Knowing, as we do, that the culmination of the Church Age is upon us—how can we relax? Many of us ask this question of ourselves every day. As social pressure is turned up in new and bizarre ways, we sometimes wonder about it several times a day. Christian influence is waning, and being replaced by many forms of competing philosophy, some of them changing on a day-by-day basis. Sometimes, we’re on the verge of thinking that Christ’s promises are so strong and His coming so near, there’s no need to push forward. Instead, we’re tempted to just watch and wait. God has it all under control, and Jesus is coming soon.
Immediately after that, the thought always strikes: But if this is really true, then the most important segment of the Church Age lies in the very near future! We may well be living in the period when the very last saints are being called into the Body of Christ – the Church – through the Gospel.
Don’t get me wrong. Many will be saved in the period following the era of the Church. But the Bible clearly states that the close of the Church Age comes well before the ravages of the Tribulation. In this present age, it is still possible to preach the Gospel of the “blessed hope.” This, of course, is the promise of resurrection prior to the wrath of God. After the rapture, salvation will be possible, but it will take place in the context of a growing series of global persecutions. Countless numbers will die as martyrs.
Strange as it may seem, there’s that last person who will come to Christ, to receive the resurrection and a glorified body, one second before the rapture. Is he – or she – alive today? Probably so, but let’s talk about it.
There’s someone in your circle of acquaintances, who knows you well but is uncomfortable with your faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ. When you speak about your belief that His coming for you is real (and imminent), there is a quick change of subject. Perhaps this person even “goes to church.” But like many churches today, it doesn’t teach eschatology … the doctrine of the final events. Its traditions are based loosely upon the traditions of salvation, worship, and charity.
It doesn’t teach the paramount importance of being born again, and being cleansed of sin, in the blood of the Lamb. And even less, it ignores the details of the resurrection of the saints and the “blessed hope” we have, of escaping the horrors of the Tribulation. As one modern Bible translation puts it:
“Look, the LORD is ready to devastate the earth and leave it in ruins; he will mar its surface and scatter its inhabitants. Everyone will suffer–the priest as well as the people, the master as well as the servant, the elegant lady as well as the female attendant, the seller as well as the buyer, the borrower as well as the lender, the creditor as well as the debtor. The earth will be completely devastated and thoroughly ransacked. For the LORD has decreed this judgment” (Isa. 24:1-3).
Think again of those on the edge. Make sure that they know the truth, that salvation will still be possible after the catching-away of the Church, but only in the social context of catastrophic judgment.