The world is in a terrible state! Volcanic eruptions are becoming more frequent and devastating earthquakes are forcing nations to a standstill. Disease epidemics are spreading like never before with old illnesses making a comeback and new sicknesses emerging on the scene. Economic troubles abound as world currencies lose value, stock markets plummet, and nations teeter on the brink of bankruptcy. Unemployment rates continue to worsen, with millions losing their jobs and their homes along with struggling for food. Panic, fear, greed and violence dominate domestic and political landscapes.
Amid all the turmoil, the bitterness and the vileness of society vex true servants of God every day.
Before Jesus Christ returns to establish the kingdom of God, the worst period the world has ever seen will descend upon mankind: âFor then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the electâs sake those days shall be shortenedâ (Matt. 24:21-22).
As a Christian, your faith, patience and endurance will be tested and tried. And leading up to this time, astounding economic and political events will dramatically affect your lifestyle. Will your faith be strong?
Christ asked the same question in Luke 18:8, stating that âwhen the Son of man comes, shall He find faith on the earth?â
With world conditions building toward a climax, it is now more important than ever for us to stay close to God, praying daily that His kingdom comes and exercising faith that He will bring us through times of intense persecution. Realize that after millennia of manâs rule, society has produced the most perverse generation of all time. Yet it is during this period that those in the Church are required to rise up and become the greatest generation of faith.
Hebrews 11:1 states, âNow faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.â Will you faithfully believe that God will deliver on His promises?
Faith Required to Endure
Throughout history, those called by God have confronted difficultâsometimes seemingly impossibleâsituations. During these times, these great servants were given a choice: faithfully rely on God, or give up. Hebrews 11 ties many of their stories together, detailing how they overcame insurmountable odds.
By faith, Noah preached the gospel while working for more than a century to build the ark. In the end, only eight people heeded his warning and survived (Heb. 11:7).
By faith, Abraham raised a knife over his bound son and prepared to sacrifice him, all while knowing that God had said Isaac was the son of promise (vs. 17-19).
By faith, Moses gave up his life as a grandson of pharaoh and chose âto suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a seasonâ (vs. 24-26).
All of these great servants faithfully endured hard times and are now waiting to wake up as members of the God Family.
But sore trials for Godâs people did not only occur in ancient times. Awesome, breathtaking events are increasing rapidly today and with greater intensityâwhat Christ described as âwars and rumors of warsâ and âfamines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in diverse placesâ (Matt. 24:6-7), which culminate in the Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord.
What an awful picture! War, famine, disease, earthquakes. Most who read these words do not let them live in their minds. Yet we should be different. We must never allow the magnitude of these events to fade from our thinking!
Since we know that those in the true Church will receive Godâs protection, it can be easy to slip into the mindset that this period will be âsmooth sailingâ for usâand that we will not experience any of the hardships or horrors of these great end-time events. Yet this is not true.
Consider Mr. Packâs words from his World to Come series on true faith: âAll people on Earth will be sorely tested in the years just ahead. Make no mistake! Without real faith no one will survive the terrible calamities foretold to occur just prior to Jesusâ soon-coming Return. Operating on human steam or ingenuity will not be sufficient to survive the great crisis coming at the close of this age! Complete faith in all of Godâs promises will be requiredâand needed.â
Make sure you realizeâand meditate onâwhat is coming. It will be hard for everyoneâeven in the Church!
For instance, the wars, famines, diseases and false religion mentioned in Matthew 24 match up to the first four seals of Revelation 6. These conditions are given power or influence âover the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earthâ (Rev. 6:8).
One-fourth of the Earth dead. Christians will witness these terrible times! But throughout, God promises to protect His servantsâthose who demonstrate the faith required to escape.
Societyâs conduct will continue to rapidly degenerate. Godâs people will be subject to its influences, while striving to carry out the most important Work on Earth.
The last days are likened to the days of both Noah and Lot (Luke 17:26-30). Notice II Peter 2:7: âAnd [God] delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked.â Strongâs Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible defines the word âvexedâ as âto labor down, that is, wear with toil (figuratively harass).â
By faith, Lot fled the wicked cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. While fire and brimstone fell from heaven, he had to exercise faith to believe Godâs warning not to look back.
