Join me today for part two of my interview with Pastor Phil Hopper from Abundant Life Church in Lee’s Summit, Missouri. In part one, we started the conversation based on questions from listeners, and today we’re going to continue that conversation about end times and the role of the church during this time. This is a fascinating conversation. Listen in, I know you’ll be encouraged.
Transcribed version of podcast is below.
Today’s Scripture Writing Challenge Verse
- Exodus 13:17-22
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- Livingproof.co (Abundant Life Church)
- The Weapons of Our Warfare
- The Well: Revelations videos (Scroll down below pagination, you’ll see The Well and series below this title)
- Faithful Counseling (listeners receive 10% off the first month)
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Phil Hopper has been the lead pastor of Abundant Life Church in Lee’s Summit, Missouri since 2000. He watched God do extraordinary things in the life of the church as it has grown from 100 people to a church touching thousands of people each week. Prior to entering the ministry, he was a police officer and sergeant with the Kansas City Police Department where he served as a SWAT team member. It was through this experience that God uniquely prepared him for the ministry. Phil lives in the Lee’s Summit area with his wife, Christa. They have three adult children – Jake, Makay and Josh.
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Hey everybody, this is Heidi St. John. Thank you for tuning in today to the Heidi St. John podcast. I’m so glad you guys are here. Today, I’m going to go ahead and air part two of my interview with my friend pastor Phil Hopper from Abundant Life Church in Lee’s Summit, Missouri. Last week we started a conversation based on questions that we’re getting from listeners, and we’re going to continue that conversation today about the end times and the role of the church. It’s a fascinating conversation and there’s never been a better time to dive deep into the book of Revelation. Stick around, I think you’re going to be encouraged.
Yeah, that’s right. It’s amazing. This is an amazing time to be alive. It’s an amazing time to be a student of the Word of God. And one of the questions I get here quite a bit, as it relates to the end times, is: What is the role right now of the church? What is the role of a believer in the culture right now? And you touched on this a couple of weeks ago. I was watching your message online, and you were talking about something that you talk about a lot, which is this cut and paste theology that we have adopted in many of our churches here in Western civilization, particularly in the United States.
And that led into teaching, really, what the church should be doing. And a lot of what you said was resonating, it always does, but resonating with me, just that this is a time for us to be introspective and to really be looking at the condition of our hearts and—are we ready, to be ready as the bride of Christ, ready for that return? Can you comment on that just for a minute?
Phil: Yeah, I would love to. I talked about the super sign prophetically of the Nation of Israel being reborn and the super sign prophetically of the Jews rolling back into Jerusalem. Here’s one we are witnessing in our lifetime. Again, no other generation of church history can say that they have lived to see fulfilled prophecy after fulfilled prophecy. The Apostle Paul wrote to the Thessalonian church in 2 Thessalonians 2, he was giving them signs to look for, specifically of the Second Coming.
The first sign he says to look for is what he said the falling away must come first. That word falling away, that phrase comes from the Greek word, apostia, from which we get the word apostasy. He’s speaking specifically of the church that would fall away. The Apostle Paul told the Corinthians he wanted to present them to Christ as a chaste virgin bride, but that by the time you get to Revelation 17:5, the church is anything but chaste, and she’s anything but a virgin.
Revelation 17:5 calls her a harlot church. It says, “Mystery, Babylon the Great, the mother of harlots, the abomination of the earth.” And so this end times church is no longer chaste, she’s no longer a virgin, she’s a harlot because she has prostituted the truth of Christianity with paganism and with humanism. And this is what we are seeing happen in our generation. 80% of American churches have abandoned Biblical inerrancy and Biblical authority. That is what leads to a cut and paste theology, so that now, it’s spiritual anarchy and anything goes mentality. And it’s not outside of the church. It’s in the church. We are seeing the great falling away take place in our lifetime. Where church after church, denomination after denomination, has abandoned the basic tenants of the historic Christian faith.
And Heidi, we’re living to see that sign of the second coming in our lifetime. So what is the true church to do? Our mandate has not changed. The mandate is to prepare to see the bridegroom, and over and over again, Scripture personifies, or in some way frames the second coming as that of a Jewish bridegroom coming for his bride. And incidentally, we can see so many overtures in Scripture of this. When Jesus, on the night before His death, said, “Let not your heart be troubled. You believe in God? Believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions (or rooms). If it were not so, I would have told you. And I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you unto Myself to where I am, there you may be also.”
Now for a 21st century non-Jewish hearer, it goes right over the top of our head. Jesus was using the language of a Jewish bridegroom by tradition. There was the betrothal stage. Remember what Paul said to the Corinthians? He has betrothed us to one husband. The church is the betrothed bride of Christ, and as that Jewish bridegroom would make that proposal, and that young lady, that Jewish bride would say yes, the last thing He would say is He was going to disappear for a matter of months or even up to a year. He would say these words, “I go to my Father’s house to prepare a place for you, and if I go to My Father’s house, I will come again and receive you unto Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.” You see, he was speaking of a Jewish bridegroom about a bride.
