Christians today need a new way of thinking about the world around them. They need an optimistic, more positive way of thinking in regards to engaging the culture.
This new way of thinking is about victory in the life of a regenerate believer, over his or her indwelling sin, and it doesn't just stop with individual sanctification but flows outward into every area of life. Victory not only includes individual sanctification, but it also means societal sanctification. We won't ever be perfectly victorious over sin or its effects, at least not until you die or until the resurrection takes place. This does not mean however that God allows us to stay in our sin. No, God progressively sanctifies his people and reverses the effects of sin in a believer's life and this sanctification flows out and affects society. Society should mirror individual sanctification. Victory is progressive over sin's effects in society. This is what Deuteronomy 8 and 28:1-14 teaches.
I'm not talking about perfectionism or sinless perfection, but the progression of victory over sin and its effects for the individual and society. After the 1870's this optimistic view about society digressed into a pessimistic view of the world. Social sanctification was rejected and replaced with "a vision of defeat, in time and on earth . . . and churches went into hiding, culturally speaking" .
For those who may not have a clear definition of personal or individual sanctification, this simply means that someone who is born-again, progressively conforms their life to biblical standards for ethics. Another way of putting it is being conformed to the image of Christ, that is to say the perfect humanity of Christ. We don't conform to God's divine nature because men do not evolve into God as the Mormons teach. We conform to God's standards as manifested in Christ. Sanctification is a progressive process of God separating yourself from sin (as defined by God's law), not perfectly, but increasingly, in time and on earth.
Social sanctification mirrors personal sanctification. When Christians structure their lives in accordance with what the Bible requires, the world around them begins to reflect that change. It's really a simple concept. Jesus said, "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” . The effects of the Gospel flow from Christian living. The gospel has a leavening effect like yeast in dough. The gospel lived out through God's people progressively sanctifies society--setting society apart for God's glory just as God does for the individual and just as He did for Israel in the Old Covenant.
Until the knowledge of the LORD covers the earth as the waters cover the seas,
 "Backward, Christian Soldiers?" Gary North
 (Matthew 28:19-20 ESV)
Oh, the world is getting worse and worse. The sky is falling. The world is going to hell in a hand basket. There's no reason to polish the brass on a sinking ship! I'm sure you've heard all this before. Some of you may even believe that there's no hope for this world. But before you shove off and continue thinking that way. I have a question for you to seriously consider.
Is Jesus coming soon?
Why do you think so and what scripture verses are you reading that makes you think the rapture could happen at any moment?
A few more questions to ponder:
Will the great commission fail? Will the nations be discipled? How powerful is the gospel? Is sin stronger than grace? Is there any rock to heavy for God to lift? Atheists love that last one.
Let's hear from the Master for a second from Matthew chapter 28: 18-20:
"And Jesus came and said to them, 'All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.'”
If the rapture happened tomorrow the GREAT COMMISSION would be a GREAT FAILURE. I believe Jesus is pretty serious that the nations will be discipled and trained in righteousness. If your eschatology doesn't make room for the full inclusion of the world to be turned to righteousness then you need a new eschatology.
What of Isaiah 9:11? "They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea." On earth as it is in heaven. The LORD's prayer realized. The gospel and it's affections filling the earth through the preaching of the gospel, baptizing and making disciples. If you hold to a view that the church loses in history, you don't hold to a SOVEREIGN LORD who reigns over the earth. It's that simple. Scripture is on the side of victory and optimism, not pessimism and "come get me outta here" type talk.
Remember what Jesus prayed in John chapter 17: 15-18? He said . . . "I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world."
So, Jesus isn't planning to rescue the church out of the world, that would be against the very thing He came to do! Read that verse again. He gave His Holy Spirit to empower the church to attack the very gates of hell. Jesus sends His people into the world, not to withdraw from it in bomb shelters waiting to escape it via the rapture. I've had enough of this "come get me outta here" preaching. Jesus sends the church to transform the world. Turning men from darkness to light. From the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of righteousness.
When will Jesus come back? That's the wrong question. You should be asking, "when will the nations be discipled?" If you say the nations will be discipled only when Jesus comes back, you're nullifying the Spirit of God and the power of the gospel to accomplish all that Jehovah has set forth to fulfill. Jesus is on His throne NOW! Read acts chapter 2.
Jesus' influence and power will only increase throughout the world! Don't take my word for it, believe the Scriptures as Isaiah 9:7 declares:
"Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this."
Who will do this? "The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this."
Until the nations are discipled,