End Time Prophecies Of The Church

     "But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of night nor of darkness.  Therefore let us not sleep as others do, but let us watch and be sober." 1st Thessalonians 5:4-6

Let us first of all define our terms:
     The word church involves a spiritual entity and a human organization.
     The church that is visible to the eye of man is a human organization. It may be a very simple or very complex human organization, but in every case, a human organization. Generally, the visible church is composed of a mix of true believers in Christ and others who profess to believe in Christ, but have never been born again by the Holy Spirit into God’s family. As a human organization, the church is referred to more than one hundred times in our New Testament.
      The church as a spiritual entity is composed only of true believers in Christ who have received a spiritual birth into God’s family and have been baptized (or placed) into Christ’s spiritual body by the Holy Spirit.(1st Corinthians 12:13).

End Time: 
     There are certain phrases that refer to the closing events of the church, Israel, and the unsaved Gentile world. Some of these phrases are "the end", "the end of the age", "end times’, "the time of the end", "the latter days", "the last times", and "the latter years". The context or subject matter in which these phrases appear determines their specific meaning. 

     We now consider some of the end time prophecies of the church:

Jesus Will Always Be Present With The Faithful Church

     Just before Jesus ascended back to heaven He made this promise to the 120 disciples who would be the members of the first church, "Go therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age."   Matthew 28:19-20. 
     We gather from this that there will be faithful churches that win souls to Christ, baptize them and teach them to obey all that Christ has commanded. These churches can be confident that Jesus will be in their midst right on down to the end of the age.

The Church Will Have Qualities of Good and Evil Present in the Organized Church Throughout the Church Age.

     In the 13th chapter of Matthew we have seven parables (illustrations) spoken by Jesus concerning "mysteries of the kingdom of Heaven" (Matthew 13:11). He revealed there would be some good things and bad things all the way to the end.

The Good Things. 
     Jesus said there would be the good seed which is "the word of the kingdom". There will be good soil which are "the sons of the kingdom" who "yield a crop" and "grain". The true Sower is "the Son of Man", Jesus. (Matthew 13:37). There are also good fish that are kept (Matthew 13:48).

The Bad Things. 
     There is also at work in the visible church "the evil one" also called "the enemy" who is "the devil". There are "the tares" (weeds that resemble wheat) who are "sons of the evil one". There is "leaven", a corrupting influence and "bad fish" which are thrown away.

     At the end of the age, the angels will separate the wicked from the righteous and cast them into a furnace of fire.

The Organized Churches Will Be In A Variety Of Spiritual Conditions Until The End of The Age.

     The entire book of Revelation is a book of prophecy. It begins with these words "The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show to His servants---things which must shortly take place…Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near." Revelation 1:1 & 3.

     This means that the seven churches of Asia discussed in the first three chapters are representative of the organized church throughout the church age. Each has a message for us: 
*          1.  Ephesus (Revelation 2:1-7)  Ephesus means "desired". It is the betrothed bride of Christ that had left its first love by the end of the apostolic period.
*          2.  Smyrna (Revelation. 2:8-11) Smyrna means "myrrh" a sweet fragrance produced by crushing the stem of the myrrh shrub. It pictured the church purified by great persecutions from Domitian to Constantine.
*          3.  Pergamos (Revelation. 2:12-17) Pergamos means "objectionable marriage". This took place in 313 A.D. when Constantine declared the Roman Empire Christian. Pagan temples were converted to "Christian churches" and the pagan idolaters were outwardly converted to Christianity. Sadly, few hearts were changed by saving faith in Christ. The church was married to pagan idolatry.
*          4.  Thyatira (Revelation. 2:18-29) Thyatira means "continual sacrifice". This church age emphasized "continual sacrifice" instead of the "once for all" sacrifice of Christ. It was characterized by the spiritual fornication of worshipping the idols retained from the formerly pagan temples.
*          5.  Sardis (Revelation. 3:1-6) Sardis means "remnant" or "those who escaped". It is the
church that started out anew in the 14th and 15th centuries. Jesus said that it gained the "name that you are alive, and you are dead."
*          6.  Philadelphia (Revelation. 3:7-13) Philadelphia means "brotherly love." It is the church before whom Jesus set "an open door." Out of the dead church came a series of great revival movements that launched the greatest missionary outreach in the history of the church. This period continued from the late 1700's to the present day.
*          7.  Laodicea (Revelation. 3:14-22) Laodicea means "people's rights". It describes the majority of churches today that are organized to accomplish what the members want rather than seeking the mind of Christ to accomplish what He wants. It is neither hot nor cold and so Jesus spews it out of His mouth.