Interestingly, the father of the bridegroom alone had the authority to decide when the wedding was going to be. He alone, as that son would go to his father’s house and build on a room, a bridal chamber, and remember Jesus said, “I go to prepare a place for you.” He’s going to prepare a room, a bridal chamber for the bride of Christ. And only the father had the authority to say, “Son, it’s time to go get your bride.” That’s why Jesus told the disciples in Acts 1:8, as He was getting ready to ascend, “No man knows the day or the hour, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father in heaven.” Because again, it’s about a Jewish marriage, a Jewish wedding, a bridegroom coming for his bride.
Heidi: Well, I hope you guys are enjoying my conversation with my friend Phil Hopper about Revelation and the role of the church and what we can be looking for when it comes to the last days, and really we are living in incredible times right now. I told you guys about a new friend here at this podcast last week, and that is Faithful Counseling. And Faithful Counseling is a solution for people seeking traditional mental health counseling, who would prefer hearing from the perspective of a Christian. The counselors are specifically chosen for you based on your unique situation, and they’re committed to facilitating great therapeutic matches. So they make it easy and free to change counselors if needed.
There is a broad range of expertise in Faithful Counseling’s counselor network, which may not be locally available in many areas, but thankfully the service is available for clients worldwide. It’s more affordable than traditional offline counseling, and because they understand the current economic challenges everyone is facing, financial aid is available. Remember, it’s not a crisis line, it’s not self-help, it’s a professional counseling service offered securely online. Learn more at faithfulcounseling.com/Heidi. Listeners will receive 10% off the first month. So thanks especially to our sponsors during this COVID-19 season. We really appreciate you. And now we’ll get you back halfway through my interview with pastor Phil Hopper.
Phil: All right, now, what was the bride doing while the bridegroom was away? She was preparing to see him. She didn’t know when he was coming, but always preparing. She’d be going through beauty treatments, she would be taking purifying perfume baths, she would have her oil lamp always trimmed in case he came at the night. Remember the parable of the wise and foolish virgins?
And so what are we to be doing? We are, 1 John 3:1, “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon, us that we should be called the children of God. And brethren, it does not yet appear what we shall be, for we shall see Him as He is, and we shall be like him when we see Him. And everyone that has this hope purifies himself, even as he is pure.” We, as the bride of Christ, should be purifying ourselves, pursuing lives that are holy. Keeping our lives chaste, both theologically and practically, personally.
At the same time, we have a mandate. We have a mission. It’s to go you therefore, make disciples of all nations. Acts 1:8. Be witness of me in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, to the ends of the earth. If we really believe that hell is real and eternity is forever, then we ought to make it our singular focus to share the gospel, the good news. In the middle of all this bad news, there is good news that Christ died for our sin, so that we can be forgiven, that we can be reborn as His children and become like Him. And ultimately, we have an eternal destination. That is the mandate. There’s an awakening taking place, I pray and I believe in the bride of Christ in America. It’s time to awake and it’s time to arise. Awake, you who sleep. The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore, walk circumspectly not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time for the days are evil. It’s time to redeem the time, Heidi.
Heidi: Amen. And I know that listeners right now, I’m hoping that what’s happening today is that the mom who was listening to me at the sink, washing her dishes or the dad who was listening working out in his quarantine garage, whatever it is he’s doing, I’m hoping that they’re stopping and really paying attention to what you’re saying. Because we have a responsibility, and our responsibility is to be getting ready, getting ready for the return of the Lord. Francis Chan said, so rightfully pointed out several years ago, he said, “Simon says, pat your head, and we pat our head. Jesus said, go make disciples, and we memorize that verse.”
And over the years of ministry, as Jay and I have spoken to thousands of people over the years, we’ve noticed a real indifference on the part of the church to share the gospel. And I love how your heart so beats for the church of Jesus Christ right now to remember who we are, and that we belong to Christ and He’s coming back. And that is news worth sharing. And we’re in a season right now, I think, where people are more open to the gospel than they have ever been, at least in my lifetime, and we have the opportunity to say, “Hey, this isn’t all there is. We’re just passing through.” And it’s a wonderful, exciting time to know Lord Jesus.
Phil: Well, people are open. And I’m convinced, even as the hand of judgment comes down, God’s hand of mercy does too. You can see that pattern historically. And you can see God’s hand of mercy, even as He brings down, throughout history, His hand of judgment. He brings about salvation, even where sin brings about devastation. I have had people tell me, Heidi, of members of their family, maybe that live far from our city of Kansas City, that have had nothing to do with God, didn’t want anything to do with God. But all of a sudden, they are watching our services. We have a staff member that told me many years ago, before he married his wife, that his father-in-law had walked out on the family when his wife was only 15 at the time. Devout atheist. And he’s been watching every Sunday since we have gone to straight online. Really from the onset of this COVID-19 hysteria pandemic.