We all must continue to live in this world and the rottenness it projects just as Lot had to endure in Sodom. Without standing firm on Godâs promises to protect you, the influences of this world can wear you down spiritually and ultimately take you out of the Church!
Throughout history, âthe fewâ have taken action on the truth while âthe manyâ drag their feet and lose momentum to fulfill their calling. Why? What causes people who once had a love for the Christian way of life to lose faith?
There are many common âfaith destroyersâ that can stymie our progress and our ability to attain the crown waiting for us at Christâs Return. These faith destroyers keep us from moving forward spiritually. They pull us down and prevent us from taking positive action. They also prevent us from fighting the good fight of faith (II Tim. 4:7-8).
Those who leave the Church and abandon the faith often decide that Godâs way of life is âtoo hard,â or they fail to fulfill their responsibilities to the Work because of laziness. They allow the cares of this life to winnow away and destroy their faith. But this will not be you if you root out these powerful forces that can cause you to lose your conviction for the truth.
Doubt: Disbelief or doubt causes inaction or a reluctance to step out, which can cause you to miss out on Godâs greatest blessings (Heb. 3:12, 19). Beware of doubters and scoffers who may try to diminish and destroy your faith.
Fear: Your fears can also cause inaction, which often leads to either real or imagined criticism from others. Fear freezes our ability to fully trust and obey God, causing us to lose out on salvation (Rev. 21:8).
Worry: Anxious thought or worry can cause you to procrastinate. You start to second-guess yourself, which can hold you back from accomplishing your spiritual goals (Heb. 10:38). In addition, worry can bring stress and confusion to your Christian life. Remember, God will meet your needs if your priorities are correct (Matt. 6:27-34).
Human reasoning: Leaning on your own understanding will prevent you from being able to apply Godâs Way to your life: âBut the natural man receives not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he that is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is judged of no manâ (I Cor. 2:14-15).
Also note Isaiah 55:8-9: âFor My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.â
Walking by sight: This particular faith destroyer has caused many to stumble. Will we trust Godâs Word and wholeheartedly believe II Corinthians 5:7âthat the just walk by faith and not sight?
Scrutinize your life and eliminate attitudes that inhibit your ability to act upon Godâs instructions. Replace negative faith destroyers with positive faith builders, while always striving to examine yourself and giving âdiligence to make your calling and election sure: for if you do these things, you shall never fallâ (II Pet. 1:10).
Faith requires not only eliminating certain wrong attitudes, but also taking action. James 2 verses 14 and 17 state: âWhat does it profit, my brethren, though a man say he has faith, and have not works? Can faith save him?âŠEven so faith, if it has not works, is deadâŠâ
The coming years will require that you show your faith by your works, through staying close to God and looking to Him at all times. By applying certain principles, you can build the kind of faith now that will be necessary to carry you to the close of this age.
Reflect on your calling: God called us to be kings and priests who will rule with Christ for 1,000 years. (See Revelation 5:10 and 20:4.) Meditate on His goodness (Rom. 2:4) and be grateful that He gives you such a unique opportunity.
Study to show yourself approved: God expects us to internalize His Word. Only by fully understanding it can we act on it. Knowing the Bible, inside and outârightly dividing the Word of truth (II Tim. 2:15)âtakes a lifetime. But if you study often and diligently seek God, He will open your mind through His Spirit working in you.
As it states in II Timothy 3:16-17: âAll scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.â
Watch and pray: The Bible instructs us to be vigilantâto watch prophetic events as they come to pass so we are not caught off guard: âWatch therefore: for you know not what hour your Lord does comeâ (Matt. 24:42; I Thes. 5:6).
God also commands us to pray without ceasing so we may be accounted worthy to escape the snare coming upon the worldâand that His will be done on Earth (Luke 21:35-36; Matt. 6:10). Do we watch and pray with the intensity and fervency necessary to escape coming events?
Follow the government of God: God has structured government in His Church to provide direction and guidance to the one Body He is preparing to rule with Christ: âAnd He gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christâ (Eph. 4:11-13).
The more we yield to correction and instruction given by Godâs government, and the more obedient we are to His laws, the greater our faith will be. Therefore, it is critical that we prove where God is working and subsequently submit ourselves to His Headquarters and the ministry.
