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The Persecution of the Church Before the Coming of Christ

By Steven J. Hogan

~ A Saturday Morning Post #48 ~

Image result for Antichrist and persecution of Christians

As you probably know, I don’t preach a prosperity gospel, where health and wealth are some of the primary objectives. There’s no doubt God physically blesses Christians, but more importantly, He spiritually blesses us, giving us eternal life, and love, joy, peace, purpose and hope. And during our time on earth, God has called us to serve Him, and to sacrifice and suffer for Him. Now this is not a popular message, especially in this country, but it’s the truth, and I will not ignore it or skim over it. When you read the Bible, it’s obvious that suffering and persecution are very big subjects.

Remember what Jesus said, “A slave is not greater than his master. If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you” (John 15:20). Think of what Peter said, “For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example to follow in His steps… Since Christ has suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same purpose” (1 Peter 2:21, 4:1). Then Paul told us, “Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.” Acts 14:22

As Christians we shouldn’t then be surprised when we are persecuted and suffer. Loving the Lord by living a holy life and speaking the truth will result in suffering. “Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12). Isn’t it true that God has blessed the United States with the freedom of assembly, speech and religion, and therefore Christians living in this country haven’t been persecuted as much? When I read mission magazines or go online, it is obvious that it’s a lot worse in Asia, Africa and the Middle East, where Christians are commonly mistreated, beaten, jailed and at times even killed. But you can see that persecution is getting worse in this country, and there will soon come a day when it will be just as bad here as these other places.

I say that because we now live in the end times, and the Bible clearly tells us that persecution will continue and then become great persecution the closer we get to the coming of Christ. In fact, this subject of persecution and suffering is part of every major Bible passage that speaks about events leading up to Christ’s return. Jesus repeatedly tells us about it because He wants us to know what will be taking place, and to be ready and alert, and able then to be joyfully and fearlessly serving Him.

Jesus says, “Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of Me” (Matthew 24:9). Jesus says, “Those days will be a time of tribulation such as has not occurred since the beginning of creation” (Mark 13:19. Jesus says, “You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers and relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death” (Luke 21:16). We all know Christians have been persecuted since the beginning days of the church, but these passages, along with Revelation 6:9-11, make it clear that it will escalate, will become severe, will climax, and go global, and particularly in the years right before the return of Christ.

But how will this happen? At the midpoint of Daniel’s 70th week, the Antichrist is revealed and, having taken control of the world, he will then unleash great persecution, first against the Jews and then against the Christians (Matthew 24:9-10, 15-26; Revelation 12:13-17). But it won’t just be government officials persecuting Christians, but former fellow church goers coming after them as well – “Many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another” (Matthew 24:10). But in my opinion, the worst will be when “brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child, and children will rise up against parents and have them put to death.” Mark 13:12

The devil will be stirring up this great hate for God’s people, and therefore deceived unbelievers will be going after innocent Christians, opposing them and trying to kill them. This will definitely be the most difficult time ever for Christians on this earth. Revelation 13:7 warns us, “It was also given to him (Antichrist) to make war with the saints and to overcome them.” I know this is not a feel good message, but I have to tell you the truth – the church will be greatly persecuted before the coming of Christ. And we shall overcome!

How then are we to think about persecution and suffering? 1st, know that God is sovereign and will protect you (Romans 8:28-39). 2nd, remember Peter’s instruction, “Those who suffer according to the will of God shall entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right” (1 Peter 4:19). 3rd, share the gospel. As Jesus said, “They will lay their hands on you and will persecute you… It will lead to an opportunity for your testimony” (Luke 21:13). 4th, “Consider Him who endured such suffering by sinners against Himself so that you will not grow weary and lose heart” (Hebrews 12:3). 5th, Jesus told us, “Do not fear what you are about to suffer” (Revelation 2:10). 6th, Paul wrote, “God will keep you strong to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 7th,  as Paul said, “Know what is the hope of His calling (Ephesians 1:18). 8th, remember Jesus’ promise, “Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness… rejoice and be glad for your reward in heaven is great!” Matthew 5:10-12

P.S.  I want to let you know that Marv Rosenthal will be teaching at our church, Hope Bible Church of Tampa, on January 21, 2018.  If you are in our area I would encourage you to come!

P.P.S.  Our church music team has recorded a number scripture songs on a double cd set: Scripture Songs ~ Our Legacy, Volumes 1 & 2.  I’d love to make these available to you!  Please email me if you are interested.

God Will Keep You Strong to the End

By Steven J. Hogan

~ A Saturday Morning Post #47 ~

Have you ever wondered if you are going to make it to the end? And when I say “make it”, I mean continuing on, staying the course, persevering, serving the Lord to the very end, whether that means to the end of your life, or to the end of this age. I will admit that sometimes I wonder. As you know, the Christian life can be extremely difficult, for there are spiritual battles and Satanic attacks, and times when you are discouraged or overwhelmed or physically exhausted, or just weary of the fight.

