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What Time Is It for God’s People Today?

We are living in uncertain, perilous times. There are pestilences, earthquakes, heaps of false teachers, abounding apostasy, fervor for a one world government and economy, global corporations and organizations that hate God’s laws and contribute massive amounts of money to anti-God causes, atheism, wars and rumors of wars, terrorism, modern Israel, preparations for the Third Temple. Are we seeing a fulfillment of prophecy? Absolutely, we are; but it is not the day of the Lord. It is the stage being set for the day of the Lord.

God’s people are pilgrim people. We aren’t in darkness. We have the mind of Christ in Scripture (1 Co. 2:9-16), the mind of the Christ in whom are hid all treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Col. 2:3)! We must not follow the world’s thinking or share the world’s fears.

I am 100% sure that the Bible is the Word of God and that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, the only Lord and Saviour.

I am 100% sure that Bible prophecy is true. I love Bible prophecy. The Bible is the only book that describes the future accurately, and how wonderful and important it is to know the future! More than one-fourth of the Bible is prophecy. Obviously it is something that God wants His people to understand and know. Bible prophecy is great light, great hope, great comfort, great encouragement, a great motivator.

It was as a young Christian that I got the key to understand prophecy in the right way, and that is the “normal literal” method of interpretation. When I was taught that, it resonated deeply with me as the truth. I have studied prophecy ever since. I have studied all views of prophecy, but the only view that unlocks Bible prophecy so that it is light and not confusion, is the dispensational, Pre-tribulational view, and I’m not talking about John Darby dispensationalism, I’m talking about apostolic dispensationalism! There are still many things I don’t fully understand in Bible prophecy; there are questions unanswered. I am learning new things all the time. But you have to first stand back and settle the big things, and I have done that and I am 100% certain of what I believe. We are not called to debate uncertainties. We are called to rightly divide the Word and then preach and teach it as absolute truth. We are to speak as the oracles of God (1 Pe. 4:11), and you can do that if you approach prophecy with a consistent literal interpretation.

Let’s see what a great light Bible prophecy, rightly interpreted, is in these perilous, confusing times.

What Time Is It for God’s People Today?

I. It is church time and Christ’s Great Commission time

II. It is not the day of the Lord

III. It is the time of the mystery of iniquity

IV. It is Rapture time

I. It is church time and Christ’s Great Commission time (Mt. 28:18-20).

And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen. (Matthew 28:18-20)

This is God’s program for the church age. This is God’s program for God’s people today. This is what we must keep our attention on. When the disciples asked the Lord about Israel’s kingdom being restored, He did not correct them and say, “You must understand that the church is replacing Israel and that kingdom is fulfilled in the church.” Instead, He replied,

“It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” (Acts 1:6-9)

Christ said that it is time to preach the Gospel to the ends of the earth. He repeated that and emphasized that in His teaching to the disciples between His resurrection and ascension (Mt. 28:18-20; Mk. 16:15-16; Lu. 24:44-48; Joh. 20:21; Ac. 1:8). The more God’s people today do this business, the more pleased God is with us.

After He was rejected by Israel, Jesus said “I will build my church” (Mt. 16:18). The church did not yet exist. It is not Israel. The church is a mystery that was not revealed in the Old Testament (Col. 1:26-27), but Israel was revealed fully.

The mystery is that the Gentiles will experience “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” The Old Testament said that Gentiles would be saved, but there is not a hint about Christ dwelling in them and them being the participants in Christ’s glory. Church-age believers are a heavenly people (“seated in the heavenlies,” Eph. 2:4-6). They are “the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven” (Heb. 12:22-24).

God’s plans for the church and Israel are different, as we see plainly stated in Romans 11:25-27. The fullness of the Gentiles is the completion of the church which is composed of people whom God is calling out in this age from among the Gentiles (Ac. 15:13-16) by the Gospel (2 Th. 2:14). This is the business of the Great Commission, and this is the business of this present time.

We see in Matthew 28 that this is a very big work that requires the full attention of all of God’s people (Mt. 28:19-20). It entails preaching the Gospel to every soul of every place and time throughout the age. It entails baptizing those who receive the Gospel. It entails discipling every baptized believer thoroughly so that he or she learns to obey all things that Christ has commanded (“teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you,” v. 20).

The “them” that are to be taught in verse 20 are the baptized disciples of verse 19, every one of them. This means that every baptized believer is to be taught the whole Scripture, the whole counsel of God, the whole New Testament faith, taught how to understand and study the Bible for himself, taught every doctrine, taught and discipled in every aspect of sound Christian living. What a big work!

Christ commanded that all of His people are to be built up to do God’s perfect will. This includes all of the families. God’s instruction for the family is given to the churches (Eph. 5:22 – 6:4; Col. 3:18-21; Tit. 2:3-5). It entails the children and the youth. The divine purpose of the home is to raise up a godly seed for His glory (Mal. 2:15). The fulfillment of Christ’s Commission, then, requires that every church be a very serious, effectual discipling, Bible-training entity. This is such a huge job that it requires the dedication of every baptized believer in every New Testament church.

