Scripture is very clear as it describes the apostasy that will befall a great portion of the last days church. Whether inside or out of evangelical circles, many churches have eliminated the preaching of the blood sacrifice, rejected the virgin birth, sinless life, death and physical resurrection of Jesus. They have ordained homosexuals, the divorce rate escalates, alcohol abuse, adultery and fornication go unchallenged from the pulpits.
Others have mutated into little more than social or cultural centers, offering nothing from the throne of God to bring it's members to the saving power of Jesus Christ. Instead their ministers spout religious philosophy, or use their pulpits to promote political, social or racial biases.
From the late 1980's until today, ministers have been exposed for every misconduct imaginable. Many, when confronted with their sin, confessed and repented and are well on their way to full restoration. The sad fact is, that for the most part, it took secular investigations to reveal these sins. The majority of church members never even recognized that there was a problem.
Several years ago, when Louis Farrakhan, the leader of the Islam Nation in America organized his million man march, countless Christian churches opened their doors to this anti-Christ and his message. This man hates Jesus Christ. He literally believes himself to be the messiah. Yet thousands of church men followed this false prophet to Washington, DC. What a slap in the face this was to a holy God. What an indictment against the clergy who had nothing to offer it's men in response to the seduction of this false religion. Even more troubling is the fact they could not discern this march as nothing more then a recruitment ploy for the Nation of Islam. As the end of this age approaches and the return of the Lord draws nears, scripture warns us that, "... because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold." (Matthew 24:12)
With so many of our churches refusing to take a stand and preach against sin and false doctrine it has caused them to lose the presence of God. They have forfeited His power to overcome the enemy; birthing a generation of cold, dead or at best, nominal Christians.
These groups slumber on with no idea that judgment, if not here already, is just around the corner. And if scripture is correct, it will begin in the house of the Lord.
Who are the Remnant
Pentecostals and charismatics alike love to tell the story of the great outpouring described in Joel chapter two. But many are unaware of the whole picture of the chapter.
It was a time of corruption, open sin and compromise that had overtaken a tremendous portion of the people of God. It started at the top and worked it's way through the entire body. The Lord, in verses twelve through seventeen instructs His people what must take place before He can move on their behalf.
He tells them to turn to Him with their whole heart, fasting, weeping and mourning. To rend their hearts and not their garments. Sanctify a fast and call a solemn assembly. Sanctify the congregation. Have the priests weep between the porch and the altar, crying out to the Lord to spare the people before they go farther into bondage. In other words - REPENT! In the midst of this corruption, God, in His mercy and grace instructs His people to come back to Him. A people who can be trusted to complete His plan. "And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be delivered, as the Lord hath said, and in the remnant whom the Lord shall call." (Joel 2:32)
The remnant's cry is that of the apostle Paul's. "...I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I might win Christ." Several nights a month I had the privilege of working the telephone prayer line for a local Christian television program.
During the two hour program many would call in needing prayer for finances, healing, family and marriage problems. But many nights I received calls from another group of Christians. Their requests were for more of Jesus. They would ask what they could do to have a closer walk with the Lord. Their hearts had been drawn by the Holy Spirit and they desired to know how to walk in holiness and righteousness.
God has always had a people within a people. Whether Caleb and Joshua during the time of Moses. Nehemiah, Daniel and the three Hebrew children during the Babylonian captivity, or the seven thousand who would not bow their knee to Baal. God has a group which stands out above the norm.
They have chosen a relationship with Christ that goes beyond that of today's nominal Christian. All they want is more of Him, and their entire being cries out to please Him and experience Him in every area of their life. They are today's remnant. Their cry is, "That I might win Christ!"
The winning of Christ doesn't come by works, or by religious position. We can't inherit it or receive it by the laying on of hands. It can only be acquired through a deliberate act of our will through a relationship of intimacy and commitment to Jesus Christ. Seemingly one of the hardest accomplishments for the average church member.
So much was said two years ago about it being the year of Jubilee. Tapes, books, sermons etc. proclaimed the restoration of money, homes, cars, health and the like. Now that it is past, where is the increase? Some explain it as Israel's Jubilee, and since Israel's year is complete, it's now time for the church.
