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The Great Shaking to Come
by David A. DePra
God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spoke in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds….See that ye refuse not him that speaks. For if they escaped not who refused him that spoke on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaks from heaven: Whose voice then shook the earth: but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven. And this word, Yet once more, signifies the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain. Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: For our God is a consuming fire. (Heb 1:1-2, 12:25-29)
Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. (Mat 24:29-31)
There is going to come a great SHAKING. It is going to be a SHAKING, not of the world, but of the church, and of all that is spiritual. The good news is that when this is done, only that which is OF GOD will remain. The bad news is that many will fall away. But make no question, the heavens – the spiritual realm – is going to be absolutely brought into line with God’s plan and purpose. This is the message of so much that is prophetic in the Bible. But how often do you even hear it mentioned?
To be sure, such a great shaking would be a great tribulation. But it would not be the tribulation you hear most often predicted. Very seldom does anyone ever speak of a great spiritual shaking that is to come upon God’s people – every seldom do you hear of this kind of, "great tribulation."
The Usual Story
Most end-time teaching today suggests that we have the future all figured out. Over the last one- hundred years or so, people have pieced together various Bible verses from the Book of Revelation, Daniel, Matthew 24, Joel, and other books, and have come up with a nice, neat, prophecy chart. There are some disagreements, of course – there always are – but basically, most end-time teaching includes the same cast of characters: The Great Tribulation, The Rapture, The Antichrist, The Two-Witnesses, The Second Coming, The Millennium, The False Prophet, The Great Apostasy and/or Great Revival, The Third Temple – and I could go on. The disagreements are usually over WHEN – thus, we have our pre-trib, post-trib, and mid-trib rapture groups. And of course, we have the, "preterists," who believe that all prophecy is already fulfilled, including the Second Coming. Should anyone come along and suggest that all of these ideas have missed the point, or that some of the most popular theories might be dead wrong, well, they could be accused, at best, of being ignorant, and at worst, could be accused of being a heretic. After all, how dare anyone question these things?
To be honest, it is very easy to debunk every single end-time theory right from scripture. In truth, all we know for sure is that Jesus is coming back and will gather up His people, and that before He does, the gospel is going to be preached as a witness unto all nations, and that towards the end, most of that will be totally rejected --resulting in a great apostasy. Every other one of the personalities and events usually associated with modern end-times teachings is suspect, as to time, meaning, or future fulfillment.
Just one example: The Great Tribulation. This is supposed to be a seven-year period of time wherein much Bible prophecy is to be fulfilled – most of it quite catastrophic. Some believe the church will be raptured before it starts, others believe the church will be raptured after it ends, and there are some who believe the church is to be raptured in the middle. But if you do a study in scripture, you will find that the term, "The Great Tribulation," cannot be found – I mean as a proper name. You cannot find God telling anyone that there is a fixed, seven-year period of time named, "The Great Tribulation." Instead, what you find is that two times – and only two times – the phrase, "great tribulation," is used -- but never in reference to a set period of time, or as if it is an event to put on a prophecy chart. For example, Jesus said, "There shall be great tribulation…." Revelation says, "These have come out of great tribulation…." That’s it. No other use of the term. There are a few other places, such as is quoted above, where the phrase is used, "after the tribulation of those days…." Hmmm. If we weren’t already brainwashed with teaching on this subject, I wonder how we would read such teaching? Yet to hear most prophecy teachers, they would have us think that The Great Tribulation has a book in the Bible of it’s own.
I do realize that there are a number of other scriptures which are linked together and made to add up to this doctrine of The Great Tribulation. Believe me, I know them all by heart. But you see, that sort of proof-texting tends to happen once we have our mind all made up that there must be such a period of time called The Great Tribulation. Once we make up our mind on something, it is very easy to find verses to back up our theory. But I would submit – and I’m sure to no avail at this point – that the entire doctrine of The Great Tribulation is not scriptural. There is no such seven-year period of time that is going to happen. Indeed, I would submit that we have taken something that is spiritual and made it mean something that is natural. Instead, it is my opinion that Jesus is going to return in exactly the way that He, and the apostles said He would return – at an hour that we think not, when all seems well, when people are eating and drinking as usual, and at an hour when it is possible to be caught completely off guard. This alone fits all scripture, and fully represents the character and purpose of God.
