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The Apocalypse Is Coming—Four Assignments Until Then

God has used a long line of agents in earlier days who have passed their faith down to us. In biblical history, apostolic history, and the story of the Church are heroes of whom the world is not worthy. But who are God's agents in the world now? Who are His ambassadors today? Who can represent Him in these turbulent times?

It's us! You and I are His agents of the last days. As the apostle Paul told Timothy: "Know this, that in the last days perilous times will come…. But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of … the Holy Scriptures … Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season" (2 Timothy 3:1 – 4:2).

Our English word agent comes from a Latin term meaning "to do." It refers to someone who does the bidding of another, who is authorized to act on another's behalf, like an ambassador. When the Bible says, "We are ambassadors for Christ," it means we're authorized to work on behalf of our Lord (2 Corinthians 5:20). We're His agents; and since we're living in the last days, we're God's special agents as we preach the message of a returning King.

I believe we're living on the crest of the times. We've watched the rising tides of history pushing forward, coming closer, foaming, and starting to crest. The Middle East is wracked with terrorism, regional violence, endless war, and proliferating nuclear armaments. Around the world, we're witnessing a moral collapse exceeding anyone's expectations. The growth of the Church is accelerating around the world, but so is global persecution. These are the days of Noah on overdrive because of the technological advances that both assist us and threaten us.

The Apocalypse is coming. But even during the Great Tribulation, God will have boots on the ground. From now until then, you and I are on a mission. We are God's agents in the last days. God uses His people to accomplish His work and His will.

We can face our times with either despair or determination. We're tempted to despair; we feel like we're buckled into a car hurtling down a mountain with no brakes. Every day the headlines bring us alarming stories of military threats and moral decline. But Jesus predicted all this, and God wants us to stand firm, to be biblical optimists, to be zealous evangelists, and to represent Him as His agents and emissaries in this world.

The Bible talks of this in 2 Corinthians 5:14–21, when the apostle Paul wrote: The love of Christ compels us… If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation… [God] has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation… We are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ's behalf, be reconciled to God. For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

Based on this passage, we can identify four assignments to carry out until Christ returns.

Be a New Person in Christ

First, we must be born again. We must be new creatures in Christ. Old things pass away; all things are made new. There are many good causes in the world, and lots of people find fulfillment in taking up a worthy movement. Celebrities lend their names to a host of interests. Philanthropists donate their fortunes to humanitarian crusades. But God's agents are the ones who can change both time and eternity, and we must be born again. As a young man, John Wesley sailed to Georgia to engage in religious and humanitarian works, but he faltered. Writing in his journal on his voyage home, he said, "I went to America to convert the Indians; but, O! who shall convert me?" Shortly afterward, Wesley was born again and set the world on fire. The revival that swept across England under his preaching reformed the morals of his nation, led to tremendous evangelistic and humanitarian ministries, and likely saved England from the kind of terror that occurred across the Channel during the French Revolution.

God wants to convert (change) your heart through Christ. That's the first step of being His agent on this planet.

Be Compelled by His Love

Having been reconciled to God through the blood of Christ, we become agents of reconciliation. Our hearts are compelled by the love of Christ, and we want to reach others. One man who grasped this was Griffith John (1831–1912), a Welsh missionary to China. He once told a group of college students why he pursued his work with such passion, saying, "The love of Christ to me, personally, constrains me to live to Him and for Him. He died for me; and I will die for Him. He lives for me; and I will live for Him. I will work for His sake; I will suffer for His sake. There is nothing I would not do to please Him … All I can do is to lay myself on the altar and say: ‘Lord Jesus, take me as I am, and use me for Thine own purpose and glory. The love of Christ constraineth me.' "1

When we encounter the anger, arrogance, and vanity of our times, we're tempted to respond with disdain. Instead, let's envision a world needing a message of reconciliation. Let's lay ourselves on the altar to be used for His purposes and glory, compelled by His love.

Be an Ambassador for Christ

In what practical ways, then, can you and I share the love of Christ today? How does Christ plead with the world through us? Sometimes it's with unspoken acts of kindness. Sometimes it's by supporting others engaged in certain specialized ministries. We often find service within the tasks and programs of our local churches. But at some point, every ambassador and agent needs to speak up. Paul used the word pleading.

The Meloon family, which has been manufacturing powerboats since 1925, is known for their vibrant Christian witness. One of the brothers, Ralph Meloon, printed his personal testimony on business cards and tracts and freely distributes them. Once, after flying to a conference in tourist class, Ralph was asked by his friend Van Thurston why he didn't fly first class where he could rest and feel better. "Oh," Ralph replied, "There's only twelve people up front. There's 100 in the back. I can walk up and down those aisles and give out tracts all day."2 And he does.

We're all commissioned to walk up and down the aisles of this world and share our testimony about the love and power of Christ as though God were pleading through us.

Be the Righteousness of the King

Our constraining love and compelling message must be reinforced with personal holiness. In a filthy world, we should remain clean. In a polluted culture, we should strive to keep ourselves pure. God made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. It's our privilege to do what the world doesn't do, and to refrain from doing what the world does. The Bible tells us to come out from among them and be separate. Is any habit in your life hindering your witness today? Agents live in a different manner from others. Everything centers on our operation, our assignment, and the glory of Him who sends us.

Make sure Christ is your personal Redeemer. Let His love grip your heart. Think of yourself as His agent in these days. Preach the Word however and wherever and whenever you can. And live a life of righteousness for Him as an example to all who are watching. We're here to be busy until He comes, to do His work, to warn of the coming Apocalypse, and to share the Good News of Jesus Christ. We are agents of the last days—preaching a returning King. There's no more exciting task, and there's never been a more urgent time.

1Rev. Griffith John, "Motives in Foreign Missions," in The Intercollegian, Volumes 25–29, published by Young Men's Christian Associations of North America (New York: The Bancroft, 1902), 198.

2James Vincent, Parting the Waters (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 1997), 171.

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