If that's the case what were the results of Israel's Jubilee? During the 1998 Middle East Peace conference, they lost another 13% of the West Bank to their enemies. What can the church expect? Others now say it was just a spiritual increase. What the church must have is a restoration of the revelation of Jesus Christ, His holiness and purity. A restoration and return to the basics of the Gospel?
God has a people who have decided to forsake all in order to be identified with Him. They would serve Him without the promises and benefits of the blessings many hold in high regard. Everything the world considers gain and success is to them dung. All the honor and accolades that empty religion affords is excess baggage, and shaken off to be yoked with Christ.
The remnant are those who have moved into the ranks of the over comers. No matter how far God's people have backslid, or followed the piping of false prophets, they have remained faithful and obedient to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
Whether in Israel of the Old Testament or the Church of today, God has always had a remnant. They glow with His presence in the midst of religious hypocrisy and hype, holding a standard of holiness and righteousness. All possessing the same Holy Spirit induced attributes that are lacking in a backslidden generation. They have come through destruction, chaos and near death.
In the ninth chapter of the book of Zechariah The prophet addresses the remnant who had just been freed from Babylonian captivity. This prophecy concerns the remnant of Israel during the tribulation period. They are those who will be received by Jesus as the true Israel. Within the prophecy he describes them and their relationship with God.
"And the Lord shall be seen over them, and his arrow shall go forth as the lightning: and the Lord God shall blow the trumpet, and shall go with whirlwinds of the south. The Lord of hosts shall defend them; and they shall devour, and subdue with sling stones; and they shall drink, and make a noise as through wine; and they shall be filled like bowls, and as the corners of the altar." (Zechariah 9:14,15)
Isaiah also gives us a tremendous insight into their spiritual dedication. "And it shall come to pass in that day, that the remnant of Israel, and such as are escaped of the house of Jacob, shall no more again stay upon him that smote them; but shall stay upon the Lord, the Holy One of Israel, in truth. The remnant shall return, even the remnant of Jacob, unto the mighty God. For though thy people Israel be as the sand of the sea, yet a remnant of them shall return:" (Isaiah 10:20-23)
Although these stalwart soldiers are Israel, it does not change the fact that regardless of the dispensation, God's people are God's people. They have in common the things that make them His vessels of honor.
Israel has always been the Church's example, both in blessing and in judgment. As God has a remnant that will return to Him from backslidden Israel, He also has a remnant that will explode from the midst of the nominal church with a message of holiness and the imminent return of Jesus Christ.
1. His remnant is a small group in comparison to the many who claim to be God's people. "For though thy people Israel be as the sand of the sea, yet a remnant of them shall return." (Verse 22) There are millions of Jews throughout the world, yet for the most part they do not know the God of their forefathers. They hold strongly to tradition and religious culture, but are unchanged by the word of God. Many profess to be Jewish in name only, adhering to agnosticism and even atheism. In the church it is much the same.
Millions claim to be Christians and on their way to heaven, they hold to their denominational tradition and culture, yet have never committed their life to Christ. To some church attendance is nothing more than a weekly event used to enhance their social status or business contacts. People volunteer and sign up for every program, thinking God will honor their works and overlook their deep and abiding sin.
But from the vast multitude of church members, there remains a remnant whose garments have remained unspotted by the corruption and compromise overlooked and sometimes promoted by the Laodicean church. They have maintained their integrity in a time of apostasy because they have experienced the true work of Holy Spirit conversion.
They have decided to enter in at the straight gate and they fear wavering or failing their Savior. "Let us therefore fear, lest a promise being left us of entering his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it." (Hebrews 4:1) In the first chapter of Isaiah the prophet receives a vision. The Lord begins to reveal to him the sinful condition of Judah and Jerusalem.
They had become a people of rebellion and perversion. Their sin included everything imaginable. "Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters: they have forsaken the Lord, they have provoked the Holy one of
Israel to anger, they are gone away backward. Why should ye be stricken anymore? ye will revolt more and more: the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint." (Isaiah 1:4-5)
Their country had been overtaken by their enemies. The land was desolate and could not produce the food necessary to live day to day. Yet they would not repent. Complete destruction was just around the corner. But God has a remnant! This remnant's tenacity stayed the hand of judgment and broke the power of the devil. "Except the Lord of hosts had left unto us a very small remnant, we should have been as Sodom, and we should have been like unto Gomorah." (verse 9)
This army of chosen vessels have learned by experience that their help, protection and promotion cannot be afforded by the arm of the flesh. The remnant has found that the trail of the straight and narrow leads directly to the foot of the cross, and there they have cast themselves and all their needs and godly desires.
