Understanding the TimesMay 4, 2020
I had already written you a special letter for the month of May, but then I felt the Holy Spirit prompting me to write this to you instead. So please read this letter all the way to the end, as I believe this is what the Spirit wants me to say concerning all that is happening!
But first, I thank you for being faithful even during this difficult time. The work of the Gospel goes on! In fact, we are doing more right now to reach and to help people around the world — it is absolutely vital that we do not hold back. That’s why I’m so thankful for your gifts. If people quit giving right now, it would affect our ability to keep reaching out. But this is a moment when God needs us all to do our best. That’s why I say THANK YOU for what you are doing. It is so important, and Denise and I are deeply grateful for your partnership and your faithfulness!
Please also know that our team is here to pray for you. They began working from home, like so many people, in March — but they have been and are online to receive your emails, and they’re on the phone to take your calls. Please, please, please — call or email us to tell us how we can pray for you. In fact, could you take a moment to call or email to let us know if you are doing all right?
But here is what I want to say to you right now…
UNDERSTANDING THE TIMES
In these perilous days we live in, we must understand the times and our role in these days according to Heaven’s perspective. Jesus Christ’s call to His people is going forth — and all who have put their trust in Him are to walk as He did on this earth and are to stand boldly as His representatives. This is the moment when we must demonstrate His power on an unprecedented level in these days before He returns.
The whole world is shaken by what is happening, and with good reason, as no one in our generation has ever seen anything like this before. With every new day, it seems we are being inundated with new, once-unthinkable events that have left many people bewildered and perplexed. Times have changed — very rapidly. But God knew these times were approaching, and approximately 2,000 years ago, the Holy Spirit spoke very clearly to alert us who would be living in the last days that such times would come. He wanted us — this generation — to know that “perilous times” would emerge in society at the very end of the last days.
But the Bible is our anchor! And today, I feel the need to share something Paul told believers in Thessalonica long ago. Apparently, some of those believers were also disturbed by what they had learned about events that would surround the time prior to the coming of Jesus. In fact, they were so panicked that Paul wrote them to calm them down and curb their fears.
These words are just what we need right now! And what I’m about to say to you is important, so please read it carefully to the end.
In Second Thessalonians 2:1 and 2, Paul wrote, “Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, that ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.”
Paul wrote about “the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” That word “coming” is from a Greek word that describes the phenomenal presence of God that will be supernaturally felt by the entire Church when it is time for Jesus to gather His people to Himself at the end of the age.
This lets us know that just before Jesus comes, there will suddenly be a supernatural quickening in the hearts of God’s people — an inward knowing — that will alert us that He is coming for His Church. Then suddenly, Jesus will collect His people at the conclusion of this age. But before that event happens, we will inwardly be quickened to know that it is right upon us!
Then Paul added, “That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand” (2 Thessalonians 2:2).
That word “shaken” is a perfect description of what people are feeling right now. It is a translation of the Greek word saleuo, and it means to shake, to waver, to totter, or to be moved. The tense points to continual shock or alarm.
The word “troubled” in this verse is the Greek word throeo, and it indicates inward fright that results from events or news that shocks. It depicts something that causes one to be filled with worry, anxiety, or fear. But because the tense points to an ongoing state of worry and inward anxiety, it means those Christians were hearing news that was disrupting their state of peace. It is as if there was no reprieve from shocking, debilitating, and nerve-racking things that they were hearing. It actually portrays a state of jumpiness or nervousness, as if they were living on the edge of their nerves.
Then Paul told them not to be troubled in “mind” — a word that comes from the Greek word nous, which describes one’s mind or intellect, will, and emotions or the ability to think, reason, and decide. Paul was urging Christians to be careful who they listened to or what they opened their minds to when it came to last-days teachings. That same warning applies to us who live in this end-time generation. It means we’re to be careful about who we’re listening to, because God is not in the business of giving a spirit of fear to anyone!
Then Paul added, “That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit.…” That word “spirit” is a translation of the Greek word pneuma, which in this verse refers to a spiritual experience or utterance that is out of sync with the revealed Word of God. Some have even translated the word to mean ecstatic utterances. Paul was referring to strange utterances, weird revelations, or euphoric proclamations that are not based in solid Bible teaching and that spiritually upset believers.
