John the Baptist told the crowds who came to him that they should be baptized into repentance in preparation for the first coming of Jesus, and that Jesus would baptize us with the Holy Spirit and fire:
In Matthew 3:11, John says, “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
W not only need to be saved, but we need to allow the Holy Spirit within us to set our hearts on fire – i.e. to be passionate about Jesus and about saving others, operating in the power of the Spirit.
This will be especially necessary during the end days when the trials and tribulations of these perilous times so that we can stand strong and shine as lights of salvation in the coming deep darkness:
Arise, shine; for your light has come! And the glory of the Lord is risen upon you. For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and deep darkness the people; but the Lord will arise over you, and His glory will be seen upon you. The Gentiles shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising. (Isaiah 60:1-3)
No matter how dark and oppressive it gets, we must remember that our Creator rejoices and sings over us:
Zephaniah, in prophesying about the end-times, wrote in chapter 3, verse 17, The Lord your God in your midst, The Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.”
But this presumes that we are aware of His presence, aligned with His purposes and listening!
The Lord sings, but most don’t hear. He plays different melodies for us depending on the circumstances:
(Matthew 11:15-17) “But to what shall I liken this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to their companions, and saying: ‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we mourned to you, and you did not lament.’
God tries to reach us in the joyful times as well as the difficult times. He even tries to draw us to Him, ‘romancing’ us:
(John 6:44) No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day.
Even children know when to dance, and when to lament:
That’s why Jesus tells us that we must become like children to receive the Kingdom of God
(Matthew 18:3) Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.
The Bible often refers to believers as children of God – and, compared to God, we are like little children in our understanding
(Isaiah 55:8-9) For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.
We must all humble ourselves and recognize our littleness in comparison to God – and, like little children, we must have childlike faith in Him and His Word
(Hebrews 11:1) Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
Even if we don’t understand everything (and the end-times will be full of inexplicable complexities), and even if we can’t see God, we must, like little children, believe in Him and follow what He tells us to do in both His written, logos, word as well as His rhema word spoken directly into our hearts and minds
If we are not functioning in the Spirit, we will fail to hear His voice and instructions: Walk in the Spirit, advises the Apostle Paul in Galatians 5:16 and 5:25 – but, if we don’t, we risk walking in the wrong direction, into the many pitfalls the end-times will bring
God calls on us to lament over our sins and repent of them, which was John the Baptist’s and Jesus’ first message:
Matthew 3:1-2 says that, In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!”
And Matthew 4:17 tells us that, From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
A lot of people go through the motions of repentance, but it’s not from the heart. Only if there is godly sorrow, is repentance real:
For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death. (2Corinthians 7:10)
Jesus is coming back, not as the Lamb of God who took away the sins of the world (as in John 1:29) but as the Lion of Judah ( in Revelation 5:5). The Lion of Judah will shake the earth and break the earth as well as the heavens, which eventually pass away:
(Hebrews 12:25-29) But now He has promised, saying, “Yet once more I shake not only the earth, but also heaven.” Now this, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of those things that are being shaken, as of things that are made, that the things which cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. For our God is a consuming fire.
The things that can be shaken include all the things that God has made, the earth and everything in it, as well as the heavens and everything in them.
(Revelation 6:12-16) I looked when He opened the sixth seal, and behold, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became like blood. And the stars of heaven fell to the earth, as a fig tree drops its late figs when it is shaken by a mighty wind. Then the sky receded as a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island was moved out of its place. And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains, and said to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb.
The only thing that cannot be shaken is the Kingdom of God, which will break forth with a new earth and a new heaven and a new Jerusalem inhabited by the children of God and Jesus Himself
(Revelation 21:1:4) Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also, there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”
Jesus will remake the world back into what God originally intended, without sin and evil
(Revelation 21:5) And He who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.
Isaiah prophesied about this new earth in chapter 11, verses 6-9: The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, The calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall graze; Their young ones shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. The nursing child shall play by the cobra’s hole, and the weaned child shall put his hand in the viper’s den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain, for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord.
