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ANOTHER COFFEE BREAK: PICTURES OF TRIBULATION & WRATH, Part 1
Greetings & Solutions!
Without any ado let's get right to today's discussion. By the way, I do have a French Press brimming with some very dark roasted French Roast. Come on over and set a spell with me.
In keeping with the theme of the past two discussions, this Coffee Break can be regarded as part III of the Antichrist series as I seek to clear up some confusion in the body of Christ concerning some of the end time teachings and doctrines we've all been exposed to. Again let me begin with I Corinthians 13:9,10,12):
"For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away...... For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known."
As already noted, my sharing with you comes out of the revelation Holy Spirit has downloaded in me and that which I have been walking personally -- especially during the past 30 years. I do not claim to have all of the blanks filled in yet so bear with me if some of what I share doesn't seem to click in your spirit.
In our last Coffee Break, I noted that Paul used the Greek word thlipsis in Colossians, and here we have it translated "afflictions." Let's take a look at that for a minute.
"Although you were previously alienated and hostile in your thinking by virtue of the wicked deeds you were engaged in, yet He [Jesus Christ] has now reconciled you to the Father through the death of His fleshly body [on the Cross] in order to present you before Him holy, blameless and beyond reproach -- if indeed you continue in the faith firmly established and immovable, and not removed in any way from the hope of the Gospel [of the Kingdom] which you have heard, and which was proclaimed in all creation under Heaven -- that of which I, Paul, was made a minister. I rejoice now in my tribulation and sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I do my share on behalf of His Body (which is the Ekklesia) in filling up that which is lacking in Christ's afflictions. Of this Ekklesia I was made a minister according to the administration and stewardship from God imparted upon, in and through me for your benefit so that I might completely carry out the preaching and teaching of the Word." (Colossians 1:21-25, my translation & amplification)
We actually see the word thlipsis twice in this passage -- once translated as Paul's tribulation and sufferings, and once as the afflictions of Christ. Notice what that thlipsis produced in Paul.
It resulted in Paul's being able to share from a personal standpoint the afflictions that Jesus went through on our behalf. It produced the change of Paul's nature in such a way that the Lord imparted a stupendous anointing. That anointing resulted in the efficacy of Paul's being able to share a revelation of Jesus Christ such that 2000 years of fellow-believers have been able to profit and grow in their relationship with the Lord as a result.
Next, take a look at Paul's first letter to the Thessalonians.
"[We] sent Timotheus, our brother and minister of God, and our fellow-laborer in the Gospel of Christ, to establish you and to comfort you concerning your faith: that no man should be moved by these afflictions: for yourselves know that we were appointed thereunto. For verily, when we were with you, we told you before that we should suffer tribulation; even as it came to pass and ye know." (I Thessalonians 3:2-4 KJV)
Here again, twice, we see the alternate translation of the word thlipsis as "afflictions" and "tribulation." Again, Paul is telling us that tribulation and afflictions for believers [who press forward in Christ Jesus] is the norm! Tribulation isn't something abnormal for the believer! Tribulation is a normal part of our existence as believers. To create an imaginary picture -- a fantasy, if you will -- in the mind that tribulation is something to be avoided is -- once again -- a lie of antichrist. It is a false Christ that says You don't need to go through tribulation! I'll just snatch you out of the way and keep you safe in Heaven during "the great tribulation." It is a false Christ -- a substitute Christ -- that suggests that A loving God would never put His people through tribulation!
We've been quoting this verse from John's Gospel in the previous Coffee Breaks, and here it is again! Jesus said (and continues to say!):
"These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world." (John 16:33)
It's NOT the Lord that is putting us through tribulation and afflictions. These things are a byproduct of the fact that sin is at work in the world. We are enemies of sin. We are residents and representatives of a Kingdom that is in the midst of overthrowing Satan's dominion in the earth today. For us to think we're going to somehow escape experiencing tribulation is an absolute fantasy. It is a demonic fantasy!
Let me take this another step. What about our fellow-believers in China today? What about our fellow-believers in Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and other Muslim countries where folks worship a god who hates Yowd Hey Vav Hey (Jehovah) and His Son, Jesus Christ, with a purple passion?
Father and mothers kill their sons and daughters who convert to Christianity, and they feel absolutely justified in doing so. They cut off the hands or the feet of believers. They starve them to death in prison. They hang them on public display in order to demonstrate their utter hatred of the Lord Jesus Christ and all who believe in Him. They drill holes in the heads of Christians and string wires through them, connecting those wires to electric current in order to hopefully destroy their brains and rid them of any thoughts of serving the Lord Jesus.
Tribulation! It goes with the territory, folks! The overwhelming majority of the tribulation that committed believers suffer today is a direct product of other religious people (and very often those who call themselves Christians) who oppose them as heretics, or simply do not want to hear a Gospel preached that requires them to be anything other than passive "believers."
I'll share with you some personal experiences for the sake of illustration.
You all know that I grew up in the arctic, and that my parents were pioneer missionaries who went into communities where people either were hearing a watered-down Gospel, or they were still steeped in ancient traditions under the rule of shamans. The churches that did exist in those communities were not challenging the status-quo and any concept of deliverance from evil spirits was non-existent.
