The Spirit of The Age

 

That Bible prophecy is a vast subject, I have no doubt. For many believers, just getting a grasp on the fact that our God is a God of prophecy and understanding why that is important is a major step to knowing Him better. Beyond that concept, sadly, the average believer knows nothing of significance of the times in which we live, if they even understand THAT much. If the church is not asleep, she is awfully drowsy and definitely nodding off periodically.


Jesus is coming soon. How easy it is to say that, to mean it, and even moreso, to sense it in your heart of hearts. But do we say it, and do we mean it, and do we sense it? Does the church at large live as though this is true, and if we believe it, are we communicating it with all confidence to a dying world and to friends and family who are spiritually clueless? Many years ago, fresh from my first Revelation Bible study after a lifetime of Biblical illiteracy, I had the notion that I could know that I know that I know that what the Bible says would take place near the time of His coming was not only taking place before my very eyes, but that I could point to it and show others what I saw. This notion was from the Lord, I know that for certain. So, armed with nothing but a library card, an unwavering love of truth, and a two-year-old in tow with limited patience for the somber atmosphere of such a place, I scoured multiple periodicals for any sign of the times. I knew this information was out there, because in several major newspapers in the early 80s, someone took out full-page ads announcing, “The Christ is Now Here”. A New Age guru named Benjamin Crème of the Tara Center spent a boatload of money to take ads out in 25 or so of the world’s biggest newspapers to communicate that a great spiritual leader named Lord Maitreya was about to enter the world scene as a savior and miracle worker. Remember, this was years before the dawn of the PC and the internet. I would spend hours and hours digging for information with nothing but my convictions and not a computer mouse in sight. A card catalog and a patient librarian were my best friends at the time.


Anyway, these amazing ads told me as a young believer that someone was following some cosmic calendar and would take the stage at the proper time. These ads told me that the desire for a world leader, a cosmic Christ who would lead the masses into last-days Aquarian nirvana, was so strong that people would rejoice and rally around such a person. Funny, my Pastor had just told me that the Bible warns us that this very thing would take place! That was all I needed to actively pursue my studies of contemporary prophetic fulfillment and I never looked back.


Bible prophecy is not a simple subject, and it takes years of study to bring it into focus as you peel back the layers of subject matter and learn the Bible as an entire unit, understanding God’s plan for both the Gentiles and His people Israel. Sub-topics abound, such as global economics, geo-political issues, religious issues, and more. But I am not going to touch on any of those in this series. My desire first and foremost is to hover at around 10,000 feet, bringing you an overview if you will, of the times in which we live outside of specific issues. I firmly believe that having a grasp on the “big picture” is invaluable and gives us a basis for our confidence in the Lord and what He says will come to pass. Remember, this will be a time of intense spiritual activity, so understanding the spiritual climate is essential.

We live in a time like no other. Can anyone argue with that? Even unbelievers know that these are ‘perilous times’ in one way or another, and if they don’t, they aren’t paying very close attention to the world around them, or are bent on tuning everything else out but self – which is also a part of what the Bible calls perilous! There is a mood, a climate, a prevailing social state of mind and heart that is unmistakable today. There have been momentous changes in the last century that have brought us to a point of no return in our culture that can only be rectified by heavenly intervention. I call this prevailing mood ‘the Spirit of the Age’, my definition for the spiritual mood or climate of the times. I firmly believe we live in no ordinary time, especially when you combine the spiritual mood of the times with so much other fulfilled prophecy, not the least of which is the sign of Israel being back in her land.

 


Perilous Times.

Scripture indicates that we can expect a specific time, unlike any other time man has known, in which the sin of mankind will become full and ripe for judgment. The book of 2Timothy Chapter 3 tells us to expect perilous times, and proceeds to give a laundry list of behaviors and attitudes of heart that will define these times: Lovers of self; lovers of money, disobedient, ungrateful, lacking self-control, haters of good, unholy, unloving; these things and more define our ‘perilous times’. From the first time I read these verses, I found it interesting that what makes the times perilous is the condition of the human heart, not necessarily outward events, as one might think of perilous or difficult times.


