Wednesday, May 03, 2006

The Emerging of the End Time Church

.... In the parable of the ten virgins, Jesus portrayed the church as it would one day be. When He returned at the end of the parable this was how He actually found it, so He has given us a glimpse of the church in the last days. By this time in history the kingdom will be divided into two mind sets or schools of thought, being the ‘wise’ and the ‘foolish’:
.... “Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish. Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them, but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept."
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(Matthew 25:1-5)
.... Additional prophecies of the church, focused on the same time period, portray those mind sets in further detail (and are discussed below).
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To investigate a potentially complex subject, it is often beneficial to approach it chronologically; and by including those companion prophecies along the way we may see the whole sequence unfolding, and understand how those pieces fit together. This becomes easier when those prophecies can be matched to an historical fulfillment, which many of them now can be. In fact, almost all of the groundwork for the end time church has already been laid and the rest is not far behind us.
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The end time church springs from the church of our own recent past, whose role has been socially and historically vital, yet in spiritual terms the Lord Himself would describe them as being ‘asleep’ (Think early-to-mid twentieth century). And during those long years of spiritual slumber, the seeds of destruction were quietly sown (Matthew 13:25; 25:5). As the time of the end drew near, a hostile, imposter religion sprang forth from those seeds to grow along side of true believers as an unfruitful counterfeit to their beliefs. Thus, Jesus would find them both in the world together at His coming (Matthew 13:30).
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Nevertheless, it is too simplistic to say that the two mind sets of the end time would emerge in the church simultaneously. The ‘foolish’ side of the church would actually appear on the scene first (think mid-to-late twentieth century), and the ‘wise’ would follow much later, as a very late arrival indeed (think twenty-first century). This means that the sleepy church would be alone in the beginning, in the latter half of the twentieth century, in facing a challenge it was ill prepared for.
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Now, when the Lord Himself describes the church as being ‘asleep’ we must understand that it was not very effective in His eyes. Their ministry was largely unfruitful as well. A vacuum was formed that reached throughout the western world, and a new type of soulish 'ministry' emerged in it's place through the ascendence of a subtle, subjective, theoretical new form of earthly wisdom.
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As the sleepy church came into contact with this new wisdom, many years ago, it was too sluggish and lazy to regognize the challenge and compete with it. So instead, it went to the opposite extreme and began to ‘Christianize’ it, adopting it for its own use as a strong new friend to Christianity. But in reality it was a usurper.
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.... Through this process, Christians moved away from true Biblical counsel toward a substitute which they, themselves, would start to endow with a form of godliness (2 Timothy 3:5). Their ministry became mere lip-service to the Lord and to His word, cloaked in Christian-sounding terminology, since the actual substance was now derived from another source:

.... "By covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words; for a long time their judgment has not been idle, and their destruction does not slumber."

(2 Peter 2:3)

.... This movement away from God’s truth to a much lower form of wisdom, which effectively replaced it, is the downward motion envisioned in the prophecies of ‘the great falling away’ (2 Thessalonians 2:3; see also Galatians 5:1; Colossians 1:23). For it is too simplistic to think that the sleepy church merely stopped believing in God; but rather, they departed from Him because they were seeking a substitute. The principle involved inmoving away from Him is called ‘exclusion’:

.... "They zealously court you, but for no good; yes, they want to exclude you, that you may be zealous for them."

(Galatians 4:17) .

.... Yet God has always reserved a remnant for Himself, and He was still at work in the church, even in those days (Romans 11:5). True Christians struggled through this dark period and even, in some ways, benefitted by reacting to it. This propelled them more deeply into the true heart of Scripture, which is the testimony of Jesus, and they began to yearn for more of this perspective (2 Corinthians 3:6,17; Revelation 19:10e). And this laid the foundation for the 'wise' side of the end time church to emerge (1 Corinthians 3:11).
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As the 'wise' side of the church begins to take root and grow, in the early twenty-first century, they will find the ‘foolish’ side already at its zenith. This growth had to occur before the ‘wise’ Christians could be established and mount a sufficient challenge, for the prophecy of the great falling away could not otherwise have been fulfilled. For a major part of the 'wise' calling and identity is:

.... ". . . that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ . . ."

(Ephesians 4:13-14)

.... Had the wise school of thought existed in the beginning as well, it would have effectively countered the emergence of the 'foolish' side and blocked the enemies efforts. And as the wise side grows, it will begin to exert this basic effect.
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.... As the twenty-first century unfolds, the numerical ratio between the two sides of the church will begin to change. Partly, the ‘wise’ Christians will reclaim some who had previously been deceived, and recover them to the truth that is in Christ. But even more importantly they will reach out to the lost and complete the task of evangelizing the world (Matthew 24:14). As the ‘foolish’ side of the church maxes out, begins to stagnate, and then to decline, the ‘wise’ side will grow along side of them to a level of parity. When they are approximately the same size, the Lord will return.
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Through this scenario, we should think about the things that are destined to remain and those that must pass away. The sleepy church of our recent past will disappear entirely, being absorbed into one of the two end time mindsets or the other, for better or for worse. Therefore, anything we are doing now that does not look like them is a waste of our time. It is doomed to be superceded; and the things we are doing foolishly, through worldly wisdom, will perish in the end. For only those that are focused on Jesus are destined to remain and bring forth fruit to eternal life:

.... "Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him.”

(John 6:27)

.... We will discuss the individual elements of this scenario in greater detail in future postings, and in our next two posting we will name the false basis of wisdom that the ‘foolish virgins’ have followed.

