Contending for the faith | Making Disciples | Equipping the Saints for Ministry

LIVING IN INSANE TIMES Part 5 By Rayola Kelley

In the first four articles we have been looking at surviving the end times. I don’t know about you, but we have some books on survival. However, the procedures to survive something differs with the challenges that confront the person.

For example, there are preppers who are preparing to survive national and international political unrest, there are wilderness survivors that learn how to prepare for emergencies when out in the wilderness, whether it is becoming lost, injured, or attacked by some wild animal, or those who prepare for national emergencies such as in the case of bad weather. Such survival is not only about becoming fit to survive, but having the means to survive and being ready for any challenge that may confront the person.

The problem with preparation in this world is we really don’t know where the challenge may come from, the intensity of it or the length of it. We may prepare for a tornado, but encounter a flood. We may be prepared for a temporary emergency that may greatly extend beyond our resources, leaving us in dire straits. We may be prepared to hold our ground during a long length of time, only to have everything destroyed by fire or some other force.

The idea of surviving is actually an instinct. For most, we can’t imagine in our arrogance ever being willing to give ground, surrender, or give up when everything we know, have, and prize is on the line. The truth is we have no idea of what it means to simply die because the desire to live is so great. However, anyone in an intense struggle begins to understand that in spite of our will to live, our preparation to endure, and our wit to confront any challenge, there will be one point that we will not be able to survive.

This is why as believers we must realize that the way of a disciple is the way of the cross that causes us to walk towards our demise, whether it is the crucifixion of the flesh, being crucified to the world’s influence, or death of the self-life where pride reigns supreme. The demise of the old means the resurrection of the new. The death to the flesh means the great exchange of the old with the new. Being crucified to the world, means being separated from the unholy to be separated to that which is holy. Death to the self-life means the change of leadership from being a slave to sin to becoming a bondservant to the Lord Jesus Christ (Matthew 16:24-26; Romans 6:3-8, 12-22; Galatians 6:14).

We must keep in mind our strength is like grass that withers, our beauty like a flower whose colorful petals bloom for a short season than fall to the wayside, our youth spent out by endless toil and foolishness, and the height of our life like a peak that quickly hits the ultimate point, only to slide downward into what proves to be nothing more than vanity (Psalm 103:14-15; Ecclesiastes 1:2; 1 Peter 1:24). A times of such revelations it is simple to become weary with our existence. We even hit a crisis of purpose where our whole existence seems to lack any real meaning.

We have different names for this crisis, but for believers, it is a crisis of faith. As new Christians we start out with a mixture. For me I had a dependency on the world and faith IN God. The combination caused much frustration for me. I did not realize that due to my conditioning and influences the world was my solution, and due to my newly-found faith, God my option. It took some major reality checks before I realized my faith must be completely directed TOWARDS God to make Him my sole solution to all matters so the world’s influence would become less and less in my life (Hebrews 11:6).

It is for this reason I am reminded of why the Word of God tells us not to worry about what we have need of for our Father is aware and is the One who provides; or to take thought about the matters of tomorrow because we do not have control over tomorrow and there is always enough to contend with today. Rather, we must “seek…first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33). (See Matthew 6:31-34 and James 1:17.)

James 4:13-16 talks about those who try to plan for tomorrow as a means to control or be prepared for it. He brings out that we do not know what tomorrow will bring and since our life is a vapor, we must avoid becoming arrogant about what we plan to do. Don’t get me wrong, I believe we need to be wise and plan and prepare for possible crises, but we must also be realistic that when all is said and done, it is still the Lord who will provide our needs, preserve our soul, and has the final say as to our time on earth.

The next crisis I hit was the one that surrounded my calling as a Christian. Christianity is a vocation. As believers, it must be our profession, but to be about the Lord’s business I learned I had to come to terms with my calling. The problem is I had zeal towards God, but had no experience that led to wisdom and understanding of the real righteousness associated to God (Romans 5:2-5; 10:2-4; Ephesians 4:1; James 1:2-5). I was ready to take the world for Christ but unprepared for the takedown that would happen when my zeal was challenged by an unbelieving world, my ignorance about God revealed by those who twisted the Word, and my intellectual arrogance that were propped up by assumptions and presumptions, taken down like the walls of Jericho with a loud crash.

