In this book, “These Last Days,” a group of authors present their take on a gospel-centered view of eschatology. D. A. Carson contributes his work entitled, “This Present Evil Age” in chapter 2. If not seen in chapter 1, by the time the reader reaches chapter 2, one can’t help but notice this book is not traversing the normal path common to today’s “end times” writings. The authors have a greater intent of presenting the Bible’s eschatological passages as applicable to every generation of the church. For example, from Revelation 12, Carson sees the woman as the Messianic community that brings forth the male child (Jesus). After Satan fails to devour the child, he goes forth seeking to persecute the offspring of the community (the Church). Hence, from the apostolic era to the present we see the persecution promised by Jesus (John 15:20) inflicted upon believers.
Carson then describes the most effective attack against the church (throughout all ages) as the attempt to change the Gospel message. Multiple texts from the Bible could be used as evidence, but he references Paul’s letter to the Galatians. “But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. (Galatians 1:8-9).” The church was being bombarded with temptations of heresy from every angle. Everything from Judaizers, gnostics, worldly desires, and greed came against the true Gospel. Nothing has changed; it is still true today.
Carson then expounds upon the topic of Gospel sufficiency. He begins the section by explaining that students of ministry do not learn what is taught to them; “they learn what the teacher is excited about.” He states, “So within the church of the Living God, we must become excited about the gospel.” He continues, “That’s how we pass on our heritage. If, instead, the gospel increasingly becomes for us that which we assume, then we will, of course, assent to the correct creedal statement. But, at this point, the gospel is not what really captures us. Rather, it is a particular form of worship, or a particular style of counseling, or a particular view of culture, or a particular technique in preaching, or — fill in the blank. Then, ultimately, our students make that their center, and the generation after us loses the gospel. As soon as you get to the place where the gospel is that which is nearly assumed, you are only a generation and a half from death.”
Carson uses Paul’s letter to the Galatians to exploit today’s infatuation with justification without sanctification. Using Paul’s teaching from Galatians 5, Carson, states, “We are reminded that the gospel is more than justification. Justification declares our standing before God. But the gospel is also the wonderful news of what God has done by pouring out His Spirit, causing us to be regenerated and transformed. Thus the principle Jesus announced — ‘By their fruits you shall know them” — remains true in the apostle’s vision of the Christian life.”
He finishes this segment with these words, “It is not merely a matter of believing the right things. Genuine faith leads to the bearing of good fruit. The gospel is the announcement of the powerful thing that God has done. The gospel transforms us and separates us from this present evil age. It makes a difference.”
In Conclusion of this chapter, Carson presents the means of victory for the church. In the segment, “Christians Overcoming,” Revelation 12:11 presents how believers are victorious even in the adverse environment of the world’s war against the saints. “And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.”
Quoting from page 35: “Christians overcome satanic rage by the blood of the Lamb.” “…it is not by the blood of the Lamb seen as a kind of device, but it is on the ground of Christ’s atoning death.” “What do we say? My plea is not, ‘I am not as bad as all that.’ ‘My plea is the blood of the Lamb.'”
Then: “This is gospel freedom and this is why Satan has been cast out. The cross stands at the heart of everything.”