Has the End of the World Come Upon Us? (Part 2)




TEXT: 2 Timothy 3:1-9

end-of-the-worldIn our last message, we looked at what the Bible means when it says that ‘in the last days perilous times shall come.’ We named some specific examples of unrest, distress, and crisis in the world; and just within the seven days between then and now, we could list an abundance of events that underscore the fact that we are living in perilous times.

An interesting little fact is that the name of the font most newspapers use for major events is actually called “second coming” type. Although many of us do not read the newspaper anymore, you have probably seen these large, heavy, black letters reserved for only the most astounding and shocking front page news: the announcement of the surrenders of Germany and Japan, marking the end of World War II; the assassination of John F. Kennedy; man’s landing on the moon; the tragedy of 9/11; and other events of universal importance. It seems as though more and more today, events are happening that are worthy of being written large in ‘second coming’ type. They are signs of the perilous times that we live in.

In our passage, Paul gives Timothy specific signs of these perilous times; he gives a litany of vices that fall into several categories, and he says that we will see an increase in these things as we get near the end of the world..

The first of these signs that we are nearing the end of the world is the increased selfishness of man. Paul writes, “For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud…” We are living in a day and time where people care more and more about themselves than they do about others. Everyday examples demonstrate it, and research has shown that we are becoming increasingly concerned only about ourselves and less concerned about others. The love of many is waxing cold. This selfishness has its origin in the sin of Lucifer, the angel who rebelled against God, was cast out of Heaven, and became Satan. Lucifer’s pride led to his love of himself rather than love of God.

Of course, Paul’s intent in describing this condition to Timothy is so that he can be on guard against such a spirit infiltrating the church. And we, too, must be on guard against selfishness in our lives.

Today, we are going to look at another sign of the end of the world, and that is the increased lawlessness of man. Paul goes on to describe those who break the laws of God and the laws of the government. These people are “disobedient to parents… trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good…” These are people who go out and engage in senseless criminal activity that harms others and themselves.

Two weeks ago, in Ferguson, MO, we saw examples of lawlessness. People who claimed to be protesting one injustice acted unjustly themselves when they set fire to buildings, robbed stores, and vandalized other people’s property. It was senseless and unnecessary criminal activity. Across this nation and around the world, we see this type of lawlessness taking place. School shootings, workplace violence, domestic abuse, home invasions, rape, murder, and a multitude of other crimes. Oftentimes, it seems as if the police are unable to do much about it even though they try.

Nowadays, we have more children being disobedient to their parents. More people are “trucebreakers” — that is those who do not keep their promises and who violate agreements that they have committed to. More people are false accusers — that is those who lie on others and accuse others of doing things that they have not done.

More people are “incontinent.” This word means not having self-control and not being able to restrain oneself. How many horror stories have we heard about mothers who heard voices telling them to kill their children or mass shooters who heard voices that drove them to do what they did? It is as if some people are unable to resist doing evil. People around the world are addicted to harmful activities and substances — drugs, pornography, gambling, drunkenness, etc. They are unable to control their sinful desires.

The next vice in this category is people who are “fierce” — people who are ready to fight and who are always getting into some kind of argument or dispute. We have heard of people getting shot in movie theaters because they wouldn’t stop using their phone while the movie was on. Not too long ago in Dallas, two men got in a fight outside of a theater because they disagreed on how the movie should have ended. Some people get angry if somebody cuts them off on the highway. We live in a society of people who are fierce.

Finally, we have people who are “despisers of those that are good.” We see this happening before our eyes today. Many of those who are protesting and marching right now express contempt for police and law enforcement; they view the police as the problem. Some people despise government when government is a God-ordained institution. And, it has always been the case in matters concerning the church — there are those who despise Christ and despise His people in the earth.

If you think it is bad now, understand that the Bible indicates that it is only going to get worse. In his second letter to the church at Thessalonica, Paul writes about the spirit of lawlessness and sin that is only being held back by the power of the Holy Spirit in the world. He said, “For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way.”

The Holy Spirit and the presence of the church on Earth act as a restraining power against the spirit of lawlessness or iniquity in the world. However, when Jesus Christ comes and takes the church up in the Rapture, much of that restraining power will be gone. Sin and evil will be given free reign over the earth. Violence and anarchy will ensure. And some scholars, such as Dr. John MacArthur believe that this condition of extreme lawlessness will pave the way for the antichrist because many people at that time will be willing to give their allegiance to anyone who seems to be able to put an end to the violence.

Many of us probably cannot even imagine what it would be like for there to be more crime and violence than there is today. We shake our heads in dismay at the violence that is in the world right now. But as we live through these times which seem to be ripe for the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, we must remember that we, as the church, are playing a vital role in God’s plan. Through the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, the full extent of evil in the world is being kept at bay.

Let us remain committed to our cause and not get sucked in to the lawless spirit of this age. The story is told of Colonel Davenport, the Speaker of the Connecticut House of Representatives: On May 19th, 1780, the sky of Hartford darkened ominously, and some of the representatives, glancing out the windows, feared that the end was at hand. As they clamored for immediate adjournment, Davenport rose and said, “The Day of Judgment is either approaching or it is not. If it is not, there is no cause for adjournment. If it is, I choose to be found doing my duty. Therefore, I wish that candles be brought.” Rather than fearing the lawlessness of our society, rather than fearing the signs that seem to say the end of the world is closer than ever, we must be faithful until Jesus Christ returns. We must keep our candles lit and shine in the darkness of a world gone insane.

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