We saw a move of the Spirit in the late 1950's and early 1960's equal to anything you read about in the book of Acts. After several years of being absent from the far north, I returned in the late 1970's to Barrow, Alaska. It was not my intention to start another church fellowship when I went, and I expected to work with the pastor who was serving in the church I'd helped my Dad build.
He was a fairly young man and one who was not confident in himself, nor in the relationship he had with the Lord, nor in the church denomination he was with. When I returned to Barrow, I had long been away from the denomination my father was a part of -- not out of any antagonism towards the denomination, but simply because the Lord had opened up doors of opportunity for me to minister across denominational lines. By that time, I'd served in a conservative Baptist church, spent a year ministering in a Methodist church, filled in for a Lutheran pastor while he took a sabbatical, preached in multiple seminars with Roman Catholic priests -- some of whom were among my best friends, spent a year teaching classes on the Priesthood of the Believer in a Mormon ward, done Charismatic seminars with Lutheran and Episcopal denominational leaders, etc., etc., etc. You get the picture. I went where the Lord directed me to go and He gave me the necessary grace and favor.
Because I was not a part of my father's denomination any longer, all of a sudden I was a threat. The current pastor of that church in Barrow I'd helped Dad to build made it clear that I was not welcome there. At the same time, elders in the local Presbyterian church who had known me from years prior came to me and asked me if I would serve in an interim capacity while they awaited the appointment of a permanent pastor by the Missions Board of the denomination. I accepted gladly and served there for four months. The new, permanent pastor and I became good friends and we were able to fellowship together freely.
When people in the community realized that I was not going to serve at the Presbyterian church any longer, and that I'd been declared persona non grata at the other church, they asked me to begin another non-denominational fellowship, and that I did.
I began to teach and preach deliverance from evil spirits, from the traditions of man, and began to teach on the reemergence of the Tabernacle of David (a society of praisers and worshipers) as a practical and operational event in the body of Christ, religious opposition began to rear its ugly head. When I began to teach and lead people in the realm of spiritual warfare, I became the target of real warfare and persecution.
My name was spoken of in the pulpit of the very church I'd helped my parents to build, and it was bandied about as that of a heretic. However my name was used, people were encouraged to do everything in their power to drive me out of the community.
For months my phone would ring and a muffled voice on the other end would say words to the effect of, "The next time you step out the door, you're going to get a bullet through the face." Hate mail filled my mailbox. My two youngest children were repeatedly attacked and beaten on their way home from school. My oldest daughter was shot at six times.
Driving one day from my office, I heard a thud on the side of the van I was driving. I wasn't sure if I'd hit something so I stopped to take a look. There was a bullet hole that had punctured the side of the van just behind my seat. The bullet passed through the van and out the other side. Not long thereafter, I was standing in a construction shack with one of the elders in our fellowship on property we had acquired for building a worship center. We'd been standing in front of a window studying the building plans when suddenly Holy Spirit yanked us apart. In that same split second, the window exploded as a bullet passed a couple inches from my face.
I opened the door to the shack and saw a man standing out on the road some 300 feet or so away with a rifle and a scope. Running toward him as fast as I could, I hollered at him, "Hey, what do you think you're doing?" That obviously was the last thing he expected. He turned to run and dropped his rifle. He stopped to grab it off the ground and ran to a waiting vehicle with the motor running and sped away.
A few days later when the construction crew was at work on the same property getting ready to sink piling into the ground, a group of young men showed up with rifles in hand and told the construction foreman that "You either stop now, or we will kill you and your crew." He came to see me a few minutes later and told me that they were all boarding a flight for Anchorage. "Call me if you ever get this mess straightened out," he said. "If we can actually get on with the work, let us know and we'll come back. Otherwise, we're out of here!"
We had leased the community center from the city for our fellowship gatherings. The building was in a severe state of disrepair, so we set about to restore the building. We put in new flooring, linoleum and carpet, painted the place and installed new bathrooms. Not long after the work was complete, we showed up one Sunday morning for our services and the place was a wreck. The city manager had rented the place out on Saturday for some parties and no effort had been made to clean it up. When I went to report it to the city manager, he let me know that the building was not ours to use any longer and that our lease was terminated.
I'd been operating two for-profit businesses in Barrow as a means to fund our growing ministry operations and to provide capital for the expansion of the ministry of the Christian Broadcasting Network in Alaska. In the eight weeks that followed the loss of the community center, my store was broken into six times. Every time I tried to restock the merchandise (it was a high-end stereo and TV business), the store was broken into and the place cleaned.
In the middle of these robberies, two employees who were managing my communications business embezzled $145,000 in cash and fled the town.
What's funny is that in the midst of all this turmoil we were seeing miracle after miracle take place in the lives of individuals. In my mind, all of these things just went with the territory. I'd seen Dad and Mom suffer persecution and opposition for the sake of the Gospel. Why should I think it would be any different with me?
