"end of days"
"In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive:
"For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them." (Matthew 13: 14-15)
These are the ones about whom Jesus said:
"Thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.
"So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I WILL SPUE [VOMIT] THEE OUT OF MY MOUTH.
"Because thou sayest, I am [materially] rich, and increased with [material] goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art [spiritually] wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked ..." (Revelation 3:15-17)
But, naturally enough, it is one thing to read about this in Scripture, and another thing to see it played out in someone's life. Let me tell you the tragic story of Loel Passe.
NOTE: Some will, no doubt, condemn me for using a real-life example; but the danger we face is REAL-LIFE; it's not "make believe," and real-life danger demands real-life examples to make what we are talking about "come alive."
Loel was one of my dearest and closest colleagues in the faith in the 1980s and very early 1990s. What happened to him proves the warning:
"... having food and raiment let us be therewith content.
"But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in DESTRUCTION and PERDITION." (1 Timothy 6:9-9)
Together Loel and I started Christian Fellowship of the Rockies in Denver, Colorado and dedicated it as a base to spread the word of Antipas throughout the country – especially to young people.
Every Saturday evening we "threw" a giant TITANIC PARTY for the young people of Denver. We called it that because we conceived the United States and the organized church as the giant passenger ship Titanic that sank on its maiden voyage between Liverpool and New York in 1912.
Our message was to get off the ship (meaning the organized church and the United States – which, speaking of the United States, we even then recognized as Babylon), and although we were not yet fully conscience of the Lord's command in Revelation 18:4, we did see the necessity of getting out of the organized church and somehow or other distancing ourselves from the influence of the United States.
We believed that there was nothing that we could do to "save the ship," and our only job was to get as many people as possible off the ship before it sank. Loel organized these parties which featured his band, SECOND EXODUS.
But somewhere along the line, Loel lost his way – and he lost it BIG TIME; and while I am not going to go into all the details, I believe the main reason he lost his way was the ALLURE of "easy money;" specifically "easy money" that could be made from MLM (multi-level-marketing) schemes. [We URGE you to see our 1995 article, "Ponzi Schemes, the Investment Craze, and the End of Days."]
Loel: The Millionaire Maker
Somewhere along the way, Loel got lost spiritually; now he serves the god of this world.
His first real contact with such schemes came when one another very close brethern introduced a MLM scheme to the church when he came to visit it in the very early 1990s. He convinced Loel that the money that "could be had" from the scheme could be used to help Antipas and the church.
An MLM (multi-level-marketing) scheme is essentially a Ponzi Scheme with a semi-worthless product attached to it to get around the Supreme Court's 1923 ruling against such schemes.
Almost immediately, Loel Passe "bought-off" on the scheme. The name of the scheme was "MAIN STREET ALLIANCE." Eventually, my dear brethern and Loel got the whole church involved, and there was nothing I could do to stop it - so Lucy and I left the church and moved away to Southern California.
There are perhaps some who are not familiar with such schemes, so a little background is in order here. In December 1919, a certain Mr. Charles Ponzi of New York initiated an "investment" scheme in which he put up $150 dollars and got ten friends to do the same. He promised his friends a 50% return on their "investment" in 90 days. He then got a second set of friends, many times larger than the first, to put up similar amounts and promised them the same "return on investment" that he had promised the original group of "investors."
Charles Ponzi, 1919
The intrigue was simplicity itself: give Ponzi money and in 90 days (and usually much sooner than that) he would give you your money back plus 50%, plus 10% to the recruiter.
There was only one problem with the scheme: while the originators and early participants were handsomely paid off from the cash flow of those they recruited, the last ones who were brought into the scheme found that there was no one left to be recruited, and the cash flow stopped - leaving them "holding the bag."
Before the scheme broke down, however (in May of 1920 - six months after it began), Ponzi had made more than a million dollars (which in today's dollars approximates around $50 million). Whether Ponzi knew it or not, what he had done was formulate or give expression - so to speak - to much of the thinking which lies behind today's New World Economic Order. [Again, we URGE you to see our 1995 article, "Ponzi Schemes, the Investment Craze, and the End of Days" – an article that predicted the collapse of today's economy more than sixteen years ago.]
Poor naive "investors" left holding the empty bag
The driving motivation behind the scheme, from top to bottom, was GREED. Everyone - from Ponzi on down to the last "investor" recruited - knew that in the end someone would be left "holding the bag;" that people would get hurt; and that some would be hurt very badly. They didn't care! - just so long as it wasn't them.
Most who involved themselves in the scheme felt that they could get "in and out" of the pyramid before it collapsed - and "to hell" with those who were "dumb" enough to get caught.
Needless to say, it took very coldhearted people to push the scheme, and very greedy and selfish-minded ones to participate.
The scheme Ponzi devised is today called a "Ponzi Pyramid." It's called this because if one were to chart out the scheme on a piece of paper it would resemble a pyramid with the originator(s) perched atop the pyramid and the losers sitting at the bottom. Money flows from the bottom of the pyramid to the top.
Originally, most pyramid schemes involved the use of "chain letters." The originator would send out a letter to ten friends asking for a certain amount of money, say $10 dollars (for a total of $100 dollars). They were then told to make ten copies of the letter and send one each to ten of their friends. A second circle of "investors" was thus produced, creating a second step in the pyramid that consisted of 100 people. These 100 were told to "buy into" the scheme by producing $10 dollars each and "sending it up the pyramid" (total amount $1,000 dollars) and then to recruit ten more "investors," making a third circle of "investors" consisting of 1000 people.