Ask for the gift of faith: Asking requires effort, energy, workâactionâand the belief that God rewards those who ask. Note Matthew 21:22: âAnd all things, whatsoever you shall ask in prayer, believing, you shall receive.â John 11:22 also affirms this: âBut I know, that even now, whatsoever you will ask of God, God will give it you.â
We must cry out to God for this gift, which is also a fruit of His Spirit (Eph. 2:8; Gal. 5:22).
Build friendships in Godâs Church: God is building a family to rule with Christ. In Mark 3:35, Christ states, âFor whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is My brother, and My sister, and mother.â
Take time to get to know and love other brethren. They will be a source of strength to encourage and help in time of need. Proverbs 17 states, âA friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversityâ (vs. 17). Allow God to bind you with brethren He has chosen (Eph. 2:19-22).
By employing these faith builders, God assures us we will be prepared for our spiritual journey through the end of the age.
Faith Remains Focused
We have been called to subdue, conquer, obtain promises, stop mouths proclaiming false teaching, quench evil with good, never give in or surrender, and fight for the kingdom of God (Heb. 11:33-35). No easy task! But God says we must âbe strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be you dismayedâ at what we will have to endure because He will be with us (Josh. 1:9).
Through everything to come, we must keep in mind the big picture of Godâs Plan: âFor the Lord loves judgment, and forsakes not His saints; they are preserved forever: but the seed of the wicked shall be cut offâŠWait on the Lord, and keep His way, and He shall exalt you to inherit the land: when the wicked are cut off, you shall see itâŠBut the salvation of the righteous is of the Lord: He is their strength in the time of trouble. And the Lord shall help them, and deliver them: He shall deliver them from the wicked, and save them, because they trust in Himâ (Psa. 37:28, 34, 39-40).
Clinging to these promises will give us unwavering faith.
On top of societyâs immorality, financial worries continue to escalate around us. Currency values decline, bank closings multiply, factories close, and city services are reduced or eliminated. While these affect those in the Church, they should not disillusion us. God will provide if we stay focused: âBut godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith contentâ (I Tim. 6:6-8).
Our confidence should be in God our Provider: âThe steps of a good man are ordered [established] by the Lord: and he delights in His wayâŠI have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging breadâ (Psa. 37:23, 25).
Terrorism, food shortages, famine and plagues will smack the modern world in the face. The ânowâ generation will be devastated as scarcity replaces abundance.
Will your faith be in God who works miracles?
Will you believe Psalm 91? âSurely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome [deadly] pestilence. He shall cover you with His feathers, and under His wings shall you trust: His truth shall be your shield and buckler. You shall not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flies by day; nor for the pestilence that walks in darkness; nor for the destruction that wastes at noonday. A thousand shall fall at your side, and ten thousand at your right hand; but it shall not come near you. Only with your eyes shall you behold and see the reward of the wicked. Because you have made the Lord, which is my refuge, even the most High, your habitation; there shall no evil befall you, neither shall any plague come near your dwelling. For He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your waysâ (vs. 3-11).
Meditating on the ways that God will provide for His faithful flock will build your faith!
Faithfulness Brings Reward
Amid the most faithless and perverse generation, the need for the greatest generation of faithâone equipped to handle manâs darkest ageâis now.
True Christians will suffer persecution in the coming years. False miracles and deceptions will test our understanding. World leaders will continuously claim âpeace and safetyâ when there is none (I Thes. 5:3).
Remember, faith requires action. Those in this greatest generation of faith are prophesied to complete the Work of God and obtain a good report (Heb. 11:2). They will diligently do all God requiresâthrough faith.
Their reward? âFor so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christâ (II Pet. 1:11).
Ask yourself: âWho shall separate [me] from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?â (Rom. 8:35). Get this straight in your mindâall of these things will soon surround you!
In responseâby believing Godâs promises and rooting out any hint of doubtâyou will be able to confidently answer as Paul did: âFor I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lordâ (Rom. 8:38-39).
Will you resolve to hold fast and fulfill your calling as part of this greatest generation of faith? Your eternal life depends on it!