1 Comments:

  • berry said...
    I agree with your basic premises Loren. There is a lot of things said that I would have to chew on more rather than just assume you are correct in.

    Can you go a little further in what brings you to the conclusion that the Lord will come as the wise and the foolish have parity ?

    I am also curious what you make of the fact in the parable of of the ten virgins that both wise and foolish were awakened from sleep ?

    Why were both of these sleeping ? Is is possible there is a third group of believers who are awake and looking for the coming of the bridegroom?

    3/14/2005 3:39 PM


    loren said...
    Hi Berry,

    Welcome home! By the way, I tried to leave a comment on your blog this morning and it wouldn't let me in. I'll try again later.

    I believe the Lord will return when the two groups reach an approximate parity because, when He returned at the end of the parable, He fould five of each. Other passages show a similar ratio: One will be taken and one will be left; five will be in one household, two against three and three against two (Luke 12:52), etc.

    One important understanding is that this is more than an inter-church turf war. The gospel will be preached in all the world, and new converts will help fill the 'wise' side of the end-time church. So an approximate parity may just be coincidental -- it's not really driving the timing, the evangelism is. More on that in a future posting.

    Addressing your second question is difficult. It depends on what the ten virgins represent. Earlier, I suggested they represent denominations but that was too general. Do they simply represent individual Christians? That is more appealing, but it would mean that every last Christian was asleep, and I don't think that was so (Rom 11:4,5). Unless, again, Jesus is speaking in a generality.

    The part about being asleep reminds me of Isaiah 29:10,11, in which they just didn't get the true heart and message of Scripture.

    In Matthew 25, Jesus is describing the kingdom in the last days, so I don't really see a third group unless it is a group of watchmen (the ones who cry out that the bride groom is coming). That might be interesting, do you have some further thoughts on that?

    3/14/2005 5:09 PM


    berry said...
    I don't yet have an answer to why both were sleeping. The end of this parable which says "Watch therefore, for you know neither the day or hour in which the Son of Man is coming." seems to indicate that the Lord is calling us to be on alert.

    I have thought recently that to unbelievers and even Christians who are dull that the day will come like a thief in the night. But to believers that are in pursuit of Him they will know the time is near even though they do not know the day or hour.

    This was the scenario in the days of Noah where Noah hears that judgement is coming and prepares and the world around him laughts at the thought and the flood comes upon them like a thief in the night.

    I think this point is where the pretrib rapture people get hung up. They think that there must be two events the rapture and the second coming because scripture both tells us it will come like a thief in the night but also speaks of us knowing the time by the signs.

    I'll have to look into the sleeping by both sets of virgins more.

    3/15/2005 4:34 PM


    loren said...
    Hi Berry,
    I look at the sleeping as a long, historical trend that allowed tares to be sown along side of the wheat (Mt 13:25). It has been said that cults are the unpaid bills of the church, and that's an example of the concept I'm talking about. In a similar way, that's how the 'foolish' side of the end time church began. But I still think this fits with what you're saying.

    I've also done some more thinking about the 'third party' you suggested. There must have been a watchman (or remnant of them) who never fell asleep, and he is the one who cries out that the bridegroom is coming. I found a Scripture that talks about that:

    "The burden of Dumah. He calleth to me out of Seir, Watchman, what of the night? Watchman, what of the night? The watchman said, The morning cometh, and also the night: if ye will inquire, inquire ye: return, come." (Isa 21:11-)

    This has to do with the fall of Babylon which is another end time theme. But I'll have to look nto it more.

    3/15/2005 4:57 PM


    Unchained Slave said...
    Loren & Berry,
    Hi,
    Is it possible that you are making 'too much' of the 'sleeping'? Notice that all ten virgins were awakened before the 'Bridegroom' came. In fact they had enough time to 'prepare' (vs.7) I think a more important aspect is that all knew the Bridegroom was coming - five were prepared. But notice that the other five had time to go to buy oil - perhaps 'another doctrine' - they did not get back in time, but they certainly had time to depart knowing the bridegroom was coming.

    Additionally, bypassing the 'sleep' the five were awake and prepared for the Bridegroom the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding.

    Is is possible that the 'sleep' refered to describes a period of the church (where both wise and foolish were not as 'active' as they should be) as Loren implies in the article?

    In Christ

    3/24/2006 3:20 PM


    Cleopas said...
    Hi David,

    Actually I've wondered about this same question from another direction.

    When the wise virgins say to the foolish virgins, "Go to those who sell and buy for yourselves." what does that mean in this parable? Actually, it's a little bit of a 'dig' at their doctrinal position.

    The foolish virgins are in a church with a 'marketplace' mentality of the word. They are peddling the word of God (as in 2 Cor 2:17). In fact, whenever you see the term 'marketplace' mentioned in a parable, the connotation is always similar.

    When the wise virgins tell them to go to those who sell, they are reflecting a sentiment that God Himself once expressed:

    "Yet you have forsaken Me and served other gods. Therefore I will deliver you no more. Go and cry out to the gods which you have chosen; let them deliver you in your time of distress."
    (Judg 10:13-14)

    The point I would make next, I think, would trouble most Christians, but here it is. Even though Jesus had not yet actually come, once the cry went up at midnight, they simply did not have enough time to prepare. The same concept may be found in this passage:

    "And he said to me, "Do not seal the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is at hand. He who is unjust, let him be unjust still; he who is filthy, let him be filthy still; he who is righteous, let him be righteous still; he who is holy, let him be holy still. And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work."
    (Rev 22:10-12)

    Thoughts?

    3/25/2006 2:50 PM

    By Blogger Cleopas, at 5:35 PM  

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