We are also told the last days will be like the days of Noah, a time in which the ‘intents of the thoughts of men’s hearts were only evil continually’ (Genesis 6:5)…a world where the inhabitants are utterly clueless that judgment is imminent. If that’s not bad enough, the church of Jesus Christ will also suffer from spiritual ailments; 1Timothy tells us many will depart from the faith and give heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of demons. Also in 2Timothy, we read that there will be a time when men will not endure sound doctrine but gather around themselves teachers who will tell them what they want to hear. It is these verses that scare me the most; I have come to expect little of the world, but when the Spirit of the Age invades the church, it makes me feel particularly uneasy. Has the Spirit of the Age invaded the church? You be the judge.


As believers, we should be the most sensitive and restless about the prevailing spiritual climate. Unbelievers may not know why they feel a sense of fear or apprehension, and often desperation, but many are perceptive enough to know that in the last few decades, life has become increasingly difficult on many fronts.


In fact, many vocalize fears today that the very survival of the human race is at risk. People cope differently to the stress of living in these times; some choose to tune out. Some more sensitive souls despair of living, which is reflected in suicide rates among our young. Others seek to find peace in some type of spirituality, maybe meditation or the latest Oprah-induced spiritual coma.


Still others jump in with an activist attitude and try to save the world one cause at a time. Some think the world will end from environmental disaster, so they pour all their energy into saving the oceans and the ozone and trying to convince us it’s overly warm out. (Excuse me? It’s April 9th here in Wisconsin and snowing to beat the band.)

Some think the problem is over-population; so they pour themselves into saving the world through the vehicle of Planned Parenthood and the evils that go with that. Still others think it is war that will eliminate the human race and actively oppose any military action no matter how necessary or how evil the enemy is. Maybe the problem is intolerance, so let’s legislate political correctness to force everyone to play nicely together in the global neighborhood; and on and on it goes as we seek a social cure for our social ills.

 


They remind me of that old fable about the blind men trying to describe an elephant, which none of them, of course, have ever seen. Perhaps you have heard this one:


Six blind men were told there was an elephant in their village. They had no idea what an elephant was, but to satisfy a natural curiosity, they decided they would all go and make contact with that elephant. The first man touched it’s side and decided ’it’s a wall’.


The second man touched the tail, and declared, ‘it’s a rope’. ‘No, it’s a snake,’ said the third, who touched its trunk. The fourth man felt a knee, and said,’ no, it must be a tree’.


The next one grabbed an ear and decided it was a huge fan; the last man felt the tusk and insisted that it had to be a spear. Over the years, many different religions have tried to give deep philosophical meaning to this story, and all have pretty much come to the same conclusion: it means we can’t really know God, that when it comes to understanding life’s mysteries, everyone is partly right, and everyone is partly wrong, there is no final answer. But what it reminds me of is the way people approach the times in which we live. As they seek to find a solution to the various dangers they perceive, they sound a bit like blind men defining an elephant—they are partly right…and mostly wrong. The unbelieving man and woman are indeed blind, and simply trying to convince each other – and us – that they can see.


But we as believers, having the great gift of spiritual eyes to see the big picture, can offer the world Biblical answers to their questions. We know without a doubt that the problem is spiritual. And as is often the case with a pitiful spiritual condition, this one did not happen overnight. The seeds of change that are bearing fruit in our days were planted some time ago, and I am going to show you that the chickens have indeed come home to roost in these last days.


If you were a citizen of my upper Midwest town in the mid 1800s, when it was new, you would have lived a pretty simple life. You would not have had a phone, a bathroom, a radio or television, largely due to the fact that you had no electricity or running water. Your contact with the outside world would have been very limited, even the weekly paper would have had only local news. You would not have seen a McDonalds, a Walgreens, a Walmart, or a gas station for decades to come. No surprises there.


