There are many factors that make up the growing apostasy and seduction of the church. One of the most alarming, least understood, and fastest spreading errors is the teaching that this present earth, instead of heaven, is the ultimate home for the church. Accordingly, her goal is to take over the world and establish the kingdom of God. Only then, it is said, can Christ return—not, however, to take us to His Father’s house, as He promised His disciples in John 14, but to reign over the Kingdom that we have established for Him. As we mentioned in the last chapter of The Seduction of Christianity, if the real Jesus Christ is going to catch His bride up from earth to meet Him in the air (1 Thessalonians:4:17), then those who are working to build a kingdom for a “Christ” whom they will meet with their feet planted on earth have been under heavy delusion indeed. In fact, they have been working for the Antichrist!
One hears a great deal about Christ returning only when the church is a unified, vibrant, forceful, spotless, wrinkle-free bride, etc. There is no scripture to support such teaching. Nor is it logical that Christians who happen to be alive when Christ returns will have to attain perfection in order to join (at that heavenly marriage to the Lamb) millions of Christians from past ages who attained to no such perfection at all.
The only righteousness that any of us have is that of Christ himself. Our works qualify us for rewards but not for heaven. “Absent from the body…present with the Lord” (2 Corinthians:5:8) is as true of carnal Christians when they die as it is for the most victorious. Christians from all ages “must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ” (2 Corinthians:5:10), and when our works have been tried with fire (1 Corinthians:3:13-15), and in shame we have confessed our sins and failures (1 John:1:9) and He has wiped “all tears from [our] eyes” (Revelation:21:4), then, and not until then, will His bride (the true church) appear without spot or wrinkle, united before her Father’s throne in heaven and ready to join in that great feast above!
We ought to seek to live holy and faithful lives to His glory. His coming, however, is not dependent upon that small fraction of the church who are alive at the time reaching some form of perfection that millions, and perhaps billions, of Christians already in His presence through death have never attained.
That teaching can be traced back several centuries, but its recent explosion dates from the Latter Rain, or Manifest Sons of God, movement that began in 1948 in Canada in apparent revival. It was declared to be heresy by the Assemblies of God in 1950. Its relationship to the Word/Faith, positive-confession, prosperity and healing movements (Hagin, Copeland, Capps, Price, et al.) is clearly established. Obviously, if we can get whatever we confess, then we ought to confess healing and immortality and peace and prosperity and salvation for the world. This is, in fact, where the name “Manifest Sons” comes from: the last-days overcomers must manifest total victory over all foes, including death, while in these bodies and without a resurrection.
Hardcore Manifest Sons teachers make such statements as, “You can study books about going to heaven in a so-called ‘rapture,’ if that turns you on. We want to study the Bible to learn to live and to love and to bring heaven to earth.” Others are more cautious—and even devious—in their statements. One of the early leaders, the late Earl Paulk, for example, claimed to believe in the Rapture in spite of the fact that he wrote entire books denouncing it. Just as Mormons use words such as “salvation,” “eternal life,” “God,” etc. (but have their own meaning for those words), so those in this movement use terminology that has accepted meanings for other Christians in order to confuse. It is a mistake to assume that by “Rapture” they mean being caught up to meet Christ in the air with the resurrected saints and taken to heaven. Most of those in this movement use the term “Rapture” to signify reaching a new oneness with Christ that enables them to fully manifest His power and glory.
Prophetic scriptures are either denied, interpreted as having already been fulfilled (e.g., much of Revelation happened at AD 70, according to the Preterists and Amillennialists), or they are spiritualized. Some of the terminology they use: “The church is Israel,” with true Israel no longer having any place in prophecy as a nation; “Armageddon” is the ongoing battle between the forces of light and darkness; “the Antichrist” is a spirit, not a person; we are already in the Great Tribulation and the Millennium, etc. Instead of exegeting the Scriptures, there are new revelations. Such “spiritual insights” come by hearing directly from God (and are erroneously termed “rhema”). We’re told that the new revelations abrogate what is written in His Word. Furthermore, Christ’s return is being held up by the reluctance of the body of Christ to accept new revelation. Those who institute such teachings are presented as a new class of prophets who cannot be judged but must be obeyed. That is what the New Apostolic Reformation is all about!
