In the Furnace of God's Glory

By Francis Frangipane

God's word assures us that the Redeemer we see in the gospels is the same Lord Who enters our lives when we are born again. The same things Jesus did in the first century, He promises to do again for us today. Indeed, Scripture confirms that "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today, yes and forever" (Heb 13:8). If the person we call "Jesus" is not as wonderful or powerful as Jesus of the gospels, we are serving the wrong one.

Thus, if we will truly know the real Jesus, we must re-acquaint ourselves with the reasons Jesus came. For His goals for our lives are the same as His goals in the first century.

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).

My Journey By Denise Frangipane

By Denise Frangipane

The following message was taken from the booklet, "Overcoming Fear!" by Denise Frangipane.

Before I appropriated the gift of Christ's peace, I was always looking for something to distract me from my fears. There were few times when I found myself alone while growing up in a family of eleven. My sense of security came from having people always around me. In fact, I hated being alone, especially in the darkness.

To keep from dealing with my gloomy, fearful thoughts, I would occupy my mind with radio, television or books. When all these distractions were removed, however, I was left with an unending supply of tormenting, disabling thoughts.

The enemy had gained free access to my undisciplined thought life. In fact, even after coming to Christ I was still bound by certain fears. Doctrinally, I knew God was love, but I did not fully comprehend His personal love for me. I often carried guilt and condemnation when I stumbled. Not only was I fearful of the world around me, I was also afraid of God and the punishment I thought I deserved.

Even as a parent, when I found myself alone I imagined horrible things that could happen to me or my children. The creaking of the house at night would be exaggerated into footsteps. The sound of the wind outside brought prowlers into my imagination. I lay on my bed (or was it under the bed?) paralyzed by fear. I could sense the presence of evil.

Those dark, frightening thoughts became so real they consumed my mind and constantly stirred up my emotions. It seemed that even God Himself had retreated behind the cloud of my oppression.

Because I lacked discernment, I failed to recognize that the devil was the source and manipulator of many of my fears. Even as we can "fix our minds" on the Lord and soon feel His Presence, so surrendering to the enemy's manipulation of our minds can bring the manifestation of a spirit of fear.

Of course, the night eventually passed and the things I feared had not occurred. After many years of similar battles, I realized I was missing the abundant life Jesus came to give us; I began to seek the Lord for deliverance.

God's Answer
One night I had a dream. I was standing on a very narrow ledge. I could see nothing; darkness had enveloped me. Balancing on this thin ledge, I was petrified, afraid of falling. All around me I could hear cynical, mocking voices.

In the dream, a light was turned on and I saw that the floor was only a couple of inches below the ledge! Fear had exaggerated my danger; its darkness had blinded me to reality. Light broke the illusion and sent the enemy fleeing!

Through this dream the Holy Spirit showed me how Satan was a master illusionist. Any time we open ourselves up to fear, we fall prey to his deceptions and intimidations. Yet, if we submit our hearts to God and stand in faith, we can resist those first fearful thoughts. As we yield to God we can master our reactions to fear and the enemy will soon flee.

Our first place of victory is in believing the truth concerning our relationship with God. Paul tells us that, "having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ" (Rom 5:1). We reject the lie that insists God is our enemy. We come to believe He is our Helper in the healing of our souls!

John tells us, "this is the victory that has overcome the world "our faith" (1 John 5:4). Faith in what Christ has done and faith in what God has promised empowers us to overcome the world. It is a faith that believes that He will be with us and trusts that He is able to deliver us. This is the victory that overcomes the world.

You see, "God has not given us a spirit of fear," (2 Tim. 1:7 nkjv). Tormenting, debilitating fears are not from the Lord. Paul continues by saying that the nature of the Holy Spirit abiding in us produces a spirit "of power and of love and of a sound mind."

This means that our feelings of helplessness are not from God. We can be assured that, whenever our minds become darkened through self-condemnation, fear or tormenting guilt, we are living outside the realm of God's "love," for God's perfect love "casts out fear" (1 John 4:18).

To win the war against fear, we must know the true God as He is revealed in the Bible. He works to give us lasting peace. He receives joy, not from condemning us but in rescuing us from the devil. Yes, the Lord will bring conviction to our hearts concerning sin, but it is so He can deliver us from sin's power and consequences. In its place, the Lord works to establish healing, forgiveness and peace.

If we walk humbly with the Lord, He promises to lift us up and dwell with us. The effect of God's power and love working in us is a sound mind. Our freedom from fear grows as we grow in God. He came to "destroy the works of the devil" (1 John 3:8) and to set the captives free.