Coming World Crises --Part 1

Coming World Crises
Part 1

James Gunn

These are the notes of lectures given to tire Men’s Bible Class which meets bimonthly during the winter at Central Gospel Hall, 25 Charles St. E., Toronto, Canada.

“Prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.” As a light shining in a dark place, during these lectures prophecy illuminated areas which to the human mind seem quite obscure:

Thu Future of the Ecumenical Movement.
The Return and the Judgment Seat of Christ.
The Future of the Nations.
Europe in Prophecy.
Who Is Anti-Christ?
Russia Invades Israel!
Will the Church Go Through the Tribulation?
The Millennial Reign of Christ.
Climax of the Ages.

An Introduction to Prophecy

The twentieth century opened with an atmosphere of hope. It was taught, and generally believed in Christendom, that through the preaching of the gospel conditions in the world would gradually improve until the majority would be converted, and a spiritual kingdom of God be universally established. It was also believed that at the end of time, the Lord Jesus would return in judgment to reward the righteous and condemn the wicked. There are still some who adhere to this optimistic but vain hope.

Two world wars and numerous other less extensive wars have shattered this unwarranted illusion. Today an atmosphere of crisis is almost universal; the fueling of impending disaster permeates the whole social structure of the Western World. It produces fear in the individual, doubt within the nation, suspicion among the nations and casts a sense of gloom and finality over the whole world.

These conditions should not surprise the Christian for they were predicted long ago by the prophets and apostles.

The Study of Prophecy

Bible students agree that approximately one half of the Bible is prophecy, part of it fulfilled prophecy and the remainder predictive prophecy. It is in this second aspect that we are here concerned. In the study of predictive prophecy there are certain terms which should be understood, especially in their relationship the one to the other.

The Terms

For the present let us consider four of these important terms: “Times,” “The latter times,” “The last days,” and “The last time.”

Times (1 Pet. 1:20): The N.T. renders this verse, “Christ … has been manifested at the end of time for your sakes.” Christ came in bodily form at the end of the various periods of time. “When the fulness of time had come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law” (Gal. 4:4). These times may be considered as the different periods during which God dealt with man under diverse methods of administration: innocence, conscience, self-government, promises and law. During this present time, the last before “the great and terrible Day of the Lord” (Mal. 4:5), He administers the affairs of man in grace. This is the day of grace, the day of salvation; it is the day in which God has given the full revelation of Himself in Christ.

The latter times: (1 Tim. 4:1): “The Sprit speaketh expressly that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith.” The idea conveyed by the expression “latter times” is a time much later in the period in which the prediction was made. If this is a reference to the prediction of the Lord concerning the false Christ which will attempt to deceive even the very elect (Matt. 24:24), then these are the latter times to the time in which Christ became incarnate, this very day of grace and salvation.

The last days (2 Tim. 3:1): “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.” Paul here is looking into the future, and is describing conditions that will prevail at the close of the present period. The implication seems to be that during a period briefer than the one suggested by the former term, at the close of the dispensation of the grace of God, matters will be more perilous.

The last time (1 John 2:18): “Little children, it is the last hour.” The word “time” used here by the translators is the ordinary word for hour.

In the Gospel according to John, Martha speaks of the “last day:” as the day of resurrection (John 11:24), and the Lord Jesus uses the same expression as the time of judgment (John 12:48). See also John 6:39, 40, 44. Without doubt the end of this period of grace is suggested by the figure, “the last day.”

In his Epistle John uses a more intense word with a similar eschatological meaning, “the last hour.” He also mentions some of the characteristics of this last hour: The anti-Christ shall come, but in the hour preceding his manifestation there are to be many anti-Christs, many who are against Christ, and yet demand a rival place in the hearts of men. How characteristically true this description is of conditions today! Within the professing Church liberal theology spreads and the influence of neo-orthodoxy becomes more dominant. Outside the professing Church many heretical cults increase in size and power. Errors within and without have become a common denominator of all Christendom.

A Summary

Within “the last time” of full revelation, the day of salvation, there are “latter times” when some defect from the Christian faith, when spiritism will increase, when men acting in hypocrisy will profess celibacy and practise certain dietary restrictions. Within these “latter times” there will be “last days,” a briefer period of time, in which by a comparison of 2 Timothy 3:1-8 and Romans 1:21-32, it will be seen that at its close Christendom will be morally and spiritually no better than paganism. Within these “last days” there will be a still shorter period figuratively called “the last hour,” and this hour is characterized by an anti-Christian attitude and doctrine throughout Christendom.

