Issue 85 Autumn 2007
|Loving greetings in the Lord: as many of you will
know the Lord had mercy on Frank Wren and took him home to his
reward. This issue is dedicated to the memory of this towering
Frank Wren [PW]
My father Frank Wren passed on to be with the Lord on the 16th August. As testified in the many cards received by my mother he had been a spiritual father and encourager to many. My mother wishes to thank those who sent cards and is sorry that she cannot reply to all who sent their sympathy. In memory of Dad I am reprinting the opening article from the second issue of Trumpet Sounds written in February 1988. It sets out his main aim in starting this newsletter.
“I want to share with you in this letter some words of testimony and also how the Lord is leading us at the present time.
When I was a young Christian, one of my most treasured possessions was my Scofield Bible. The notes in it are invaluable for giving a true understanding of sound doctrine, to which are added ‘helps at hard places’, topical references, summaries, definitions etc. One of the areas in which it has had a profound effect on the Evangelical church is eschatology. Scofield encapsulated the interpretation of the Futurist school as taught by scholars of the word from 1830 onwards. Although his co-editors did not agree with him, he included this as the authentic teaching of the Bible. With many others of the older generation, I accepted this interpretation without question and taught numerous classes and meetings in the 1930’s and 40’s. I had pat Bible verses and pat answers to any question about the Coming of Christ. Youth is wonderful.
It was in the 50’s that in my personal study of the Word my confidence in the rightness of what I had been teaching was shaken. There seemed to be so many loopholes and questions left unanswered that I decided to stop teaching about the return of Christ and did so for about ten years. This left me uneasy, as I knew that there must be a satisfactory answer to this great Bible theme. Twenty years ago, I decided to lay aside all commentaries, helps and, as far as I could, my memory store, in order to give time to study the book of Revelation. I wanted the Holy Spirit alone to be my teacher, for Him to open my eyes and give me understanding.
I spent about a year on this project. I think the turning point was when I saw that the real hindrance to receiving the message of Revelation was the supposition of what is called the ‘Pre-Trib. Rapture’. I had taught this so confidently that it took some months to get it out of my system. Once I had discarded that and saw that the rapture took place at the end of the reign of the ‘beast’, Revelation became an open book to me. Most of the problems I had were based on the wrong premise that the Church would not pass through the Tribulation period. I write this not for argument’s sake, but to show that now believing that the Church would go through this hard testing period, it was my duty to teach and prepare the people of God for the difficult times to come. I believe that the church will be called away before the day of the wrath of God described in Revelation chapters 15 and 16.”
Preparing Christians for the difficult times to come [PW]
My father came to the conclusion, which I share, that the church will not be raptured prior to the time of tribulation that brings this present age to an end. If the church is to go through a time of severe testing it is best to be prepared. Over the years I have read many testimonies from church leaders in countries which have experienced persecution. They frequently regret that when the times of trial came the church was inadequately prepared.
How are we to prepare?
There is a verse in Daniel that I love. Speaking of a time when the faithful are suffering great opposition it says; “but the people who know their God will be strong and take action”, Daniel 11: 32. First and foremost our preparation centres on knowing God. There is no substitute in this time before the storm to developing personal relationship with God. Spending time with Him is time well spent. Knowing His word will prove a rock on which we can stand. But above all applying His word to our lives through trust and obedience will allow the Holy Spirit to make us strong.
Second it helps to be informed. My father felt very strongly that Christians needed to be taught about the Second Coming and shown how prophecy was being fulfilled in our time. Those who see the dark clouds on the horizon and prepare will weather the storm far better than those who ignored the warning signs. The person who is firmly anchored in the teaching of the Bible regarding the return of Jesus Christ will, even when the clouds are darkening the sky and obscuring the light, see rays of sunlight already breaking through. That person’s hope and assurance will not be crushed.
