“The Lord has to be coming soon!” I cannot say how many times I have heard someone say that to me over the past year. What motivated them to make this statement no doubt was the fact that they, like the rest of us, have witnessed the rampant moral deterioration in our culture. Accordingly, they have concluded that the Lord’s return is near. Many of us who have been on life’s path can well remember saying the same thing ourselves. But the difference then can hardly compare to the spiritual conditions now. The current worldwide departure from that which is wholesome and good seems wildly out of control. Not only is this evident in our country, but it is also evident around the world. Psalm 11:3 is often quoted with a tone of resignation: “If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?” Understandably, it begs the question: “Are we living in the last days?” It is a logical question given the darksome, moral, political, and spiritual landscape that surrounds us.
So, are we indeed living in the last days? Based on Hebrews 1:2—the answer to that question is a resounding, “Yes!” “God has in these last days, spoken to us by His Son…” Since the first century, according to this verse, the Church has always been in the “last days”—the period before the return of the Lord for His Bride, the Church. All through the centuries, all biblically grounded believers have, just like the Thessalonians, been “turning to God from idols to serve the living and true God and to wait for His Son from heaven.” (1 Thess. 1:9,10). Paul encouraged the Philippians in the same way to “eagerly wait for the Savior” (Phil. 3:20), a clear affirmation of the imminency of His return. The “last days” then have always been upon us. However, 2 Timothy 3:1 adds more detail: “Know this that in the last days, perilous times will come…” What follows is a fifteen-fold description of the moral and spiritual descent of humanity. It seems then that Paul through the Holy Spirit is referring to what might be called the last days of the last days. 1 Timothy 4:1 corroborates this same truth “Now the Spirit expressly says that in the latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons.” Widespread apostasy and demonic deception—scary! Is that what is going on right now in our world? With the saturation of social media practically consuming every facet of our lives, openly and unabashedly promoting concepts that are contrary to Scripture, it would certainly seem that way—in the last days of the last days. And if we are, how then are believers to maintain a vital, God-honoring testimony “in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation?” (Phil. 2:15). With so much working against us, how then as believers are we to live lives that are pleasing to Him?
Our Position in the Lord
Let me suggest that one of the first steps that will keep us faithful and keep us from being taken under by the current of this age is to understand our position in the Lord. I grew up and still live at the Jersey Shore. One of the first things that anyone in this area learns when swimming in the ocean is to be wary of a strong undercurrent, especially riptides— strong narrow channels of water that can pull even the best swimmers away from land and potentially under water. They are dangerous! From a spiritual standpoint, the world has its “riptides” that can also pull many of God’s children away from the place of safety with disastrous results. Demas is just one example of such a disaster (2 Tim. 4:10). The best way to escape the world’s riptides is to avoid them altogether. The best way to stay away from the world’s influence is to maintain a firm footing on biblical ground and remember whose we are and whom we serve (Acts 27:23). We are the Lord’s and we belong to him. Understanding our position in the Lord and being constantly reminded of it, will protect us from getting pulled under by the currents of this world. When David wanted to bless someone from the house of Saul for the sake of Jonathan, he chose Mephibosheth, who was lame in both his feet (2 Sam. 9). Mephibosheth had nothing to offer, yet he was allowed to sit and eat at the king’s table like one of the king’s own sons, like royalty. What a picture! That is how it is with us in Christ. Because we belong to Him, we too have been raised up and made to sit together in heavenly places in Christ with a promise that we will occupy that place continually, just as Mephibosheth did (2 Sam. 9:10). Scripture declares that the believer has been crucified with Christ, is dead in Christ, has been buried with Christ but, praise the Lord, we have also been raised and made to sit together with Him to walk in newness of life (Rom. 6:4). Reckoning this to be so —that we are a child of the king, brought into His banqueting house—will provide the means by which we can repel the influences of the world around us so that we can live whole-heartedly for Him.
Our Promises in the Lord
Another defense against the influence and onslaught of secular culture, is to be reminded of the abiding love of God in our lives. Jude, in verse 21, exhorted those to whom he was writing to “keep yourselves in the love of God.” He was not encouraging them to earn God’s love—a love that is sensed by all who put their trust in Him for salvation. Instead, he was saying that they needed to keep reminding themselves of God’s love and dwelling on His faithfulness to them and the promises of His Word. Nothing can separate us from God’s love (Rom. 8:39). How true also are the words of the hymn “Trust in Him ye saints forever, He is faithful, changing never; Neither force nor guile can sever those He loves from Him.” 1 Kings 8:56 emphatically states “Blessed be the Lord, who has given rest to His people Israel, according to all that He promised. There has not failed one word of all His good promise…” Joshua 23:14 proclaims the same truth: “…know in all your hearts and in all your souls that not one thing has failed of all the good things which the Lord your God spoke concerning you. All have come to pass for you; not one word of them has failed.” God is true to His promises! His promises are certain, and His presence also. For any who are struggling with assurance of salvation or in understanding their security in Christ—hear this—“He will never leave you or forsake you” (Heb. 13:5). “Faithful is He that called you, who also will do it” (1 Thess. 5:24). Knowing these truths will keep us from being occupied with lesser things so that we may approve the things that are excellent and make our lives count for the Lord.
Our Power in the Lord
Finally, another truth that will help us from being swallowed up in the world’s ways, is to tap into the resources that are ours in Christ. When Paul prayed for the Ephesian saints, he prayed that they would understand three things: what is the “hope of His calling”; what are “the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints” (1:18); and “what is the exceeding greatness of his power toward them that believe” (v. 19). It was a prayer that they would comprehend both their position in Christ and the power by which they could live for His glory. Even Paul himself prayed that he would come to know “Him and the power of His resurrection” (Phil. 3:10). That power comes from a life of separation, when our hands and hearts are clean to serve Him (Job 17:9). The cleaner they are, the more power we will sense from the Lord.
As we remember our position, promises and power in the Lord, diligently applying these principles in our lives in these last days, we will become vessels unto honor, fit for the Master’s use and prepared for every good work (2 Tim. 2:21).