This Great Commission is done in the churches. It is not a para-church work. This is what we see in the Pastoral Epistles. It is what we see in 1 Timothy, where the church with pastors and deacons is called “the house of God, the pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Ti. 3:15). This is what we see in Acts 13-14, which is the biblical pattern for the work of the church as the headquarters for world missions. This is what we see in the epistle of Titus, where preachers are instructed in how to “set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city” (Tit. 1:5). This is what we see in the Acts and the New Testament Epistles. We see a church planting/building manual for the fulfillment of Christ’s Great Commission.

We see in Matthew 28 that this is the work of God’s people today until the end of the age (v. 20). We must keep our attention on this work and not be sidetracked. Christ’s Great Commission is not social work; it’s not kingdom building; it’s not an entertainment program; it’s not building a commune; it’s not preparing for the antichrist.

We see that Jesus has all power in heaven and earth. “Power” is exousia, which is also translated authority (Mt. 7:29; 8:9). God’s people have authority to do this great work. Christ is the highest authority, not parents or family or society or government.

We see that Jesus is with those churches that do this work (“lo, I am with you always,” v. 20). He is with us every moment, all of the time. He said, “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee” (Heb. 13:5), which is a forceful, double promise.

This is the business we must keep our attention on. This is the business we must do no matter what is happening in the world. The Lord Jesus Christ has commanded this, and He is with us, and He will open doors and provide our needs. We are “laborers together with God (1 Co. 3:9). He is ready to work!

In these times, churches need to focus more than ever on Gospel preaching to every creature and building godly families and really serious discipling of all of the members.

The greatest pandemic disease is not coronavirus that has killed thousands or influenza that kills 500,000 per year or tuberculosis that kills 1.5 million per year. The greatest pandemic on this globe is the sin virus that we inherited from the first man, Adam. Its fatality rate is 100%. The Good News is that there is a cure. The deadly virus of sin can be healed through saving faith in the blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, and eternal death can be escaped. Dr. Jesus has a 100% success rate for those who come to Him by the door of saving faith.

“For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23).

The proclamation of this cure is the chief business of God’s people today. We are the ambassadors for Dr. Jesus. There is no other Saviour and no other salvation. If we get sidetracked from this business, it won’t be done. It can’t be done by big business or governments or NGOs or “social justice” organizations.

It’s not time to fret about the coronavirus. The redeemed in Christ aren’t of the world and must not share the world’s doubts and fears. It’s time to shine as lights in a dark place by the witness of the Gospel and to build true, sound, thorough-going New Testament churches to the glory of God.

II. It is not the day of the Lord (2 Th. 2:1-14).

God’s Bible-believing people are not to be perplexed, uncertain (“shaken in mind,” 2 Th. 2:1-2). We have great light; we are not in darkness and confusion. We can understand the times and know what is happening and what God is doing and what the devil is doing and what we should be doing.

We are not to be afraid (2 Th. 2:1-2).

“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” (2 Timoyhy 1:17)

Fear comes, but it is not of God. If we walk with God and seek Him, He will give us power (spiritual strength by the Holy Spirit), love (concern for others, not selfishness), and a sound mind (right thinking according to God’s Word).

We are not to be deceived (2 Th. 2:3); we must know God’s Word and not be deceived by false teachers. The Bible warns about this many times. God’s people must learn how to understand the Bible properly and how to refute error. Every church must be busy teaching all of its people how to do this.

We are not to think that we are in the day of the Lord (2 Th. 2:3-4). The day of Christ is the day of the Lord; He is the Lord. To understand prophecy it is necessary to know what is the day of the Lord.

  • The day of the Lord is the day of the antichrist. This is what we see in the context of 2 Th. 2:2-4. He is called the “son of perdition” (v. 3) and “that wicked” (v. 8). He will come after the working of Satan (v. 9). He will deceive by means of lying signs (v. 9). He is going to claim to be God in the Third temple (v. 4).

  • The day of the Lord is the day of God’s wrath on this world, God’s judgment upon rebellion. The day of the Lord is mentioned 31 times. In each of these passages we see the same fundamental truths about the day of the Lord. It is a time of God’s wrath and judgment upon the nations; it is a time when God will be exalted and man debased; it is a time when God will deal with Israel and bring her to repentance and conversion. See Isa. 2:12-22; 13:6-12; 34:8; Jer. 30:7-11; 46:10; Eze. 30:3; Joe. 1:15; 2:1-11; Amo. 5:18-20; Oba. 1:15-18; Zec. 1:14-18. The day of the Lord is described in Revelation 6-18. There are seven years of judgment, and the judgments get increasingly worse as the years pass. But even the beginning judgments are terrible. See Revelation 6 – the antichrist comes on the scene as a man of peace, taking control of the world system (v. 2); wars and famines and pestilence that kills one-fourth of the people on earth (vv. 4-8); the death of the saints by martyrdom (vv. 9-11); great signs in the heavens (vv. 12-14); great fear among men (vv. 15-18). Later during the day of the Lord, the judgments grow even more severe, so that one-third of the earth’s remaining population perishes (Re. 9:15).

