End of the world

Is Jesus' Return Imminent

TruthTalks: Is Jesus’ Return Imminent?

Is Jesus' Return Imminent

Lately it hasn’t been hard to imagine that Jesus’ return is imminent and that the end of the world as we know it is just around the corner.

Listen to Dr Christopher Peppler talking on this topic as he goes through what the bible tells us about it, and what we should do. Click on the play button below to listen now or read the article this TruthTalks audio is based on HERE.

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Living in the End of the Age

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Dramatic weather changes, pandemics, economic woes, and  Russia invading Ukraine have prompted many Christians to wonder afresh if we are now living in the End of the Age.

 

In February 2021 I wrote on this subject under the title of ‘Are these the End of Days?’ where I quoted a lot from what Jesus said and did. The main source of his teaching on the End Times is Matthew Chapter 24 and in this current article, I want to provide further insight into this important passage of scripture. This chapter of Matthew’s gospel is not easy to understand yet it is essential to providing any meaningful answer to the question many are again asking at this time.

Some of the Difficulties

The chapter starts with the disciples asking Jesus a compound question, but the complication is that it is not immediately obvious how many parts the question contains, one, two, or three. How we understand Jesus’ response depends largely on how many questions we think he addresses.

Then there is verse 14 which has, ‘and then the end will come’, counterbalanced by verse 34 which speaks of ‘this generation’ not passing away until everything spoken of has been completed. So, what time period is in view here? The destruction of the Temple in AD 70 or the second coming of Jesus sometime after 2021?

These examples point to the main problem that confronts us – is Jesus speaking about events less than 4 decades in the future, or events thousands of years in the future, or both?

Systems of Interpretation

Theologians love to create names for their ways of thinking and to gather together various texts and ideas under their chosen heading. The study of the End Times (Eschatology) is no exception, and when it comes to Matthew 24 there are at least three schools of thought.

  • There are the Preterists who see the whole of Matthew 24 as referring to the period between AD 33 and AD 70.
  • The Futurists hold that all of Chapter 24 concerns just the events immediately prior to Jesus’ second coming.
  • The Historicists believe that the whole church age is in view to one extent or another.

So what should we do? Should we opt for one of these systems or try to let the passage of scripture itself settle the matter – this is the approach I take.

The Disciples Question

To understand Jesus’ answer we must obviously understand the questions he was answering. He and his disciples had just been in the temple courts where he had confronted the teachers of the law, and pronounced seven dreadful woes upon them. He concluded his diatribe with the words, “And so upon you will come all the righteous blood that has been shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Berekiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. I tell you the truth, all this will come upon this generation” (Matthew 23:35-36). Then he left the temple and as he was walking away ‘his disciples came up to him to call his attention to its buildings. “Do you see all these things?” he asked. “I tell you the truth, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.”’ (Matthew 24:1-2) From there they went up to the Mount of Olives, just to the east of Jerusalem, where the disciples asked him, “When will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?

Premillennial Dispensationalists (Futurists) teach that the disciples’ enquiry consists of three separate questions; (1) When will the temple be destroyed? (2) What will be the sign of your second coming? (3) What will be the sign of the End of the Age? This matches their eschatological system that requires a distinction between the second coming of Christ to gather up the church and a much later End Time Judgement. I do not subscribe to this theological system as I believe it is seriously flawed in several ways. Rather, I understand the disciples’ question as containing just two parts; (1) When will all this take place? (The destruction of the Temple), and (2) Will there be any sign ahead of time to signal your return and the end of the world? (The return of Christ to both remove remaining believers from the Earth and to judge all others, followed immediately by the creation of a new HeavenEarth).

The Structure of Jesus’ Answer

The Lord Jesus answered both of these questions in detail, but the problem we have is to work out where in Matthew 24 he deals with each. Some teachers, like Dr Sam Storms, teach that almost all of the chapter concerns the period up to the destruction of the Temple in AD 70, but then have to contend with several end-of-the-world references like verses 29-31 that just do not fit this scheme. Others, like Tim LaHaye, make the whole chapter apply only to the very end of the age but they have to deal with verses like 34 (and what Jesus said in Matthew 23:36).

There are some observations I can make that help us determine the structure of Matthew 24:

  1. The fact that much of what Jesus said is addressed to the disciples who were with him, but this does not preclude the fact that what he said will also be relevant to future generations. However, it does mean that what he said was indeed relevant to his original hearers within their time frame. In other words, it is not just about the distant future.
  2. There is evidence of editing, or at least rearranging, of what Jesus said. For instance the insert in verse 15 ‘let the reader understand’ as well as the different narratives in the parallel accounts in Mark 13 and Luke 21.
  3. The fairly obvious conclusion is that the disciples associated the destruction of the Temple with the End of the Age – otherwise, why would they frame their composite question the way in which they did?