Third, I quote the advice of Corrie Ten Boom, “In the coming persecution we must be ready to help each other and encourage each other. But we must not wait until the tribulation comes before starting. The fruit of the Spirit should be the dominant force of every Christian’s life”. We need to strengthen the bonds of fellowship with each other now. How are we to do this? I ask readers to pray, asking the Lord how we can draw together so that we will stand in the final days. Then if you believe the Lord is speaking to you on this please share it.
Some thoughts on a wonderful saint [KK]
It was a privilege to have known Frank. I was delighted be at the funeral, which was a fitting tribute to his life and ministry. He seems to have crammed three lives into one, and we can rejoice that he is now released from a life of growing physical disability. One immensely gratifying aspect of the day was the fact that over half of the congregation came from his earlier life in Watford [which he left over 15 years ago] He was a man who inspired great affection and love by the example of his life and teaching. I only got to know him when he came to Devon, by the happy accident that he shared a holiday at Eastbourne with the leaders of my housegroup [also great saints of God]. They immediately recognised a kindred spirit in the Lord. When I met him I found a man ‘mighty in the scriptures’ indeed! His grasp of the Bible was amazing, and his insights were always profound and enlightening. I was honoured by the invitations first to join him in ministry at the Prophecy conferences, then to help with Trumpet Sounds. In the hands of God His deliverance ministry [exercised with his dear wife Evelyn] was a mighty tool for setting the captives free, and it was wonderful to learn that he had brought one of his carers to the Lord, still ‘bearing fruit in old age’. He was in every way, as Howard Castle described him, a spiritual giant. We mourn his passing but thank God for the gift of one of His choicest servants.
The Kingdom of God Luke 17: 20 – 18: 17 [PW]
The Pharisees questioned Jesus on when the kingdom of God was coming. I cannot help but feel that this was a mocking question.
The scriptures are full of prophecies that one day a branch will come from the house of David. For instance; "Behold, the days are coming," declares the LORD, "When I shall raise up for David a righteous Branch; and He will reign as king and act wisely and do justice and righteousness in the land. "In His days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely; and this is His name by which He will be called, `The LORD our righteousness.' Jeremiah 23:5,6. The Pharisees were challenging Jesus ‘if you are the promised King, where is the kingdom?’ What are you doing about it? The people might be carried away by thoughts that the Messiah had come but they, the Pharisees, knew better. When the Messiah comes there are specific prophecies to be fulfilled. Therefore Jesus couldn’t possibly be the Messiah.
In accordance with their understanding of scripture, the Pharisees were looking for a saviour who would restore the nation to the glory of David’s kingdom. They looked for a new golden age when once again Israel would be a great nation and many people would come to worship their God. Jesus was well aware of their expectations and had to tell them that they were looking for the wrong things. The signs they were looking for were not about to be fulfilled. Instead He announces that the kingdom is already ‘among you’ (v 21) or alternatively ‘within you’, depending on the translation you use. Either translation is true; the Pharisees needed first to recognise that the King was already among them and then to receive His kingdom within themselves. There were in fact many signs that Jesus was the King, but their minds were focused the wrong things.
Unfortunately many Christians take these words to the Pharisees and unbelievers as the last word on the subject. Some believe that the Kingdom is spiritual, a preparation for heaven and has lost its earthly significance. Others believe that the church will progressively establish the kingdom of God as the gospel advances. It is true that there is no point in discussing the kingdom with a person until they have first recognised the King and then accepted His lordship over their lives. But Jesus did not leave the discussion of the kingdom there. He takes His disciples aside and, so that they would not be confused, explains that He will come to establish His kingdom on this earth but not yet.
The verses which follow present a very valuable study in guiding us to right attitudes when looking forward to the kingdom.