Of course, the modern prophetic theory of The Great Tribulation tends to focus on God’s judgment of the world. That is why most who believe this theory also accept that before it happens, the church will be raptured out of this earth. But once we accept that, all of the rest of most end-time predictions usually apply, not to the church – we won’t be here – but only to the world. Thus, the antichrist will only deceive the world, and The Great Tribulation will come upon only those who are not Christian.
This would almost be funny if it were not so tragic and blind. It suggests that the church today is in such good shape that we don’t need The Great Tribulation. It suggests that God is going to take us all out of this world and then let His wrath fly on the rest of mankind. Has the church today been THAT faithful and true to God? I would submit that the Bible teaches, and the church needs – much more than the world needs – the judgment of God. If you and I think that we are not going to be held accountable by God for what we have been given we are deceived. The world hasn’t been given it. We HAVE.
If you insist on The Great Tribulation as a set period of time, or if you insist on The Great Tribulation at all, you might be surprised to find out that God does talk about great tribulation – and He even talks about great tribulation during the time of the end. But not in the terms usually taught today. God talks about the necessity of bringing great tribulation upon His own people.
We need to get that: It is the people of God that God has always dealt with. It is the people of God who have Truth, and are therefore accountable. It is the people of God to whom the shaking of the spiritual realm pertains, and it is the people of God that God intends to purify. And guess what? That is good news. It is something that will set many free. And it will give God glory.
God’s Purpose and Approach
It is human nature to try to make every Bible verse, and every end-time prophecy relate to US, personally. There have always been theories, for example, as to where the USA is mentioned in prophecy – British-Israelism is one of those bogus theories. Recently, one prophecy teacher wrote that the reason the USA isn’t mentioned in end-time prophecy is probably because we are going to be destroyed, and consequently, we won’t be here at the end. Somehow people cannot figure out why God would have omitted such an important nation as the USA from His revelation of the end-times. And so we even try to explain that.
The real truth is, the Bible is NOT a compendium of world history – or of future world events. Rather, the Bible is concerned only with the kingdom of God in Jesus Christ. Everything else – including the nations of the world – are brought into view only as they relate to THAT. Read the OT. It’s all about Israel. In the grand scheme of things, Israel was an irrelevant, tiny nation. They are that even today. Yet the entire inspired OT Word of God centers on them – you read of other nations only as they relate to Israel. God doesn’t say much about them otherwise.
In the NT, the people of God are those in Christ. And God’s focus is shifted to that, "nation." It is God’s kingdom – and His restoration of that through the Person of His Son – that is front and center. And all else that is mentioned is only brought into view because it somehow relates to that eternal purpose.
For example, the Book of Revelation is exactly what the title, and introduction, says it is. It is a REVELATION OF JESUS CHRIST – it is an unfolding of the Person of Jesus Christ. Included in that is the unfolding of God’s Redemptive purpose through Christ. The entire vision that John had in the Spirit is exactly that – and everything he sees relates to that. Contrast that over and against the mistaken notion that The Book of Revelation is a prophecy chart of end-time world events. No. It is a revelation of spiritual Truth and of spiritual events – as they pertain to His Son. Sure, there is a mention of peoples, world events, and of various things along that line – but only as they pertain to the fact that Jesus Christ is Lord of all through His Redemption – and that He is going to come back to this earth and BE Lord of all in every way.
