One of the issues dividing Christians today is this issue of whether there will be a great outpouring of the Holy Spirit in the future which will sweep in unprecedented numbers into God's Kingdom and possibly transform human society.
On the one hand, we have dominionists and post-millenialists of various stripes who understand the Bible to say that we the church are going to subdue the kingdoms of this world and present them to Christ before His coming. These people believe that Christians are called to take back every area of society from the devil, and that we will succeed in doing so before Christ returns.
On the other extreme of this question, are those who see very little besides apostasy and failure for the church. Their favorite word in the Bible is "remnant". For these people, God is only going to have a tiny, tiny remnant of faithful people when Jesus comes, because the church is just going to get more and more apostate.
Where does the truth lie?
I believe there are elements of truth within both positions, but the exact truth is not correctly described by either of these extreme scenarios. In showing this, I want to appeal to the plain facts of history as well as Scripture.
What Does the Scripture Say?
The Scripture teaches that God will redeem people out of every tribe, tongue, people and nation!
In Heaven the 24 elders sing a song.
Revelation 5:9 And they sang a new song, saying: "You are worthy to take the scroll, And to open its seals; For You were slain, And have redeemed us to God by Your blood Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation,
This proves that the gospel is going to reach every tribe, nation, people and tongue and God will have some people from each one. That is great news.
Matthew 24:14 says:
"And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come."
You can waste a lot of time studying the works of the devil in these last days, and the conspiracies to bring in a satanic New World Order, in order to understand that Christ is coming soon. But there is only one sign you really need to watch. And that is the progress of the gospel of the kingdom in being spread to all nations. When that job is finished, the end will come.
Now then, I don't see the Bible telling us exactly HOW MANY or what percentage of the population of the earth will truly turn to the Lord. I hope its a large percentage, but it might end up being smaller than we would like. In any case, it will still add up to a lot of people.
The most optimistic, hopeful interpretation I have heard is based on Matthew 24:40-41
Mat 24:40 Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and the other left.
Mat 24:41 Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and the other left.
Some are hoping we can get 50% of the population based on this, and I hope so too, but the passage doesn't really imply that. Believe for it where you are if you can! In certain places this will happen, but it doesn't say in every place. It could be referring to situations so localized that it says nothing about the percentage of redeemed people that will be in Christ at the Second Coming.
Others see a pattern of God taking 10% for Himself as a tithe, in which case we could expect that 700 million or more might actually be saved. This would be great, but I feel sad for God about the other 90% that will reject Him finally.
I don't think we know the answer to this question fully.
What we do know is that many have responded to the message of the gospel already. Even if large portions of the western church have become corrupted by the love of money and so forth, the church is growing strongly in Asia and Africa, and hundreds of millions of people have received the Word of God gladly.
I can foresee the whole world getting the gospel in the power of the Holy Spirit, through the brave witness of those who love God, as well as through mass media methods. I can foresee the knowledge of God's miraculous power through Jesus Christ becoming widespread as testimonies are published all over the internet and TV.
I believe that many will respond to the message, but COMPARATIVELY FEW WILL FINALLY BE SAVED.
We see indications of this in the teachings of Jesus Christ, the apostles and even the Hebrew Prophets.
Jesus Predicted a Great Apostasy before His Return
Many will hear and respond with some level of belief, and of these, many will fall away. You cannot have a lot of people falling away unless at one time a lot of people also truly believed. How can you fall from something you never had?
In Matthew 24 Jesus said the following:
Mat 24:9 "Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name's sake.
Mat 24:10 And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another.
Mat 24:11 Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many.
Mat 24:12 And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold.
Mat 24:13 But he who endures to the end shall be saved.
Dear friend, are you ready to be delivered up to tribulation and killed for the sake of Christ? Are you ready to be hated by all nations for the sake of Jesus?
This is going to happen to many of you. It could happen to me and my family. Only God knows what the future holds for any individual, unless God of course chooses to reveal some parts of it by special revelation for purposes He knows.
What about if your Christian friends treat you badly and offend you? What if some of them sell out to hostile government authorities for material advantage or because of fear for their families and so betray you and your family to the authorities?
What if the schools teach your children that Christians are haters of humanity and must be eradicated from society so that we can evolve to our best possibilities? What will you do then? Will you stand for the Lord?
What if your pastor sells out, compromises, becomes an advocate for the New World Order, informs the secret police of your country on the people in his church, and so on? Would you be ready to love Jesus then or would you feel that Jesus has betrayed you? If your pastor falls from God, will you faithfully follow your pastor or will you be faithful to Jesus instead?
All these issues will become chillingly real in the days, months and years ahead.
Under Communism and Fascism many church leaders were subverted to become tools of the State and informers for the Secret Police. If a person is not motivated by eternity, but rather is in a quest for "their best life now", it is very easy to sell out under pressure. It has happened before and will happen again.
In the parable of the Sower in Mark 4 Jesus spoke of four kinds of soil. In the three kinds, the Seed of God's Word had some kind of positive effect and took root. But in only one kind of soil did the harvest mature and last. Jesus told us that "he who endures to the end shall be saved". It is not how you start, it is how you finish that matters.
As the Seed of the Word of God is presently going out in unprecedented volumes, we are going to see this whole scenario play out on a bigger scale.
There are going to be lots of people who receive the Word, and it might look like a great revival. But of these people, MANY are going to give up when persecution comes for the Word. When people have to choose between a comfortable life now VERSUS faithfulness to Jesus Christ together with the loss of all things in this world, many are going to blame God and give up.
Jesus taught that tares and wheat are going to grow up together until His Return.
Mat 13:24 Another parable He put forth to them, saying: "The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field;
Mat 13:25 but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way.
Mat 13:26 But when the grain had sprouted and produced a crop, then the tares also appeared.
Mat 13:27 So the servants of the owner came and said to him, 'Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?'
Mat 13:28 He said to them, 'An enemy has done this.' The servants said to him, 'Do you want us then to go and gather them up?'
Mat 13:29 But he said, 'No, lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them.
Mat 13:30 Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, "First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn." ' "
This parable seems to teach something different to the traditional pre-tribulation teaching. In traditional pre-trib teaching, first the Lord gathers his faithful people and takes them out of harm's way, and then he judges the rest. But in this parable, when the harvest comes, the TARES – the false Christians – are first to be removed, and only then is the WHEAT – symbolizing true Christians – gathered up and stored.
At the end of the age there will be a separation of the true and the false. I would say that a lot of people are going to be in the mix. A lot of people will respond somehow to the message of the Word of God. But many will prove to be false tares.
Jesus seemed to be unsure of how many people would be trusting Him when He returned.
Luke 18:8 says, "Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?"
I hope so. But there are going to be a lot of people who give up and cast away their confidence.
You think it can't happen to you? Think again. NOW is the time to allow the Word of God to form DEEP ROOTS in your own life, and to cast out EVERYTHING of worldly attitudes, love of money, love of the praise of men, love of self indulgence, so that YOU YOURSELF will be able to stand everything that is coming upon the earth.
God bless you.