- (Photo: Courtesy of Worthy Publishing)
I'm not saying that Christians won't go through tribulation. The Church, in every age, has always suffered persecution. But the distinguishing factor of the great tribulation is this will be God pouring out His wrath on mankind. And the Bible promises us in Romans 8:1 that, as believers, there is no condemnation awaiting those who belong to Christ Jesus.
So I, as a Christian, don't have to fear a future retribution of God against the earth. Right now, as Christians, I believe we are to be living our life with the knowledge that either Christ is coming or we're going, but sooner or later we're going to meet him face-to-face and give an account of our lives.
CP: And, one other question about critics and people who might say that your statements are too provocative – specifically about the current Administration – what do you say to those who feel that your comments are going to make things worse, and you as a pastor, shouldn't be speaking out?
Jeffress: It's amazing to me that even Christians don't believe that pastors or Christians ought to be speaking out against ungodliness. Look at the Old Testament prophets like Isiah, Jeremiah and Daniel. Or look at even John the Baptist or even Jesus Himself. They didn't just speak to God's own people. They were willing to confront ungodly policies and ungodly leaders, and say without stuttering to stammering, "Thus Sayeth the Lord."
I believe Christians are called today to speak out against ungodliness and point people to the hope, the only hope we have, and that is faith in Jesus Christ.
CP: Speaking about your ministry at First Baptist Church in Dallas, how would you compare yourself to your most renowned predecessor, W.A. Criswell, in regard to your preaching style and ministry?
Jeffress: I am a child of First Baptist Church, Dallas. I grew up in the church and Dr. Criswell was my pastor for the first 30 years of my life. It's funny, people who've been in our church in a long time say they can close their eyes and hear W.A. Criswell being channeled through me. I don't try to do that, but I can't help doing that, by being influenced by such a great man of God.
Much of what I learned about Bible prophecy I learned after sitting at the feet of Dr. W.A. Criswell. He was the greatest pastor I have ever known, or known of, and to be able to preach in the same place he preached for 50 years is a humbling experience.
CP: And you own a pair of shoes that W.A. Criswell wore when he preached, is that true?
Jeffress: That is true. His widow, Mrs. Criswell, who went to heaven shortly before I came as pastor of First Baptist Dallas, she gave me a pair of his shoes that he used to wear when he preached. And she said, "Robert, you will one day be the pastor of our church, and I want you to have these pair of shoes to preach in."
CP: So do you preach in them or do you keep them in a special location?
Jeffress: I didn't want to scuff them up, so I saved them. But interestingly, we wear exactly the same shoe size. Even though we're the same shoe size, I could never fill his shoes.
CP: Pastor Jeffress, is there anything else that you would like to add?
Jeffress: I want people to understand that the book, Perfect Ending, is not a gloom and doom book. It's a book of hope for Christians. And yes, the short-term forecast for the world is turbulent and cloudy, but the long-term forecast is bright and sunny for those who know Christ.