My understanding of the structure of the passage is that Jesus answered both parts of the question in a way typical of teachers of his time by dealing with one, moving on to the other, and then coming back to the previous question. We find this a lot in Paul’s writings and in many parts of the Old Testament. So, the structure that I discern in Matthew 24 is:

a) Vs 4-14 Relating to the End of the Age

b) Vs 15-23 Relating to the destruction of the Temple in AD 70

c) Vs 23-33 Relating to the End of the Age

d) Vs 34-35 Relating to the destruction of the Temple in AD 70

e) Vs 36-51 Relating to the End of the Age

EDITORIAL NOTE – April 2024: Since writing this article, I have come to understand that a simpler structure of Matthew 24 is: Vs 4 – 29   Jesus’ response to the disciple’s first question concerning the destruction of the Temple.  Vs 30 – 51 The second response concerning Jesus’ second coming and the end of the age

 

The Destruction of the Temple in AD 70 Vs 15-23 and 34-35

Most translations start verse 15 in a way that indicates that it is just a continuation of the previous paragraph – ‘So when you see…’  However, the New Living Translation (NLT) has ‘The time will come when you will see…’ which allows the possibility for the start of a new thought. The underlying Greek text allows for either of these translations, but I think that the NLT is more correct

Jesus refers to an Old Testament prophecy and says: “The time will come when you will see what Daniel the prophet spoke about: the sacrilegious object that causes desecration standing in the Holy Place” — reader, pay attention!  “Then those in Judea must flee to the hills”.  The reference is to Daniel 11:31 which signifies that ‘the Temple would be used for an “abominable” purpose at some time in the future. As a result, God’s faithful people would no longer worship there-so great would be their moral revulsion, contempt, and abhorrence at the sacrilege-and the Temple would become “desolate.”’ (from Nelson’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary).

Luke’s account is a little different and reads, “When you see Jerusalem being surrounded by armies, you will know that its desolation is near. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those in the city get out, and let those in the country not enter the city”. The history produced by Eusebius records that when the Roman armies were marching on Jerusalem, before its ultimate destruction in AD 70, the Christian population of the city took heed of Jesus’ warning and fled the city and relocated in the unique hill town of Pella. Roman soldiers carried the emblems and standards of Rome that the Jews regarded as blasphemous and idolic. When the troops later sacked  Jerusalem and the temple, their presence and their emblems in the Holy Place were to the Jews an absolute abomination that causes desolation.

Matthew 24:21 has, ‘then there will be great distress, unequaled  from the beginning of the world until now — and never to be equaled again’. The historic record shows this to be so. Prior to the siege of Jerusalem, the city was in turmoil with sects and gangs fighting with each other and murdering thousands. When the Romans laid siege to the city, famine and disease added to the dire conditions. Mothers were eating their own children and tens of thousands died of starvation. When the Romans breached the city walls, they systematically slaughtered all the remaining people in Jerusalem save for about 100,000 who they took into slavery. The estimated deaths were over one million people and the slaughter was so great that the blood running in the streets extinguished some of the burning buildings ignited by the soldiers.

Jesus spoke to his disciples about this in AD 33 and all that he predicted concerning the destruction of the temple occurred just 37 years later; this is why he said, “I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened” (Matthew 24:34).

Verses relating to the End of the Age in Matthew 24  – Vs 4-14, 23-33, 36-51

Although what Jesus said to his disciples applied to the period from AD 33 to AD 70, it applies even more to us today. He warned of the following:

Deception by false prophets and teachers claiming to represent him.

He explained that part of their deception would be the performance of signs and wonders. He also warned that these people would try to attract Christians to come to them so as to entrap them and deceive them. He used a powerful analogy when he said: “So if anyone tells you, ‘There he is, out in the desert,’ do not go out; or, ‘Here he is, in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it. For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. Wherever there is a carcass, there the vultures will gather”. When we see vultures circling in the air then we know that they indicate the presence of a carcass and not of a source of life. No, when Jesus comes again it will be as obvious and as widely observable to all as lightning covering the whole horizon.

In the last few decades, we have certainly seen and experienced all of these things playing out and intensifying. How many false miracle workers have we seen setting up shop in cities all around the world and beguiling people to come to them for healing, wealth, and influence?

Wars and the news of pending wars.

