I remembered that as I was a child, I was afraid of the fires of hell. That was until I discovered that the fire was God’s Light. God is an all-consuming fire; brighter than any sun. And that fire refines us and cleanses us from all impurity. I no longer try to avoid this fire, for I know that within the flame is Life eternal. The flame is the Light of Life. What I have learned to fear is losing the warmth of this flame. Life without the Jesus Christ is (by definition) hell. For being void of goodness, that darkness is cold and void of love.
There are scriptures in the Bible that we try to avoid as Christians. These unpleasant writings tell us about the things that must happen before the Lord’s return. When I was young, I was taught that when it was time for Jesus to come back, He would rapture us to heaven and then many terrible things would take place on the earth to judge the world of its unbelief. Yet, even at a young age, I was conflicted as my Bible seemed to express a different narrative.
The forthtelling about the end of days is consistent no matter if you read it in the Old Testament, the Book of Revelation, or even in the words of Christ Himself. And the future that they all describe should kindle a Godly fear in all of us. For they do not reveal a rapture that takes place before the great tribulation. Believe me, anyone who tells you differently is selling you something. Each story shows the same picture. It is the portrait of a rebellious people who have known God yet have chosen to rebel against His holiness rather than repent and obey.
Rebellion is not a new thing in this world. So how can we know when it is time for this great tribulation to begin? Any theologian can tell you that there is one requirement that has to take place before the Judgement of God commences. The entire world must first hear the Good News of Jesus Christ our Savior before it begins. In fact, Jesus Himself proclaims, “And this Gospel of the Kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” Mat. 24:14. Logically speaking, that makes us all warm and toasty as many believe that there are still many tribes and nations that have never been told about the Name of Jesus. However, I would caution that line of thinking.
For 2,000 years the world has been hearing about God’s plan of redemption through Jesus Christ. And by telephone, television, and internet the world has become more globalized than ever. One thing that we must consider is that Jesus did not say that ever person was going to hear the Gospel. He said that the Gospel will be preached in all of the world. I tell you the truth. If we can’t name a place where the Gospel has not at one time been preached by word, radio waves or by satellite, why should we feel that this prerequisite has not yet been accomplished?
You see, the Gospel is the same Fire of God and the same Light that the world was created through. I wish you could see the larger picture. To me, the world is like a fire pit filled with things to burn. Some of those things are like hard woods that burn slowly and provide lasting heat while others are like the leaves of the field and dry kindling that will be burned up quickly for they have no substance.2,000 years ago, the fire of Christ’s Gospel was set ablaze in one of the corners of the pit. And with rushing heat, it spread quickly. And wherever the consuming fire reached, there was a burst of Light. Can you see how over the past millennium the flame of Christ has spread across the entire pit of this world and whenever it reached a new or undiscovered area there was an increase in heat and Light as the Gospel was revealed to new leaves and branches.
However, you and I know that eventually every fire goes out. No matter if the pit is filled with leaves or large logs of oak, if left in the pit too long, everything loses its value and turns to ash. This is true with God’s fire as well. That is why the Lord shows mercy to those living during the time of the great tribulation. Scripture reveals that “If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened. (Mat. 24:22)Why do I believe that we are preparing to enter the great tribulation? I would say that the fire has made its way to every corner of the pit, and every leaf has been turned to ash and every log is filled with the coals of Life. Even though it seems that much of the fire has died down it is not because the Gospel has not reached the entire world. Rather, there are just many parts of the pit that have burned too quickly because they lacked substance. At one time, the fire reached every country and nation, and as those nations were set ablaze with the Gospel a great Light could be seen. Sadly, many of the areas that experienced His Light have been consumed and darkness has once again taken its place.
None of us know the day or the hour of Christ’s return. But we can know the season. The season of the tribulation will be in a world that has known Christ, but has chosen to reject His holiness. Jesus said, “Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.” (Mat. 24:12-13) When I look at America and the World today, I see more ash than fire. I see denominations that have been used for hundreds of years to share the Light of Christ burning out as they have no Life left in them to offer and have fallen to compromise. I see families who have served the Lord for generations who no longer claim the faith of their forefathers. They have left the Church because they no longer could feel the Gospel’s power and warmth, for them it had become a dead religion.
I do not fear the fire of the Gospel, for even though I know that everything that is “not of God” is consumed by the fire of His holiness, Jesus has made a way and has become an example that we can follow. For He was the burning bush on the mountain that was not consumed. In the same way, Shadrack Meshack and Abednego bear witness as they too were able to stand in the fire and not be consumed as Jesus stood with them in the flames! You see with Jesus, we are not consumed, without Jesus we are already worthless and void of life.
We are preparing to enter the end of days, and many are falling away from a saving faith. So, what are we going to do? Are we content to burning out as we stand against the holiness of God and are consumed, or are we truly ready to embrace the persecution and tribulation that is to come as we strive to put on Christ as we seek out His holiness in our lives?
I tell you the Truth… The logs in the fire are about to be poked and reset to stoke the Lord’s flame. Yet, during this great tribulation, we will also witness a powerful revival as those who are in Christ begin to shine brighter amongst the ever-growing darkness. Therefore, if you still consider yourself a servant of the Lord, prepare your heart for what is to come. Ask the Spirit to reveal the sin that remains in your heart, for the Lord is near.
The pit has run its course. Soon Christ will come to collect the charred embers of wood that still reflect His Light and we who are collected will be remade into something beautiful and without sin. And even though we look forward to that great day, we must embrace what will transpire first. The fire is about to get hotter. Therefore, abide in the Lord!