This army, although an elite group, is not a closed society. It is open to all who desire to win Christ. God does not make the distinction of who will become the remnant, the decision is ours.
"...the remnant whom the Lord shall call". (Joel 2:32) This call goes out to every believer. It is a call to intimacy and commitment. It is a call to exchange death for life, hype for holiness, ritual for righteousness and our will for His.
Many will never respond to this call after salvation. Jesus told His disciples in Matthew 22:14. "For many are called, but few are chosen". It doesn't necessarily mean that God does not choose them. But rather they refuse that calling to come into a deeper relationship with Christ. They choose not to become part of the chosen, part of the elect, part of the remnant.
The reason so many call the prayer line wanting to have more of Jesus and to increase their walk with Him is because they hear the call, they sense a hunger and thirst for the evidence and presence of God in their life.
2. The are completely dependent on the Lord. "And the Lord of hosts shall defend them." (verse 15)
The word hosts means "an army organized for war". Jesus is the Lord over this army and it has been formed to defend and lead those who love Him, obey Him and serve Him. It moves into action the moment we concede to the fact that the battle is not ours and we call upon Him to intervene. We are powerless if left to our own strategies, and we will usually be defeated. If we could accomplish victory by our own maneuvers, there would be no reason for Jesus to move the heavens on our behalf. One of the biggest reasons Christians suffer defeat so often is that they never allow the Lord of hosts to enter into their conflicts. The battle is the Lord's, and He will defend us when we allow Him to. When we try to defend ourselves and fail, we are usually left with bitterness, hate and revenge. This is usually why Satan has perpetrated the attack. This is his diabolical plan to defeat us. Spiritually, emotionally and maybe even physically.
We have heard so often that no weapon formed against us would prosper. It doesn't say we would never be attacked. It doesn't say that we will never be knocked down. It doesn't suggest that we should stand by passively thinking that the attack will just go away because we're a Christian.
When we put our trust in Jesus and follow Him in obedience, heaven opens to us. Not so we can order angels around, or tell God how to handle our situation. He is in charge! Our responsibility is to follow.
First He goes before us into battle. His name is Jehovah Nissi, the Lord our banner. During an attack, the banner was carried in front of the advancing army. It identified the nation, branch of service and battalion. Those who followed were stirred with patriotism, they knew who and what they were fighting for and their victory brought honor to the colors the banner represented. Jesus goes into the battle before us.
When the three Hebrew children were thrown into the fiery furnace. Jesus was already there waiting on them. But they could not see Him or experience His delivering power until they made up their minds that they were going to remain faithful and get into the fire. Secondly, angels are dispatched to aid and protect us. "The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them". (Psalms 34:7) In the sixth chapter of 2 Kings, Syria declares war on Israel. When the prophet Elisha's servant woke one morning he found the city entirely surrounded by Syrian troops. The city was out numbered and ill equipped. The situation looked hopeless to Elisha's servant and he ran to the man of God crying, "Master, what are we going to do?" Elisha's response should settle all of our apprehensions and doubts when attacks come. "...Fear not; for they that be with us are more than they that be with them. And Elisha prayed, and said, Lord, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the Lord opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw; and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire about Elisha." (2 Kings 6:17) "The Lord shall blow the trumpet", and muster the most powerful people ever to engage in spiritual warfare. They will not be screaming at devils, they will be calling out to God. Their battlefield will be their prayer closet, pulpits, street corners, and every where Satan has a foothold. Their prize will be the souls of men for the kingdom of God.
