I remember it like yesterday, I was in middle school during history looking at a picture of an early American settler, a patriot. This figure was an American hero riding on a horse during the stillness of the night holding the lantern of liberty high, while warning his people, shouting the words, “The red coats are coming, the red coats are coming”. This herald is credited with arousing the rag tag militia that eventually defeated the coming imperial army. Today such a warning is needed. The enemy is approaching, persecutions are coming, church of America rise up, you have need of patience.
Its almost ironic to be startled and hear in America the words “persecutions are coming”; but historically this was a central theme in the early church. Many of the epistles are written in the context of suffering and hostility towards the faith. Paul writes to the Timothy, that all who desire to live godly will be persecuted. (2 Timothy 3:12) In fact in the book of 1 Peter, Peter writes that the believers are being protected by God through their faith, he references that the church’s faith will be tested through all kinds of trials (1 Peter 1: 5-6) and later on Peter warns the early church to be self controlled and alert; because there is a lion that is waiting to devour them. (1 Peter 3:20) Peter poignantly appeals to the believers because he knows the pain and crisis that comes with the testing of faith; as he had experienced a vicious attack on his faith earlier in his life when he failed to heed to the admonition of the Lord. It is for this reason and that he issues the same warning; be vigilant.
So how are we to be vigilant? There are at least 2 actions necessary. The first is to be in communion with the Spirit in prayer and the second is to be connected to a local assembly of believers who you know and are known by. Ironically these are some of the least attended disciplines of the western christian.
Prayer is not just the communication of our needs to God, is it the seeking after his face, the integration of his word and will into our lives to the point that every prayer includes” your will be done in my life as it is in heaven”. In order to commune deeply with the Father, I must first set aside the time energy, and focus to meditate on what God has spoken. God is speaking and is not silent, heaven and earth will fade before one of God’s words fail.
Another simple way that God speaks is through his people. The church after all is his body, his instrument to work his purposes in the world. God often uses people who commune with him to speak into our lives but occasionally he will use an “ass” to do so as well, just ask Balaam.
Without neglecting the first two, we must stay vigilant and observe the events happening in the world. Jesus scolds the Pharisees because they continually had the wrong focus and failed to notice the son of God who was standing right before them; they refused to see the signs.
In Matthew 16:3 Jesus says,
You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times.
Jesus was specifically talking about the prophecies that were being fulfilled before their eyes. The argument that Jesus makes is that we often pay attention and focus on the minor and neglect the weightier things.How is it that you can notice the change in the atmosphere physically, but fail to see what’s happening spiritually? Such is the flaw of the natural man; his focus is on the flesh. The spiritual man however is able to make inferences and see how the natural reflects the spiritual; just compare Joshua and Caleb with the rest of the spies, Jacob with Esau, and in general the kings of Judah with Israel. This theme is written all through out the Bible.
One of the reasons that Daniel and his friends prospered, was because they knew that the Babylonian conquest just wasn’t about changing their traditions, but it was a greater attack on the worship of their God.
The worship of Christ, the authority of God’s word, and the historical faith of christianity is under attack in the West like never before. Before we are locked up for believing, before even things like Home Schooling are eliminated, and gay marriage becomes internationally accepted we have to be in prayer. What would happen to your faith if the economy continued to plummet, unemployment continued to rise, social security and medicare were abolished. What if and right now it seems like a very huge if, the United States turned into Greece. Some scoff at the idea, but no empire is impervious to a fall. Even in our decline the United States is one of the greatest countries if not the greatest in the world; but our trust cannot be in our country, our elected officials, or even our ministers, it has to be on God. Returning to the issue however, it is important to be aware of the events that are happening around us because God is at work. This is not about politics, nor economics; its much deeper, this is about our faith. What are we putting our trust in?
The signs are all around us, Christ coming is nearer than ever before; but even still his judgment against his church has already begun. There will be greater scandals with religious leaders, more deals cut with the government, greater appeal to universalism within religion, more relativism, and the gospel of Christ will continue to be watered down by preachers. The offense of the cross is disappearing, instead what is being preached is peace peace; when there is no peace. For the God who is a consuming fire is sitting in judgment upon our individual and collective rebellion.
Let me return back to the story of Paul Revere. History tells us that Paul Revere was not the only rider, but there were others. It is safe to assume that many were disturbed and startled, by the message of these early riders. I’m sure there were some who were sleeping, some who were eating, or writing letters to their family, until they were interrupted. Something of greater urgency not only seized their attention; but it shifted their actions as they prepared for the invasion from abroad.The reason that the colonialists were ready to respond to the British invasion is because they were at their posts watching where the enemy was coming from, but also heeded the message and relayed it to others.
Paul writes in his second letter to Corinth how ignorance of Satan’s schemes allows him to take advantage of us. Just as the Spirit of Christ is active in saving the souls’ of men, the mystery of iniquity is at work as well; in our homes, schools, jobs, government, our minds. Let us be vigilant in prayer, fellowship and study that we may offer warning to our brothers in the Lord.
Someone reading this has a vital message to communicate to their brother, to their sister, friend, coworker. This message is to get ready; put on your armor, the enemy is advancing he’s at the gates; but fear not God is on our side.
(If you have time the following link is a sermon that is relevant to the issue ). God’s people are not prepared, by Mark Case