There have been more than 115 wars in various places during the last 30 years!

Famines and earthquakes

War and famine go hand in hand and the current invasion of Ukraine by Russia could well trigger famine in the developing world, especially as climate change bites harder and harder. Here is a link to an impressive list of the deadliest earthquakes in the last 30 years

Persecution and apostasy

Living in the West or in South Africa, as I do, it is hard to imagine the extent and severity of persecution actually taking place right now. Here is a map showing the 50 countries where persecution is currently most prevalent.

From christianitytoday.com

Strange and frightening signs in the heavens

Of late there have been many strange phenomena in our atmosphere and in the solar system. The US government is even reopening its investigative case on the appearance of UFO sightings. I don’t want to comment further on this as it is a subject that lies somewhere in the twilight zone between unexplained actual occurrences and the imaginations of very creative people.

Jesus also gave two strong indicators of the imminence of his coming at the End of the Age when he said that the Gospel would be preached to the whole world as a final testimony to all people and that ‘the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky’. He used the analogy of the sprouting fig tree to indicate that when we see these things happen then we will know that ‘it is near, right at the door’. However, Jesus also warned that, “No man knows about that day or hour…”, but that it would be sudden.

Jesus gave no instructions to us about anything different that we should do when we see the swift approach of the End of Time. His essential message was to be ready to meet him and to be faithful stewards of his kingdom right up until he comes again (Verses 36-51).

There is no Pella to flee to, and no doomsday prepping to undertake, but there is a Gospel to share and a life to live faithfully in trust and obedience. It is more urgent than ever that we come to know Jesus, become like him, and help others to do likewise.

Gospel outreach and the Sign of the Son of Man

There are very few people groups  in the world who have not yet heard a presentation of the Gospel in some form or other. However, over and above that, genuine Revival inevitably results in a powerful surge of people coming to know Jesus. I believe that we are yet to see the greatest and most widespread Revival that this planet has ever experienced, perhaps a final act of divine grace before the End of the Age. See my article HERE or read my book about the key aspects of revival HERE.

What will the Sign of the Son of Man appearing in the sky be? I do not know, but it will be obvious to all people if indeed it is to have the result that Jesus spoke of when he said “At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other” (Matthew 24:30-31).

Are we living in the End of the Age then?

I think that we ARE approaching the time of the end when Jesus will come again, all people will be judged, and God will create a new HeavenEarth as his eternal abode with his children saved from every age. I do not think that world conditions will get better, although the end will probably come when everything appears to be hunky-dory. I also do not believe that Christians will be snatched out of an increasingly chaotic world except for those still alive when the Day of Judgment comes, for God will never pour out his wrath upon his children.

A key passage of scripture that we need to believe and hold onto in these trying days is where Jesus said “remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age” HSCB (Matthew 28:20). This is the bottom line of the issue and this article; no matter what the conditions, Jesus is with us always.

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Are These the ‘End of the Days’?

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Many Christians all over the world are starting to ask, ‘Are these the end of the days?’.  COVID-19, political chaos, climate change, and very tough economic situations have resurfaced this age-old question. I have taken the title of this article from Daniel 12:5 which concludes this prophetic book with the instruction to Daniel:

“As for you, go your way till the end. You will rest, and then at the end of the days you will rise to receive your allotted inheritance.”

I selected this on purpose because Christian predictions of the end times and the second coming of Christ are too often based on a combination of a futurist reading of the book of Revelation together with the book of Daniel.

However, before I explore this further, let’s consider how those from previous generations might have viewed the ‘end times’.

End times of the past

The First World War lasted for over four years and ended in mid-1918. Those must have been particularly brutal times for people living in Europe. Twenty million people died and an equal number of people were severely wounded. What must soldiers fighting in the trenches for endless days of terror and deprivation have thought of the condition of the world? Would they not have cried out the question, “Are these the End of Days?”

Then no sooner had that terrible war ended than the great Spanish Flu struck. Fifty million people died and the social and economic situations of nations were ruined once again. People were walking around with their noses and mouths covered just as ours are today and poverty, despair, and fear stalked the streets of the great capitals of the world. Did the people of that day not voice the question, “Are these the End of Days?”

Then, just twenty years later, the world was again engulfed in a global war. Seventy-five million died during the Second World War. Six million of these deaths occurred in the Nazi concentration camps. Many people probably survived the first war and the Spanish pandemic only to find themselves in the horror of mass torture and extermination. If they hadn’t asked the question before they would have then: “Are these the End of the Days?”.