In the past two months we have been looking at what will be taking place before the coming of Christ – the birth pains, increasing lawlessness, the downfall of the United States, apostasy and betrayal, that evil Antichrist, etc. Then you add this to the above mentioned everyday struggles, and you realize it’s a rough road leading up to the rapture of the church. But isn’t this what God has planned for the church, and for you too? And if this is what God wants, then surely He will give you all the grace you need. Never forget that God is your heavenly Father, and you are His cherished child, and He loves you much, much more than you can ever imagine. Surely He will keep you, strengthening and sustaining you, helping and holding you, and if need be, carrying you across the finish line. Your heavenly Father will never leave you, but will be with you always, and make sure you are safe and sound all the way from earth to heaven.

Let me share some promises to assure you of your great and glorious victory:
– Philippians 1:6 – “I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you, will perfect it until the day of Christ.” Do you see this, and do you believe this, that God began His good work in you, and will make sure He completes it on the day of Christ, at the return of Christ and the rapture of the church?
– 1 Corinthians 1:8 – “He will keep you strong to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Never forget that God will keep you strong, keeping you going to the end of your life or to the end of this age, whatever He has planned for you.
– 2 Timothy 4:18 – “The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed, and will bring me safely to His heavenly Kingdom.” Here’s this great promise of protection, that God will rescue you from all the human and devilish evils of life, and then bring you safely to heaven.
– Jude 24-25 – “Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority…” Here is a heart assuring promise, that God will keep you from stumbling, and will literally and supernaturally bring you from earth to heaven and into the very presence of God.
– Romans 8:30 – “And those whom He predestined, He also called; and those whom He called, He also justified; and those whom He justified, He also glorified.” This “Golden Chain”, as some call it, from predestined to called to justified to glorified, cannot be broken. What God planned for your life in eternity past, that you be glorified, will finally be fulfilled at the coming of Jesus Christ. 1 Thessalonians 5:24

How does this happen, what are the means by which God will make sure you keep persevering as a Christian, and then are taken off this evil earth, and into the wonderful presence of Jesus? Yes, it is by these promises. But it is also by God’s grace, by the teaching of God’s Word, by Christ interceding for you, by the Spirit working in you, by the church helping you, by Christians encouraging you, and by angels ministering to you. Matthew 24:13

But you also need to look to Jesus. “Consider Him who endured such hostility by sinners against Himself so you will not grow weary and lose heart” (Hebrews 12:3). Remember Jesus and all that He went through just for you, which shows you how much He loves you. Remember that He died for you, was raised again for you, now lives for you, and prays for you – He loves you so, so much. I think of Moses and how “He endured as seeing Him who is unseen” (Hebrews 11:27). There’s no doubt that God will enable you to endure all the way to the end, and then, “We shall always be with the Lord.” 1 Thessalonians 4:17

As you can tell, I am not going to sugarcoat your future on earth. Yes, it is going to get real hard. As Paul said, “Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of heaven” (Acts 14:22).  At this time there is tribulation, and in the coming years there will be great tribulation (Matthew 24:21-22). But isn’t this our time to live for the Lord, and do the work He has called us to do? What an honor and privilege to be picked by Him to be part of the end times’ team that’s ushering in the return of Christ. But remember these promises, and fix your eyes on Jesus, being convinced of His love for you and that He is with you all the way to heaven. “Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation or distress, or persecution, or nakedness, or peril, or sword… But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.” Romans 8:35-37

P.S.  An encouraging article that you will want to read, which is related to today’s post, is You Have to Have Hope!

The Coming of Christ, and the Triumph of the Church

By Steven J. Hogan

~ A Saturday Morning Post #46 ~

Never forget what Jesus Christ declared, “I will build My church, and the gates of Hades will not overpower it” (Matthew 16:18). The truth is that Christ is now building His church, and this glorious work will be fully completed when He returns at the end of this age. But there are times when you look out at the spiritual landscape of the world, and it seems like a mess. You may even think to yourself, “Why isn’t the church growing more?” Let me answer this question: 1st, it’s because Christians still have a sinful flesh. 2nd, the devil with all his demons, is doing all he can to harm the church, to spread lies, error and deceit. 3rd, God is sovereign, and everything is going according to His perfect and eternal plans. “The plans of the Lord stand firm forever.” Psalm 33:11

But I need to explain two phrases used in theological circles to help you understand what Christ is doing with regards to the church. It is the concept of the visible church and the invisible church. The visible church refers to all people attending church services, those who profess to be Christians, those on church membership rolls, those you can visibly see. Some of these people are true Christians, but others are not. Now the invisible church refers to all people who are true Christians, the elect of God, those who are truly saved and born again, and God knows those who are His. But what believers see on earth is a mixed body, comprised of the saved and unsaved, or as Jesus said, those who are wheat and tares. But we shouldn’t be surprised for this is what Christ told us would happen. “So shall it be at the end of the age.” Matthew 13:36-43

