." We do not lose our unique personalities or distinctions, we receive power and direction.

Remember: John, Peter, Paul and the other apostles all replicated the singular life of Jesus, but Christ emerged through each uniquely. Our yieldedness to a leader or mentor is not to create clones, but spiritual kings who will manifest Christ.

Jesus, Our True Mentor
While teaching is vital to our spiritual growth, Jesus didn't simply teach or inform His disciples of truth. No, He poured Himself into the apostles, training them to actually represent Him. He then assigned them tasks, where they could utilize what they had learned. Mentoring involves teaching, training and practical experience in the field.

We may come to a man or woman we respect and ask for mentoring, seeking to simply possess a better, more effective spiritual life. However, the goal of true mentoring is not blessing, but replication of anointing. Let me explain what I mean by "anointing." The Holy Spirit works in an individual, breaking and shaping their inner man. In time, the inside of that person is reconstructed to the degree that their heart's values align with the ways of Christ. Still, they do not have power in or of themselves. To a certain degree, they have actually died in their inner man; yet in the very area of their spiritual death, Christ now lives. When I say that Christ lives in them, we think of that as a static or "divine potential," but it is much more. Christ is not a doctrine or religion; there is not a different Redeemer in heaven than Christ living in us. When Christ comes into flesh, He still comes to transform the world. Listen well, for when the Spirit of Christ manifests in our world, He takes over our hearts and tongues and, looking to the Father, He prays,

"Sacrifice and offering Thou hast not desired,
But a body Thou hast prepared for Me;
In whole burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin
Thou hast taken no pleasure.
Then I said, 'Behold, I have come
(In the roll of the book it is written of Me)
To do Thy will, O God" (Heb 10:5b-7).

Just as Christ needed a personal, physical body "to do [God's] will" in the first century, today, through the Holy Spirit He descends into the church, His spiritual body. He states again that He has come, not to fulfill ritual and religious obligations, but to transform earth with heaven. The sphere of influence may be as small as a family or as large as a nation, but the anointing upon an individual is the manifest power of the living Christ. He has come in "a body Thou has prepared for Me" and His declared purpose is "to do Thy will, O God."

The Need for Christlike Leaders
In my life, men like Andrew Murray and Watchman Nee served as my mentors. The first Christian book I ever read was "Release of the Spirit" by Watchman Nee; the book that most changed my life was "Like Christ," by Andrew Murray--although all of Andrew Murray's books deeply impacted my life.

Both of these men, together with C.S. Lewis, added unique dimensions to my spiritual life that, apart from them, I would not have otherwise attained. I often would take their books, kneel at the foot of my bed, and unashamedly devour their words. Of course, my primary study was the word of God, especially the words of Jesus. However, these individuals taught me to hunger for God and thirst for righteousness, and that Christ was the same in these latter days as in the former.

However, they did not teach me about unity in the body of Christ or spiritual warfare. They supplied a grace for an area in my soul, but they only prepared me for the anointing that the Lord had for me, which was to see the church united in Christlikeness. This anointing for unity is something the Lord has personally been working in a small number of leaders around the world. Yet, together with these men, the Holy Spirit is pioneering the healing of the church and the transformation of our cities.

It is this anointing, this empowerment of Christ within me, that I seek to impart to others in our online training class. The Lord has deeply impressed me that I must pour myself into the lives of those He brings. The vision before us is to see in every city, Christlike pastors and intercessors who are standing before God, laying their lives down for His purpose. This is the hope and vision of our times:

"For behold, darkness will cover the earth,
And deep darkness the peoples;
But the Lord will rise upon you,
And His glory will appear upon you.
And nations will come to your light,
And kings to the brightness of your rising" (Is 60:2-3).
 
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Please feel free to forward this message to others; acknowledging our web site would be kindly appreciated.

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Your interest in duplicating and re-sending this material is a joy to us. We only ask that you also provide website information for the Ministries of Francis Frangipane. The only exception is if the article is actually an excerpt from a book by another publisher. In this case they have asked that they be listed as the reference. Finally, any questions about the teachings of Francis Frangipane can be sent to info@frangipane.org. God bless your pursuit of His heart.