And here we are with over two million dead from COVID-19 and, judging by the current statistics, another million still to die within the next three months. Add to this the uncounted number of people who will suffer ongoing disabilities from the disease. Also add to this the yet uncomputed multiple trillions of currency lost, plus the joblessness and deprivation of millions of people, and it is no wonder that the age-old question has resurfaced.

Date Setting and Other Futile Prognostications
I mentioned a few of the great calamities of the recent past to make the point that what we are confronting today is not a new phenomenon and that the questions we are asking are not new either. Also not new are the number-crunching predictions that emerge in times such as these.

Premillennial Dispensationalists in every recent generation have tried to overlay a calendar on biblical passages such as Daniel and Revelation to calculate when the end will come for the human race. They have all been proven as wrong as the passionate prophets in the USA who predicted a second term for President Trump. In 2014 I wrote an article motivated by the predictions of one  Harrold Camping and you can find it HERE. He, and many like him, tried to reinterpret the Lord Jesus’ words concerning the end of the world. He said; “No one knows about that day or hour” (Matthew 24:36). Mr. Camping claimed that this only applied to the disciples Jesus was addressing at the time and some others have claimed that even if we cannot know the exact day or hour we can know the year and the month!

However, God has not revealed the date of the End of Days to anyone. We need to consider other factors in evaluating our current times.
Signs of the Times

Although Jesus did not indicate an eschatological time-table, he did instruct us to keep watch and be ready. Matthew 24 (and Mark 13 and Luke 21) contains his teaching on the sort of things that should alert us. Things like the appearance of false prophets and Christs, wars, natural disasters, persecution, apostasy, and the proclamation of the Gospel around the world. The problem is that most of what Jesus had to say was fulfilled in the years leading up to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. (I am planning to write a follow-up article on this). Both Mark and Luke present the question Jesus answered as pertaining only to the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple, but Matthew’s account opens up the possibility that Jesus was also referring to later times.

So, we can, and should, take what he said as at least a description of the repeated cycles of history as well as a reference to the 70 AD destruction of the Temple.

The book of Revelation backs up this idea as it presents a series of recurring cycles that increase and escalate over the ages – Conquest – war –  pestilence – persecution – judgement.

To try to narrow things down, several commentators have turned to the book of Daniel in the hopes of finding a secret time-line hidden there. Unfortunately for them, Daniel accurately predicts the world events from about 540 BC right through to the crucifixion of Jesus in 30 AD, but no further.

So, the book of Daniel does not provide a future calendar and nor does the book of Revelation. However, both books, particularly Revelation, present us with detailed descriptions of the kind of things we can expect in times of distress. I have written a concise commentary on the book of Revelation that you can access HERE but nothing on Daniel as yet. The descriptions given by the Lord Jesus remain the most helpful, so let me turn to them.

The Indicators Jesus Gave

Jesus warned of an infestation of false Christs and prophets and we are certainly seeing this in our times. Another word for a false Christ is antichrist. ‘Anti’ means both opposed to and instead of. The Radical Socialism of recent days is patently opposed to Jesus Christ and there is no shortage of people claiming to be world-saviours. Some of them are political figures or movements and others are religious.

As for false prophets, well they are abundant and over-active on TV channels and media. Again, some are secular futurists and others are of the “thus sayeth the Lord” variety.

Jesus warned of wars, famines and natural disasters in various parts and there is surely an escalation of these in our age.

He also predicted that his followers would be persecuted and that there would be a wholesale falling-away from the Faith (apostasy). This has been true in every age but never as acute and widespread as in our present time.

Many claim the ascription ‘Christian’ but few are passionate disciples of Jesus.

In some parts of the world true believers are being savagely persecuted, in other parts, it is more subtle, and there is every indication of ever-increasing prejudice against Jesus-followers.

Concerning the proclamation of the Gospel, Jesus had this to say: “Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come” (Matthew 24:12-14). The worldwide proclamation of the Gospel can only occur if the church experiences a real Holy-Spirit revival.  The very first church was persecuted but because of the greatest spiritual revival of all time (known as the Day of Pentecost), the believers went out into all the earth and proclaimed the Gospel. Now the world once more languishes in thick spiritual darkness, the church has largely fallen asleep, and persecution is on its way.

What needs to happen now is a new Pentecost, a great outpouring of the Holy Spirit that will fire Jesus-centred outreach to all the earth… and then the end will come.