I sent my two youngest children out of town to be with my parents for their own safety and protection. My oldest daughter felt she could stick things out. She was nearing graduation from High School and didn't want to leave her friends.
The repeated loss of merchandise in my retail store eventually brought me to the place where I didn't have the necessary cash to keep refilling the shelves, and I couldn't pay for the merchandise that had been stolen. It forced me into bankruptcy.
Within a matter of weeks after filing, there came a knock on our door. When I answered the door, police officers stood there with guns drawn. They announced that they had a search warrant and told me to get out of the way. When I asked them what they needed or what they were looking for (and that I would be glad to get for them whatever they thought I had) they pushed past me and began ransacking the house. They took clothing, bedding, personal papers, and some very expensive stereo equipment that I had in the living room, and left.
Because I was closely linked to CBN in Virginia Beach at the time, I called CBN's Chief Counsel and told him what was happening. His reaction was to be expected, "This can't really be happening in America! This is not the Soviet Union! How do they think they can get away with this?"
In the end, I had no attorney to represent me -- none of the local attorneys (and they were few!) wanted to touch the case -- and by the time I was able to get an attorney in Fairbanks (over 500 miles away) things had really gone downhill fast. In the end, none of the items taken were ever returned, and the stereo equipment wound up in the homes of two of the police officers.
Despite the furor and confusion, the opposition and the persecution, we were seeing the Gospel spread through Christian television into the native communities scattered throughout Alaska. We were hearing miracle after miracle after miracle of changed lives, people receiving healing, folks being set free from evil spirits.
The story I've just related to you is a fraction of all that took place. There's a whole lot more that I could share, but you've gotten the picture. It would fill a volume to just talk about the tribulation and the persecution. You see it don't you? This was not the wrath of God! This was nothing more and nothing less than what Jesus assured believers they would experience....remember?
"These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world."
Jesus spoke this promise in order to ensure that we would be at peace in the midst of it. Tribulation, persecution and opposition all pale into insignificance when you see Holy Spirit at work otherwise. None of it moved Paul. Consider what he said as he prepared to be taken to Jerusalem: (See Acts 20:22-24)
"And now, behold, I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there: Save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me. But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God."
Later on Paul would write to Timothy and say, "But thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity, patience, Persecutions, afflictions, which came unto me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra; what persecutions I endured: but out of them all the Lord delivered me. Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution." (II Timothy 3:10-12)
Now look again at the last half of verse 11: "what persecutions I endured: but out of them all the Lord delivered me."
I've often wondered why so many Christians are anxious to avoid suffering, persecution, affliction and tribulation when God's Word makes it repeatedly clear that this goes with anyone who "will live Godly in Christ Jesus."
Without quoting the entire passage (and I refer you to II Corinthians 6:4-10) Paul makes the point that Father God demonstrates the difference between those who have His approval and those who do not by the grace with which they live through tribulation, afflictions, tumults, imprisonments, necessities, distresses and every other form of thlipsis. How so? By the way in which He vindicates His Word!
I've run out of time today to take this where I wanted to go, so we'll continue with this topic next week, but let me finish up today by saying that in the midst of all the persecution, the opposition, the losses that I suffered, the accusations that were leveled against me, and all the attempts that were made on my life, when all the smoke cleared away, the Lord vindicated His Word -- that same Word He had sent me to Barrow to deliver -- in ways that simply left me breathless and astonished.
Tribulation? Yesssirrrreeee!!! Anyone who thinks they can live in this world and walk as lights in this generation without suffering tribulation is simply deluding him or herself.
Great tribulation? You bet! Getting raptured or caught away out of it so that you don't have to experience great tribulation? NOT if you want the Glory of the Lord to be revealed in the here and now!
Next week I'll take you into the sixth chapter of Revelation for a picture of great tribulation. Then we'll look at the eighth chapter to see the wrath of God poured out.
"A phenomenal opportunity to encounter and embrace our Heavenly Father is being given to the Church around the world today. It is one that must be welcomed and protected. With the dawning of this new day in Church History, the anointing of Heaven is disbursed in the spiritual atmosphere so those truly seeking Truth can lay hold of it and obtain great insight with understanding. As Sons of the Kingdom ask with sincerity for this deposit, it will be received. Our spiritual eyes will be illumined to see the Scriptures from Heaven's perspective, not merely man's.
The spiritual realities that are being birthed in the earth now will have no end. They will literally flow into the Millennial age and the coming manifestation of His Kingdom on the earth.
Though we do not know when those days will be fully revealed, we do know that the purposes now being birthed will advance directly into that age. We will begin to taste the good Word of God and the power of the age to come. Like the beloved disciple John in his notable revelations, we will be allowed to eat the open book containing the full manifestation of the Lord's redemptive plans and purposes. This will be the tasting of His Kingdom Word and a demonstration of Kingdom might, in order to wonderfully introduce the Lord Jesus in truth and power, to an entire generation. (Prophetic Word from Paul Keith Davis)
Blessings on you!
Regner A. Capener CAPENER MINISTRIES
709 South 7th Street Sunnyside, Washington 98944 (509) 515-0133
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