A Time of Hope and Grace
[Reading time: 6 minutes] We are now in a period of human history that offers us unique opportunities. It’s becoming clear that we’re in the end-times period known as “the beginning of birth pains” (Matt. 24:8, NIV).
Environmental, political and societal problems are worsening; military conflicts are escalating; and most significant, spiritual conflict is increasing and becoming more obvious.
In America, our culture once was strongly based on Judeo-Christian values but now is militantly opposing those values and rapidly embracing gross immorality. But a Great Awakening is beginning, a final worldwide outpouring of God’s grace and Spirit that will bring more people into God’s kingdom than any previous revival or movement. It’ll include miracles and miraculous wonders greater and more numerous than any other spiritual movement in human history.
Ordinary Christians will be the key, not world-renown evangelists, pastors or denominational leaders. God has commissioned every true believer to spread the overwhelmingly great news that Jesus made it possible for us to be freed from sin and reconciled to God. Every one of us, using the spiritual gifts and personal abilities God gave us, can serve others by living godly lives before them, meeting their needs and introducing them to the only true God. That is true Christianity and it really is that simple.
I’m convinced we’ll see open spiritual warfare throughout our culture in response to the Awakening. This will include severe persecution, false religions, apostate churches, open celebration of the most deviant behaviors, and literal anarchy in our city streets.
We’ve heard the “last days” are coming; well, now they’re here. As Jesus said, we can expect problems to become increasingly severe and frequent like birth pains, leading up to the birth of Jesus’ kingdom over the entire planet, not just within individuals. There’s only one global government that will benefit all humanity, and it’s his.
But to get to that day, we’ll have to experience the kingdom birth process: the beginning of birth pains, labor or great distress/tribulation, and finally the birth of the kingdom of righteousness on earth. The birth of that kingdom concludes fallen humanity’s history, which began in the Garden of Eden.
God created Adam and Eve in his image and likeness and allowed them to rule over the earth as their own domain (Gen. 1:26, 28). Satan usurped their authority by deceiving them, which led to their sin against God. Because man sinned, Satan became the ruler of this world until Jesus the man died for all sin (John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11). When he rose from the dead, he announced he’d received all authority in heaven and on earth (Matt. 28:18). That is, Jesus (the man) recovered the authority over the world that Adam (the first man) lost to Satan.
For now, everyone who accepts Jesus as Savior has their spiritual authority restored over their own domain (Rom. 5:17; Matt. 16:19; 18:18-19). When Jesus returns to earth, he’ll set up his kingdom over the entire planet. Then we who followed him in this life will reign with him; not only over people on earth, but also over angels (Rev. 2:26-27; 1 Cor. 6:2-3). Every person will bow before him and confess he is King of kings and Lord of lords (Phil. 2:10-11; Rev. 19:16).
This birth process also allows sin to increase so every human and spiritual being will see the total depravity and destruction of sin and agree that God’s judgment of sin is fully justified. It allows born-again believers to see the results of sin, confess their own sinful attitudes and behavior, purify themselves and begin to serve the Lord with all their heart, soul, mind and strength (Mark 12:30). And as a result, it’ll become increasingly obvious who belongs to God’s kingdom and Satan’s. There’ll be no room for indecision or indifference.
The hope we have as Christians, followers of Jesus, is much greater than we realize. Biblical hope is confident expectation we’ll see and experience everything God has said. In the English language, hope typically is little more than wishful thinking, but in God’s language, hope is an absolute certainty. The same God who sent his Son Jesus to die for our sin has told us we will rule with Jesus in his kingdom when he returns to earth. He also warned us about the worldwide distress that will precede Jesus’ return. So as we see the distress increasing, our hope — our confident expectation that God will do everything he said — will overcome our fear and give us courage to remain faithful to him.
Our hope also will motivate us to rely even more fully on God’s grace. As Christians, we’re familiar with God’s grace in the context of salvation; we know we were saved by God’s grace through faith (Eph. 2:8). Unfortunately, most of us don’t realize his grace is relevant to much, much more than salvation.
God’s love and grace motivate him to use his power to give us everything we need for life and godliness (2 Pet. 1:3). His grace enables and empowers us to do everything he asks us to do (Heb. 4:16). In fact, we’re to rely on his grace rather than our own abilities, because we frankly aren’t able to do what’s needed, which is why he provides everything we need.
It’s essential that we build up our hope, our confident expectation that God will do everything he said, including providing everything we need. Hope and grace are pillars of our relationship with God in everyday life, whether our circumstances seem manageable or difficult.
Now that we’re entering the end-times birth process for Jesus’ kingdom, biblical hope in God’s grace literally is a matter of our spiritual survival. Without a solid, confident expectation that God will equip and empower us to flourish during horrific world events, we’ll be unable to withstand the onslaught of evil.
The choice is ours. If we’re wise, we’ll decide now to embrace the hope God gives us and learn to trust him more each day. If we procrastinate, it’ll be much more difficult to do that as world events deteriorate. I’m hopeful — confidently expecting — that we’ll put our complete trust in him and learn to rely on him instead of ourselves in every part of life.
This is a time of hope and grace — the climax of human history — and God has placed us here so we can serve him in ways we may never have imagined. This is a corrupt and decaying world filled with people who are enslaved to sin and have no hope (2 Pet. 2:20; Rom. 8:21; 6:16; Eph. 2:12). But as we commit ourselves to God and disciple each other so we become more like him, we permit him to work through us to meet people’s spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical needs. We serve them so they can see God’s true nature instead of the lies they’ve believed about him, then we allow the Holy Spirit to draw them to the Lord.
Jesus said we are the salt of the earth, so we’re to overcome sin’s decay and improve the “flavor” of life by helping those whose lives are bitter or sour (Matt. 5:13). He also said we’re the light of the world, so we’re to show the truth of God’s love and mercy to people whose lives are dark and hopeless (Matt. 5:14). In general, we overcome evil with good by expressing God’s goodness to those overcome and enslaved by evil (Rom. 12:21).
As the world deteriorates and convulses around us, we’ll represent our loving Savior and Heavenly Father, offering desperate people the hope and grace God has given us. Our best days are just ahead.
Despite the problems developing in the world, followers of Jesus can experience great hope and grace, which enables us to serve those who need our help and have no hope. Our best days are still ahead.