THE SIGNS OF THE TIMES
As the days continue to pass and events continue to unfold around us, it is almost impossible to keep our minds off of the dangers facing our world. Our President has once again sent troops into harm. s way. for the avowed purpose of trying to halt the genocide taking place in Kosovo, Serbia, and the surrounding area. While this conflict is certainly something that should be stopped, the likelihood of actually accomplishing it is very slim. The fighting between these factions has been going on intermittently for hundreds of years and is not likely to stop because of any peacekeeping forays by NATO or the United Nations. A similar situation is to be found in the Middle East where Israel and her enemies are constantly at each other. s throats. Militant Moslem fundamentalists around the world are calling for the death and destruction of the United States, Israel, and anyone else allied with them. Nuclear weapons are proliferating, along with other CBR (Chemical, Bacteriological, and Radiological) weaponry. Ancient hatreds are being fueled by the sense that, after many centuries the ability to wage a legitimate and realistic war (and win it) is finally within their grasp. The law of averages appears to be on their side and intelligence sources are constantly warning us that very soon it appears that the lid is going to blow off! Men are bent upon venting their rage upon each other. a rage that, in all probability, could not be adequately and fully explained by any of them! It has been well said that this type of thing is "man. s inhumanity to man."
We have been warned that this day was coming. The apostle Paul, writing in 2 Timothy, chapter three. beginning in verse 1 says:
"But understand this, that in the last days there will set in perilous times of great stress and trouble. hard to deal with and hard to bear. For people will be lovers of self and [utterly] self-centered, lovers of money and aroused by an inordinate (greedy) desire for wealth, proud and arrogant and contemptuous boasters. They will be abusive (blasphemous, scoffers), disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy and profane. [They will be] without natural (human) affection (callous and inhuman), relentless. admitting of no truce or appeasement. [They will be] slanderers. false accusers, trouble makers; intemperate and loose in morals and conduct, uncontrolled and fierce, haters of good. [They will be] treacherous (betrayers), rash [and] inflated with self-conceit. [They will be] lovers of sensual pleasures and vain amusements more than and rather than lovers of God. For [although] they hold a form of piety (true religion), they deny and reject and are strangers to the power of it. their conduct belies the genuineness of their profession. Avoid [all] such people. turn away from them. (Parallel Bible, KJV/Amplified Bible Commentary).
Without a doubt we are living in at least the latter stages of such a day. The changes that have occurred over the past few years have not been for the better and spiritual values are at an all-time low. There is a form of godliness (piety) on every hand, but when we hold this pitiful excuse for Christianity up alongside the "faith of our fathers", it is a very shallow one indeed! How did we arrive at this sad hour? The best illustration I have ever heard to explain our predicament concerns the nature of a frog: It is said that one can throw a frog into boiling water and the frog will immediately jump out. But place the frog in warm water, bring up the heat slowly and you can cook the frog before it will move! While I have never actually seen this done. it does emphasize an important point: inactivity born of complacency and comfort allows weeds to grow. Spiritual "weeds" have all but crowded out genuine godliness in our modern era and unless they are recognized as such and avoided, God. s people are going to suffer the consequences along with the rest. The Old Testament contains the record of many incidents in which God allowed judgment to fall upon unfaithful Israel and the godly were not spared. During the "age of grace" in which we now live, history has repeatedly shown the death and destruction of great numbers of Christian people at the hands of evil men and governments. My question is this: what makes us think we will be spared? Are we more righteous than our predecessors? Does God love us more than those of the past? You know better! We had best wake up and pray like we have never prayed before that God will see fit to spare us, because the hour is late and the enemy is at the door.
Referring back to our text in 2 Timothy chapter 3, I would like to call our attention to some specific parallels between what is stated there and what we see going on around us. Notice in verse 2 it says that people in that day will be lovers of self. utterly self-centered. Our materialistic society is literally built upon instant gratification and the concept of "feel good about yourself". Many pastors are devoting their ministry to psychological issues and teaching their congregations about "self-worth" and "self-esteem", when our fleshly nature is inherently proud, self-confident, and self-sufficient. Why would any Bible teacher promote that which is supposed to be suppressed and minimized? The whole "feel good about yourself" fad is contrary to the Beatitudes of Matthew chapter five, not to mention what the Bible says about sinful pride.