Now, I’ve said all of that to get to this matter of great tribulation. Do you and I think that ANY of this could happen without GREAT tribulation – I mean even among God’s people? If Jesus Christ is Lord of YOU, for example, did that happen in theory only? Well, if you realize what I’m talking about, you know for a fact that Jesus is Lord of you only through great tribulation – your own personal great tribulation. God had to topple you as your own lord, and had to topple your kingdoms. Then – if you surrender -- Jesus became Lord of you – He was no longer just Lord in theory.
Times of tribulation – and there have been many of them – if they are sent by God are intended to turn people to God. And if there is one group of people who need to turn to God it is the church. In the end-time there may well be a time of great tribulation – not so much THE great tribulation, but a time of great tribulation. But rather than think of it as being upon the world, we need to understand that the world will only be involved to the extent that God needs that to judge His people. In short, just as all things in the Word of God relate to the kingdom of God, so will any tribulation – spiritual or natural – focus upon the people of God. God continues to work ONE purpose: Jesus Christ as Lord. Any time of tribulation will serve THAT end.
I have actually heard it taught that when Jesus raptures the church at His second coming, and leaves the rest of the world to suffer through The Great Tribulation, that this will mean that the Holy Spirit is taken from the world. Some try to derive this from II Thes. 2 – which is another one of those incredible leaps into speculation, which has become accepted as doctrine. But if we would just think about that, it would tell us the nonsense of it. God sent the Holy Spirit to dwell in His people until Jesus comes back. Jesus continually said, "Unless I go, the Comforter cannot come." He never spoke of removing the Holy Spirit, nor of removing His people and leaving the world to bear the wrath of God. Furthermore, if God did remove the Holy Spirit, then not one person during the supposed Great Tribulation could turn to Christ, because Jesus said it was the Spirit that convicts the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment. Does that sound like something God would do? Close the door on any hope of turning to Christ? Such a thing God would NEVER do.
But again – much of this absurdity is based on OTHER presuppositions. First of all, it is based on the incredible theory that there will actually be TWO second comings of Christ – if there could be such terminology. The theory is that Jesus will come to rapture His people, removing them from earth and taking them to heaven – leaving those who are left behind to face The Great Tribulation for seven years. Then, when that time is over, this theory says that Jesus will come back WITH His people for good. Thus, while Jesus, and His people, are off in heaven for seven years, the Holy Spirit will likewise be absent.
There is absolutely NO mention of the possibility in the Bible that Jesus is going to come back TWICE. In fact, it says the opposite. It says He will come a second time, period. But become people cannot seem to explain how the Bible can say, on the one hand, that Jesus will come for His people, and then on the other, that Jesus will come with His people, well, we have to invent fantastic explanations. Indeed, when you have all these ideas that you need to plug into your prophetic scheme, and they don’t work, you need to create scenarios that will make them work.
I say again that this whole thing is resolved once we do away with the unsupported Biblical theory of THE Great (seven year) Tribulation – especially the version that insists that the church could not be here for such a time of trouble. Instead, realize that, yes, there could likely be a great time of trouble towards the end of the age – but that it won’t be THE Great Tribulation as usually defined, but rather, a great tribulation, whose length of time isn’t given. And realize that this great time of trouble will be spiritual in nature more than it will focus on the material – any material calamity will simply be a tool used to work the spiritual purposes of God. And finally, realize that the purpose for it will not be for God to vent His wrath upon the world. It will be so that God can deal with His own people – necessitating that the church BE HERE.
Then you see, Jesus comes back FOR His people – and stays. Furthermore, all of the prophetic interpretations having to do with antichrist, and the beast and false prophet – all of these are then seen to apply to spiritual forces and events in God’s dealings with His people. I’m not saying that there cannot be representatives of the spirit of antichrist, and so forth, but I am saying that the prophecies having to do with this are revealing the REALITY of what is going on spiritually. In fact, read I John and you will see that the spirit of antichrist was already working. The people and events that transpire are only significant as they impact God’s ongoing purpose of unfolding Jesus Christ and establishing His kingdom.