Longing v. 22
Throughout church history, Christians have longed for the establishment of Christ’s kingdom. In this passage the longing is set in the context of the time when Jesus returns to establish his kingdom. They will long for the kingdom because the world is descending into ever greater evil. Mockery of the gospel, apostasy from the Church, moral decline exhibited in everyone doing what is right in their own eyes, are some of the ways in which scripture describes the last days. We will long for the kingdom but will not see it. We will echo the cry of the martyrs; ‘How long, O Lord’.
Perseverance v. 23 - 25
To longing we must couple perseverance. There will be those who tell us that the kingdom can be brought about in this way or that. We are not to run after those who offer a quick fix. Their way is usually compromise with the world. We are to remain steadfast in the faith which we have received. When Jesus comes to establish his kingdom it will be unmistakable. It will be an explosion of glory into this sad dark world.
We are to persevere against those who would deceive us and also to stand firm when persecuted. Jesus’ words, “but first He must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation.” could and do in part refer to the cross. But the context of the passage is His return. I believe that these words primarily refer to the suffering Jesus endures when his body the church suffers. This suffering will come to a head as the world rejects the gospel at the close of this present age. The final generation will demonstrate their rejection of the gospel through their treatment of the Church and in so doing bring down God’s wrath on this world.
Righteous witnesses v. 26 - 29
In both the stories of Noah and Lot they are rescued just before the judgement is poured out. Noah entered the Ark and then the rain came. Lot was taken out of the city just before the fire fell. I believe it will be the same when Jesus sends his angels to gather the faithful remnant. The world will see him coming and be struck with terror. The Christians will be rescued and the wrath poured out. There will be no separation in these events. They follow the pattern outlined here. Both Noah and Lot remained righteous in the midst of a wicked world. They remained in the world right up to the time of judgement as witnesses to an unbelieving generation. The world ignores them and goes about it business as if nothing was about to happen.
In the world but not of it v. 30 – 36
The following story picks up on the parable of the wheat and the tares. In that parable the tares are not gathered out of the field until harvest. Here, the separation of the righteous and the wicked takes place at the time of judgement. Three times we are told that one is taken one is left. It is tempting, when facing the prospect of suffering and the whole world turning against us, to contemplate withdrawing into our own closed little groups. Sticking together to ride out the storm. These stories envisage the righteous still being mixed among the world right up to the time when the judgement comes. Withdrawal does not appear to be on God’s agenda.
As Christians we long for the blessed hope of the return of our Lord. Why then does Jesus warn against turning back? One on the housetop and one in the field want to go back! Lot’s wife is given as the explanation. She could not leave her former life behind. It will prove to be a matter of where our heart is. If our treasure is on earth we will go back not being able leave it behind. In turning back we will loose our salvation. If we have been prudent and laid up treasure in heaven we will have no problem leaving behind all that this world pretends to offer.
Vigilant v. 37
The disciples then ask an interesting question. “Where Lord?” We would have asked why, how or when. The question ‘where’ clearly indicates that the disciples had understood Jesus to be talking of a kingdom which will be located on this earth. Therefore where will this kingdom be? In answer Jesus says look for the signs. Just as the eagles give a clear sign of where a body lies so there will be clear signs of where this kingdom will be established. The miracle of the Jews returning to the Promised Land is one of those clear signs confirming where. It also helps us understand why, how and when.
Persistent 18: 1 – 8
With the story of the persistent widow, we are returning to the thoughts in verse 22. Despite the hopelessness of her cause she did not give up. She believed in the law despite the unpromising response of the judge. In the last days Christians will long for the coming of the kingdom and cry out over the injustice that they suffer. It will seem as if Jesus has forgotten them and is never coming back. The question at the end of the story leaves the answer open. Will we remain faithful or will we give up. As such it is a challenge to us to enter this time prepared so that we do not give up. A strong faith and an understanding the times will help equip us for the challenging times ahead.
