Some have called these messages, “How to scare a congregation to within an inch of their life in 45 minutes or less.” I would beg to differ with this – because several times I’ve gone past 45 minutes. Seriously though, I know that the information in these messages has been very rough – and often is difficult to hear. The reason for this is that my view of Biblical history is not Dominion-based – meaning that the church will make things get better and better through the gospel and our prayers – until Jesus comes back to a near perfect world. Even a basic reading of the book of Revelation should negate this view. Unfortunately, in this world, things are not going to get better and better – they are getting worse and worse. That is because of sin and mankind’s continued rebellion against God and His commands. But there is a larger issue that I want to address about the ‘scariness’ of these messages. That is the issue of what foundation we are building upon in our brief few years on this rock called earth.
Matthew 7:27-28 speaks of two foundations upon which a life is built. One is a sand foundation that has no stability – which the other is called, “a rock” which will stand no matter what is thrown against it. Which foundation you are built upon is based in one major issue – are you obeying God’s Word in your life? If you are – then as the storms of this life come and beat and break upon your life – the foundation of obeying God’s Word will keep you strong and standing as the storm rages. If you are not listening to God’s Word and obeying – you will find that the sand foundations of this world cannot stand against the battering that will come with life itself.
Now we come to the fulfillment of end-times prophecy. The things of this world are going to pass away. That sounds so peaceful – but when you examine how they are going to pass away – it scares you to within an inch of your life. The seal, trumpet, and bowl judgments of Revelation are horrific to read. They scared me half to death when I read them as a kid – and they pretty much shake me up even today. Here’s the well-kept secret . . . they were meant to do this! They were meant to awaken us to the transitory nature of the world we live in today. They were meant to remind us that all that we are so apt to build our lives upon as humans – is going to pass away with intense heat as they burn up in the midst of God’s wrath against sin. What will remain in the midst of all this is what is built upon obedience to God’s Word. What are those things?
A life well built begins with the gospel of Jesus Christ. The foundation that will not be moved is Jesus Christ, crucified, buried, and resurrected three days later from the dead. We come to know God through the grace that was lavished upon us in the gospel. Next, is living for things that are eternal, rather than for this world and the things of this world. John tells us that the things of the world are passing away – but the one who does the will of the Father will endure forever. Therefore a life lived for stuff – is a life which will eventually end with you getting the ‘stuff-ing’ knocked out of you. Ok, that was pretty lame – but fairly accurate. We don’t live for the possessions we can gather – we live for God’s purposes and for God’s ways. That means we live first of all to know Him – which involves knowing His Word and walking in what it teaches us. Then we live for making Him known to others – by sharing the gospel – and then seeing them become disciples of Jesus Christ (which is what Jesus said were our marching orders in Matthew 28:18-20).
What happens then when God’s eventual end-times plans start to come to fruition? That’s an easy one to answer – all the stuff gets destroyed. All the things that men and women live for in a worldly context gets burned up and no longer exists. Honestly – that is why I and others get so scared by this stuff – because it threatens our stuff – and makes us see that a life lived for stuff is pretty dumb. We are left seeing the sand beneath our feet start to either be blown away or eroded by the effect of the storms of life – and the ultimate storm at the end of the age.
Almost every year I’ve done a “prophecy-update message” I have quoted the following verse as an encouragement to everyone who hears the message. It is from the book of 2 Peter.
Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat! But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless, and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation; just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you, as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction. You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men and fall from your own steadfastness, but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen. (2 Peter 3:11-18, NASB)
It may be an encouragement to you to know that Peter needed to issue the same kind of admonition to the people in the first century as we need today. Everything of this world is going to be destroyed. So in light of that, we need to live far different than the people of this world. Here’s a quick list of how we should live . . .
· Seeking to live holy, godly lives
· We should look for and want to hasten the coming of Jesus!
· Look for a new heavens and earth – where righteousness rules!
· Be at peace.
· Live spotless, blameless lives before God.
· If God tarries in bringing Jesus – that means He is being patient. Use that time to share the gospel of Jesus with as many people as you can!
· Grow in grace.
· Grow in a personal, intimate knowledge of Jesus (that’s what the word knowledge implies in the Greek language). It is not enough to know ‘about’ Jesus – KNOW JESUS!
· Live for God’s glory – TODAY!
Personally, I know that every year as I share this I am convicted that I need a far more “rock-based” foundation than I currently stand upon. The fact that I get scared and want to hold a little tighter to my “stuff” lets me know that I’m holding on to “stuff” too much. I’m reminded that the only foundation that is going to stand through these days is the one that is rock-solid in loving, obeying, and growing in a more intimate knowledge of Jesus Christ.
So I close this post with a very simple question, “So, when it comes to the foundation of your life . . . sand or rock? Your answer will make all the difference in how you respond to what God says is going to happen in these last days.