The world is currently in a state that some consider to be indicative of the end times. It appears as if society is heading in the wrong direction – good is being called evil and evil is being called good. Governments are corrupt. Economies are failing. Wars and rumors of war fill the news every day. A conscientious and discerning Christian probably feels anxiety about the world around us.
These feelings can compel us to prepare, to circle the wagons so to speak and to get ready for the worst. The “prepper” movement is alive and well in America as people are buying food, ammunition, and emergency supplies as if tribulation and the apocalypse are right around the corner. They may be right, but there’s a step that many are skipping before they get physically prepared to weather the coming storm.
The step I’m speaking of is spiritual preparation. It’s very common for Christians in western society to take for granted their own spiritual preparation. This is a mistake. When tribulation comes, we will all be faced with challenges and persecutions that can make the unprepared turn away from their faith. I want to go over a few things that we believe are important to prepare before worrying about whether or not you have enough ammunition to keep the ravaging hordes away from your food and water stocks.
Certainty in Your Heart
If you’re like many in United States, you may have sat with a pastor and prayed the “Sinner’s Prayer.” It comes in many forms but usually ends with a statement from the pastor that if you said those words and meant them in your heart, that you’re saved now and forever. For many, this is a life changing experience that truly brings about a shift in your heart. That’s the Holy Spirit moving within you to make it sting inside when you sin, that guides you to do the right things even when they seem hard, and that fills you with sadness when you see people you care for who do not believe.
If, like many, you said the prayer and went about your business living life the same way you always did with the only difference being a feeling of license to sin without consequences, then it’s time to pray again. And again. And again. The Holy Spirit will move you to pray always, read your Bible, and fulfill the desired goals and actions that our Father has set before you. If you aren’t baptized, get baptized. If you aren’t certain if you’ve ever been baptized or you think that you were baptized as a child, get baptized.
There’s a verse in the Bible that is conspicuously missing from many translations. That verse is Acts 8:37:
35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus.
36 And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?
37 And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.
38 And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him.
39 And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing.Acts 8:35-39
The King James and other versions of the Bible make it very clear that being baptized is a choice that depends upon belief that Yeshua is the Son of God. Babies are incapable of believing this which is why the verse is excluded from Bibles that are commonly used by faiths that promote childhood baptism. Baptism is necessary and should be performed when you believe in Yeshua, not when you’re a child or when you still have doubts about the inerrancy of the Bible.
Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.John 3:5 (KJV)
This isn’t the time to debate whether or not Baptism is necessary. That’s something we’ll cover more in-depth later. The point here is that you should make sure you’re truly in the Body of Christ. Going to church every Sunday and asking for things in prayer every now and then is likely not the certainty you need in your heart.
Understanding of the Possible Trials and Tribulations
We aren’t going to go into our perspectives about the pre-tribulation rapture. That’s a topic we’ve covered before and we’ll cover again, but not here. As Christians, we know that at any time we may be called out for our faith and even told that we must denounce it. Throughout American history, even recently, we’ve seen occasions where people are given a choice between death or denouncing the Bible. In many countries, this potential is a part of everyday life.
Would you be willing to accept death the way that the 21 Coptic Christians did? Reports show that the Islamic State abducted dozens of men and told those who were Christians to convert or die. 21 of them chose death.
It is terrifying to imagine that we could be put into the same situation. Believe it or not, things can be even worse. What if you’re in a terrible situation where your family is going to be tortured and killed if you don’t denounce your faith. Would you have the spiritual fortitude and courage to know that worshiping the Father, believing on the Son, and following the guidance of the Holy Spirit must supersede all worldly considerations, even family? Would you be able to do as Abraham did, nearly sacrificing his own son at the command of our Lord?
These questions aren’t meant to depress you. It’s important that you consider them. It’s imperative that you’re mentally and emotionally prepared if, God forbid, you are put into a situation where you must make these types of choices. It’s something that nobody likes to think about but it’s the type of situation that we all must prepare for just in case.
Bringing Your Circle to Faith
We all have friends or family members who simply do not believe. They may be lukewarm Christians. They may be non-believers or worshipers of false religions. Once you are steeled in your own faith, it’s important for both you and your family/friends that you do what you can to bring them to the same place in life.
That’s an important distinction to make. Being a Christian isn’t just a belief. It’s a way of life. It’s a stage in the journey for many of us that brings wonders and joy to those who truly get there. I’m not talking about wonders of this world or the joys of these bodies. Faith isn’t about riches or ease. True faith is the knowledge that we are given the ultimate gift and the desire to share that gift with as many as possible. It’s important to start with family and friends.
Bringing your circle of family and friends to the faith isn’t just a selfless act. As the world gets crazier and crazier, it’s our inner circle that influences us whether we want it to or not. Yes, we want to help them, but being surrounded by fellow believers, particular in these end times, makes it easier for us to continue down our path and is part of the strength we’ll need to persevere.
Wait, Help, Strengthen
Once you have accepted the gift of Salvation, prepared yourself mentally and emotionally for tribulation, and done what you can to bring your inner circle of influence to the faith, it’s time to partake in the great commission.
16 Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them.
17 And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted.
18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.
19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.Matthew 28:16-20 (KJV)
For many, the next step can mean forsaking all else and doing ministry or missionary work. For others, it means finding that perfect cabin off the grid and getting physically prepared for the coming tribulations. We are not against “preppers” by any means. We’ve even done a small amount of preparation ourselves. However, all of this is secondary to the needs of the Spirit – spreading the Gospel and continuing to be students of the Bible in a constant state of learning and worshiping.
If we truly are in the end times, it’s a time to rejoice. As things get more and more difficult in this life, we know that the next life is drawing closer. Praise be to God.