Many in the Church believe we are now in the Last Days preceding the Second Coming of the Messiah. Interestingly, however, missiologists tell us that there remain perhaps 6,000 unique people groups which remain to be “reached”—certainly not a small number. Our conclusion is that in the days ahead there must be an acceleration of the Great Commission. If the Church maintains the same pace at which she has been plodding along for the past 2,000 years—especially among gospel-resistant people groups—the Second Coming could be centuries away.
This acceleration can take place if in the area of Missions the Church returns to the pattern seen in Acts. In Acts miraculous healings confirming the truth of the gospel resulted in an explosion of the gospel reaching the ends of the known world at that time. This led the early disciples to believe that the Second Coming of our Lord Jesus was very near. It turns out they were mistaken.
The “culture” of the Church today
Sadly, however, it does not appear that the current generation of leaders in the Church is going to be involved in this endtime acceleration. Our mission leaders today appear to be more-or-less content with what they are doing on the field, whether running orphanages, feeding the poor, doing humanitarian works, etc. as a means of drawing the lost to the Lord. These are all that they have been given to do; they see nothing else on the horizon. Although they believe the Scriptures to be inerrant and authoritative, somehow they are led to believe and teach that what is recorded in Acts is not for today. It is description only, and not a prescription for today. Still other leaders might actually believe that the miracles in Acts which helped to bring multitudes to Christ are for today, but mysteriously they no longer occur. Like it or not, they are mostly content with the diligent efforts their organizations are making on the mission field, and are not especially desperate to see Acts restored. Whatever the case, based on their decades of experience serving the interests of the gospel, such a scenario would seem completely unrealistic.
The culture in the world
The progressive liberalism which is taking over the mainstream culture in America has of course resulted in today’s millennial generation becoming increasingly liberal. It is estimated that 90% of all university professors to whom parents have entrusted the education of their children are liberal. Just before the 2016 Presidential Election in the United States, polls showed that in the five states about to vote on legalizing marijuana, the people were 57% to 37% in favor of legalization. Just five years prior to that, however, polls showed the very opposite preference with 57% of respondents against legalization. This dramatic reversal in only five years was attributed mainly to millennials many of whom sat in increasingly liberal college classrooms.
The coming culture in the Church during these Last Days
God, however, is also at work today among millennials who have chosen to follow Him—those who will be our future leaders. These millennials are different from the older generation of Christian leaders who more often than not found themselves taking sides on the rancorous debate which raged between conservatives and charismatics decades ago. The disagreement on the Holy Spirit and the supernatural gifts of the Holy Spirit no longer dominates the agenda of the evangelical church (used in its broader meaning here) as it once did. It has lost much of its steam (but perhaps not among those who follow cessationist John MacArthur). Today many conservative evangelical and charismatic leaders, in love, simply agree to disagree on these issues and come together regularly to pray.
Millennials who were raised in this environment of mutual acceptance therefore do not have the same knee-jerk reaction of our older leaders with regard to the miracles as recorded in the gospels and especially Acts. Being young they have not yet been exposed to decades of traditional teaching, whether conservative or charismatic. They wonder why miraculous healings are not taking place today when the gospel is preached; they sincerely desire to witness them as confirmation of the gospel to the lost. They are not traditionally “conservative evangelical” whereby alarms go off when the subject of miraculous healing is discussed. Neither are they traditionally “charismatic” whereby when they minister to the sick they may burst out in unknown tongues. The reason is that millennials today are seeing the Scriptures as they are—and not through either an evangelical or charismatic filter.
They are not confused, skeptical, or react with discomfort when they read Scriptures like John 14:11-12.
John 14:11 Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves. 12 Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing…
Based on these verses millennials actually believe that when the gospel of Jesus Christ is preached, believers should actually be doing the miraculous works that Jesus did as evidence to the lost that He is the Son of God. They want to witness such miracles for the sake of the gospel. These are the future leaders of the Church whom The Elijah Challenge seeks to train.
In them the miracles recorded in Acts as evidence of the truth of the gospel to the lost will be restored during these Last Days. There will be an acceleration. Through them the gospel will be preached to all nations under heaven with great power and authority, and then the end will come.
During these Last Days we must focus on training our future leaders. They will be the generation that fulfills the Great Commission and witnesses the Second Coming of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.