Revelation 13:10 If anyone is to be taken captive, to captivity he goes; if anyone is to be slain with the sword, with the sword must he be slain. Here is a call for the endurance and faith of the saints.
Captivity is a relevant word again in our world. We see the captivity of ideas, the censorship on social media platforms, and the blatant disrespect for the freedom to express free speech.
Revelation 13:10 comes at the end of describing the first beast earlier in the Chapter. That first beast will have the authority of Satan and the world will worship him. Satan’s goal from the beginning was to be worshipped in the same manner as God. He has found a way to bring that worship to himself through the work of the Anti-Christ who is described in the Chapter. The work of this person will be to control the earth primarily by controlling the financial systems. The Bible teaches that you will not buy or sell unless you have a mark on your forehead or hand that indicates you are on board with him. He will make war against the saints and believers in God, and he will be victorious. Silencing the church by infiltrating weak and faithless leadership has been his tactic for many decades. Today, there are more men and women in the clergy that do not believe in the truth of the Scriptures. Why do I know that? Because they do not preach a message of faith and trust in Christ.
For years, I have presented my case that the modern church has not prepared the flock for the world that is about to come and is here now. The world in which we live is under assault and the result for believers will simply come down to endurance. We had a shift in leadership in our state since the fall elections, and the governor and the one-party legislature will be aggressively changing laws to ensure abortions are never challenged, and the rights of free speech against immorality will be narrowed by protective laws. I do not see a bright future for our country without the true move of God to change people's hearts.
The Bible does not speak positively about the future of this world; it is a dark time of living without God while worshipping the gods we have created in our culture. One Bible commentator said, “Our mission in the church has turned into a rescue mission where we are throwing life preservers to people who want to be saved.” Knowing what is to come and what we are headed toward is helpful to prepare for a world without God. The church can no longer just do church as a separate entity while ignoring the conditions of the world around it. For too long the church has siloed into an environment that is conditioned and created for believers. Part of that is important for spiritual growth, however, it is not the product of the church to be constantly feeding without any challenge to find a field where we sow God’s seed.
My word for 2023 is ‘influence.’ That means for 12 months, I will focus my thinking, studying, and doing on the word ‘influence’ as a catalyst for change in the world around me. For me, the day of nice sermons, easy devotionals, and church, as usual, is over. I don't care to be involved in a system of religion that does not discern our times and apply the Scripture appropriately to the days in which we live.
The danger in our day is the lack of discerning our times. Jesus said:
Matthew 24:10 At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other.
What causes this kind of departure from faith? It will be easy if we compromise the Scriptures and make the Gospel into something it is not. The Gospel is clear. It is God’s message of salvation through Jesus Christ, and it produces a life that is surrendered to God.
Discernment must start with two things:
1) Is the gospel that is being preached focused on Jesus and the transformed life?
2) Is the transformation of the gospel effectively changing how we think, act, and believe?
If you are not preparing your heart today with God's Word, you will never have the endurance to face a world that is about to be unleashed. Preparing to run a marathon is not done the day before the race; it takes months of daily running and discipline to train for the endurance needed to complete the 26 miles. It is no different for you and the race we are running. Preparing starts with your commitment to finish well in your service to God. Training yourself not to compromise and not accept anything other than God's Word as truth. It is a narrow perspective God has called us to, but the way of salvation is a narrow road. The broad gate is where most people live their lives, and that will lead only to deception and ultimately eternal damnation. Not a pretty message, but eternity with God is narrow … it is done God’s way, or it is not done.
I am worried about the compromises I see in the modern church. I was made aware of a famous Christian music artist who is lending toward accepting the message of the LGBTQ+ community, and it is the wrong message to promote. It is one thing to say we love this community, but equally important to say God does not accept it as a lifestyle before Him. This is where we have lost the discernment of His Word.
The key point today is endurance. How are you training yourself for the endurance that will be essential in the days ahead? That is a question you must ask yourself … and even your pastor, as we see more of the church falling away.
Challenging the Culture with Truth … Larry Kutzler