The second characteristic that I want to point out is also found in verse 2: they will be "& disobedient to parents, ungrateful and profane & " (emphasis mine). The "generation gap" has been a favorite topic for several years now. authors and editors alike lamenting the fact children and their parents cannot, or will not, relate to each other. Both child abuse and parental abuse are rampant across the land. Young people (and those not so young) have become ungrateful for the sacrifices their parents made for them and gladly dump them into nursing homes at the first opportunity. In bygone days children loved their parents and took care of them in their old age, considering it to be a privilege. Down South we call it "paying for your raising", but today this is actually a rarity. Ominous signs are beginning to be seen which indicate a willingness on the part of the public to talk about the unthinkable: euthanasia. "mercy killing" of the old and infirm. Dr. Jack Kevorkian (Dr. Death) has just been convicted of second-degree murder because of his participation in, and support of, this illegal act. His whole life seems to be devoted to forcing changes in the existing laws by means of public pressure on the legislative process. For anyone who thinks that this is a good thing, I urge you to consider the historical implications of Nazi Germany, under Adolph Hitler. First it was the old and infirm, then the socially undesirable, and finally anyone who was politically incorrect! As the old saying goes, "Once the camel gets his nose into the tent, pretty soon the whole camel will be inside!" Our once great society is slowly crumbling and falling apart.
In verse 3 one characteristic immediately catches my eye: "& [They will be] without natural affection& " While this plays a large part in the heartless treatment of elderly parents, it manifests itself mightily in the women of the world who rid themselves of some "fetal tissue" and never give it a second thought. The depth of a mother. s love has been the subject of countless essays and poems throughout human history. It is both beautiful and comforting to witness this near supernatural emotion of mothers for their young, but it is truly heartbreaking to see the relative ease by which it is being cast aside! Human affection is also the "glue" that bonds friends together and without it, this world is becoming a very dangerous place. "Road-rage", riots after losing basketball and soccer games, open hostility toward those in positions of authority, and the uncouth rudeness so wide-spread today, are but a few examples of the societal decay plaguing us.
Verse 5 gives us the primary reason for this downward spiral: "They will be lovers of sensual pleasures and vain amusements more than and rather than lovers of God." Human nature always tends to retreat in the face of unpleasant situations and when life throws us a curve, the thing that often happens is we go into denial. "Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die", is the same Epicurean philosophy the apostle Paul had to fight in his day. Rather than face the problems of the world and deal with them, unregenerate humanity would much rather adopt the position of "ignore it and maybe it will go away". To avoid serious thought and responsible action they immerse themselves in a daily regimen of mindless drivel on TV. "As the stomach churns and the gravy burns" soap operas provide a diversion from the mundane by means of a sensual and sexual fantasy world. Prime-time programs promote an endless barrage of sex, sex, and more sex. The word "amusement" literally means "no thinking". Hellywood (spelling intentional) is doing all that they can to promote this ungodly lifestyle, because they reap gigantic profits in the process. And so it goes& .The heart wrenching thing is that many Christians have been caught up in this daily rat race and have lost their testimony for Christ. Are you one of them?