Here’s the point. Even an atheist knows— I should listen. I need to check out the claims of Christ. So God has got people’s attention right now in ways maybe he hasn’t for generations. And so this is an opportunity. I’m seeing God… Look, what a lot of people think is maybe something that could ruin our nation, I see it as something maybe God is using to save our nation. The very thing that Satan wants to use to destroy people’s faith is the very thing God wants to use to help people find their faith. The worst thing could happen is that this thing passes, and it will, and things go back to some sense of normal, and it will. The worst thing that could happen is that some things go back to normal. Some things should never go back to normal. Some things should not be the same.
It’s time to get out of our Laodicean lukewarm Christianity. We live in the Laodicean church age. I could go on and on. Revelation 2 and 3 gives us the seven letters to the seven churches. These were seven literal historical first century churches, but they’re also representing, symbolically, seven stages or ages of church history, of which we’re in the seventh and last stage of church history. Jesus said to the Laodiceans, “I know your works, that you’re either cold or hot. I wish that you were cold or hot, but because you’re neither cold or hot but lukewarm, I will vomit you out of my mouth because you say you are rich and increased with goods and in need of nothing. But you’re wretched, miserable, blind, and naked.”
That is the condition of the modern American church. Wealthy materially, but bankrupt spiritually. You know what he says at the end of that letter? “Those who I love, I rebuke.” Listen, Jesus wants to save us. He hasn’t come to condemn us. He wants to help us. He loves us. He’s trying to shake us from that lukewarm Laodicean apathy and complacency of modern Christianity, even within the church that believes in Biblical inerrancy.
Listen, I’ve identified a culture of Bible study. Satan is perfectly fine with us staying within the safety of the four walls of our church and having our little Bible studies and seeing how deep we can go theologically, as long as we never leave the church and actually go run the plays. This is what happened. With the church that’s not evangelistic, that does not have a real missional component, it would be like a football team that memorizes the plays and then never leaves the locker room to get on the field and go run them. That’s the problem with many Christians, many churches. We study the playbook, but then we don’t run the play. We’re called to be His witness.
Heidi: Well, and I know for a fact that as we see these things unfolding, as we’ve watched these super signs… And I love the way you’ve unpacked this because my grandmother… I don’t know if you and I ever talked about this, Phil, but my grandmother was a Bible scholar and a Bible teacher. And I grew up listening to her teaching on the book of Revelation. Just memorized massive passages of Revelation. And if she was alive today, she’d be camping out on the front porch waiting for the Lord. She’d be waiting for the trumpet.
And when I listened to you unpack this, even in the short time that we’ve had, I think it helps people understand the times that we’re living in from a Biblical perspective, but it also gives us hope. We have so much to look forward to. And I hope that everyone who’s listening to this is reacting in the same way that I am. And that is like, Lord, help me to be the woman or the man that you want me to be and unmuzzle my mouth so that I can speak the truth to a generation that desperately needs to hear there is hope and that Jesus is coming again, and it’s something to be excited about.
Even as we’re seeing… You and I both watching— you watching from near Kansas City, Missouri, me, near Portland, Oregon. Very different cultural things are happening, but we see the same big picture unfolding. And I think it’s an incredible time to be alive. And I’m so grateful that you are quarantined, so you can come in and talk to me today. I really appreciate it.
Phil: Hey, I am so thankful I’m quarantined as well. Hey, listen, I would not rather be doing anything at the moment than talking about the Word of God with the people of God, and so thankful for you and your ministry and your passion.
Heidi: Thank you so much. And I really appreciate it. If people want to find you, where’s the best place for them to go?
Phil: Well, they can go to Philhopper.org, that’s my webpage, and they can find some resources on there, sermons, both books that I’ve authored, they can order from there. Or they can go to our website, our church website, church is Abundant Life. The website is livingproof.co, and we’d love to interact with any of your listeners around anything that I’ve shared today. If I can be of assistance to any of them, I would love to, Heidi.
Heidi: Thank you so much for that. And for those of you who have not found Abundant Life and the ministry that Phil Hopper has there outside of Kansas City, Missouri. I just want to encourage you, our family watches it almost every Sunday before we go to our own church, and I am always encouraged, always looking for pastors who know and can proclaim the truth of God’s Word. And Phil, you are a credit to the kingdom, and I’m so grateful to know you and have been blessed by everything that you’ve said today. Thank you so much for coming on the show.
Phil: Likewise, Heidi. Always an honor to be on your show, so thankful for your ministry. God bless you.
Heidi: Thank you. God bless you as well. For more information on pastor Phil Hopper and his ministry at Abundant Life church, visit livingproof.co, and I will link back to his series on Revelation. I’ve already looked it up on my computer here, so I’ll link back to that in the show notes today. A great thing for you guys to do is sit down and watch those videos with your family and get to know the Word of God. This is a wonderful time to study yourself, to be an approved workman who does not need to be ashamed and who rightly divides the word of truth. Thanks for listening today everybody. We appreciate it, and I’ll see you back here on Friday.
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