All For Christ As His Return Approaches
By Rich Carmicheal
The messages the Lord has provided for this issue of the Herald deal with the tremendous responsibility we have as His people in this critical time. Time and time again in the Bible and throughout history, when conditions were grave, the Lord looked to His people, even to individuals, to serve as His instruments through whom He could bring hope and deliverance – people like Joseph, Elijah, Nehemiah, Ezra, Esther, Daniel, and the early Christians. The common denominator in these people was not their own ability to impact crisis situations, but their faith in the living God, and their willingness to be used of Him. They were people just like us, but they found courage and strength in the Lord, and put everything on the line, even their own lives, to accomplish His purposes. And the Lord, by His mighty power and in His great faithfulness, worked through them to bring needed help and deliverance.
Christ’s Return Nears
The stakes in these previous generations and situations were obviously very high, but could any of those settings have been as critical as the days before us? Do we not sense the reality that the Return of Christ is drawing ever nearer? How much more time is there for us, as the children of God, to shine as lights in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation? (Phil. 2:15). How much more time is there to pray, to fast, to share the Word, to reach out to the lost, and to encourage and edify the church? Are not passages such as these taking on even more significance in light of this final season:
“…Knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand…” (Rom. 13:11-12).
“But you, brethren, are not in the darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober” (1 Thes. 5:4-6).
“And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works…exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching” (Heb. 10:24-25).
“…The end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers. And above all things have fervent love for one another…. As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen” (1 Pet. 4:7-11).
The message is clear: Final things are upon us; Christ is coming soon! It is time to be wide awake, serious, watchful, prayerful, fervent in love, and faithful in whatever ministry the Lord has entrusted to us. It is time to look to the Lord and to rely upon His Spirit, His grace, His Word, and His strength for our lives and service. Our own resources are woefully inadequate for these last days, but the resources of our God are much more than sufficient! “For by You I can run against a troop, by my God I can leap over a wall” (Psa. 18:29). “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:13). “I will go on in the strength of the Lord God…” (Psa. 71:16). “…Be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might” (Eph. 6:10).
In the context of this last passage, the Apostle Paul reminds us of the spiritual battle that is raging all around us (see Ephesians 6:10-18). As W. C. Moore states in his article, “...It is the wicked spirits behind the scenes, the ‘rulers of the darkness of this world’ (Eph. 6:12), that are causing the confusion today.” Do we not sense that the devil and the spiritual forces of darkness are in fevered pitch as Christ’s Return nears? Two major marks of the devil are deception and destruction (John 8:44; 10:10). Are there not many indications of such forces at work today? It is time to put on the whole armor of God and make our stand! Again, our strength is in the Lord’s provision!
Watchful in Prayer
A key element in our warfare is prayer. We are to pray “always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints” (Eph. 6:18).
Notice again the emphasis that Peter gives to prayer in the last days: “…The end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers” (1 Pet. 4:7). In light of the tremendous needs of this hour, what hope do we have except that our God intervene through prayer? And as we look to Him in prayer, we can have great hope because nothing is too difficult for our God! (Jer. 32:17).
Regarding the power of prayer, Leonard Ravenhill shares in his book Why Revival Tarries: “Prayer is as vast as God because He is behind it. Prayer is as mighty as God because He has committed Himself to answer it.”
Ravenhill then goes on to share this inspirational word from John Chrysostom, an early church father: “The potency of prayer hath subdued the strength of fire; it hath bridled the rage of lions, hushed anarchy to rest, extinguished wars, appeased the elements, expelled demons, burst the chains of death, expanded the gates of heaven, assuaged diseases, repelled frauds, rescued cities from destruction, stayed the sun in its course, and arrested the progress of the thunderbolt.”
I encourage you to read through that list again – subdued fire, bridled rage, hushed anarchy, extinguished wars, appeased the elements, expelled demons, burst the chains of death, expanded the gates of heaven, assuaged diseases, repelled frauds, rescued cities from destruction…. Is this not the power that is desperately needed today? Oh may we pour our hearts out in prayer that our omnipotent and merciful God may hear and work powerfully through prayer in our day!
Another vital matter in these last days is the need for thorough honesty and repentance in our own lives. We obviously see the sin all around us, but we must make certain that our own lives are right with the Lord in every way. To this end, articles in this issue call us to examine ourselves and to allow the Lord to search us. It is time to “lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and…run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith…” (Heb. 12:1-2). It is time to prepare fully for His Return and to live and minister fully for His glory! As He Himself says, “Take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly. For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the earth. Watch therefore, and pray always…” (Luke 21:34-36).
Our Lord is so gracious to desire the very best for us – that we not be in sin, but in a good relationship with Him and ready for His Return. Because He loves us, He calls us to repentance – “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent” (Rev. 3:19). Today if we hear His voice, let us not harden our hearts, but fully respond to Him (Heb. 3:7ff.; Rev. 3:20).
How thankful we can be for stirrings of repentance and revival in the U.S. and beyond! For example, in September, in the midst of all of the dysfunction and turmoil here in the U.S., two major events took place simultaneously in Washington, D.C. calling our nation to prayer and repentance – the “Washington Prayer March 2020” and “The Return.” How grateful we can be for these and other gatherings and movements drawing God’s people toward prayer, repentance and revival! In spite of how far this nation has drifted from the Lord, He is mercifully calling us to return to Him. May we join our hearts and prayers with many others in turning fully to Him and seeking Him for spiritual awakening in our nation and throughout the world as we look forward to the Second Coming of Christ!