Welcome to The Berean Call podcast. I’m T. A. McMahon, TBC’s Executive Director. We’re currently re-airing a discussion I had with Dave Hunt in 2003 featuring his book Countdown to the Second Coming.
In this final chapter of Countdown, Dave talks about some fundamental teachings of the Word of God that tell us how we are to go about living the Christian life. He cites verses in Colossians chapter 3 that give believers in Jesus instructions, what we ought to be and what we are to do to please Him, and what believers are to put off that displease Him and bring about destruction in their lives.
In addition, Dave and I discuss what a believer’s motivation and objective is to be during our temporal life, such as setting our affection on the things which are above, not on things of this earth. That affection has to be first and foremost our increasing love for Jesus, who must be the complete objective of a Christian’s life.
Dave also points out what separates biblical Christianity from the other religions of the world. Stay tuned.
Tom: We’re concluding our discussion of Dave Hunt’s book Countdown to the Second Coming. Chapter 6, the final chapter, is titled “The Ultimate Hope,” and of course it’s referring to the blessed hope of our being with our Lord in heaven and the fact that He could come for us at any time. Not as the “Grim Reaper” in death, although death may usher some of us into His presence before His return—but as a blessed hope, His coming personally for His own. The Apostle John said that everyone who has this hope “purifith himself, even as he [that is, Christ] is pure.” That’s 1 John:3:3.
Now, Dave, last week you gave our listeners an assignment. They were to meditate. Whoa!
Dave: Well, now are you sure—did I give them an assignment, or did I make a suggestion?
Tom: No, I think it was an assignment, and you did use….
Tom: …and you did use the word “meditate” too.
Dave: That’s right.
Tom: But of course, biblical meditation.
Tom: And what they were to meditate upon was Colossians 3, because it’s really key to living the Christian life, isn’t it?
Dave: Well, in that one chapter you have what we are to put off—you have what a Christian is not to be. Then you have laid out what a Christian ought to be. And it’s very interesting, because Paul gives a reason, or a motivation, there. Let me just read the first few verses.
Dave: “If [or since] you then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.” After all, this is our ultimate destiny. So we should already have that objective in mind. “Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.” I mean why should I waste my time with these things? It’s not going to last long.
“For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.” Quite a statement!
“When Christ who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.” Now on that basis, the next few verses, verse 5 up through verse 11, tells us what we ought not to be. “Mortify your members which are upon the earth; fornication and uncleanness, and so forth. And put off wrath, anger, clamor, malice, and so forth. Don’t lie one to another,” etc. And then beginning at verse 12, it says, “Put on as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness and…” and it goes on and gives you a long list of what a Christian ought to be. First what he shouldn’t be or do, and then what he ought to be and do.
And of course, I left out the key word. It doesn’t just say, “Well, you just do this.” It says “mortify therefore”; “put on therefore.” And as the old saying goes, you have to decide what “therefore” is there for. And of course, it refers back to the verses we read: that we’re dead; our life is hid with Christ in God. We’re risen with Him, and we look forward to His appearing. He is going to appear, and we will be with Him in glory.
Well, in view of that, I mean, everything else falls by the wayside. Let us not be what we shouldn’t be and let us not fail to be what we ought to be. And you quoted from 1 John 3. And Christ, in contrast, says—I’m reading from Matthew 24, but you find this in other places—verse 48: “But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My Lord delayeth his coming, and shall begin to smite his fellow servants and to eat and drink with the drunken,” and so forth. So Christ actually says, “The thought that My return might be delayed, that is going to influence you for evil rather than for good.”
Wow! John tells us that “whoever has this hope in Him purifies himself.”
Tom: But the common thought out there—that is, those who don’t believe in the Rapture and profess to be Christians—they would say this is an escapist theory. This is…“Lord, get me outta here.”
Dave: Or those who do believe in a Rapture, but believe in a mid-Trib or post-Trib or whatever, and that, I’m sorry, Christ says that can turn you in the direction of wickedness. Well a post-Trib Rapture, for example: “I’ve got at least seven years to clean up my act. I don’t have to knuckle down right now.”
Tom: Dave, going back, just for a second, to Colossians:3:2, it says, “Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.” This isn’t telling us we’re not to take care of business here. It just means our priorities, our heart…is our heart here, or is it with the Lord?
Tom: This list of things that we’re to do and not to do—other religions, they have their rules, their regulations, things they’re to go by. Confucius, Buddha…what’s the difference?
Dave: Well, there is a weakness in the human flesh. There’s some people like…you want to be world champion, Olympic champion, you’re going to have to really work at it. You must devote yourself totally, completely, many hours a day. There are not too many people…there may be some people who might even be more talented than the one who becomes world champion, but they did not have the devotion or the dedication. And you know, you could almost say a couple of basketball teams—pretty much depends upon who has the heart, who really wants to do it the most.
And now we are to set our affection…we’ve got something to look forward to. A Buddhist doesn’t have that. A Buddhist is going to kind of like a drop of water, dissolving into the ocean, return to the void. A Muslim—well, it’s a totally hedonistic, sensual trip.