Now when Christ said, “I will build My church,” He was referring to the invisible church. And there’s no doubt those the Father chose to be saved will be saved, adopted as His sons, redeemed by Christ’s blood, forgiven of their sins, and sealed by the Spirit for the day of redemption. We can confidently say, “the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord… a dwelling of God in the Spirit.” Ephesians 2:21

Do you not know and do you not believe that Jesus Christ is the head of the church, that He is in charge, that He is leading the way, and that He is directing Christians on earth to do His work? Do you not see that Christ will be victorious all the way to the end of this age, that He will finish what He started, and then return to rapture the church and take her to Himself, and then take her home to heaven? Amen!!! Ephesians 1:9-12, 4:11-16

Yes, it is true that Christians aren’t perfect and don’t always do what they ought to do, and sometimes are living for self instead of for God. It’s true that this hateful and evil devil is continually tempting us, attacking us and fighting against us – indeed, we are in a fierce spiritual battle. And it’s true that some pastors preach a simplistic gospel, and are not teaching all of God’s word, but instead are trying to be worldly and entertaining, with hopes that people will then join their church. 2 Timothy 4:1-5

But remember, God is sovereignly and powerfully working all things together for good, and will faithfully fulfill His promises, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you shall be my witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth,” and “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved,” and “that He may send Jesus, the Christ appointed for you, whom heaven must receive until the period of restoration of all things.” Acts 1:8, Acts 2:21, Acts 3:20-21

God has ordained it so that Christians will pray, “Your kingdom come,” and “will seek first His kingdom”, and so that “this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world… and then the end will come”, and so that Christians willmake disciples of all the nations, baptizing them… teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you”, and so that Jesus will be with us “even to the end of the age.” Matthew 6:10, 6:33, 24:14, 28:19-20

I am very encouraged that God is in control and that everything, to the last detail, to the last word preached, to the last martyr, to the last person saved, to Christ’s coming in the clouds, and to His return in glory and His rapture of the church, is going exactly according to His eternally wise and wonderful plans, and will most assuredly soon be fulfilled. “He will keep you strong to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God, who has called you into fellowship with His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful.” 1 Corinthians 1:8-9

P.S. During this Christmas season when we can be so easily be distracted by all kinds of things, let’s remember to be Thinking of Jesus Christ.

From Many Religions to the Antichrist and One World Religion

By Steven J. Hogan

~ A Saturday Morning Post #45 ~

Image result for worship satan

In the Bible, God has told us many things that will be occurring before the coming of Christ. One significant thing He wants us to know is that the Antichrist will be ruling over this whole world, politically, militarily and economically, but also spiritually. It will be the Antichrist and a one world religion. “The whole earth was amazed and followed after the beast (Antichrist)… they worshiped the beast.” Revelation 13:3-4

But how do we get to the point where there are no more religions, no more Catholics, Lutherans, Muslims or Buddhists, etc., where everyone is worshiping the Antichrist? That seems impossible! People now go to churches, mosques, temples and synagogues; and many don’t attend any place of worship, but rather stay at home and watch football or soccer, or go out to eat, or go shopping, or go to the movies, or whatever. Every person is a worshiper, and always worships someone or something.

Let me share how we will get to that time when the world is worshiping the Antichrist:
1. Globalism. Everything on this earth is moving towards globalism. You see it with an increasing desire for one world government. You see it with travel, and that you can go anyplace in the world. You see it with the economy, with foreign made goods being sold in every country. You see it with the English language being spoken all over the world. You see it with communication, with the internet and smart phones. You see it with globally shared music and movies. You see it with currency. You see it with open borders. And when you put it all together, you can see how we are getting closer to global unity and a global dictator, to one devilish man ruling the whole world.

2. Birth pains. Problems in the world, specifically the birth pains, earthquakes, famines and wars, will necessitate global solutions (Matthew 24:4-8). Eventually, a smart, sharp, and strong leader will take charge, solve our problems and bring “peace” to the world.

3. False prophets. False prophets and antichrists will increasingly be teaching that God’s word isn’t true, Christ isn’t God, man isn’t sinful, salvation isn’t through Christ alone, and that there’s no heaven and hell. (Matthew 24:11, 1 John 3:18). False teachers will be emphasizing “peace” and “love”, but diminishing truth and holiness. Popes will be pushing for unity, but it’s a fake unity. Churches and religion in general will be getting less popular, and attendance at places of worship will be decreasing.