God’s people would do well to look at the history of prophetic interpretation. The church is basically batting one-thousand – we have been wrong every time trying to use even the very prophecies of the Bible to predict future events. The rejoicing that we are able to do today over Bible prophecy is because we have seen world events unfold, and have – AFTER THE FACT – seen how the Bible had predicted those events long ahead of time. Why do we think that it is going to be any different this time?
Actually, Jesus gave us the answer to this whole question. He told us directly how we ought to view Bible prophecy. He said, "And now I have told you before it come to pass, so that when it is comes to pass you might believe." (John 14:29) This is a general principle we ought to heed. In other words, it is not that we are able to interpret and understand future events before they happen. But rather, it is that we trust God to understand, and then, AS those events unfold, we THEN DO UNDERSTAND. We then say, "THAT is what God meant by those words! Every word He spoke is happening exactly as He said!"
I realize that most people don’t want to hear that. We don’t even want to walk according to that principle in our personal lives. We want a road map. We want God to tell us. We want to know ahead of time. But God won’t comply. Instead, He tells us to believe and trust Him, and if we do, then we will see the glory of God coming to pass, and will know – at that time – what He meant by His promises, and how they were to come to pass. This way of doing things will NOT please our flesh. But it is God’s way.
It is actually a fact that even if we had every single end-time prophecy exactly right – even if we knew the day and year when our theories would come to pass – it is still a fact that none of this would do a thing to edify us in Christ, or to accomplish God’s purpose. God’s purpose is not simply to tell the future. No. God’s purpose is found in His Son. And unless we get into that purpose, all the prophetic understanding we might have otherwise will not get us far in that purpose at all.
Israel had all the prophecies of the OT. But when the very Messiah about which these prophecies spoke came to them, and when the very Messiah for whom they were praying arrived, they did not recognize Him. Why? Because their hearts were far from God. They didn’t know Him. All of their knowledge of prophecy – and they were always quick to quote it – did not enable them to recognize the very one of whom the prophecies spoke.
All Things in Christ
Have you ever wondered why The Book of Revelation – "revelation," meaning an UNCOVERING – have you ever wondered why a book entitled REVELATION seems to be anything BUT a revelation? I mean, if there is one thing you would think The Book of Revelation would do it is that it would REVEAL or UNCOVER. Yet this books seems, more than any other, to CONCEAL what it is trying to convey. For two thousand years people have come up with meanings from that book. And even if someone has happened to get it right by accident, we would not know it.
But God inspired this book and it must therefore mean, and BE, exactly what God says it is. We see what God has said about this book in the first verse:
The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to show unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John. (Rev 1:1)
We might paraphrase in this way, "The uncovering of Jesus Christ, which God purposed that He should give of Himself to His servants – that purpose which must quickly come to pass according to Christ. He sent this revelation and sealed it by His angel to His servant John."
The Book of Revelation is primarily an uncovering of Jesus Christ – and depicts God’s plan and purpose unfolded through Him to His people. Other aspects of the world, creation, and the reality of opposing forces, are all brought in as they relate to God’s purpose in Christ. Thus, as mentioned earlier, rather than be a cataloging or timeline of world events, The Book of Revelation is exactly what God says it is: It is a revelation – given in form of a spiritual VISION -- of Jesus Christ, and God’s outworking of His plan through Him.
Now, once we understand that, we will realize that what John says was primarily spiritual – He was NOT seeing helicopters, and bombs, and the like, but was seeing a physical depiction of a spiritual reality. God always uses that method to reveal things to us. And He does so in The Book of Revelation.
But I want to get back to this idea of REVELATION – if The Book of Revelation is supposed to be a revelation or uncovering (that is what the word, "apocalypse," means), then how could it be much of a revelation when it is so veiled in picture language? How did God ever expect us to understand this revelation?