But we have something else that has happened within us. When we’re born again by faith in Christ, we are indwelt by the Holy Spirit. Christ himself comes to live in us. So the Christian has not only motivation, but he has an empowerment from God.
But it’s not just like we’re on a pink miracle cloud floating to heaven, you know, singing beautiful hymns. We must do something. And in Philippians, Paul tells us, “Work out your own salvation.” Not work for it, but work it out, the salvation that God has given you, “because it is God that works in you both to will and to do his good pleasure.”
Or in Colossians:1:29, Paul talks about this hope: “Christ in you the hope of glory.” And he says, “Where unto I labor, striving according to his working that worketh in me mightily.”
So the more I understand of what awaits me, the stronger will be my motivation and my determination. I want to please Christ. I want to be what He wants me to be. And this is something that the Christian has.
First of all, a new nature, and then a love relationship, desire to please Christ, and a fantastic future that awaits him that ought to just obliterate any ambitions we have for this world.
Tom: Dave, you have—along that line, you have a statement in here that sounds controversial to me (not that you’re a controversial guy, or anything), but….
Tom: “Those who believe in Christ must necessarily oppose and condemn as false and deceitful every attempt to bring peace on earth that does not embrace Jesus Christ as a world ruler.”
Of course, the context here is, you know, we were just talking about where our affection is, what we’re to do. We’re waiting for Christ’s return. We’re looking expectantly for that to happen. But….
Dave: Better read that again, Tom. Maybe I worded that too strongly.
Tom: Okay, yeah, this gives you an opportunity, Dave. “Those who believe in Christ must necessarily oppose and condemn as false and deceitful every attempt to bring peace on earth that does not embrace Jesus Christ as world ruler.”
Dave: Yeah, we certainly must condemn. That’s for sure. And oppose? Well, it depends what is meant by oppose. In other words, I don’t think I had in mind…and I’m sure I did not have in mind, “Let’s go on a crusade to stop all these.” They want to try to find peace? Okay, we would go along with that. But it’s not going to work, and it is only going to lead people into a false hope. That’s what I meant.
Dave: But we do condemn that, because the idea that you can have peace without Christ is saying we don’t need Christ.
Tom: Mm-hmm. And,Dave, also, and you pointed out here, if the world is gathering those together for its own program, its own peace program, and so on—and Christ is not a part of this—that’s a problem, isn’t it? Isn’t that what you’re alluding to here?
Dave: Yes, what I’m saying is you can never have peace on earth without Christ ruling and reigning. This is the problem with man. We are in rebellion against God. So rebellion simply continues in our efforts to satisfy our own desires and make peace without Christ and, in fact, continuing along in our opposition to God.
I don’t think we’ve mentioned it, but I—just very quickly—the so-called Road Map to Peace, it actually defies God, because God says, “That land was given to my people Israel.” And Joel:3:2 clearly says God is going to bring all the nations of this world into judgment for dividing His land! And the Road Map to Peace is based upon further division of the land, all of which was given to Israel. And they’ve already taken most of it away and now they’re going to take a bit more away.
So that’s what I’m referring to, Tom. If we oppose God—and it is in opposition to God that man has rebelled, that man has built his kingdom—then what did God do? To rescue us, He sent His Son to die and pay the penalty for our sins. But in spite of that, we’re just going to go on and build our own little kingdom? And this is a word to Christians, as well, and this is what Paul is talking about.
Since Christ has risen, and we’re going to be with Him, then mortify your members that are upon the earth and put on bowels of mercies and goodness and kindness. Put on Christ.
Tom: Dave, you mention that Christ is not just some kind of idea out there. Some kind of peace plan principle, all right? That it’s not like other religions that have their philosophies and their ideas, but Buddha’s not going to come back. Muhammad’s not going to come back. Krishna—there’s never been a Krishna, but…
Dave: That doesn’t matter to the Hindu or the Muslim or Buddhist.
Tom: No, because it’s an idea, it’s a concept. But with Jesus, He offered Himself. This is personal. He personally died. He personally lives. He promised just as clearly to come back personally, visibly, physically, and so on.
Dave: Of course.
Tom: And that’s the difference.
Dave: Of course! And if He doesn’t do that—if He doesn’t personally come back and personally reign, as the Scriptures say, on the throne of David from Jerusalem over Israel and the world—then He’s a liar. Jesus said to His disciples, “Because I live, you will live also.” So He’s our hope! He’s everything for us.
Tom: And our motivation ought to be to share Him with others. The book is called Countdown to the Second Coming. He’s coming back. And we want to encourage people. We want to compel them. You have a section here that says, “Compel them to come in.” For what? For…it’s their only hope, but it’s so far beyond what they can even think or imagine. It’s…
Dave: Well, Tom, when you use language like that—“compel them to come in”—which Jesus did, it’s not force, but by reason. We want to reason with people. God says, “Come now, let us reason together.” We want to lay the facts out for them and we want them to make the right choice.