What a beautiful, wonderful world that will be
But, before we enter into that blissful world, the Bible warns us about being among those who will be offended when all the shaking and breaking are occurring:
Many people (including Christians) will be and offended by the chaos and turmoil because it violates their own ideas of how things should be.
Some will get very angry at God, blaming Him for all the tribulation, but it is all of our fault, not His
Those who are willing to set their pride aside and accept that God’s wrath is well-deserved will not be offended, because this world and its sinfulness is an affront to a Holy God. Instead, they will be blessed:
(Matthew 11:6) Blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.
Unfortunately, many of those who suffer through the Tribulation will continue to be offended:
(Revelation 9:20) But the rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands, that they should not worship demons, and idols of gold, silver, brass, stone, and wood, which can neither see nor hear nor walk.
Idols are anything in our life that we exalt above the knowledge of God, and must be cast down:
(2Corinthians 19:5) Casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ,
This will require us to set aside our own beliefs and understandings, no matter how logical they seem
(Proverbs 16:25) There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.
We want to be for Jesus, not against Him, following His warning to His disciples:
For whoever is not against us is for us. (Mark 9:40)
The reverse is also true – whoever is not for Jesus is against Him
There is no neutrality in Christianity – sitting on the fence does not get you into Heaven.
Worshiping God above all else is mandated by the first of the Ten Commandments:
You shall have no other gods before Me. (Exodus 20:3)
If God is not first, then something else of this world is
(1John 2:15) Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
Soon, the nations of the world will turn against God, Jesus and Christianity because Christ is the number one threat in the way of humankind exalting itself above all else.
(2Timothy 3:1-4) But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God.
But none of this surprises God nor does it affect His overall plan of redemption for believers, and the eventual destruction of the world and all the evil within it:
(Psalm 2:1-5) Why do the nations rage, and the people plot a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against His Anointed, saying, “Let us break their bonds in pieces and cast away their cords from us.” He who sits in the heavens shall laugh; the Lord shall hold them in derision. Then He shall speak to them in His wrath, and distress them in His deep displeasure.
Persecution of Christians will become rampant after the Beast (the anti-Christ) assumes power over the world, although most people will perceive him as a man of peace and a savior
(Revelation 13:7-8) It was granted to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them. And authority was given him over every tribe, tongue, and nation. All who dwell on the earth will worship him, whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.
But we are blessed when we endure such persecution and remain strong in our faith
(Matthew 5:10-12) Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
(1Peter 4:12-14) Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.
To endure in the faith requires us not to fall victim to deception which will emphasize peace, love, tolerance and inclusiveness as high-sounding principles but will continue to exalt humanity above God
(1Thessalonians 5:2-4) For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief.
Jesus promises great reward for those who are overcomers in life and especially in the last days
To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God. (Revelation 2:7)
He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God. (Revelation 3:12)
To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne. (Revelation 3:21)
However, many Christians will fall away from their faith during these difficult times:
(2Thessalonians 2:3-4) Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin [i.e. the anti-Christ] is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.
The only way to endure is to cling tight to Jesus, and keep our eyes fixed on the things of God, not the things of the world
Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. (Colossians 3:2)
(Philippians 4:8) Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.
The Apostle Paul tells us how we should live as Christians, which will be especially necessary and true in the last days in order to give a true witness of what Christianity is all about in Romans 12:9-20:
Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality.
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion.
Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give [no] place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. Therefore, if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.”
The coals of fire are meant to convict a person of their sins and their need for a Savior, but not through haranguing sinners, instead by loving them into the Kingdom of God, just as God did for us:
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. (John 3:16-17)
Love is the antidote for all the ills of the world, which is why Jesus said that love is the most important of all the commandments:
Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:37-40)
Love is what will enable us to endure these terrible and perilous times – which we can only receive and give out if we are baptized into the Holy Spirit and fire.
So let our prayer always be, baptize my heart oh Lord!