Then in verse 5 we see the important point that among all of these great masses of humanity there exist those who, "[although] they hold a form of piety (true religion), they deny and reject and are strangers to the power of it. their conduct belies the genuineness of their profession." What exactly are we being told here? In order to explore this statement and gain a proper understanding of it, we must interpret it in light of what the Scriptures teach. In Matthew 13:24-30 the Lord gives us a parable:
"Another parable He set forth before them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field; But while he was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed also darnel [black, wild wheat] among the wheat, and went his way. So when the plants sprouted and formed grain, the darnel [weeds resembling wheat] appeared also. And the servants of the owner came to him and said, Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? Then how does it have darnel shoots in it? He replied to them, An enemy has done this. The servants said to him, Then do you want us to go and weed them out? But he said, No, lest in gathering the wild wheat you root up the [true] wheat along with it. Let them grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will say to the reapers, Gather the darnel first and bind it in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my granary." (The Amplified Bible)
After the Lord uttered these words, His disciples came to Him and asked for an explanation. In verses 36 to 43, He interpreted them:
"Then He left the throngs and went into the house. And His disciples came to him saying, Explain to us the parable of the darnel in the field. He answered, He Who sows the good seed is the Son of Man; the field is the world, and the good seed means the children of the kingdom; the darnel is the children of the evil one. And the enemy who sowed it is the devil; the harvest is the close and consummation of the age, and the reapers are angels. Just as the darnel (wild wheat) is gathered and burned with fire, so it will be at the close of the age. The Son of man will send forth His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all causes of offense. persons by whom others are drawn into error or sin. and all who do iniquity and act wickedly, and cast them into the furnace of fire; there will be weeping and wailing and grinding of teeth. Then will the righteous. those who are upright and in right standing with God. shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Let him who has ears be listening and consider and perceive and understand by listening" (The Amplified Bible).
In the Lord. s parable, the darnel ("tares", KJV) represents that which is not genuine. Just as darnel looks like wheat in its early stages of growth, false Christians can easily masquerade as born-again children of God. Satan delights in "planting" his children in the church where their presence will eventually contaminate and pollute and frustrate those who are actually following Christ. These people look no different than others and they are not overtly evil in their deportment or manner of life, but they are totally devoid of the indwelling Holy Spirit of God. they are still lost. Most seem to really believe they are wheat, but never "bear any fruit". they are all leaves and stalk and no kernels of grain. A genuine Christian will begin to "bear fruit". to some degree. immediately after conversion. Why? Because the Holy Spirit takes up residence within that individual and Personally produces the "fruit of the Spirit" in his life. Love, joy, peace, longsuffering, etc., (Galatians 5:22) will begin to manifest themselves in the attitudes and actions of daily life and he will experience spiritual growth. Unfortunately, some Christians resist this process and never mature as they should. which makes it difficult for others to perceive and benefit from their testimony for Christ. This is one of the many reasons why Christians are commanded not to exercise unjust judgment. We are not God and cannot see what is in the heart of others. However, as many preachers have put it: "We can be fruit inspectors!" God expects us to exercise discernment and good sense where the profession of others is concerned. Just because they claim a common bond with us, does not necessarily mean it is true. What is lost upon many Christians is the fact that an individual can believe in Christ and still not possess Christ. James 2:19 tells us:
"Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe and tremble" (KJV).
Mere intellectual assent to a fact is not the "belief" that the Bible speaks of relative to salvation. One can passionately believe each and every fact expressed in the Bible and still not be saved. The "belief" that is necessary for salvation involves a total and absolute reliance upon Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. not just the facts that He is the Son of God and died for our sins. This distinction has been described as the difference between having "a head knowledge of Christ versus a heart knowledge of Him." Most of the darnel (tares) among the wheat likely believe in the historical facts surrounding Christ, but they have never truly experienced a personal relationship with Him through the "new birth".
Back in our basic text of 2 Timothy, chapter 3, we must note that in verse 5 it points out these false Christians deny and reject and are strangers to the power of what they profess and their conduct proves it! They deny and reject "the power" because they do not possess it. The words "deny" and "reject" are not to be taken in the sense of an active refusal or disavowal, but rather as a "throwing away" of something potentially valuable. These people are total strangers to the awesome power of God. they have never experienced it. and, as a result, they do not have any idea of its worth and live in a manner consistent with the lack of understanding. For whatever reason, they often seek to be identified with Christian people and want to be among them. An interesting thing occurred after the election of Jimmy Carter as President, which I believe, illustrates this phenomenon. During his campaign he often referred to the fact that he was a Christian and the news media tended to poke fun at his assertion and write articles which were less than flattering. Once he was elected though, it seemed as if Christianity became "an overnight sensation". The term "born-again Christian" became the grist of many mills and for several years thereafter to be a Christian was almost socially fashionable! During the ensuing Reagan and Bush years in the White House, first one group and then another tried to make political inroads by organizing Christians into a force to be reckoned with. Millions of "professors" cheered them on and supported their aims. and as long as elections kept going their way, they reveled in the successes. Then the inevitable happened: the whole thing ran out of steam and suddenly Christianity ceased to be quite so popular. Now we find ourselves on the verge of being persecuted because of the political enemies made during the whole process. The thought that we want to leave with you is summed up in one of the old spirituals: "Everybody talkin. about heaven aint going there!"
