Tom Hughes serves as Lead Pastor of 412 Church in San Jacinto, California. He has been teaching Bible prophecy for over 25 years and is the Founder of Hope For Our Times. He regularly appears on a variety of TV, radio, and internet programs. Listen in as we discuss the current state of the church during the last days.
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Jeff: Welcome to the Prophecy Pros Podcast. Today with have a very special guest. We’re looking forward to talking with Pastor Tom Hughes. And Tom is not only a prophecy expert and Lead Pastor of 412 Church in San Jacinto, California, but he’s also very good friend of both mine and Todd’s. And we’re excited to have him on. It’s really neat because Tom has been teaching Bible prophecy for over 25 years. So we’re going to call this guy a seasoned veteran-
Jeff: … expert in Bible prophecy. He’s also the founder of Hope for Our Times, which is an amazing YouTube channel that creates content that helps keep believers informed about what’s going on in the world of Bible prophecy. He regularly appears on a variety of TV, radio, and internet programs. And I had the privilege of hanging out with Tom last week at his church, for a special event out there. And was in his home, had a great lunch. Thanks for lunch, Tom. Appreciate that. But we’re also really glad just to welcome you on the program. So welcome Tom Hughes.
Tom: Hey, this is great being here. I can’t believe… I know I had to twist your arms to let me be on this program, but this is fantastic.
Jeff: Well, it’s all about who gets to pay us to put you on the program.
Tom: Yeah, and speaking of pay, nobody’s paid me back for that lunch at my house last week. Just thought I’d let you know that.
Jeff: Hey, I saved some of those tacos. I’ve got them in the refrigerator for you.
Tom: No. Actually, yes. I know I’ve been eating them. But still…
Jeff: But it was quite a few there, so… But great, so good to have you on the program, Tom.
Tom: It’s great to be here. Thank you.
Todd: Tom, we’re thrilled to have you, man. And as Jeff said, just great to have a friend, a brother in Christ and somebody else who’s very passionate about Bible prophecy. And I’ve learned a lot from watching your updates over the years and hearing your sermons and that kind of thing. And speaking of that, you’re a busy guy, you’re the pastor of a thriving church. And we’ll get into that in a moment because things have been a little bit dicey over there for you on the West coast with churches. But what is it, that in addition to that, also led you to start your ministry, Hope for Our Times?
Tom: That’s a great question. I’m not sure exactly how to answer it. The obvious question is the Lord. But my interest in Bible prophecy actually began probably 10 years before I even got saved. And that was with Hal Lindsey’s Late, Great Planet Earth, way back. So was that… late ’70s. Then I didn’t get saved until 1988. But I already had this seed planted. Then I got involved, right when I was saved, at Calvary Chapel, Costa Mesa. And at that time, Pastor Chuck Smith was the pastor, and he often talked about Bible prophecy and the nation of Israel. So I started off that way. Then when I started teaching, I was already studying Bible prophecy for a number of years. And it didn’t stop.
But we need hope. And so, we started the ministry officially, Hope for Our Times. I can’t remember how long ago, several years now. And then the YouTube channel, a couple of years back. And listen, we live in exciting times, but they can be full of all kinds of anxiety for those who are believers, and also for those who aren’t. And listen, we have an opportunity to reach the world with this hopeful message.
Todd: Amen, well put.
Jeff: So true. Tom, when I was out there with you in California here, a week or so ago, just the spiritual climate that’s going on right now in California. Would you speak to that right now? What do you sense believers are feeling? What are they experiencing right now, under just what’s going on and the unique things that are happening in California right now?
Tom: Yeah. Well, Jeff has seen the area that we live in. He understands why there’s fires. Where you guys are, everything’s green. Out here, this time of year, it is not green, it’s… I told Jeff, I said, “We don’t call it brown, we call it gold.” We got to give ourselves a positive spin on the Hills. There’s gold in them Hills.
Todd: That’s right.
Tom: No, it’s just a fire hazard living out here. But the spiritual fire hazard is very real. However, what’s so fascinating to me is the pastors that have opened their doors and doing church. We’re going for it, no masks, no social distancing. It’s getting people really angry. But Jeff, you guys know Jack Hibbs, and his church is open. He’s not too far from me. Tim Thompson is pretty close to me, and a few other pastors. Rob McCoy, who’s really been under the fire, literally. He’s got the literal fires out there, plus being threatened and fined, and then a couple of churches that are up in Northern California. They’re good 10, 12 hours from me. But I look and go, I’ve got some like-minded brothers that are close, we march forward.
