This is the “chief of sinners,” Daniel Whyte III, president of Gospel Light Society International, with the Gospel Light Minute X Podcast #377 titled, “What Does the Future Hold?” I’m here to remind you of what the Bible says, that “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” like you and me.
Most people seem to think that the world is becoming, or will inevitably become, a better place in which to live. It is felt that through education, diplomacy, and scientific advances, most people will live longer, better, and more peaceful lives than any who have lived before. Is this really what’s next?
Not according to Jesus! Not long before He left this world about two thousand years ago He said, “As the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be”. There are two very important things in this statement. First, Jesus reiterates His promise to return to the world (more about this later). Second, when He comes, the condition of the world will be the same as it was in the days of Noah. What is said about the world then? We are told, “The earth was corrupt” and “filled with violence”. The headlines on the evening news and in the world’s newspapers every day show that in spite of our “advanced civilization” and modern technology, these two evils—corruption and violence—are filling the world today.Continue reading “WATCH: What Does the Future Hold? (Gospel Light Minute X #377)”→
As 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.
In 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.
In recent months and years, scientists and scholars have expressed concerns about the future of mankind on this planet. Nearly every scientist agrees that the Earth is running out of resources and the human race is running out of time. Many have presented the earth as a ticking time bomb that is slowly winding down. If the Earth continues on its course, at some time in the future, our entire ecosystem will eventually implode. Some predict a new ice age will come, or a huge sunspot will flare out from the sun and engulf this planet in flames. Others say that man will be the instrument of his own demise: we will eat ourselves out of food, drink ourselves out of water, pollute ourselves out of healthy living conditions or blow ourselves to pieces. Whatever the case, nearly everyone agrees that the world will end someday, someway, somehow.
Most people put the end of the world at thousands of years in the future. But, when we look at Scripture, we cannot help but consider that it seems as though things are shaping up for history to draw to a close sooner rather than later.
Today, we are going to look at some of the signs spoken of in the Bible that indicate that we are rapidly moving toward the close of history. While Scripture does not give us a date for Jesus’ return, it does give us some sign posts that indicate that the return of Christ is close at hand.
Paul begins by saying, “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.” Let me share with you what he means by ‘perilous times.’ The word perilous carries with it the idea of serious trouble, difficulty, precariousness, and stressful circumstances. If a person is in danger, they can be said to be “in peril.” John R.W. Stott said, “The word was used in classical Greek both of dangerous wild animals and of the raging sea. Its only other New Testament occurrence is in the story of the two Gaderene demoniacs who were as savage and untamed as wild beasts and whom Matthew describes as ‘so fierce that no one could pass that way’.”
Every day we hear of home invasions, shootings in schools, college campuses, and other public places, abductions, bombings, floods, earthquakes, snowstorms, and other disasters that ruin people’s lives. Now, when you go to the store, you have to be extra vigilant because someone may be lurking in the parking lot ready to rob you of the stuff you bought when you come out. We are living in perilous times.
We need only to look at the violence in Ferguson, MO, this past week to know that we are living in perilous times. We need only to look at the bombing of a mosque in Nigeria that has left over 120 people dead and 270 people wounded to know that we are living in perilous times. We need only to look at the wars in Ukraine, in Iraq, and in Syria to know that we are living in perilous times. We need only to look at the constant uprisings, protests, and overthrowing of governments in the Middle East to know that we are living in perilous times. We need only to look at the tensions in Jerusalem and the constant threat of war hanging over the nation of Israel to know that we are living in perilous times. We need only to look at the sad news about Bill Cosby and realize that you can’t trust even the people who look and appear to be the kindest and friendliest folks in the world to know that we are living in perilous times. We need only to recall the repeated shootings on high school and college campuses to know that we are living in perilous times. We need only to look at the spread of Ebola around the world to know that we are living in perilous times. We could go on and on with more examples, but I think you get the picture — we are living in perilous times.
