And Then the End Shall Come, Part 1

By Francis Frangipane

Because we live in prophetic times, there exists a great deal of passion concerning prophetic perspectives. Christian analysts on gospel television stimulate ever growing constituencies with new "signs" and "revelations," all pointing to the return of Christ.

Generally, such zeal is healthy, for we should live spiritually alert and sensitive to our times. However, it is also easy to make false assumptions, where we believe we are closer to the end of the age than we actually are. The primary problem is that, once we accept the premise that we are at the final stage of end-time events, we step out of sync with the Father's heart.

Indeed, who among us, at one time or another, has not been manipulated by a false prophecy heralding the end of the world? These impulses arise from the very sincerity of those speaking, and they awaken the sincerity of our own fears and longing. Yet, in just the last sixteen years we have been told the "88 reasons" Jesus was coming in 1988 (then 89 reasons. . .). We were informed that the Soviets were going to come down and attack Israel at the end of the '70s, '80s, and right up until the USSR dissolved. Bookstores were full of "revelation" warning us that the 1990 Iraq War was the beginning of Armageddon. Indeed, who can forget the warnings about Y2K and the supposed beginning of chaos? And, of course, we are still awash in prophetic analysis (and confusion) concerning September 11.

The strength of these end-of-the-world predictions is that they are announced upon the backdrop of true prophetic fulfillment. We've seen Israel's restoration to its land. We've witnessed Daniel's prophecy that, at the time of the end, both knowledge and travel would increase (Dan. 12). Plus, we've had our share of "wars and rumors of wars," "earthquakes" and the like (Matt. 24:6,7). These fulfillments, and many others, are strong indicators that we are, in fact, nearing the end of the age.

Yet, there are major worldwide events that clearly have not come to pass. The first and most important is Jesus' prophecy that, before His return, there shall be a season of powerful global evangelization. He said, "And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world for a witness to all nations, and then the end shall come" (Matt. 24:14).

Currently, about 25 percent of the world has not even heard of Jesus Christ, even as an historical figure. And, even among those who are familiar with Jesus' life, very few have actually witnessed the power of the gospel of the kingdom. What most Christians have experienced is the gospel of grace. There is a difference, beloved, between the gospel of grace and the gospel of the kingdom of heaven. The gospel of grace introduces us to Jesus. When we hear of His sacrifice, His death on the cross, we are assured of a place in heaven. The gospel of the kingdom includes the good news of God's favor, but it also brings us into the spiritual reality of heaven. We are spirit-born beings whose lives are being realigned with the power and values of heaven. As we grow in grace and revelation, we discover an amazing truth: Jesus did not come simply to bring us to heaven when we die; He came to bring heaven to where we live.

Apostasy or Outpouring?
I thank God for the growing numbers of pastors and churches that are seeking hard after God. Many realize today that God has so much more for us. This is why we personally put a great emphasis in our training classes upon Christ's words, for in the combined meaning of all that Jesus taught, we discover the life and power of heaven.

There are some, however, who focus upon the worst elements of the church: worldliness, greed, division, prayerlessness, lack of holiness and power. They argue that the Bible warned of a great falling away and the evidence of such great compromise is everywhere.

But the truth is that, while there is an apostasy, there is also a restoration occurring among Christians. Jesus said, "This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world." Jesus is not referring to typical, compromising, western Christianity; something else is occurring that is focused upon attaining the life of God's kingdom.

You see, Christ is not so unjust to offer the unsaved world a gospel spoken by powerless, sinful people. He said, "THIS gospel," speaking about His message, with the promises and requirements, is what shall be proclaimed at the end of the age, just as it was preached by His disciples in the first century. So it shall be as He sends His disciples in the last century. They too will preach: "The kingdom of heaven is at hand." They will "heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons" and just as they "freely received," so they will "freely give" (Matt. 10:7-8).

Christ's goal is not to introduce people to church, but to expose them to the power of the coming kingdom of God. Do we get this? The last days message is not "Stop sinning, church is at hand," it's "Repent for . . . heaven is at hand."

Jesus calls us to truly become disciples, individuals who "make disciples of all the nations . . . even to the end of the age" (Matt. 28:19-20). The early apostles proclaimed God's word "in demonstration of the Spirit and of power," that the faith of those who listened would "not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God" (1 Cor. 2:4,5).

Jesus Christ has not changed. Thus, we should expect ever-increasing power to accompany us, even as we proclaim the gospel of the kingdom worldwide, and "then the end shall come" (Matt. 24:14).