There are a lot of modern day thoughts on how much evil is going to prevail on earth. Some Christian groups think the world will become so evil and that will usher in the Second Coming of Christ. Others believe that Jesus will come back any moment regardless of the degree of wickedness. Some are hopeless, while others just give into the belief that, since the world is so evil, it must mean that we are living in the Last Days and there is nothing we can do to stop the evil, so we just have to wait for Jesus to return, which will be any day now, while they stop living productive lives on earth.
How should we look at evil? What part does the church play? What are some of the erroneous thinking that is going on today? Here are two things to keep in mind:
1. The church will prevail, simply because God is all-powerful, and the church is His plan.
2. Evil will triumph when good men do nothing. (Edmund Burke).
Part of our problem is that we have bought into a doctrinal thinking called, 'Dispensationalism' which divides History into Seven different dispensations. One of the last ones takes the book of Revelation literally and takes some of the images and wording and places it into today's events. The difference between the thinking of the Reformers and the thinking of the Dispensationalists would be that the Reformers believe that the 'Last Days' began when the church began. It would also be known as the 'Church Age'. Dispensationalists believe that everything will get very bad, then Jesus will come and rescue His people. Then for seven years, the earth will be under the 'Great Tribulation' then Jesus will come back again (not sure why Jesus comes twice).
Some evil is definitely inevitable. But some evil can be stopped. We should not just sit back while horrible crimes are taking place in our land and say to ourselves, 'that just means that Jesus is coming back really soon'. If someone kidnapped your child, would you just be content with believing that Jesus is coming back soon? Jesus told us to occupy until He comes. That means we should be busy and active doing the Father's will.
I believe a lot of the evil going on in our country is due to the fact that the church is not healthy today. Many pastors, sadly, are more concerned with 'growing' their church (not that the church is their's anyway). They want large groups of people in their congregations, so, they keep the hard truths of the word of God away from the people, lest the people leave and the number of those in their congregations shrink. Then they would get in trouble with their headquarters and those over them.
We have such a church in our area. There was a church in which the pastor was a nice guy. He knew the Lord, and was pastoring at an Episcopal church. He had a burden for his people and started preaching the hard message of the Gospel. The people had him removed from the pulpit, sadly.
Another church called, The Crystal Cathedral, had an interesting beginning. When the building was either being constructed or was just built, Robert Schuller went to the neighboring houses and interviewed the people. He found out what they liked to hear or didn't want to hear. They actually told him that they didn't want to hear about sin. I find this amazing, but it correlates with other things that Robert Schuller taught, such as "I don't think anything has been done in the name of Christ that and under the banner of Christianity that has proven more destructive to human personality and, hence, counterproductive to the evangelism enterprise than the often crude, uncouth, and unchristian strategy of attempting to make people aware of their lost and sinful condition." (Time, March 18, 1985)
Basically, there are two main factors involved in our problem. One is apathy and the other is that we do not fear God anymore. We live in a society where many professing Christians actually believe the words of the culture are more valid that what the Scriptures say. Many think that God did not know what He was doing when He gave all His 'rules' and that people today suffer in ways that God did not think about or have a remedy for, so they write God off and look for the wisdom of society.
The church will win because Jesus said that the powers of darkness will not prevail against the church. What does that mean for us today, living in America or even in a Third World country where we do see evil prevailing?
Here is what I believe it means: We are to be faithful in living for God, loving and holding onto His truths and providing grace for those who want it and are asking for it. God does not want us to just sit back and wait for the rapture. That is actually what the Jehovah's Witnesses are doing. Many of them choose not to have children because the world is so evil and Jesus is coming back immediately.
Could Jesus come back immediately? Yes!! But that doesn't mean we should do nothing and let evil triumph. When Cain sinned by killing his brother Abel, God informed Cain that evil would be crouching at his door, but he must master it. It's like evil is always going to be pressing in on us, but we can stop it by embracing the truths of God and standing up for them when these truths are challenged.
Looking back through church History, the church fathers rose up against a heretic. The church father stood up for the truth against the heretic. What if Augustine just sat back when Pelagius was doing his thing and said to himself, 'I guess with all this evil, Jesus is coming back right away, so I guess I should just wait for Him to return'? Pelagius would have been successful in promoting his lie that says that man is not born with a sinful nature, but chooses to sin. Once a person comes to Christ, if he sins, he will be treated by God as the worst of sinners without a chance to repent. So, if you came to Christ, and if you sinned after that point, you would go to hell without any chance to turn back to God. Or we could take Arius' belief which said that Jesus was not truly God. What if Athanasius just sat back waiting for the rapture, while Arius spread his lie? We wouldn't have a church today if this teaching wasn't stopped.
What about us today though? The devil would love nothing more than to have people believe that the world will become totally evil and nothing can stop it (remember, because the rapture is around the corner, so we don't have to worry about how evil things get?) or, we have people who are hopeless because of the evil of the world. We have people who are not understanding the truth of who God is because we are allowing evil to prevail. We have perverted people (like Romans 1 describes) leading our country, simply because we have not stood up for the truth of who God is when it is being challenged. We voted them in by our apathy and wishful thinking that Jesus' coming is right around the corner, so it doesn't matter who we voted for.
Instead of sitting back waiting for the rapture to come, why don't we spend time listening to God and allowing Him to change us, and in turn, go out into the world, in the power of God, and change the world? Jesus will definitely come back at the appointed time, but people need to hear the Gospel in the mean time. People need to see a church that is healthy, active, and real. People need to see the love of God and Christians serving each other. The church needs to be a light to the world, not a hidden place where people are sitting back waiting for the excitement of the book of Revelation to take place in their midst.
Satan's goal is to take over the world. All that is necessary for that to happen, is for the church to be silent or paralyzed. The devil's lies are rampant today. Are we going to stop them, or are we going to let them rule people while we sit back and wait for the rapture to come? Do we really love God, and do we really love our neighbors? Or do we love ourselves more, and want to protect ourselves and comfort ourselves by saying that Jesus will come back, maybe tonight or tomorrow?
Note: I am not saying the rapture or Second Coming won't take place. We know it will. It's just that some 'Christians' have stopped living for the Lord and for others because they hold onto the belief that it will happen today, meaning (to them) that they don't need to do anything more. If you knew this was your last day on earth, how would you live your last day?