4. Apostasy. There will be an apostasy, a falling away, a turning away, a huge defection from the church. “Many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another. Many false prophets will arise and mislead many” (Matthew 24:10-11, 21). But these defectors were never true Christians in the first place. And they will turn from the Lord, turn against Christians, and turn them in to the authorities. It will be very evident that there are just Christians and non-Christians, believers and non-believers. “The apostasy comes first and the man of lawlessness is revealed.” 2 Thessalonians 2:3

5. Deception. “God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false” (2 Thessalonians 2:8-12). Unbelievers in the world won’t be believing the truth, and so God will permit these unrighteous people to be deceived even more by all these Satan inspired signs and wonders. From the context of these verses you can see easily how these sinners will be worshiping the Antichrist. Revelation 13:11-14

6. “Resurrection” of the beast. The Bible isn’t completely clear on the details, but some kind of seeming miracle takes place with regards to the beast, and people all over the world will be so amazed and in awe that they’ll worship this Antichrist. Revelation 13:3

7. Religions destroyed. Revelation 17:1-7 says that this harlot, this wicked woman symbolizing the false religions, will be destroyed, for the devil will have no more use for them. Revelation 17:16 says, “The ten horns you saw, and the beast (Antichrist), will hate the harlot and make her desolate and naked.” At this time, the midpoint of Daniel’s 70th week, the world will be so deceived that they will think this Antichrist is God, and will then worship him. “The man of lawlessness is revealed… 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, proclaiming himself to be God.” 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4

All this, the globalism, birth pains, false prophets, apostasy, deception, “resurrection”, and destruction of religions, will be the means and motivation by which unbelievers in the world will worship this beast, this Antichrist. Right before Christ’s return there will be either the false religion of the Antichrist or Christianity. People will be worshiping God or worshiping the devil. But don’t be afraid, for God is in charge. And don’t forget, Christ will build His church, and we’ll be working with Him, preaching the gospel and making disciples right up to the end of the age. By God’s grace we will overcome, and then Christ will return to rapture the church, pour out His wrath on the unbelievers, defeat the Antichrist, and then rule over the world. Revelation 1:4-8

P.S.  Please email me at: stevehogan@christskingdom.org if you would like a free copy of Marvin Rosenthal’s  instructive and encouraging pamphlet entitled: “As a Thief in the Night”.   If you haven’t read my Thanksgiving  article, which I recently posted, you can check it out here: Being Thankful – The Character of a Christian.

Happy Thanksgiving

By Steven J. Hogan

~ A Special Post ~

This is Thanksgiving Day, a wonderful day to enjoy family and friends, and to eat some very good food. (Ecclesiastes 2:24-25). It is also a time to remember the great blessings God has bestowed on our lives, and to then reflect on His great goodness toward us. What a kind and gracious Father we have, who has blessed us so, so much, and will continue to bless us in this life on earth, and forever and ever. “Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” Psalm 23:6

As you know this blog is about the end times and Christ’s Kingdom. Indeed, there is much that can be said, and needs to be said about what will be taking place in our future. But to live for the Lord in the way He wants we need to not just know what will be happening, but we need to possess the godly character He speaks about in His word. Over the course of the next year my desire is to write a number of articles about the character of a Christian. The first is given to you here – “Being Thankful – The Character of a Christian.”

Happy Thanksgiving!  “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” 2 Corinthians 13:14

God’s Plan for the Jews – From Now to the Coming of Christ

By Steven J. Hogan

~ A Saturday Morning Post #44 ~

Image result for road towards sun

Many significant and history defining events will be occurring in the years leading up to the coming of Christ, and we have already talked about some of them – birth pains, the decline of the United States, the coming of the Antichrist, increasing lawlessness, etc. But it’s also important to understand God’s plans for the Jews, for His working with them coincides with His working with the Christians. Seeing what’s happening with the Jews is to alert you and give you confidence that Christ is coming back soon to rapture the church. Let me go over what is now and what will be taking place with regard to the Jews:

The Jews have been miraculously gathering back to their land for the past 130 years, from about 25,000 in the 1880’s to over 6.5 million at the present, proving that we are now living in the end times of this church age (Ezekiel 37:21-23). During much of this period, Arabs and Muslims have been persecuting the Jews. But it’s also true that most every nation in the world is opposed to them, seen in the United Nations’ anti-Semitic activities, and their voting record which consistently denounces and diminishes the rights and freedoms of the Jews. And it’s only going to get much worse. Zechariah 12:1-3

The time will soon come when the Jews will be desperate for peace, leading them to sign a deal with the devil, that is, with the future Antichrist. This treaty, predicted over 2500 years ago, will be confirmed at the beginning of Daniel’s 70th week (Daniel 9:27). Even now the United States and other world powers are actively pursuing this peace treaty. That the Jews will once again have a temple in Jerusalem is also a key component of God’s end time plans for the Jews. A likely scenario is that the building of this temple will be part of this Israeli peace package. Revelation 11:1-2