But did you also know, that in our humble town in 1850, you would never had a Jehovah’s Witness knock at your door? Nor would you have seen a pair of Mormons ride down Main Street USA on a bicycle. Your children would not have been seduced by the lies of Darwinism in the school system as there WAS no publicly funded school system yet, and Charles Darwin had not yet been seduced by the spirit of his OWN age. Your sons would not have been diagnosed with ADD since it did not exist, your daughters would not have been deceived by the agenda of Planned Parenthood. There was no pornography industry, no R-rated movies or music (or any movies for that matter), no alternative lifestyles; sin was sin and shame was shame.


To help you see the profound spiritual changes the world went through in a relatively short time, and to underscore the lateness of the hour, I have included a visual listing just some of the more obvious spiritual movements that all had their beginnings in modern history and have had a huge impact on our lives today. While there have always been false teachers and cultic movements, as I look into this it seems for all the world that Satan saved a particularly mixed and large bag of tricks for these latter times. On this list, you will find the beginnings of most of the major humanistic movements of today that distract and deceive people and draw them away from true Christianity. From cults, to psychology, from ecumenism to evolution, it’s all there. And I will lay odds that everyone you share your faith with has been conditioned by one or more of these religions or philosophies, and so these things impact all of us no matter what our spiritual state.

The Spirit of the Age

1800s

Post-tribulationalism dominates biblical eschatology

1830

- Joseph Smith founds Mormon movement;

- Visions of Mary at Lourdes claimed

1851

Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton pair up to form the beginnings of the women’s movement

1859

Darwin’s Origin of the Species is published

1860

New Thought Movement begun by Phineas Quimby; father of

Positive Thinking/Word Faith Teachings adopted by N. V. Peale, Kenneth Copeland, et al

1870

The dogma of papal infallibility is instituted

1875

Mary Baker Eddy publishes first Christian Science texts

1879

Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood, is born

1879

Jehovah’s Witness organization founded by Charles Taze Russell

1882

First New Age Bible published

1893

First Parliament of World Religions held in Chicago

1894

The Women’s Bible is published

1895

Sigmund Freud begins his work in the field of psychoanalysis

1897

John Dewey, father of public education, publishes The School and Society

1912

- Annie Besant founds the magazine Herald of the Star to promote Krishnamurti as the coming World Teacher

- Fatima visions of Mary claimed

1917

Lenin facilitates Communist Revolution

1919

Sri Yogendra introduces Yoga to the West

1923

American Astrological Society is founded

1939

Gerald Gardner initiates modern Neo-Pagan/Wicca movement in England

1945

Birth of the UN

1947

Age of the UFO begins with supposed sightings in WA state

1955

Church of Scientology opens its doors in Washington, DC

1867: Charles Spurgeon publishes series of articles in Sword and Trowel designed to bring to light doctrinal irregularities in the Protestant church of his day.

Scripture References: 1Timothy 4; 2Timothy 3


Now, to further make this point, I want to show you what was happening in the church of Jesus Christ at this same time. Remember, not only is rampant deception prophesied for the world at large, but we are warned there will be a simultaneous falling away from the true faith.


Apostasy.

Thanks to a well-known evangelical pastor of the late 19th century, we have excellent documentation of the beginnings of the departure from the faith that has sadly grown to maturity today, right alongside the most blatant false teachings.

That pastor was Charles Spurgeon, known on both sides of the Atlantic as a zealous, forthright, faithful minister of the Gospel. Spurgeon had a monthly magazine called The Sword and the Trowel. In March of 1887, he published, with another pastor, a series of articles entitled, ‘The DOWN GRADE. He did not know it at the start, but these articles would start of a firestorm of controversy that would consume the final 5 years of his life. I have great admiration for this man, he was a bit of a Dave Hunt of his day. Through his series of articles, Spurgeon sounded the alarm against the invasion of liberalism, intellectualism and modernism into the Church. Churches of his day were abandoning such central doctrines as the Deity of Christ, the sufficiency of the Word, redemption by the blood of Christ and the new birth by the Spirit in favor of man’s wisdom. This emphasis on higher learning also led to raising up preachers who had multiple academic achievements over those with the greater spiritual qualifications; in other words, placing college degrees and speaking skills above evangelical zeal and God’s call and giftings.


