The warnings are dire and the laments will be loud. God has warned civilizations and the people who make up those societies about the result of their disobedience and rebellion toward Him. Yet .. people and their leaders continue to this day to rebel and refuse to repent.
[Podcast version available at the end of this post.]
Nearing the End of the Age
As we saw in the last part of our series, we are nearing the end of this age. The time for Christ’s return to earth to establish His reign and a new and eternal civilization is close. According to what Jesus said in Matthew chapters 24 and 25 and what the Apostle John saw in his visions of the future in Revelation, the end of earthly civilizations will not end easily or peacefully. The people will lament greatly when God’s justice roles down upon them.
And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains, and said to the mountains and rocks, ‘Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand? Revelation 6:15-17
And I looked, and I heard an angel flying through the midst of heaven, saying with a loud voice, ‘Woe, woe, woe to the inhabitants of the earth, because of the remaining blasts of the trumpet of the three angels who are about to sound! Revelation 8:13
And they were not given authority to kill them, but to torment them for five months. Their torment was like the torment of a scorpion when it strikes a man. In those days men will seek death and will not find it; they will desire to die, and death will flee from them. Revelation 9:5-6
So the four angels, who had been prepared for the hour and day and month and year, were released to kill a third of mankind. Now the number of the army of the horsemen was two hundred million; I heard the number of them. And thus I saw the horses in the vision: those who sat on them had breastplates of fiery red, hyacinth blue, and sulfur yellow; and the heads of the horses were like the heads of lions; and out of their mouths came fire, smoke, and brimstone. By these three plagues a third of mankind was killed—by the fire and the smoke and the brimstone which came out of their mouths. Revelation 9:16-18
Can you imagine the lament (crying out) of people around the earth as God’s judgment is poured out on the planet? Certainly people would respond by repenting of their sin and rebellion. Right?
But the rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands, that they should not worship demons, and idols of gold, silver, brass, stone, and wood, which can neither see nor hear nor walk. And they did not repent of their murders or their sorceries or their sexual immorality or their thefts. Revelation 9:20-21
That’s amazing! Even under the outpouring of God’s wrath, people on earth during the Tribulation period will continue to sin and worship demons and idols.
A Christian Response
How should Christians respond now and in the future? Fortunately, we don’t have to wonder what to do – no matter what your particular interpretation of the end times. Everything we need to know about how to live through tough times, even the collapse of civilizations, is found in God’s Word. Everything.
Many of the Bible studies and special series on the GraceLife Blog and Faith & Self Defense Blog are designed specifically to help Christians with their walk in this world. Many of our series are available as free eBooks that you can download to read, print or share. Please use these as resources in any way God leads.
One of our newest series is titled Living Christian In ‘This Present World.‘ It’s a study from Paul’s letter to his friend and ministry partner outlining how Christians can live in a troubled world. We will publish it as a series of eBooks when the study is completed.
Here’s part of Paul’s letter that is central to our response as Christians in this present world:
For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works. Speak these things, exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no one despise you. Titus 2:11-15
The grace of God brings salvation to us. It teaches us that we should deny ungodliness and worldly lusts. That’s the right response in what Paul called “this present evil age” in his letter to the Galatians (1:4). We need to remember that this world is not our forever home. We look forward to a “better, that is, a heavenly country” (Hebrews 11:16). Jesus told His disciples that the world would “hate” them because it “hated” Him first (John 15:18). The Apostle John wrote “Do not marvel, my brethren, if the world hates you” (1 John 3:13). John also wrote:
Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. 1 John 2:15-16
Given that the world hates us and we’re not to love the world, you may wonder why we’re still here. Jesus addressed that beautifully in His garden prayer before He was arrested:
I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth. John 17:14-19
Jesus sends us into this present evil world just as the Father sent Him – with a special purpose. Jesus suffered and died for sinners. He rose for sinners. Our purpose is to tell sinners the story of Christ’s life, death, burial, and resurrection – the Gospel. Our purpose is to make disciples and teach them to observe everything the Lord has commanded us.
