Has the End of the World Come Upon Us? (Part 4)

TEXT: 2 Timothy 3:1-9

end-of-the-worldAs we noted in our last message on these perilous times, the signs that Paul writes about here in Second Timothy are indicators of the spiritual and moral condition of the age in which we live. Not only does the Bible speak of wars, rumors of wars, diseases, epidemics, famines, earthquakes, and signs appearing in the sky, but the Bible tells us that the hearts of men and women — particularly those who are not illuminated by the Gospel of Christ — will grow colder, darker, and more evil as we near the end times. Just tonight, as I preach, the New York City Police Commissioner is holding a news conference concerning the tragic, senseless killing of two good policemen by someone who is claiming to get revenge and justice for two black men who were killed at the hands of police. Evidently that person didn’t know that God said: “Vengeance is mine, I will repay.” He took vengeance into his own hands and then killed himself. We are living in perilous times. We are living in dangerous times. We are living in frightening times, and you had better be praying without ceasing and obeying God. We have warned you in a previous message that demonic forces are trying to start a race war in America, and we are praying that cooler heads will prevail and that no one will bite the bait.

In his collection of essays titled The World’s Last Night, writer and apologist, C.S. Lewis, said, “the idea of the world slowly ripening to perfection, is a myth, not a generalization from experience.” And the experience of the world has shown that we are most certainly not moving toward a utopia. Before the first World War, there were many who subscribed to the belief that mankind was improving and that the world was getting better and better. But after the devastation of two World Wars and the nuclear-laced tensions between the East and the West during the Cold War, that view understandably declined. Today — after the events of 9/11, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the constant threat of terrorism, Europe on the verge of conflict, and the rise of groups such as the Taliban, ISIS, and Boko Haram — no one in their right mind would say that the world is getting better and better.

But, in this passage, Paul draws our attention to the condition of men’s hearts, because, as Jesus said, it is from the heart that evil — wars, violence, and such — comes forth. What are some of these indicators? So far we have looked at:

– Increased selfishness: Men and women are becoming “lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud…”

– Increased lawlessness: People simply do not want to obey authority and abide by rules and regulations. Paul describes these people as “disobedient to parents… trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good…”

– Increased religiosity. Many people today ‘have a form of godliness.’ Not only in the church, but in the world, people have something that looks like true religion, but is not actually a real relationship with God.

Today, as we continue looking at this passage, we are going to look at the increase of what Paul calls “blasphemers.” The Greek word for “blasphemer” means a reviler or one who reproaches or speaks ill of God. Particularly in the Jewish and Christian contexts, this word was used to describe someone who loudly and boldly rejects God and the principles laid out in His Word. A blasphemer is one who not only disagrees with God, but takes it on himself to verbally assault God, God’s people, and God’s word.

In Psalm 36:1, the Bible speaks of those who have “no fear of God before their eyes.” They have no respect or holy reverence for God, and thus, they casually discard His law and refuse to obey it. They live life the way they want to live it, and they despise those who try to tell them of their obligation to a holy and righteous God who does not wink at evil.

Perhaps you’ve heard of the rise of the “new atheists.” Just a few decades ago, atheists would not dare express their views in public. But, today, with such men as Richard Dawkins, the now-deceased Christopher Hitchens, Bill Maher, Stephen Hawkins, and others, atheists have stepped out of the shadows and are boldly taking on those who believe in God. Just this holiday season, an atheist organization is running anti-religious billboards specifically targeting deeply religious areas in America. Atheists are challenging schools, colleges, military bases, and workplaces to keep God, Christianity, and any reference to religion out of public spaces. These people would like to erase God and the idea of God from the national psyche and replace it with the worship of science and knowledge — the very same thing the serpent told Eve she would gain if she disobeyed God. .

An article in the magazine New Scientist stated that atheists and evolutionary scientists are speaking “with an evangelist’s zeal” and are “ready to fight the good fight.” Even now, they are attempting to position themselves to set evolution “in place of God.” Paul predicted the rise of blasphemers, and it is coming true in our day.

What is the Christian to do about the blasphemers of our day? Well, first of all, we must not fall into living like atheists and God-rejectors ourselves. Not too long ago, Pastor Craig Groeschel wrote a book entitled “The Christian Atheist” in which he talked about the condition of practical atheism that many Christians have. Dr. David Jeremiah defines “practical atheism” as ‘being a theist in mind but an atheist in heart and action… [a] Christian theist is one who believes in the deity of the Lord Jesus Christ, yet lives as if they don’t believe.’ These are ‘people who profess to be followers of Christ yet do not honor Him in their lives.’

If we are to be salt and light in the world, we must live as if our belief in God actually matters. We must allow the transforming power of Jesus Christ to be evident in our lives. We must let our light shine so that all people — atheists and non-atheists — will be drawn to the light of the world who lives inside of us.

A well-known modern atheist, Bertrand Russell, is reported to have said, “Nothing can penetrate the loneliness of the human heart except the highest intensity of the sort of love the religious teachers have preached.” It is the Christian’s job to put the love of Christ and the message of Christ on display, and to proclaim it boldly, so that those who blaspheme God will have a reason to reject their blaspheming ways and begin to believe in, love, and follow Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.

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