3. They are survivors. The Hebrew word sheeriyth which is translated many times remnant or remaining, is also rendered survivor. As with those who come through the tribulation period, surviving the persecution, hatred and rejection. The church remnant will do likewise. They will survive because they know who they are representing. They know who will be victorious, so they remain in the battle. The apostle Paul recalls for us his experiences as a survivor in second Corinthians eleven. He tells us that five times he received forty stripes, three times beaten with rods, three times he was shipwrecked. He fought daily the perils of robbers, his own countrymen, the heathen, the perils of the city, the country, the sea and those who claimed to be Christians. Many times he was hungry, cold, without proper clothing, carrying a continual burden for the churches he had established. The remnant of the last days will also survive these afflictions. No matter what the test, no matter who rejects them, lies about them or persecutes them, they will throw their shoulders back, walk in love and know that their strength and protection comes from above. Unlike the prophet Elijah who hid himself in a cave, fearing the wrath of Jezebel, and trying to make God believe that he was all He had left. The Lord let the prophet know right away that there were still seven thousand who had not bowed their knees to Baal.
Even in the midst of one of Israel's greatest times of apostasy, God still had a remnant. Survivors aren't just holding on or getting by. They have stood the test. Many times they didn't understand why they were going through the trials and tests. Often they would pray and receive no response or clear direction. At times they wrestled with giving up, but they knew in whom they had believed and were persuaded that He is able.
They had taken Paul's advice to the church at Ephesus seriously. "...having done all, to stand." (Ephesians 6:13) .
To stand means to be established, to be set like a fence post in concrete. The cares of this life could not move them. Lack, gossip, good times, bad times or fear of death, could not affect their faith and calling.
Their armor is not clean and polished, it
is worn, dented and perforated. They have not learned spiritual warfare from reading books and attending seminars. They have experienced all that Satan can unleash to stop their advance against his kingdom.
Their success will not come by formulas
or naming and claiming. It will come through verse 20, "...but shall stay upon the Lord, the Holy One of Israel, in truth.
Their entire life is consumed with accomplishing the will of the Father and pleasing Him. No matter what the cost, no matter what the penalty. Even unto death.
This type of dedication is almost non-existent in the majority of our churches. To survive in the day we live will only be accomplished through this type of dedication. It will no longer be our own strength, it will be His strength and grace working through us. It will produce a protection, guidance and victory for His remnant as seen in Zechariah 9:14. "And the Lord shall be seen over them." As these mighty warriors go into spiritual combat, there will be no doubt that the Lord is fighting for them. Like the pillar of cloud in the day and fire at night they will be led of God. The presence and power of God will be seen. Every battle will result in victory, even if it requires the death of the combatant. Their anointing will be recognized as the genuine power of God. It will not be a power to accumulate riches and other temporal rewards, but rather the anointing of a servant, a solider and an over comer.
The remnant have returned to their first love, laying down secret sin, idolatry and the many errors that have inundated today's Church. Walking and living in the genuine truth of the fundamentals of the Gospel. (Isaiah 10:22)
4. They are a people of repentance. "They will be full like a bowl used for the sprinkling of the corners of the altar." (Zechariah 9:15 NIV)
These bowls were filled with the blood of sacrifices. The remnant will truly realize and appreciate the power of the blood of Jesus. If ever there was a fundamental of the faith that needed resurgence in the Body of Christ it is the doctrine of the power of the blood. Singing about it is not enough. The last days saints will cling to it, depend on it, and thrive on it's ability to cleanse from sin and allow access into the presence of a holy God.
I believe one of the many causes of the apostasy of today's Church is its rejection of the blood. Although they talk about it, they have never learned it's power. This power drives you to the foot of the cross.
By the conviction of the Holy Spirit we see our greed, the effects of our lies and gossip, our deception and every other sin in our life. As we repent and turn back to our only hope of righteousness, the blood will remove every spot and blemish. It will clean us of all the things causing our hearts to harden. It's cleansing power brings a peace that replaces all of our doubts and fears. It must become a vital part of every altar call in every service.
The doctrine of the blood of Jesus and the preaching of the cross are inseparable. The power that surges from it's teaching and the forgiveness that flows from that power can not be found in most churches today.
It is not User Friendly, and is often rejected by those who try to live in the Kingdom of God while keeping one foot in the world.
As the last days saints call upon the Lord, the deliverance and freedom they are afforded will not come by positive confession or any other Laodicean practice. It will come by the crimson flow of the sacrificial blood of Jesus Christ.
It is not a one time event so many believe it is. The bowls at the corners of our altars must be filled, used and filled again. A continual flow from Calvary to remedy our sins on a day to day basis. Like the sacrifices whose blood filled these bowls, the remnant have also tasted death. They have presented their bodies as a living sacrifice, laying on the altar and begging God to expose and remove every thing that is an offense to Him.
