It is really early on a Saturday morning here in Canada. The sun is streaming into my office as it rose around 4:30 this morning and it was a georgeous sunrise. However, all over the province (district) I live in there have been a series of natural “disasters” in the past few weeks. Flooding, tornados, hail covering one city making it look like Christmas in July, very strong and destructive winds. In the east where I will be at the end of August – earthquakes. I grew up there and in my twenty-five years there never heard of an earthquake. Yesterday they had their second round of some fairly serious shaking. The Philippines have had earthquakes, China has had severe flooding, the United States has had very newsworthy weather all spring and summer. Europe has also had its share of flooding and destructive storms. Of course, famines still dominate the news and there are too many wars raging in many places around the world – too many to keep track of them all even if I wanted to.
That’s the natural world – and the news is just as frightening in the Church world. We have believers in many nations either being arrested and jailed or, at the least, meeting secretly so as not to be noticed by governments that are not in favor of what they know to be truth and the results that would happen if that truth continued to spread to more people. I work in several nations where the real Church of Jesus Christ is not encouraged (I am trying to say things nicely) and so simply works behind the scenes quietly being leaven in their world. Some have been and are being arrested and persecuted; many have died for their faith.
Apparently, according to Jesus, there will be a time when believers will be “hated” all over the world because we follow the King of kings and are living by a different standard than the majority of the population of planet Earth. False prophets will rise up (the Bible also speaks of false teachers and false apostles) deceiving many who will follow their revelations and teachings. It will become so bad that the situation will help to separate the wheat from the tares as many true believers in the Church will walk totally away from their first love (Jesus) as their love (agape – God’s love in the believer) grows cold.This will follow a period of time when sin increases both in the world and in the lives of these “growing cold” believers and when many true believers who maintain a firm faith in Jesus as the Way, the Truth and the Life – the resurrected Son of the Living God – will face opposition and persecution and even death. It will not be an easy time for believers but it will be a powerful time because, as a result, the Gospel will be heard in every nation (people group) in the world and this will usher in “the end.”
Jesus declared this was to happen… “Don’t let anyone mislead you. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Messiah.’ They will lead many astray. And wars will break out near and far, but don’t panic. Yes, these things must come, but the end won’t follow immediately. The nations and kingdoms will proclaim war against each other, and there will be famines and earthquakes in many parts of the world. But all this will be only the beginning of the horrors to come. “Then you will be arrested, persecuted, and killed. You will be hated all over the world because of your allegiance to me. And many will turn away from me and betray and hate each other. And many false prophets will appear and will lead many people astray. Sin will be rampant everywhere, and the love of many will grow cold. But those who endure to the end will be saved. And the Good News about the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, so that all nations will hear it; and then, finally, the end will come.” (Matthew 24:4-14)
I am encouraged by everything that I am hearing on the news and everything I see happening in the world. It is exciting to see the actual fulfillment of Jesus’ words to His early followers. I even look forward to the ever increasing persecution of believers in various nations around the world including this nation that I live in. You can already see the signs of the changing seasons for the true Church in Canada. And, I am hopeful that all of this will wake the complacent and apathetic believers into taking some action towards seeing the Gospel spread around the world. Jesus said that “all nations will hear it” and I really hope that the true believers in my nation and in the churches that I am honored to minister in regularly will rise to the challenge and not be among those who let their “love grow cold.” The choices are clear and it is up to each and every believer to decide for themselves which road they will take. The easy, complacent road of sin and compromise to stay safe or the hard and committed road of being a soul-winner so that others can come to know the good news that Jesus saves.
This morning I received an email from a young married man in Ukraine – a man I know very well and with whom I have spent much time – who wrote that he is considering starting a new church in his city that will reach those who do not know the Lord and are thus living in sin and, if they die in their sin, will go to hell for eternity. We had been corresponding regarding the increase in HIV/Aids cases in his nation (following the stories and statistics out of Vienna where the world Aids conference has just ended). His nation, along with Russia, lead the way in new cases and these men and women, for the most part, are not being reached by the regular Church. I too have been mulling over the idea – no, it is more a feeling in my spirit – of starting a church for those who have no Christian consciousness who are between the ages of 18 and 28 … regular Christians and backslidden or lukewarm believers not welcome. Pure pagans only need apply. It is time for the world to hear the gospel which is the power of God unto salvation and we are not ashamed of the good news of my Lord and Savior. It is time to fulfill the mandate of the Church to seek and save the lost.