The King Is Coming!

The King is coming!  Did you catch what I just said?  The King is coming!  Not only did He say in John 14:1-3 that He was coming, but the prophetic signs are all around us signaling that He’s coming.  Can you see it, too?  I hope so.  Sadly, though, it seems like the majority of Christians in America are apathetic to this truth, and it seems like it’s getting worse the closer we get to that event.


In the past few days I have heard two different Bible teachers mention the phrase, the King is Coming.  The first one I heard was in a message a well-known pastor preached almost 13 years ago, where he was giving a brief review of the mindsets of the Church and how they changed starting from the time of the Apostles to the present.  The second time I heard the phrase this week was in an interview that took place just within the past couple months or so, where the person was describing the current condition of the Church in general.


In the first message, the pastor pointed out that the early Church was continuously looking and expecting Jesus, the King, to return at any given moment.  This was the mindset of the Church until the fifth century when Augustine concluded that the Book of Revelation was just an allegory.  It was at this point that the Church decided that the Book of Revelation was simply filled with symbolism and adopted the mindset that is now commonly known as “Kingdom Now”, holding to the belief that it was up to the Church to conquer the world and establish the Kingdom of God here on earth.  It wasn’t until after the Civil War that some pastors determined this belief had failed, and that this was not a Biblically sound teaching for the simple reason that you can’t have a kingdom without a king.  It was only at this point, the point in which they began to get their theology right, that the wheels of prophetic fulfillment began to turn, something that hadn’t happened in over 1500 years.  Then, in 1906 a revival broke out on Azusa Street, and it was during that time when the Church began to realize and proclaim that the King is coming.  It was only then that the wheels of prophetic fulfillment went into high gear leading up to the restoration of the nation of Israel, as well as other prophecies being fulfilled faster and faster even as I write this.  One more thing we also need to remember, is that even though Jesus is currently King, He has not yet established His kingdom here on earth, and He won’t do so until He returns at the end of the 7-year Tribulation Period.


In the interview that took place within the past few months, this Bible teacher discussed the current state of affairs for the Church in general.  While this is not true for some churches and Christians, more and more churches are currently forsaking the message proclaiming that the King is coming.  Instead, they’re focusing on messages that feel and sound good, messages around social issues, messages that are culturally relevant, messages of community, and messages about building the Kingdom of God and church growth.  Some are even filled with messages of patriotism more than messages of a heavenly kingdom that awaits faithful followers of Christ.  As a result, there is a very apathetic mindset to Jesus’ return for His Bride, as well as an apathetic or nonchalant attitude regarding their own relationship with Christ.


The message proclaiming that the King is coming should be one of the loudest and most frequent of messages passionately preached and taught within the Church, as well as what is proudly proclaimed when reaching out to the lost.  With the greatly accelerated increase in the fulfillment of Biblical end-time prophecies we’re seeing, that message should be all the louder.  That message should propel us to daily re-evaluate our lives as Christians and make sure we are living right in His eyes, to “set our house in order”, so to speak.  The message that the King is coming should be a staple when we reach out to the lost, letting them know that in spite of all the negative that is happening around us and around the world, there is a hope for those who faithfully follow and serve Jesus.  This is the blessed hope the Apostle Paul mentions in Titus 2:13. This message that the King is coming, this blessed hope Paul mentions in Titus, it is that which the Apostle Paul tells us to comfort other believers with in 1 Thessalonians 4:18 and 1 Thessalonians 5:11, and we need to hear this more and more all the time as we see that day approaching from a Biblical perspective.


I realize that there are some who don’t like or agree with what I write about, and some may actually get offended.  For some, what I write may strike a nerve or two, and if so that may reveal that there are other issues one must address within themselves.  No matter what, I hope and pray that God uses what I write to encourage believers in the faith and in their relationship with Christ, but also to convict where someone may be going astray with the hope they will get back on track.  If something I write doesn’t set well with you, take it to God in prayer and let Him speak to you about it, and search the Scripture and what it has to say as well.  The primary purpose of the Resounding Shophar is to challenge Christians to re-evaluate their lives, to make sure they are ready when the trumpet sounds for Jesus to return for us, His Bride.  This in no way implies that I have it all together myself, but I also continually strive to re-evaluate my life and readiness as the Holy Spirit leads me, trusting that God’s grace has me covered if I maintain a right heart and attitude in all my ways in His eyes.  And, why is this the primary purpose of Resounding Shophar?  It’s simple.  THE KING IS COMING!






John Johansson


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The Hospital That’s Not

Last night my wife and I were having a conversation regarding the direction many churches seem to be going in these last days, and from that conversation an analogy, a word picture of sorts, came to mind that I wanted to share with you.


A few weeks ago, the local community had their annual city cruise event, an event that has gone on for decades.  At this event, car enthusiasts with their friends and families will come from all over the region to show off their cars in car shows, and in the evening join in on a cruise down the biggest and longest street in town.  This event brings in not only car enthusiasts, but also venders and other groups that seek to take advantage of the different opportunities it presents.  This year was no different than the previous years, but this time the River Medical Center, a large local hospital, decided to be a part of the festivities.


The River Medical Center, also known as RMC, was looking for new ways to make themselves known to the community.  In a city with four large hospitals, it was important to the administration to get their name out there and to let the community know they were there for them.  It was for these reasons that the RMC administration decided to participate in this year’s annual city cruise event.


In their planning, the RMC administration decided not to say or do anything at the event relating to the medicine and procedures at their disposal, or even of the various health issues they dealt with.  To avoid offending anyone, especially the other local hospitals, or to appear that they were only interested in a particular segment of the community, all they wanted to do was to make themselves known to the community, and that everyone was welcomed to come visit them.  So, it was decided that they would set up the biggest tent they could, have as many of the medical staff on hand helping, music classics of the 1940’s and 1950’s associated with cars and cruising being played, and would hand out hundreds of hats and t-shirts with their name on it.  They even had on display classic cars some of their staff owned; a 1969 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500, a 1957 Chevy Bel Air, and a 1955 Ford Thunderbird, among others.


Their plans were a great success.  They saw a great response from those attending the event, and all that they were able to hand out reflected the amount of people they were able to attract.  They were also very successful in not mentioning any of the medicine and procedures they have at their disposal, or even of the various health issues they are equipped to handle, keeping conversations focused around cars and activities, friends and family, as well as around memories of past cruises.  At the end of the night, all the people knew was that RMC was another hospital in town, and that they loved cars and cruising just as much as they do.


Over the days and weeks that followed this year’s event, RMC experienced a significant increase of those visiting the hospital, and talk spread fast throughout the community about RMC and the great presence they had at the event.  Seeing and hearing the great response they were getting from their participation in this year’s annual cruise event, the RMC administration was riding an emotional high and looking forward to the next big event they could participate in.  They were growing, and they wanted to grow even more.


When people would visit the RMC, the staff was quick to make the person feel welcomed and to give them a tour of the place.  In the tour, people would see the various rooms and offices of the place, some of the equipment they had there, as well as the cafeteria and gift store they had on the premises.  Those who felt welcomed and comfortable there and really liked what they saw, they were quickly encouraged to become a part in telling others about RMC and helping however they could, including in the area of finances.


