This week I want to delve into a conversation which comes up all the time with my fellow ‘Christian’ brothers and sisters. The conversation involves the end of the world. There seems to be quite a few different views on the end times and for every view there seems to be someone who likes to shove that particular view down the throats of others who don’t happen to share that view – or who haven’t yet made up their mind. Something most of these conversations tend to lack is the abject horror that the end of the world will mean to the unsaved. I have heard people tell me things like “They had their chance”, or “They had it coming”. I am reminded at first of where Jonah is not all that happy with God for sending him to Nineveh where the people received his warning and repented. Jonah wanted to see them destroyed. How many of my brothers and sisters want to see humanity slaughtered so they can be right, or because humanity deserved it, or because humanity had its chance. I can’t help but feel sick. If God spared Nineveh over 120,000 people living in darkness who repented, how many people need to repent to keep the end from arriving anytime soon? As a Christian I can’t help but be burdened for non-believers, burdened for hurting souls who have turned to the church in the past and been kicked to the curb by religion, tradition, and a likeness of God which denies the power of God. How many hypocrites kept me away from the house of God when I lived as a pagan and wiccan? When I was a teen-ager I rebelled against the perception of a Christian society which I was being conformed to. Now in mid-life, I realize my teenage angst was actually part of the script. Society had in fact conditioned me to rebel against Christianity. Sadly, it wasn’t God I should have been rebelling against – Jesus is God and worth of my praise! It was fake people which should have been the real source of that anxiety. Who wants to grow up and be fake? How many real Christians have you met? How many people do you know that consistently stand on Gods word, and don’t compromise. His ways are not our ways and His thoughts are not our thoughts.
Back to the end of the world. How many people have you met who seem to be waiting for it? I have met many who have purchased various items in order to survive the end times. My response has been ‘great, did God tell you to buy all that?’ At this point the conversation changes. I naively believe that I am no longer my own, that I have been purchased for a price, and that my wisdom is insufficient for the tasks God has planned for me. I need to seek Him. I was reading Amos recently, and I just couldn’t get over this:
18 What sorrow awaits you who say,
“If only the day of the Lord were here!”
You have no idea what you are wishing for.
That day will bring darkness, not light.
19 In that day you will be like a man who runs from a lion—
only to meet a bear.
Escaping from the bear, he leans his hand against a wall in his house—
and he’s bitten by a snake.
20 Yes, the day of the Lord will be dark and hopeless,
without a ray of joy or hope.
21 “I hate all your show and pretense—
the hypocrisy of your religious festivals and solemn assemblies.
22 I will not accept your burnt offerings and grain offerings.
I won’t even notice all your choice peace offerings.
23 Away with your noisy hymns of praise!
I will not listen to the music of your harps.
24 Instead, I want to see a mighty flood of justice,
an endless river of righteous living.
This is the NLT version, It gets a little harsher in NKJV or KJV.
I have gotten flak for talking about holiness with the Church (churched people in general – not a particular assembly). I have been told that grace covers everything. That there is nothing I need to do. That God does it all. That the Bible shouldn’t ever be taken literally. That I am being judgmental: ‘thou shalt not judge… judge not least ye be judged’, etc. A couple of points which I believe need to be made: salvation is only the beginning of our relationship with God. Prior to salvation – we are Gods enemies. He doesn’t even listen to our prayers prior to salvation. In order for something to change between us and God, something has to change. Change implies there is something to be done. Things cannot go on the same was as before. So we get saved through our faith in Jesus Christ and His atoning death on the cross – where he was sacrificed as the ultimate sin offering – cleansing us from all unrighteousness and allowing us to have a relationship with God where we have passed from enemies to friends. We now have access to God through this faith in Christ. What happens next? Some people stop here. Others get baptized, because that is something commanded, which even Christ participated in. And what is the symbology of baptism? Our old life is dead (like Christ – it has been crucified), and a new life has begun (just like the resurrection of Christ). We have died to the world and been born again in Christ. And here again, many people have stopped. I have sat in churches which might make you think that this is all there is. In those churches, I found myself hungry for more of God. Isn’t God infinite? Can I ever get too close to a God that is infinite? Why stop at baptism? In we read about 12 men who had believed in Jesus and been baptized for repentance of sins (the baptism of John) and had never been empowered by the holy spirit which Paul refers to in other scripture as the baptism of Jesus (power,fire). Why would Jesus baptize us with fire? Why would He grant us His spirit? Did Jesus have the Holy Spirit fall from heaven like a dove and land on him so he could feel spiritual? NO! The spirit came so he could perform the work of the ministry and preach and teach and heal and do all the things his father had planned for him in advance. Jesus gives us His spirit to go and do likewise. You can’t tell me it’s over at salvation. Christ is the cornerstone. He is the rock upon which a life is built and lived – not placed and forgotten. You don’t place a cornerstone and then sleep on the dirt in your old sleeping bag and forget about building the building.
If people actually believe Jesus is just around the corner, why are they not more desperate to serve Him? Do you want to be doing what he said, or doing your own thing when he comes back? Do you want to hear ‘Well done, good and faithful servant”. Paul gives us the view of the race – he reminds us it’s a marathon. Do we sprint toward the finish line or continue working on our 401K’s. Did Jesus die so you could be successful in business? Did he die so you could watch another episode of ‘Dancing with the Stars’? Did he die so you could squander your life in depravation even after supposedly being saved? Was it His will for you to be addicted? I’m pretty sure we hear a whole lot about living a new life. Is a life obsessed with the lusts of the flesh a new life? Wasn’t that the condition prior to salvation. Read Hebrews again please, try it slowly. Pause and ponder Chapter 6. The whole thing really is a good read. Jesus in John 18:1-8 puts it this way:
“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away;[a] and everybranch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. 3 You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.4 Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.
5 “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. 7 If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will[b]ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. 8 By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.
We are to abide in Him and produce fruit. A vine doesn’t try to produce fruit – it produces according to its kind. One thing is clear – we will be pruned (sanctified) and the end result will be still more fruit. What is the fruit of preaching the end? Are people converting because of the fear of the end? What will you do if you get it wrong? What will your life be built on? Will it be built on the rock of Christ or the sinking sands of your interpretation of Revelation? Nothing against Revelation: it’s another great book about Jesus. But our king has called us to be about His business – and of the final day and hour – we will not know the time – but we can be aware of the signs. And we have the signs all around us right now. Lets be found doing the things we see our father doing. Sitting on a hill over-looking the city, with popcorn, never ends well.