My calling would mean nothing if my Christian faith was not my vocation. It is living the life of Christ that will bring clarity to one’s calling, establish them in the authority to stand in it, and the power to carry it out (Galatians 2:20). This brings me to the fact there is one sure book about survival that I treasure and trust the most, and as you might have already surmised what the book is: the Word of God.

There are four ways in which people must survive. They are the physical, the emotional, the intellectual, and the spiritual. The physical has to do with the body, but no body will get out of this world alive because death works in it. The emotional and intellectual survival points to the soul. The soul may will to live, but disappointments, betrayals, and disillusionment of this life will fray one’s emotional resolve to live. The intellect will imagine a matter to be so according to its understanding, but it is destined to be driven to resign in complete hopelessness or become insane because it can’t control reality to bring it about.

The only way one can survive and be an overcomer in this world is spiritually. The world is a testing ground and its ways and functions are temporary, but man was meant to live forever. What man has a hard time accepting is that he was not meant to live forever in a soulish, fleshly state. He was designed to live in a spiritual state, a state of heavenly glory. He was meant to reflect the face of that heavenly glory in the midst of creation, but sin entered in, bringing with it toil in the midst of uncertainty, despair in the light of vanity, and death due to a curse upon the world (Genesis 3:17-19; Romans 8:29; 1 Corinthians 15:40-50).

This brings us to what it means to spiritually survive this world. The answer is as old as the existence of mankind. Although the face of the times may change, the answer to man’s survival has never changed. Man must come back to center; he must come back to God. He must line up to His Word, he must first seek God’s righteousness as he separates himself from fleshly ways, worldly practices and philosophies, and come under the sovereign will of God. He must choose and learn to DO IT GOD’S WAY.

Recently in our Bible Study I gave three words to the group to remember: spirit, truth, and gospel. When we consider the truth, it was manifested in a person, Jesus Christ, verified by His Written Word or record, and upheld by the Holy Spirit. According to the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 11:2-3 these three arenas of spirit, truth and gospel are under attack. In a way these three sources are like the plumbline. For a matter to be fitly put together all foundations and corners must come into balance with each other or the whole structure will be off center. This is true for our spiritual life.

The right spirit will always line us up to the truth of Jesus, and bring us back to the message of hope of the one and true Gospel that is found in the written record along with various testimonies that back it up as having the power of God unto salvation (Romans 1:16; John 16:13). If we are going to survive, we have to line up to all three angles with the plumbline to make sure we are standing in the right place, on the right ground, on the eternal Rock of heaven.

The problem is that people fail to line up. The Bible is clear we have no agreement with the spirit of this world which promotes idolatry, that seduces the flesh and captures the affections, but we consider things from an earthly perspective and not from the perspective of spirit (2 Corinthians 6:14-18). We separate or compartmentalize certain activities from the spirit and agenda in order to fudge the lines so that we can dance around compromising edges because intellectually we may know that we do not agree, but we see no harm in it since we know the difference.

It is because in our minds we know who Jesus is that we see no harm in watching or listening to some form of presentation or entertainment even if it may strip away His deity as long as it leaves us feeling somewhat religious and good about life. We fail to realize that we have just exposed ourselves to an anti-Christ spirit who is very likely dulling us down without our awareness.

We may know the essence of the Gospel, the death of Jesus on the cross for sin, the power of sin taken with Him to the grave and His resurrection three days later to prove victorious over the wages of sin: death. Therefore, if the message or presentation veers off of it in some small way as in adding to it to magnify it for sentimental reasons as in the case of His suffering overshadowing His resurrection, or to slightly water down the part that could insult someone, we fail to see that we are walking very close to the abyss of destruction. Paul pronounced a curse on anyone or anybody that preached a false gospel (Romans 1:16; 6:23; 1 Corinthians 15:1-5; Galatians 1:6-9).

The way to heaven is narrow, the entrance marked by a cross. There are mileposts (Scriptures) that point the way, ascents (choices) that challenge our character to come higher, obstacles that are meant to enlarge our faith, and storms that will test our resolve, but at the end is the glory our spirit seeks, the satisfaction our soul desires, and the hope and promises that will mark the end of our journey through this doomed, troubled world.

The question is, “Are you lining up in spirit and truth according to the one true Gospel?”