Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.

In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints. (Ephesians 6:10-18)

What God Thinks Should Also Be What The Christian Thinks

There’s really little doubt today that many feel we are getting close to the end of this Age of Grace. I happen to believe we are at least at the end of something in this generation. There are some who would say that I am being sensationalistic to say this, but I really don’t think that I overstating this impression at all. More and more people are talking like the Messiah—Christ Jesus of Nazareth—could actually return in our lifetime. And certainly there are many fine teachers of biblical prophecy who will say that everything that needs to be fulfilled before the Second Advent of Christ has occurred, and you might even feel this way yourself.

Well here is a rare time that I’ll offer simply my personal opinion from this Internet “pulpit” of Apprising Ministries. I really don’t often give my opinion on the latest issues. And truthfully, that’s by design. The reason for this is my opinion has been—for as long as I can remember—that far too much of what passes for “preaching the Gospel,” from way too many pulpits, is little but the offering of the preacher’s opinions. Somebody just takes a verse of Scripture as an excuse to “yak” on about what they personally believe about some hot button issue. And I offer in the Lord that this is the root cause for the deplorable shape the evangelical community is in right now here in America.

I remember where Dr. John MacArthur—without a doubt one of the finest expository preachers of our generation—had someone inquire about this issue of offering personal views. He was asked: “Why don’t you give your own opinions more often? Why just preach the Bible?” I love MacArthur’s reply, which happens to forms the basis of my own theology as well, he said: “God’s opinion, is my opinion.” O, if only more pastors could understand that! And this would especially apply to those ministers who have already begun the ecumenical dance of deception with the those who are submerging themselves into Contemplative Spirituality/Mysticism—a core doctrine of the Emergent Church and postevangelicalism in general.

But What If Jesus Really Is Coming Back In This Generation?

Let me relate this to the subject of the certain and literal return of our Lord Jesus Christ. As I was saying, it would definitely seem there is kind of an excitement that He might actually come back in our lifetime. You could even say that there is kind of an expectation among people that Jesus will return in a time as short as a matter of a few years; in any event, within in a relatively short period of time. Now I’m not sure that I would personally agree with this opinion, but of course as time allows I am still open to discussing with people what the Bible has to say about it.

The main point being, there is just no way that I wish to build a reputation—or a following—as some kind of an alarmist preacher, which is the quickest way to get readers. Truthfully, this is a major reason why I teach in the fashion that I do. It is my firm conviction in Christ that I pay very close attention to what the text of the Bible itself actually says. And this is what I attempt to teach you to do as well. I am fully persuaded by our Lord that this is the way I can faithfully serve Him. I also feel that this is the single best way in which I can nurture and protect this growing flock that Jesus has been influencing through my teaching at here AM. As I tell my local church: Read the Bible; pray, and then do what it says.

Which brings me back again to this idea that so many today are thinking the return of Jesus Christ will happen relatively soon. So let’s take a moment to think about what this would mean. We’ll use what is known as an “if” proposition. This by the way, is a very good tool for sharing the Gospel with someone because initially they don’t feel pressure that they necessarily have to agree with you. The reason is, all you are really asking them to do at that point is to think through with you about “what if”—as in what if the thing you are saying really is true. Try it sometime; I use this method quite a bit, and it really does work as a conversation starter because it helps relax the person to whom you are speaking.

Ok, for our purposes here, if Jesus could indeed return in our lifetime, then wouldn’t it make good sense to be following the Master’s warning in the Book of Matthew? This is, of course, Matthew’s own eyewitness account of his time living with the God-Man—Jesus of Nazareth—the Christ, Who just so happens to be the LORD God Almighty in human flesh. Here is one of the things he records Jesus as saying concerning the time prior to His return; and I quote:

So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect Him. Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household to give them their food at the proper time? It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing so when he returns.(Matthew 24:44-46)

And wouldn’t it make just as much sense to become very sure of what the Bible actually teaches us about The Master Humself? Well, the best way you can do that is to make absolutely certain that what someone teaches you about our Lord is accurate. So you see this is why it’s so important that each of us should be careful to read the Bible thoroughly—and in context—as we attempt to teach others, and as we witness to them. I’m sure there is one thing that all true Christians will agree on: This time in which we now live, and into which God has chosen to place us, is such a critical point in history. As such then, we should strive all the more to be one of those who correctly handles the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15).