The River Medical Center was doing great.  They were experiencing a greater presence and reputation in the community, more people were coming to visit them, more people were helping them do various things, and the finances were really beginning to roll in.  Despite all the growth, there was a problem, a pretty significant problem at that.  Amid all this growth and attention RMC was experiencing, only a very small portion was actually seeking and receiving medical attention and healing.  On the other hand, some were only told how to change thoughts and behaviors dealing with symptoms they were experiencing without really dealing with core issues and taking the appropriate steps to deal with them.  And there were still some who thought that since they were visiting the RMC and helping where they could, they had no need for the medical services of the hospital not realizing they had serious health issues that needed to be dealt with.  In essence, from the tour and their willingness to help, they got just enough of what was available to them that they thought they had no need of anything else, a vaccine of sorts.


What I just described is a picture of what many churches are becoming.  In their quest to grow and become a light to their community, many will avoid saying or doing anything that might offend someone or hurt their churches potential growth.  Often times this includes not addressing sin on any level, except to say it’s a sin to not be helping, doing or loving others.  There is very little to nothing said of each person being born dead in sin, and that it is only through Jesus and ones surrender to Him, that one can become alive and be free of sin and the penalty of sin.  Nothing is really said of what sin is, or why and how Jesus is the only one who can save us from it, much less anything pertaining to the necessity of the cross and what that represents to followers of Christ.  And, there is even less said of how Christians need to live free of sin and our need to maintain an attitude of repentance to Jesus for any sin in our life as we endeavor to live for Him.  While it is true that we need to hear preaching and teaching on God’s grace, love, mercy and forgiveness, it is also true that we need to equally hear of sin, holiness, and God’s judgment upon unrepented sin for both the believer and the unbeliever.  If we don’t hear preaching and teaching on all of this, as well as Bible prophecy for the days we live in and which are ahead, then we are not getting the full counsel of God.  In fact, to leave any of that out compromises what the gospel of Jesus, or the good news of Jesus, is all about, leaving us with a watered-down and sugar-coated gospel that is grossly incomplete and misleading.  The sickness every single person deals with is called sin, the core issue and cause of man’s moral and spiritual condition, and unless sin is properly and completely dealt with in a person’s life, that person cannot experience the healing and deliverance God makes available to each of us through Jesus.  To leave sin out of our teaching and preaching is to do nothing more than teach others how to deal with or hide the symptoms of sin in their lives.  Just as the hospital in the picture I presented isn’t really operating as a hospital, in the same way many churches are not truly operating as church.  Perhaps this is a part of the deception Jesus and the Apostles spoke of that would be present within the church in the last days?


So, let us be messengers of the full gospel or good news of Jesus, sharing with others as God gives us opportunity to do so.  Let it never be said of us that we never told people all they needed to know to live as true disciples of Christ.


John Johansson


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It’s That Day Again

A number of weeks ago I walked into the local Wal-Mart and was immediately reminded about the time of year we were entering into.  You know that time of year, when fear, hate, terror, and the occult are glamorized and embraced with passion and excitement, reaching its peak on a day we call Halloween.  I’ve written since 2011 what my position is regarding this day that comes every year, and that hasn’t changed, but I want to take a different approach to the subject this year.


Each year as that day approaches, it’s not uncommon to see and hear of churches gearing up and planning what they will do on Halloween.  Usually, the rationale they will embrace will go along one of two lines of thought; 1) they want to offer a Halloween alternative, or 2) they want to provide a safe place for children and adults.  But is Halloween something that Christians and churches should be involved with?  Unlike Christmas and Easter, holidays that some argue have both Christian and pagan roots, there is absolutely nothing Christian or God honoring when it comes to Halloween.  In fact, everything Halloween represents is anti-God and contrary to the mind and character of Jesus.  So, why is it that churches seem to believe that it’s okay to participate in one way or another on this holiday?


To justify their participation in Halloween, some will argue with the rationale that God made that day, October 31st, and therefore there is nothing wrong with them participating in Halloween and all or part of what it represents.  When you think about it, that’s a dangerous rationale to have.  For example, based on the idea that God made October 31st as a rationale to ignore how many view what that day represents, one could say that since God made Lucifer, who is also known as Satan, it would be okay to befriend him and allow him to speak into their lives on some level.  After all, we’re already seeing people use that kind of rationale to justify the use of marijuana and other hallucinogenic herbs and fermented fruit.  Is this a rationale that can be supported in scripture?


Some will argue that it’s okay to do so because Jesus was a friend of sinners, a term that was given more as an insult to Him than a compliment.  Just because He associated with those considered to be sinners does not mean that He was a participant in that which was opposed to God in any way, or that He encouraged or condoned such activity.  To have done so, Jesus would have certainly lost His credibility as one sent of God to them as such activity was explicitly prohibited by God, Himself, and if He had done so that surely would have been mentioned in Scripture and at His trial before going to the cross.  Instead, Jesus strongly promoted purity of heart and an undivided and total devotion to the Father and Himself.  Nowhere in Scripture will you find that Jesus was okay with or was involved in any way with that which was opposed to God, yet for some reason we have Christians and churches thinking differently about this subject.


What about the Apostle Paul?  After all, he was sent to preach Jesus to the gentiles, people who were actively involved in various forms of pagan holidays, worship and activities.  The Apostle Paul, the same one who taught us of the grace of God, who showed us that our relationship with Jesus is a marriage relationship, who revealed to us the return of Jesus for us in an event known as the Rapture, the same one that told us to not sin and to flee even the appearance of evil.  Does he tell us anything that would relate to the subject at hand?  In Philippians 4:8-11, he speaks against observing days, months and years, but this was in relation to the pagan practices they once participated in before they received salvation.  However, in Colossians 2:16-17, when he addresses festivals and a new moon, he is referring to the seven feasts God instituted back in Leviticus 23, all of which point to Jesus.  It’s important to make that distinction as some will assume both passages are referring to the same things, but that is not the case.  In 1 Thessalonians 5:22, the Apostle Paul instructs us to avoid or flee from the appearance of evil, and in Ephesians 5:11 he also tells us to take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness but to instead expose them.  So, it would appear that Paul, identified by some as the Apostle of Grace, left no room or argument condoning a Christian’s involvement with things like Halloween.


At this point I feel the need to clarify something.  When I mention the participation of Christians and churches in the Halloween festivities, I am not referring to those who are opposed to that day but do what they can to reach the lost with the full and unadulterated gospel of Jesus.  There are churches that reject the idea of Christians participating in that day, but they will do something purely as a ministry outreach of some sort that does not resemble Halloween in any way.  I applaud these churches as they take a stand against the growing trend within church circles, but at the same time doing all they can to reach those who are lost and spiritually dead in sin.


While I have no objections to having an alternative to offer people, and certainly no objections to having a safe place for children and adults alike, I do find myself questioning the reasons and the motivations one has in doing so, and how they are going about it.  For many churches, they are quick to say they are reaching out to the lost in doing so, wanting to use these activities as a means of doing so, but is that true or just words to ease their conscience or silence those who object?  When a church does this, incorporating an appearance or activity that resembles Halloween in some way, they give the unsaved mixed messages as to what it means to be a Christian, a disciple and follower of Christ.  Also, if the focal point is only to provide an alternative or a safe place, and very little to nothing is said or done to present the full gospel and each persons need of a savior, then all they are doing is building a reputation within the community and growing a religious social group.


