Last month we spoke of the great need for reformation as a foundation for genuine revival. Our recent visit to Australia and New Zealand confirmed this even more in our hearts. It is impossible to share in a few words the month Ruth and I spent on this last trip. We are grateful to the Lord for His care and provision; to those who arranged the numerous meetings and media opportunities; to the many who were of such great help and kindness during our travels; and to all who supported us in prayer.
We can hardly claim great understanding of these two countries on the basis of our one short trip. Of more value than our own personal observations were the statements of the many Aussies and Kiwis with whom we had contact. It was insightful also to have some frank discussions with pastors who oppose my "negative" teaching. It seemed quite clear that the same false teachings and practices so prevalent here (psychology, selfism, visualization, positive/possibility thinking, positive confession, the success/growth/health/wealth-proves-God's-gospel, kingdom/dominion/restoration, etc.) are deceiving the church "down under." Turning on TV to see what was available, my first Sunday in Sydney, I found Robert Schuller's "Hour of Power" with Norman Vincent Peale as his guest. Both are greatly admired by Christians there and emulated by church leaders. Yonggi Cho and John Wimber are also very influential, with "church growth" and "signs and wonders" seemingly far more appealing to many than sound doctrine.
Everywhere I went people asked the same questions and expressed the same concerns as here in the U.S. and Canada. There are many (including pastors who contacted me privately) who are deeply burdened for the condition of the church, whose hearts are broken to see so many succumbing to deception, and who are trying to combat error and are meeting increasing opposition. Please pray for them and for the church down there.
It surprised me that opposition to Seduction and to me personally seemed much stronger in both Australia and New Zealand than here, with Australia by far the most vocal. At the last minute I was canceled from the only Assembly of God that had been willing to have me speak in Sydney. In one area no church would have me or support my meetings, so I spoke to unsaved farmers. The response at all of my meetings was very encouraging. Many had been troubled by teachings and practices without fully understanding why, and were grateful to have the issues clarified in the context of Scripture. Audio and video tapes of the meetings and media interviews were made and will have a wide impact.
The recent "stock market crash" occurred shortly after we had arrived in Australia. Many have asked about that and specifically whether it changes anything I wrote in Peace, Prosperity and The Coming Holocaust. (Actually we had taken that book with us to reedit and update it.) I do not pay much attention to financial markets, world banking and economics, etc. because I consider the moral and spiritual situation to be of greater importance and give my time and energy to that. So my opinions are based more upon my understanding of Scripture than upon any special knowledge of the current financial, economic, or political situation.
How quickly the stock market will recover I don't know, but I would expect continuing prosperity (though it may have little genuine foundation and will eventually collapse) and the appearance of improving prospects for world peace. I think the recent "crash" was due to irrational panic rather than factors marking the start of another "1929." It may very well, however, quicken the pace toward worldwide economic and financial cooperation, important steps on the road to the eventual total control by Antichrist. And the fact that another "1929" did not develop could breed pride that the "system held" and even greater overconfidence than before.
The above opinion is based mainly upon my deep conviction that we are in the "last days," that Christ will rapture His bride soon and that this will occur during a time of apparent "peace and prosperity." If the world is presently sliding over the cliff into a severe financial collapse (which it surely will suffer after the Rapture during the Great Tribulation, then, in my opinion, that would set back the timetable of our Lord's return substantially—yet so many other signs point to its imminence. Of course I could be entirely wrong. Each of you must come to your own convictions, so I urge you to be daily in serious study of God's Word.
Whatever the case, we are to be watching and longing for His return. In our witness to the lost and warnings to the wayward we must proceed with urgency as though we have little time; yet we must also act prudently in all things in case our Lord should tarry, which He very well may for His own reasons. Whatever extension of time He gives should be used to His glory and to rescue as many as possible before it is too late.
Surely the church, which is Christ's bride, ought to be living in an attitude of expectancy and longing to be caught up to meet Him in the air. In my travels I see little of that genuine expectancy and sincere desire to depart this world to be with Christ. That in itself is another sign of the nearness of His return, which He said would come at a time when most would not expect Him (Mt 24:44). In the parable of the ten virgins, "as the Bridegroom tarried" even the five wise virgins "slumbered and slept." That description hardly fits with a post-trib return in the midst of Armageddon, but it certainly seems to characterize the present time. Christ went on to say, "At the midnight hour, a great cry arose; Behold the Bridegroom cometh, go ye out to meet him!" (Mt 25:6). I would like to hear His return spoken of among Christians with that kind of excited anticipation! That must characterize any genuine spiritual "awakening!"
Your help in sharing audio and video tapes, books, catalogs and getting others on the mailing list will have eternal consequences. Your financial help enables us to extend our ministry. As 1987 ends and we enter 1988 (should the Lord delay His coming and spare us to serve Him further), may it be with the renewed determination to be the instruments of His will, to give Him the love and praise He deserves, to know Him better and to make Him known as widely as we can.
May the joy of the Lord be your strength, and may His good hand of blessing be upon all that you seek to be and say and do to His glory! TBC