Speaking of these perilous times, Dr. David Jeremiah, wrote in his book, I Never Thought I’d See the Day: “There has always been a stark difference between life as the Scriptures describe it and life in our fallen world, but lately the contrast has grown even more stark. The changes we have experienced in the United States and the world have been more numerous, more consequential, and more threatening than any in my lifetime.” As evidence of these perilous times he goes on to cite the rise of atheism, the intensifying of spiritual warfare, the increase of homosexuality, the attempts to redefine marriage, and the rise of radical Islamic terrorism. Dear friends, we don’t have to look far and we don’t have to look long to know that we are living in perilous times.
Thankfully, we have the Lord Jesus Christ to cling to during perilous times like these. As the hymn, “In Times Like These”, says:
In times like these you need a Savior
In times like these you need an anchor;
Be very sure, be very sure
Your anchor holds and grips the Solid Rock!
This Rock is Jesus, Yes, He’s the One;
This Rock is Jesus, the only One!
Be very sure, be very sure
Your anchor holds and grips the Solid Rock!
We have the blessing and benefit of holding onto the Solid Rock during these perilous times.
Now, we are going to look at the specific signs that Paul gives Timothy regarding these perilous times — these times that indicate the end of the world is upon us. And these signs, are not just a result of these perilous times, but they are the cause of these perilous times.
1. The first sign of the end of the world that we are going to look at is the increased selfishness of man. In his letter, Paul gives a litany of vices that fall under several categories. One of those categories is selfishness. Paul says, “For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud…”
Part of the reason why we are living in perilous times is because of the selfishness of man. I don’t know if you have noticed it or not, but I can definitely say that we are living in a time where people care more and more about themselves than they do about others. Most people only care about their own advancement and progress in life, and some will knowingly trample on others to achieve their goals.
Yesterday, as you know, was Black Friday. Thousands of people camped out at stores and showed up early to be the first in line to get a hold of TVs, computers, electronics, appliances, and other items. In some cases, shoppers began fighting each other to get something they wanted. Police had to be called to some stores to restore order and control the crowds. What leads to that kind of behavior? Selfishness.
This sign of increased selfishness is very dangerous because it is rooted in the first sin — not the sin in the Garden of Eden, but the sin of Lucifer — the angel who rebelled against God. In his heart, he lifted himself up against God and he began to think only of his own glory and his own goals. He thought so much of himself that he, a created being, believed that he could run the universe better than the One who had created it. Lucifer’s pride led to his love of himself rather than love of God.
As we look at the context of this letter to Timothy, we find that Paul is giving his protege some warnings and advice about false teachers. The characteristics that he lists here are some of the traits of those false teachers. One commentary notes that ‘The presence of people who had these vices [in the church] demonstrated that times were truly terrible. Paul’s list referred to professing Christians, and it is similar to his list in Romans which described pagan society. All of these vices come from a love of self.’
Sociologists and researchers have noted that individualism has been on the rise in our culture since the 1960s. We are becoming more of a ‘me’ culture instead of a ‘we’ culture. A recent study by Stanford University researchers found that appealing to people on the basis of the good of the community or the good of society as a whole does not motivate them like appealing to them on the basis of their own personal benefit. People are willing to do more and risk more if they are thinking only of themselves. Ladies and gentlemen, we are living in an increasingly selfish society. And this excessive love of self is a sign that we are living in the last days.
Paul’s intent in describing these people to Timothy is so that he can be on guard against them infiltrating the church. We, too, must be on guard against selfish teachers in the church — teachers who care more about their salary than they do about the salvation of lost souls. And, most importantly, we must be on guard against this type of selfishness cropping up in our own lives as we await Jesus’ return. We can do this easily if we remember that we are just pilgrims on a journey through this world which will one day pass away. Our real home is Heaven. Our focus should not be on how much we can get for ourselves here on earth even if we have to do without some of what our society deems as basic necessities. As Charles Stanley said, “We must remember that our earthly needs will come to an end, but Jesus Christ will remain forever.” May we make it our goal to be increasingly selfless in an increasingly selfish world.
“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. Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion.”
Last week was one in which the world barely missed seeing history made. After a long period of campaigning and debate, the people of Scotland went to the polls to decide whether or not they would separate from England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, shattering a union that has held for over 300 years since 1707. Well, despite a historic voter turnout — nearly 90% in some places — the vote was a resounding, ‘No, old chap!’ Scotland still belongs to the Queen.