The process was then repeated, with the new circle of "investors" contributing $10 dollars each ($10,000 total) to be "sent up" the pyramid making the new total "invested" in the pyramid $11,100 dollars ($10,000 dollars contributed by the third circle of investors plus the $1,000 dollars contributed by the second set of "investors" plus the $100 dollars contributed by the first set of "investors"). As the money is passed up the pyramid, each step (circle of "investors") takes out a portion of the "investment" according to a prearranged schedule as a "return" on his or her "investment." By the time the fifth step of the pyramid is reached (100,000 people, each contributing their $10 dollars ($1 million dollars), the total amount of money has become astronomical considering the small amount of money with which the scheme was initiated.
Loel Passe at work selling his "money-making" schemes
What to do? - introduce a product around which the scheme could be reorganized. The product could be anything; that wasn't important - what was important was the scheme remained the same.
The real money didn't involve the product, it involved the scheme; that is to say, the creation of an "investment pyramid." The product was at best a contrivance - a subterfuge. At worst, it was a fiction. Recruits (i.e., "investors") were not sold on the hope of making money off legitimate sales of the product; rather they were sold on the hope of making money by speculating on the pyramid.
Speculation was the name of the game; the product was only a device around which the speculation was organized.
The most well-known form of such speculation in today's world is multilevel marketing (MLM). Recruits to MLM schemes are enlisted in the hope of huge profits to be made on their "downline commissions," not on the sales of the product per se.
They anticipate recruiting others to build "legs," thus creating a pyramid, with a pyramid's law of averages. But like the original Ponzi Pyramid, success for everyone is impossible. There aren't enough human beings in the world to recruit. Once new recruits stop coming into the multilevel pyramid, the scheme inevitably collapses.
As we indicated previously, it takes very cold-hearted people to initiate such schemes, knowing that in the end thousands and thousands of people will be hurt financially. It transforms those who involve themselves in such schemes into MONSTERS.
At this traggic end for once a great leader and dear friend, he is now peddling various MLM schemes in Las Vegas and around the country, and he now ends most of his speaking engagements with a "God bless America's troops all around the world."
That's a long way from yesterday's TITANIC PARTIES.
Again, the Bible wasn't kidding around when it said:
"They that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in DESTRUCTION and PERDITION" (1 Timothy 6:9-10)
LOEL PASSE IN ACTION - WHAT A FALL! - AND THERE IS PROBABLY NO COMING BACK FOR HIM; PLAINLY HE IS INVOLVED IN AN MLM SCHEME – AND IN LAS VEGAS, OF ALL PLACES
For people like Loel, there is very little possibility that they (he) can be recovered spiritually – there is usually no coming back from the depths to which he has been plunged; it's not without reason that the Bible warns us:
"For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, THERE REMAINITH NO MORE SACRIFICE FOR SINS,
"BUT A CERTAIN FEARFUL LOOKING FOR OF JUDGMENT AND FIERY INDIGNATION, which shall devour the adversaries.
"He that despised Moses' law died without mercy under two or three witnesses:
"OF HOW MUCH SORER PUNISHMENT, SUPPOSE YE, SHALL HE BE THOUGHT WORTHY, WHO HATH TRODDEN UNDER FOOT THE SON OF GOD, AND HATH COUNTED THE BLOOD OF THE COVENANT, WHEREWITH HE WAS SANCTIFIED, AN UNHOLY THING, AND HATH DONE DESPITE UNTO THE SPIRIT OF GRACE?" (Hebrews 10:26-29)
Listen to me dear brothers and sisters: The Bible wasn't exaggerating when it said,
"The love of money is the root of ALL evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows." (1 Timothy 6:10)
Take a second look at the video of Loel (above), and be warned: This could be you!!
We are all being tested to see if our love for God is genuine.
How does a rich man ever know that he is truly loved? The sad truth is, he doesn't so long as he retains his wealth. But should he lose it, then he will find out. Great crowds of people followed Jesus so long as he fed them and healed them of their diseases. But when tribulation arose because of the Word He spoke, the crowds disappeared. Oh, to be loved because of whom you are, and not just because of the "things" you have! This is the love that God desires from those who follow Him. It is the love that Ruth gave to Naomi, and this even after Naomi had asked Ruth to depart from her because she [Naomi] had nothing further to give Ruth - she no longer possessed any "things" with which to "purchase" Ruth's love:
"But Ruth said, 'Do not urge me to leave you or turn back from following you; for where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God. "'Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. Thus may the Lord do to me, and worse, if anything but death parts you and me'." (Ruth 1:16-17)
Ruth and Naomi
The Lord is looking for such to follow Him - those who will follow Him long after the "things" are gone, the crowds have left, the popularity faded; when the clothes are tattered and torn, there is no food on the table, and persecution rages all around. These are the disciples of Jesus - with such people one can repose trust and friendship, true love is here to be found!
These are the disciples who can say with the prophet Habakkuk:
"Though the fig tree may not blossom, Nor fruit be on the vines; Though the labor of the olive may fail, And the fields yield no food; Though the flock be cut off from the fold, And there be no heard in the stalls - "YET I WILL REJOICE IN THE LORD, I WILL JOY IN THE GOD OF MY SALVATION." (Habakkuk 3:17-18)