Halloween.  A controversial subject for Christians as some are okay with it while others are not.  The question is whether or not God is okay with it, and the answer is found within Scripture. Are we taking a stand for Christ, or are we more concerned about getting people to join our religious social club?  If we are to do something on Halloween, let’s make sure it doesn’t resemble in appearance or activity to Halloween in any way, and that the gospel is clearly presented as the main focus and theme of the event. Time is short, and we need to focus more on the salvation of the lost than building our social clubs and community reputations.


John Johansson


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Recess Is Over

As a kid growing up, I remember looking forward to the recess period at school. It was a break away from “school” stuff, an opportunity to get out and have fun with others doing whatever we wanted, within reason of course. The last thing we wanted to hear was the bell or the whistle signaling that it was time to get in line before heading back to class. Do you remember those times?

For the past several years, and probably for decades, a lot of Christians and churches have been out on the school yard having recess. To better explain what I mean by that, let’s look back at those times when we would have recess at school. Maybe you can relate? The first thing that I remember about recess was the strong desire to go to recess. Sometimes this was because I just wanted to hang out with some friends and have some fun, especially if I had friends in another class. Other times it was simply because I was bored with what we were doing in class, and I had energy I wanted to use up playing King of the Hill, 9-square, flag football, or whatever was the big thing to do at that time. Oh, how I wish I now had just a portion of the energy I had back then. Sometimes what we were doing in class was so challenging, intense, or monotonous and repetitious, I would feel like my brain was fried and needed a reprieve of some sort, and recess provided that reprieve for me.

For one reason or another, many Christians have gone to the play ground for recess. Maybe it’s because the social scene, online or in real life, is more important to you than living the Christian life in pursuit of Jesus, feeling the urge to get with friends and have fun? Perhaps living the Christian life just isn’t fun for you, possibly lacking the adrenalin rush and excitement that you craved, and so you decided to take a more casual approach to Christianity, choosing instead to pursue and indulge in whatever excited you or gave you some sense of satisfaction. Oh, you didn’t leave Jesus or the Christian life completely, but you “chilled” enough to follow the desires and cravings you had for as long as you could, all with the thinking that you might return to class and start taking your studies and relationship with Christ seriously again. Christianity in its purest sense just isn’t what you thought it should be, that it’s lacking somewhat, and so you’re taking a spiritual recess of sorts. Or, could it be that you felt that the Christian life is just too draining and burdensome, maybe too complicated at times, and you just felt like you needed a breather of sorts, a reprieve.

So, now you’ve made it to the playground. Now what? When we had recess, we didn’t go somewhere else. The playground was right there at the school. In the same way, many Christians are playing and having recess right there at church. They didn’t leave the church. They just left the classroom for the playground. I mentioned earlier that I remembered spending recess doing things like playing 9-square, flag football, King of the Hill, and tether-ball, whatever was the big thing at the time, but what could it look like on the spiritual playground within church circles? To understand what it may look like to be on the playground, we need to first identify what it looks like in the classroom.

In the spiritual classroom within the Church, or in other words the spiritual classroom of life, we’re taught what it means to be a disciple and a follower of Christ. We learn the heart of Jesus and what is called the Great Commission and how to live that in our own life. We learn not only that we are ambassadors of Christ, but also what that means and how we can represent Him to a lost and dying world. And with all of that, we also learn both the how and the importance of right living in the sight of Jesus, and that Jesus is coming back for His Bride at any moment, a watching Bride that has kept her garments clean, spotless and without wrinkles or blemishes. These are just some of the things we learn in the classroom, and it’s not always fun or exciting. In fact, sometimes it gets rough and tough, intense at times, but like any professional athlete or soldier would tell you as they strive to be the best that they can be in that, it’s going through those times that help make you into the person God has intended for you to be.

It’s on the playground that Christians play “church”. Just as there were different games and activities we might get involved in during recess, and how that would change from time to time, there are different games and activities that Christians on the playground will get involved in. On the playground, Christians will pursue that which “tickles” their itchy ears, that which feels good and doesn’t expect much of them in return, something that doesn’t challenge or infringe on their comforts, or something that isn’t inconvenient and demanding. No matter what it is, in varying degrees they will stray from sound doctrine and Biblical teaching to follow and embrace that which takes Scripture out of context or twists it to match and support their beliefs and agendas. Jesus warned us that in the last days deception would be great, and that we as Christians need to be aware that we do not get deceived.

What are some of the games and activities we can find on the spiritual playground within the church? Maybe you’ve heard of some of these. There’s the hyper-grace game, the Social Gospel game, the Emergent Church and Seeker Sensitive games, the Kingdom Now, Church Growth and community games and activities. Each of these games and activities no doubt has within themselves an element of truth that they gleaned from the classroom, truths that need not be forsaken, but games that divert our attention away from where it needs to be. I recently learned of a form of deception that is very deceptive, and that is misdirection. This kind of deception diverts our attention away from where it needs to be and onto things that are less important or draws our focus away from where it’s supposed to be. Regarding Christianity, our focus needs to be on what I mentioned is found in the classroom, and not what is found on the playground, and many of these games and activities on the playground deceive us into diverting our attention away from where it needs to be.

Well, the bell and the whistle are sounding indicating that it’s time to get in line to reenter the classroom. As we watch the fulfillment of Biblical end-time prophesy cross the headlines of the various news sources, we realize that Jesus is returning very, very soon. We are literally on the precipice of the Gog-Magog war mentioned in Ezekiel 38-39, a war that most scholars believe takes place shortly after the Rapture of the Church. A lot of Christians are looking at how things are transpiring here within America, ignoring what is happening in the Middle East and especially with Israel, almost as if they think America is God’s prophetic time piece for the last days. We are seeing a great apostasy, as Scripture tells us would take place leading up to His return, where more and more Christians are for one reason or another are giving little heed to answering the Great Commission, forsaking the sound Biblical teaching of the Rapture, especially the pre-tribulation rapture, as well as sound doctrine of what it means to be a follower of Christ and Jesus’ command for His followers to be watching for His return. We are so close people, and now is the time to exit the playground if that’s where you’ve been and return to the classroom to learn and seriously pursue your relationship with Jesus.

Recess Is Over!!!!


John Johansson


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Beating Up One Another

Over the years there has been quite the debate over the timing of the rapture.  Some believe in a pre-tribulation rapture, some a mid-tribulation/pre-wrath rapture, and others a post-tribulation rapture.  I personally believe in a pre-tribulation rapture, but that’s not what I’m wanting to write about today.  No matter what your position is, the point I’m wanting to make is that we need to be ready when that time comes.