  • The day of the Lord is a time of great deception (2 Th. 2:9-12). The deception will be from the devil and from God!

  • The day of the Lord ends with the coming of Christ in power and glory to judge rebels and to establish His kingdom (2 Th. 2:8).

What about the falling away (2 Th. 2:3). This is the Greek apostasia, which is also translated “forsake” (Ac. 21:21). In context of 2 Thessalonians 2, it is associated with the revelation of the antichrist. The apostasia is Israel forsaking God for the false christ. It is described in Daniel 9:27; 11:32; Joh. 5:43.

Today the stage is being set for the day of the Lord, but it is not yet the day of the Lord. God’s people must keep their eyes on Christ’s imminent coming and on the business God has given us to do.

III. It is the time of the mystery of iniquity (2 Th. 2:7-12).

The mystery of iniquity is the devil’s plan to put his man on the throne of the world. That is the context.

  • The mystery of iniquity has been at work in the world since Paul’s day (“doth already work,” 2 Th. 2:7).

  • There is one who is restraining (2 Th. 2:6-7). This is a person (“he”). This can only be God, as no one else could restrain the devil. It is the Holy Spirit.

  • The Restrainer will be taken out of the way (2 Th. 2:7). That refers to the Rapture. The Holy Spirit came at Pentecost to take out of the nations a people for God’s name, and the Holy Spirit departs at the Rapture when this great work is finished.

  • This is the fullness of the Gentiles described by Paul in Romans 11:25-27. During this present time, Israel is blind, and that will last until “the fullness of the Gentiles be come in.” That is the completion of God’s eternal program to create a special group of people for His glory in this present time by the preaching of the Gospel. When the fullness of the Gentiles be come in, “all Israel shall be saved” (Ro. 11:26). This is explained in Ro. 11:27 as the fulfillment of God’s covenant with Israel, which is the new covenant of spiritual conversion and the restoration of her kingdom in her own land (Jer. 31:27-40; 32:37-40; 33:14-26; Eze. 16:60-63; 20:33-44; 34:11-25; 36:23-32; 37:15-27; Zec. 12:10-14; 13:1-9, etc.).

  • For now, the mystery of iniquity cannot be brought to fulfillment because it is being restrained by the Spirit of God. The mystery of iniquity is like a horse, but God holds the reins. God will restrain the mystery of iniquity until His work is finished for this age. Therefore, no matter what things look like in this present age, we cannot know the time of Christ’s coming for the saints. That is always in God’s hands.

  • We see this in 2 Peter:

“The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9)

This plainly states that the reason God is waiting is that He is continuing to save souls through the Gospel. How long will He wait? Only He knows, and He knows exactly. But from our standpoint we are to keep preaching and keep watching until that final soul is saved for this present age. Then our work will be finished and we will taken away to the Father’s house (Joh. 14:1-3) and God’s business with Israel will be consummated as described in Daniel’s amazing 70 Week prophecy (Da. 9:24-27).

This brings us back to the fact that it is currently church time and Great Commission time. That is what God’s people must keep their attention on until Christ comes. We must not get caught up in vain speculation about signs pertaining to the antichrist. We must not be share the world’s confusion and fear. We must not think that we are in the day of the Lord. Christ has given us our marching orders until He comes:

“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world” (Mt. 28:19-20).

IV. It is Rapture time.

Paul had taught the believers at Thessalonica that they would escape the day of the Lord. “Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things?” (2 Th. 2:1-5). This refers to the teaching that Paul gave in his first epistle to the church at Thessalonica.

In 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 Paul taught the church at Thessalonica about the Rapture or the catching away.

  • The words “caught up” (1 Th. 4:17) are from harpazo, which is used for the catching away of Philip by the Spirit of God in Acts 8:39. “Rapture” is from the Latin “rapturo.”

  • At the Rapture the dead in Christ will come with Him from heaven and be united with resurrected bodies (1 Th. 4:14-16).

  • The living will be changed and will meet the Lord in the air (1 Th. 4:17).

  • This is to be a comfort, not a fear (1 Th. 4:18). This is because we are looking for Christ, not for the antichrist; we are looking for the day of deliverance not the day of wrath.

Paul continued his teaching on the Rapture and the day of the Lord in 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11.

  • There are two groups of people here: “they” (v. 3) and “we” (vv. 4-10).

