In parts One and Two of this series we discovered some important facts. First, Jesus taught that an end is coming. There is a date, known only to God, when everything we know will suddenly change forever. After a period of intense tribulation Jesus will return to earth. This will be followed by a time of judgment. Some will spend eternity with God, while others will be separated from God forever.
We learned that Jesus wants us to focus on how to live in a wise and faithful way as the end draws near rather than to spend our time speculating about the end date or the signs leading up to it. Jesus wants us to cultivate an eternal perspective. This means we realize the truth that our time on earth is very limited, and that what we do here has eternal consequences. We also learned that Jesus himself declared there is no other way to God than through trusting in His death on our behalf for salvation.
Finally, it was noted that Satan is, albeit behind the scenes, in control of those who have not placed their faith in Jesus. Satan and those who serve him know that the only thing that can free people from their control is trusting in Jesus. This makes Christ followers, those who live out their faith in Jesus in this dark world, high value targets. The more faithful Christ followers are, the more dangerous we are to the enemies of God. This truth is the reason for the intense spiritual battle that rages unseen around us.
This epic spiritual battle is not only unseen, it’s also largely unrecognized. Most people are unaware that it rages around us. Many believers spend a great portion of their lives enjoying the blessings of faith in Christ, yet not cultivating an eternal perspective. They don’t recognize the fact that an end date for life on earth is approaching, and that they have an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of others for eternity.
It’s sometimes said that Christ followers who seek to share the message of biblical faith with others are bigots. They’re accused of being insensitive to others by claiming that faith in Christ is the only way to God. The fact is, Jesus himself taught this. He not only taught it, but demonstrated his authenticity by performing miracles and raising from the dead as he said he would. No other individual in history has done this.
Christ followers believe the claim of Jesus that he is the only way to God. Believing this, what kind of people would they be if they kept this message to themselves? It’s only through love for others that Christ followers seek to gently share the message of biblical faith with others. But how do we do so? How do Christ followers share light in a dark world and thus take part in the most epic battle between good and evil that will ever be known?
The answer to how one can share his or her faith in Christ with others represents an amazing journey of discovery. God has created every one of us with unique gifts, talents, and personalities. He’s also allowed us to experience things in life, both good and bad, that enable us to help others. Sharing our faith in Jesus can best be done by simply being who we are in Christ. Living out our faith in Christ in the unique ways that God has made us, and seeking to genuinely love others, represents the most powerful testimony we can have.
We tend to have a very limited view of how Christ followers share their faith. Many seek a method that’s worked for others, or try to discover some new technique that looks promising. I recall one young woman who after developing an eternal perspective wanted so much to help others see the light. She asked me something like, “What can I say to my friends to make them see their need for faith in Jesus?”
I’m not very good at answering questions spontaneously. I generally need time to think things through. Yet when that young woman asked me this question I sensed the Lord give me an answer almost immediately. I simply said, “The closer we walk with God and the more we live in his presence, the more the Holy Spirit is free to develop his fruit in our lives. The more we live out this fruit, the more people will wonder what’s different about us.” As a reminder, the fruit of the Spirit as described in Galatians 5:22-23 (ESV) is:
Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.
This fruit is listed in the context of the spiritual conflict mentioned above. For the full context, please click here to read Galatians 5:16-24. The fruit of the Spirit in these verses is presented in contrast to the way in which the world operates. Christ followers who authentically live out the fruit of the Spirit in their own lives, and while interacting with others, cannot help but stand out.
There’s no question that life on earth will grow increasingly dark and difficult as the end draws near. The enemies of God will become more desperate. Evil and hatred will be made more manifest in numerous ways. See 2 Timothy 3:1-9 for a description of this reality.
In this context, in this world of darkness and hatred, Christ followers who walk closely with God and who live out the fruit of the Spirit will stand out more than ever. They will be targets of the enemy, yet will operate under the protection of God as described in 2 Chronicles 16:9 (NIV):
For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.
There will be pain and trouble for Christ followers. There will be suffering. And yet there will be no greater joy than to live for God in these times. Our part in this epic battle is to authentically live out our love for and faith in Christ in this increasingly dark and hate-filled world. While doing so, we are to be ready to share our faith in Christ with those who ask how we can have hope, joy, and peace in the midst of suffering. This is noted in 1 Peter 3:15 (NIV):
But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.
Yes, a time is coming when life for Christ followers will be far more challenging. It will make the conflict between good and evil as depicted by Hollywood look tame. The enemies of God will seek to silence those who remain faithful to Christ. They will do so in increasingly violent and openly demonic ways as the end draws closer. This can be seen in the words of Jesus to his followers, including us, as recorded in Matthew 24:9-13 (ESV):
Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.
The question is, will we be among those who fall away? Will we be led astray from sound biblical faith by false prophets? Facing intense opposition and suffering will we walk away from our faith in Christ and embrace hatred? Or, will we be among those who faithfully endure to the end?
The end of life and time as we know it is closer than it has ever been. In fact, if you look closely enough, it’s evident that life and culture are changing at a faster rate now than they have ever changed before.
As the end draws ever more near, let’s commit to walking closer to God than we ever have. Let’s endure hardship, opposition, and suffering with patient endurance. Let’s trust in God more fully, and know his peace in a deeper way. Let’s live in joyful expectation of the return of Jesus as that glorious day approaches. Let’s not be among those spoken of as falling away from faith in Christ in the dark times. Instead, let’s band together and face whatever comes in fellowship and support of one another. May it be so, Lord. Amen!