This then will, for me at least, be the definitive sign that the End of the Days is at hand. Jesus did, however, give one last sign that would directly precede his second coming. He said, “And then at last, the sign of the coming of the Son of Man will appear in the heavens, and there will be deep mourning among all the nations of the earth. And they will see the Son of Man arrive on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he will send forth his angels with the sound of a mighty trumpet blast, and they will gather together his chosen ones from the farthest ends of the earth and heaven” NLT (Matthew 24:30-31).

What will this ‘Sign of the Son of Man’ be?

There are several ideas put forward but all of them are speculative. Most of the early Church Fathers taught that the sign would be the Cross of Christ appearing in the darkened sky as an ensign and standard of Christianity. Many of the later theologians held that the sign would be something like the Shekinah Glory (glory cloud) that appeared over the Tabernacle and filled Solomons Temple. More modern teachers tend to equate the sign with the actual appearance of the Lord himself as he comes on the clouds with great glory. One other explanation occurs to me and that is a near conjunction of the planets Venus and Jupiter in a similar fashion to what happened when Jesus was born (the Star of Bethlehem): I have written about the 3 BC conjunction HERE.

What Are We to Do?

To summarise, my understanding of the signs indicating that we are approaching the End of The Days are as follows:

  • Rapidly increasing worldwide turmoil politically economically, and ecologically.
  • The simultaneous persecution of Christians; an increase in the number of false prophets and antichrist figures working false signs and wonders and sowing confusion and fear among believers; the falling away of many Christians, and a mighty world-reaching Holy Spirit, Jesus-centred revival.
  • Notable signs in the heavens including the appearance of the Sign of the Son of Man.

In light of this, what then are we supposed to do? Well, once again, Jesus gives us the answer in Matthew 24 (and other places):

  • Watch out that no one deceives you.
  • Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.
  • So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.
  • Be on guard! Be alert!
  • Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you unexpectedly like a trap.
  • Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own (Matthew 6:34)

In other words – be aware of what is happening, guard against being deceived, live each day in the presence of Jesus and do not be overly concerned with when he is coming again.

Conspiracy theories will only confuse and dismay, date-setting is futile, and wild speculations get us nowhere. So, take one day at a time, be faithful to Jesus’ example and instruction, love unconditionally, and be at peace with your assurance of an eternal future.

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The Great Reset

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The Great Reset is a Term That is Starting to be Used Frequently Around the World.

In Christian circles some excellent teachers are now addressing it; Martin Iles gives a good overview of it HERE.  The phrase was coined by the World Economic Forum and if you have any desire to wade through obfuscated politic-speak then you can read all about their ideas HERE

The Cambridge Dictionary definition of ‘reset’ gives a clue to what is meant by the term The Great Reset: ‘to turn a piece of computer equipment off and then on again when it does not work correctly, to make it start working correctly again.’

A Disclaimer

I am a theologian and neither an economist nor a political scientist. However, I have to start this article with a fair amount of both politics and economics to present what I believe to be important truths. Although this post is on the long side and a little complex, please don’t skip to the end because context is important.

The Political-Social Aspects of The Great Reset

The ideas and plans that fall under the ‘reset’ label are complex and convoluted, but although I risk oversimplification, here are the main components:

  • A reset of economic policies and structures.
  • A reset of money resources to create new systems.
  • A reset of health and social approaches to global challenges through the use of new technologies and global cooperation.

The aim of The Great Reset is Globalism and Socialism on a grand scale and the catalyst is COVID-19.

The Key Ideas Presented by Proponents of The Great Reset are:

  • Changed mindsets to such things as ‘Capitalism leads to inequality’ and ‘the idea that a free market will provide is a myth’. Rather, Socialism leads to equality and a central government will provide.
  • Creation of new metrics that measure what matters. For instance, Gross Domestic Product (GDP) measures the wrong things because it is a measure of wealth that ignores its distribution, social benefit, environmental impact, and social health.
  • Design of new incentives leading to a new vision of all corporations and governments to promote an economy that serves all people.
  • Construction of genuine connections between people and nature.

A lot of this, while ambiguous, sounds pretty fair and reasonable, equal opportunity for the underprivileged, rulers who are rewarded for genuinely serving their constituents, all nations being accountable for combating the destructive consequences of global warming, and so on.   However,  it is when we consider many of the proposed means of bringing all this about that matters get problematic. These include the legislated and enforced imposition of socialistic government policies such as wealth tax, green-new-deal state programmes, Orwellian surveillance and control of citizens, and so on.

In essence, the key concept behind the key doctrines and applications of the Great Reset is a 21st Century form of Radical Socialism.

What is Socialism?

