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Sermon taken from Biblical Fundamentalist, Po Box 5010, Brendale, Qld 4500, Australia, (Ph 61-7-3205-7100). Available by subscription.

THE AGE OF AQUARIUS


by Sidney W. Hunter


The Promise Keepers, Latter Rain Movement, The Vineyard Movement, Joel's Army, and Pope John Paul's Jubilee all working together for the common goal.

LATTER RAIN MOVEMENT

In Deuteronomy chapter eleven God tells Israel of the many blessings He will bestow upon them when they reach the Land of Promise, Canaan. Promising an ideal climate, God says in verse fourteen, "I will give you the rain of your land in his due season, the first rain and the latter rain that thou mayest gather in thy corn, and thy wine and thine oil."

In Romans chapter eight Paul is writing about how the Christian's mortal body awaits its resurrection glory. "For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for its manifestation of the sons of God" (Romans 8:18,19).

In the 1940s a group of Pentecostals, following the allegorical interpretation of Scripture understood the above-stated promise of God to Israel (Deut. 11:14) to apply to the church today, i.e. God would send a "latter rain" of special blessing upon the church prior to Christ's return. They then interpreted God's promise of the Christian's future glory (Romans 8:18,19) to apply to the time of the latter rain when the church would be revived and become His "manifest sons." This distorted wrestling of Scripture (11 Peter 3:16) led to the conclusion that the revived church would bring about a world of peace and tranquillity to which Christ would come to reign. J. Preston Eby, a Latter Rain enthusiast explained by making reference to this coming outpouring of the Holy Spirit, "which shall finally bring the FULLNESS, a company of overcoming sons of God who have come to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ to actually dethrone Satan, casting him out of the heavenlies, and finally binding him in the earthlies, bring the hope of deliverance and life to all families of the earth. This ... great work of the Spirit shall usher a people into full redemption -- free from the curse, sin, sickness, death and carnality."

These "overcomers" became known as neo-Pentecostals and introduced what is known as Restoration Theology (not to be confused with Reconstructionism, a more modern heresy). The Assemblies of God denomination repudiated this doctrine in 1948 and again in 1960. It was embraced by the charismatics in the 1990s.

THE VINEYARD

John Wimber is senior pastor of Vineyard Christian Fellowship in Anaheim, California. He is noted for his "signs and wonders" ministry which is reported to have had "a profound effect on tens of thousands of charismatics and noncharismatics alike." The Association of Vineyard churches which Wimber heads up is reported to include more than 250 member churches.

Dr. William Grady, in his book What Hath God Wrought!, quotes Wimber's statement concerning a turning point in his life. He claims the Lord said, "'I'm going to start it all over again. I'm going, to pour out my Spirit in your midst like I did in the beginning.' But I looked at myself (suffering from cancer), and I'm out of energy. In my spirit I was murmuring, 'Oh God, oh God.' And at that point (mid-January) the Lord gave me a word. I heard myself say: 'Shall I have this pleasure in my old age?' The very words that Sarah laughingly said to herself when she overheard the Lord say she was going to have a son from her 90-year-old husband (Genesis 18:10). This was a word of life from the Lord, and it touched me deeply."

About this time South African "evangelist" Rodney Howard-Browne became famous for his infamous "laughing revivals". John Amott, pastor of a small Vineyard church in Toronto, Canada became a victim of this movement of Satan and introduced the so-called Toronto Blessing to the world.

Notice as the plot thickens that Wimber's "vision" said "Sarah LAUGHINGLY said to herself..." Then a LAUGHING sensation begins to sweep pseudoChristian churches. The picture will begin to come together when we now consider:

JOEL'S ARMY

Joel 2:1-11 is a prophecy of the future desolation which Palestine will experience during the tribulation period described in the book of Revelation. It will be a time of great fear "let all the inhabitants of the land tremble: for the day of the Lord cometh" (vs. 1 ). Verses two through eleven describe the event in detail:

"A day of darkness and of gloominess, a day of clouds and of thick darkness, as the morning spread upon the mountains: a great people and a strong; there hath not been ever the like, neither shall be any more after it, even to the years of many generations. A fire devoureth before them; and behind them a flame burneth: the land is as the garden of Eden before them, and behind them a desolate wilderness; yea, and nothing shall escape them. The appearance of them is as the appearance of horses; and as horsemen, so shall they run. Like the noise of chariots on the tops of mountains shall they leap, like the noise of a flame of fire that devoureth the stubble, as a strong people set in battle array. Before their face the people shall be much pained: all faces shall gather blackness. They shall run like mighty men; they sha;; climb the wall like men of war; and they shall march every one on his ways, and they shall not break their ranks: Neither shall one thrust another; they shall walk every one in his path: and when they fall upon the sword, they shall not be wounded. They shall run to and fro in the city; they shall run upon the wall, they shall climb up upon the houses; they shall enter in at the windows like a thief. The earth shall quake before them; the heavens shall tremble: the sun and the moon shall be dark, and the stars shall with-draw their shining: And the Lord shall utter his voice before his army: for his camp is very great: for he is strong that executeth his word: for the day of the Lord is great and very terrible; and who can abide it?" (Joel 2:2-11).