The remnant have stood at the foot of the cross and proclaimed, "No more games! No more excuses! I will serve you until the end!"
They have rejected sin for holiness, self for Christ and things below for things above. They have put their faith in Him, their desires toward Him, their dependence on Him and their obedience to Him. The Jubilee so many now preach, yet elude so many, does not have to be waited for in fifty year intervals. It represents a new beginning, a fresh start from God. Under this present dispensation of grace it can be poured out every day to all who will meet it's requirements.
"If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sins, and will heal their land. (2 Chronicles 7:14)
Only when the Holy Spirit convicts us of our pride, break our hearts over our hidden sin, selfishness and carnality can Jubilee begin. Only after falling broken and helpless at the feet of the Jesus, can restoration be received. Why have we made it so complicated? God wants and longs to bless His people.
Jubilee may not come with all the temporal amenities today's church equates with blessings. But it will restore our relationship with Jesus. It will increase our confidence in His Word and plan for our lives. It will inhibit His presence and allow us to stand before Him as a holy vessel, fashioned in His likeness and conformed to His will. This is the heart of His remnant. This is their life.
When the spirit of repentance overtakes our pastors and churches, sin will be exposed and no longer tolerated by those who desire to walk in holiness and righteousness.
The bride that Jesus is preparing will no longer be limited to only speaking of their love for Him on Sunday mornings. Their life will reflect His love through them. The remnant, like Paul, is winning Christ. They have forsaken all to follow Him. His life and desires have become theirs. To them, a life without His presence, daily touch and communion, is not worth living. This is the life of a true disciple. "...Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. (Matthew 22:37,38)
Becoming Part of the Remnant
"Now therefore fear the Lord, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your father served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the Lord. ...choose ye this day whom ye will serve; ...but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." (Joshua 24:14,15)
"Now there forefore fear the Lord." He is not some bubbly old man with a bag of goodies for all those who name and claim or agree together. He is a holy God, a jealous God. The creator of the universe who holds our next breath and heart beat in His hands. His eyes go to and fro looking for those who love Him and will serve Him unconditionally.
Matthew Henry puts it very clearly. "Fear the Lord and His goodness. Reverence a God of such infinite power, fear to offend Him and to forfeit His goodness, keep up an awe of His majesty, a deference to His authority, a dread of His displeasure, and a continual regard to His all-seeing eye upon you." (Matthew Henry Commentary pg. 326)
The words "in sincerity" come from the Hebrew word Tamiym. It means, entirely, without blemish, complete, perfect, full, sound, without spot, undefiled, upright and whole. It implies that our whole being must be totally committed to Jesus. We must desire His presence and fellowship more than
the air we breathe. This can only be accomplished by a life rooted in the fundamentals of the Gospel. "Put away the strange gods." The gods of the Chaldeans and the Egyptians always caused Israel a problem. Many, although outwardly serving the God of their forefathers never stopped serving other gods.
Although well hidden in the back of many closets, they were still there. Secret sins no one knew about or even suspected.
Other gods are not just limited to our outward sin. Many hold their careers, family, sports, even their ministries in a higher priority then their relationship to God. Every thing and every person in our life that takes a higher priority than Jesus is a false god, an idol that must be put away and repented of. We must serve Him in truth. The truth says we can have no other gods before Christ.
The apostle Paul warns Titus, "Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers. For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, specially they of the circumcision:" (Titus 1:9,10)
The remnant's relationship is built on God's Word. Not on the words of the parking lot prophet or the gainsaying evangelist.
Every time we hear the word of God, His Holy Spirit's heart's desire is to bring us to a decision for change.
If we will, with all of our heart and all our mind, humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God, if we will seek His face for direction, counseling and correction, if we will turn (repent) of our wicked ways, He promises us to heal and clean us from all the stains of idolatry and compromise. We will be made ready for the call He has placed on our lives, and be empowered by His Holy Spirit to carry it through until the end. His blessings, and presence will be seen on us and in us. But, most of all, we can be used to bring Him the honor and glory we were created for, and the increase of abiding fruit we labor for.
The choice is ours. Our decision will not only effect our eternity, but the eternity of innumerable souls that Christ desires to bring to Himself through us.