A friend of mine recently asked me a question that many writers in the more fundamentalist Christian circle have been discussing for weeks: Are we at the end of times. Here’s my answer: I don’t know.
In fact, I’ve never spent too much time thinking about when the end of times will be, because Jesus told us in Matthew 24:36, “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” Yet Jesus did tell us to keep watch because the time was near. What Jesus didn’t remind us when He said that is a day is like a thousand years and a thousand years is like a day to God (2 Peter 3:8-9). So soon is relative!
It is, however, an important topic to consider but maybe not for the reason you think. As Christians wrestle with the recent Supreme Court decision to legalize gay marriage in America, many Christians see a continued moral slide that began with the counter-culture revolution started in the ’60s and wonder just how far all this ungodliness will go. While I agree with what we all are seeing, I have a different take on how we should respond.
I’ve watched with great interest Christian leaders as they have denounced the decision and vehemently argued God will now judge America for its sinfulness. Personally, while I believe homosexuality and gay marriage is, indeed, in opposition to God and sinful, I am not as quick to get my panties in a bunch over what “Caesar” and unbelievers do. Here’s why.
In Matthew 24 Jesus is telling His disciples about the end times. Read His words:
Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. 5 For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many. 6 You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. 7 Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 8 All these are the beginning of birth pains.9 “Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. 10 At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, 11 and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. 12 Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, 13 but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”
In other words, things are going to get worse before they get better. Here’s what Paul writes in 2 Timothy 3:1-5:
“But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.”
In 1 Timothy 4:1 Paul tells us, “Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons…”
Peter teaches us in 2 Peter 3:3, ‘Knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires.”
And here is my favorite: 2 Timothy 4:3, “For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.”
These taken together seem to point to the world today, especially the United States which one could argue quite successfully has been the leader of Christianity in the World for the past 200 years.
However, I could make the same argument for pretty much any time in history. Don’t you think those watching Nazi Germany slaughter six million Jews thought they found the anti-Christ in Adolf Hitler? Don’t you think those who watched Joseph Stalin murder as many as 20 million people within the boundaries of the Soviet Union thought that period was the end of time? I think the overlay described in scripture can fit many time frames yet still not be the end that Jesus talks about.
But what if it is the beginning of the end? What should the Christian response be? For me, at least, my response is BRING IT! You see, I WANT Jesus to come back. I WANT things to be set right. I WANT God’s justice to prevail on earth as it is in heaven. I WANT God’s judgment – which is perfect by the way – to come and the new heaven and new earth to be created. I WANT to have God living and walking with us.
I get the calls for repentance and revival, but if this is the end our job is not to spend our time ranting about a non-Christian government making non-Christian decisions supported by non-Christians. Our job is to find more workers because the harvest is plentiful! (Matthew 9:37)
Let me say this as bluntly as I can: People are going to go to hell unless we give them the opportunity to choose to follow Jesus! In all the bluster about this Supreme Court decision have you heard one Christian leader do a national altar call telling the nation that Jesus loves them and offering them the gift salvation through the grace of God by faith in Jesus Christ? I haven’t; what I’ve heard is condemnation, judgment, and pronouncements about how “those people” are going to hell. So much for the harvest.
Jesus tells us not to worry about all these things that are really bothering Christians right now – He tells us they must come to pass. So brothers and sisters, let them come! Certainly call it all what it is – rebellion against God – SIN. But don’t lose your minds and miss what’s happening around us. Just take a look at the world for a second:
- Europe can no longer be considered Christian
- Canada can no longer be considered Christian
- America is falling and while a large majority say they believe in God only a small minority could be considered disciples of Jesus
- Believers – including entire denominations – are leaving sound doctrine for whatever their itching ears want to hear
- Fundamentalist Islam is attempting to form a caliphate in the Middle East…exactly in the region where the Bible says the enemy will rise
- Christians are being killed by the thousands by these Islamasists adding to the martyrs in heaven ( Revelation 6:10)
- There are wars and rumors of wars everywhere
- There are natural disasters everywhere
- Jesus is spreading around the world so that every nation will have heard of him (China, Middle East, Indonesia, Africa, etc…)
There is more going on but you get the idea.
If you are a believer there is absolutely no need to panic. Before the world was formed God knew EVERYTHING that would happen throughout the history of man. God is sovereign and is still in charge regardless of what laws a government passes! If you need an example, just look to Paul.
Here’s a guy who went to the pagan world where legally it was okay to do just about anything and certainly everything considered immoral by Christian standards. Yet Paul was highly successful against aggressive opposition including those who would use violence against him. Why? Because as he beautifully notes in 1 Corinthians 5:9-13 his focus was on the church not on non-believers. As he said, what business is it of mine what they do? His concern was creating a holy church who lived a transformed life through Jesus Christ and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit! The world could do whatever it wanted as far as he was concerned.
Jesus also explained it to us – we are to be salt and light influencing our world by our actions of love and service. But Jesus told us not to be fooled – bad things are coming and they must. Our job is to keep our eyes focused on Jesus and do as he says in Matthew 28:18-20:
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
So let’s stop losing our collective Christian mind, put our collective head down, and get to work telling people there is a God who loves them and wants them to come home but they must enter through the narrow gate before it’s too late.