But during the first half of Daniel’s 70th week global problems will be greatly increasing, at the same time this coming Antichrist is growing in influence, making alliances, and becoming more recognized around the world. At the midpoint of this 70th week, this Antichrist, this devilish beast of a man, will suddenly break his treaty with the Jews. “The man of lawlessness is revealed… who opposes and exalts himself above every so called god… so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as God.” (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4). To discerning Jews and Christians it will be obvious that the person desolating the temple is the Antichrist, and that he is not a man of peace but a man of war, for right away he will begin aggressively persecuting them. Matthew 24:9, 21

Matthew 24:15-25 instructs the Jews living in Israel that they are to run for their lives. And Revelation 12:13-17 tells us that many of these Jews miraculously escape and are protected during the last 3½ years of this 70th week. This frustrated and angry Antichrist then “went off to make war with the rest of her children (Christians), who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus.” In addition to the escape of these Jews, there are another 144,000 who are sealed and physically kept safe. At that time or shortly thereafter, these 140,000 Jews are spiritually saved, becoming holy worshipers and faithful followers of Jesus (Revelation 14:1-5). During this same time, God raises up two Jewish witnesses, believed to be Moses and Elijah, and for 3½ years they are performing amazing miracles and proclaiming the truth about Jesus.

Sometime during this last 3½ years of Daniel’s 70th week this great persecution is cut short; and then Christ comes in the clouds for the Christians, glorifying them, and taking them home to heaven. God’s wrath is then righteously poured out on the earth, and a large number of rebellious and unrepentant Jews will be killed, two-thirds of their entire population, as Zechariah 13:8-9 seems to say. But this Jewish remnant that had escaped the Antichrist will continue to be protected up until the end of this 70th week. Then the two witnesses will be killed by this Antichrist, but then raised from the dead and taken to heaven. It’s at this time that this chosen remnant of Jews will be redeemed by the Lord – “all Israel will be saved” (Romans 11:26). These newly saved Jewish believers will then remain with Christ, reigning with Him during the millennial kingdom. Revelation 11

These then are God’s end time plans for the Jews – gathered back to their land – persecution – peace treaty – temple built – revealing of the Antichrist – great persecution – great escape and protection – sealing 140,000 Jews – two Jewish witnesses – the coming of Christ – the salvation of a remnant of Jews – and they will be carried out. “I am God, and there is no one like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things which have not been done, saying, ‘My purpose will be established, and I will accomplish all My good pleasure… I have planned it, surely I will do it.’” Isaiah 46:9-11

The Jewish events listed above are divine sign posts for Christians living in the end times, giving us clear evidence and confidence that God is completing His final plans for this present age, and that Christ is returning soon to rapture the church. As we see these events unfold in the years ahead, might we be encouraged to keep loving our Lord and living for Him, and to keep persevering to the end of this age.

P.S.  I’ve just published an article that contains a long list of very encouraging Bible verses: Encouraging Verses that Express the Love, Grace and Peace of God.

It’s Going to Get Worse Before It Gets Better

By Steven J. Hogan

~ A Saturday Morning Post #43 ~

There’s a lot of sin in this world, and it’s going to get a whole lot worse before the return of Christ and the rapture of the church. “In the last days, difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving… lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God… evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse” (2 Timothy 3:1-3, 13). During this present evil age, we see all this sin, but this world will only get more and more wicked the closer we get to the coming of Christ.

Matthew 24 is all about the end times, and verse 12 warns us, “Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold.” In these years before Christ’s coming, the non-Christians will increasingly be mean, cruel and hateful. Then there’s 2 Thessalonians 2:3, 8-12, and it actually calls the Antichrist the “man of lawlessness.” One reason why there will be this escalating sin in the end times is because this Antichrist, this man of sin, will not just be permitting evil, but will be promoting it.

What does this sin look like? 2 Timothy 3 gave us some details, but Galatians 5:18-21 further describes it by saying, “the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities… drunkenness, carousing.” In Mark 7:21, Jesus says, “out of the heart of men proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries… envy, slander, pride and foolishness.” In the years leading up to Christ’s return, unbelievers will be blatantly sinning, unashamedly sinning, defiantly sinning and greatly sinning. Sin will be rampant, openly seen in families, in leaders, in schools, in government, at work, on the internet, and in media, music and movies. I know you may not want to hear this, but this is the truth, this is what God says in His Word, and this is what He wants you to know.

In the end times this entire planet will be filled with people who have cast off moral restraint, who hate God and love their sin. 2 Peter 2:10 talks of “those who indulge the flesh in its corrupt desires and despite authority.” People will be shaking their fists at God, rejecting those in authority, and doing what is right in their own eyes. Sinful behavior will be completely accepted and normalized. It will be like the days of Noah when “the wickedness of man was great on this earth, and every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only continually evil” (Genesis 6:5). Remember the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life,” when Bedford Falls is imagined to be Pottersville, a dark, evil, perverted and partying place. Sadly, this will be similar to the condition of our world.