  • “They,” referring to the unsaved, are in darkness and the day of the Lord will come upon them as a thief, unexpected, because they do not believe God’s Word and are not watching. Their thoughts are only upon this world and the things of this world. They are trying to find “peace and safety” by their own resources.

  • “We,” referring to God’s redeemed people, are not in darkness (1 Th. 5:4-5). We have the great light of God’s Word and the enlightenment of the Spirit of God.

  • We must not be spiritually sleeping (1 Th. 5:6-8). We are to be on fire for Christ, maintaining that first love passion for our Saviour, separated unto Him, holy, busy in His service.

  • We are not appointed to wrath (1 Th. 5:9-11). This is a clear promise of deliverance from the day of the Lord, which is the day of God’s wrath. God’s people in this age experience tribulation (“we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God,” Ac. 14:22), but they will not experience the tribulation of the day of the Lord, for that is the day of God’s wrath on this wicked world. Every part of the day of the Lord is the day of His wrath, as we have seen. Every one of the seven-seal judgments described in Revelation 6-18 is God’s wrath. There is wrath at the beginning (Re. 6:16-17). There is wrath during the time of the mark of the antichrist in the second half of the tribulation when the antichrist proclaims himself as God (Re. 14:9-11). There is wrath at the end at Armageddon (Re. 14:18-19). There is wrath at Christ’s coming when all unsaved will be judged (Re. 11:17-18).

  • We are to be watching (v. 6). We see that the Rapture is imminent. It is to be expected at any time. We are not looking for wrath but deliverance. We’re not looking for the antichrist but for Christ Himself. We see this everywhere in the Epistles. It is the example set by the apostolic churches (1 Th. 1:9-10). They were churches of born again people who were serving and waiting. Paul said, “the day is at hand” (Ro. 13:12; Php. 4:5). “At hand” is eggizo, meaning “near, approaching.” The English phrase “at hand” is a metaphor to indicate something that is near, close by, at the ready, like your hand. It is used to describe the location of Jesus’ tomb. It was “nigh at hand” to the place of His crucifixion (Joh. 19:42). Paul used it to describe his imminent death at the hand of the emperor Nero (2 Ti. 4:6). The coming of Christ for the church-age saints is always at hand, imminent, impending. Titus 2:13 says we are looking for “that blessed hope,” which is the appearance of Christ, not the antichrist. James said, “the coming of the Lord draweth nigh” and “the judge standeth before the door” (Jas. 5:8-9). That is the language of imminence. Christ is to be thought of as standing up and getting ready to open the door and come for His people. It could happen any moment. It is to be expected at any time. Peter said, “the end of all things is at hand” (1 Pe. 4:7). Again, this is eggizo, near, imminent, impending.

The Rapture is also described in 1 Corinthians 15:50-58.

  • This passage describes what happens to the living saints at the Rapture. All of the saints will be changed, transformed into glorified bodies (1 Co. 15:54).

  • It is a mystery that was not revealed before (1 Co. 15:51). The Old Testament teaches about the resurrection, but the translation of living saints is not taught.

  • This great blessing is God’s gift in Christ (1 Co. 15:57).

  • The knowledge of this event is to cause God’s people to be steadfast and to be busy laboring for the Lord and not slacking off or getting sidetracked with other things (1 Co. 15:58). Every passage pertaining to the Rapture emphasizes that this great truth is to be a comfort, an encouragement, and a motivator for holy, diligent Christian living.

The Rapture is also described in John 14:-3.

  • These words were spoken by Christ after the first Lord’s Supper and before His trial at Gethsemane on the Mt. of Olives. He is preparing His “little flock” for His death. The words are addressed to Christ’s believers in this age.

  • This teaching is intended for comfort and peace (Joh. 14:1).

  • The subject is the Father’s house (Joh. 14:2). That refers to heaven.

  • There are mansions there (Joh. 14: 2). Those are dwelling places for royal priests (1 Pe. 2:9; Re. 1:6). Psalm 45:6-15 describes Christ with His bride in glory and it speaks of ivory palaces.

  • Christ said that He was going to prepare a place for us. This refers to His ascension.

  • Christ will come again and receive us unto Himself (Joh. 14:3). In the context, the purpose of the reception is to take His people of this age to the Father’s house to live in the mansions He has built. This is the Rapture of 1 Thessalonians 4. It is not meeting the Lord in the air and then returning immediately to earth. It is meeting the Lord in the air and being transported to the Father’s house for the judgment seat of Christ and the marriage of the bride.

If interpreted literally, and there is no other right way to interpret them, the Rapture described in 1 Corinthians 15, 1 Thessalonians 1, and John 14 is not the coming of Christ described in Matthew 24 and Revelation 19. These are different events; they happen at a different time; they entail a different people; they have a different purpose.

What Time Is It for God’s People Today?