In Matthew 24:45-51, and in Luke 12:42-48, Jesus is telling us a parable relating to the time of His return.  Specifically, Jesus is speaking of those who think, for whatever reason, that He is delaying His return.  One of the dangers for those who do not believe in a pre-tribulation rapture, as well as those who do but don’t believe it’s anytime soon, is that they begin to lower their guard and not keep themselves and their relationship with Christ in check.  In the parable, Jesus mentions that those who think He’s delaying His return will begin to beat their fellow servants.  What is He talking about?  Do we see or hear of Christians beating up other Christians?  Well, not necessarily in a physical sense, but it is happening.  It’s happening in a way that many consider inconsequential or of very little importance.  Let’s take a brief look at how some Christians are beating up on other Christians, and perhaps don’t even realize that they’re doing that.


In James 3:1-12, we’re told of the damage and destruction the tongue can cause.  In Luke 6:45, we’re told that it’s out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks, and in Jeremiah 17:9 we read that the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked.  The heart that is not being submitted to and transformed by God, remains wicked and self-centered, and as a result the tongue will reflect the condition of one’s heart for all to see.  James tells us that what comes out of our mouths will be good or bad, showing us that to have both good and bad come out of the same mouth is incompatible and can’t be done.  As Christians, our mouths should only have good coming from it, which would reflect a heart changed and transformed by God.


Having said that, what are some ways that our tongue can be used to beat up on fellow Christians?  To begin with, we need to realize that pride is what keeps one from bridling their tongue.  Pride tells one that they don’t have to pay attention, or even submit their tongue, to the Lordship of Christ.  In Ephesians 4:29, were instructed to not let any corrupt word proceed out of our mouths, but only that which is good for necessary edification to others.  To allow corrupt speech to proceed from our mouths, or to take a relaxed and apathetic approach to what we say, is in direct contradiction to what we’re commanded to do, and that is pride within our hearts.


So, what are some ways that our tongue can be used against fellow Christians?  When we are being judgmental or critical towards others, we are beating up on them.  When we speak ill of another believer, we’re beating up on them, too.  When we lie about or slander them, we’re beating up on them. When we talk to them, or about them, in a way that implies we’re better than them, then we are beating them up.  When we complain or murmur about someone or some situation, we’re beating someone up. When we back bite someone, or when we gossip about them, we’re beating them up.  Some may argue that if the other person doesn’t hear or know about any of this, then it’s not beating them up, but God says differently.  Besides, He not only hears everything we say, but He knows our thoughts and attitudes towards those people, which shows Him what our heart is really like on the inside.  In Matthew 12:36-37, Jesus tells us that we will be judged for every idle word we say, and that by our words we will either be justified or condemned.  That can be a scary thing to think about.


How important are the words we say to and about other Christians?  Our speech, and the thoughts and attitudes of our hearts, creates divisions and a hostile environment within the body of Christ.  In 1 Corinthians 11:17-34, writing about what we call the Lord’s Supper and how it was being miss-handled, the Apostle Paul tells us that such divisions within the body of Christ are the very reasons why some are weak, sick, and even dead among us.  This should tell you how serious God views an unrestrained tongue by those who take on the name of Christ and call themselves Christians.


Many of us know what it means to be judgmental and critical of others, to speak ill of someone, too complain or murmur, or to view or imply that someone is inferior to us.  But what about gossip?  How is that so bad?  I believe a gossip and a busybody are oftentimes the same person.  A busybody feels compelled to learn all they can about a person or situation, feeling unfulfilled if they don’t know all the details.  A gossip on the other hand, feels compelled to tell others all that they know of a person or situation, and they can’t wait to seize or create an opportunity to share the latest they’ve learned.  Gossips find satisfaction in making someone else’s business everyone else’s business.  Nowhere in Scripture are we encouraged or told it’s okay to share with others what we know about people and situations, but instead were told to basically keep our mouths shut.  Being a gossip does a couple of things that is unhealthy to the body of Christ.  First, it gives others information that can jade or have a negative effect on how others view and interact with the person that was the subject of the gossip.  Second, it creates a sense of distrust and division with others who are afraid of what the gossiper will say about them to others, not wanting their business to become everyone else’s business.  It destroys trust and a sense of privacy with others.  God doesn’t view gossip as a minor issue, but instead speaks of it in a very serious way.  Here is an interesting article about gossip from a Biblical perspective;


What we need to remember, is that Jesus is coming back at any time, and that it is imperative for us to actively keep our tongues in check, as well as to evaluate the condition of our own hearts that is seen through the words we say. It’s easy for us to fall into the trap of beating up others, including fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, and we need to be proactive to not let that be a part of our life, which will subsequently have a significant negative effect on our witness as a follower of Jesus.  If you find that one or more of the above types of speech has been a part of your life, now is the time to change that, and the only real way to change that is first through repentance and then through the continual submission of your thoughts and words to the obedience of Christ, which includes focusing on what we find in Philippians 4:8 and that which is edifying to others.  Time is short, so don’t delay.  Even if you believe that Christ isn’t coming back anytime soon, it is imperative that you keep yourself from beating up on others through your speech.


John Johansson


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The Time Is Near

It has been preached for nearly 2000 years that Jesus would be returning soon.  The nature of that teaching, and what that exactly entails, has been intensely debated in church history.  As a kid growing up in church, I remember there being a lot of talk about Jesus’ return and end-time Bible prophecy.  Sadly, that is no longer the case as the focus of most churches, at least here in America, has been around building God’s kingdom here on earth, or trying to reach people with a “gospel” built on love and acceptance without offending anyone in the areas of sin, holiness, and judgment.  With such a watered-down and sugar-coated “gospel” that is promoted and taught in most churches, it is no wonder that there is little to no talk of Jesus’ return or end-time events.


I recently read that the Barna Group found that 51% of church goers have no clue as to the what the Great Commission is, and of the remaining 49% only about 17% know what it is and where in Scripture it comes from (Matthew 28:9-20 and Mark 16:15-18).  This could explain why most churches are not even actively engaging in and being obedient to it, but instead are looking to either build God’s kingdom here on earth or to see how many people they can gain in their congregations without offending people through a watered-down sugar-coated “gospel”.  Could this also explain why there is so little preached or taught in churches about Jesus’ return and Biblically prophesied end-time events.  A gospel preached absent of the future return of Jesus and prophesied end-time events, as well as the necessity to be living right and free of sin in the sight of God, is not the complete or balanced gospel found within Scripture.


For the first time in Israel’s existence since it was formed 70 years ago, an Arab leader has acknowledged Israel and their right to their own land.  That same leader has also been in private conversations with Jewish leaders, working with President Trump to push a peace treaty between Israel and their neighbors.  I will add that it was reported several years ago that Saudi Arabia had plans for a 7-year peace treaty with Israel, one that had been on the “back-burner” waiting for the right time to promote.  Could this be the 7-year peace treaty the Bible talks about, the one that starts the Great Tribulation period found in Daniel 9:27?  Only time will tell, but I wonder how many people in churches across this nation know of the Bible prophesies regarding a 7-year peace treaty, or are even watching the signs pointing to its fulfillment?  There are several things that have transpired within this past week or so, things that are pointing to the fulfillment of Bible prophecy as it relates to the last days and the Great Tribulation period.  Things like the forming of alliances between specific countries in the Middle East, the growing intensity in and around the city of Damascus, just to name a couple.  Oh, and let us not forget that Israel turns 70 next month, a very significant event to be mindful of as we continue into the days ahead of us.