We have quoted this passage in its entirety to establish the fact that this is an actual event which parallels endtime passages of Scripture in Revelation. Notice now how the Latter Rain movement wrests this Scripture to the extent that Satan's army at Armageddon becomes an army of Christian "overcomers."

Remember, Latter Rain theology insists on a worldwide revival which will precede Christ's return. This revival is to produce an "army of overcomers" who are immortal super-Christians as prophesied in the Scriptures from Joel quoted above. Sound unbelievable? Notice the following quotes collected by Dr. Grady in his book What Hath God Wrought!

"Prophet" Byron Mode of Dallas, Texas, revealed, "God is romancing his church, and through the impregnation will come the New Birth ...."

End-Time Handmaidens' prophecy in October 1994 adds: "Sarah is a type of the church. The chumh is 'withered' and its womb is dried up in many places, but God is sending a revival of joy to awaken and renew the church so that she can bring forth the 'man-child' of joy, even the army of overcomers who will go forth in the likeness and image of the Lord in these last days."

Another "prophet" adds: 'The Lord will raise up a company of prophets, teachers, pastors, and apostles that will be of the spirit of Phinehas ... They will be moved by the jealousy of the Lord for the purity of His people ... It was said of the Apostle Paul that he was turning the world upside down, it will be said of the apostles soon to be anointed that they will turn the world right side up. Nations will tremble at the mention of their names."

In other words as the church becomes pregnant and gives birth to Isaac (meaning "laughter"), a mighty revival will circle the globe. As "Isaac" grows up (the revived church) it will evolve into Joel's army of immortal super-Christians. Rodney Howard-Browne's unholy laughter is seen as a sign that God is impregnating His church.

THE PROMISE KEEPERS

The Promise Keepers is a men's organization which reportedly had its beginning when University of Colorado football coach Bill McCartney felt a need to develop a specialized ministry for men. He shared his concern with his pastor, Reverend James Ryle, who is pastor of Boulder Valley Vineyard Church and a former associate of Vineyard Ministries founder, John Wimber. (Remember it was through the Vineyard churches that the laughing revival came which is supposed to be evidence of Joel's Army being born.)

The Promise Keepers has grown from 4,200 men who attended its first meeting in 1991 to an organization of hundreds of thousands. It is committed to "reach beyond racial and denominational boundaries." It says concerning homosexuals, "while we have clear convictions regarding the issue of homosexuality, we are sensitive to and have compassion for the men who are struggling with these issues, we therefore support their being included and welcomed in all our events." McCartney is said to have shouted out at the 1994 Seize the Moment Men's Conference in Portland, Oregon, "Hear me: Promise Keepers doesn't care if you're a Catholic. Do you love Jesus, are you born of the Spirit of God?"

How do the Promise Keepers fit into the Vineyard, laughing revival, Joel's Army equation? Let's ask Pastor James Ryle. He pastors aVineyard church and counselled McCartney concerning the inception of The Promise Keepers. Asked if the Promise Keepers could be fulfilling the prophecy in Joel of raising an army, James Ryle answered, "Yes ... 300,000 men have come together so far this year under Promise Keepers ... never in history have 300,000 men come together except to go to war. These men are gathered for war."

Ed Tarkowski in his book Laughing Phenomena: Its History and Possible Effect on the Church is quoted as saying, "Promise Keepers has incorporated key doctrines of the Manifest Sons of God into their material. The February, 1995, issue of Suitable Helpers, a newsletter for women participating in Promise Keepers expresses that believers can become Christ incarnate: 'Our Lord is calling out a great host of men ready and willing to become "Christs" in their homes: Promise Keepers. In grand bold sweeps God has mustered an army.'"

American television evangelist Pat Robertson also enters the picture. In view of the approaching holocaust produced by Joel's Army he began to prophecy in 1995, "1 believe God is going to send a great revival in the next five years that will exceed anything that our minds can conceive. I'm talking about hundreds and hundreds of millions of people that will enter into the Kingdom all over the world. It's going to be fabulous."

Robertson endorses Latter Rain theology. A revived church will produce Joel's Army which will bring judgment on the ungodly. All this will climax in the year 2000 which will be the church's (Israel's) 50th year of Jubilee and celebrate the Old Testament's Feast of Tabernacles.

What an imagination some people have!

ENTER THE POPE

So far we have Rodney Howard-Browne claiming to be "God's bartender" at "Joel's Bar" dispensing the "new wine" which is impregnating the church; which will result in the birth of Joel's invincible Army; which will, in turn, bring God's vengeance upon the ungodly in preparation for Christ's return and millenniel reign. The pastor of the home church of the man who initiated The Promise Keepers believes that group will constitute Joel's Army. All this in accord with Latter Rain theology is scheduled to climax in the year 2000.

