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The Spiritual Signs
There are both positive and negative spiritual signs that we are to watch for. The negative ones include the appearance of false Christs and their cults (Matt. 24:5,11,24), the apostasy of the professing church (2 Thess. 2:3), an outbreak of Satanism (I Tim. 4: 1), and the persecution of faithful Christians (Matt. 24:9).
These negative spiritual signs began to appear in the mid-19th century when Christian cults started forming. First came the Mormons, then the Jehovah's Witnesses, and then a great variety of spiritualist groups like the Church of Christ Scientists and the Unity Church.
The apostasy of the mainline Christian denominations began in the 1920s when the German School of Higher Criticism invaded American seminaries and undermined the authority of the Scriptures, teaching that the Bible is man's search for God rather than God's revelation to man.
During the 1960s Satanism exploded on the American scene and has since been exported worldwide through American movies, books, and television programs. Dabbling in the occult has become commonplace in the form of astrology, numerology, crystal gazing, transcendental meditation, and channeling. The whole trend has consummated in the appearance of the New Age movement with its teaching that man is God.
As society has secularized, true Christianity has come under increasing attack. Judeo-Christian values, once the foundation of Western Civilization, are now openly mocked, and those who still adhere to them are castigated as "intolerant fundamentalists" by the media.
The positive spiritual signs include the proclamation of the gospel to the whole world (Matt. 24:14), a great outpouring of the Holy Spirit (Joel 2:28-32), and spiritual illumination to understand prophecies that have been "sealed up" until the end times (Dan. 12:4, 9).
As with the negative signs, we are seeing these positive signs fulfilled in our day and time. Through the use of modern technology, the gospel has been proclaimed throughout the world in this century, and the Bible has been translated into all major languages.
The great end-time pouring out of the Holy Spirit that was prophesied by the prophet Joel has also begun. Joel called it “the latter rain” (Joel 2:23), and he said it would occur after the Jews had returned to their land. The state of Israel was re-established in 1948. In 1949 God anointed a ministry that would have a world-wide impact - the ministry of Billy Graham. Then, in the 1960s, came the Charismatic movement, which prompted renewal in worship and gave emphasis to the continuing validity of the gifts of the Spirit.
The acceleration in the understanding of Bible prophecy began in 1970 with the publication of Hal Lindsey's book The Late Great Planet Earth. It seemed to open up to popular understanding many prophecies that had been “sealed up” until the end times (Dan. 12:4, 9). Remarkably, it became the number one best seller in the world - with the sole exception of the Bible - for the next ten years!
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