     After the revelation concerning the seven churches, John saw "a door standing open in heaven, and the first voice…saying, 'Come up here, and I will show you things which must take place after this."  Revelation 4:1. What follows is a description of the seven future years of tribulation. Israel and unsaved Gentiles are prominent in these chapters, but the church is not mentioned as being on earth one time. Why? Because John is a picture of what happens to the truly saved in the church at the end of the church period. They are caught up to heaven.

 Widespread Departure From The Faith In The Organized Church 
     Tim La Haye and Jerry B. Jenkins ask the question, "What would you think of an Episcopal bishop who loudly championed the views that:

     The resurrection of Christ was not a real event, but a legend. 
     There was no empty tomb, no angels, no appearances    
     No reasonable person could believe in the literal interpretation of the Bible 

     The virgin of a literal Bible – the virgin of annunciation, Bethlehem, and the manger –"will have to go"
     The church should actively endorse and even celebrate homosexual behavior, as well as heterosexual 
           liaisons outside of marriage. 
     And yet, these are the views fervently proclaimed by John Shelby Spong, the Episcopal bishop of
           Newark, New Jersey in  one of his many controversial books. (Are We Living In The Last Times?
Page 68)

     Should we be surprised? No.  The apostle Paul wrote to his protégé, Timothy, "Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons." (1st Timothy 4:1).  Instead of having their minds illumined to the truth of scripture by the Holy Spirit these false teachers will be brainwashed in the lies of the Devil by demonic spirits. There are great numbers of them throughout the organized church right now.
     In some of the last words Paul wrote, he revealed that the reason there will be so many false teachers is because they will teach what the unsaved within the church want to hear. "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers;  and they will turn away their ears from the truth, and be turned aside to fables."  ( 2nd Timothy 4:3,4).
     As the apostle Peter neared the time of his death he also warned that false teachers would infiltrate the organized church. "But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord Who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction.  And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed."   (2nd Peter 2:1,2). 
     Many prophetic Bible scholars believe that the thrust of 2nd Thessalonians 2:1-3 along with verses 7-8 teach: 

  1. that it is the truly saved within the organized church that keeps the church from a total departure from the faith and
  2. the anti-Christ cannot be produced until the Holy Spirit working through the truly saved is taken out of the way.

     This makes good sense. When Jesus catches up all Christians that will leave no one but unsaved professors in the organized churches. They will quickly depart from the true faith. In addition there will be no restraining influence powerful enough to keep Satan from producing his false Christ.
     The rampant departure in many quarters of Christendom is a message that the coming of Jesus for His church is drawing near.

Jesus Will Come To Catch Up All True Believers of the Church Age
     "For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God; and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and thus we shall always be with the Lord."  (1st Thessalonians 4:15-17). 

     In that moment, "...the twinkling of an eye" as Paul puts it in 1st Corinthians 15:51,52, all Christians living or dead will be transformed from mortal and corruptible to immortal and incorruptible. They will be snatched up from their graves and from wherever they are living to meet Jesus in the sky. The living will experience reunion with saints who have gone before that will never be broken by death. All sorrows will be past and, as the songwriter wrote, "It will be worth it all when we see Christ." Every Christian will receive their eternal rewards and in a glorious and victorious procession enter in to "the Father’s house" to the marriage supper of the Lamb and His bride, the church.

Don’t you want to be in that number when the saints go marching in!

Copyright © 2002 Thomas E Berry
All Scripture quoted from NKJV unless otherwise noted

    Copyright © 2008 Truth Helpers Inc.