I’m so excited about the end of the world (as we know it). When I hear about the ramping up of the prophetic signs: earthquakes, pestilences, war, and stock market plunges, I start getting butterflies in my stomach. Don’t misunderstand me. The last thing I want is for people to suffer. But here’s the thing: if you could choose between two of the options listed below, which would you want?
1: The world to continue as it is, gradually growing more and more violent, with more and more natural disasters happening, and more people suffering all the time. Children being abused, babies being murdered, animals being tortured, and famine and war increasing. All of this happening, without end, forever.
2: An event happens, and there is a few short years of horrible suffering on earth, but then…ALL of the evil and death and suffering absolutely cease. No more. Forever. Not a single person or animal suffers or dies ever again, but there is finally a world filled only with peace and love and joy.
Number two, you say? Yes, me too. THAT is what I want. The other day, I searched google images for “bunny with long ears”. One of the first results was a photograph accompanying an article about thugs who burnt off a rabbit’s ears. I am so violently tired of stories like these. This world is becoming worse and worse, and that’s not going to change, until something HUGE happens to change it.
That something is about to happen. The Bible says that time will like the days of Lot and Noah: Luke 17:27-29. People were eating and drinking, marrying and being given in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark. Then the flood came and destroyed them all. It was the same in the days of Lot: People were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building. But on the day Lot left Sodom, fire and sulfur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all.
In other words, people still be living their normal lives, not realizing that everything is about to change, and destruction is about to come onto them. We’re teetering on that time right now. People are still living their lives (though a bit worried about the lack of bleach and toilet paper in Costco). They are hardly noticing the amount of earthquakes striking the globe (although the seismologists certainly are; privately they have said they have no idea what’s happening, but they are extremely concerned). They are hardly noticing the amount of fireballs suddenly falling from heaven, or the rivers turning blood red, or the plagues of locusts and frogs, or the increasing size of the hailstones. They might read a headline about the stock market dropping more than it ever has–but did they realize the only reason it didn’t completely collapse is because the market hit the emergency button and closed before it could?
This world is teetering on the edge of normalcy. Any second, it’s going to tip over. And before that happens–or at the moment it happens–millions of people are going to be taken off this earth to escape the years of wrath to come. Not all the “Christians” by a long shot. So many religious “Christian” people are going to be left behind. Sitting in church every Sunday doesn’t save you. Being baptized in water doesn’t save you. Belonging to a certain church, or having religious parents doesn’t save you. Going up to the altar and having a religious experience doesn’t save you. Being religious in any way doesn’t save you.
True Christianity–the kind that does save–isn’t a religion at all. It’s a relationship, and that’s the other reason all these looming disasters make me feel such anticipation and joy. He’s coming. My best friend, my adoptive father, my king, and my savior, is coming back to take me home. That is what saves: a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. We are not all “God’s children”. Only those who are adopted into his family become his children, and that happens solely by believing the word of God. Believing that God came down to earth because he loves you. Because he wants you with him, forever, sharing in his joy. Believing that God died for you, to pay the penalty for your sins, so you wouldn’t have to. Believing that God rose out of the grave to eternal life, so he could give that eternal life to you as well. And once you choose to believe, he gives you his Spirit, sealed inside you, to guide you, and comfort you, to teach you how to live and to give you joy even when the terrible things of this earth happen. Once he gives you this life, it is yours, forever. You have been “born again”, not of flesh, but of Spirit.
Some people say that you can lose this gift of salvation by sinning. They say, if you do something too bad–if you commit adultery, for instance, God takes back his gift. This is a lie. A gift, once given, is not taken back by the giver. A baby who has been born, cannot be “unborn”. Once saved, always saved. By God’s grace alone, through faith alone. Everything that had to be done to save you, and to keep you saved, happened 2,000 years ago, on the cross of Calvary. Past sin, present sin, future sin, all 100% forgiven, and all debts paid. You do nothing to earn that salvation but believe, and ask for it.
King David was one of the most righteous men of the Old Testament, called ‘a man after the Lord’s own heart’. Yet this man committed repeated adultery, and afterward murder, to cover the adultery up. Yet there was never a hint that he lost his salvation. God convicted him of his sin, yes, and there were earthly consequences, but no loss of eternal salvation.
Christ said that our thoughts are the same as physical sin. A person who has a lustful thought for another person has committed adultery with that person. Someone who is angry with another person has murdered that person. People who say you can lose your salvation are seriously underestimating their own sin. They judge themselves against someone else, and think: Well, I’m not doing that, so I’m a good enough person. But the Bible says that someone who breaks even one tiny law is guilty of breaking every law. Sin is sin, in God’s eyes. There is no lesser sin, no good person, not even a ‘pretty good person’. The only way we can be saved, and stay saved, is through Christ’s death on the cross. His perfection, his blood, his righteousness. And then no matter what sins we have done, or will do, when God looks at us, all he sees is Christ’s pure sinlessness. God sees us as perfect.
Does this mean, as some accuse us, that we believe we have a ‘license to sin’ and we can do whatever we want? No. Absolutely not. When we look at Christ and truly understand what horrible sinful creatures we are, and how much love and grace he has for us, the last thing in the world we want to do is keep sinning. We strive to be as much like Christ as we can, knowing that we will fail completely. Knowing that we will continue sinning until the day we die or are taken in the rapture. But also knowing that Christ’s righteousness covers us, and our sins do not count against us, because in God’s eyes, all sins are done by the flesh, by the ‘old man’, and we are now made new spiritually, awaiting the day when we will be made new physically.
I asked God about this. I asked why he couldn’t just take away the desire to do sinful things now. I prayed this question to him before I fell asleep, and I prayed that question all night through my dreams. When I woke up, my brain was hit with an almost physical blow of bible verses, one right after the other, all the verses that applied to this question. The predominate one being Mark 2:21-22 No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment. If he does, the new piece will pull away from the old, and a worse tear will result. And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. Instead, new wine is poured into new wineskins.
The answer was clear: I am currently an old wineskin. This flesh could not hold any kind of spiritual perfection. And just to be sure I understood the context, he commanded (in one of only three times he has spoken to me in an audible voice) “Look up!” Which of course I recognized as coming from Luke 21:28: And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.
Once we are his children, we are forever his children. He will not cast us away or reject us. And we in turn strive to be like him, not out of fear of losing our salvation, but out of pure love and gratitude. Knowing we have eternal security doesn’t make us want to run out and start sinning–it has the exact opposite effect. The more we understand how secure we are, the more we understand how complete his grace is, the more we want to be like him.