“Above all, you must live as citizens of heaven, conducting yourselves in a manner worthy of the Good News about Christ.” (Philippians 1:27 NLT).
When I consider that God chose this specific time and place for me to live out my days, I am overwhelmingly humbled. Think of it… we may well be the terminal generation. At the very least, we are blessed to witness the fulfillment of multiple end time prophecies.
Imagine how the disciples of Jesus’ day must have felt, knowing that they–of all who had longed to see the days of Messiah throughout history–were chosen to see, hear, touch, and walk with Him! I can’t begin to comprehend what that must have been like. In the same way, many godly men and women throughout history have longed to see the unfolding of prophecy concerning the second coming of Messiah, but didn’t see it. But our generation has been given the honor and privilege of actually witnessing and experiencing the unfolding of Bible prophecy leading up to the return of our Savior. Admittedly, the reality of these days is less adventurous and exciting than I have imagined it to be over the years… but I wouldn’t trade it for any other time in history.
With great honor, comes great responsibility
Now in a large house there are not only gold and silver vessels, but also those of wood and clay; some for honorable use and some for dishonorable. So if anyone purifies himself from anything dishonorable, he will be a special instrument, set apart, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work. (2 Timothy 2:20-21)
I’m certain that most of us have struggled with knowing how to respond to the disturbing hostility and lies that are saturating our society and world at large. I know I have. It’s easy to be overwhelmed by the evil in our world today. Fear, and even anger at times, has a way of creeping in; despite our faith and trust in God’s sovereignty and promises. And if I’m being honest, it’s tempting to respond in kind; but we know this is not what pleases the Lord. And it is certainly not becoming of those called to be Vessels of Honor.
We also know that these conditions have been foretold and will come to pass just as they were written. As those in Jesus’ day were expected to see His miraculous works and believe that He was who He claimed to be, those of us today who see these prophecies coming to pass also have a responsibility to believe and act accordingly. Now, more than ever, we need each other in the body of Christ. As we see the day approaching, it becomes of greater importance to be part of a body of believers that teaches, encourages, supports, and lives out the truth of God’s word; while holding each other accountable to our high calling.
Terrible times in the last days
But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people. (2 Timothy 3:1-5 NIV)
2 Timothy 3:1-5 is arguably one of the most quoted scriptures as a marker for the condition of the world in the last days. It’s a dismal prognosis. But how many of us know that this passage is not only about the world? Certainly, the world has always been defined by these character traits; hence the flood in Genesis, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, etc. But I would suggest that this passage is also describing the last days apostate Church. In fact, its language closely mirrors that of 1 Corinthians 5:9-13, suggesting that it may be primarily speaking in connection with those claiming to know Christ. And if we’re being honest, don’t we see this playing out already?
There is a growing faction among those who claim the name of Christ that, ironically, is a primary contributor to the estrangement of the world and church from Christ. These people stir up strife through their meaningless arguments; infighting; haughtiness; lawless, defiant, and at times violent behavior; and the like. They serve only to dishonor the name of Christ and push away those who might otherwise “come to their senses and escape the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will,” 2 Timothy 2:26.
What’s more, many of them actually believe and declare that God has consigned them to this so-called, high calling. But, not all who claim the name of Jesus are sent by Him. These people bring nothing to God’s table; and unless He grants them repentance, they are on a fast-track to certain judgment. I would echo Paul’s admonition, “Have nothing to do with such people.”
“Flee from youthful passions, and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. But reject foolish and ignorant disputes, because you know that they breed quarrels. The Lord’s servant must not quarrel, but must be gentle to everyone, able to teach, and patient, instructing his opponents with gentleness. Perhaps God will grant them repentance leading them to the knowledge of the truth. Then they may come to their senses and escape the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.” (2 Timothy 2:22-26)
We are destined for better things!
The true body of Christ has been created, entrusted, and solemnly commissioned to conduct our lives as Vessels of Honor. We are called to live out these last days with confidence and great endurance; because, in a world of uncertainty, one thing is clear… Christians have not been called to an easy life. In fact, we have been assured of trouble and sorrows in this life, John 16:33. But we can overcome this world, because Jesus–who lives in and empowers us–has overcome the world!
Let’s start today. Let’s turn away from our fleshly and worldly desire to put ourselves first, to always be right, to win every argument. Rather, let’s commit ourselves anew to Christ and His purposes; always doing those things that please our Father. And, as the writer of Hebrews exhorts us:
Remember the earlier days when, after you had been enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings. Sometimes you were publicly exposed to taunts and afflictions, and at other times you were companions of those who were treated that way. For you sympathized with the prisoners and accepted with joy the confiscation of your possessions, because you know that you yourselves have a better and enduring possession. So don’t throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you need endurance, so that after you have done God’s will, you may receive what was promised. For yet in a very little while, the Coming One will come and not delay. But my righteous one will live by faith; and if he draws back, I have no pleasure in him. But we are not those who draw back and are destroyed, but those who have faith and are saved. (Hebrews 10:32-39)
Therefore, since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every hindrance and the sin that so easily ensnares us. Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us, keeping our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. For the joy that lay before him, he endured the cross, despising the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider him who endured such hostility from sinners against himself, so that you won’t grow weary and give up. (Hebrews 12:1-3)
Sealed in Christ, Copyright © 2022 by Sixth Seal Ministries
Unless otherwise noted, all scriptures are taken from: The Christian Standard Bible. Copyright © 2017 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Christian Standard Bible®, and CSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers, all rights reserved.