Closely related in belief are several other groups. Christian Reconstructionism is a development within Calvinism that is associated with amillennial eschatology, i.e., we are now in the Millennium and adhere to replacement theology (the church has replaced Israel), and John Calvin’s attempt to bring God’s Kingdom to earth in his absolute rule over Geneva. The same was attempted in the US by the Calvinist-influenced Coalition on Revival in the 1990s. That was primarily a Christian political movement that involved the Religious Right and the Moral Majority. Jim Wallis of Sojourners, who was President Obama’s spiritual advisor, is a chief advocate of Christian socialism, and his influence continues to grow, especially among those who are zealous for the worldwide establishment of social justice under Christian rule. The claimed focus of the Christian Left, aka Progressive Christianity, is upon cleaning up the earth ecologically, politically, economically, sociologically—leading to Christian dominionism. They imagine that the main function of the church is to restore the Edenic state—hardly helpful, since Eden is where sin began!
Many groups are beginning to work together who disagree on some points but join with Gaia (Mother Earth)-worshiping New Agers in their desire to clean up our terra firma and establish the Kingdom. We can expect such cooperative efforts to grow, even involving Christian leaders who are not aware of what they are actually promoting. The Coalition on Revival (COR), for example, included such influential evangelicals as Joseph Aldrich, Pat Robertson, Bill Bright, Jerry Falwell, Armin Gesswein, Josh McDowell and J. I. Packer, who were probably clueless regarding the actual intention of the leaders of COR.
As stated at the beginning of this article, one’s unwitting participation in literally building the Kingdom of God before the Second Coming of the King himself, Jesus Christ, is in fact contributing to the establishment of the religion and kingdom of the Antichrist. That will be Satan’s next-to-last stand as he gains possession of “the man of sin, the son of perdition” (2 Thessalonians) and empowers him to rule the world (albeit briefly), as he, the chief of the devils, seeks universal worship, his ultimate goal for himself.
What has been presented above is only a partial review of the last fifty years of Satan’s efforts to build his demonic kingdom. An earlier insight is given in a book we reprinted titled Christianity and Antichristianity in Their Final Conflict by Samuel J. Andrews. Although it was originally written 120 years ago, its content reveals much of the Adversary’s contemporary deceptions! Andrews simply looked to what the Bible declares will take place pertaining to false doctrine, false prophecies, false Christs, and ungodly beliefs and practices, and he compared those things with what was taking place in his day. Interestingly, the book reads as though it were written today!
I (T. A.) have a heart for young Christians. My great joy (3 John:1:4) is when I can see them “walk[ing] in truth.” My heartache comes about when I see them demonstrating much zeal to serve the Lord, but it is fostered by biblical ignorance and false teaching. A few years ago I visited Bethel Church in Redding, California. The pastor is Bill Johnson. The church has a school (The School of Supernatural Ministry) accommodating 3,000 students from all around the world. Prior to the service I interviewed a few of the third-year students. I then attended the church service there, and following that I was joined at a restaurant by one of the students I had interviewed earlier. He asked me what I thought of the service, which was preached by Johnson’s assistant.
I told him I was puzzled by a couple of the major points the preacher had made: 1) that worldwide revival is just ahead, and 2) that God is raising up Christians to transform and rule on the earth before Jesus can return and take control. The young man, an Australian, was surprised that I was perplexed by those points. He obviously was not, since they were key teachings of his education at The School of Supernatural Ministry.