I. It is church time and Christ’s Great Commission time

II. It is not the day of the Lord

III. It is the time of the mystery of iniquity

IV. It is Rapture time

“The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light” (Romans 13:12).

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Global Rebellion against God’s Law

Global Rebellion against God’s Law

Last week we looked at what I believe to be the greatest sign of the soon return of Christ. I want to look at the global rebellion against God’s law, which is the result of turning away from God and His Word. We see this when we look at the attitude of many of our political leaders, especially on the left and their hatred for the things spelled out in the Word of God. They are against the traditional family. They are for homosexuality and same sex marriage. They are against parental authority.

They are attacking Christianity as if it were a curse on society. Some leftist governors and mayors have openly stated that they don’t want churches to reopen. Fortunately, for now, the Supreme Court has stood against the closing or limiting churches. If they succeed in stacking the Court with leftist justices, we have no Idea how long this will last.

I want to start with the prophecy as found in Psalm Chapter 2.

“Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against his anointed, saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us. He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision. Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure. I will declare the decree: the Lord hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee. Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession. Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.” (Psalm 2:1-9).

When we think about prophecy, the Book of Psalms is not the first thing that comes to mind. However, they contain many prophecies, some of which were fulfilled at Christ’s first coming, and many which point to His second coming.

The events described in this Psalm describe what we see throughout the world today. The heathen kings and their people are uniting in rebellion against Jehovah God and His Anointed. The “heathen” are those who reject the God of the Bible.

They “rage” against God. They are trying to cast away His bands and cords, referring to His holy laws. They desire to live as they please without any limitations on their sinful lifestyles.

The heathen have been raging against God since man’s fall and since Cain, the first son of Adam, killed his prophet brother, Abel. The rage has grown in intensity in these last days and will culminate in Armageddon.

Rage against God’s holy laws is the chief characteristic of the western pop culture that has spread throughout the earth. The rage is expressed continually through movies, television, literature, the news media, the fields of education, fashion, and art. The rebellion is seen in the false religions, communism, evolution, militant atheism. The American Atheists paid for billboard ads in September 2012 calling the God of the Bible “sadistic” and Jesus a “useless Savior.” The homosexual rights movement tries to tell us that we are not the gender we were born to be. Some even say there are as many as one hundred different genders.

The gospel has been preached in every nation and at least portions of the Bible have been translated into most languages. In spite of this, the vast majority of the people have turned their backs to God’s gracious offer of salvation through His Son.

The Psalmist says that God will laugh at the rebels, not in joy but in scorn, because puny man cannot pull Him from His throne or thwart His plans.

God will establish Christ’s kingdom with its headquarters in Jerusalem in spite of worldwide opposition, and He will not establish it by a-millennial reconstructionists or by charismatic or emerging kingdom builders, but by His almighty power and a rod of iron.

The Psalmist has warned the ungodly rulers and judges, but they will not listen.

“Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him” (Psalm 2:10-12).

The kings and judges of the earth are warned. They are to be instructed by the Word of God. They are to serve the Lord with fear. This fear is a fear of offending a holy God. It keeps us from straying from God’s precepts.

They are told to “rejoice with trembling.” As we rejoice in the Lord, we must remember who He is and tremble before His majesty and power. This is a trembling from knowing who He is as we rejoice in His grace.

The expression “kiss the son” signifies, first of all, submission. It was customary in Bible times for subjects to kiss kings.

“Then Samuel took a vial of oil, and poured it upon his head, and kissed him, and said, Is it not because the Lord hath anointed thee to be captain over his inheritance?” (1 Samuel 10:1).

To kiss an idol was a sign of submission to the god represented by the idol. To “kiss the son” therefore refers to a sinner repenting of his rebellion against God and surrendering to Christ as Lord.

The expression “kiss the son” is also a sign of compassion. A kiss is a tender thing. It reminds us that salvation in Christ is not a matter of cold religious duty; it is a personal and intimate relationship with the Son of God. Compare this with Matthew 11:28-30.

“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” ( Matthew 11:28-30)

Men are exhorted to submit to the Son of God and put their trust in Him now while there is an opportunity. If the Son is angry with someone, he will perish. It only takes a little of His wrath to be kindled to put one in danger of Hell Fire.

The day is coming when all will stand before the righteous Judge, the Lord Jesus Christ.

And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: (Hebrews 9:27)

The time of our appointment with death is known only to God, but it is as sure as the sun rises that we will all die unless we are caught up in the Rapture. After our with death appointment, we will all stand before the judgment bar. The saved will be judged at the Judgment Seat of Christ, and the unsaved before the Great White Throne judgment.

In light of the fact that our time on this earth is limited, and none of us are guaranteed another day of life, this next verse is extremely important.

“For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” (2 Corinthians 6:2)

Our eternal destiny is fixed at death. Those who have rejected God and His Son will be forever lost. They will spend all eternity separated from God in the Lake of Fire.