The word ‘socialism’ is seldom used in 1st world countries with politicians and others favouring the label  ‘Progressive Liberalism’. In essence, the two terms encompass the same range of ideologies.  It is not easy to provide one generally accepted definition of socialism but the following will do for this article; It is a system in which, through a democratic form of government, every person in the community has an equal share and ownership of the various elements of production.

Socialism, as opposed to Fascism, is implemented through democratically elected governments. However, to implement socialistic reform those elected governments need to control and centralise. Radical Socialism/Progressive Liberalism, by its very nature, is in many ways the antithesis of free-market Capitalism. A reasonable definition of Capitalism is ‘an economic system in which all or most of the means of production are privately owned and operated, and the investment of capital and the production, distribution, and prices of goods and services are determined mainly in a free market, rather than by the state.

So, to better understand the 21st version of Socialism just take the definition of Capitalism and reverse it. Something like: Socialism is an economic system in which all or most of the means of production are owned and operated by the state rather than privately, and the investment of capital and the production, distribution, and prices of goods and services are determined mainly by the state rather than a free market.

No wonder then that Klause Schwab, of the World Economic Forum, the man who coined the phrase ‘The Great Reset’ wrote: ‘To achieve a better outcome, the world must act jointly and swiftly to revamp all aspects of our societies and economies, from education to social contracts and working conditions. Every country, from the United States to China, must participate, and every industry, from oil and gas to tech, must be transformed. In short, we need a “Great Reset” of capitalism’

Underpinning much of what passes today as Socialism is what used to be called Cultural Marxism.

This political and social ideology promotes the idea that the old must be destroyed to build the new.

So when people speak of systemic problems, such as racism, needing to be eradicated, what they are saying is that the old systems and institutions must be destroyed, often violently, before the new can be established. In the United States of America, President Trump contends that the Washington political swamp must be drained while his opponents claim that systemic racism, gender prejudice, and so on, must be eradicated. Both are expressions of the idea that the old must be destroyed to build the new.

More specifically, the Cultural Marxism of our day is targeting such things as gender assigned at birth (where children’s gender is determined at birth by their genital attributes), marriage and the nuclear family, capitalistic economic dominance etc. Some of these issues are openly embraced by political parties such as the Democrats in the USA but often fly under the false flags of organisations such as Black Lives Matter.

Here, in my home country of South Africa, Marxist-flavored Socialism is promoted in various degrees of radicalism by the African National Congress (ANC), the South African Communist Party (SACP) and the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF). However, the socialism that the Great Reset seeks to unleash is not limited to the USA and RSA, it is global.

Globalism

Nationalism champions national sovereignty, self-governance, and the belief that government should be limited and localised rather than global and centralised. Globalism, on the other hand, is a liberal and authoritarian desire for some form and degree of ‘one-world’ government which minimises national sovereignty and self-governance. It favours, amongst other things, open borders, free-trade zones, interventionism, and extensive foreign aid.

So, what the advocates of The Great Reset seek to bring about are globalism and radical socialism.

Not Everything is Either Entirely Good or Bad

Most of us tend to try to paint everything as either black or white and people as either good or bad. However, not every idea espoused by Socialism is bad and not every idea promoted by Capitalism is good. Not all Socialists are bad people and not all Nationalist Capitalists are good people. And the converse also obviously applies. When President Trump stated that not everyone attending an ostensibly right-wing political rally was bad he was not saying that the KKK participants were good but that there were many good conservative people in the crowd (the majority by far as it turned out).

Also, people can have affiliations, policies and practices you and I might find ‘bad’ but they would claim that their motives are ‘good’. For instance, it is hard to argue that Capitalism does not foster financial inequality or that some form of state-sponsored social aid is necessary, particularly in a 3rd world country. Environmental activism is no doubt needed to some extent to prevent global catastrophe and intra-national cooperation is vital to combat things such as a pandemic.

There is a continuum of views, convictions, and motivations in the political spectrum and very few forms of pure Capitalism or Socialism exist today.

However, politics and economics are important and life-affecting so it is important to understand something of the political and economic issues of the world in which we live.

Moreover, the ideologies and movements that fly under the flag of The Great Reset have a huge potential impact for Christians in general and the church in particular. When I was a young man it was often said that the two things a pastor should keep out of the pulpit are politics and money. This is good advice if it refers to party political partisanship and money-squeezing manipulation but to avoid the bigger and broader subjects of politics and economics is to present the Gospel in an unnatural vacuum.

What is at Stake

Radical Socialism or Social Marxism, call it what you will, is profoundly humanistic and agnostic at best but more often blatantly atheistic. Some politicians and political movements profess a form of Christianity that usually proves itself to be mildly religious and certainly not biblical, Jesus-centred, bible-believing Christianity.

