God is Not Going Out With a Whimper
Whatever your end-time beliefs might be, I can assure you of this. God is not going to end this age with a whimper and on a note of defeat. Instead, He will bring His grand plan to pass with a climax — a climax of redemption and outpouring and salvation.
I personally hold to what is known as historic premillennialism. This means that I do not believe in a pre-trib rapture (see here for a book I co-authored with Prof. Craig Keener on the subject).
But I do believe that Jesus will literally return in the clouds of heaven.
I do believe we will be caught up to meet Him in the air, descending in triumph with Him.
And I do believe that He will rule and reign for a thousand years on the earth during what we call the millennium.
You may hold to similar beliefs or to very different beliefs. But either way, to say it again, God is not going to end this age with a whimper and on a note of defeat.
A Redemptive Purpose of Triumph Amid What Seems Like Defeat
To be sure, there are verses that speak of times of great tribulation and upheaval, times of great suffering on the earth. I am not saying that the end of the age will be a walk in the park. Not by a longshot.
And there are verses that even speak of the failure of God’s people, such as Daniel 11:35: “Some of the wise will stumble, so that they may be refined, purified and made spotless until the time of the end, for it will still come at the appointed time.”
But even here, when it seems that we are overcome by the forces of evil, it is for a redemptive purpose. It is for our purification, for our refining, for our maturing. It is to teach us that God’s strength is made perfect in our weakness and that all our hope is found in Him. (For these principles, see 2 Corinthians 1:8-11; 12:1-10.)
This is a message of triumph, not defeat. This is a message of the power of the gospel and the sufficiency of grace. This is a message of life out of death and resurrection out of crucifixion.
Light will triumph over darkness. Nothing can stop the advance of the kingdom of God. Nothing can withstand the power of the Spirit. Nothing can thwart the authority of Jesus.
That’s why the New Testament is marked by a note of victory, despite persecution, imprisonment, torture and martyrdom.
Suffering and Victory
In the words of Jesus, “on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.” And, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (Matthew 16:18; John 16:33)
Or as expressed by Paul, who was certainly no stranger to severe suffering:
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?
As it is written: ‘For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.’
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:35-39)
Or in the words of John:
‘You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.’ And, ‘everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.’ (1 John 4:4; 5:4)
The Harvest of Souls and the Final Outpouring of the Spirit
Almost 50 years ago, as a fairly new believer, I read a prophecy book written around 1920. The author was highly respected in our church circles and famous for his end-time charts that laid out the biblical prophecies in detail. He had it all figured out!
But one of the charts troubled me. It was titled, “The Failure of Christianity,” and in it, the author predicted the ongoing decline of the Church until the time we would be rescued by the Lord in the pre-trib rapture.
To put this into words, it was if we were drowning at sea, going down for the last time, crying out in desperation, “Lord, save us!”
Where was the victory of the gospel? Where was the spread of God’s spiritual kingdom? Where was the massive harvest of souls? Where was the final (and greatest) outpouring of the Spirit?
I could readily accept that Christendom will fail and that human institutions that contradict God’s plan will not last.
But the Church that Jesus is building will be triumphant, not in our strength but in His. When we come to the end of ourselves, we really do come to the beginning of His grace.
I Believe the Promises of God
I say the because of the character of God and the promises of God, not because of my own human optimism or positive attitude.
I say this because this is who God is, as the Lord promised the people of Israel years ago, “Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD rises upon you. See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the LORD rises upon you and his glory appears over you. Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn.” (Isaiah 60:1-3)
I believe Jesus will get for Himself a radiant congregation, without spot or wrinkle (see Ephesians 5:25-32). I believe His prayer for our unity will be answered (see John 17). I believe His holy purposes will come to pass.
It may take massive upheaval to bring this to pass. It may take stress and pressure beyond anything we have known.
But just as the Lord’s Church is growing in leaps and bounds around the world, in the midst of great persecution and suffering, so it will be at the end of age.
That’s why Jesus will return with a shout, not a whimper, with the sound of victory, not the sigh of defeat.
Count on it.
Dr. Michael Brown (www.askdrbrown.org) is the host of the nationally syndicated Line of Fire radio program. His latest book is The Political Seduction of the Church: How Millions of American Christians Have Confused Politics with the Gospel. Connect with him on Facebook, Twitter or YouTube.