Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Living in the Last Days

"And do this, understanding the present time. The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed" (Romans 13:11).

Romans 13:11 is more true today than when Paul wrote it, because we are closer to Christ’s return then he was. The New Testament frequently repeats the theme of a call to diligence because we are living “in the last days.” What makes this hard for us to understand is that these last days have been going on for nearly 2,000 years. To understand this properly we have to think in terms of the biblical view of redemptive history.

With the advent of Jesus, the first century saw the hour of the breakthrough of the kingdom of God. It was a moment in time that the Jews had awaited for millennia. When Christ came into the world. He brought crisis to the world. This was the pivotal moment in history and all later time is conditioned by it. The interval between the beginning of this crisis and the return of Jesus is called the “end times.” The first stage of history is over and the last stage has come.

What does it mean that our salvation is nearer? Weren’t the Roman Christians already saved? We have to remember that when the Bible speaks of salvation, it speaks of it in different increments. When Jesus returns and consummates His kingdom, that will be a greater measure of salvation than we have previously experienced.

Thus, we live between the old times and the new times. “The night is nearly over; the day is almost here” (Romans 13:12a). For that reason, though there is still some night, we need to live in terms of the coming day. “So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light” (Romans 13:12b). Knowing that we live in the last times should encourage us to righteousness.

Christians sometimes use the study of prophecy as escapism. Some people read prophecy books the way others read romances or fantasy. Not the apostle Paul. For him, living in the last times had the practical effect of an encouragement to holiness. don’t be guilty of idly waiting for the Lord’s return. Look over these verses again, and consider how you would explain Paul’s logic to a friend.