Finally, in verse 5 the apostle Paul tells us to avoid all such people. to turn away from them! This is where we "separate the men from the boys". Spiritual discernment is largely a product of maturity and so we should not expect "babes in Christ. to be able to spot and avoid those who are undesirable. Hopefully, as we teach them these biblical principles they will eventually come to an understanding of the issues involved and then begin to practice Scriptural separation. It will probably earn me the unrelenting scorn of some preachers, but I am going to say it anyway: If they would spend more time preaching and teaching what the Word actually says, than they do concerning themselves with "building churches". their congregations would benefit greatly. A large number today are guilty of "pandering to the pew" because of the fear of losing members. Why, they might make somebody mad! Imagine that! One pastor I know made the statement (warning another preacher) that if he taught separation, he would wind up preaching in a phone booth! How can you not preach it?!! Preachers are responsible to declare the whole counsel of God. As to the relative size of our congregations, we must never allow ourselves to lose sight of the fact that God Himself is supposed to determine that. not our powers of persuasion or administrative abilities.
The world is falling apart, the flesh is weak, and the devil is (to quote the title of a book) "alive and well on planet earth". Everywhere we look, God. s people are squabbling with each other. Churches are splitting like atoms in a chain reaction. Homes are being wrecked by infidelity and/or by an attitude of "don. t care". Morality and ethics are now said to be "situational". whether something is right or wrong is determined by the particular situation or mood you happen to be in at the time. The pundits are scratching their heads and wondering in print as to what we can attribute this turn of events. Kids are being taught that evolution is a fact, rather than a theory, and that both humanity and animals sprang from a common primordial "soup". Dishonesty has become a way of life in both business and politics. Crime is rampant and deviant behavior is now politically correct. The Stock Market just topped 10,000 and the remaining few who do not have their pension funds invested are scrambling to do so. blissfully oblivious to the cautionary warnings of professionals. Alcoholism and drug use. in spite of multi-million dollar campaigns to curb them. are gaining by leaps and bounds. Our government shows every sign of rapidly becoming a fascist dictatorship reminiscent of Nazi Germany!
On and on it goes. and it gets more depressing by the minute. Yet, in spite of all of it, those of us who know Jesus Christ as our personal Lord and Savior have nothing to fear. He has promised to never leave us nor forsake us and the worst thing we may have to experience is death. The Bible says, "it is appointed unto men once to die" (Hebrews 9:27 KJV). For the born-again Christian death is merely passing from this world into the presence of Christ. a wonderful promotion! How is it with you? Are you ready to meet your Maker?
If you have accepted Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, but have been very lukewarm in your spiritual walk with Him, you need to immediately ask Him for forgiveness and for renewal. He will instantly forgive you, and fill your heart with the joy of the Holy Spirit. Then, you need to begin a daily walk of prayer and personal Bible Study.
If you have never accepted Jesus Christ as Savior, but have come to realize His reality and the approaching End of the Age, and want to accept His FREE Gift of Eternal Life, you can also do so now, in the privacy of your home. Once you accept Him as Savior, you are spiritually Born Again, and are as assured of Heaven as if you were already there. Then, you can rest assured that the Kingdom of Antichrist will not touch you spiritually. If you would like to become Born Again, turn to our Salvation Page now.
We hope you have been blessed by this ministry, which seeks to educate and warn people, so that they can see the coming New World Order -- Kingdom of Antichrist -- in their daily news.
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