The answer is that God never expected us to understand it at all – not apart from knowing Jesus Christ. We can see this right in the very first verse; in the very title of the book. This book is a REVELATION OF JESUS CHRIST. Thus, in order to understand the book that uncovers Christ, you have to be under a process where Christ is being uncovered to you. In short, the Person of Jesus Christ is the interpretation of the book.
This explains so much. For centuries, people have tried to dig into this book and figure out what it means – but have tried to do so SEPARATE from the Person of Christ. Thus, what ends up happening is that people interpret it upon natural lines. They take it literally and turn the book into a catalog of future world events. They never relate it to Christ – they rarely even see Him, God’s purpose, or the fundamental core of what God is revealing in it. But unless you know Jesus Christ, you cannot understand this book – that is a guarantee.
There are a number of passages to which we could point to prove all of this. One of the best if found in Colossians:
That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgment of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ; In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. (Col. 2:2-3)
All the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are HID in Christ. What does that mean? It doesn’t mean God desires to HIDE the Truth. It simply means that you cannot know the Truth unless you know Christ. In other words, as Christ is unfolded to you, personally and inwardly, all of the treasures of wisdom and knowledge come along as you know HIM. In short, God has wrapped up everything in Christ.
This is the key to The Book of Revelation. It IS an unfolding of Christ. When you are reading it, you are reading a revelation of Christ. But unless you are seeing and knowing Christ, it will be only words. But be in the process of knowing Christ, and you will be saying, "Oh! THAT is what that means! This is about God’s plan and purpose in Christ!"
God’s people seem to have a pension for completely bypassing Jesus Christ and trying to intrude into the things of God. We try to understand without knowing Christ. We try to obey without knowing Christ. We try to believe without knowing Christ. Most of us don’t do this on purpose – we have no clue as to our error. But Christianity is CHRIST IN US. The Christian life is about coming to KNOW HIM. It is not something we can neglect – indeed, it is the very purpose of God. Bypass that, and you are left, at best, to your natural mind and dead religion.
Now, this leads to a rather negative conclusion about today's interpretation of Bible prophecy. If the real key to understanding Bible prophecy, especially the book of Revelation, is to KNOW JESUS -- then let's ask: How much does it appear that today's general church knows Jesus? Is the necessity and value of knowing Christ even mentioned? No. Indeed, Christian TV today -- which is certainly one source of Bible prophecy interpretation -- is filled with error. My point is this: If the church at large doesn't even recognize the centrality of knowing Christ in the life of the believer, and consequently, is showing little evidence that many know Him, then how likely is it that their interpretation of Bible prophecy -- that their interpretation of the Book of Revelation is according to the mind of Christ? I say NOT very likely. In fact, if we were honest, we should call the whole popular prophetic scheme into question and get back to knowing Christ. We'd be surprised at how we'd come to understand so much else if we knew HIM.
Note Paul’s passion along this line of knowing Christ for the church:
I…cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers; That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is his body, the fullness of him that fills all in all. (Eph 1:16-23)
What is being described here is not an idealistic hope that God one day imagined, but has long since forgotten. Read it again -- what does Paul pray might happen? He wants us to know CHRIST. And I have to believe that what God has desired is going to come to pass on some level. It may not be in the masses who profess Christ. But it will happen.
You will note the conclusion of it all: Christ is to FILL ALL – especially His people. God’s great purpose for His people has been WROUGHT IN CHRIST, and Christianity is CHRIST IN US.
God has wrapped everything up in Christ, and it is as Christ is unfolded and experienced by individual people that those people come into the fullness of the wisdom and knowledge of God, and understand spiritual Truth. Again – this is the key to understanding The Book of Revelation, and really, the rest of prophecy and scripture. We must be growing to know Christ.
A Great Shaking
Now, it is here that we can get back to the passages quoted at the beginning of this article. Read again what God intends to do, from Ephesians 1. And then face squarely the fact that we have seen very little of this come to pass during the church age. It HAS come to pass in the lives of individuals here and there, down through history. But it has NOT come to pass in any way that has stopped the progress of evil, heresy, and apathy, in the Body of Christ. The question is therefore clear: What must happen if God is going to see His will brought to pass? Well, there has got to be a great shaking. It has to be a great shaking of God’s own people.