I often illustrate it like this: If I’m a doctor and I have the one pill that will cure the disease that is ravaging the world—everybody is dying or will die—and I have this one pill, should I force it on them? Well, I’m going to try to persuade them. And I’m going to say, “Guys, look, if you don’t take this you’re going to die.”
Now, Christ happens to be “the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father but by him.” We believe this very firmly. We know that it’s true. If they do not accept Him, accept His sacrifice for their sins, and receive the free gift of God’s forgiveness, they will spend eternity separated from Him in torment—torment of their own conscience, for one thing. Torment, realizing they didn’t have to be there and they are there because they rejected Christ.
Now, shouldn’t I try to persuade them? Well, I’m not going to do like the Muslim does. I’m not going to hold a sword at their neck and say, “You will either confess there is no god but Allah, Muhammad is his prophet, or off with your head.” But shouldn’t I try in love to tell as many people as possible and to persuade them?
Now, should this doctor? Well, I was the doctor I guess. I’m the doctor who has this one pill. Why couldn’t I be tolerant? This is what you hear all the time. A doctor should be tolerant of disease? The police should be tolerant of crime? I should be tolerant or tolerate the fact that all these people are dying before my very eyes and I have the pill that will cure them? Give them life? Tolerant—that’s not the proper word. It doesn’t fit in this case. It doesn’t fit in many cases. It’s being misused today. So, Tom, I think we should try to persuade people.
On the other hand, we have to use some prudence. If I go around just trying to preach at everyone, there are some people who resent that. Maybe there’s a little better approach I can take. Maybe I can trust the Lord to open the right door. But I should have that passion and that desire.
It was an old writer back there, had a lot of wisdom—I don’t agree with everything that he said, but he said we should recognize that every person we meet is an eternal being. They will be either eternally happy in God’s presence or eternally sorrowful separated from Him. And that does help our motivation as well.
Tom: Dave, you write [in the] last few pages of this chapter, “The darkest hour is probably nearer than most of us imagine. There is an old saying that the night seems darkest just before the dawn. The Bible on the other hand, cautions us that things will seem brightest for mankind just before the earth’s darkest hour.” What are you driving at there?
Dave: Well, Scripture says, “When they shall say peace and safety, then sudden destruction….” You read Ezekiel 38, it tells us that this people who have been scattered around the world, who have been gathered out of these nations, back to this land—this can only be Israel, the Jews, brought back to their land. They’re dwelling without walls, without bars, without gates. They have been deceived into imagining that there is peace. The world is going to seemingly work this out. That is what the crisis in the Middle East is going to lead to—a false peace. It could seem the brightest. “Wow! We finally solved our problems. Look, we’ve got prosperity; we’ve got peace.” And the Muslims have promised not to kill the Jews anymore. The Jews have given them some more land, you know: “Okay, guys, we’ll all be reasonable about this. We’ll be buddies!” And it’s a delusion. Through peace, it says, the antichrist will destroy many.
So, “When they say peace and safety, sudden destruction will come.” And Jesus said, “As it was in the days of Noah, in the days of Lot, they are buying and selling and building and planting and partying and marrying.” It sounds like it’s going to be pretty good. I think it’s good enough now for the Rapture to occur, but as the Rapture is delayed, I think we’re going to seemingly make things better. There’s going to be a kinder, gentler world.
Tom: And then things are going to get so bad that Jesus has to come back, lest all life would perish.
Dave: Exactly what He said in Matthew:24:22 or 23: “Except those days be shortened, no flesh would survive.” There is a horrible time that lies yet ahead. It’s called the “time of Jacob’s trouble” in Jeremiah:30:7. Zechariah says—Zechariah 13 tells us—two-thirds of all Jews on the earth will be killed. That is when Christ will have to intervene, but….
Tom: What about Gentiles?
Dave: It doesn’t tell us about any Gentiles.
Tom: But we know there’s going to be devastation.
Dave: Well, it does tell us in certain parts of the Book of Revelation [that] one-quarter of the world’s population is already killed in chapter 6. But how many more there will be, I don’t know. But…
Tom: Dave, we’ve got about a minute left. What’s the ultimate? Jesus is going to return for a thousand years. He’s going to rule and reign here and then a new heaven and a new earth—how incredible will that be!
Dave: Well, first of all, He’s going to take us out of here in the Rapture. We will not be here while all this devastation is going on in this earth. And, wow! The new heavens and the new earth: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither has it entered into the heart of man the things that God has prepared for them that love him.” But He’s revealed Him to us by His Spirit. And as we get to know Him, “Where Jesus is, ‘tis heaven there.”
So we need to get to know Him better and love Him more. Tell Him over and over how much you love Him. And spend time in His presence and in His Word, and then witnessing for others, winning them to Him too. I mean, after all, we want them to share—we want everyone to share in this joy that lies ahead, and we want them to be rescued from the disaster and destruction for eternity that otherwise awaits them.