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The Survival Manual for the Coming Underground Church

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Leaving Laodicea | Steve McCranie

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454:  God Responds to Repentance

454: God Responds to Repentance

Another Sunday is upon us and the church is still having to figure out how to worship together while practicing self-distancing.  Awkward and uncomfortable, I know.  But I believe our choice to forgo our right to assemble and worship for the sake of the least of these (those who are at greater risk), is proper and prudent.  And I believe the Lord will honor the free sacrifice of our own rights for the sake of others.

With that said, the following message is from the first two chapters of the book of Joel.  In fact, as we go through Joel together, I think you’ll be amazed and comforted at how the crisis in Joel’s time (locust invasion) parallels the crisis we are facing as a church and a nation today.  For me, the most encouraging truth from Joel is the solution to their locust problem then is the same as the solution to our coronavirus problem now.  And that solution, as always, is repentance.

We will specifically focus on Joel 2:12-13, which reads:

“Now, therefore,” says the LORD, “Turn to Me with all your heart, (how) with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning.”  So rend your heart, and not your garments; return to the LORD your God, (why) for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness; and He relents from doing harm.

Note, the first sentence is a statement by God.  The second is the application from Joel.  And Joel’s words are timeless.  They are just as valid and true in his generation as they are today.  So take them to heart.

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453:  Increase our Faith!

453: Increase our Faith!

As I have been sharing with you since late last year, the times we are facing as believers, and as a church and a nation, demand faith.  But not faith as usual or faith that is comfortable.  We need mature faith, secure faith, maybe even radical faith to believe what our Lord says about everything, and then act on that belief like we truly believe what we claim to believe.

In fact, one of the signs of maturity in our walk with Christ is our ability to drown out the voices of our culture, and even our own voice of fear, doubt, and insecurity, and live in the joy of sheer trust in His character, His Word, and His promises (and warnings).  Our desire is to learn how to trust as a little child does his loving father, without question, and with great joy.  And for logical, pragmatic, even somewhat cynical people, that leap in trust can be quite difficult.

“But where does faith come from?” many often ask.  The disciples recognized their need for more genuine, mature, seasoned faith when it came to continually having to forgive someone who sinned against them over and over again with no true sign of repentance.  When faced with that impossible task, they cried out to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” (Luke 17:5).

Our need for more faith is apparent.  But where do we go to increase our faith?

In Romans 10, after speaking about Israel’s need to hear the gospel, Paul then makes this most revealing statement:

So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. (Rom. 10:17)

Or, to put it another way, “faith comes by hearing the word of God.”  And it’s really just that simple.  The object of what we are to hear to increase our faith is the Word of God.

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452:  How to Hear God’s Voice

452: How to Hear God’s Voice

As we see the day of His return approaching, we must be more diligent to make sure we don’t fall for the great deception Jesus spoke about (Matt. 24:4) and prepare ourselves for the coming apostasy (2 Thes. 2:3). Why?  Because as our Lord warned the deception would be so great even the elect, if possible, would be deceived and fall away (Matt. 24:214).

So what are we to do?  How do we become a faith prepper and guard ourselves against such great deception?  The answer is simple to understand, yet difficult to do.  In Cliff Notes style:

You must personally experience God yourself.
Second-hand faith won’t cut it.
Your faith must be first-person, personal.
You cannot live on the faith of another.
And your encounters with God must be on-going and habitual.
Especially as we see the darkness approaching.
This is what becoming a faith prepper is all about.

In essence, you must know God.  Intimately.  Personally.   And you do that by learning to hear His voice.

“And this is eternal life, that they may know (ginōskō) You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” (John 17:3)

The key to not falling for falsehood and deception is an experience with God.  After all, a relationship between two people must include talking and listening from both parties.  And so it is the same with each of us and the Lord.  We talk. We ask. We beg. Sometimes we demand.  But does God ever speak personally to us?  If so, how?  And how often?

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451:  Everything Follows Faith

451: Everything Follows Faith

One of the questions each of us will have to come to grips with as we see the time of our Lord’s return approaching is this:  Do you believe what you say you believe?  Or, more pointedly, how does your life reflect what you claim to believe?  In other words, do we really believe everything the Scriptures say about God, this world, heaven and hell, our lives, the future, whatever?  Or are we somehow hedging our bet in His Word to fit what we feel or think?   Consider the following scriptures and ask yourself if you truly believe what they say.

But as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” (1 Corinthians 2:9)

Do you believe this statement to be true of you?  If so, make it personal by putting your name in the place of “those”.