As we talked, I asked him what his understanding was regarding biblical eschatology. He wasn’t familiar with the term, so I told him it had to do with the events that would take place just prior to and after the Second Coming of Jesus. I then asked him where the events, as noted by the Bethel preacher, fit in with the chronology the Bible plainly declares, such as the Apostasy, the Rapture, the Great Tribulation, and much of the Book of Revelation. He had no answer. Biblical eschatology is neither taught at Bethel church nor in its school because it doesn’t square with Bill Johnson’s Kingdom Dominion agenda.
Previous TBC newsletters of late, as well as two of my messages at The Berean Call 2019 Conference (https://bit.ly/2xmrWZ7 and https://bit.ly/2QzLbW7), addressed the gathering of 40-50 thousand young Christians at the Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Florida, in 2019. The 12-hour event was titled The Send. The stated objective was to motivate the thousands of young people in attendance to take the gospel to their neighborhoods, high schools, universities, communities, countries, and then to the nations abroad. However—few, if any—of the attendees were aware of The Send’s ultimate objective: Kingdom Dominionism.
The leaders of The Send gathering were all advocates of the Kingdom-Dominion points made by the Bethel Church preacher. The young speakers represented Bethel, YWAM, The New Apostolic Reformation (NAR), and other like-minded and very influential principals. The elder leaders who were addressing the very enthusiastic, even bewitched, crowd were Benny Hinn, Bill Johnson, Loren Cunningham, Lou Engel, Rodney Howard-Browne, and Francis Chan. All are a part of, or at least allies of, the unbiblical Word/Faith, Positive Confession, and Healing-and-Prosperity Movements.
Jesus characterized the time of His return by telling His disciples, “Take heed that no man deceive you” (Matthew:24:4). In Luke:18:8, He said, “…when the Son of man cometh, shall He find faith on the earth?” This prophesied apostasy and increasing deception will be further extended because, “…the time will come when they [professing and many true Christians] will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables” (2 Timothy:4:3-4). The Apostle Paul warned the elders of the church at Ephesus that those who would subvert their fellowship would come from within their ranks: “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears” (Acts:20:28-31).
Paul wrote to the church at Corinth that we are not to be ignorant of Satan’s devices lest he “should get an advantage of us” (2 Corinthians:2:11). One of his “devices” is to introduce “perverse things [that] draw away disciples after” those promoting his heresies. Some establish themselves as a trendy development such as the Emerging Church Movement (ECM), which gained numerous adherents, especially among young adults. The ECM featured the rituals, liturgy, and sacramentals of the Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox, and High Episcopal Churches. A few critics declared it to be a short-lived fad and that we were “not to worry.” What they failed to recognize is that many of Satan’s movements are often akin to a large wave that is impressive as it crests, but then it crashes, spreading its debris (i.e., heresies) all across the beach, where aspects of its false doctrines remain, only to be picked up by others. But it doesn’t stop there. Waves come in sets. They withdraw and come again. It may take awhile, and they may be reshaped as they form, yet they very likely will return, just as we’ve seen the resurfacing of the Kingdom Dominion and the Word/Faith/Healing and Prosperity heresies.
What then would the Lord have us to do as we face the growing apostasy? We should certainly grow in discernment through the daily habit of studying His Word, undergirding that study by praying without ceasing, and fellowship with like-minded believers. Additionally, Jesus wants us to be watchmen. Dozens of verses exhort us to watch. Some of those have to do with the expectation of our “blessed hope, the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ” (Titus:2:13). Others urge us to be watchful regarding the evil that is here or is soon coming upon us. But it isn’t only for us personally; it’s for all those who have been ensnared or are ripe for Satan’s deceptions. Just as the prophet Ezekiel (chapters 3 and 33) was given the responsibility to be a watchman over Israel, we too are accountable to the Lord to inform our brothers and sisters in Christ regarding the evils of the apostasy.
We are not only charged to do so, the Word of God tells us how to go about it. “And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will” (2 Timothy:2:24-26).