All The More
In the last year, many people have asked me about the end times. They have brought up the book of Revelation, prophecy, Christians falling away, and government encroachment into the life of the church. While I don't know if Jesus will return before I die, I know His return is nearer than it was yesterday. So, let's talk about the end times.
Let's start with a familiar Bible verse. Amid the isolation of the last six months, Hebrews 10:24-25 has always been there, calmly warning us against hunkering down in our homes indefinitely. It states, "And let us consider one another in order to provoke love and good works, not neglecting to gather together, as some are in the habit of doing."
I left off the last line intentionally. Do you remember it? I'll tell you at the end of this article.
But before I tell you, let me point out two things happening today that have never happened for the first 1900 years of church history: globalization and globalism.
Globalization allows everyone in the world to communicate and do business together. If you're an American, you likely carry four credit cards (or if you attended Financial Peace University, a sparingly used debit card) with which you can make purchases almost anywhere in the world. You also can use your cell phone, tablet, or computer to communicate with just about anyone in the world. This instant global technology is brand-new in the scope of world history, and it will serve an important role in the tribulation before Jesus' return.
While globalization is a technological phenomenon that allows us to talk and do business together, globalism is an ideology that envisions every nation in the world collaborating to accomplish the same goals. What goals do globalists have? The United Nations identifies one on their website, "The United Nations is the only forum in which an agreement aimed at reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions beyond 2012 can realistically be brokered among the 190 plus countries with different outlooks and economies but of a common atmosphere." This is a perfect example of globalism: the belief that there is a problem that affects everyone on the globe which can only be solved by a global agency "brokering" all nations to solve that problem.
Think of it this way: globalization allows people to do things globally; globalism compels people to do things together.
The Bible records the first global initiative that took place over 4,000 years ago.
"Now the whole earth had one language and the same words...And they said to one another, 'Come, let us make bricks and burn them thoroughly...Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens'" (Genesis 11:1-4).
Here you can see globalization: they share the same language and economy. You can also detect a clear example of globalism: the world coming together to think and act with a shared purpose: building a tower to the heavens. God didn't like what He saw. So He confused their language and dispersed them throughout the earth, thereby restraining the world from fulfilling its godless vision (Genesis 11:6).
Now, fast-forward to the end of the story, Revelation 13, where we see the world uniting again to do evil before Jesus returns. A certain world leader, Beast #2, will compel the people of the earth to worship Beast #1 (13:14-16). Next, Beast #2 will prevent anyone on the earth from doing business unless they receive Beast #1's mark on their right hand or forehead, signalling allegience to Beast #1 (13:16-17). Only recently has the phrase "cancel culture" become common, but the Bible has prophecied all true Christians experiencing economic cancellation for almost two millenia.
I'm not here to advance theories on barcodes, implant chips, or the New World Order. But we should understand that nearly every positive technological advancement that Christians enjoy can be used against us. Most of us appreciate the services provided by tech companies that let us stay connected to others. Few of us think about how dependent we are on this technology. But one day, the most powerful leaders of the world will use financial technology to force us to choose between worshiping God or buying groceries. The tools exist today; they just haven't been used for this purpose yet.
What effect will this have on the church? Jesus' addresses this in Matthew 24:9-13, when He talks about the tribulation period before His return.
"Then they will hand you over to be persecuted, and they will kill you. You will be hated by all nations because of my name. Then many will fall away, betray one another, and hate one another. Many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. Because lawlessness will multiply, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved."
Many Christians who lived through the Marxist revolutions of China, Russia, and Cuba have stories and scars that attest to this level of suffering. They were persecuted, killed, betrayed by their spiritual family, and subjected to lawless government oppression.
If it can happen there, it can happen in America.
Already, many high-profile Christians are renouncing their faith, church membership nationwide is down 70% since 1999 (according to a 2019 Gallup poll), politicians are increasingly unaffiliated with (if not hostile toward) Christianity, and many of these politicians have declared worship services to be "non-essential."
We know the day of Christ's return is getting closer. We are experiencing changes that appear to confirm that.
So what should we do in response? God has given an answer to that in His word.
"And let us consider one another in order to provoke love and good works, not neglecting to gather together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging each other, and all the more as you see the day approaching." (Hebrews 10:24-25)
Notice the phrase "all the more." It means with increasing frequency. God wants us to literally gather together more as it becomes clearer that Jesus' return is near. That's a response necessitated by the increased difficulty of living out the Christian life. It's required by the increased pressure from the world.
I love WestHill because we aren't hunkering down and waiting it out until Jesus comes back. We are becoming more involved and physically present with each other. There is nothing like the physical presence of the church to encourage us and sustain our faith in Christ. Don't neglect it as times get more difficult because that neglect will leave you vulnerable to the pressure of the world and the deception of its leader, Satan. As we worship our Savior and encourage each other more and more, the Holy Spirit will strengthen us to stand strong in the worst of times.