Let’s be honest, these latter days will be very difficult for Christians. I’m reminded of that wicked city of Sodom when “Lot, oppressed by the sensual conduct of unprincipled men… while living among them, felt his righteous soul tormented day after day by their lawless deeds.” But remember the promise that follows, “The Lord knows how to rescue the godly from temptation, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment” (2 Peter 2:7-9). Christians living on earth in these coming days will go through great tribulation for a short time, and then be raptured, and then be with the Lord forever. But God’s enemies will not escape His wrath, for they will be punished forever. And it won’t be by a flood like in the days of Noah, but by fire during the day of the Lord, and then in Hades for 1000 years, and then in the lake of fire for all eternity. Revelation 20:15

When you look at the world you see how people are so polarized, are on opposite sides in so many areas, but it’s only going to get worse. There will be right or wrong, light or darkness, those who do good or those who do evil. And then, like never before, the non-Christians will be hating and persecuting the Christians. But God is so patient, “not wishing for any to perish, but for all to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). As we live in this dark world, might we too be patient, and see this as an opportunity for our light to shine (Daniel 12:3). Might we love our enemies and give them the gospel, knowing that some will turn from their sin and turn to Christ, being forgiven and becoming children of God. May God give you the grace to persevere, to stay the course, and to keep making disciples right up until the end of the age and the return of Christ (Matthew 28:19-20).

“Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved (raptured). This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.” Matthew 24:12-14

P.S.  When life is difficult, we always need to have hope.  I encourage you to read my article: You Have to Have Hope!  It will be a blessing to your life!

The Antichrist is Coming Soon, and It’s Before the Coming of Christ

By Steven J. Hogan

~ A Saturday Morning Post #42 ~

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The most wicked, vile, evil man ever, will soon be ruling over this world. This man is the Antichrist, also called the Beast, the man of lawlessness, or the little horn. He will hate God and Jesus Christ with a devilish passion, and therefore hate His people, both Jews and Christians. Now I’m not here to scare you, I just want you to know the truth.

Since the Jews are back in their land, then we know we’re living in the end times, and now in 2017, we’re in that time period Matthew 24:8 calls the “beginning of birth pains.” That is, wars, earthquakes, famines and economic problems are taking place in various places around the world. But we’re only at the beginning stage, which means they will be getting a lot worse. And what comes next? Matthew 24:9 says, “Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name.” This is why I say Antichrist is coming soon, because this tribulation, which is instigated by the Antichrist, obviously comes right after the “beginning of birth pains.”

Some of you may not want to hear this, or believe this, for you don’t even want to think about the possibility that you and your family may be alive when this Hitler like Antichrist is here ruling this earth. But as a Christian, you need to know what God wants you to know. And what does the Bible say about the Antichrist? It’s Daniel’s 70th week (Daniel 9:24-27) that helps you to frame this end times’ picture of the Antichrist.

Right at the beginning of Daniel’s 70th week there will be the signing or confirming of a peace agreement involving the Jews, and the Antichrist will be promoting this deal. Then during the first half of this 70th week, these “birth pain” problems will be increasing in intensity and frequency. People will be so distraught with these worsening world conditions that they will be desperate for some strong leader to rise up and solve these global problems. During this time, this future Antichrist will be growing in popularity, power and influence, eventually gaining control over 10 different countries.

Then we come to the 3½ year mark, the midpoint of Daniel’s 70th week. 2 Thessalonians 2:3-9 tells us that the Antichrist is in Jerusalem, and he breaks this peace agreement with the Jews, for he “exalts himself above every so called god… so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as God.” The Jews were sacrificing in their temple, but no more. This “abomination of desolation” is when the Christians will know for certain that this is the Antichrist, for this is exactly what God had predicted would happen. They will also know that it won’t be long before the true Christ returns to rapture the church. Matthew 24:15-26

We are now at the midpoint of Daniel’s 70th week, and the unbelievers are so happy, for the Antichrist, the answer to all their problems, is now ruling the world. He is in charge of the military, economy and religion, and he will be their “god”. This smart, well dressed, good looking, smooth talking beast of a man will bring a pseudo peace to this planet. And Satan is super happy, for now both he and his main man, the Antichrist, are being worshiped. “The whole earth was amazed and followed after the beast, they worshiped the Dragon (Satan)… and they worshiped the beast.” Revelation 13:3-6

The Antichrist is in power, is in charge, but it’s his evil partner, this false prophet, who implements his plan. By doing great signs and wonders this 2nd beast will further deceive the masses and gain their allegiance. Then he will make people worship an image of the Antichrist, and if they don’t, then they are to be killed. He will also force people to take his mark on their right hand or forehead, and if they don’t, then they won’t be able to buy or sell. But please don’t be afraid, for true Christians will not and cannot worship the Antichrist or take his mark. Revelation 13:11-18, 14:9-13

What’s happens to the Christians? Revelation 13:7 says, “It was given to him (the Antichrist) to make war with the saints and to overcome them.” This is great tribulation. Matthew 24:9,15-26 and Revelation 12:13-17 describe how the Antichrist first comes after the Jews in Israel, but a remnant of them will escape and be protected. But this Antichrist, as mad as the devil, now comes chasing after the Christians. Many Christians will be martyred for their faith (Revelation 6:9-11), but a great many will persevere and endure to the end, and then be raptured at the coming of Christ (Matthew 24:9-14).

