Prophecy Update: ‘Signs of the Times’. Why Evangelicals Are Losing the Rhetorical High Ground and Two Ways to Respond
Jim Denison | Denison Forum on Truth and Culture | Monday, July 27, 2020
Are these the “last days”? In Luke 21, Jesus made three predictions.
One: “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom” (v. 10).
Russian President Vladimir Putin said yesterday that the Russian Navy would be armed with hypersonic nuclear strike weapons and underwater nuclear drones. Such weapons would be difficult for the US to track and intercept.
Experts say the risk of military conflict between the US and China is higher than ever. After the closing of the Chinese consulate in Houston, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stated, “If we bend the knee now, our children’s children may be at the mercy of the Chinese Communist Party.”
Two: “There will be earthquakes, and in various places famines and pestilences. And there will be terrors and great signs from heaven” (v. 11).
Regarding “earthquakes,” a magnitude 7.8 quake struck off the coast of Alaska last week. Regarding “famines and pestilences,” as of this morning, COVID-19 has infected more than sixteen million people and caused more than 648,000 deaths. Experts say the pandemic has put 265 million people at risk of famine.
Regarding “terrors and great signs from heaven,” Hurricane Hanna made landfall in South Texas Saturday afternoon, flooding streets and knocking out power. And Hurricane Douglas is brushing the Hawaiian Islands this morning, bringing as much as eight inches of rain.
Three: “They will lay their hands on you and persecute you” (v. 12).
China is escalating its persecution of Christians: Believers are being jailed for praying online and even official churches are being closed. The Communist government is supervising a new Bible translation. Chinese citizens are being urged to use an app dedicated to President Xi’s sayings that gives the government backdoor access to their social media, contacts, and internet history.
WHAT DOES “LAST TIMES LIVING” LOOK LIKE?
My purpose this morning is not to predict the return of Christ. God’s word divides history into the “former times” before the Messiah comes and the “last times” after his coming. Biblically, therefore, we have been in the “last times” since Jesus’ incarnation (Acts 2:17; Hebrews 1:2; 1 Peter 1:20).
While Christians disagree about the degree to which the “signs of the times” will intensify toward the end of history, we can all agree on this fact: we are one day closer to Jesus’ return than ever before.
In the meantime, how are we to live in these chaotic days? How are God’s people to respond to political conflict, natural disasters, and rising persecution? In other words, what does “last times living” look like?
After describing some “signs of the times,” our Lord stated: “This will be your opportunity to bear witness” (Luke 21:13). “Bear witness” translates the Greek marturion, from which we get “martyr.” We are to make public our faith in perilous days whatever the cost to ourselves.
WHY WE ARE LOSING THE RHETORICAL HIGH GROUND
Richard Rorty was one of the most influential thinkers of our time. He did much to promote and popularize the postmodern claim that all truth claims are subjective (which is an objective truth claim, by the way). There are “truths” but no “Truth.”
However, Rorty also acknowledged that it is difficult to live in a world with no certainties. As a result, societies develop pragmatic values that become their public “Truth.” As Nathanael Blake notes, such “Truth” is produced by emotion and intensity of belief more than by reason.
As a result, American evangelicals are losing the rhetorical high ground on moral issues.
“Freedom” and “equality” are examples of values held deeply and passionately by Americans. Consequently, pro-abortion advocates gain the cultural high ground when they accuse pro-life supporters of waging a war on “reproductive freedom.” Same-sex marriage advocates employ a similar strategy with their support for “marriage equality.” Generational shifts on abortion and a public reversal on same-sex marriage (60 percent were opposed in 2004 vs. 61 percent who support today) demonstrate the effectiveness of these strategies.
In response, Christians should declare and defend biblical values in ways that resonate with a public persuaded by emotion. For example, telling our personal story is vital and effective (cf. John 9:25). And we need to match the passion of those who champion ungodliness with our passionate love for our Lord and our neighbor.
THE “GOD” THAT IS OUR ENEMY
As we do, we should admit a second fact: evangelicals will pay an escalating price to declare unpopular Truth.
The cancel-culture phenomenon shows that it is easier than ever to attack those whose beliefs conflict with public “Truth.” (For more, see my paper on cancel culture here.) If you risk bringing your Sunday values into your Monday world, you are likely to experience what Jesus predicted: “If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you” (John 15:20).
However, those who oppose biblical truth are not our enemies. Since “the god of this age has blinded the minds of the unbelievers,” we should not be surprised when they reject “the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:4). That “god” is their enemy and ours.
In “last days living,” however long it lasts, telling our story and promoting biblical truth with courage and compassion is the greatest gift we can give the eternal souls we influence.
How generous will you be today?
In His Service,
Night Watchman Ministries
Make Your Decision for Christ NOW!!!!!!! Time is Up!!!!!!!
Jesus Christ’s Offer of Salvation:
The ABCs of Salvation through Jesus Christ (the Lamb)
A. Admit/Acknowledge/Accept that you are sinner. Ask God’s forgiveness and repent of your sins.
. . . “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23).
. . . “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one.” (Romans 3:10).
. . . “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” (1 John 1:8).
B. Believe Jesus is Lord. Believe that Jesus Christ is who He claimed to be; that He was both fully God and fully man and that we are saved through His death, burial, and resurrection. Put your trust in Him as your only hope of salvation. Become a son or daughter of God by receiving Christ.
. . . “That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. (John 3:15-17). For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Romans 10:13).
C. Call upon His name, Confess with your heart and with your lips that Jesus is your Lord and Savior.
. . . “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” (Romans 10:9-10).
. . . “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” (John 1:8-10).
. . . “And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. (John 2:2).
. . . “In this was manifested the love of god toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world. Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God.” (1 John 4:9, 14-15).
. . . “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.” (Romans 5:8-10).
. . . “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 6:23).
. . . “Jesus saith unto them, I am the way, the truth, and the life, no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6).
. . . “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth.” (Romans 1:16).
. . . “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts: 4:12).
. . . “Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth for there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” (1 Timothy 2:4-6).
. . . “For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Thessalonians 5:9).
. . . “But as many as received him, to them gave the power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.” (John 1:12).
True Church / Bride of Christ Spared from God’s Wrath:
Romans 5:8-10. “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.”
Romans 12:19. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.
1 Thessalonians 1:10. And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.
1 Thessalonians 5:9. For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ,
Romans 8:35. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
Jeremiah 30:7. Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob’s trouble, but he shall be saved out of it.
Revelation 3:10 Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.