On November 10, 1994, Pope John Paul II released a 72 page letter entitled: "The Coming of the Third Millennium: Prepare for the Jubilee of the year 2000."

The Detroit Free Press (28/11/94) reported, "In weekend ceremonies at theVatican, Pope John Paul II called on his new cardinals to work with him on an ambitious plan for world peace that includes meetings of Muslim, Christian and Jewish religious leaders in Bethlehem, Jerusalem and on Mt Sinai in 1999."

The pope envisions himself being the world religious leader of a super church meeting in the year 2000.

NEW AGE MOVEMENT

The New Age Movement's basic premise is that no religion has all the truth but some truth is found in all religions. Therefore the New Age "Church" is one which embraces the "good" in all faiths. They look to the year 2000 as the "Dawning of the Age of Aquarius."

New Ager, Barbara Marx Hubbard "explains": "The planetary celebration will begin for the birth of mankind in the universe, a blessed Cosmic Child eagerly awaited by the evolved beings through the universe without end. Hallelujah ... An uncontrollable joy (Planetary Smile) will ripple through the thinking layers of earth. The cocreative systems, which are lying psychologically dormant in humanity will be activated. From within, all sensitive persons will feel the joy of the force, flooding their systems with love and attraction.

"It was a planetary smile -- like the smile of a newborn baby ... Now for the first time, we were seeing it together. Ecstatic joy rippled through the planetary body -- and through me as one of its billions of members ... I saw it was true. We are being born ... we are going to be one body, whether we like ourselves or not."

HOW DID ALL THIS HAPPEN?

Ed Tarkowski, in his above mentioned book Laughing Phenomena: Its History and Possible Effect on the Church sums things up as follows:

"How did so many Christians come from there to here in so short a time? Looking back, it seems that the Word of Faith and Positive Thinking teachings struck the first spark. These did much to turn hearts to a self-centered life rather than a God-centered one. As hearts glowed with proclamations such as 'Every promise in the book is mine.' 'Claim your inheritance,' and 'Take the land,' Restoration teaching waited for its opportunity.

"Then when the Church at large finally realized that a New World Order based on New Age spirituality was planned for our future, Restorationists made their move. For years they'd preached that the Church was to bring in the Kingdom of God, but no one, particularly Evangelicals, had paid attention. Those pesky beliefs about tribulation and rapture had blinded the Church to their truth, but now Christians wanted political rights!

"The inheritance promised by Word of Faith teachers coincided nicely with the Restorationist's promise of a Christian Kingdom on earth. 'Take the land' was applied to a literal land, and the Christianizing of society and its governments became a real possibility. The emphasis was no longer on the hope of Jesus' coming to save both Israel and the Church. Instead, a united intercessory Church turned to an Old Testament promise made to Israel: 'If My people, which are called by My name, shall humble themselves and pray;... I will restore their land: In all the excitement, the word 'revival' was subtly redefined, and hardly anyone noticed.

"Finally, after 25 years of incremental change in Church thinking, the Restorationists stood on the revised purpose for revival and announced, 'A great move of God is beginning! Revival is here!'The new good news was that God had an endtime army which would march through the land to victory, and each Christian was a potential soldier. And when 'the fire fell' through Rodney Howard-Browne and the Toronto Blessing, Christians from all over the world came to Toronto to enlist.

"Now the restoration of dominion began to merge with the supernatural potential by the Latter Rain teachings, and revival took on even more meaning. God's Army would be equipped with victory over death, and the Power of Evangelism of Latter Rain would be directed to Restorationism's objectives. Jesus' cross became the symbolic sword of this new gospel and lost even more of its godly meaning. The gospel of sin, Christ's shed blood and the cross, and the promise of His personal, visible return in victory was overtaken by the gospel of revival. Christians from all over the world sew the flames burning bright and were drawn to its light, and a new unity began to arise."

CONCLUSION

Bible believers know that God has said that the day is coming when there will be a one-world government; a oneworld apostate church (made up of all religions left behind when Christ takes the true church away - I Thessalonians 4:14-18); one-world financial control (the mark of the Beast, etc.); a one-world dictator who poses as Christ, etc.

Knowing these things we are not surprised to see them budding in movements like The Promise Keepers, charismatic circuses, the Pope's growth in popularity, Middle-East struggles, Big Brother's growing invasion into personal liberties, etc.

We acknowledge that there must be millions of people caught up in movements which are part of coming events, who have no idea of the direction in which they are going. They don't see the "Big Picture."

As Bible believers we have a blessed hope. Our Lord is coming! He has said, '#Natch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh" (Matthew 25:13).

Meanwhile we have a twofold responsibility - warn of false teaching and do what we can to win those we can for Christ. There are multitudes of people for whom Christ died sincerely fellowing false systems. Jude tells us, "And of some have compassion, making a difference: And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh" (Jude 24).

Surely we can save some from the burning? ....


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