The True Witness

Reggie… As you already know, our views have been coming under increasing attack both by the preterists and pre-tribulationists. I am sensing “in the Spirit” with the release of Dalton’s book … we are “hitting a nerve” now as never before and opposition will increase. The timing of this conference could not be better! Yes, these be the days! Bro. Phil

Would not surprise me to see these preterists and pre-tribulationsists continuing to hold their teaching conferences and arguing their case throughout the 70th Week of Daniel … Fred

I am inclined to agree with Fred’s educated pessimism on this. Although I believe we’ve given good and sufficient answers to these popular errors that subvert and threaten the expectation and readiness of the church, it is an open question as to what has been accomplished. Those that were already inclined to agree found welcome confirmation and reinforcement. Those that already had a strong position remained unconvinced, despite the presentation of clear evidence that seemed to us conclusive. One of the reasons I haven’t felt particularly moved to write books is because it is plain enough to see, just from the email exchanges and the feedback that has come over the years, that the old proverb is well demonstrated, which says, “a man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.”

There was a time when I thought I might have a calling to give an answer to at least some of the end time errors that so seriously undermine the outlook and readiness of the body, but that youthful optimism has taken a serious beating in recent years. I now see these days as only a little time that may be left to us for one great urgency; that is to dig deep down to a recovery of the foundations, which need desperately again to be recovered and defined. But this too will come short unless the “life” is lived outwardly and openly in tangible demonstration before a gainsaying world. The world doesn’t need an argument; it needs a demonstration. That’s how Noah condemned the world; by faith he acted.

Even true and substantial insight and revelation does not save in the day of testing. How often have we seen that even a lot of accurate knowledge can tend to cover over and hide instability in the foundation? According to scriptures like Jn 13:35; 1Cor 13:2-3; Rev 2:2-6, all is vain if we come short of the kind of love that only issues out of the Spirit of Christ through the liberating power of the gospel. If this is the mark, then indeed, the body needs more time to prepare. But then I question what we mean by preparation.

Prophetic certainty may indeed help us to know the time and to some extent accurately anticipate world events, and prepare accordingly. But if perfection in love is the mark, how will mere knowledge that the time is short work to form Christ in us? We have only to look at many of the apocalyptic groups to see the superior and angry attitude that some display, not only towards outsiders, but especially to any within the community that do not conform to the prescribed ideals of an authoritarian leadership.

In order for the godly remnant to be straightened to become that final witness who “loved not their lives unto the death” (Rev 12:11), we may expect that our natural freedoms are going to be greatly limited if not removed entirely. This will happen for Jacob, as he is brought to the end of his power (compare Deut 32:36; Dan 12:7). No less will the church be emptied of every form of carnal power in order that the power of Christ may rest on the godly remnant for the last 3½ years of mighty witness (Dan 11:32-33; Rev 11:3; 12:10-11).

I take the view that the church will be especially straightened through the absolute certainty that the seven years has begun. Through the events of the first half of the week, the godly remnant will be prepared for the great transition that comes when Satan is forced down to fulfill his ‘short time’ (Rev 12:7-12). This will be the time of the church’s greatest break through of Spirit and power for its final witness to Israel and the nations (Dan 11:32-33; 12:3; Rev 7:9, 13-14; 11:3; 12:10-11).

Because I believe the two days of Hos 6:2 speaks of the two thousand years from the time of the cross, and that the ‘third day’ of Israel’s millennial restoration does not come until the end of that time, I personally believe the body has a little time to prepare. However, I’m not as optimistic as I once was about how that time will be used, because even the luxury of more time can be a form of power that the flesh will naturally misappropriate. That is why clear and certain knowledge of the time, particularly when the seven years begins, can be used of God to straighten and empty the godly remnant of the last residue of that great enemy that scripture identifies as “power” (i.e., the power of the flesh).

A body that has been so greatly emptied of its own power is that corporate servant upon whom the Spirit of Christ can rest in fullest measure. As the path of the just shines ever brighter to the perfect day, just so, the outward man of the believer must become weaker and weaker.”

For sure, the eschatological context and framework of the foundations is indeed crucial, but I have seen that even correct knowledge of the times and events does not, by itself, prepare the heart, except, of course, as God may be pleased to use that knowledge to ‘crowd us to Christ’. A true apprehension of the message of prophecy is designed to empty us of us, i.e., of the power and pride of confidence in the flesh. Without this, it is just one more thing to be “right” about, which God hates much more than doctrinal error.

A much younger man used to speak to others about a ‘consummate apologetic’ that could not be gainsaid or resisted by anything of this world’s wisdom. The manifest fulfillment of prophecy would remove the cloak and expose the willfulness of the heart, vindicating God’s truth to a last generation, lifting the destitute, while confounding and overthrowing pride. I surely must have been really “feeling my oats.”

That was my passion and vision; it still is. But unless this is backed up by a radically different kind of lifestyle that demonstrates a fundamentally different kind of economy and dependency, then how are we different in practice from those we oppose in theory? Where is that more excellent way that does not depend on the world’s way and wisdom? Where is the embodiment of the Word in true fellowship and true community, a city set on a hill? It brings the question; what is true witness?

Such demonstration gives hope, even as it moves to emulation. It provides a tangible “come and see”. It is both inward and outward. It finds out whether our lives and practical decisions tell the world that we are taking the prophetic Word seriously. “Come out from among them and be ye separate, says the Spirit of the Lord!”

