Face to Face
Are you a light to the world around you?
We are living in perilous time, yet I am excited about the future. The Scriptures provide a detailed outline of what is going to happen regarding the future of humanity. The coming attractions include the rapture of the Church, the tribulation, and the establishment of the Millennial Kingdom.
Things to come
The only reason we can have any confidence about what we believe will happen is because much of the prophecy of the Bible has already occurred and we can evaluate how amazingly accurate Biblical prophecy is. For example, Dan 9:24 states, “Seventy weeks (lit. Sevens) are determined…” That is 70 sets of 7 years each or 490 total years. Support for this statement can be found in Lev 25:3-4 in which the Jewish calendar had seven of days and seven of years (Lev 25:3-4). Daniel prophesied that the time would be sufficient “to make an end of sins, to make reconciliation for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy, and to anoint the Most high.” The 70 weeks were broken into three segments.
The first segment will last for seven weeks (49 years). This will begin with the decree for Nehemiah to restore security to Jerusalem. Since, historically it did not take 49 years for the building of the wall, the extra time could have been for the cleaning and restoration of the city (the reconstruction is to include both the street and the wall, v. 25).
This period will be followed by a 62 week (434 years) segment at which time the Messiah will come and subsequently be cut off by His people. Daniel’s prophecy, in the prophetic time-table, would cover 173,880 days which is the exact amount of time to the day from the decree to Nehemiah until Christ rode into Jerusalem on a foal and was presented as king.
The final week (7-years) will not occur until the later days. This last week is the tribulation period and represents the final week for the Jews in which they carry the message of the Messiah to the nations. Two princes are spoken of in this passage. First is Messiah the Prince. He was cut off following His first advent. The second is the prince who is to come. He is the dominant character of the remainder of this prophecy (v. 26-27). The people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary by waging a war. The “flood” discussed in v. 26 may be a flood of military power that will subdue Jerusalem in preparation for the coming prince of the world. Yet, the prince who is to come will bring a warless peace to the area by entering into a covenant with Israel. However, in the middle of the week, he breaks the treaty and ends the Jewish sacrifice and offering. In fact he conducts the abomination of desolation (Matt 24:15). This will usher in the Great Tribulation (the final 3 ½ years) which can only be described with terms such as “abominations” and “desolate.”
The seven-year tribulation and judgment of the gentiles is a terrible time for mankind. But this can be avoided if we “Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass and to stand before the Son of Man” (see Luke 21:34-36).
But not all those who profess to be Christian will partake in the rapture. Only those who trust in Christ for eternal life will escape the wrath of God (John 20:30-31). I have trusted in Christ, so I should not at all be concerned about these future events. So, what do I need to be concerned about?
Well, let’s start this way…
What is your passion? Think about that for a moment. What is it that you are so committed to that it stays on mind most of the time? What do you find yourself thinking about when there is a lull in your day? What do you love above all things?
Love! That is an interesting concept. So often we consider love a feeling, usually an emotional feeling about some one or something. We usually consider love as an attraction. But, God wants us to really love. Jesus said, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another (John 13:34-35).” Jesus changed the command from “love your neighbor as yourself” to “love as I have loved you.” Jesus gave up His place in heaven to come to earth as a man, to suffer at the hands of man, and to be crucified.
So then, how should we live our lives in light of our faith in Christ? Christ expects us to be a light in an otherwise dark world. He expects us to hold Him up as Lord and to tell those in our small circles about His love for them.
We should be different than others in the world
Romans 12:1-2 says, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” How is this manifest in our lives?
This passage provides two challenges to the Christian.
1) Serve God with Spiritual Gifts (Rom 12:3-8)
The gifts that we have for serving Christ in the church have been provided to us through the grace of God. Everyone has received a gift that is perfect for that person. The gifts were not given so that one can be more important than another or so that an individual can express an attitude of haughtiness. The gifts were uniquely given to each person so that person can minister to the body. God will not put someone into a ministry gifting them for that ministry. Our duty is simply to use the gift or gifts that God has given us regardless of what they may be to serve Christ.
2) Behave Like a Christian (Rom 12:9-21)
We often think that as Christians we do not need to be obedient to a set of commands, but the Bible in both the Old and New Testaments does call for us to obey the Word of God. Paul gave 20 commands regarding how the Christian should live. These imperatives instruct us regarding the transformed life God expects us to live.
|Let love (agape) be without hypocrisy||Distributing to the needs of the saints (needs may be someone or something)|
|Abhor (shrink away from) what is evil (hate it; run from it)||Show hospitality (love for strangers or foreigners)|
|Cling to what is good (almost to become one with…unite, glue, cleave)||Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse|
|Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love (phileo love…friendly; therefore treat each other with kindness)||Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep (let your feelings of joy and grief flow)|
|When receiving honor give preference to one another (reverence or respect)||Be of the same mind toward one another (Live in harmony: figure of speech…idiom)|
|Do not lag in diligence (cold or heartless in Christian ambition–this is zeal or genuine commitment; eagerness), but be fervent in spirit (boiling hot; on fire for the Lord)||Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble (don’t have such a high opinion of yourself…be realistic and don’t be aloof)|
|Serve the Lord (place yourself under bondage; in a spiritual sense: enslaved such that you have a fear of breaking rules)||Do not be wise in your own opinion (particularly regarding your knowledge)|
|Rejoicing in hope (confidence in a trustworthy person; wait patiently)||Overcome evil for evil with good (As a Christian you will have enemies; their evil toward you should be because of Christ not because you were offensive to them; don’t try to defend yourself because then Christ cannot)|
|Patient in tribulation (stand one’s ground under affliction, oppression, trouble…especially for the sake of Christ)||If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men (don’t go looking for a fight; when wronged, the best plan is to provide facts in a loving and compassionate manner)|
|Continuing steadfastly in prayer (stand at the ready; preserve in)||Do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. (retributive justice, punishment)|
We need to be prepared
Unfortunately, many Christians fail to live according to these commands; therefore, they will not live the transformed life Paul describes in Romans 12. Such failure will lead to many in the church falling away from the Word of God. Both Paul (2 Tim 3:1-10) and Peter had much to say about this coming apostasy. Neither the world nor the Church is going to remain committed to sound doctrine; rather, there will be great turning away from the truths of the Bible throughout this current age. And yes, it can happen even in the evangelical church. Peter described four major aspects of the apostasy to come (2 Pet 2-3):
- A denial of the person and deity of Christ (2 Pet 2:1);
- A denial of the work of Christ that He brought us when He died on the cross (2:1);
- A moral apostasy over departure from moral standards (relativism) (2:2-22); and
- A departure from the doctrine of the second coming of Christ and the judgments related to it (3:1-13)
We are actually seeing all of these aspects of apostasy entering churches throughout the country. The infiltration is occurring in many churches including traditionally Bible-teaching churches. We are seeing a situation where the movement is away from God instead of seeking to live the transformed life. However, regardless of this movement, we have a responsibility as individuals to live the life commanded by the Scriptures. Our preparation must include prayer and serious Bible reading and study.
Are you prepared to discipline yourself to live the life God commanded in Romans 12?
Are you following the herd or are you prepared to follow the commands of God?