So, how many Christians are paying attention to the signs, knowing that their fulfillment point even stronger to the return of Jesus for His Bride in an event known as the Rapture?  Again, sadly, not too many.  In the midst of watching Bible end-time prophesies being fulfilled before our eyes, and the apparent ignorance of church goers of what is going on and what it means to them as Christians, there is a growing concern among some who study Bible prophecy regarding pastors being held accountable for not teaching and preparing their congregations about these things and the times we’re in.  I believe their concern is a valid one, knowing that if people in their congregations are not aware of the signs or ready when Jesus returns, they can find themselves left behind and having to face a period that will be the worst ever experienced in world history.  I pray that these pastors, these shepherds, will wake up and start making their congregations, their flocks, aware of the times we’re living in, as well as the need to be ready when He returns and what that means.


I was listening to someone the other day, someone that doesn’t understand what the Bible calls the “good news”, and some of what he was prophesying regarding future events for America.  Among the many things that concerned me with what he was saying, he made it clear that any Christian that doesn’t embrace what he’s prophesying is a weak and immature Christian who doesn’t know the voice of God.  He further indicated that Christians who speak of things in the world getting worse, along with a hope of escaping them (probably referring to the Rapture), that they are defeatist, gloom and doom Christians who are not hearing the voice of God.  When he mentioned that, I immediately thought that those who don’t subscribe to his vision of what is ahead probably know the Bible and Bible prophesy better than he does.  A lot of people are really embracing the things he’s saying, excited to hear from him more of what God is telling him.  In 2 Timothy 4:2-4, the Apostle Paul tells us that in the last days Christians will turn away from sound doctrine because they have itching ears for teaching that supports their desires.  Paul also tells us in 1 Timothy 4:1-2 that many will depart from the Christian faith to follow deceiving spirits and doctrines inspired and promoted by demons.  Is this just one example of what the Bible warns us will be taking place in these last days?


As I thought about this person and the confidence he has in hearing the voice of God, and how that what he’s telling people is contradictory to what Scripture has to say, ignoring or discounting the fact that Bible prophecy is being fulfilled right before our eyes, I was reminded of an account recorded in 2 Chronicles 18:1-34; 19:1-2.  In a summary of what transpires in this portion of Scripture, two kings are looking to enter a war with another king and are inquiring if the Lord will go before them into battle.  Four hundred prophets’ prophecy that they are to go to war, and that they will be victorious because God will give them the victory, but one of the kings wants to hear from a prophet of the Lord.  A prophet of God is summoned, one that the king of Israel doesn’t like because he never tells him anything of prosperity or good things.  The prophet of God arrives on the scene, and when asked by the kings what God would say to them regarding this battle, the prophet says something very interesting.  This prophet, Micaiah, tells them that God wanted them to go into battle where the king of Israel would be killed, and God inquired of those surrounding His throne as to who could persuade the king to go into battle.  Micaiah recounts that one of those around the throne said he would persuade the king to go forward in this battle, and when God asked him how he would do it the answer was that he would cause the prophets to believe a lie and tell the king to do so.  God approved of this, and that is why all four hundred prophets were prophesying that he should go to war.  The king didn’t like what he said and chose to follow with the answer he got from the four hundred prophets, and despite his attempt to disguise himself got shot by an errant arrow that caused him to die later that day.


Is it possible that the same thing is happening now, where people are claiming to hear one thing from God as to what is ahead for America, bringing America into judgment and exposing where the hearts of many Christians really is?  The Holy Spirit will never contradict Scripture, but so many Christians choose to embrace what people say they are hearing from God instead of searching the Scriptures, and not just the ones they are using, to verify if what is being said truly is from God.  Is our focus more on the future of America, or on eternity in Heaven with Jesus and reaching the lost with the good news of the gospel?  I fear for the pastors that choose to not preach and teach about Jesus’ return and the future of the world through the eyes of Bible prophecy, knowing that they will be held accountable for those under their leadership that find themselves eternally lost because they were not told the complete and balanced Word of God which includes Jesus’ return and end-time events.  Many pastors try to avoid preaching about anything that might offend someone and keep them away, things like sin, holiness, and a coming judgment, and God will hold them accountable for that.  Sometimes what is edifying to the body of Christ is not always pleasant or good to hear, or feel, but the edification comes when the person accepts it and makes the necessary changes to grow in their faith and live as God would have them to.  On the flip side, not everything that is good is from or of God, and anything that is good from God can become something that is not good if it gets in the way of what God has for that person in their relationship with Him.


The time is near, near for the return of Jesus for His bride, and near for the start of Jacob’s trouble when God pours out His wrath and judgments upon the earth.  Pay attention to the signs and take the necessary steps to be ready when Jesus does return, which is very soon.  The time is near.


John Johansson


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Is your head starting to spin a bit?  Do you find that a lot of what is going on in the world around us, both domestically and globally, is starting to become overwhelming to follow and to grasp?  On the domestic front, we’re not seeing division growing between two different groups, but worse, a splintering of many different groups at odds with one or more other groups.  No matter what your position is, it is becoming more and more evident that America is beginning to implode as a nation, and outside of wishful thinking the final outcome is yet to be known.  Violence, including school violence, is rapidly increasing from coast to coast.  Besides the exposure of long-term corruption in government, the Union is beginning to lose the national unity it once had seeing government agencies from the local level all the way up to the Federal level that are attempting to establish themselves as independent of the others to do their own will according to their own agendas.  Where there were once only two genders, now there is the recognition of over 12 different “genders”.  Where it was a crime and a disgrace to be a pedophile, there is now a push to “normalize” pedophiles within society.  And the list goes on.


On the global scene, we see Russia beginning to position itself as a world super power and the primary voice in the Middle East.  We see Iran expanding its presence and influence all around Israel with the primary objective to wipe Israel off the face of the earth.  We see Turkey rearing its head up and trying to become a force to be reckoned with, expanding its position in the Middle East.  And, we see what a civil war in Syria was once become the battle ground of multiple wars, with the biggest and fiercest of these conflicts centering in and around the city of Damascus.  Like no other time in history, we are seeing, for those who have been watching and paying attention to what’s happening around the world, the final pieces coming together for the beginning of the great Tribulation period, Jacob’s Trouble.


Spiritually, deceptive teachings are becoming more and more the accepted norm, with false teachers rising up all around promoting many of these false teachings.  The Apostle Paul told us that in these last days there would be Christians turning from sound doctrine only to embrace that which tickles the ears.  We have people more concerned about exposing and ripping out the tares in the field than they are the health of the wheat, alluding to the parable of the wheat and the tares in Matthew 13, and as a result are hurting and destroying some of the precious wheat God has planted “in the field”.  Division is growing in church circles between authentic followers of Christ, and those who are not.  The majority of the church here in America has lost sight of what it means to be followers and ambassadors of Christ and have embraced teachings that are incompatible with what we’ve been commissioned and commanded to do.


