Monday, December 12, 2016
Hal Lindsey’s been saying now for the better part of 50 years, that Christ’s return is imminent, but I fear that for many, apocalypse fatigue is setting in. The “Left Behind” series sparked a huge renewed interest into the idea of the Rapture and for what follows, but even that excitement seems to have faded. With all the geo-political, economic, and technological changes happening every day, modern man’s attention span is steadily decreasing.
Increasingly, we express concern over the swelling anti-Christian sentiment that is growing here in the West, and express outright shock over the brutality of that same anti-Christian sentiment in the East. Half of Christianity wants to reclaim the world, this present world, for Christ and build His kingdom for Him, and the rest of Christianity is divided on how the end does happen. In fact, MOST of Christendom today, does not advocate the only doctrinal position that is logical, Biblical — a Pre-Tribulational Rapture, otherwise known as our “Blessed Hope” (Titus 2:13).
All that aside, the truth is that believers for millennia have long pondered, wondered about, and longed to see what the days we live in would be like. While our days may be increasingly onerous and dangerous, it is also exciting to see the pages of the prophetic scripture come to life right before our very eyes. And so it is both bitter and sweet, that we live to see these days come to pass, just as Christ, the prophets and apostles said they would.
“But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober…For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him (1 Thess 5:4-6, 9-10).
So it is that we, the final generation, are called to stand firm in the growing tide of darkness which all the more enshrouds this fallen planet. But in our standing, we are to do four things which will not only bring glory to God, become a witness and a testimony to the lost, but will also encourage and embolden our brothers and sisters in these trying times. We are to worship, wait, work, and watch.
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. (Romans 12:1-2)
For the born-again Christian, our worship is not solely limited to what we do in a church building on Sunday morning’s, but it also involves how we live our lives. All of the life of every Christian should be an act of worship. The Apostle Paul, via the Holy Spirit, instructs us to present our bodies, our hearts, and our minds, to God as a living sacrifice. Once you become a believer in Jesus Christ, you are no longer your own, because you were bought with a price. (1 Cor 6:19-20) We are to become living sacrifices, crucifying the flesh daily, so that we may live in the Spirit. This is not easy, because the flesh becomes a powerful obstruction to our walk with God. Our primary goals as believers are to worship God, mature in the faith, and witness to those who do not know the Lord. We demonstrate our worship, by how we live our lives, by being a living sacrifice. We mature in the faith, when we learn how we live by our worship which by glorifying God puts our trust in Him, and not ourselves. Therefore our worship, becomes a living testimony to those who do not know Christ, and Christ said that if we would glorify Him, HE would draw all men to Himself (John 12:31-33).
“For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself”. (Philippians 3:20-21)
Anyone who has ever had to wait for anything, realizes that waiting is not fun. But waiting adds to faith in a way that immediate gratification cannot. It develops and matures you in your walk (sanctification) with the Lord. Abraham, who exhibited an amazing amount of faith, waited many decades for the promise of a son that the Lord would provide to both him and Sarah. Once that heir (Isaac) came and grew, God then instructed Abraham to take him to Mt. Moriah (modern day Golgotha/Calvary), making Isaac carry his own wood which Abraham would use to sacrifice him. This all seemed contrary to all that God had promised him, but Abraham was prepared to do this up until the point that the Angel of the Lord stayed his hand. Abraham demonstrated his faith that even if God had him kill his own son, God would raise him again or else God would be breaking his own promise (Gen. 15:1-5; 22:3-5).
While the waiting was something that Abraham and Sarah struggled with, it developed and matured them. And our waiting is not in vain because “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). Anytime we lose sight of this, let us remember the day we came to Christ: what if God had chosen the day prior, to be the day of the Rapture? While we wait, let God develop us into the people He wants us to become. In our waiting, let us focus on the goal of running for the prize (1 Cor. 9:25; Phil. 3:14).