Of course, such ‘coming out’ in true separation is first and foremost a state of the heart, and does not imply that we abandon witness and necessary relationships with unbelievers, but is there not also a practical call to come out from compromising entanglements and a reprehensible dependency on a world system that is under divine curse and judgment? “The wise foresees the evil and hides”. The Lord will not bless a misplaced dependency, particularly when the warning has gone forth with great clarity and scriptural support. Noah “moved”! Are we moving?

Where is that city on the hill that gives the light of an alternative ‘life orientation’ to a world system that is under judgment? There is such an urgency to be led of the Spirit, and to hear the Lord’s own voice in our deeps. The hour is too late to continue to beat the air with ministerial good intentions that substitute the ‘good things’ of creed and good deeds for the critical obedience of the Spirit.

I am acquiring a profound distrust of religious norms that are accepted uncritically, as not to be questioned. On the other hand, I also distrust even more that jaundiced kind of spiritual pride that thrives on questioning everything and stirring trouble that the Lord is not stirring.

What further evidence do we need to prepare? With none of the amazing details that later prophecy has given the church; with nothing more than the recently recovered book of the law, young Josiah could read and discern plainly enough that the jig was up. Just reading the curses threatened in the Song of Moses was sufficient to move Josiah to call Israel to repentance and reform. But now, with the two days of Hosea 6:2 nearing expiration, and the last pieces of all outstanding prophecy falling so rapidly into place just over the last 6 decades, here we are, arguing about whether the church will even be here, or whether the great tribulation is past or future. Talk about the perfect set up for a “great falling away”!

Even among those that agree concerning the time, there is an intoxicant in the very air that induces sleep, as when Jesus said that all ten of the virgins were sleeping. We are too much children of our times. Many of us who believe these things are nonplussed about what to do of a practical nature. We show in our practical decisions that our dependence is as much resting on the hope that ‘all things continue’, as our unbelieving and comfortably religious neighbors.

The world needs to see that those who speak the truth are able to dwell with their brethren in unity, because that’s where the Lord commanded the blessing. That’s how Jesus said the world would know, not through theoretical agreement on doctrine. Since God is a God of reality and not of theory, a God of incarnation embodiment, and demonstration, how can this be shown in a practical / real way to an on looking world? “Noah, being warned of things not seen as yet, moved with fear…” The rejected Joseph went ahead of his unbelieving brethren to save life, not only spiritual, but physical. At the conference, I hope to make the case that Jewish spiritual regeneration will depend on their physical survival to the end. Let us not separate what God has joined.

In the case of Noah and Joseph, provision was anticipated and made on the basis of clear prophetic faith. Not bare belief, but obedience to the voice of prophecy is the witness to Jew and gentile alike, whether this pertains to things physical or spiritual, as though there was ever the divide that religion has made. It is not mere beliefs, or an introverted occupation with personal salvation, but obedience that is the witness to this generation and to our families.

The question, “how can two walk together except they be agreed,” is going to have to make room for some latitude, so that we don’t “conveniently” divide over every point of doctrine, because the body of Christ is going to need a lot more than gardens in their back yards.

We’ve got to hear the Lord together and move in wisdom together in both practical and spiritual things. There needs to be a network of communication that can speak into each others lives without some new hierarchy of apostles and prophets that love to have the preeminence and exercise dominion over the faith of others. The liberty of the Spirit must be guarded with trembling and fear. As our pastor in Ft. Worth would always say, “Legalism has been the death of every community.”

There needs to be community effort and common sharing and assistance, but with greatest guard of individual liberty, particularly when it comes to the rule of each husband over his own family. If there is any expression of the kingdom on earth this side of the millennium, it must be at heart and reality, a kingdom of friends, who are, in every tangible way, their “brother’s keeper.”

Paul wept concerning those that sought their own things instead of Christ’s. The Lord expressly said that His glory in the church has the form of a servant. There is no other kind of glory that will stand in the judgment. To discern the body means that one waits on the other, and prefers the other, not hastily proceeding before the other.

God is so very jealous for a kingdom that is “without hands.” Because He will not give His glory to another, it cannot be any of our working. It must all be of grace, because a division in the labor implies a division in the glory.

Therefore, we labor to cease from our own labor, because God hates mixture. It will be the issue of moving and obeying out of His rest. All reputation and identity, position, and so-called ‘ministry’ has got to go to the cross; else it is polluted and deadly, always bringing rebuke and judgment.

I’m seeing so many that are convinced of their special importance, but God is not raising up Moses figures, but a body that can discern, and is not at the mercy of charismatic leadership. In fact, this is the very thing that Jesus says will test the hearts of even the very elect.

I see this call to the foundations, as the call and requirement of the hour. As Art used to say, “Lord, save us from the saviors!” We must lay everything down until the Spirit clearly beckons us to take it up again with much clear confirmation, and it had better be the Spirit.

I raise these questions, not because I presume to have the answers, far from it. But I trust the deposit of Christ in the body, that as we look and inquire “together,” the Lord will give clear help and counsel through the many. May we be as one at that conference that the Lord will be pleased to give us a plain path, because certainly, there are many enemies.

May we be to one another in these days, true brothers for adversity, Reggie

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