In December of 1989, George W. Bush, Sr. met with Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev on the island of Malta.  I don’t remember much of the events surrounding that meeting, but there is one thing that has stuck with me ever since then.  I don’t remember which popular TV news anchor of that era it was, but I remember one reporting from a boat amid a storm out on the Mediterranean Sea, and he made a statement I have never forgotten.  It wasn’t so much what he said, but what God spoke to me immediately after this news anchor made the statement.  This TV news anchor, braving the raging storm around him, issued an apology to the networks viewers.  At that time so many different things were happening all around the world, major events of sorts, that he apologized that they were having problems covering all that was taking place, letting the viewers know that they were trying their best to keep them informed of things.  He indicated things were happening too fast for them to cover everything, and God immediately told me that what they were experiencing was just a taste of how fast things are going to happen leading up to the return of Jesus for His bride.  When God quickened that to me, I immediately knew things would happen so quickly when that time comes that people’s heads would be “spinning” trying to grasp and comprehend all that was happening.  I also became acutely aware that things will happen so fast, that only Christians who are watching and preparing for the return of Christ for them will experience a peace during this time that only God can provide, and with that those who had not been actively watching and praying regarding His return would be caught unaware of His return.


Some people are really bothered with me talking and writing about watching for and praying that they are counted worthy regarding the return of Christ in what we know as the rapture, as though I’m making it into something more than it needs to be.  Yes, Jesus tells us on multiple occasions to watch and pray regarding His return for us, His bride, and on one occasion even to watch and pray that we’re counted worthy to escape that which is coming to the earth.  Yes, Jesus tells us in Revelation 3 that if we’re not watching we’ll miss His return.  Yes, Jesus tells us in Revelation 16:15 that those who were watching and kept or took care of their garments, robes of righteousness, they are blessed.  But the reality of how vitally important it will be for us to be watching and praying became so very real to me on that day some 28 years ago, a reality that I have not been able to shake since then.  If a person is not watching and praying before everything starts “hitting the fan”, so to speak, things will be happening so fast that it will be the last thing on many of their minds to do, and even then, they may experience the same plight of the five foolish virgins Jesus tells us about in Matthew 25.


Things are not just heating up all over the world, but things are happening at an ever-increasing rate, which includes the fulfillment of Biblical end-time prophesies.  Now is not the time to be sticking your head in the sand pretending things are not as they truly are, or that things are not going in the direction that they clearly are.  Now is the time, if you haven’t been already, to start watching and praying as we so clearly see how imminent Jesus’ return for His bride is.  Don’t be caught up with the deceptive tactics of misdirection, where the enemy keeps our eyes and focus off what it needs to be at this time, staying aloof to the growing signs all around us, domestically and globally, pointing to our redeemers return.  Don’t get caught with your head spinning trying to grasp and comprehend what is going on!


Again, don’t get caught with your head spinning trying to grasp and comprehend what is going on!  Keep a clear mind by keeping your eyes and focus on Jesus and His imminent return for us and keep watching for Him!


John Johansson


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Restoring Our Vision

No matter what kind it is, whenever someone is in a race their focus is on one thing, to be the first one to cross the finish line.  When a person is running a race, it is vital that they keep their mind and focus on the finish line.  If they were to get distracted with something or someone else, they run the risk of not only getting beat to the finish line by someone else, but they also run the risk of never finishing the race.  For the follower of Christ, we are running a race.  The writer of Hebrews encourages us in Hebrews 12:1-2, that as followers of Christ we are to run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.


It amazes me, while Biblical end-time events are being fulfilled right before us, so many Christians are oblivious as to the ever-closer imminent return of Jesus for His bride.  Scripture tells us that deception will be great in the last days, and we need to be careful to not be deceived ourselves.  There are many who are focusing on false prophets and the many false teachings they are promoting, but there is another form of deception that is also gaining ground in the days we are now living in.  I was listening to someone earlier today, someone who has become well known and that many are calling a prophet of God, but one word kept coming to my mind when I was listening to him.  That one word, which is a form of deception, was misdirection.  I can hear some of you right now saying, “What?”  Let me explain.


In the “Great Commission”, as recorded in both Matthew 28:19-20 and Mark 16:15-18, we are commanded to go and preach the gospel and make disciples of all nations, teaching them to heed and obey all He had commanded us.  This is to be the primary focus of the Church, and the means for accomplishing this task as outlined in these passages is simple, to preach, teach, and disciple others, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  This is where the misdirection begins.  Instead of focusing on what Jesus commanded us to do, many churches have turned their focus on seemingly good things, things that gain the recognition of others, builds a reputation and a positive image within their communities, all for drawing more people to their churches.  In Matthew 16:18, Jesus makes it clear that He will build His Church, and in John 12:32 Jesus makes it clear that He will draw all men to Himself.  So, why is it that churches feel they need to utilize world-based methods for reaching the lost and building their churches, unless they’ve fallen for that form of deception found in the misdirection.  Yes, we should be involved with charitable acts and community service of sorts, but when those things become the primary focus and top priorities of a church or follower of Christ, especially with the hope of gaining more attendees through them, then the enemy has successfully misdirected our focus away from where we’re commanded it is to be, namely to preach and teach the good news of the Gospel as it relates to the cross and the penalty of sin Jesus paid on our behalf, as well as Jesus’ soon return for us.


Speaking of good news.  The person I was listening to misunderstands what the Scriptures are talking about regarding good news.  This person indicated that the good news the Bible is referring to is the good news that is reported in the news.  For example, according to this person, good news is what is reported about the good things our current President is doing, and that bad news is the lies and negative reports being promoted by some in the media.  He was basically taking Scripture out of context to support a Kingdom Now mentality that believes everything will get better once Christians start listening to good news and start doing what they are supposed to be doing in the different areas of society and government.  Well, the good news of the Scriptures is that Jesus, the only begotten Son of God, came to earth to die a brutal death by crucifixion to pay our debt of sins for us.  The good news is continued with the resurrection of Jesus on the third day that proves as followers of Christ that we have eternal life in Him.  And, if that wasn’t enough, the good news continues in that Jesus is coming back for His bride, His followers, to receive us unto Him with resurrected and transformed bodies for all eternity.  Now, that’s the good news the Bible is talking about.  However, apparently this person has fallen for the misdirection Satan is promoting in part because he doesn’t understand even the basics or the message of salvation in Jesus as clearly explained in Scripture.


What I shared previously regarding the great commission is only one area in which the enemy has effectively deceived many Christians through misdirection.  The misdirection I was seeing earlier today is something that is inherently a part of each American, and that is in patriotism.  Oh, the heritage the Red, White, and Blue represents is great, and it’s one that every American can be proud to be associated with.  It’s a heritage that we don’t want to see destroyed and brought to ruins, and our patriotism causes us to seek the return of the glory this nation once had both domestically and abroad.  We want to see America restored in so many ways, restored so that our descendants can know and appreciate the same heritage we have for this great Country.  The problem with this is that we become more focused on America and seeing it restored, especially without the necessary repentance and returning to God that is desperately needed, than we are with what Scripture tells us and what Jesus commanded our focus to be.  We forget that we are first and foremost Christians, followers of Christ, and that America is not our eternal home.  Scripture tells us that our home is in heaven with Jesus, and that we are here as His ambassadors.  No where in Scripture are we directed to build His kingdom here on earth, or to “expand our influence” in the world to establish a Christian utopia of sorts.  In addition to the great commission I mentioned earlier, we have been commanded by Jesus to be watching for His return for us, and to pray that we’ll be counted worthy to escape what is coming to the earth.