Even though our ultimate goal is Heaven, our goal here on earth should be that “ we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ.” (Ephesians 4:13-15)
“…But we urge you, brethren, that you increase more and more; that you also aspire to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to work with your own hands as we commanded you, that you may walk properly toward those who are outside, and that you may lack nothing”. (1 Thessalonians 4:10-12)
Unlike the prosperity propaganda that many successful self-help televangelists love to promote, God has not called us to a life of luxury and riches. I am not saying that a Christian can’t be wealthy, or that God can’t bless us in those areas, because He can and He does. What I am saying is that that should not be our focus in life. While our fiat currency system may be a necessity to survive in these last days, it should not be what motivates us. That should not be what we strive for or yearn for. Wherever you are, and whatever you do, do it for the Lord. Don’t do it so that other men can notice you, or that you do it for the accolades and praise of people, but serve God with a willing heart.
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:19-21)
“Let your waist be girded and your lamps burning; and you yourselves be like men who wait for their master, when he will return from the wedding, that when he comes and knocks they may open to him immediately. Blessed are those servants whom the master, when he comes, will find watching. Assuredly, I say to you that he will gird himself and have them sit down to eat, and will come and serve them. And if he should come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants. But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” (Luke 12:35-40)
What is increasingly perplexing to me, considering all that is transpiring around the world, is the outright rejection and denial of the Rapture and of Christ’s Second Coming by those who claim to be Christian. I expect this from mainstream media, government, and pop culture, but how a denomination (take your pick) rejects 30% of their Bible, only to focus on everything BUT Christ’s soon return, baffles my mind.
Consider these events that are rapidly advancing in our day:
-the coming together of global governance
-the rapid technological advancements that are enabling and merging together a tracking, monitoring, and digital financial system that ultimately will become the ‘mark of the beast’
-growing lukewarmness and apostate nature of “Christianity”
-Geo-political alignments of nations, all seemingly hostile to Israel
-increasingly devastating natural disasters and pestilence
-wars and rumors of wars
-rise of occultism and paganism
-the rise of all sorts of violence around the earth
-global economy on the verge of collapse
Literally, I could go on and on with what is going wrong in the world, but I think you get the drift. Many in Christendom would say pompously- “ahh that stuff has been going on since the beginning. Everything is cyclical, and we are just in another cycle of endless cycles– when things get bad, then they get better, and then bad, and so on and so forth.” I have spoken personally to many people and clergy who hold to this opinion.
For them, Christ’s return is about as important a focus for them and their ministries as the color of icicles are on Saturn’s rings. They are far “too busy building up His Kingdom here” to worry about if or when Christ will return. For these people, Christ Himself said this…
Remember therefore how you have received and heard; hold fast and repent. Therefore if you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you. (Revelation 3:3)
Ah, but the skeptic says, “Hey, that doesn’t apply to me, Jesus (if He even wrote that), was speaking to some church in ancient Asia Minor. That has no relevance to me today.” Notice what Christ says in the very next verse… “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches” (Rev. 3:4).
We are called in these last days to stand firm and to be bulwarks in a growing storm that is increasingly and violently shifting and moving everything about. The only way we can stand firm is if we stand in Christ because in and of ourselves, we do not possess the ability, nor even the desire to go against the dark tide. It is not pleasant, especially considering what is coming upon the earth and in particular, what we have to look forward to so long as the Lord tarries. But we stand nonetheless, and we proclaim the saving power of the blood of Christ through worship, waiting, working, and watching.
Some worship and work, but do not watch or wait for the Lord’s return, and they quickly burn out. Some watch and wait, but do not work or worship, and they drift off into the fringe. We need all four to balance out our faith, because work is tiresome, and without the hope of our “Blessed Hope” we lose heart. All watching and no worship causes us to watch for anything, and soon our short attention span hearts, will drift into areas that appear more exciting or conspiratorial. We need all four because God built us to do all four, and when any of the four are missing, we drift from where God intended us to be. God built us with eternity in our hearts, and only the eternal can fully satisfy what we know is lacking in the here and now.
“Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal. (2 Cor. 4:16-18)