I was rearranging my iTunes folders because I purchased my own personal 1 TB “cloud” (it is really cool) so that I can share music and pictures across all the computers, tablets and phones in my family and saw the files for the Left Behind series by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins. I remember reading these when they first came out (1995), truly enjoying the series. A few years back I purchased the audio versions and rediscovered them. I enjoyed them again but took notice of how much the world had changed since the books first came out.
For those of you not familiar with the series they are Christian fiction novels based on the eschatological prophesies found in Revelation, Daniel and other books of the Bible. The series begins with the Rapture of the Church and follows the lives of those who have been Left Behind for the next seven years. It is a great way for Christians to gain familiarity with the plan that God has for the world. Granted, the names and story line may or may not be on target in the book, but the progression through prophecy is biblical.
Much has changed in the world over the years since the novels were first written. Technology has made giant leaps forward, 9/11 and the War on Terror has taken place as well as many other significant events. The story would take on a different shape were it written today or should the Rapture take place today but the Biblical prophesies will still come to pass (and that it is important part).
As a Bible believing Christian I believe that we have the end of history written out for us. We have the end of the book. We know that God’s grace and mercy are available to all who will believe but that there is coming a day of judgment for all in the future. We believe that, “And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, (Hebrews 9:27).
These are truths I think we all consciously or unconsciously agree upon as Christians but rarely do we let them impact our lives in truly significant ways. We believe that Jesus is coming but far too often we don’t really act like it.
We hear from ministers who study biblical prophecy and consistently update the body of Christ on how they believe the times and seasons are moving towards the end. We sing songs in our worship services about heaven and the return of the Lord. Most pastors preach and teach messages on these subjects. The Biblical truth is frequently before us. Our call is to live what we believe.
The world is changing rapidly in 2011.
There are protests and demonstrations in countries that have long been ruled by dictators who have oppressed the people they rule over. People are demanding freedom. Some have paid the ultimate price at the hands of their government’s police or military for demanding the changes they desire. Change is never easy and is never free. Freedom is never voluntarily granted by the oppressor, it must be demanded by the oppressed.
What will be the end result of these protests in nations like Egypt, Libya, Bahrain, Yemen and Jordan? Will one oppressor be traded for another or will freedom truly come to these people? We must watch and pray for these nations. We must pray that peace and freedom will come to these nations and that they will open to the preaching of the Gospel of Christ. “And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free,” (John 8:32).
We must wake-up to the world around us. The church cannot afford to maintain its status quo within the walls of sanctuaries while political and cultural revolutions are in full bloom outside of its doors. We are involved in an eternal struggle for the souls of humanity. We are tasked with an ongoing rescue mission of eternal proportions.
As Christians eternity must be one of the foundations of our worldview. Hebrews 6:1-2 discusses some of the foundation of Christian doctrine:
So let us stop going over the basic teachings about Christ again and again. Let us go on instead and become mature in our understanding. Surely we don’t need to start again with the fundamental importance of repenting from evil deeds and placing our faith in God. You don’t need further instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment.
We spend much of our time preaching and teaching with minor subjects and not enough time focused on laying a solid foundation of doctrine that gives us as believers a truly biblical worldview. One of the most important things a believer in Christ has is the realization of eternity and the need of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. We must wake-up to the desperateness of our hour and realize that we have been given the answer to the problems that plague the world and His name is Jesus.
Could a mariner sit idle if he heard the drowning cry?
Could a doctor sit in comfort and just let his patients die?
Could a fireman sit idle, let men burn and give no hand?
Can you sit at ease in Zion with the world around you damned?
The bible reminds us of very sobering truths that we like move to the back of our minds. We are all going to die and when we do we will all stand before God Almighty to be judged. We will all spend eternity somewhere; either in heaven or in hell.
As Christians we place our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation. His blood paid the price for our sins and He was judged in our place so that we who are guilty may be held blameless.
For centuries the call of eternity has caused Christian believers to leave the comfort of their homes and the routines of their normal lives to bring the love of Christ to those who are perishing without it. Missionaries have been sent to foreign lands to preach, teach, feed and build. We have established orphanages, we visit those in prison, we give to those in need and we share the gospel with everyone who will listen. We do this because Christ and His love compel us. We do this because we know eternity is only a heartbeat away.
So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do. (Ephesians 6:15-17 NLT)
I don’t want to offend those who are already at work in the harvest fields of the world; I want to encourage you to move forward and never give up. For the rest of those reading I hope this message will help to awaken you to what is taking place all around you. Men and women are living their lives in either ignorance to the gospel or rebellion to the gospel and they will spend eternity in a place called hell. We cannot ignore their need. We cannot simply lock ourselves away in our homes and sanctuaries. We cannot close our eyes and make it go away. People need Jesus. Jesus said it this way:
You know the saying, ‘Four months between planting and harvest.’ But I say, wake up and look around. The fields are already ripe for harvest. (John 4:35)
There are many in the body of Christ who are actively engaged in bringing the gospel to the world. There are also many who have stopped bringing the gospel to the world and still others who have never shared the gospel with another person. Where ever you may fall into these three categories my prayer is that you will realize the stakes of what we believe. People are at stake. People that Jesus died upon the cross to save are at stake.
But make sure that you don’t get so absorbed and exhausted in taking care of all your day-by-day obligations that you lose track of the time and doze off, oblivious to God. The night is about over, dawn is about to break. Be up and awake to what God is doing! God is putting the finishing touches on the salvation work he began when we first believed. We can’t afford to waste a minute, must not squander these precious daylight hours in frivolity and indulgence, in sleeping around and dissipation, in bickering and grabbing everything in sight. Get out of bed and get dressed! Don’t loiter and linger, waiting until the very last minute. Dress yourselves in Christ, and be up and about! (Romans 13:11-14 TMB)
There will be no excuses that you or I will be able to offer at the judgment seat of Christ. What will we say concerning our family members, school mates, co-workers and friends who never heard the gospel? Will we be able to offer any excuse that holds any merit?
I do not write these things to condemn you but hopefully to inspire you. My prayer is that each of us will realize the magnitude of the salvation that we have received in Jesus Christ and want everyone else to experience the same thing. We cannot allow those around us to slip into eternity without Christ without giving them the same opportunity for salvation that we have received. We must awaken to the reality of eternity and truly love our fellow man by sharing the love and gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.