Then Paul said, “Let no one deceive you by any means…” (2 Thessalonians 2:3). The word “deceive” means to beguile, to cheat, to trick, or to mislead one to a false impression or a false conclusion. Paul was telling Christians to use their minds and not to believe everything they heard — to keep their heads on straight when it came to what and to whom they listened to about the last days!
As your friend and partner, I want to urge you likewise to listen to people who will feed your faith and not your fear!
The following is my RIV translation of Second Thessalonians 2:1-3:
1 Brothers, listen carefully, for I am asking you in the strongest of terms to hear what I am about to say and to do exactly what I’m asking you to do. The appearance of the Lord Jesus Christ is very near. In fact, it is so close that we can nearly feel His presence as if He were already here among us. The moment we have all longed and waited for is almost upon us! I’m talking about that moment when Jesus will finally gather us together for Himself.
2 Some things will be happening right before His coming that could shake you up quite a bit. I’m referring to events that will be so dramatic that they could really leave your head spinning — occurrences of such a serious nature that many people will feel alarmed, panicked, intimidated, and even unnerved! Naturally speaking, these events could nearly put you over the brink emotionally and make you feel apprehensive and insecure about life. I wish I could tell you these incidents were going to be just a one-shot deal, but when they finally get rolling, they’re going to keep coming and coming, one after another.
That’s why you have to determine not to be shaken or moved by anything you see or hear. You need to get a grip on your mind and refuse to allow yourselves to be traumatized by these events. If you let these things get to you, it won’t be too long until you’re a nervous wreck! You have to decide beforehand that you are not going to give in and allow fright to penetrate your mind and emotions until it runs your whole life.
I also want to tell you not to be too surprised if people start making weird spiritual proclamations and off-the-wall utterances during the time just before the Lord comes. All kinds of strange things are going to happen during those days! It’s going to get so bizarre that you might even receive a letter from some person who claims that the day of the Lord has already come! Who knows — he might even attach my name to it, alleging to have my endorsement, or he might even send it as if it were written and sent from us!
3 In light of these things, I urge you to refuse to allow anyone to take advantage of you.…
AT THIS VERY MOMENT, people are feeling alarmed, panicked, intimidated, and unnerved by what is happening. The events we are experiencing are just the tip of the iceberg. Jesus said there would be many more to come before it’s all over. That’s why we must determine not to be shaken or moved by anything we see or hear. We must get a grip on our minds and refuse to allow ourselves to be traumatized by these events. We do that by holding fast to the Word of God. First John 5:4 says, “…This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.” We can be of good cheer, even in the midst of trials, because of our faith in Christ who has overcome the world (see John 16:33)!
Once again…I urge you to listen to those who feed your faith and not your fear!
The Bible long ago foretold that Satan would send his strongest winds to knock the world off its feet at the end of the age. He will even try to stop the Church and knock it off its feet. But nothing can stop the Church! Jesus promised, “…The gates of hell shall not prevail against it [the Church]” (Matthew 16:18).
Although these end-time waves beating upon society try to beat against the Church, too, we will prevail! Two thousand years of Church history prove that every turbulent episode passes, and the Church remains triumphant! Jesus’ words in Matthew 16:18 are absolutely true!
Friend, as a child of God, you are a member of an unshakable Kingdom. Hebrews 12:28 says, “Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.” This means it’s time for you and me to lay hold of God’s grace and to let His power flow through us to touch everyone around us. The world all around us may be shaken, but not us — we are a part of an unshakable Kingdom!
Let’s be unshakable in our faith and in our commitment to the Lord and to one another. And let’s be unshakable in doing our part to ensure God’s Word keeps going forth to the ends of the earth with no interruption!
Again, let us know how to pray for you. We are here — waiting to hear from you when you reach out to us.
Thank you so much for letting me minister this to you today! Denise and I really do love you and thank God for you!
We are your brother and sister, friends, and partners in Jesus,
Rick and Denise Renner
along with Paul, Philip, and Joel and their families