But as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for (your name) who love Him.”

Let’s try one more.  Do you believe this statement to be true?

Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever.  Amen. (Ephesians 3:20-21)

If you believe God can do more than you can ask or think, then put your name in this verse.  Make it first-person, personal.

Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that (I can) ask or think, according to the power that works in (me), to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever.  Amen.

So why is this important?  Because your relationship with God, your intimacy with the Father, will rise and fall on your belief in Him and in His character. Your beliefs always determine your actions.  Always.  In everything.  For example, if you don’t believe God can do “exceedingly abundantly above all that (I can) ask or think,” then you will be overcome by your doubts and fears and feel like a helpless kitten abandoned in the dark.  But if you believe God is who He says He is, then you will be invincible in faith before anything that comes your way.

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450:  How to Prepare for the Coming Apostasy

450: How to Prepare for the Coming Apostasy

When we have the discernment that Jesus spoke about to know the “signs of the times” (Matt. 16:3), it becomes clear we are living in the last days.  In fact, there are several key signs that bring us to this conclusion.

  1. The regathering of Israel into their own land
  2. The surging apostasy
  3. The coming Middle East peace
  4. The reuniting of the Roman Empire (East, West, both?)
  5. Globalism

For the church today, the most important of these prophetic signs is the rising tide of apostasy or defection from God and the Christian faith.  We see this happening almost daily within the ranks of the church.  As we have already discussed, apostasy means to “depart, revolt, or forsake.  It is a deliberate defection from a formerly held religious position.”  Apostasy doesn’t necessarily mean a total rejection of God or the authority of His Scripture.  Apostasy can come in stages.  It usually begins with a defection from a section of Scripture or a specific teaching that is incompatible with the current cultural church mood.  Some examples are the issue of homosexuality, divorce, women pastors, abortion, or a myriad of other issues that divide the Body today.  And once a small defection takes place, full-blown apostasy is not far behind.

But this shouldn’t surprise us.  After all, Jesus said in Matthew 24 the greatest sign of His return was deception.  And He warned His disciples about that deception four times (Matt. 24:4, 5,11, 24).  He even went so far as to say the deception at the end would be so great that, if it was possible, even the elect would be deceived (Matt. 24:24).  And the elect includes Peter, Paul, James and John, Martin Luther, D.L. Moody, Spurgeon, Billy Graham, and you and me.  That’s a sobering thought that should not be taken lightly.

So what can we do to prepare for the coming apostasy?

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449:  The Limitations of Apologetics

449: The Limitations of Apologetics

As the Scriptures claim, one of the greatest signs of the end is the mass defection or apostasy from the Christian faith by those who once claimed to be believers.  Paul, in his letter to Timothy, warns that the “Spirit expressly says that (when) in latter times (who) some (what) will depart from the faith, (how) giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons” (1 Timothy 4:1).  This great apostasy is characterized by a rebellion or revolt against God and His Word.  And it is promoted by those who once claimed Jesus as Lord but are now “giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons.”  Peter says “scoffers will come in the last days” (2 Peter 3:3-4).  Jude calls them “mockers” (Jude 17-19).

So what are we to do in the face of this great apostasy?  How do we answer skeptics when they demand we “prove our God exists?”  How do we defend our faith in the unseen God?  What are we to do?  Historically, the answer has been to study up on apologetics and be prepared to go toe to toe with those who demand answers from us void of faith.  But is that the real purpose of apologetics?  I’m not so sure.

For the message (or, preaching) of the cross is foolishness (mōría – folly, absurdity, moronic, stupid, senseless, foolhardy, insane) to (who) those who are perishing (or, being destroyed completely, to render
void), but to (who) us who are being saved (to deliver, make whole, preserve safe from danger, loss, or destruction) it (the message of the cross) is the power (dúnamis) of God – 1 Corinthians 1:18.

Our faith in the cross of Christ is moronic to those who are perishing.  Period.  And apologetics won’t change that fact.  Think about it, our God doesn’t need defending.  He can take care of Himself.  And you cannot lead someone to Christ by logically answering all their questions about faith and the Scriptures to their satisfaction.  Why?  Because faith in Him is a gift from God and, before God imparts faith to the individual, the lost are incapable of believing the Gospel.  To them, our faith in the cross of Christ is moronic.

So, is apologetics important?  Absolutely.  But not necessarily in the way you think.

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“I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot.  So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked.”

Revelation 3:15-17

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