One of the side contributions Spurgeon is responsible for is what we call the ‘Statement of Faith’ that came into being at this time so it could be clear what a fellowship taught on doctrinal issues because it WAS no longer clear. At one point in the articles, he even criticizes Darwin, a contemporary, for abandoning the faith and leading people astray through the doctrine of evolution.


If he only knew what a beast it would become in our day! Spurgeon and many of our creation science apologeticists today would have gotten along well, I think. Anyway, as Spurgeon’s crusade for truth played itself out, it became clear to him that there indeed was a point at which it was not unloving to disassociate one’s self with those who have departed from the basics of the faith. This caused him great personal sorrow as many friends and colleagues turned on him. He was the only known evangelical of his day who took a firm stand against the tide of growing apostasy.


What was that genuinely fatal step in the church as a whole, that point of no return for Spurgeon? He explains it so well, I will simply read his quote from the Sword and Trowel Magazine:


The first step away is a lack of faith in the divine inspiration of the Scriptures. All the while a man bows to the authority of God’s Word, he will not entertain any sentiment contrary to its teaching…He esteems the Holy Book concerning all things, to be right, therefore he hates every false way. But let a man question, or entertain an alternate view of the inspiration and authority of the Bible, and he is without chart to guide him, without anchor to hold him….in looking over the movement of the times, it is apparent that where ministers and churches have held fast to the truth that the Scriptures are an authoritative and infallible rule of faith and practice, they have never wandered seriously out of the way. But when reason is exalted above revelation, all kinds of error and mischief is the result.”

All Kinds of Mischief.

All kinds of mischief, indeed. What was so shocking to Spurgeon is, well, just another day in many churches today. Holding fast to the Scriptures seems to be as quaint as Grandmother’s cod liver oil. Teaching from the Bible in the course of weekly church services, while the most needed thing, has fallen out of favor with many Pastors today in favor of the felt need of ‘relevancy’.


Somehow the church has gotten the idea that it has to present itself as a hip and attractive lifestyle to remain a viable entity. Reading some of the Church’s promotions of itself these days, it is clear that those who give time and energy to defining the Church’s place in the culture have decided that we need to consciously appeal to the entire cross-culture to be taken seriously. Taking the position that the core messages of sin and redemption won’t be accepted by the masses and therefore must be given a make-over, we are in danger of putting ourselves ‘out of business’ and becoming useless. On the contrary, if we take on the notion that our existence is based on our own ability to sell ourselves like toothpaste, then we are denying that very thing that makes us relevant: the fact that our message will NOT be user-friendly and cuts through layers of cultural lies, psychology and superficiality to get to the ‘heart of the matter’. If we rely on ourselves for our own PR, we are in danger of finishing in the flesh; if we rely on the Spirit to go before us and soften hearts for the gospel, we can simply walk in the ways He has prepared for us, finishing in the Spirit.


This supposed need for relevancy is a key reason Bible prophecy is not taught. In the Church’s effort to smooth out life’s edges for everyone, we conveniently leave off the fact that its not about this life, but the one to come. It’s not about our becoming at home here and being temporally successful, it’s about being pilgrims and strangers and longing for home. Prophecy is THE relevant subject for the church today. and if the church is interested in being on the cutting edge, teaching prophecy is the way to go.


What could possibly be more exciting to people than presenting the truth about God as it relates to prophecy? I grew up in a denominational church that never even acknowledged that God was a God of the future, that He not only knew it but told mere mortals what it would be. I will never, ever forget how excited I was as a young believer when this concept was presented to me. Talk about cutting edge stuff, this was IT. My temporal life just slid to the back seat in favor of a God of this magnitude.


