From The Cross in the End-Times
Unity Forged Through Common Challenge
The present-day Christian church has lost its way. We are lost in factions, and divisions, and denominations, and disagreements. In this regard we are “yet carnal” (1 Cor. 3:3). The early church warned us against this. Somewhere along the past twenty centuries we lost the unity of brotherly love we are supposed to exemplify, exhibit, and enjoy as patterned for us in the Trinity.
As a group, we are currently as lost as the Israelites were as slaves in Egypt, or as lost as Joseph was as a prisoner in Pharaoh’s dungeon, or as lost as David was as King Saul chased him all over the countryside, or as momentarily lost as any of the other positive characters in the Bible waiting to find their true selves within the life-scripts composed by God for them. This is not the Christian church that we are supposed to be.
We need outside supernatural help once again from God to step up into the challenge of a God-composed tribulation script of events designed to forge us into becoming the body of believers we were intended to be. Just like the Israelites needed the parting of the Red Sea to jump-start them along their way to fulfilling their God-intended true destiny as the nation of Israel, the modern-day Christian church needs the intensity of first-century persecution and tribulation to focus on what is really important and to discard the unessential differences that divide us.
The shared experience of the adversity of the tribulation is probably the only viable means that God can use to help the Christian church find itself…to capture its destiny and define itself as the expression of the character of Jesus Christ, in the purity of unselfish sacrificial love for each other and for the world. This is the heartfelt final prayer of Jesus recorded in John seventeen, that His church of believers would become as one in the unity and bond of love like He and the Father are one.
One of the reasons that the Christian church must face-off against the Antichrist during at least some of the tribulation is that this is the final opportunity for Christians to exhibit the Christ-like character trait of unselfish, sacrificial, un-offended love in opposition to nakedly exposed raw hatred. Unlike the Israelites at the parting of the Red Sea, who were at the beginning of their character growth journey through the desert toward the Promised Land, the end-times Christian will be set-apart and remarkable by the advanced character trait of being able to powerfully love the unsaved and unbelieving last generation of people in the world, without any thought or care for their own personal safety, welfare, or social acceptance.
The genuine Christian in the last days will stand out for their ability to not be offended by evil, persecution, and tribulation in the face of their calling to preach the gospel message of peace amidst the massive final deceptions of Lucifer through the Antichrist.
One of the remarkable and distinctive characteristics of the divine love of God is that it does not exclude people for any reason (Mt. 9:10-11), but instead reaches out with the transforming power of truth and genuine care to deliver people from their bondage to sin. “Love the sinner but hate the sin” has been the working motto for genuine Christian service and outreach to a lost world for two thousand years. This is one of the defining, authenticating attributes of the genuine Christian disciple that cannot be faked or counterfeited in the heat of persecution and tribulation (Acts 14:22; 1 Thes. 1:6-8).
Pure divine love rises above all forms of prejudice, unforgiving resentments, and hatreds, because the invulnerability of selflessness contains nothing of substance that evil can take ahold of or latch on to. Uncompromising love in the face of the fierce opposition of persecution will be one of the validating signs of the love of Jesus Christ exhibiting itself in the words, countenance, bearing, confidence, and Holy Spirit light of the end-times tribulation tested Christian, demonstrated horizontally towards people and vertically towards God.
If Jesus Christ can bring His church to the point of being able to demonstrate this high level of pure, unselfish love in contrast to the unjustified deadly animosity shown toward Christians by Lucifer through the Antichrist, then what does this have to say about mankind’s recovery from its early defeat in the Garden of Eden? This final head-to-head comparison of the expression of the overcoming divine love of Jesus Christ demonstrated in action through end-times Christian people, contrasted with the nakedly exposed malicious and unwarranted hatred of the Antichrist, puts all of the great past issues into perspective.
John 20:21 reads “…even as the Father has sent me, even so send I you.” All of the narrative stories of positive faith in the Bible contain an extremely tight set of circumstances. This is one of the features that authenticates and validates the proactive hand of God working within the lives of His saints. The tight circumstances of a biblical journey of faith are purposed by the intelligent design of God to fall outside of the capacity of human creative invention.
The philosophy of deism says that God indeed created our natural world, but then backed off to a comfortable distance and has no active participation in our ongoing world. The journeys of faith recorded in the Bible tell us just the opposite. Through the totally unique and novel aspects of the narrowness of the cross experience (Mt. 7:13-14), God demonstrates that He is intimately active in the lives of people of faith in a way that is unimaginable within worldly conventional thinking. God-composed journeys of faith reveal that they are singularly divine because the tightly structured series of events mirror the same finely-tuned precision that we discover in the force of gravity or the cosmological constant in our physical universe.
In light of the foregoing discussion of the incredibly tight circumstances surrounding the disposition of the Egyptians and the Israelites at the shoreline of the Red Sea, and the tight series of divinely orchestrated circumstances in Egypt that Moses and the Israelites experienced in their deliverance from bondage in Egypt…the question can reasonably be asked: “Is the timing of a pretribulation rapture tight or wide?” Is a rapture of the Christian church, placed at the beginning of the tribulation, consistent with the biblical pattern of God nurturing and building faith through incredibly tight circumstances outside of human imagination and control? Is a pretribulation rapture scenario an aberration inconsistent with the biblical pattern of God’s precise interaction in our lives?
Does it reveal instead a wishfully optimistic scriptural interpretation of end-times biblical prophecy based upon human intellectual reasoning that misses altogether the spiritual insight that comes through an understanding of the narrowness of a journey of faith via the cross?
I believe that Christians currently engaged in journeys of faith following Jesus Christ will see in the days ahead that events and circumstances in their lives will tighten like never before, as preparation for the upcoming challenges facing the end-times church. I believe that mature Christian men and women having a recent history of purchasing an active and living faith through the intensive training environment of tight and narrow life experiences following Jesus Christ, will be indispensable leaders and examples for at least some portion of time during the tribulation.
When the world starts to come apart, threatening the worldly conventional dreams and aspirations for normal life that are shortly coming to an end, the last remaining group of lost sheep will finally let go of this world and respond to the gospel message of hope and salvation amidst even the most daunting of circumstances. This message will be preached by courageous Joel 2:28-29 Christians who have the personal conviction of having “walked the walk” through their own God-led adventures of faith.
I believe that every major positive character in the Old and New Testaments of the Bible, and all of the people of faith during the church age, including Christians in faith-propelled ministries of one sort or another today, have at some time in a personal and honest moment with God asked: “Do you really and actually know what you are doing, God?” I believe that part of the last “great tribulation” is designed to resoundingly answer that question in a final and unimaginably tight and precise “yes” that will secure our faith, trust, and admiration for God for the rest of eternity.