Prepare Not Only To Defend, But To Also Go On The Offensive

This cynical and relativistic so-called “postmodern” age that we now find ourselves thrust into—particularly here in America—land of the free *ahem* thinkers is a time where up often looks down. Kind of like how as the children of God we are called to soar like eagles, but instead so many are choosing to remain in the barnyard with the chickens of the world. We who are believers in Christ are told in 1 Peter 3:15 that we must — Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. The Greek word for “answer” here is apologia and primarily means “to give a defense.”

The idea behind this usage of apologia is that of standing in a courtroom and presenting your defense in front of a judge. Dr. A.T. Robertson, whom many believe to be one of the greatest New Testament Greek scholars who ever lived, commenting on this passage of Scripture in his classic Word Pictures in the New Testament, pointed out that apologia means to “[be] ready with a spoken defense of the inward hope. This attitude calls for an intelligent grasp of the hope and skill in presenting it.” And the absolute truth is that every Christian needs to be ready to be an apologist—a defender—of the faith that we have been given by our Lord.

Unfortunately I don’t agree with noted Christian apologist Josh McDowell very much anymore when he speaks on Christian doctrine but he is dead on target here when he says:

the ideas we share with people don’t necessarily definitively prove the existence of God, or the truth of Christianity, but they do give the thinking person better information from which to make an informed decision as to whether or not to trust in Jesus Christ by faith.

As some of you know, in addition to my duties as pastor of Connecticut River Baptist Church, I also used to the head coach of the varsity football team at Stevens High School. One year I actually filled in at the school as an instructor in the Claremont Alternative Program (CAP) at Stevens High and had the opportunity to work closely with Holt Littlefield, who is also a fine fencing coach. A couple of times we compared notes as fellow coaches. And something that all coaches have in common is the use of what are called “drills.” These will vary somewhat for each different sport, but their function remains the same.

The reason that coaches use various drills is to teach—and to reinforce—the essential basics of the particular sport involved. These repetitive activities are designated to stress key skills players will need in their games/contests, and drills usually emphasize only one or two of these necessary skills at a time. The athletes generally do not like them at all because it forces them to go over and over and over the same basic activity time and then time again. However, good coaches know very well the value of repeating skills frequently, because these drills will eventually form a habit—an unconscious reaction—which in a game or contest will cause the athlete to correctly respond naturally without even having to think too much about it.

So Let Us Also Train To Use The Master’s Sword

Here’s how this relates to our thoughts about Holy Scripture, which is actually the Master’s Own Sword. Just as in fencing, where the athlete must drill to learn to properly handle his rapier, so the Christian must also study Holy Scripture in order to learn to properly handle his Sword of the Spirit. Charles Spurgeon once asked his church, “Do you not know that the Master has given you His Own weapon to use?” Knowing how to use the Bible as you witness will enable you to quickly provide a wealth of absolute truth to those you witness to, which the Holy Spirit will then go on to use for His Own purposes.

And what I have been doing here at AM is attempting to get people to think about what the Bible says, and what they believe, concerning areas of current non-conflicts, e.g. such as spurious Spiritual Formation, The Cult of Guru Richard Foster, and apostate Roman Catholicism. Training to use Scripture in order to properly think issues like that is the exact opposite method used by the Devil. For Satan’s strategy in this nation has been to so thoroughly confuse issues of history, science and religion, that people just finally go: “Ah, who knows whether there even is a God; so what difference would it make what someone believes anyway?” Men and women, as Christians we know that what a person believes about God makes a great deal of difference—to God.

Let’s think of it this way. Suppose you were the President of the United States. And the head of a rival party, O—we’ll call it Satania—was out spreading lies and creating unrest around the country. Wouldn’t you send out correct information through the media into the various parts of the nation, as well as sending out people who represented your actual positions on the issues on order to clear your name? Well, this is precisely what Satan has been doing to God—spreading lies and creating unrest throughout His entire Kingdom. And our King—Christ Jesus—has sent us out as His representatives concerning His interests in His Kingdom. And this is exactly what the Apostle Paul is talking about when he writes — We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making His appeal through us (2 Corinthians 5:20).

Prayerfully this short humble work has at least helped you to look at the critical time you spend studying the Bible in a fresh light. Beyond question we are to be reading Holy Scripture to commune with our Lord. However, at the same time it also helps to remember that the Bible is where God had His very thoughts written down so we might be able to learn to think as He does. Now though, you have another reason to read; study and meditate upon the Word of God in the Bible. And that’s so you can let the Holy Spirit help you to better prepare to handle the Master’s Sword as you share your faith in Christ as this Age of Grace draws ever closer to an end. Today, let us all ask the Lord to give us a fresh desire to really prepare to handle His Sword, and all the more as we look forward together for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ (Titus 2:13).