We are in “perilous times” are we not? At least, those of us who know our Scriptures and believe them can see that we are…
Yes, terrible times have been present for much of the human race for as far back as history records, but these times are different. These times are not your average “work by the sweat of your brow, obey your master and keep a watch for enemy incursions” kind of times. Now the enemy is far more insidious and pervasive. He’s in our government, in our land, in our churches, in our schools, and beaming into our homes via television and other entertainment media. Most of all, the enemy is inside us, in our old nature, wishing to reclaim lost ground, wishing to tear apart its host and all around it.
The prophets, Jesus Christ and the apostles all warned believers of their time and those who would come after that we are in a spiritual war:
“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:12 KJV).
They said that the spiritual war would heat up to a great intensity in the time before the return of Christ, so that his people would be either falling away from the faith, or suffering intense persecution world-wide. Already that persecution is a reality in many parts of the world, particularly in Islamic states and communist countries, where Christian communities are being systematically slaughtered, or enslaved, or driven from their homes.
But now aggressive opposition to the Christian gospel has arrived in the West, where the social fabric which once held us all much closer together in natural communities is being destroyed. If you think I’m exaggerating and getting over-zealous or paranoid, you need to start waking up before you either get swept up in the fight, or lose your faith in a battle which you aren’t even aware of. Forget CNN and NPR: they’re on your enemy’s side, waging the propaganda war for him.
Paul said to Timothy:
“But mark this: there will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God-having a form of godliness but denying its power” (Timothy 3:1-5 NIV).
At the height of those terrible times, said Jesus:
“…you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness the love of most will grow cold…” (Matthew 24:9-12).
Much of the battle is visible, if only we will look. Who would have thought, just twenty years ago, that the United States could have a president and a government-even Republican politicians-sympathetic to Islam but who would not regard the faith of their founding fathers (Daniel 11:37)? Who would have thought that our judges would trash the will of the majority and declare that that which is an “abomination” to our God is not only acceptable and normal, but that it is to be protected by law, or that people should lose their livelihood and their freedom when they refuse to condone and bless such practices?
Who would have thought that news media would be able to take taxpayers’ money and use it to fund a thinly disguised political campaign in favor of their party, and their social and political agenda, unchecked? Who would have thought that guns would be blazing in our schools, where the government is intent on preaching the same social agenda, and on cleansing from its captive audience any hope or faith in the Biblical God and any reverence for His ways? Instead a “foreign god” is being promoted (Daniel 11:39), one who is in declared opposition to all that the founders stood for.
Who would have imagined that the will of Karl Marx would be realized in the West, who wanted to see the destruction of the “bourgeoisie” Christian family? I never thought I would see mothers abandoning their own children or even killing them, and yet such things are happening all around us.
In our churches the wolves have moved in in large numbers, and too many people are ill-equipped, un-forewarned, or unwilling to identify them, dressed as they are in sheep’s clothing. Too many ministers are too concerned about their businesses and their comfy positions to preach the true gospel. And those who do have the courage to speak out are getting very close to spending time in jail for their convictions. Now in the church there are more false teachings than anyone can keep track of, including “Chrislam”, Evolutionism, health-and-wealth gospels, the worship of false prophets, obsession with fake spiritual gifts which are a poor substitute for the real thing, the demoting of the Son of God to humanity only or to “guru” status, “Replacement theology”, universalism, pluralism, ungodly lifestyles, and far more.
But the one sign that the “heating up” period is under way-to my mind the unmistakable sign-is that the tiny, newly reborn state of Israel is in process of being bullied by the entire world to hand over its ancient capital to its enemies, who have within their own documented statements of policy and intent the destruction of Israel. President Obama has asked Mr. Abbas to postpone a vote at the UN until after domestic mid-term elections. Will he then refuse to veto the world’s intention to fulfill Bible prophecy? I hope not, for the sake of America. Either way, the nations of the world are determined to meet their prophesied destiny:
“I will gather all the nations to Jerusalem to fight against it…half of the city will go into exile, but the rest of the people will not be taken from the city. Then the Lord will go out and fight against those nations. On that day his feet will stand on the mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem…” (Zechariah 14:1-4).
So what can those of us who want to keep our faith do in these and coming times?
The most important answer is hinted at in my previous sentence: we have to want to keep our faith. We have to make the conscious decision within ourselves that we love our God, we love His word, His ways, and His plan for the world, and that we are going to be determined to follow him. Remember that He is the one-the only one-who has the words of eternal life (John 6:66-69).
If there are questions or doubts in our minds, let’s get answers if we can (start with my post “How to keep your faith” if you like). But let’s make up our minds that we are going to trust Him, and to obey. Isn’t that what “faith” is all about? Didn’t we know that when we first professed to believe? We have to make up our minds that we are going to trust that our God is able to tell the truth and to communicate it, no matter what kind of testing, deception or temptation comes at us. If the soldier in battle runs away as soon as the bullets start flying, he’s no good is he? If he’s going to prevail, if he’s going to be of service at all, if he’s going to be in the ranks of the victorious, he has to be trained, committed, and determined. Jesus, in his “Olivet Discourse” said this:
“…he who stands firm to the end will be saved” (Matthew 24:13).
That’s not to say that we have to save ourselves, because our Savior is Jesus: He has our souls in the palm of his hand, and he has promised to be with us to the end. What we have to do is to stand firm in our faith, when the whole world around us is rushing into the arms of its own destruction, attempting to take us with it. Like “Christian” in Bunyan’s “Pilgrim’s Progress”, we need to stick to that narrow path, even when everyone around us is determined to go another way-perhaps an “easier” way.
“All Scripture is God breathed” (2 Timothy 3:16).
The Bible is the word of God: our guide in our salvation.
“If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31).
I suggest making sure you have a Bible or two stashed away apart from the one you read, just in case it comes to be labeled “hate speech” and banned.
Remember at all times that we are in a war. Failure to recognize that fact could lead to setbacks or even defeat at any time:
“Fight the good fight of faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession…” (1 Timothy 6:12);
“…be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes…” (Ephesians 6”10-11).
Remember that although the war may rage around us, it’s already won, even taking physical persecution into account, and our future is secured. All we have to do is stay in the fight:
“I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die” (John 11:25).
Our marching orders and our plans for success are in the Bible, and nowhere else. The Bible is our instruction manual, our road map to heaven, and Jesus Christ has already paid the ticket.