I received a phone call this week from a guy who was bound and determined to prove to me that born- again Believers could lose their salvation based on sin.
It didn't matter what I said, how I explained it or what verse I used, he was resolute to stay in his works-oriented doctrine.
I eventually lost patience and did my best to politely get off the phone with him. But the point is, I lost patience with him. After I hung up, I really got convicted reading this verse:
Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.--Eph. 4:1-3
I was not humble with this guy, nor gentle, nor tolerant. I did nothing to preserve Christian unity. And most of all, I was not patient.
Bottom line is that I was in just as much sin losing my patience as he was teaching believers can lose their salvation. Licking my wounds, I began looking at what God says about patience.
I remembered that, as new Believers, someone once erroneously taught Susie and me that if we prayed for patience, we would be given many opportunities to practice! It was years before we understood that wasn't true. So I'm extra-motivated to be careful in what I learn and teach about patience!
As often happens in my Bible studies (and I'm sure to many of you too), once I started my study it took a "left turn" in a direction I had never considered. I was surprised to learn that not only is God patient with all of us sinners, we're actually living in a time just before the Rapture that is called "God's patience."
"the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah, during the construction of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through the water."--2 Pet. 3:20
The Bible says to compare
I've done a lot of "Days of Noah" comparisons, comparing the days prior to the flood to today, but somehow missed this specifically designated time period.
But it is quite clear that the time before Noah's flood is specifically referred to as a time of "God's patience."
Since Jesus said the time before Rapture will be "just like" the days of Noah, then we are also currently living in the days of God's patience.
We know this because God said the time just before the Rapture of the Church would be "JUST LIKE" the days of Noah before the flood.
"For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah."--Matt. 24:37
The Bible also says that in the last days before the Rapture many will "mock" God and His Word, lusting after self and denying that God will return to judge the earth.
"Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, and saying, 'Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.'" --2 Pet. 3:3,4
So this chart illustrates what we know about the time prior to the Lord shutting the door on the ark and destroying all living/breathing creatures outside God's protective ark:
And standing out like a sore thumb in the chart above in yellow is what Peter calls the "Time of 'God's Patience.'"
"when the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah, during the construction of the ark,"--1 Pet. 3:20
During the hundred plus years that Noah was building the ark, despite the horrible sin happening all over the earth, God was patient.
God is love and love is patient.
"Love is patient,"--1 Cor. 13:4
During the time of God's patience before the worldwide flood, Noah was preaching God's truth. For over one hundred years, while building the ark, Noah warned the people on earth of what was to come.
Noah preached for over 100 years but it fell on deaf ears!
"God....did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a preacher of righteousness."--2 Pet. 2:5
Imagine preaching for 100+ years and no one getting saved! Despite all the sin and corruption for hundreds of years, the Lord was patient during the time the ark was being built.
Noah knew the end was getting close.
When Noah and his family finished loading the food and water on the ark, and God began to supernaturally bring the animals to load, Noah and his family KNEW the flood was close. They KNEW the end was near. They could see the writing on the wall! It wasn't rocket science.
They knew that the patience of God was about to end and that He would destroy all wicked mankind on the earth. And, despite Noah's warnings, the wicked were caught totally off-guard.
"For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away; so will the coming of the Son of Man be."--Matt. 24:38-39
Therefore, since that is EXACTLY how it will be right before the Rapture, then this is how it looks graphically when applied to today:
Understanding the time of God's patience explains a lot of things. We really can't fathom God's incomprehensible restraint He's displaying during the time in which we live.
Think about the depths to which we've sunk in the last 50 years ... without the Lord lowering the boom on those on the earth:
>> We've literally murdered over 50 million precious
Baby aborted at
unborn babies in the United States, simply for the sake of convenience. Worldwide the unfathomable number is over two billion!
"... the LORD hates...an abomination to Him ... hands that shed innocent blood,"--Prov. 6:16-17
>> We've watered down our Biblical armor by not preaching about sin and repentance from our pulpits.
"preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction." --2 Tim. 4:2
>> We've made our decisions based on money instead of honor or Biblical principles.