We are reminded that God delights in mercy more than judgment.

“For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:3-4).

“The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us- ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).

All men are to serve the Lord in fear and trembling. This is the evidence of true salvation. Salvation is not simply praying the sinner’s prayer, it is a life-changing conversion experience.

What we have dealt with so far tells us the state of leadership in the last days. I want to takes some time to look at the condition of churches and Christians as we approach the end of this age. The second and third chapters of Revelation contain letters from Christ to the pastors of seven churches. These churches represent types of churches that are found throughout history. They also represent seven periods where certain types of churches are the most common. The last of these periods is just before the return of Christ. Let’s look at the letter to the last church which represents the majority of churches of our day.

And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches. (Revelation 3:14-22)

The first six churches were addressed as the church in or at a specific town. This church is addressed differently. It is addressed to the Church of the Laodiceans. Laodiceans means the inhabitants of Laodicea, which means it was a church which belonged to the people of the city, not a church that belonged to God. It was a church that had put the Lord on the outside and closed the door.

This letter says that it was neither cold nor hot, but lukewarm. This was a church that would stand for nothing.

It is interesting that there is no mention of doctrinal error, which I think tells us that it was orthodox in doctrine. There are many churches, even Baptist churches, that, when you read their doctrinal statements, are pretty solid. The problem is, they will not take a stand for the doctrine stated in their statements and separate from those in error.

It was also a rich church. It probably had a nice building and had the money to carry out its ministries and care for the needy. It thought this made it rich in spiritual matters. It was not! It made God spew it out of His mouth. When you don’t stand for righteousness, you are in rebellion against God’s law just as those who openly oppose them.

I want to look at one more thing before I close, and that is the condition of the people in the last days.

This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. (2 Timothy 3:1-7)

I don’t have the time to look at all of these so I will just cover those I think are important for this discussion.

People are more selfish today than at any time I can remember. It is all about what’s in it for me. They choose a church home based upon how it takes care of their felt needs. They will reject any teaching that interferes with what they want.

Many “Christians” are blasphemers. They don’t blaspheme with their lips, but with their attitude toward the precepts of God. If there is a Bible teaching that they don’t want to follow, they will go to great lengths to explain it away. When someone points out what the Bible says, they say we all have the right to our own interpretation, so we will just have to agree to disagree.

They are without natural affection. It is natural for a mother to put her children above everything but God and her husband. Today almost everything else comes before children. They don’t have children because they interfere with their desired lifestyle. If they do have them, the mother gives them over to someone else to raise so they and have their career and have the material things they desire.

Many are despisers of those that are good. If someone stand firm on the precepts of Scripture, they are called names like holier than thou, goody two shews, legalistic, and so on.

Almost everyone is a lover of pleasure more than a lover of God. God is not against us having pleasure if it lines up with the teachings of His Word. We should find great pleasure in studying God’s Word. We should find pleasure in hearing the preaching of Scripture. There is great pleasure in fellowship with God’s people. There is also pleasure in some of the things of this world, but we must be sure that they don’t keep us from God’s precepts. If we get pleasure from a ball game, it is fine an proper as long as it does not keep us out of church or cause us to violate some Bible principle. God must come before pleasure.

The result of these attitudes is, they are ever learning, and never able to come to the truth. Most of today’s “Christians” are biblically illiterate and ignorant of Bible doctrine.

When we don’t know what the Bible teaches, we contribute to the rebellion against God’s law. We do so because we cannot answer the gainsayers. We also contribute by not separating from those who are in error. Remember the Bible teaches that if we hang around bad people, their badness will rub off on us. This is why so many who call themselves Christians get angry when you tell them that certain kinds of music is bad, or that they shouldn’t smoke or drink alcohol, or that a woman’s place is in the home, not out working. These are all issues the Bible deals with.

A popular statement used by those who violate these principles is; “We are not under law, but we are under grace.” This is true for salvation, but not for how we live our lives after we are saved. If we are not under the law for the way we live, is murder now OK? How about stealing, or adultery?

We cannot be saved by keeping the law because we all stand guilty for breaking it. Only God’s grace, received by faith in the blood payment of Christ on the cross, can save. Once we are saved, we are expected to live righteous lives. We are to be holy as our heavenly Father is holy.

When you don’t follow God’s precepts, you are guilty of rebellion against the law of God. Remember, judgment is coming, and we will all answer to God for what we do with His law.

God predicted the state of the world today, but we don’t have to participate in it. We need to be a peculiar people that show the world what it means to live righteous and holy lives.

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End Time Apostasy

Apostasy In The End Times

I want to look at what I think is the main indication that we are really near the end of this age. I believe that Christ’s return to catch all true Christians out of this world is so close that we can hear the angels practicing on the trumpet, not that angels have to practice. Actually, the second coming in Revelation 19, is so close we can almost hear the hoof beats of the horses.

