Tag Archives: election

People Get Ready

Dark Clouds On the Horizon

This past presidential election cycle awakened fears in the hearts of many Americans that might otherwise have lain dormant had there been a candidate who rose above the lesser of two evils criterion.

Christians across America sense that time is running out. Like a train speeding toward a canyon not knowing its bridge is out, our nation has failed to slow its moral decline or alter its course by taking a different track. On the contrary, we seem to be accelerating as we approach the abyss.

Couple this awareness of our own nation’s condition with the realization that the rest of the world isn’t faring any better, and it’s no wonder that a Barna poll taken in 2013 reported that 41% of all adults in America and 77% of evangelical Christians believe the biblical end times have arrived. Given the events of the past three years – increased terrorism, wars and a refugee crisis – even more people must wonder how close we are to the last days.

While some people, because of the results of Tuesday’s election, feel a measure of relief and hope that our nation’s headlong rush to disaster might be slowed or even reversed because the democratic candidate lost, others don’t. A sober analysis recognizes we are in the same state of moral decay as we were before the election. Even if our nation becomes great again by worldly standards, it will be to no avail if American Christians practice a powerless, ineffective and lukewarm Christianity that depends on political saviors.

We remain on the brink of disaster. And so does the world.

Do We Really Need to Understand Prophecy?

Considering the millions of copies the Left Behind series of books sold, one might conclude there is widespread interest in the study of the end times (eschatology), particularly by those who believe Jesus will return to take the Church to heaven before a seven-year tribulation period begins on earth. Though many denominations do not teach a pre-tribulation rapture, it is likely that more than a few Christians in those denominations adhere to the teaching simply because it is so ubiquitous.  Millions of Christians attend churches that do teach a pre-tribulation rapture. Thus, a significant number of people are anticipating future events to play out in a scenario similar to those found in the book series.

But what if events don’t go according to the script of these books?

In other words, does eschatology matter? If we are indeed close to the return of Jesus, does it matter which millennial view we hold or if we believe in a pre-tribulation rapture?

Evangelical, Bible believing Christians share important, core beliefs about the end times. Christ’s visible, public return to earth, the bodily resurrection of all humanity, and the judgment of the living of the dead resulting in eternal life for some and eternal destruction for the rest are not the beliefs that distinguish those who believe in a pre-tribulation rapture from those who don’t.

Furthermore, Christians can love, trust, serve and obey God without agreeing on the timing of the rapture or  how to interpret Revelation 20.

Yet, I can’t imagine that God doesn’t want us to get his prophetic message right, especially as events unfold. If a prophetic passage is a call to prepare, shouldn’t we know what to prepare for, whether deliverance from or perseverance through tribulation? If prophecy serves as a warning shouldn’t we assume the warning is for us unless proven otherwise? Certainly Jesus didn’t intend his warnings in Matthew 24 to go unheeded. If prophecy is a call to repentance, shouldn’t we know what to repent of?

Finally, since prophecy, like the rest of Scripture, reveals God’s glory we should understand it as best we can.

Crucial Questions

To make sense out of the various views about the end times and particularly the doctrine of the rapture of the church, a number of pertinent questions should be addressed:

  1. Are Israel and the Church distinct and separate peoples of God with different destinies? If this is the case, then a pre-tribulation rapture is a necessity because the church must be removed prior to the 2nd Advent in order for the Jewish age to be completed. (I have already made a case against this idea here, here and here).
  2. Is suffering and persecution normative for the Christian and, if so, is the notion that God would remove his saints from a period of intensified persecution in the tribulation consistent with how he has treated his elect throughout history?
  3. Is the great tribulation limited to a seven-year period just prior to Jesus’ return to earth? To so restrict the time frame of the great tribulation allows for the possibility that the Church can escape it. However, if the tribulation occurs throughout the church age (as believed by amillenialists) or if it encompasses the period from 70 AD until the return of Christ, (as indicated by Matthew 24 and Luke 21) then, by definition, the church cannot escape the worst persecution in history even though it escapes God’s wrath.
  4. Does the Bible teach a literal thousand-year reign of Christ on earth known as the millennium? This is significant, because various interpretations of the end times hinge on this question.
  5. Is Revelation best interpreted by assuming the book’s major emphasis is on the final victory of God over evil or by assuming its primary function was to address first century persecution of Christians under Rome or does the book mainly teach timeless principles about how God acts in the world? These and other approaches to interpreting the book of Revelation lead to quite different conclusions. Perhaps the best interpretation of Revelation incorporates all of these approaches when applicable.

Because proponents of the pre-tribulation rapture position have done a better job of promoting their view of the end times, it may seem to those who believe in a pre-tribulation rapture that it is overwhelmingly the majority opinion among Christians. They therefore hesitate to entertain the possibility that alternative viewpoints are correct.

