Fight for Joy! Blog
Where Jesus Changes Everything
You Are Not in Darkness!
“Now as to the times and the epochs, brethren, you have no need of anything to be written to you. For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night. While they are saying, ‘Peace and safety!’ then destruction will come upon them suddenly like labor pains upon a woman with child, and they will not escape. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day would overtake you like a thief; so then let us not sleep as others do, but let us be alert and sober” (1 Thessalonians 5:1-6). Are we living in the end-times? This may very well be the second most important question one could answer—the most important being, are you born again? So much is happening today to set the stage for the return of Christ that I can hardly keep up. Every day the Lord tarries, I am challenged to sound a warning to believers and unbelievers alike. To believers, the warning is to wake up! To unbelievers, the warning is to believe and obey the Gospel, for time is running out. We are living in the generation that will witness the fulfillment of all end-times prophecy up to and including the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. In light of current events and Bible prophecy, this truth could not be any clearer. Yet, most in the church are asleep and many refuse to believe the message of salvation by grace through faith. Paul tells us we are to “be alert and sober.” In other words, all these things should not “overtake [us] like a thief.”
There are numerous reasons why we know we are living in the last-days. Since 1948, this generation has witnessed the miracle of the modern nation of Israel. A modern version of the ancient Roman Empire, “partly strong and partly weak,” as the Bible predicts (see Dan. 2:40-43), is rapidly coming together in the European and Mediterranean Unions. In fact, the scenario we see today is very close to the prophetic scenario that is found in Bible prophecy. The current worldwide financial crisis is pushing the world rapidly towards globalism and some form of global governance. I would not be the least bit surprised if the nations of the world eventually come together in a confederacy of ten political unions led by 10 kings who eventually surrender their power to a strongman arising out of the European Union (see Dan. 7:7-8). Multiple prophecies are at work with Iran, Syria, and Israel. The prophet Ezekiel predicted an end-times alliance among Russia, Iran, and other Moslem nations that will launch a surprise attack against Israel in the last-days. We’ve never seen anything like this in history until now. The wildcard in this alliance has been Turkey. Current events in Turkey indicate she is moving slowly but surely into her prophesied role. The “burden of Damascus” (see Is. 17:1) could be fulfilled in a moment’s notice. The quest for peace in the Middle East is intensifying. The Bible says when everyone is talking about peace, especially in the Middle East, the world is ready for Bible prophecy to be fulfilled. Furthermore, the Bible says when contention arises over the control of the city of Jerusalem, as we see today, the end is indeed near. With all this and more occurring daily, I am amazed that so many in the church are asleep—that is to say, they simply do not care about these things, and some care little more for reaching the lost. Even more amazing is the fact that most unbelievers refuse to believe the simple Gospel message of salvation by grace through faith.
Of all the generations in history, it is to this generation that the prophecies of the last days are addressed. Although every generation since Christ’s first coming have looked for the signs given in Scripture, only this generation is witnessing them all come together at the same time—which is itself a fulfillment of prophecy. Jesus said, “Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place” (Matt. 24:34). Both Jesus and Paul described these signs as birth pains. These birth pains (or signs) have begun and are only intensifying with each passing day. Everything Jesus spoke about regarding the signs of the times at His return is happening right before our eyes. A lot sooner than most people are willing to believe, the same Spirit that inspired the amazing accuracy of the last-days prophecies will be removed, taking the Church with Him. This event, known as the Rapture of the Church (see John 14:1-3; 1 Cor. 15:50-52; 1 Thess. 4:13-18), is a signless event that will occur at any moment. It must occur before the prophesied Seventieth Week of Daniel (see Dan. 9:27) can begin. Since all the signs we see today are really God getting the world in position for Daniel’s Seventieth Week to be fulfilled, we know that the Rapture is all the more close! It could happen this very moment. Christ is coming soon for His own. Make sure you are one of them! The Bible says, “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31). That simply means repent of your sins and believe the Gospel (see Rom. 10:9-10).
“So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12). We are saved by grace through faith (see Eph. 2:8). We are secured by the sovereign purpose of God and the continual, faithful intercession of our great High Priest—the Lord Jesus Christ (see Heb. 7:25 and Jude 24). We are admonished to, “Work out your salvation with fear and trembling.” But wait a minute! Salvation is a free gift of God’s grace received through faith and guaranteed by Christ Himself. What’s all this talk about working out your salvation? Well, let me say up front that Paul is not teaching salvation by works. It’s not Christ plus works but Christ plus nothing! His point is simple—make sure you are indeed counted among the redeemed. Don’t base your salvation on anything other than true faith in the crucified, risen, ascended, and soon to return Savior. And true faith—the kind that appropriates salvation—gives evidence of not only having occurred at a point in time, but by continuing day-by-day. In other words, true faith produces a changed life. It gives evidence of its reality through “good works” (see Eph. 2:10). These good works are really “God working in you to act according to His good purpose” (Phil. 2:13). So, as you work out your salvation with fear and trembling, ask yourself, “Do I see God at work in and through my life? Does my life give evidence that I am truly saved?”
One question to ask yourself is do you enjoy sweet fellowship with Christ and His people? Many people claim to be saved but never attend church. They have little, if any, interest in spiritual things. How can one be born again and not enjoy spending time in God’s Word in fellowship with the risen Lord? John wrote, “Whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected” (1 John 2:5). The Psalmist wrote, “O how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day” (Psalm 119:97). Clearly those who belong to Christ love Him and His Word. But not only that, they enjoy regular, consistent fellowship with God’s people. In other words, they go to church. The writer of Hebrews wrote, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching” (Heb. 10:24-25). Attending church and hanging out with God’s people certainly doesn’t guarantee salvation. There’s no such thing as salvation by osmosis. But, when you were saved the Bible says you entered into fellowship with Jesus Christ and the redeemed. If you enjoy sharing in the prayers, praises, and fellowship of God’s people, that’s an indication you belong to Him! Furthermore, if you find yourself willingly and joyfully making sacrifices for other believers, even better. John wrote, “We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love our brothers. Anyone who does not love remains in death” (1 John 3:14). A few verses later he writes, “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?” (1 John 3:16-17). There are a lot of self-centered, stingy folks around these days—but Christians must not be counted among them. A sure sign you belong to Christ is that you are constantly looking for ways to help others.
Another marker of a changed life is that of being able to discern between truth and error. This really grows out of love for God’s Word and faithful church attendance. As you spend time in serious Bible study and sit under faithful preaching and teaching, you develop discernment. Discernment is the ability to distinguish truth from error, truth that is oftentimes obscure. John wrote, “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world. You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood” (1 John 4:1-6). The ability to discern truth from error guarantees you will not be “carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming” (Eph. 4:14), and is yet another sign you belong to Christ.
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