And here’s the reality of it, the people don’t want to be at church right now, they are showing up. And it’s kind of nice because the people are showing up. They’re like-minded. They share my vision. They get Bible prophecy, at least to some extent. So right now, the people are coming to our church anyways. They believe Jesus is coming again and they’re excited. They want to press forward.
Tom: They don’t want to be told you can’t worship the Lord. So we are marching forward. We know there’s repercussions. We’re looking at a election coming up. Who knows what’s going to happen at that time? But we’re prepared. And so, we’re marching forward and it’s exciting, exciting times.
Todd: It really is. Hebrews 10:25 has never been more relevant. Not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another and all the more as you see the day approaching. So with those conditions and everything else going on in this crazy year, we call 2020, how are you seeing the day approaching? What are some of the key things you’re seeing converge right now, that’s on your radar this week?
Tom: I don’t see anything happening.
Todd: It’s a quiet prophecy week.
Jeff: Business as usual.
Tom: Very quiet. Yeah, it’s very quite. You look back at 2019… You guys know we talked in 2019, Jeff. We did the conference in the Gulf of Mexico in 2019 together. And I remember thinking 2019, in the middle of it, what a wild year. And 2020 is going to be more like, “Oh man, 2019 was very quiet, very peaceful in comparison.” But here’s the reality, we’re on a trajectory right now for everything to be fulfilled in Bible prophecy. Look at the UAE, Israel, peace covenant. And I look at that, and I start thinking of the pursuits of Israel. They’re looking to their neighbors for peace. They’re not looking to the Lord for peace. They’re looking to their neighbors for peace. We have the perfect setup for all these things that are coming. With many other nations talking about making peace with Israel. You got Russia to the North. You have Iran to the North ready to come North. And the East, they’re ready to join that Alliance. Turkey, we know is eventually going to.
Then we take the obvious pursuit towards globalism. The globalists have made it very clear what their intent is to do. They want to bring about a new world order. And what they describe is exactly what we see in the Bible. And then we watch this, the lawlessness that is abounding in the cities, the love of many growing cold, which Jesus said was going to happen. The frightening thing is people, in a year or two, are going to look back to 2020 and say, “Wow, those were the good old days. If only we could have that back again.” Because the trajectory is not pleasant for this world. But if you know the Lord, what hope there is… Todd, you wrote that article is just fantastic. The hope that is really there, when you trust in the Lord and you know him, you don’t have to be afraid of these things.
These are signs that warn us about… The Bible tells us, watch for these things, but look up. Jesus said, when you see these things begin to take place, for your redemption draws near. So there’s joy for those who know the Lord.
Jeff: Well, you think about… we were talking with Jan Markell, not long ago. Of course, she’s an up there in the Minneapolis area. And she was talking about how there’s just very, very few churches that tackle the subject of Bible prophecy, or won’t even touch the book of Revelation. But it seems like to me, Tom, like you were saying, you’ve got some like-minded brothers in the area there in Southern California, that are really kind of joining arms in terms of helping to prepare the bride of Christ for the return of the bridegroom. So tell me, in terms of the Christian culture, do you think there’s more of a prophecy awakening in that area? Or do you think that it’s just still isolated churches that are tackling the subject?
Tom: There’s a lot of very small churches, when I say very small, between 20 and 50 church members, that are open. I know because I get emails from the pastors, basically needing encouragement. But there really aren’t a lot of us that are open. What I have noticed is that the ones that are open, and you guys will totally connect with this, primarily are churches that taught Bible prophecy as literal, and actually believe it, were the pastors believed. That [MacArthur] hasn’t done a lot of that, but he is indeed open. But look, Rob McCoy, Tim Thompson, James [Kaddis 00:00:09:57], Jack [Hibbs 00:10:03], myself. We are all Bible prophecy teachers, and we just happen to be in the same region. And the thing is, Todd, you quoted Hebrews chapter 10, that has been my confirmation for why we decided, look, we’re not closing, we are moving forward. Because we’re supposed to gather together all the more as you see the day approaching. How can you not see the day approaching? I believe that verse is specific to the days we live in right now, in looking at it.
And also here’s the other thing, the church gathering isn’t the biological earthly family of gathering together around a TV set to watch someone online. The church gathering is the spiritual family. They gather in China under the threat of horrible things. In Islamic countries under the threat of death. In America, it’s a threat to almost nobody. The threat level is so low. What? 99 point something survival rate and people won’t go to church. I know this is going to offend a lot of people, but it seems to me, a lot of people just don’t really want to go to church, which also speaks to the last days. The Laodicean attitude and where Jesus says, when I return will I find faith. And Paul writes, in that day, last days perilous times will come and one of the signs he says, people have the form of godliness, but deny the power thereof. They’re going to claim to be followers of the Lord, but they really aren’t going to be genuine follower. And I think the spiritual climate for those who are involved is on fire. But I just don’t see it as being a lot.
