These last few weeks, we have been looking at how this world is changing especially in the natural realm. Today, we turn to look at what Christians believe about the future. In the evangelical and charismatic world, there are a number of different views on what lies ahead. Let us look at some of them.
THE WORLD WILL GET WORSE
Some people feel that the world is going to get worse and worse. They think that it is going to be like Jesus spoke about when He said, “As it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be at the coming of the son of man (Matthew 24:37).”
People also point to 2 Timothy 3:1f, “But know this that in the last days perilous times will come.” These verses are then followed by a long list of what people will be like in those days, which seems like a description of the world today. We are reminded, “Now the Spirit expressively says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons (2 Timothy 4:1).” See also 2 Peter 3:3.
With this view, not only will the world get darker and darker, but also, many will turn away from the faith. It will involve persecution for the believers.
This view speaks about a falling away and is both a realistic and pessimistic view of the future.
CHRIST IS COMING AGAIN SOON
Some people feel that the conditions of the world today are but a sign of the coming of Christ. They believe that the world is going to get more wicked, that Christians will be persecuted, and that all this seems to be signs of the coming of the king, as recorded in Matthew 24 and Luke 21, as well as the book of Revelation.
Many would see the return of Jesus linked to the nation of Israel, as spoken of by Jesus in Luke 21:20 – 24. Israel being God’s timepiece for Christ’s return. “They will fall by the sword and will be taken as prisoners to all the nations. Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.”
Some people see the prophecies of Matthew 24 and Luke 21 being fulfilled in AD70 when Roman armies captured and destroyed Jerusalem. Others believe that the prophecies refer to the events of the 20th century when in 1948, the Jews established their homeland again. Then there are those that see a double fulfillment in AD70 and 1948.
Nonetheless, there are many who are expecting the rapture of the church to take place in the near future in fulfillment of I Thessalonians 4:17, “Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.”
This view is ultimately a positive view of the future.
REVIVAL IS COMING
Then there are those who believe that despite the condition of the world today, a great spiritual revival is about to happen. Not long ago, I was asked by someone who has a nationwide radio program what is the Biblical basis for such a belief. I explained that they started with Peter’s sermon on the day of Pentecost when Peter declared, “And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, ‘that I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh (Acts 26:17).” There is a belief that we are in the last days, and we should believe for this to be fulfilled in our days.
Recently, there was a revival that broke out at Ashbury University. People traveled from near and far to be a part of what was happening in what seemed to be a spontaneous expression of revival that involved prayer, confession, praise, and worship.
Some would see this as a prelude to an even greater revival which would not just be in one place but would reach out to the ends of the earth.
This view is an optimistic view of the future.
Dominion theology is the belief that the Christian church is to be involved in politics and that they are to seek to bring about nations that are governed by Christians and their understanding of Biblical law. In scripture, it is based on Genesis 1:26, which states, “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion . . .”
What follows in verse 28 is related to creation, “And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion . . .” Other scriptures include Ephesians 5:27, which speaks of the church, “That He might present it to Himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.” The thought is Christ will return for a victorious church that has taken dominion, as originally was the call in Genesis.
This view is a highly idealistic view of the future.
There are, of course, many other viewpoints, including different interpretations of scripture. You have premillennial, post-tribulation, post-millennial, and a-millennial view, etc. Also, some don’t expect the rapture or the second coming of Christ to happen anytime soon. This is one of just a few subjects that bring different viewpoints amongst believers regarding the future.
Whatever we may believe about the future, we need to recognize the place of Satan in all this. David Jeremiah, in his book ‘Where do we go from Here?” writes, “There is no way to explain the acceleration of evil in our day apart from the principalities, powers, rulers of darkness and the spiritual hosts of wickedness. They are firing at us like enemy combatants, and their intent is to kill. But Jesus Christ is victor over every shadowy figure in the universe.” He later adds, “In days to come, during the final moments of earth’s history. The antichrist and his cohorts will make one last stand. ‘They will wage war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will triumph over them because he is Lord of Lords and King of Kings, and with him will be His called, chosen, and faithful. (Revelation 17:14)'”
I will take this opportunity to commend David Jeremiah’s book ‘Where do we go from Here?” This book covers in more detail what I have shared in these letters.
Let us remember that we are in the midst of demonic warfare. We need to remember that we have the victory through Jesus Christ and His death on the cross. We win.
I suppose I should be honest and share my own viewpoint regarding the future. I will simply summarize them without delving into a lot of details or giving a lot of scriptural references.
- I believe we are in the last days and that Christ will soon return. I will not be alive when the rapture takes place when Christ comes for His people. How soon? I believe it will happen in the next forty to fifty years. I don’t know because nobody knows the exact day when Christ will return (Acts 1:7). We can know the generation, but not the exact day. So, I believe in a pre-tribulation view of the rapture. My fundamental reason for seeing this happen is the return of the Jews to establish a homeland again (which God promised to Abraham), after 2,000 years of wandering all over the world, the fulfillment of Luke 21:20-24.
- I believe the world will become more and more wicked in the days ahead. It truly will be like the days of Noah (Matthew 24:37). The world is not going to get better. It is hard to imagine what this will involve. No more than a generation or two ago, no one would have anticipated what is happening today.
- I do, however, see the possibility of revival taking place in various locations around the world. As Peter declared on the day of Pentecost, “And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh” (Acts 2:17). I believe we will see both an increase in wickedness in society and an increase in the manifestation of the Holy Spirit in the lives of believers. I have been taken by Isaiah 60:1-2, which states,
For your light has come!
And the glory of the Lord is risen upon you.
For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth,
And deep darkness the people;
But the Lord will arise over you,
And His glory will be seen upon you.”
- I believe that light and darkness will be happing during the time of the return of Christ. As someone put it, “revival on a platter of ruin.”As believers, we need to be ready for hard times.
I realize that not everyone will agree with me on this, but that is okay. Everyone has to come to their own beliefs regarding the future.
For me, the promise of the soon return of Christ gives me hope for a future like nothing else. Christ in you, the hope of glory (Colossians 1:27). When Charles Spurgeon preached from this verse, he used a very simple outline:
- The essence of the gospel is: Christ.
- The sweetness of the gospel is: Christ in you.
- The outlook of the gospel is: Christ in you, the hope of glory.
No matter how it all works out regarding the future, let us lay hold of that confession: “Christ in you, the hope of glory.”
I’m in much agreement Pastor Alan. God speed! shalom and much love to you and Dorothy.Joshua 1:9