A tree is known by its fruit (Matthew 12:33) and a social ideology is known by its objectives and programmes.

So, consider some of the ‘fruit’ of The Great Reset.

  • Strong prejudice against the Christian church and its members including tax legislation, right to gather, and state control.
  • Anti-family legislation and initiatives such as same-sex unions, abortion on demand, Gender identity rights of minor children, and so on.
  • Aggressive anti-law-and-order behaviour from disrespect for police officers and courts of law to armed civilian control of parts of cities, disregard for legal regulations governing demonstrations and rallies, and wanton violence against people and property.
  • Freedom of expression withheld from righteous people and used with impunity to serve the cause of societal disruption.
  • Massive distortion of truth, the unabashed proliferation of fake news, blatant manipulation of statistics and data, and hateful rhetoric.
  • The de-Christianising of school curricula, government traditions, and national constitutions.
  • Centralisation and ownership of property and the means of production by the state and the resultant disenfranchisement of entrepreneurs and innovators.
  • Gun control for responsible citizens while armed criminals abound.
  • Open borders and uncontrolled people movements across the globe.
  • Executive powers conferred on state institutions and world organisations at the expense of national citizens.
  • State ownership of land, the Reserve Bank, electricity and water provision, education, transport, and mineral resources.
  • Economic and social discrimination against minority ethnic and religious groups.
  • And the list goes on…

In short  what we are likely to experience under Secular Marxism (Radical Socialism) is at first an erosion and then a denial and suppression of Christian-Judeo beliefs, values, freedoms, and rights.

The Third Way

Nationalistic Capitalism has its failings and Global Socialism has serious implications and problems, but there is a third form of world and national order that is largely ignored by the leaders of nations… the Kingdom of God. When challenged by the Roman authority of his day, the Lord Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36). Concerning the way believers are to counter the assault of world-systems, the Apostle Paul wrote: ‘For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world’ (2 Corinthians 10:3-4). Also, Peter addressed his letters (1 Peter 1:1 and 2:11) to ‘God’s elect, strangers in the world’ and urged them to live as ‘aliens and strangers in the world’.

This alternate kingdom was inaugurated when Jesus was born into the world and will continue until he comes again in glory. Its values and laws are the opposite of godless Socialism and greedy Capitalism. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life and his kingdom is everlasting and his dominion endures through all generations (Psalm 145:13).

Everyone who is born-again of the Spirit of God is a member of this kingdom with dual yet subordinate citizenship in an earthly nation. We live in the world but we are not of the world. The world often seems to be a circus with the clowns running the show, but we live in that circus. We might be walking ankle-deep through Elephant poo, dodging mad clowns, and desperately trying to find a way out, but we cannot avoid being in the circus. The only way we can make sense of our sojourn through this insanity is to hold fast to the values of our king and to strive to influence our physical world with his ways and Gospel.

The Great Reset in a Bigger Context

The Great Reset that the World Economic Forum promotes is not THE reset and its not great at all. Aeons ago, when human iniquity had become intolerable, God reset the physical world and the instrument he used was the Great Flood (Genesis 6:6-8). Then, thousands of years later, he reset the world spiritually by coming personally as Jesus Christ of Nazareth, dying to atone for the rebellion of mankind, and rising from the dead so that all who choose to can be born again of the spirit into eternal life.

And God has a third and final Great Reset planned; it goes by several names but is most often referred to as ‘the great and awesome day of the Lord’ (Malachi 4:5).

Zephania 1:14-18

“The great day of the Lord is near – near and coming quickly.  Listen! The cry on the day of the Lord will be bitter, the shouting of the warrior there. That day will be a day of wrath, a day of distress and anguish, a day of trouble and ruin, a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and blackness, a day of trumpet and battle cry against the fortified cities and against the corner towers.  I will bring distress on the people and they will walk like blind men because they have sinned against the Lord. Their blood will be poured out like dust and their entrails like filth.  Neither their silver nor their gold will be able to save them on the day of the Lord’s wrath. In the fire of his jealousy, the whole world will be consumed, for he will make a sudden end of all who live in the earth.”

I suspect that day is almost upon us but before this last and greatest ‘reset’ occurs there will be a Great Revival. My eyes are straining for that and I am starting to see distinct signs of its imminence. So, instead of fearing the so-called Great Reset, let’s anticipate with excitement the soon-coming Great Revival.

He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen. (Revelation 22:20-21).