Jeff: Well, when you mentioned the fact of believers not or people not wanting to come to church, it makes me think about the fact that when the Bible talks about discipline, the purpose of church discipline in terms of distancing, if you can use that phrase, from another believer is so that they would be jealous and want to come back to the fellowship. They miss that fellowship. They miss the encouragement, the warmth, the support iof the spiritual teaching, everything. And it seemed to me that this sort of, if you want to call it persecution or you can call it marginalization or pressure, whatever, from governmental authority saying, you can’t worship the Lord or you can’t meet. Seems like to me that would make believers all the more, want to be together and to do whatever it takes to get there. And I think you’ve seen that in your church. When I was there, it was just packed out. People were just… and the enthusiasm, the excitement of people, finally, just being together each week after not coming [crosstalk 00:12:35]. That’s what the New Testament had, Tom, and we need more of that.
And so, part of what I am seeing, is that persecution is a great thing for the church in that it really does purify us. But it makes us… someone said, “If absence makes the heart grow fonder, then a lot of people really must miss their church, kind of thing. But at least, that’s what we hope. But are you seeing that kind of excitement as believers are coming into the church saying, “Hey, we can’t lose this.”
Tom: Well, I do see it for the people who are coming. Yes, and the people who respond to me even online. So our church is exciting to be at. The people want to sing. When we were told by our Governor in California that you can’t sing, that was one of the best things that ever happened to those who are meeting. You look at Daniel, Daniel’s told you can’t worship. That’s only 30 days, just for 30 days, which is essentially what the Governor of California told us, Don’t sing, it’s just going to be for a short time. No, we’ve been singing louder than ever. And Jeff of that, we’re probably going to be adding another service here pretty soon too.
Tom: We’re not sure how to do it because quite frankly, I’m kind of tired. And we’re like in a battle every day out here. But I just think God has called us to a battle. He didn’t call us too to the easy life. He didn’t call us to comfort. He called us to battle. He called us to live by faith. And so, that’s what we’re supposed to do. Listen, we are going home one day. And I know like you guys, I want to be found. I want to hear the words of the Lord, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
And let me say this, this might be part of the reason why I have pastor friends that are within driving distance of me, that have opened their church. California’s been in this weird spiritual battle for as long as I’ve been a pastor. And because there’s just weird things, Hollywood is an hour-and-a-half from me. There’s just weird stuff out here. But with that, I think it’s caused a lot of pastors out here to be in the fight, anyways. Because we’re constantly pushing against these things. So that might be the combination of look, preaching on Bible prophecy and already been somewhat trained to fight against these nutty views, these whacked out spiritual views, has probably helped to inspire us to press forward. And so, I think it’s a combination of a few things. But us, in this group, we’re all in the southern California region, so we don’t have to deal with Sacramento and San Francisco. That’s a whole other nightmare up there.
Jeff: Well, I appreciate you taking a stand where you are and I remember seeing when it all first broke loose, you are among the first that openly said, “God is leading me to keep my church open. I don’t know what’s coming. I don’t know if I’ll be locked up this Sunday or if the power will be cut, but I’m obeying God rather than man.” And I just think about how the church was designed to be salt and light. Salt preserves and keeps the decay back, and light shines into dark places. And it’s done through individual church leaders like yourself. And so, I just commend you for that. And also, the word encourage means add courage too. I think when you did that and other pastors, I think it encouraged and emboldened other pastors to be the salt and light that they were called to be.
And it also gives all believers hope, I believe, because if we just lay down to whatever whim comes across that is trying to shut the church down, then we’re in trouble. But like you said, that that tension, that little bit of pressure is healthy for us to stand up and say, “We’re not being belligerent just to be belligerent, but we have to obey God rather than men.” So I commend you for that. And with that, what do you think the importance of Christian unity plays right now? Because I’ve heard several pastors and others say that some of the staunchest opposition they’re getting, unfortunately, is from other believers, not even the world.
Tom: Oh yeah. I would say about 99.999% of the pressure I get to close and tell me how evil I am, is coming from church people and pastors that don’t open their doors. I get very little flack from people who have never been involved in church, very little. We get things from, we hear the Governor’s going to do this or that. But quite frankly, we really get very little pressure from those who would not be considered ever part of the body of Christ. In fact, I’ll tell you this… and Jeff, you probably witnessed this, I think we did an altar called the services that you were out here, and I am finding that atheists and agnostics… our valley that our church is in is rather small valley. And so, you know a lot of people out here. And so, I know people that I’ve been friends with that don’t know the Lord. And they want to know what… they’re coming to me now. They’re asking me questions. That is exciting.
