This topic has been on my mind for quite a while. I first delivered this talk at a missions conference in Montreal several years ago. It came to mind again this week after I was asked a question about the Second Coming during a question and answer session at Cannon Beach Conference Center in Oregon. I have been thinking and praying about what we should expect as we consider the call of Christ to take the gospel to the ends of the earth in light of the end of the age. It's not just a question of missions and it's not just a question of Bible prophecy. It's a more focused question. "What should we expect as we do the work of evangelism in light of the Second Coming of Christ?"
There are several ways to get your hands around this question. Here are two preliminary observations:
1) What we believe determines who we are and what we do.
We can never separate theology and practice nor can we divorce doctrine from daily life. Belief matters because ultimately whatever is in the heart comes out in what we say and what we do.
2) Our view of the last days shapes our view of evangelism and world missions.
Perhaps a better way to say it is that our whole view of the future shapes our hopes and prayers for what God may yet do around the world. Obviously there are missionaries scattered in many places who hold a variety of views regarding the end times. It is not necessary (or likely) to suppose that Christians will come to a general consensus regarding the rapture, the tribulation, the millennium, the eternal state, the place of Israel in God's plan, or the proper way to interpret Revelation. We've been discussing those things for a long time, and there is no end in sight. What would seminary students do late at night if they couldn't argue about the fine points of Bible doctrine?
And I suppose that one's evaluation of the future depends greatly on where and when you make your judgment. Christians living during a world war are likely to view the future much differently from those who live in a time of peace and prosperity. No one does theology in a vacuum. To Christians in Muslim lands facing severe persecution, the hope of the Second Coming may seem much more real than it does to happy, well-fed Western Christians whose biggest worry is how much they can spend for Christmas this year.
With that background, I would like to focus the question a little bit more. Are there any reasons to believe that we will yet see great spiritual awakenings around the world? I think the answer is yes, for reasons I will set forth in this message.
For many years I've read about great revivals in the past. Note the last three words. "In the past." Sometimes those stories sound so amazing that you wonder if such things could happen in our day.
Could there be another Welsh revival in our day?
Could there be a Third Great Awakening?
Could there be another Laymen's Prayer Revival?
Could we see whole nations shaken and changed by the preaching of the gospel?
Instinctively we know the answer is "yes." Of course those things are possible in our day. God is not limited by the moral decay around us nor is he bound by our unbelief. My sermon hones in on one key point. If these truly are the Last Days before the coming of the Lord, could these things still happen?
In order to answer that question let's back up and answer another one first. What will the world be like in the Last Days? Here are two lines of biblical evidence to consider.
You can read the rest of the message online.
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