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Revelation Revisited psot 57

The Book and the Books

Revelation 20

The book of Revelation starts with a depiction of God the Father, sitting on His throne with a book (scroll) in His hands, and it ends with Him opening a set of books.

We are drawing very near to the end of the Revelation Revisited series and so before I explain the significance of the books of Revelation 20:12, I once again need to present a glimpse of the big picture. Actually, the part of Revelation we are currently looking at, Chapter 20, provides an excellent basis for doing just that.

Revelation Revisited in Article ImageJohn provides a graphic portrayal of a mighty angel seizing Satan and binding him for 1,000 years. The thousand years stands as a symbol for the long period of time between the first and second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. The devil was effectively bound when Jesus died and rose again from the grave. From that moment onward Satan’s authority was stripped from him and he lost the right to control the lives of all who follow Jesus and are born again of His spirit.

‘You were at one time spiritually dead because of your sins and because you were Gentiles without the Law. But God has now brought you to life with Christ. God forgave us all our sins; he cancelled the unfavourable record of our debts with its binding rules and did away with it completely by nailing it to the cross. And on that cross Christ freed himself from the power of the spiritual rulers and authorities; he made a public spectacle of them by leading them as captives in his victory procession.’ TEV. (Colossians 2:13-15)
Revelation 20:4-6 presents those who become disciples of the Lord Jesus, die and go to be with Him in heaven where they reign with Him. As part of what he called ‘a trustworthy saying’, Paul wrote that ‘If we died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him…’ (2 Timothy 2:11-12). Revelation 20:5 describes this as ‘the first resurrection’. I have written about this in a previous post  but essentially the allusion is to the fact that when a believer dies physically ‘in Christ’ then he or she is then and there resurrected to spiritual life with Jesus in heaven. When Christ returns these believers will accompany Him and receive, along with all other people, transformed physical bodies (the second resurrection).
Shortly before Jesus returns to judge and reward, the devil is ‘set free for a short time’. He will deceive the world into thinking that he is The Christ and will mobilise against the true church of the Lord Jesus.
This is the period of great tribulation and great revival the book of Revelation points us to in passages such as 7:14 and 11:1-14.

When Jesus comes again it is to reward His disciples and to judge all others. This event is portrayed in Revelation as the opening of books, and another book which Revelation 20:12 describes as ‘the book of life’. God will judge all people, saved and unsaved alike, by what is in the record of our lives. Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 5:10, ‘For we must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad’.

Here is how I imagine it will be. You will stand before the great throne of God and He will open the record of your life. As He does so, you will see, in vivid holographic reality, everything you have ever done, spoken or even thought.

As you review your life in the awesome presence of Almighty God you will realise with clarity that there is nothing in the records that merit your acceptance by Him and your continuing existence with Him. The prophet Isaiah proclaimed that “All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6). This is so hard for us to own now, but we will see it so clearly then. But then The Lord will open another record, the Book of Life, and search for your name. This ‘book’ is written in blood, the blood of the Saviour, and if your name is inscribed in it then, despite your lack of earned merit, you will be deemed acceptable to God and worthy of eternal life. The entry in the book is made when you repent of self-serving rebellion against God, confess this to Him, cry out to Him for mercy, acknowledge that in Jesus Christ alone can you have eternal life, and then receive the rebirth of your spirit as a gift of grace received by faith.

This is the eternal Gospel, the Good News of salvation in Christ Jesus.
 

 

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About Me

My name is Christopher Peppler and I was born in Cape Town, South Africa in 1947. While working in the financial sector I achieved a number of business qualifications from the Institute of Bankers, Damelin Management School, and The University of the Witwatersrand Business School. After over 20 years as a banker, I followed God’s calling and joined the ministry full time. After becoming a pastor of what is now a quite considerable church, I  earned an undergraduate theological qualification from the Baptist Theological College of Southern Africa and post-graduate degrees from two United States institutions. I was also awarded the Doctor of Theology in Systematic Theology from the University of Zululand in 2000.

Four years before that I established the South African Theological Seminary (SATS), which today is represented in over 70 countries and has more than 2 500 active students enrolled with it. I presently play an role supervising Masters and Doctoral students.

I am a passionate champion of the Christocentric or Christ-centred Principle, an approach to biblical interpretation and theological construction that emphasises the centrality of Jesus

I have been happily married to Patricia since the age of 20, have two children, Lance and Karen, a daughter-in-law Tracey, and granddaughters Jessica and Kirsten. I have now retired from both church and seminary leadership and devote my time to writing, discipling, and the classical guitar.

If you would like to read my testimony to Jesus then click HERE.