Growing up in the small town of Kalona, Iowa, I was relatively insulated from the chaos of the 21st century. No matter what transpired in the world or America, where I lived, nothing seemed to change. 

Every day, the Amish still drove by in their horse-drawn buggies. 

In summer, rolling hills were dotted with bales of hay, while shocks of corn stood tall and strong. 

Each fall, the farmers harvested corn and soybeans, leaving cleared fields for the barren winter months. 

In small-town Kalona, even if I didn’t know everyone I rubbed shoulders with, they likely knew my Dad and our family.

December and January snow flurries provided hours of fun for my siblings and myself.

An evening stroll, a rousing game of baseball, kickball, or kick-the-can outside with my parents and siblings assured me that everything was fine. 

Moreover, the 48 cows in our dairy barn kept the same mood whether George Bush, Barack Obama, or Donald Trump won the election. 

The problems in D.C., the national economy, or the machinations of geopolitics didn’t seem to affect my daily life one bit. 

Yet the more we traveled, and the more I read, the more I discovered that what was happening in America and the world would profoundly affect not only my life, but the lives of my descendants. These were things I simply could not ignore.

Sadly, many Americans seem to have been lulled to sleep by prosperity and security.

Today, we’ll examine four vital truths that we must awaken to in order to properly live in today’s perilous times.

1. We Must Understand Our Battle Before We Can Effectively Engage the Enemy

I Chronicles 12:32 describes the children of Issachar as “men that had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do.” In other words, their knowledge of their present enabled them to take proper action.

What is the nature of today’s battle?

  • Our battle is spiritual. Ephesians 6:12 states, “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”
  • Our battle is on many fronts. God cares about every aspect of life, but so does Satan. The Devil seeks to advance his kingdom of darkness in any way possible, whether it be through family, culture, the Church, politics, media, or education. Satan undermines all that God calls good. In contrast, Christ claims authority over all of life.

Those who would understand the times must answer questions like the following:

  • What are the greatest problems the Church and America face today? Where did they come from?  
  • Right now, what people and ideas is Satan using to forward his agenda?
  • What does God’s Word say about contemporary trends in America and the world?

As warriors in Christ’s kingdom, we cannot bury our heads in the sand. Ignorance is not bliss.

2. We Must Grasp What’s At Stake

250 years ago, in the War for Independence, Henry Knox noted, “The eyes of all America are upon us… as we play our part, posterity will bless or curse us.” Some 200 years later, Ronald Reagan struck a similar vein, echoing, “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same.”

Both Knox and Reagan spoke to the responsibility of each generation to do its part. Truly, God has placed us here for such a time as this and has given us a divine responsibility to our generation that cannot be abdicated or ignored. Ultimately, how we succeed or fail in rising to today’s challenges will shape the course of future generations.

The book of Judges stands as a sober reminder. When one generation fails to prepare the next, future generations will certainly pay the price.

3. We Must Care About More Than Just Ourselves

Do we care about more than our pocketbooks and personal security? Do we care about our brothers and sisters in Christ who are martyred, tortured, and ridiculed? Do we care about the world in which our children and grandchildren will live in?

Or have we become selfish, apathetic, and ignorant?

We will never take the time to understand the extent of the crisis if we don’t even care.

4. We Must Have Courage to Apply God’s Word in Today’s Society

In the end, knowledge alone will not win the day. We need more. We need courage.

When they launched the campaign to abolish the British slave trade, William Wilberforce and the members of the famous Clapham Group knew their cause was deeply unpopular.

Yet they willingly weathered criticism because they were more concerned about following God than pleasing men.

Like Wilberforce, Dietrich Bonhoeffer stood up to Hitler’s Nazism, eventually losing his life. He firmly believed, “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.” 

Today, Christians in India face attacks every 24 hours for their faith. In many other places, like North Korea, China, Iran, and Pakistan Christians are willing to be imprisoned, tortured, or even killed for sharing and claiming the name of Christ.

In America, we don’t face martyrdom yet. But are we willing to stand with Christ if that means losing a TV show, going out of business, being censored on Facebook, or facing ridicule from popular culture?

Is our sole allegiance to Christ the King? If so, we can believe, as Christ said in Matthew 5:12, “Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.”

Today, it takes courage to die a martyr for Christ. But it also takes courage to live boldly for Christ.