But I think, Jeff, you’ve hit the nail right on the head. The church is going through this interesting persecution, and a lot of church people don’t see it that way. They see it as, we just obey what you’re told by men, and don’t meet at the church. But listen, people who don’t know the Lord say, “Wait a minute, something is seriously wrong. I want to find out what the Bible has to say right now.” So we’re watching this dynamic, but man, there’s unity with those who are attending church. I’ll tell you that much, in a way [crosstalk] I’ve never seen before. But the rest of it, I’m looking going, “Man, I have never been attacked and maligned the way that I am right now. But you know what? We’re in the fight, and God has called us to fight. He strengthens us to it. And so, that’s what we do.
Jeff: And I was there, Tom, and I was sitting on the front row there, when that altar call was made. And I just saw dozens of people come forward, giving their lives to Jesus Christ. This was not just a, oh, let’s just come up and we’ll pray for your hurt foot or whatever. These are people who wanted to be saved. And I saw a young, I saw old, I saw diversity in that crowd. It was so refreshing to see that even within the church itself, there’s a mission field. People today, don’t just go to church each Sunday, like they used to, way back when we were growing up, just kind of a cultural thing. They’re going to come to church, they’re going to come there because they want to be there. And if they’re going to come, then pastors must give them solid biblical content. And I think right now, Tom, and I know you would agree with this, right now is a golden opportunity for the gospel. Because the world is hurting, the nation is being torn apart, and it’s a great opportunity for helping people understand the times in which we’re living. And to me, it just seems like this is the time for us to stand up and to step out and to speak out, so that we can make this message heard. And like you said, give hope to those people. And that’s, to me, is what it’s all about.
Tom: Oh. Yeah, I can’t help but think while you’re talking, Jeff, that… I think about the wedding invitation in the parable that the Lord gives. And in a way, it really applies right now, where there’s so many people who have been part of the church, aren’t that interested. But some are more on fire than ever. But the invitation now is being taken to the byways and the highways, all over the place. Because there’s people outside that have never been inside the church walls, they’re coming to faith in the Lord. So that to me is very exciting. And that we have, I believe, a golden opportunity. We may never have this opportunity again.
We don’t know when the rapture is going to take place. But listen, Jesus is going to call us home. That could happen tonight. That could happen next week. But listen, it might not happen for 10 more years. We don’t know the day or the hour, but we need to be faithful and take advantage of the opportunity that God has given to us as people’s hearts… people are full of anxiety. Suicide rate is up, domestic violence is up, divorce rates are up. People are worried, they are troubled. And we have the answer. How dare we not give people the answer because we just aren’t real sure, and we just need to keep to ourselves right now.
Todd: Wow. So true.
Jeff: And it’s like you said, Todd, IN that first verse you quoted in Hebrews 10:25, “all the more”… encourage one another, “as you see the day,” and it presupposes that we can see the day. And I think to quote those great theologians, this is spinal tap. We turn this up to 11. We need to turn the volume up to 11.
Jeff: And just ratchet up our enthusiasm, our efforts, our energy, everything to help get the message of the gospel. And Tom, I want you to know that Todd and I both have big fans of yours. We appreciate what you’re doing there in the heart of Southern California and standing for Christ and really continuing to preach the gospel amid opposition. So we applaud you, and we encourage you to continue on in what you’re doing.
Tom: Well, you guys are an encourager to me, and you guys are great. I love listening or reading everything that you guys have. Love to do more with you guys. Listen, I know we talked about a prophecy conference, doing one together. So somehow, one way or another, we’re going to figure this thing out.
Tom: Plus if we do that your way, it’ll get me out of California for a while, which wouldn’t be too bad.
Todd: Well, Tom, thank you so much for joining us, man. We will definitely have to do this again, work it in. It’s just like talking to a great friend and hopefully to our listeners, it’s like being a fly on the wall and hearing what’s on our hearts as prophecy watchers, and as we see the day approaching. And sense that urgency to share the gospel and reach as many as we can for Christ. And I just pray that this was an encouragement to all of our listeners. Thanks for joining us today. Be sure to visit prophecyprospodcast.com. If you have a question or want to find out information about some of our past podcast episodes, or if you want to find out more about Jeff’s ministry and my ministry, just go to prophecyprospodcast.com. And we’ll talk to again soon.
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