That the devil’s man, this Antichrist, will soon be ruling this world, is a most sobering subject. But this is God’s plan, and who are we to argue with God? Isn’t it also true that many of our Christian forefathers have had the privilege of suffering for the Lord? Now it’s our time, and so let’s continue to serve our Lord in this great battle for the truth right up to the end of this age. “Onward Christian soldiers, marching as to war, with the cross of Jesus going on before.” Remember, God is God, and He will lead you and use you for His purposes, and one day, one way or another, He will bring you home to heaven.

P.S.  I encourage you to read my much more extensive article about the Antichrist.  Also, here is the last in my series on Prophecy Psalms for the Jews and for You – Part 3.

The Gospel Will Be Preached to All the Nations – Then Christ Will Return!

By Steven J. Hogan

~ A Saturday Morning Post #41 ~

 

The gospel, that Jesus Christ, God in the flesh, suffered and died to pay the penalty for man’s sin, and then was raised from the dead, is by far the most important message in the world! When a person repents and believes that Christ died for his sins, then he’s forgiven and becomes a child of God. He is indwelt by the Holy Spirit, and is given eternal life, a personal relationship with God. He doesn’t go to hell when he dies, but instead goes to heaven (unless he is raptured). Satan is no longer his master, but Jesus is Lord of his life. And during his time on earth he experiences real love, joy and peace, and has a reason for living. He has grace for the present and hope for the future. There’s no doubt about it, the gospel of Jesus Christ is the best news in the world! Mark 1:15, John 5:24, 1 Peter 3:18

The direction of these posts for the past few weeks and for the next few months is about what needs to take place before Christ’s 2nd coming. One thing that’s crystal clear is that the church’s primary objective is to reach the world with the gospel, and then Christ will return to rapture the church and reign over this earth. In Matthew 28:19-20, Jesus instructs the disciples that they were to “go and make disciples of all the nations… even to the end of the age.” In Acts 1:6 the disciples asked Jesus when the kingdom of God would be restored to Israel. But first things first, for Jesus tells them, “You shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” Then in Acts 3:19-21, Peter concludes his gospel message by saying, “Therefore, repent and return so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord; and that He may send Jesus, the Christ appointed for you, whom heaven must receive until the period of restoration.”

Then you see that these instructions about preaching the gospel are repeated in all these end time passages. “It will lead to an opportunity for your testimony” (Luke 21:13). “The gospel must first be preached to all the nations” (Mark 13:10). “This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end shall come.” (Matthew 24:14). Then look at Revelation 14:6-7. There are no ands, ifs or buts. This gospel will be preached to the whole world until the end of this age, and then Christ will return and take the believers still on earth home to heaven.

The gospel of Jesus Christ is the only answer to man’s problem, the only way to be saved from sin – it’s what people desperately need to hear. We can so easily worry about our own lives, but we need to be concerned for the lost, and seek first the kingdom of God. And we should be excited to know we can serve the Lord in these days leading up to the coming of Christ. 1 Corinthians 3:5 says, “each one has received his task. I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth.” I tell you, this verse really motivates me. God has given each one of us a key role to play in reaching the world with the gospel. It may primarily be prayer, it may be sharing your testimony, explaining the gospel or passing out a tract, but for all of us it means loving the lost and being a good example to them. I encourage you to do your part, and use your gifts, abilities, time and money for the sake of the gospel.

And don’t forget that Jesus Christ is in charge of world missions – He is heading up this global evangelistic outreach. With the aid of the Holy Spirit, He oversees every church, works with every mission agency and Christian ministry, and directs every believer in fulfilling their gospel related task. Christ will keep working until He gets the job done, until that last person to be saved is saved. And mark my words, Christ’s worldwide campaign to get His message out is close to being completed.

I can’t tell you how encouraged I am when I hear specific stories about God’s people being sent out into His harvest, the gospel being shared, and heard on radios and smart phones, and read in Bibles and tracts. This Christ directed effort to reach the world is succeeding. People are getting saved, disciples are being made, and the church is growing. But what does it mean to reach the world with the gospel? I don’t have a specific answer – there are unreached peoples, the 10-40 window, and all kinds of stats. But we do know we’re not there yet, otherwise Christ would already be back on earth. The fact that we are in the end times means this age will soon come to an end and the church will be raptured, and then believers will be in heaven from “every nation and tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, and they cry out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Salvation to our God who sits on the throne and to the Lamb.’” Revelation 7:9-10

P.S. A related article that specifically explains the Gospel is found in this previous post: The Most Important Thing for You!