I believe that for anyone who is, or who will, or who has, come into the purpose of God, that those people who have come into the purposes of God have had their own personal shaking. They have, if you will, had their own personal great tribulation. In one sense of the word, the entire Christian life, and the entire Christian age, is a great tribulation. It is conflict, adversity, and spiritual warfare. Thus, if any of what God intends is to be real, livable, or practical, it must be brought to pass, not through some catastrophic world event, but in the personal hearts of individual people. But on a larger scale, and in fulfillment of God’s wider purpose, there is to be a consummation to things. Just as the individual must have a shaking and a tribulation – and this is primarily SPIRITUAL – so must the entire realm and the entire church be shaken in a collective way.
God must give a witness to Himself. He must be shown and seen. This is not for HIM as much as it is for US. Thus, before the end of the age, God is going to deal with everything in a universal way. He is going to shake the very powers of the heavens, and shake the spiritual realms. I would submit that if we would go through our PERSONAL shaking and PERSONAL spiritual tribulation that we would be ready for such a thing, should it happen before we die. For we would be firm in Christ.
God is going to see worked out and brought to fullness the fact that His Son is Lord of all. But since Jesus is NOT Lord of most people, including those who profess Him, God has to deal with this. And that is the shaking. The shaking will shake loose all that is NOT of God, and will leave only that which is of God. Then Jesus will be Lord.
We often think of JUDGMENT as punishment. But it really is not that. Now, if you want to resist or rebel against the judgment of God it won’t go well with you. Yet this is not a matter of God punishing you. It is matter of you reaping what you sow. God isn’t going to change for you, or accommodate you. So resist Him if you will and you will lose out – by your own choice.
The JUDGMENT of God is nothing more than God setting things in perfect order, according to who people are to Him. Judgment always begins with LIGHT or TRUTH. God exposes people for who they are to Him. When God judges, all the games are over, all the masks come off, and all of the facades fall down. At that point, people will either turn to Him, or people will fall away. It all depends on whether they are willing to step into the Light – it depends upon whether they want the Truth. Consequently, when God judges, yes, He is going to set everything and everyone in order. But how we respond to the judgment of God will depend upon where we end up in that order.
It is a fact that the judgment of God is really the outcome of the fact that He has been judging all along. When God brings a visitation and a judgment, it is usually the climax to many dealings of God, and to many times that God has sought to bring the Truth. Thus, even though it is never too late to turn to God, it is often a fact that when God judges He already knows people have made their choices. His judgment is often nothing more than a matter of Him exposes those choices. We might say that people always grow up to be what they are to God. God spends much time seeking to get people to turn to Him. But in the end, they are going to be exposed for who they are, one way or another. This can happen many times along the way in the Christian life. But it is going to happen in the ultimate, eternal sense. Who are you to Christ, and who is Christ to you? Not in theory. But really? That is the question.
Now, what we see in this is that a great shaking is a great judgment. If God is going to shake the heavens, or spiritual realm, to the point where only that which is of God will remain, then all things will be exposed for what they are. Every building that is built upon Christ will stand. Every building that is not will fall. Every person who is truly devoted to, and dependent upon, Jesus Christ, will be exposed as such. But everyone who is false, and has merely appeared to be Christian, is going to be uncovered.
As I stated, this is all going to happen at the last judgment anyways. But if you want to walk with Jesus Christ, and come into the purposes of God, you must go through this personally. Sure. Peter said, "Judgment must begin with the household of God." Paul said, "If you would judge ourselves, we would not be judged." Thus, the key here is to open yourself to God on a continual basis. Get all of the secrets exposed, and all of the hidden motives dealt with. Hand yourself over to God for this shaking and dealing -- because you cannot do it. It is another work of the Cross. Yet if you do this, any subsequent shaking of God will only find you genuine. There will be nothing to shake loose from you because you will have already been shaken in a personal way.