This series of blogs challenges the pre-tribulation rapture view. I haven’t engaged in a serious study of prophecy for decades, but now seems like the right time to turn to the pages of prophecy for instruction concerning the Blessed Hope.

This Election Is a Test of Our National Motto – In God We Trust

election and the american flag

Many Christians are in a quandary about who to vote for in the upcoming election in the United States.

Both major party candidates are denounced for having a lack of personal character, un-American attitudes, and destructive policies. Unfortunately, one result is that Christians are mostly discussing which candidate is the lesser of two evils. But as we see our nation crumbling around us, is this really the most important choice we, as Christians, are facing?

The Choice Before Us

Maybe our choice for president is a secondary issue. What if the critical choice before us is whether we place our hope and trust in elected officials or in God to deliver us from the condition our nation is in?

American Christians have good reason to believe that neither candidate trusts in God for our nation’s future but instead trust in themselves and their ideology. We should not follow them in their folly.

Making the “right” choice in this election won’t change the direction our country is headed if, on a personal level, American Christians cannot honestly say – In God I Trust. Making the “wrong” choice won’t either.

Opportunity Is Knocking

Most Christians would probably agree that we live in evil times. In these coming months until the election, perhaps more so than ever, it is important to:

Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. (Ephesians 5:15-17)

In Ephesians chapter 5, believers are called to holy living, told to expose evil, commanded to give thanks to God in everything and encouraged to submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

How do we apply Ephesians 5:15-17 to our current situation – what is the opportunity we have and what is the Lord’s will? Is the presidential election an opportunity to head off disaster by political means or is the time we are in now an opportunity to deepen our resolve to live holy lives so that our light exposes the darkness?

Since God is the one who “deposes kings and raises up others” to accomplish his purposes, then perhaps the lamentable choices we have for president are not a warning to us to head off disaster by electing the candidate with the least destructive ideology or character. The fact that our options for president are limited and unsatisfactory may be, in itself, a judgment from God and a warning to turn toward him and perhaps even a warning to be prepared spiritually to live in exile in our own land.

Priorities Matched to God’s Will

If we read our Bibles we know what the will of God is (Romans 12:2). Our priority should be to do the will of God, not to look for a political savior. Exercising our right to vote so that we can elect the lesser of two evils or cast a vote for a third-party candidate who has no chance of winning has much less positive impact on our future than doing God’s will. Here are a few commands from Scripture that are particularly relevant to this discussion:

  • Do not worry about your life or about what tomorrow may bring but seek first his kingdom and his righteousness. Matthew 6:25-34
  • Act justly, love mercy and walk humbly before God. Micah 6:8
  • “Be imitators of God”, “live a life of love”, “find out what pleases the Lord” and “have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.” Eph 5:1,2,10,11
  • “Continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.” Philippians 2:12-16
  • Spread the Gospel. Matthew 28:19
  • Silence the talk of foolish men by doing good. 1 Peter 2:15
Born to Trouble

Our natural inclination is to bemoan our nation’s decline because we will suffer as a consequence. Our nation, our economy and our way of life are changing dramatically for the worse. However, God is more concerned about the spiritual condition of his children than their comfort. God’s will is not for us to avoid hardship at any cost. Jesus prayed that God would not remove his disciples from the world when the world persecutes them but to protect them from the evil one who would oppose their sanctification. John 17:13-20

Even if we are growing in our faith, even if sanctification and becoming like Jesus are at the top of our list of priorities, remember that men of faith such as Daniel and Ezekiel were carted off into exile when their nation was judged. Yet they were faithful witnesses.

Is the American Church ready for the challenges that lie ahead? What if our worst fears become reality? We may not be carted off to a foreign land, as were the Israelites, but we may find ourselves in a land we don’t recognize, one as godless as Babylon. Indeed, we may already be in it.

Will we praise God in the midst of suffering and persecution? Will we hold fast to our faith in the face of a fiery furnace or a lion’s den? Do we even have the courage to witness to our neighbor now?

Redeem the Time

Our time is better spent seeking God and his holiness than debating which political candidate will save us from ruin. Making the most of every opportunity to become more like Jesus is time better spent. Our time is better spent if our actions reveal to our unbelieving friends, family and neighbors that we live according to our nation’s motto – In God We Trust.

Should I Vote in the Election?

I am not saying that if either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump is elected president that they won’t lead us into ruin. They might. That is why so many Christians are concerned. This election will have consequences. But, our future isn’t in the hands of politicians. It never has been.

As our nation becomes more like the Babylon of old, let us do what the exiles of Israel were told to do. Let’s seek the peace and prosperity of our nation (Jeremiah 29:5) and live life as normally as possible. Let’s vote prayerfully and wisely, but don’t fret over it – we cannot add a single hour to our life by doing so.

However Christians choose to vote in November, may each of us continually cast votes for God’s kingdom with our love, our light, our good works and our winsome presentation of the gospel of the Kingdom. If God be for us who can be against us?