Even though I am a avid Left Behind fan, my focus had begun to shift away from the return of Jesus. I wasn’t so sure what to think about the whole discussion of the “Terminal Generation” (Matt. 24:34). Mainly because it seems that one will claim that Jesus can’t come back until this or that particular event happens. I think there is a real danger in that line of thinking because I seriously don’t think there is anything keeping Jesus from coming back today if the Father tells him now is the time!
Recently, Pastor Martha and I was looking at old TBN broadcast dated back around late 2014 at the onset of the four blood moons. There were four prophecy experts telling us about the significance of the event and how sure they were that something big was going to happen. As we watched, it became apparent that these experts would now have to admit that they had missed it, at least to some degree. (I do think that Syrian crisis which puts Russia and Iran at Israel’s doorsteps is probably a bigger deal than any of us realize, but that remains to be seen. Also the fact that Iran has been given a 10-13 year pathway to a nuke is worth mentioning too.)
That being said, I must call your attention to this email which is referring to a powerful new film called Convergence. The Bible says, “In the mouth of two or three witnesses let every word be established.” Well here is the second. I have been hearing Perry Stone say this for a while now, and now Prophecy News Watch has brought it to light in a powerful new film. Take a look:
While any number of signs are present, I believe one stands out above all others. In fact, Jesus Himself told us what it is.
When the disciples said, “Tell us the signs of your coming and the end of the age” (Matthew 24:3), Jesus detailed a number of things to look for.
He then said, “When you see all these things, you can know my return is near. I’m right at the door” (Matthew 24:33).
He also said, “When all these things begin to happen, look up for your salvation is near!” (Luke 21:28).
This means the number one sign of Jesus’ return is all the signs appearing together.
Please keep in mind that the terminal generation (or the generation that will see Jesus’ return) should not be looking for one particular sign, but when all of these signs are appearing all together! I think that most would agree, we are seeing all of the signs Jesus spoke of happening with increasing frequency. I did want to share with you something else about this “terminal generation,” at another time though.
The “Terminal Generation” or the generation that “shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled” (Matt. 24:34). The key to all this is the parable of the fig tree.
Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. Matt. 24:32-33
There is no disagreement about what the fig tree represents; all are in agreement that the fig tree budded, after appearing dead almost 2000 years, when Israel became a nation in 1948. What the scholars are struggling to figure out is what a generation would mean. If you are old enough to remember 1988 , everyone thought Jesus was coming in May of that year since it was Israel’s 40th birthday. The common interpretation of generation then was 40 years. The latest guesses I have heard would be based on today’s life expectancy. I have heard ranges from 80-120 years.
I am not sure if Jesus was was referring to when he said, that the generation “shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.” Was he referring to the generation that saw the birth of Israel or the generation that would see “all these things” happening at once. I tend to go with the latter – when we see all these things happening at once.
Now, I want to switch gears to speak not about the meaning of the fig tree, but what is happening in the thinking since the generation that saw Israel’s rebirth are starting to die off. A couple of Sundays ago, I heard Matt Crouch giving a history lesson to a young preacher explaining the events that shaped the thinking of this generation that witnessed the center piece event of Bible prophecy, namely his father Paul Crouch. He spoke of the dispensational leaders of that generation like Hal Lindsey and Tim LaHaye who prepared the Church for the Lord’s return. He said that they were the ones that really thought that Jesus was coming back in 1988. What this expectancy did was cause a wave of evangelism like never before.
I too remember in the 70s going to hear singing groups singing about “Jesus is coming soon, morning or night or noon.” I remember looking out the school bus window with clouds and lightning all around thinking is Jesus about to split the eastern sky. I wasn’t the only one thinking this way. There was real expectancy in the air! You used to hear about conviction of your sins, missing hell and going to heaven. Some leaders of today look back upon that time a call those methods scare tactics. All I know, thinking about a fiery hell, caused me to ask question about how to miss the place! I experience true conviction of my sins. I asked Jesus Christ to forgive me of my sins and come into my heart and be my Lord and Savior.
As Matt Crouch educating this young preacher at the Hillsong conference about developments of his father’s generation, he used that as a stage to now talk about what obviously is TBN’s thrust for 2017, the gospel of Grace and Hope. The leader of the gospel of grace is Joseph Prince and the leader of the gospel of hope is Joel Osteen. If you have watched TBN in you have heard much about this. He asked Pastor Judah Smith, the Hillsong speaker being interviewed, to explain this new move or “the gospel of grace.” I wish I could tell you what it was they were referring to, but I can’t. All I can say, given the context Matt gave, is the emphasis is on the grace made available by the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The thing that is odd, to me, is not what is emphasized, but what is not emphasized! According to Matt Crouch, the backdrop of the day caused increased awareness of getting ready to meet Jesus. There was a lot of talk about the Second Coming, hell fire and brimstone and getting right with God. If was understanding Matt correctly there was a much needed shift to this new move of the gospel of grace, and without saying, there was a needed shift away from something. Again, it appears that the something, or the missing elements of this new move, are the soon return of Jesus, a fiery hell, and too much talk about sin.
I really am not writing this to bash TV preachers. I am all about the grace of God; for without it, none of us would be saved. I am just questioning what was wrong with the old generation’s sermons about hell and sin? Why do people feel that there was a needed shift to this new “gospel of grace”? I am thankful for the old Freewill Baptist preacher that preached about getting right with God, missing hell and going to heaven. Isn’t that what Jesus preached? I am glad for the songs back in the day that caused me to live like Jesus was coming at any moment. After all, the Bible says this hope (the hope of Jesus appearing) causes us to purify ourselves (1 John 3:3). I don’t think we need to shift away from that! Let’s continue to walk in the abundant grace of God every day, but let’s not forget about walking in holiness and being ready to meet Jesus at any moment too! The truth is that any “gospel” that de-emphasizes following after “peace with all men, and holiness” is the wrong one because the Bible is clear “without which no man shall see the Lord” (Heb. 12:14).