Now, if we really understand, we will see that JUDGMENT is all positive. If we open ourselves to the judgment of God, the result will be that the Truth will set us free. He will shake loose all that binds us. All that was judged in Christ on the Cross will shake loose from us. But if we refuse, then the same judgment that God intends for our good, will be – to us – a terrible thing. Make no question about it – God is going to have His will and purpose. Christ is going to be Lord of all, and is going to fill all in all. If I will not submit to this, then God has no alternative to the Light He offers me except the darkness that I have loved.
There Must Be Heresies
For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you. (1 Cor. 11:19)
If we limit HERESY to merely theological error, we will miss the point. Heresy usually includes wrong theology and doctrine. But ultimately, heresy is a matter of the HEART towards God. When the heart is not right with God, you have the ingredients for a heretic. The theology will in some way follow.
This is why you could be a person who knows tons of doctrine and theology, and be basically sound in those things, and yet perhaps your attitude towards God is terrible. Maybe you live in unbelief. Maybe you aren’t even converted to Christ. In that case you are a contradiction. You are in danger of being a heretic.
In contrast, you could be someone who has been deceived by false doctrine, or one who simply doesn’t understand that he believes error – and yet you could have a heart that truly desires Christ. In this case, you believe error, but you aren’t a heretic. God has something to work with.
God is not pleased with unbelief, even if our doctrine is right. He looks at the heart, and not so much at our theology. I’m not saying the theology is unimportant. What God would want is a person who has a heart for Him, and who believes true doctrine. Indeed, if I do have a heart for Him, I will eventually come to believe true doctrine, because an open heart to God results in an unfolding of Christ and the understanding of true doctrine. And it is a fact that usually people who have an unbelieving heart towards God end up believing and teaching false doctrine, or they teach true doctrine in the wrong spirit, and thus, completely misrepresent God. This is heresy.
The fact is, God uses even heresy to JUDGE, and to prove those who really want the Truth. When faced with heresy, if we truly want the Truth, we will seek God for a revelation of Christ. And we will become stronger in faith.
But if you analyze this, it is really God using the Truth to judge. Sure. If you are faced with heresy, you may not know the Truth. But nothing is resolved until you know it. And once you do, what happens? Well, the heresy is shaken off. God has judged the heresy, and any place in you where it might have found a home.
When Paul said that there MUST be heresies, he gave the reason – so that those who were genuine would be proven, or exposed as such. Heresy is intended to hurt our relationship to God. But if we keep walking in faith despite the heresy, or if we turn to God in reaction to the heresy, then we will be exposed as those who really want the Truth. The heresy will have afforded us the opportunity to learn Christ. In contrast, if we buy into the heresy, and STAY UNDER IT despite God’s continual conviction, we will be exposed as those who did not want the Truth.
I’m not talking here about mistakes, or ignorance, or not knowing any better. I’m talking about those cases where GOD Himself judges. God will judge by allowing heresy, so that people will turn to Him for Truth, and He will judge by bringing Truth so people can turn from heresy. The two are usually side by side. God doesn’t leave us without the resource of Truth. But this is about God judging. It is not about theology. When God judges and shakes, we know enough to turn.
All of this leads us to the possibility that the great end-time shaking will, in fact, be directly tied to the end-time APOSTASY. It is entirely possible that God will allow great deception to come upon the people of God – but along side of that a clear and unprecedented presentation of the Truth. Those who want the Truth will turn to God. Those who don’t will be deceived. The turning to God will be REVIVAL. The coming under deception will be great APOSTASY. And according to the Bible, most will be deceived. The Bible promises the Truth will always be preached. But it says there is going to be a great end-time apostasy.