"A good name is to be more desired than great wealth, favor is better than silver and gold."--Prov. 22:1
>> We've violated the Biblical principle of "no work, no food" calling it "welfare."
"...if anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat, either." --2 Th. 3:10
>> We've allowed pornography to infiltrate our homes through television, computers and cell phones. The United States is the world's largest distributor of pornography.
"The eye is the lamp of your body; when your eye is clear, your whole body also is full of light; but when it is bad, your body also is full of darkness."--Luke 11:34
>> And most recently, our nation's leadership has "flipped-the-finger" to our Creator by calling the quite grievous and gruesome sin of homosexuality as "normal."
"Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness;"--Is. 5:20
"Woe to those who enact evil statutes and to those who constantly record unjust decisions,"--Is. 10:1
So why hasn't the Lord judged America, or the earth? The answer is that He will. It's just that currently we're spared because we're in the time period of "God's Patience." But eventually God will judge all nations at the end of the Tribulation.
"All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats;"--Matt. 25:32
"I will gather all the nations and bring them down to the valley of Jehoshaphat. Then I will enter into judgment with them there..."--Joel 3:2
It's also necessary to note that Americans tend to assume God views the United States like He views Israel, in a special category. But America is not Israel, and we're not in a special category. America has not inherited the promises of Israel.
"For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery...a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in; and so all Israel will be saved; just as it is written,"--Rom. 11:25-26
"God has not rejected His people whom He foreknew."--Rom. 11:2
Prior to the Church Age, God dealt with Israel as a nation. But today, in the Church Age, God deals with individual Believers.
Yes, as individuals we have been grafted into Israel's promises, but the United States as a country is really no different than any other nation. Believers in other atheistic nations have the same access to the Lord through prayer.
But the rain falls on Believers and non-Believers alike.
"... He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous."--Matt. 5:45
Today, nations can be blessed, or not blessed, based on how they interact with the reborn nation of Israel.
"And I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse."--Gen. 12:3
The Lord also says we should pray for our governmental leaders so we can lead a quiet life. So a believer in Russia has the same situation as we have. We all pray for God's Will to be done.
"First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity." --1 Tim. 2:1-2
But the bottom line to us today is that we're in the time of God's Patience. God is withholding what is due for all nations until His plan is perfectly finished. His patience allows for more people to be saved and avoid the horrors of the tribulation.
Those who have recently gotten saved are missing the Tribulation because God has been patiently waiting. Therefore there are people He still will draw into the Kingdom and things He wishes to do through Believers before the curtain drops. So God tells us to also be "patient!"
"The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance."--2 Pet.3:9
Those who are saved between now and the Rapture will be rescued because God is patiently waiting for all whom He chose before the foundation of the earth was laid.
"just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world,"--Eph. 1:4
We don't know if the Lord is coming in the next minute, the next month or years from now. And if the Lord tarries, we have to be patient.
"Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord..."--James 5:7
"...regard the patience of our Lord as salvation;"--2 Pet. 3:15
And just like those living in the time of Noah, we too can see the handwriting on the wall. We too see all of the prophecies coming together, lining up exactly as the Bible predicted. Even with people all around us denying it's close!
"and saying, "Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation."--2 Pet. 3:4
So we wait patiently, ready to be used by Him as the days linger on until our great exodus at the Rapture.
"So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience;"--Col.3:12
In the parable of the Nobleman (Luke 19:12-27) there is an inference to "occupy" or "stay busy" until the Lord returns. So we wait patiently, staying busy with our duties while praying that He will use us to witness to someone in our family, a neighbor, or someone at work, someone who still needs to get on the boat.
So this is one incredible time in which we, as Believers, should be very, very sensitive to God's leading. There is one person on the planet who will be the last person saved prior to our exit.
Much like the thief on the cross, one person will be the last to believe. That person will be the last to receive God's gift of the Holy Spirit, being permanently indwelled by Him. The person will be whisked away with the rest of the Believers, escaping God's horrific judgment coming on earth.
But until that departure day, we can have peace in God's latter-days patience, knowing that despite what we see all around us, THE LORD IS STILL IN CONTROL. Nothing is happening that He's not allowing.
And when it's all over, we win. So let's live like we know we've already won!