The Persecution of the Jews: From Pharaoh to the Antichrist

By Steven J. Hogan

~ A Saturday Morning Post #40 ~

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One condition that must be met before Christ’s 2nd coming is increasing Jewish persecution. This anti-Semitism has been taking place since the beginning days of Israel’s existence when they were growing up in Egypt, and 3600 years later it still goes on, and will continue right up until Christ’s return. Revelation 12 best summarizes this hellish opposition against the Jews, this persecution driven and directed by the devil himself. The imagery is given of a seven headed, ten horned dragon, depicting eight different devilish empires opposing the Jews. Seven of these are now in the past, but one more, the Antichrist’s 10 nation kingdom, is still to come.

Revelation 12:1-5 takes us from the birth of Israel to the birth of Christ. And the pregnant woman with 12 stars is the nation of Israel, and she was in painful labor during this time. That’s because Satan was using six different kingdoms to persecute the Jews and prevent the Savior from being born – they were Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece and Rome. These God hating kingdoms wanted to wipe out the Jews and Jesus, but none were successful, for verse 5 tells us about the birth of Jesus Christ, the future Ruler, and that He ascended into heaven. And that’s all it says, for the main point of this verse isn’t about Christ being the Savior, but that Christ will be the King over the world.

Revelation 12 isn’t about the church age, it’s about the “woman”, the Jews, being persecuted by the devil. And now looking back we see that there’s about a 2000 year gap between verses 5 and 6, taking us from Christ’s 1st coming to the last half of Daniel’s 70th week and Christ’s 2nd coming. But where were the Jews during this entire time? When Jesus was on earth, He repeatedly predicted that wrath was coming upon the Jews (Luke 19:41-44, 20:16, 21:20-24, 23:28-31), and this tragically took place around 70AD. Historians tell us that close to 1 million Jews were killed by the Romans, and Luke 21:24 says the rest would then “be led captive into all the nations, and will be trampled underfoot by the Gentiles”. And God’s word has come true for there’s been great persecution against the Jews over the course of all those years, but by God’s mercy, they were never completely destroyed – a remnant of Jews has always survived.

The Diaspora, this worldwide Jewish displacement, lasted a long time, a little over 1800 years, but by the promises of God and for the purposes of God, the Jews have miraculously been returning to their land. And the persecution has continued, their darkest days occurring when this devilish Hitler led a holocaust resulting in the mass murder of close to 6 million Jews. But God was sovereign in that their deaths led to the rebirth of their nation in 1948. But the anti-Semitic attacks kept coming – there was the Sinai War of 1956, the Six Day War of 1967, the Yom Kippur War of 1973, the Lebanon War of 1982, and in addition, a great deal of global opposition.

Now it’s 2017, and it’s obvious to those who watch world affairs that there’s a major effort underway to get a peace treaty between the Jews and Palestinians. And what’s amazing is that over 2500 years ago God predicted that a covenant between the Jews and the Antichrist would be confirmed, and it would take place right at the beginning of Daniel’s 70th week, that end times’ prophecy packed 7 year time frame (Daniel 9:24-27).

I don’t believe it will be too long before this covenant is signed, and life may then be a bit better for the Jews, but this “peace” will be short lived. That’s because the Antichrist is a liar. We then come to the midpoint of Daniels’ 70th week, and 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4 tells us that this “son of destruction… takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God.” And all discerning Jews and Christians will know that this is the Antichrist. This most evil man will begin persecuting the Jews, and then the Christians. Starting in Jerusalem, this great persecution will spread to the whole world. “There will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now” (Matthew 24:15-21).

The good news is that a sizable Jewish remnant will escape (Matthew 24:16-26, Revelation 12:13-16). But not all will get away from the Antichrist and his forces of evil, and the killing fields will once again be red with the blood of the Jews. Even the United States will abandon the Jews and be against them. In fact, “All nations of the earth will be gathered against it” (Zechariah 12:3). This Jewish persecution will continue “until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled” (Luke 21:24). And then God will fulfill His promise of salvation for the Jews. “And thus all Israel will be saved… This is my covenant with them, when I take away their sins (Romans 11:25-26).  Then begin the glory years, the millennial kingdom age, and all believers from all time, you and me included, will join the Jews in worshiping and serving the Lord Jesus Christ. “Blessed be His glorious name forever; and may the whole earth be filled with His glory. Amen, and Amen.” Psalm 72:19

P.S. I’ve just posted another article about your future: Prophecy Psalms for the Jews and for You – Part 2.

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