Cannon Beach Q&A, Part 3
Would you comment on predestination versus free will?
How much time do we have? Not enough to cover this vast subject. The question implies that predestination (which the Bible unquestionably teaches-see Romans 8:29 and Ephesians 1:5) and free will somehow oppose each other. But as Spurgeon pointed out when asked how he "reconciled" predestination and free will, you don't reconcile friends. He's right. Predestination and free will are not enemies.
Do we have free will? Yes, but our "free will" is limited to what we can actually do. We can "will" anything we like. I can "will" myself to fly like a bird, but if I jump off a building, I will sink like a rock. In all the universe, only one person has a truly free and unfettered will. Find that person and you've found God. The rest of us have moral choices to make, but our "will" is necessarily limited.
Ephesians 2:1 tells us that apart from God's grace, we are all spiritually dead. Now what can a dead man do? Nothing at all. It's not like Lazarus was in the tomb saying, "I wish Jesus would come along and raise me up." Romans 3:10-12 tells us that there is no one who does good in the sight of God and no one who seeks on their own after God. Isaiah 64:6 says that our righteous acts are like "dirty rags" in the eyes of God. Left to ourselves, we are dead, blind, helpless and hopeless. We are "free" to choose the Lord, but apart from his grace we will choose the path of sin every time.
To say that we are called or elected or chosen simply means that God always makes the first move in salvation. If he didn't choose us first, we would never choose him. No one is forced to come to Christ against his own will, but God in his grace gives us the desire to come and the faith to believe. Did we come of our own free will? Yes, we freely came because God drew us to himself. Or to say it another way, God arranged all the circumstances so that we had no other choice but to freely choose Christ. So we are saved by faith and God gets all the glory.
With regard to Bible prophecy, where does the world stands today?
The world stands in big trouble, that's where the world stands. Hebrews 12:26 tells us that God will shake the earth before the coming of the Lord. I believe we see that happening all around us today. People are scared about the future, and they ought to be scared. We live in an unstable world. 2 Timothy 3:1 says that in the last days "terrible" times will come. Dangerous times.
When Jesus talked about the Last Days, he gave us this admonition. "When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near" (Luke 21:28). Our Lord invites us to look at the circumstances in every generation and compare them to the detailed picture of events given in the Bible regarding the Last Days. In every generation for the last 2000 years, there would some degree of similarity. But as we approach the End Times, we will see the pieces fitting together rapidly. How close are we to the Second Coming? I have no idea, no inside knowledge, and no way to know if Jesus will come back today, tomorrow, or a hundred years from now.
The one factor that I can't get away from relates to the increasing amount of personal information controlled by the government and by large corporations. Think about your cell phone and your credit cards. Whoever controls the flow of information to those things controls your life. What if suddenly your credit cards were no good? What if your cell phone didn't work? What if you lost all Internet access? Whoever controls the flow of information controls the economy and ultimately the whole world. For a long time people wondered about Revelation 13:16-18 with its "mark of the Beast" on the hand or on the forehead, and the warning that whoever does not have the "mark" could not buy or sell. Before this generation, that seemed like science fiction. But no longer. That leads me to think that the "Antichrist" may not be a political leader first and foremost but rather a vast corporation that controls the flow of information in the world. Just a theory, but one worth considering.
What should we do if Jesus is coming soon?
Jesus himself said, "Look up! Your redemption draws near." We ought to be the most optimistic, hopeful people in the world. The parable of the Wheat and the Weeds (Matthew 13:24-39; 36-43) indicates that just before Jesus comes there will be a final climactic harvest of good and evil in the world. As evil becomes bolder, righteousness will shine even brighter. The darker the night, the brighter the light. I believe we have yet to see the greatest revivals in human history. As we rush headlong into the final days leading up to the coming of Christ, we should expect hard times and good times, increasing opposition and amazing open doors, trouble ahead and glorious gospel victories. All these things go together just before Jesus returns to the earth.
There are many things we know and many things we don't know about the future. This much is certain: Jesus is coming again. And his return may be sooner than we think. The bottom line is quite simple: If Jesus comes today, will you be ready? If he comes tomorrow, will you be ready? If he comes in your lifetime, will you be ready?
If this really is the terminal generation, the smartest thing you can do is to give your life 100% to Jesus Christ so that if he comes today or tomorrow or next week or next year or in 100 years, you will have no regrets but will be ready to see him when he returns.