Humility v. 9 – 14
The Pharisee and the tax collector illustrate two very different attitudes. I believe that this story, while relevant to all time, is particularly pertinent to the end times. Sometimes there appears to be an, ‘I’m all right jack’ attitude among some who study prophecy. There are those who are confident that they are will be with Jesus while the world is left to suffer. Such an attitude does not befit a Christian. Every one of us is as deserving of judgement as anyone else in this world. We have been saved by grace not by our own works. As such even when we ourselves are suffering we must pray for those who persecute us. If the self righteous are not justified then this attitude needs to be avoided like the plague for it is in reality a plague which could lead to us being left behind.
Simplicity v. 15 - 17
Allowing the children to come to Him, Jesus makes the most important point of all. Only those who receive the kingdom of God like a child will enter it! Looking ahead I see darkness and a time of unprecedented evil. That is not very encouraging. But of one thing I am confident, those who possess a child like faith in their loving heavenly Father will pass through that time and enter into glory. Now is the time to develop a simple trusting relationship with our Father. Commit all our ways to Him and discover the joy of seeing his hand at work in our lives. Even the hard times He uses to draw us closer to Himself. Those who keep their trust in Him He will never let go.
Believing the Evidence [PW]
For a generation Anthony Flew was heralded as the leading atheist philosopher. In an interview with his long-term friend Gary Habermas published in 2005, Flew explained his transition from atheism to theism. Quoting Flews own words from the interview he simply, “had to go where the evidence leads”. Previously Flew, like Bertrand Russell and other philosophers before him, had rejected the idea of God because in Russell’s famous words, “God hasn’t produced sufficient evidence of his existence”.
Flew explained in the interview that, by the beginning of the 21st century, 50 years of DNA research had yielded undeniable evidence of design. Evidence of design was for him the external proof of the existence of God, which he had been searching for. Flew has not become a Christian. He still doubts the revelation that is at the heart of our faith. He would describe himself as a deist, which is someone who believes in God through philosophical reasoning. The remarkable feature of Flew’s testimony is that after a lifetime committed to a certain point of view he has been prepared to change his mind when confronted with the evidence.
Richard Dawkins, author of the Blind Watchmaker and the God Delusion among other books, adopts a very different position when questioned about the evidence of design. Dawkins when interviewed on BBC Radio 4’s Sunday-morning current affairs magazine Broadcasting House (09/01/05), said:
“Darwinism is the explanation of life on this planet, but I believe that all life, all intelligence, all creativity and all ‘design’ anywhere in the universe, is the direct or indirect product of Darwinian natural selection. It follows that design comes late in the universe, after a period of Darwinian evolution. Design cannot precede evolution and therefore cannot underlie the universe”.
But in a response published on the web site www.edge.org in 2005, he admitted, "I believe, but I cannot prove, that all life, all intelligence, all creativity and all 'design' anywhere in the universe is the direct or indirect product of Darwinian natural selection".
It is extraordinary that Dawkins, who regularly uses evolution as a stick to beat belief in a designer (such as God), admits that his stick is a conjecture, and his belief in it a matter of ‘faith without evidence’. The sort of faith that he attributes to, and scorns in, religious believers.
In an open letter written to his daughter Juliet on her tenth birthday (published in A Devil’s Chaplain p242), Dawkins advises her to only accept beliefs supported by evidence. “Have you ever wondered how we know the things that we know?’ asks Dawkins. The answer, he says, is ‘evidence.’ Dawkins advises Juliet: Next time somebody tells you something that sounds important, think to yourself: ‘Is this the kind of thing that people probably know because of evidence? Or is it the kind of thing that people only believe because of tradition, authority or revelation?’ And next time somebody tells you that something is true, why not say to them: ‘What kind of evidence is there for that?’ And if they can’t give you a good answer, I hope you’ll think very carefully before you believe a word they say.”