As Paul wrote to the Ephesians:
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:8-10
We do not work for our salvation. It’s a free gift from God who created us in Christ Jesus for good works. Many people get those confused. Ours is not a gospel of “do,” but a Gospel of “done.” There is nothing we can “do” to save ourselves. Salvation is by grace through faith, “and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” However, after we’re saved we learn that God prepared something long ago for us to do that is very special to Him. God created us in Christ Jesus “for good works.” We do not work “for” God’s acceptance. We work “from” God’s acceptance. Big difference.
Once we understand the basics of the Gospel of Christ and the salvation of our soul, we are ready to live godly in this present world. We will be able to respond properly because we will have the proper understanding about life. Proper belief (orthodoxy) leads to godly living (orthopraxy).
Let’s look again at Paul’s direction to Titus for what to teach the Christians in Crete:
- Deny ungodliness
- Deny worldly lusts
- Live soberly
- Live righteously
- Live godly in the present age
- Be zealous for good works
Living a godly life begins by denying ungodliness and worldly lusts. We cannot love this world and the things in this world. It doesn’t mean we hate the people in the world because that’s who we’re called to serve. What it does mean is that we don’t love the world system. We don’t become attached to the things of this world. If we do, we won’t want to let go of those things. We need to put our hearts and minds into the things of God – into that heavenly country that is far better than what we have here and now. Once we have let go of the things of this world, we are ready to live soberly, righteously and godly in this present world, this present age. We will then be zealous for good works, which God prepared for us to do when He created us in Christ Jesus.
We invite you to read through the Living Christian In ‘This Present World series in the coming months to learn more about how to do that.
We’ve already seen that this world hates us because it hated Jesus first. Did you know that the world is just one-third of the powerful opposition to our living godly in this present age?
And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others. Ephesians 2:1-3
Our opposition is our old “friends” – the world, the flesh and the devil. All three were our supposed friends before God saved us. They hate Jesus and they now hate us because we belong to Jesus. However, that doesn’t mean they won’t try to woo us away from our devotion to Christ. In fact, that’s exactly what each one does.
Much of what we read in the apostolic letters concerns the battle we have with the world, the flesh and the devil. If they can’t have us any longer, they’ll do everything they can to make us ineffective in living for Christ in this present evil age. The world, the flesh and the devil will oppose our living for Christ every hour of every day for the rest of our earthly life.
That’s why Paul wrote these words:
… 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 4:14-15
For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), finding out what is acceptable to the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret. But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light. Ephesians 5:8-13
See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. Ephesians 5:15-17
Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints— and for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak. Ephesians 6:10-20
Resources for Christians
The best resource for Christians is the Bible. It is the Word of God and Jesus said we should live “by every word of God” (Luke 4:4). You may already have a favorite Bible for reading and studying. If not, we have written a guide to Bible translations for your use. You may also want to purchase a good Study Bible. There are many, but I recommend several including The MacArthur Study Bible, Second Edition and The Jeremiah Study Bible. The Chronological Study Bible is also helpful if you are interested in reading the Bible in chronological order. If you have a special interest like apologetics or archaeology, you can also find good study Bibles that include excellent information on your interest (e.g. Archaeology Study Bible). A key in selecting a study Bible is to check out the publisher and primary articles and note contributors carefully. There are many poor study Bibles on the market today.
One of the best books you can read about the subject of spiritual warfare is The Christian In Complete Armour by William Gurnall. It is available in a single cloth-bound edition of 1240 pages or a three-volume paperback set. I highly recommend it as one of the best investments you can make as a Christian.
How will you live through a civilization collapse? It’s happened to millions of Christians through the centuries and could happen to us in our lifetime. We’ll look at that very real possibility in the next part of our special series, Warning and Lament: The Collapse of Civilizations.
Teaching Notes: On Genesis 17 – GraceLife Blog
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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