If we are to be involved in God’s purposes on the earth, it would help us to have an idea of what His will might be. Too often, our definitions of His will have little practical application. My dear friend and associate, Kris Vallotton, uses a brilliant analogy to illustrate this point. Let’s say you have a 1955 Chevy you want restored to its former beauty. And in this story, let’s say I own a restoration shop known for its excellence. When you bring your car to me, you tell me to spare no expense to make the car as beautiful as possible.
Let’s say about halfway through the project, I discover that you plan to enter your car in a demolition derby where the cars crash into each other until all of them are destroyed except the last one left running. Do you think that knowledge will affect the quality of my work? You know it will. The intended outcome of something has everything in the world to do with our vision and hope for it, and with the quality of labor we put into it. And much of the Church has a demolition derby kind of approach to the last days. They believe the Church will be filled with sin and many will fall away, barely escaping the judgment to come. It is no wonder so few believers live with hope. The Church of the last hundred years or so has labored under the idea that our only hope is to be rescued from the powers of darkness. Our faith is no longer in the power of the Gospel. But as Georgian Banov, a great musician and minister of the Gospel from Eastern Europe, has said, “If you can’t be free from sin until you die, then Jesus isn’t your Savior, death is.”
Devastation looms everywhere, and for many, the only answer is to go to heaven. While that may seem discerning and spiritual to some, it reveals our lack of faith in God’s promises and our weak understanding of the power of the blood of Jesus. His glorious redemptive work made it possible for us to see God’s purposes accomplished for humanity while we are on earth. The escapism approach completely undermines the significance of the message we carry that the Kingdom is at hand.
Neither the Reformation nor the two Great Awakenings came from the kind of thinking that says we need to be rescued. We are designed as overcomers. Those who are convinced of the heart of God for people carry a conviction of the superiority of His message. The Gospel is good news for eternity, but also for now. It must be used to confront the inferior ideals of darkness that masquerade as intelligence every time the question arises, “Where is your God?” (see Psalm 42: 9– 11; Joel 2: 15– 19). Ideals “raised up against the knowledge of God” are mere illusions of grandeur working to distract us from the promises that God has given us for the here and now (2 Corinthians 10: 5 NASB). And we must confront them through infectious confidence in God and through the courage to embrace His purposes. Hope always speaks the loudest.
Oftentimes we take the great promises of Scripture and put them off into a period of time for which we have no responsibility— the Millennium or eternity in heaven. One of the ultimate expressions of arrogance is to think that we know ahead of time what is about to happen, and to let that cause us to become ineffective in our assigned purpose and call. When did the disciples know and understand ahead of time what God was going to do? I cannot find one instance. Jesus prophesied to them, but they only understood what He meant after it happened. What if we took a cue from their example and kept our lives firmly anchored in our commission, without adjusting it to accommodate our unbelief? unbelief? I believe true Kingdom success would be the result. At the very minimum, we must bring Scripture’s extraordinary promises to God and ask if it might be possible for Him to fulfill them in our lifetime. Because we are believers, we must look to the possibility contained in a promise more than we look to the effect of the evil that surrounds us. This is the responsibility of the faith-full. On top of that, we are to prophesy according to our faith (see Romans 12: 6). We should consider what it looks like to declare the word of the Lord when it is backed by faith in the purposes and plans of God. It has to look different from the typical word that requires no faith to see it fulfilled.