Now to claim that design cannot precede Darwinian evolution sounds like an important statement. So following Dawkins advice we should ask, where is the evidence. By Dawkins own admission there is no evidence. Again taking his own advice this sounds like justification for not listening to another word he says. It is not the purpose of this article to debate the issues raised by Dawkins, others have done that very ably. If you wish to take it further I recommend an excellent little book called ‘The Dawkins Letters’ by David Robertson. It contains a series of open letters written by David Robertson to Richard Dawkins. In commenting on ‘The God Delusion’, He summarises the flaws (almost too numerous to number) in Dawkins’ line of argument.
At the start of the book David Robertson comments that Richard Dawkins posted the first of the letters on his web site. Robertson was taken aback by the intensity of the vitriol expressed by some of the responses to his letter. It was clear that to many respondents the views of Richard Dawkins are above criticism.
Dawkins represents a form of militant atheism which knowing that its arguments are increasingly looking very weak has adopted the traditional technique of, ‘argument weak shout louder’. Unfortunately a great many are being influenced by his anti-religious diatribes which is born out by ‘The God Delusion’ selling over 1 million copies in the UK alone. When MP’s were asked this summer what book they will be reading during the recess ‘The God Delusion’ topped the list.
As I read the signs of the times those who shout louder will in the short-term triumph. We are heading into the time when those who trust God will be hated by all nations. Faith in the true God will be ridiculed and shouted down. Scripture prophesies that these things will happen. Indeed during the 20th Century millions of Christians experienced and continue to experience intense persecution.
Part of being prepared is knowing what to expect. The intellectual harassment from people like Dawkins is just one of the many ways in which the Christian faith will come under attack in these last days. Intellectual harassment will in time breed physical persecution. For instance Dawkins advocates that those who teach their children about religion should be regarded as child abusers with the state intervening to remove their children. This is just one of the ways in which we may well be persecuted in the future.
Despite opposition we are hold fast to the faith knowing that soon Jesus will be revealed. In his appearing all truth will be confirmed and all His opponents shamed. Read the letters to the seven churches in Revelation and meditate for a while on the many blessings which will be given to those who overcome. It is natural to fear, but perfect love casts out fear. Instead of fear, pity and pray for the many who in their blindness are shutting themselves out of this glorious kingdom.
The Anthony Flew interview can be read on; http://www.biola.edu/antonyflew/flew-interview.pdf
Rev. Ann Holmes Redding [PW]
In the last edition of Trumpet Sounds I shared about the Rev. Ann Holmes Redding, who saw nothing incompatible in being both a Christian and a Muslim. My brother who lives in the USA has updated me on the story. Although serving in Seatle she was ordained in the Diocese of Rhode Island and therefore it is that diocese which has disciplinary authority over her. In contrast to the Bishop of Seatle the Rt. Rev. Geralyn Wolf, Bishop of Rhode Island does recognise a conflict in the professing to belong to both faiths. She has asked Redding to “reflect on the doctrines of the Christian faith, her vocation as a priest, and what I see as the conflicts inherent in professing both Christianity and Islam”. My brother commented; female bishops seem to think more clearly than male ones!
The Most Quoted Old Testament Prophecy [PW]
Michael Penny sent me a copy of his latest book ‘The Most Quoted Old Testament Prophecy’. I confess that before reading the book I could not have answered which Old Testament Prophecy is quoted most frequently in the New Testament. It is a helpful book with many valuable insights. For me it also raised a number of questions. If you would like to purchase a copy either go the www.obt.org.uk or write to the Open Bible Trust, Fordland Mount, Upper Basildon, Reading, RG8 8LU. Cost £2.00.
Streams in the Desert
I have also received a couple of booklets from Heather Galelli. These comprise some inspirational poems which she has written and would like to share. If you would like copies send an addressed A5 envelope with standard stamp to, Heather Galelli, 214 Amherst Drive Orpington Kent BR5 5HW.
Pass it on
If you have found Trumpet Sounds helpful please consider passing it on. We want to help as many Christians as possible to be informed and prepared as the end of this age approaches. You may forward it as an email or print it off.