For the church today, Revelation and Daniel are the two major prophetic books in the Bible. Of course 1 Corinthians, 1 Thessalonians, Isaiah and many other books also contain important prophetic passages. Bible prophecy is not meant to conceal, but to reveal, Rev. 1. 1. Ultimately, we look forward to the blessed hope, the return of the Lord Jesus Christ, Titus 2. 13. That return could happen any day, and so we seek to keep short accounts with God. We confess any known sin right away, and seek to make the most of every chance to share the gospel. On the other hand, the Lord Jesus is not obligated to return in the next hundred years. Just because morality within the West is at a low ebb does not force God’s hand.
So what if the Lord Jesus does not return for some years to come? What will the world be like in twenty years? And how can Christians today prepare for the changes that are coming? Forces that are present in the world today will continue to influence our society and even the church. Secularism and pluralism will continue to dominate the public arena. The common man and the politicians that represent him will continue to value the mutually contradictory ideas that ‘no religion has value and every religion has truth’. Yes, this is illogical nonsense, but it will continue to be the dominant thought pattern within the Western world.
We will continue to see the effects of post-modernism and feminism. The ‘Baby Boom’ will peter out. Religious radicalism and terrorism will continue to be influences that will shape society. As terrorism gains access to terrible new weapons the average man will see authoritarian governments as less of a threat than religious radicalism. The church in the West will continue to be theologically weak. Unless we are very careful, the church will continue to take its cues from the society around it. The economies of China and India will exceed that of the United States. Brazil will become increasingly important. Africa will continue to be fragmented. North America will continue in moral decline and Europe will be increasingly dominated by secularism and Islam.
So what should we do now to prepare for this world? Two easily accessible resources need to be used. Firstly, by world standards, the Christians in the Western world are fabulously wealthy. It is our responsibility to use that wealth in the Lord’s service. We must balance the use of wealth between the work at home and the work overseas. We must balance between the support of missionaries and the support of indigenous workers. We must make sure we don’t cause the Christians in other countries to become dependent on our money, because that tap could be turned off at any time.
Secondly, literature ministries offer much potential throughout Asia, India and Africa. This ministry doesn’t require a continuous flow of Western money to continue the work. Once a good book is translated into a foreign language, a lack of money will not cause it to become untranslated. When good books find their way into the hands of local believers they will be circulated widely. In many countries local workers have some English skills so good literature doesn’t even need to be translated. What if Christians committed to New Testament church principles diverted £5.00 per month from our fast food and entertainment budget and channelled it into literature ministries? The result would be tens of millions of pounds a year available to further the Lord’s work.
The Lord Jesus Christ will return. Of this we can be certain. A generation of Christians will start their day like any other day and end up ‘raptured to heaven’. But we don’t know if we will be that generation. By observing the world around us, it is clear to see the direction we are going in. We need to use what is available to us now. So are we prepared to use that wealth to influence the world for Christ over the next twenty years?