Watch, Occupy, and Overcome

 

My message to the body of Christ can be summed up with three words: watch, occupy and overcome. I sense that “the Church” in the United States is going through some changes. The study of the end times over the last forty-plus years has focused primarily on a premillennial/pre-tribulation scenario. What I believe started out as a well meaning effort by Christian writers to sound the alarm that today is the day of salvation has digressed to sensationalism. Writers predicting the year of Christ’s return, or taking nearly every world event and desperately trying to make it fit their understanding of the scriptures has done damage to the reputation of the Gospel message.

For the most part, it has been the dispensational premillennial pre-tribulation genre that has pervaded the discussion of end-time scripture, but there are other interpretations that many Christians have been unaware of such as amillennialism, postmillennialism, and preterism. Even within the premillennial position there are variations such as historic, dispensational, pre-tribulation, mid-tribulation, and post-tribulation.

It is not my goal to convince the Church of one or the other. My goal is to encourage the Church to turn the television off, open their Bibles and study to show themselves approved and be ready to defend the hope that is in them. Study the Word, then study what others have written about it, and then study the Word—continuously. When you have done this, you can “watch” (1 Thessalonians 5:6) for Christ’s return far more effectively.

My next goal is to encourage the Church to “occupy”:

The Bible teaches us that we should “occupy till I [Christ] come.” We are instructed to be “the light of the world, a city that is set on a hill… Let your light so shine before men.” (Luke 19:13 KJV). We are to be “the salt of the earth,” and Christ warns, “But if the salt have lost his savor, wherewith shall it be salted? It is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.” (Matthew 5:14 and 16 KJV) That is exactly what is happening and will continue to happen unless the church stands up to be the salt of the earth. The postmillennialists want us to stand up for different reasons—to take over culture, politics, etc. They, too, complain about the premillennialist apathy. But the millennial theory, in my opinion, is only indirectly responsible. The real responsibility falls on our tendency to be lazy. (“Out of the Shadows: The Gradual Encroachment of Ideas”, page 368-369. By Robert E. Herndon Sr.)

I believe it is time for Christians to come out of the closet. Our culture has become tolerant of everything except Christianity because we have allowed it. We are now being “trodden under foot of men” because we are not doing our mission. We are not to be ashamed of the Gospel of Christ. When I think of the millions who have lost their lives for the cause of Christ and His Gospel, when I think of the millions more that have lived and are living in poverty in Muslim and Communist countries because of their witness for Christ, I wonder what our problem is. We don’t express our beliefs at the workplace because we don’t want to lose our jobs, or worse, we don’t express our beliefs in social settings because we don’t want to offend anyone. If we believe that the Gospel or what is in our Bible is offensive we should not consider ourselves Christian. If it is offensive to unbelievers, oh well, that is to be expected (Romans 8:7).

I am not asking Christians to be rude, or overbearing. We should be patient and gentle with all men (2 Timothy 2: 24). My point is that I have never met a Buddhist, a Muslim, or a New Ager ashamed to tell me that they are a Buddhist, Muslim, or a New Ager. They are generally not eager to argue for their beliefs, but you know where they stand.  Homosexuals have become proud and loud. We as Christians need to stand up and stand out, and “…having done all to stand. Stand therefore…” (Ephesians 6: 13-14).

Paul’s letter to the Romans was written in a pre-Christian culture, before Christianity was widespread. When we read the first two chapters it sounds familiar because we find ourselves moving into a post-Christian culture, where Christian principles are not regarded. We need to be watching for Christ’s return, but we need to occupy our culture until Christ does in fact return. That could be the next moment, or a thousand years from now. We need to keep our hearts as through our next breath is our last, but we need to provide salt and light to our culture as though several generations in the future depend upon it. We need to watch and occupy.

Finally, we need to overcome. “He that overcometh shall inherit all things…” (Revelations 21: 7 KJV). What is it that we need to overcome? The Bible answers “the great dragon…that old serpent, called the Devil…” (Revelations 12:9). How do we overcome him? “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.” (Revelations 12: 11 KJV). First and foremost we overcome because of the work of Christ, but also by our testimony as Christ followers regardless of the personal cost. We overcome by occupying our sphere of influence with the love of Christ, the wisdom of God’s Word in all areas of life and culture, in expectation of His return.

Watch (Matthew 24: 42 KJV)

Occupy (Luke 19: 13 KJV)

Overcome (Revealtions 21: 7 KJV)