One of the more exciting and significant stories today is the news that the Jews have re-established the Sanhedrin for the purpose of re-instituting the animal sacrifices and therefore rebuilding their Temple, something the Lord said would take place.

For the first time in 1,600 years, the Israeli Sanhedrin has been re-established. It occurred in Tiberius, the site of the Sanhedrin’s last meeting in AD 425. According to an item by Hal Lindsey,

“Religious authorities believe it was necessary to re-establish the Sanhedrin because only this properly ordained body of sages can authenticate a Messiah when he comes. There is a growing expectation of the long-awaited Messiah to appear among devout Jews. The rebirth of the Jewish state and recapture of Jerusalem has increasingly influenced this conviction.”

Now don’t miss this: the prophecies that Israel would once again be re-gathered in her land and usher in the last of the last days, that amazing event that happened back in 1948 before many of us were even born, are carrying us to the very edge of history and time, just as men like Hal Lindsey have been telling us for decades. The relevant life is the forward-looking one, not the inward looking one. Those trends today that seek to build the church with unregenerate and unteachable heathens can only lead to more ‘mischief’.

So now hopefully we can see the bigger spiritual picture of that time and OUR time: we can look over this list of false teachings and religions that so deceive people today, and see that the departure from the authority of the Word opens the door to all manner of relativism and an ‘all truth is God’s truth’ mentality. I get the eerie sense that all these false belief systems were just set in place for a specific time of great apostasy; and here we are just in time for what I call ‘closing arguments’.

Looking forward from here, we know that the rapture of the church will take place; that restraint of truth will be gone, and what does the Bible say the world will be doing after that? Worshiping a man who claims to be god. Is there any doubt that man is inherently a spiritual creature?

So now what? Yup, things will get darker, I don’t see anything that says otherwise…but the good news is that God is still in the soul saving business and all we need to do is be ready in season and out with the Gospel and our personal story. Just want to encourage you to do your homework about the times we live in and at the same time, rejoice that His coming is closer with each passing day.

I have been a believer since 1981. Everything else before that is relatively meaningless. My heart has, from day 1, always been toward the subject of bible prophecy and I have seen the Lord do amazing things in my life through simply studying the Word and applying it to my life. I am a wife, grandmother and work full time in ministry. Life is full, and full of learning curves and seasons.

One Response to “The Spirit of The Age” Subscribe

  1. Michael Blenke April 17, 2007 at 12:12 pm #

    Mary!!! Thank you for your lengthy and indepth expose on Biblical prophecy. I would like to add that all of Holy Writ, being God inspired, is entirely 100% prophecy…that is, forthtelling (historical, narrative) and foretelling; which is forcasting future events, as outlined in the Book of the Prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 46: 10). The Bible is unique among all other books as a Book of fulfilled prophecy–which, in turn, vaidates its authentencity! In fact, NO other book, supposedly ‘holy” or profane, dare make such future predictions: We serve a Mighty God who is worthy of our praise, worship and continuous adoration.

    I am well aware of the mounting end-time deception–from the increasing Marion apparitions (which I believe will be instrumental in uniting the coming one world false religion; ushering in and abetting the Antichrist) to Rick Warrens great ‘Purpopse Driven’ apaotasy (II Thessalonians 2:3.

    I am also aware of the Church’s confusion between the 7 year time period of Daniel’s 70th week, and the Great Tribulation Period (Jacobs Trouble,3 1/2 years) but time prevents me from covering this in-depth now.

    In closing, I would like to point to the remarkable work of our salavation in Christ Jesus. To me His main mission was that, Obtained for us by his sinless life, vicarious bodily death on the cross and bodily resurrection from the grave, He did the Will of His Father!!! May we seek, by His grace, to always do His will also!!

    In blessing, I bless you in Christ Jesus,

    Michael

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