People, including the one that I was listening to earlier today, want to be critical of Christians who believe that Scripture teaches things are going to get much worse, labeling us as “gloom and doom” people.  Well, to begin with, I choose to believe the Holy Spirit-inspired Scriptures more than someone who claims they have heard from God, believing that God will never contradict His Own Words.  Second, people who want to claim Bible believing Christians are “gloom and doom”, they are living with earthly mindsets focused on making life here on earth great.  I say that because, while Scripture does speak of some extremely terrible times coming soon, we’re focused more on that which Scripture says is in store for followers of Christ, which is all more good and glorious than anything ever to be experienced here on earth.  We recognize that the fulfillment of the signs found in Scripture, including that which pertains to the Great Tribulation period, are merely signs that our physical redemption is drawing ever closer, and that we will soon be with Jesus for all eternity.


The danger with this misdirection, a misdirection I believe is from the enemy of our souls, is that we become more focused and concerned about life here on earth, whether it’s trying to better society or in trying to make America great again, than we are in watching for Jesus’ soon return for us.  On multiple occasions Jesus made it clear that we are to be watching for Him, and this strongly emphasized command of His to us is non-negotiable.  Like it or not, Jesus also makes it clear that those who are not watching for Him will be caught off guard and left behind.  Satan, appearing as a great angel of light or the source of a warm, fuzzy feeling as some describe, is doing all he can to keep people from what God has in store for followers of Christ.  If he can’t destroy you, and if he can’t pull you away from living your life for him, then he’ll do whatever he can to get your attention misdirected onto things, good things, that will keep you from being watchful and ready for Jesus when He returns.


As one person put it, the greatest problem with deception is that it is so deceiving.  Deception comes in various forms, and it is our responsibility to guard ourselves from it.  We are to study the Scriptures, stay in an attitude of prayer and worship to Jesus, and pay attention to the still, small voice of the Holy Spirit who will help us stay clear of the enemy’s different traps.  Always remember, the Holy Spirit will NEVER contradict any of the Scriptures.  And no matter how convincing or good sounding a “word” may be, if it contradicts Scripture then it’s not of God, though it may be of another spirit associated with Satan and the powers of darkness.


If your vision has gotten off somewhat, now is the time to get it restored, put back into focus, and realigned to what God’s Word says, the whole Word and not just parts of it.  Restored vision, that’s what many in the church needs right now.  Just as a vision of 20/20 is considered perfect vision in the natural, so is a vision that is focused on Jesus and what Scripture says about our path to eternity with Him.


John Johansson


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A word often spoken about animals that have a knack of getting loose from a pen or some other form of restraint, or even of people that have a way of getting free of restraints or situations they face, is Houdini.  Houdini is not just a word, but it is a name, the name of a great escape artist, Harry Houdini.  Harry Houdini started his career in the late 1800’s and became very popular in the early 1900’s.  Houdini is known as probably one of the best escape artists of all time, and perhaps possibly the best of the best.  Houdini’s escapes were not just merely escaping out of straight-jackets, or any variety of locks and chains to which he was bound to.  Houdini’s escapes were acts that threatened his life if he was not successful within a timely manner, and thus they were acts of escaping death or serious life-threatening injuries.  These kinds of escapes are known as Escapology, the escape from restraints, other traps, or other perils.


Whenever the subject of the rapture is mentioned, some will discount it as a teaching of Escapism.  Often those who call it escapism are people that don’t believe in the rapture, though they do believe in the Second Coming of Christ when He returns to establish His kingdom for a thousand years.  Those who believe the rapture is a teaching of escapism view those who believe in it as people wanting to escape the realities of daily life and it’s many challenges for something better.  Opponents of the rapture teaching believe Christians are to be hard at work to change their communities, and the world at large, through various ways and means for Christ, so that through such changes the church will overcome the enemies of Jesus and thereby usher in His return to establish His earthly kingdom here.  In previous blogs I have established that the Bible clearly teaches a coming rapture event, a separate event from the Second Coming of Christ that takes place at the end of the Tribulation period, but is the context of these teachings based on escapism?


Before we tackle the question of whether or not the rapture teaching is a teaching of escapism, I want to take a brief look at another view of the rapture.  Some people believe that the rapture is a future event to come, but instead of seeing it as an escape of some kind, they focus on the aspect of the rapture where followers of Christ will be reunited with Him for all eternity.  They take the perspective that the sole or primary reason for the rapture is to be reunited with Christ, and in turn avoid or discount any idea of the rapture being an event of escape.  While this way of thinking lends itself to a seeker-sensitive or emergent church way of thought, where the focus is more on Christ’s love with very little mentioned about accountability or a coming judgment, much less God pouring out any wrath upon unrepentant mankind.  Is this Scripturally sound?  It sounds good, but what does the Bible have to say about this?


To begin with, there is a clear difference between escape and escapism.  Where escapism is basically the attempt to depart from reality to what we could call a virtual reality or fantasy, escape is when one departs something that is either restraining them or an impending peril of some sort.  Escapism can be seen in people who flee reality or depression through drugs, alcohol, and relationships, just to name a few. No where in Scripture are we told to flee from reality and to embrace a virtual realm or fantasy of some sort.  However, the Bible is filled with accounts of people and nations escaping peril and judgments facing them.  The Bible tells of Noah escaping a judgment upon mankind through a world-wide flood by entering an ark God instructed him to build.  Lot escaped a judgment that came upon Sodom and Gomorrah by fleeing with angels.   Multiple times the Israelites escaped God’s judgment while they were in the wilderness for 40 years through obedience to His commands.  The city of Nineveh escaped God’s judgment by repenting and turning away from their wicked and sinful ways.  And in like manner, people escape the judgment and penalties for their sin by salvation through Christ, and in maintaining a heart attitude of repentance for sin they commit after salvation.  These are just some of the examples we find in Scripture of people escaping God’s wrath and judgments through acts of repentance and obedience to Him.  But, what about the rapture?  Is that an event connected with an escape?


In Luke 21:36, we find a connection between the coming rapture and an escape of things to come.  Jesus, Himself, tells us to “Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.” – (boldness added, NKJV)  To discount the teaching that God is providing a way of escape from His coming wrath and judgments upon the earth is to discount Jesus’ own words.  Jesus doesn’t tell us how to stop His wrath and judgments from coming, but rather how to escape them.  The Apostle Paul tells us in 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11, that there is coming a “day of the Lord” where His wrath will be poured out upon the world, and that there will be no escape for those who are not watching with a sober mind of His return for us.  Paul further encourages us by making it clear we are not appointed to God’s wrath, and that we need to be comforted with that fact and that He will keep us from the judgments to come.  Speaking to the Church of Philadelphia, Jesus tells us that those who keep His command to persevere, those who don’t let anyone take their crown, that they will be kept from the hour of testing that will come upon the whole world.  Or, in other words, they will escape the hour of testing that will be coming to the earth in the last days.


