Healthy, Devoted Relationships

End Times Readiness

Recently the pastor of a megachurch in the southern US spoke with me. He acknowledged the truth about the church being defined by relationship. In fact he said that if they didn't begin to function that way in the very near term, regardless of the cost, then when the harvest comes in at the very end of the end times, people are going to get slaughtered by the enemy. The new converts are not going to make it, as he put it, "because the current wineskin cannot hold the harvest."

The point that I tried to get across to this pastor was this: the nature of the new wineskin isn't being informally scattered around the city in living rooms and apartment complex clubhouses. The real question is whether we have light in the form of relationships that lay bare the motives of our hearts. According to 1 John 1, the basis of our fellowship with the Father as well as with one another is that we walk in the light together. The apostle John said that it's mandatory that we walk in the light together if we want genuine fellowship with God and man.

When the end times come, Jesus has prophesied—along with all of the men that we trust were inspired of the Holy Spirit to record their teachings in the Scriptures—that there will be a massive opposition to the work of God. God has held that hostility back for a season of time. And honestly there really hasn't been very much for satan to oppose. Satan has pretty much had his way, and too often the people who have slipped through his cracks and have been saved have died in spiritual poverty. Very few people  have ever made a difference in the world they lived in. They could talk about the truth. They could sing about it. But very few people have had a record of lives that were not only brought to salvation, but brought to glory.

And that how the Hebrews writer put it: "bringing many sons to glory" (Hebrews 2:10). Glory! That means fullness and effectiveness and authority in Christ; it means love, compassion, and forgiveness; it means both the Calvary road and road to Pentecost. Put all of those things together, and you will have the life of Jesus manifested among us. God is after far more than producing good citizens, who got saved and so don't smoke or cuss anymore and work a little harder than they used to. God is after the full manifestation of His glory through His people.

That desire will certainly to be fulfilled when Jesus comes back. But He's looking for a bride who has made herself ready for the return of her Groom. Pure, spotless, and radiant, an equal yoke for Jesus—now that's what His heart is longing for. When the last trumpet blasts, the tune will be "Here Comes the Bride," because history ends and eternity begins with the wedding of the Lamb (Revelation 19:1-10). That's what God is waiting for.

Now this matter of the Bride gets really practical. This "new wineskin" the pastor felt they so desperately needed is not having "cell group" meetings, kinship groups, or little home meetings to supplement having a worship service on Sunday morning. It has to do with true relationships.

It will also require that pressure be applied to our lives. I want to encourage you with these words, that the struggles and the trials that are only beginning to come upon your life are necessary. For one thing, when we suffer we're mostly reaping what we've sown. We've got it coming anyway. But besides all that, it's under God's total, sovereign control that struggles happen, because too many of us have been asleep. Maybe we'll get excited about this teaching or that teaching, or we'll get worked up about this issue or that issue. But what about being deeply in love with Jesus, worshiping Him when no one else is watching simply because we desperately love Him? What about having courage in the face of adversity, and stature and stability in the face of pressure? Hey, those things are pretty rare, I'm sorry to say. God can't leave matters that way. In the end times, in the very last of the last days, satan himself is going to unleash an attack that isn't simply us reaping what we've sown. If we brought it on ourselves, it was because this time we decided for a change that we were going to be like Jesus, and satan hated that choice and opposed it because he saw that his time was drawing to a close.

Revelation 12:10-12 speaks of satan being filled with fury because he knows that his time is short. Unfortunately, his time has not seemed so short for quite a long while now. There has been no evidence, no real stirring in the Body of Christ that would lead you to believe that Jesus would return soon. Very few of satan's deeds have been opposed, destroyed, reversed, and shoved in his face. Very little of satan's work has been crushed under our feet (Romans 16:20). Once in a while at various times in history and in various places around the world, there has been some measure of overcoming the devil. But what God is looking for is a testimony of power, authority, stability, stature, fullness, freedom, exuberance, and steadfastness—when you've done all, to stand (Ephesians 6:13). Heaven and earth are waiting to see that kind of heart and life displayed.

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