The most important indication that Christ’s return is near is not the political unrest or the Covid-19 pandemic. It is not the wars, rumors of wars, nor peace treaties that have been negotiated in the Middle East. It is not even the fact that Israel is back in the land. We should expect all of these things before Christ’s return because they are part of end time prophecy, but I believe the main prophetic event is the apostasy among “Christians.”

I want to start by looking at 2 Timothy 4:1-5, but I want to read the middle part first.

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. (3-4)

This is a prophecy concerning the state of Christianity as we approach the Rapture of the Saints. It is talking about those who are professing Christians, and are most likely members of supposedly Bible believing churches.

The time has come where many church members will not endure sound doctrine. The word translated “endure” means to put up with or allow. My son was recently in a conversation with a woman who disagreed with him on a Bible principle. When he pointed out what the Bible said, she said something to the effect of “We all have our own interpretation, so we will just have to agree to disagree.”

This is a typical attitude toward the Scriptures today. I know the woman, and she thinks she is a Christian even though her lifestyle is totally in opposition to what the Bible teaches. She is covered with tattoos, she has a foul mouth, and she is often proud that she brings “shine” to meetings she goes to. She is a very nice person, but she is typical of the apostasy we should expect just before the return of Christ.

The modern “Christian” wants preachers and teachers who will preach what they want to hear, not what they need to hear. As a result, they are turned from the truth to fables. It is a choice they have made.

When we see this state of affairs, we should ask why. Although God told us it would happen, it is not because He ordained it to be so. I think the first and last part of this passage give us the key to why it has happened. The passage starts with:

I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.(1-2)

Paul charged the young preacher, Timothy, before God and the Lord Jesus Christ to preach the Word. In so doing, he reminded Timothy that we will all stand before the judge one day and answer for our lives. I will look more at this in a moment, but for now I want to look at what the preacher is charged to do.

First, he is to preach the Word of God, all of it. He is to preach it when it is convenient, and when it is not. This means he is to preach the whole counsel of God whether the people want to hear it or not. Because many don’t want the truth, many preachers water it down out of fear.

I am afraid that too many preachers believe that their salary depends on the members of their churches. It does not! It depends on the one who called them into the ministry. That being said, the salary only last for a time. The real reward for the faithful preachers is everlasting.

Next, he is to reprove those to whom he preaches. To reprove is to point out error and convict those who are guilty of that error. We don’t have too much problem reproving the error that is politically correct in our circles. Things like abortion and homosexuality are often reproved in our churches where few, if any, are guilty of these sins. On the other hand, little is said about immodesty, worldly conduct and speech, etc. Why, because there may be criticism or the loss of a good tithing member.

The preacher is also to rebuke. This means to charge with error or to place the blame. Public sin should be rebuked publicly and private sin should be rebuked privately. Again, if the preacher rebukes, he risks offending and losing church members.

He is also to exhort his church members in his preaching. The word “exhort” means to use strong languages to encourage to right actions. The more exhorting that is done, the less need there will be for rebuking and reproving. The sins that are the most common in Bible believing churches are often mentioned in sermons, but seldom as exhortations. Exhortation is more than the issue being one point in a message. It requires full messages that explain, not only that it is wrong, but why it is wrong. What damage does a skirt that is just a bit short do? What harm is done by going to the wrong places? And I could go on.

The preacher is to do it with all longsuffering. This means he is to keep preaching it whether the people listen or not. He is to do it if they get angry, or even if they run him off. Granted, he is to do it with love and not use deliberately offensive language, but if the truth offends, preach it anyway.

He is to preach doctrine. This is the key to all of this. If people are taught sound doctrine from the beginning, all of the other things will fall into place. Doctrine teaches what is right and correct, and why it is so. When people understand what and why, they will usually attempt to comply.

Our text ends with:

But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry. (5)

The preacher is to make full proof of his ministry. He does so in three ways. First, he is to watch in all things. This means be aware of everything going on in, and outside of his church. If he is not aware of things, he cannot properly deal with them.

He is to endure afflictions. This goes with longsuffering. A faithful preacher will be attacked both from without and from within. He needs to have the backbone to stand against the opposition.

Next he is to do the work of an evangelist. An evangelist is one who preaches good news. The sad thing is, we often limit this to soul-winning. Is the only good news in the Bible that we can be saved? Although that is where it all starts, that is not the only good news that must be preached. We live in what the Bible calls perilous times. There is evil on every side. Nothing seems to be going the way we would like things to go. It is very easy for our people to get depressed. The work of preaching good news also includes preaching of the soon return of Christ, the rewards in heaven for faithful servants, and even the rewards of this life.

The following passage is often used to bring people under the authority of their pastor. It does teach that we are to obey our spiritual leaders, but there is something more important that is seldom mentioned. The reason they are to obey their pastor is that he is a watchman for their souls.

Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you. (Hebrews 13:17)

I would like to remind every preacher, pastor or not, that one day we will stand before God and give an answer for what we preach and how we preach it.

The word “pastor” is used nine times in the Scriptures, eight in the book of Jeremiah, and one in Ephesians. Six of the nine times, they are warnings or condemnations of the pastors because they were unfaithful to their calling.

Since pastors are to watch for the souls of those over whom God has given them oversight, I believe the warning given in Ezekiel is something to pay attention to.

Again the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Son of man, speak to the children of thy people, and say unto them, When I bring the sword upon a land, if the people of the land take a man of their coasts, and set him for their watchman: If when he seeth the sword come upon the land, he blow the trumpet, and warn the people; Then whosoever heareth the sound of the trumpet, and taketh not warning; if the sword come, and take him away, his blood shall be upon his own head. He heard the sound of the trumpet, and took not warning; his blood shall be upon him. But he that taketh warning shall deliver his soul. But if the watchman see the sword come, and blow not the trumpet, and the people be not warned; if the sword come, and take any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at the watchman’s hand. So thou, O son of man, I have set thee a watchman unto the house of Israel; therefore thou shalt hear the word at my mouth, and warn them from me. When I say unto the wicked, O wicked man, thou shalt surely die; if thou dost not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand. Nevertheless, if thou warn the wicked of his way to turn from it; if he do not turn from his way, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast delivered thy soul. (Ezekiel 33:1-9)

Each God called preacher is responsible to warn the people of danger. The passage I began with tells us that the time will come when people will not endure sound doctrine. Well, that time has come. I believe that it has come because pastors have not been the watchmen God has called them to be. The world we live in has many spiritual dangers. The only defense against these dangers is the Word of God. It must be preached in its fulness.

As an older preacher who can remember things as far back as WWII, I would like to speak to the younger preachers. I had the advantage of growing up at a time when we spoke the truth without fear of offending those who heard it. Over the last fifty years or so, things have changed considerably. In our day, the worst sin that can be committed is to offend someone. Our Bible colleges have taught preachers to keep things positive. It is sad to say, but this was taught by some of the great preachers of the past. For example, Lee Roberson, the founder of Tennessee Temple, said that he kept everything positive, and kept the negative from his people.

When I was in Bible College, I was taught that I was to keep things positive and take care not to rock the boat. I know this was taught in other Baptist Bible colleges also. The result is that even those younger preachers who do preach on the negative things from time to time, apologize for being negative.

The Old Testament prophets never apologized for the negative messages they brought to the people. The Apostle Paul didn’t apologize when he rebuked the church at Corinth. The greatest preacher of all times, the Lord Jesus Christ, never apologized when He rebuked those in error.

The Old Testament prophets and Paul received direct revelation from God, and Jesus was and is God. If they had apologized, they would have been apologizing for God and His Word. Is our message any less from God simply because it did not come by direct revelation? No! If our message is faithful to what God says in His Word, it carries the same power and authority as the messages given by direct inspiration to the prophets of old.

Many preachers try to keep negativity out of the Gospel message. We like to tell people the good news that Christ died for our sins, was buried, and rose again the third day for our justification. All of this is positive. However, without the negative teaching that we are all sinners guilty before a holy God and condemned to Hell, the good news means nothing. There must be true conviction of sin before the good news can be fully understood.

Everyone likes to be liked. We all like it when others say nice things about us. This is human nature, and is not wrong in and of itself. We do, however, need to be careful about who says these nice things. Listen to what Jesus said on the subject:

Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets. (Luke 6:26)

This does not say woe unto you if men speak well of you. It says woe unto you if ALL men speak well of you. If other faithful Bible believing Christians speak well of you, and if you don’t let it turn into pride, it is not a bad thing. On the other hand, if the world and liberal Christians speak well of you, you should be concerned with the message you are communicating.

Woe is an expression of grief. We should be grieved when the lost world speaks well of us. It means there is something missing in our message. Our message is not bringing conviction in the hearts of those who hear it. By the way, by message I mean everything we communicate, both by word and conduct.

Bible Prophecy should be seen as a warning of things to come. Some of those things are good and encouraging, like the Rapture of the Saints. Some of them are fearful, like the apostasy of the last days.

But, beloved, remember ye the words which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ; How that they told you there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts. These be they who separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit. But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost, Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. (Jude 1:17-21)

Let me close this out by saying that what we see today was predicted by our God. Although we live in perilous times, we also live in exciting times. As a Christian, it is a good time to live. Persecution may come, but our God will give us the grace and strength to endure it, just as He did our spiritual ancestors. We are to build ourselves up on our most holy faith. This means know what God has said, and stand faithful to the end. We are to pray in the Holy Ghost. Our prayers should be guided by the Holy Spirit that indwells us . Remember, God loves us and will give us the mercy we need. We have eternal life in Christ. Be encouraged, justice is coming.