When we think of the rapture, it’s not just an event that takes us to Jesus.  It’s an event triggered as a way of escape from what is about to come to the earth.  The Greek word for rapture, harpadzo, is by its very nature a word representing a forceful catching up of people from an impending danger or times of peril.  I heard of a Greek man describing what it means in the following way.  Harpadzo means to grab someone by their hair, and to violently pull them to safety out of the path of a high-speed tractor-trailer rig just before the person gets hit by it.  With that understanding, it becomes increasingly clear that the rapture is intended to be a way of escape for followers of Jesus, the Bride of Christ.  To say the teaching of a rapture is escapism is to deny the reality of what Scripture tells us is soon coming to the whole world.  To say that the teaching of a rapture is not about an escape, or as I’ve called it on occasion the great evacuation, is to deny the very nature and purpose of the rapture, ignoring both the words of Jesus and other references in Scripture pointing to it.  If the rapture isn’t about an escape from the judgments coming to the world, as some claim it’s not, then why would it be important it for it to happen prior to the Tribulation period?  If it’s only about being with Jesus, then it would be hard to associate it with Biblically prophesied end-time events.  And if that is the case, then why are we told in Revelation 22:17, in connection to end-time events, that “the Spirit and the bride say, Come!”?  It’s a statement of desperation, not one of longing for the presence of another.  And, in response to what the Spirit and the Bride shouts, why would Jesus in Revelation 22:20 encourage us by making it clear that “Surely I am coming quickly.”  The rapture is an event of escape, and to say otherwise is to deny both the words of Jesus, as well as the whole Bible when it continually talks of escaping judgments and tribulations.  When the Bible shares of those who escaped judgments and tribulations, there is no reference to people experiencing a love for God and a longing to be with Him.  Instead, those who escaped such things did so by obedience to His commands.  God doesn’t measure our love for Him based on our emotions, or even by our many works of service, but multiple times in 1 John we are told He measures our love for Him based on our obedience or disobedience to His commands.


The rapture is not a way to escape reality and to enter a virtual reality or fantasy of some sort.  The rapture is not primarily for bringing us to Jesus for all eternity, though it certainly includes that.  The rapture, in its very essence based upon Scripture, is a way of escape at the last possible minute from the coming judgments, testing, and tribulations coming to the world.  If you believe in the rapture but don’t recognize it as an escape, then you must be okay with the possibility of being here during the Great Tribulation period.  As for me, I want to heed the words of Jesus so I can escape what we’re told is coming “down the pipes” for all the world.


How about you?  Are you looking for an escape, not from reality, but from what is coming to the earth and to a better reality in Heaven?


John Johansson


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A 2018 Challenge

As we face the arrival of a new year, it is becoming increasingly more apparent that the return of Jesus for His bride is ever nearer and more imminent than ever before.  I find that many are so focused on what is happening here in America, that they are somewhat oblivious to the increasing fulfillment of Biblical signs outside of America, as well as the final stages being set for the coming Tribulation period as outlined in Scripture.  There are many reasons for this, but I think the greatest reason for this is found in Matthew 24:4.  In this passage Jesus is responding to questions asked of Him by His disciples regarding His coming and the end of the age.  The very first thing He says is a word of caution that no one deceives them.  The closer we get to the Rapture of the Church to Christ, and the start of the Tribulation period, the greater the deceptions will be, and we must be careful not to get caught up in any of them.


Even as I write this, deception is rampant both in the world and in church circles.  While there are many different forms of deception, all deception we find in John 8:44 comes from Satan, himself.  Satan desires to keep people from salvation and a relationship with Christ.  He desires to distract us from Christ and the will and plan Jesus has for our lives.  He seeks to destroy us, as well as to corrupt any good thing we have and receive from Jesus.  He schemes to divert our focus off Jesus and the life we are to live as His ambassadors, guiding us into a self-centered mindset seeking after comfort, convenience, and the many different types of blessings that grab our hearts and attention.  Satan even offers up the various “flavors” of Christianity he’s come up with that have just enough truth in them to subtly draw people from sound doctrine and right relationship with Christ.  Can you expect anything less from the father of all lies who seeks to steal, kill and destroy?  After all, he’s been doing this for thousands of years.


Only God knows what exactly the year 2018 has in store for us, but one thing for sure is that we need to make sure we are ready for that pre-Tribulation trumpet blast, the one that summons all those in Christ, dead and alive, to meet Jesus in the air on the way to His Father’s house.  For 2018, let’s strive to make sure we’re not falling victim to the deceptions seen all around us.


Deception begins when we don’t judge what we see, hear and read with all of Scripture.  There are a lot of teachings out there that sound good, they feel good, and they “make sense”, but when they are held up to the Bible in its entirety they fall short of Biblical truth.  We can’t pick and choose which portions of Scripture are relevant to us, or to base a doctrine or theology from, especially when the Apostle Paul tells us in 2 Timothy 3:16-17 that all Scripture are inspired of God and relevant to us for doctrine.  I grew up under pastors who encouraged us to check if what they were preaching and teaching lined up with Scripture, and if there was a question about something they said, they encouraged and welcomed us to ask them about it.  They were not afraid or threatened by this.  They knew that they did not have all the answers, and they were opened to learn something new.  Your pastor should welcome you searching for yourself as to whether they are scripturally sound with what they are teaching and preaching or not.  I know of one pastor who isn’t truly open to this.  He’ll tell you one thing when talking to him, but later he’ll make comments in a group setting that clearly indicates he was not appreciative of someone questioning something he said or did.  I quickly learned to keep my mouth shut about such things with him.  Is your pastor one that encourages you to not take his word as to what Scripture does or does not say, and welcomes your questions about things he or she is preaching or teaching?  I hope so.


There are many deceptive teachings within church circles in the days we live in.  Teachings that sound good and appeal to our self-centered, materialistic beliefs, including just enough scripture to appear legitimate while discounting passages that would contradict the teachings they embrace.  Some appeal to our desire of living without accountability for things we may say or do.  Others appeal to our desire for a higher standard of living with nothing but blessings and promises of God to pursue.  Others look for a better world because of the Church taking over, through their influence, government and the “seven-mountains of influence”.  And yet others seem to change the great commission into something that looks more like a social club, or even a charitable group like the Shriners, etc.  Some of these are good things, in part, and can be supported with some scripture, but when these things become their banner cry, so to speak, more than preaching unapologetically the message of the cross, everyone’s need for a savior, forgiveness through repentance and turning away from sin, and a life surrendered to Christ, then there is a problem.  Be careful not to fall for teachings that either twists Scripture, takes Scripture out of context, or discounts or rationalizes why certain passages are not relevant to us today, all in the attempt to support or justify what is being taught.


So, in 2018, let’s try to avoid becoming a victim of deception, deceptions that could potentially derail our trek to eternity with Christ.  It’s not like there will be “do overs” if we mess up due to neglect on our part to know what Scripture has to say to us.  Jesus is coming at any time for a bride without spot, wrinkle, or any blemishes.  Let’s do our part to keep our garments of righteousness ready and prepared for His imminent return for us.


John Johansson

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