This will all be a great shaking. We don’t know exactly how it will work out as to practical events and people. But evidently, there is going to come a tremendous spiritual crisis and shaking upon the Body of Christ such that only that which is OF CHRIST will remain. Everything else, and the people who really don’t want Christ, will be exposed, and fall away to something less. That, "something less," will likely be an alternative to Christ, and look like Christ. But it won’t be.
Imagine this. Imagine that something happens so that Christ really has to be your life. Perhaps events in the material world will push this necessity. But even more so, there will be such deception afoot, that you will no longer be able to be passive or apathetic – if you really want Christ, that is. Those around you, in your church, you really don’t want Christ, will come under deception. Those who do want Christ will grow to know Him. Really, this is already happening. Many today are saying that Christ isn’t God, and isn’t the only way to God, and that the Bible isn’t the Word of God. This is happening IN many mainstream churches – and it is all in the name of God. Multiply that by a thousand. Perhaps bring into it civil law. Who knows? This is all building up to a great spiritual tribulation and shaking. It is going to intensify. God is going to have only that which is of Christ.
Of course, this is where many try to bring in the mark of the beast, etc. Well, it is never going to be a matter of who receives a physical mark. It is going to come down to who actually belongs to Christ, or who doesn’t belong to Him. The mark of the beast is on the forehead and on the hand – one’s mind and one’s works. This is spiritual – the beast being man IN ADAM. And the spiritual may be ALL that Revelation is talking about – spiritual reality. Any outworking of it in the civil law or world will be just that – an outward representation only. And it may not even happen outwardly. We don’t know. What matters is whether we are genuine to God, not whether we have a physical mark.
The great shaking that God is going to bring upon heavenly places, and consequently, upon the Body of Christ, is going to involve the clear Truth of God, and it is going to involve the offer of heresy. Those who want the Truth will have everything about them shaken, so that they will be made genuine, or proven to be already genuine. Those who don’t want the Truth will not let go of what God is shaking, and will therefore come under great deception. As terrifying as it seems, if I hold onto what God is shaking loose, I will be shaken loose. I will lose.
Jesus said, "Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken." Physically, this is impossible, for it would destroy the earth. Thus, it has a spiritual meaning. The sun, moon, and stars are the means of light that God has given us instead of Himself. We know this because at the end of Revelation, we see that once God dwells in us, and with us, we no longer need the sun or moon or stars, because we have God. Thus, what we see here in the words of Jesus is the removing – the shaking away – of all that is an artificial or temporary source of light. In other words, all supposed light and truth that is NOT CHRIST will be destroyed. What will be left will Christ alone, in great power and glory – the TRUE light. These things are figurative, but they all go hand in hand with what God is saying is going to be the outcome of the great shaking.
All of this perfectly agrees with Jesus’ interpretation of His parable of the Wheat and the Tares:
The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear. (Matt. 13:41-43)
You will, once again, notice that there will be a removing, or shaking away, or that which is not of Christ. And this is said to result in, "the righteous shining forth as the sun." In other words, the judgment of God proves, brings out, and releases, that which is genuinely of Christ.
We see this same principle illustrated in I Corinthians 3:
Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire. (1 Cor 3:13-15)
Here the metaphor is FIRE. All that is of Christ is eternal – and can pass through the fire. All that is not of Christ is temporal – and will burn. What will remain is ONLY that which is of Christ. The fire will be as the light or judgment that exposes the genuine. And not surprisingly, we are right back to Hebrews 12, where it says that, "our God is a consuming fire." God consumes – destroys -- only that which is NOT of Christ. He does this to purify that which IS of Christ. This is all redemptive. But make no mistake; God is going to have His kingdom, His way.
The call upon the people of God is that we might – RIGHT NOW – allow God to judge all that is in us that is not of Christ. It is that we might be proved, or made, genuine NOW. God will use all manner of things to expose who we are to Him, and we will be able to turn to Him for the Truth. Do that NOW, and you will know Christ, and be genuine, such that if you are alive when the great shaking comes, you will not be moved, but rather strengthened IN CHRIST.
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