A Survey of Predictive Prophecy

This outline of prophetical events is based upon the doctrine of the premillennial-pretribulational rapture of the Church:

The rapture of the Church and related events.
The judgment seat of Christ.
The marriage of the Lamb.
The rise of “the beast,” the political leader of Europe.
The seventieth week of Daniel.
The manifestation of the Anti-Christ.
The great tribulation.
The second advent of Christ to earth.
The millennial kingdom.
The revolt of a satanic-human confederacy.
The dissolution of the present earth system.
The eternal state.

The Value of Predictive Prophecy

The value of prophecy to the present individual student does not entirely rest upon an understanding of the consummation of God’s future purposes alone, but also upon its present influence upon his mind. character and conduct. The Spirit of God in the New Testament applies predictive prophecy in various ways to the practical life of the Christian.

It provides comfort in perplexity (John 13:31; 14:3): The disciples were puzzled by the Lord’s statement in regard to His leaving them. They thought only of a geographic change. Peter, consequently, was willing to follow the Lord to any other location. They did not understand that the Lord meant that He was going to the cross to make preparation for their eternal joy and comfort. To allay their fears, He predicted His return for them: “If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again.” The prophecy of His return was to provide comfort for them in their trouble and bereavement. This it has done for multitudes of God’s people throughout the centuries. This same prophetical objective is seen in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18.

It promotes stability amidst inconsistencies (Phil. 3:20; 4:3): The exhortation to be firm and resolute with which chapter four begins is a link between the hope and glory of Christ’s return and the inconsistencies in the lives of two sisters in the church at Philippi. The adverbal conjunction “therefore” with which the exhortation begins implies that in view of the expectancy of Christ’s coming and our being glorified, we should stand firm irrespective of what others may do.

The hope that we have in Christ should promote a stability that will maintain the Christian in spite of the changing conditions in the Church and in the world.

It furnishes light in darkness (2 Pet. 1:19): The Apostle Peter in this passage pictures the Christian as in a dark place (a waste, probably a desert), and the prophetic word is as a lamp shining in the loneliness and darkness of the area. This lamp will continue to shine until the Morning Star arises to announce the dawn of day.

The Christian relies by faith upon the prophecy of Scripture, and to him it is a light that will remain until the Day of Christ dawns through the coming of Christ the Morning Star, the Bright One (Rev. 22:16). As conditions in the world become more gloomy, the illumination of the Word of God upon current and future events cheers the Christian and enables him to steadfastly pursue his course with the understanding that God is Sovereign, and that He rules over all.

It adjusts character and conduct (2 Pet. 3:10-12): The material earth is already being dissolved, so the Greek text implies. The means of its destruction are within the earth itself. Inasmuch as the Christian understands that an eschatological cataclysm will bring an end to the world as he knows it, he ought to adjust his life in accord with true piety. The two nouns, “conversation” and “godliness,” are plural in the Greek. This denotes that the Christian should urgently anticipate the future by engaging in every form of Christian living and by manifesting every aspect of genuine holiness.

It supplies peace in panic (2 Pet. 3:14): The feeling of an impending crisis may plunge some into panic. The very suggestion of a possible atomic destruction of the world terrifies many, and it might well. Peter here suggests that among future events is the return of the Lord; he, therefore, exhorts that God’s people be found on that occasion in peace, without spot and blameless.

While the Christian cannot be sinless, he should behave so that he is beyond blame. Peter said of our Lord Jesus that He was “a lamb without blemish and without spot” (1 Pet. 1:19). There was nothing about our Lord’s character or conduct to mar His perfect life. The nearest the Christian can attain to this high and holy standard is to be without spot and blameless.

It incites purity in the pretence of corruption (1 John 3:1-3): The Lord Jesus is the very personification of purity. In this passasge He is set before the believer as an example. Christ is absolutely pure; the Christian can be only relatively pure. The purity of Christ was a contrast to the sinful, wicked environment in which He lived. The life of the Christian, by the grace of God, should also be a contrast in this world of violence and moral degeneracy. The believer is responsible to purify himself, and this he may do by paying strict attention to the precepts and admonitions of the Word of God (Psa. 119:9; John 17:17).

Predictive prophecy not only gives information regarding future events, for it is actually prewritten history, but it also gives instruction in connection with present-day Christian behaviour. This aspect of prophecy is not only intellectually enlightening; it is also morally sanctifying.