A Few Helpful Tools

If you’d like to better understand the times, but can’t spend a lifetime in study, start with some of these helpful resources.

  1. The Worldview in 5 Minutes is a daily Christian newscast that covers major events in the United States and the world from a biblical perspective. Even better, it’s only 5 minutes to listen to each day!
  2. The documentary Agenda: Grinding America Down tells you what you need to know about the people and movements that have systematically undermined America’s culture, morality, and government.
  3. Agenda 2: Masters of Deceit explains that the issues we face today stem from one common enemy.
  4. Understanding The Times provides an insightful, well-documented overview of six major worldviews (Christianity, Islam, New Spirituality, Marxism, Secularism, and Postmodernism), all from a biblical perspective.
  5. Seven Men Who Rule The World From the Grave gives a fascinating peek into the lives and beliefs of seven men who profoundly affect our world today.
  6. Foxes’s Book of Martyrs is a must-read for any Christian. This edition includes martyrs from history all the way to the 21st century.
  7. Apostate records the fall and decline of Western Civilization, probing deeper into the men whose ideas have transformed our culture.

How much do you care about current events? In the words of William Wilberforce, “You may choose to look the other way but you can never say again that you did not know.” 

QUESTION: What is the biblical connection between knowledge and action? How should we correctly understand the times in order to respond biblically to them?

Categories: Worldview

7 Comments

Johnathan · February 6, 2019 at 1:27 am

Joshua, thank you for sharing these books. It can get discouraging when changes are happening all around us and it feels like you’re fighting a losing battle. Especially here in NZ, were it seems to go from bad to worse every day with agendas that are being widely acccepted in our society. (abortion, euthanasia, and the LGBT agenda etc.) It’s a challenge to be faithful and finish the race, and to be a shining light to those around us in a very dark and self centered society. Simply showing the love of Christ to those we meet on a daily basis with our actions and our words is almost a mission field of its own today.

    Joshua Bontrager · February 6, 2019 at 11:39 am

    Johnathan,

    God has placed us here for such a time as this. Though it may seem at times a losing battle, we know that Christ will triumph in the end. We also know that God calls us to be faithful and to leave the results to Him. These truths can give us comfort and strengths amidst turbulent times.

    As you alluded to at the end of your comment, perilous times mean great opportunity. There are so many people today to share the gospel and the truth to. We have an attentive audience watching our lives, wondering if we’re real or fake.

    Thanks for your thoughts!

Anna F. · February 6, 2019 at 12:05 pm

Joshua,
Thanks for this post! While I completely agree that we need to have a long-term perspective and be faithful where God has placed us, I also find encouragement from your comment about the cows on your farm. Life goes on regardless of what earthly nations rise or fall, because Christ is on the throne! And because of that, we can experience peace in the midst of chaos.

Also, I heartily echo your recommendation of Understanding the Times and “7 Men” as well. Ideas have consequences, and these resources reveal how each challenge we face today stems from a misguided worldview.

    Joshua Bontrager · February 8, 2019 at 10:49 am

    Anna,

    Your comment speaks to the reality that as Christians, we must do two things at once. We must look towards the future and understand the times around us. Yet we should also stop to enjoy the blessings God has given us to enjoy today. Ultimately, our trust is in Him.

    Just curious, have you read “7 Men Who Rule The World From The Grave” and “Understanding The Times?” If so, what were your main takeaways?

Abigail · February 6, 2019 at 7:34 pm

Thank you so much for sharing this with us! There is such truth in it!
I would also like to say that your posts have been an encouragement and inspiration to me. Thank you for your efforts! Blessings!

All for Him and His glory!

Abigail

    Joshua Bontrager · February 6, 2019 at 7:59 pm

    Abigail,

    Thanks for the encouragement!

Nathan · February 8, 2019 at 3:26 pm

Joshua,

Very pointed and thoughtful, thank you for posting this!

“Today, it takes courage to die a martyr for Christ. But it also takes courage to live boldly for Christ.” This is very convicting for me as I think in terms of my own spiritual walk. I’ll gladly travel the world in service of Christ, but am I willing to witness to the person working on my car? Christ said, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” (Matt. 16:24)

It’s so easy for us to look at the Bible through the lens of our culture, instead of looking at the culture through the eyes of the Bible!

-Nathan

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