In our study of the end times, we have seen that several nations feature prominently: Israel, Babylon, and the Roman Empire (which likely corresponds to the European Union of our day). However, the Bible reveals that just as God has a plan for the Jews, He also has a plan for all nations — the people of Earth spoken of in the Bible as Gentiles.
Many people today are concerned about the state of the world. Why is there so much turmoil? Why is there so much war? Why is there so much unrest, crime, and strife? People are dissatisfied with their governments and they are rising up, seeking to overthrow their rulers. It seems as though man is either incapable or unwilling to live in peace with his fellowman.
As we turn our attention to God’s dealings with the nations, we are going to look briefly at some background matter that will set us up to understand God’s future dealings with the world.
The first thing we want to know is why is the world the way it is? Almost in a tone of amazement or shock, the psalmist asks, “Why do the heathen rage? Why do the people imagine a vain thing?” The Hebrew word used for “heathen” simply means “nations” or “peoples”, — the gentiles.
Psalm 2 is classified as a “royal psalm,” and as such it was used by the kings of Israel during their coronations. This psalm is also well-known because of its messianic and millennial undertones. As we read this psalm, we cannot help but apply it to the coming of Jesus Christ and our modern context. We ask, why do the nations rage against God and against what God has commanded?
Today, more than ever, we see a flaunting of society turning its back on God and God’s laws — not just the laws laid down in the Bible, but the inner law which God has put in every man’s heart. Some of the things that are happening today would have been unthinkable just a few years ago.
America has moved beyond the increase in atheism. We now have Satanists, loudly and publicly advocating their desire to worship the devil and satan. In Oklahoma City, Satanists held a Black Mass on government property, and there was seemingly nothing anybody could do to stop them. The Satanic Temple in New York City is opening a chapter in Detroit. Satanists are also pushing to have a statue of a demonic symbol erected at the Oklahoma State Capitol alongside a monument of the Ten Commandments. And the Satanic Temple has announced that it will be launching 15 more chapters across the United States in the coming weeks. The leader of the Detroit chapter said their group is not so much about worshipping Satan like Christians worship God and Jesus, but rather they embrace the “metaphorical, literary construct of Satan [because] he’s a symbol for rebellion, a symbol of human nature…”
We all know what Satan did. He rebelled against God. And that brings us back to our question: Why is the world the way it is? It is simply because the nations, the heathens, have raged against God. They have rebelled against God. They have turned their backs on God’s goodness, His mercy, His grace, His law, and His justice. That is why we have war, poverty, disease, crime, violence, death, and despair in our world. That is why it seems as though people cannot get along with each other — because the nations have rebelled against God.
According to the latest statistics, there are over 3,000 people on death row in the United States. Can you imagine what it is like sitting on death row? Waking up every day in a cell knowing that each minute that passes puts you closer to the time when your life will be terminated by a lethal injection or an electric shock because of a crime that you committed? Can you imagine living every day with a countdown ticking in your mind?
You might say to yourself, ‘I’m glad I’m not on death row. I don’t want to do anything that would cause me to end up there.’ But did you know that, in a way, you are indeed already sitting on death row?
Yes, the day of your death has already been decided. The Bible says in Hebrews 9:27, “It is appointed unto men once to die.” Whether you want to accept it or not, your life — and the life of every person alive — is slowly winding down to a point of termination. You are effectively under a death sentence.
The reason we are placed under this death sentence is the same reason why men and women are placed on death row in the United States — SIN — evil, the bad things that we do. The Bible says in Romans 3:23, “the wages of sin is death.” God’s Word states that death is the consequence of our lying, stealing, adultery, murder, rebelliousness, pride and a multitude of other transgressions.
For an inmate on death row, death may seem like the end. The only way a criminal can avoid his death sentence is if he is pardoned by the state’s governor or by the President of the United States.
Death does not have to be the end for you. You can be pardoned of your sins as well. Romans 3:23 goes on to say, “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” You can receive a pardon for your sins and the gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ.
MUSICAL SELECTION: “And Can It Be?” (The Enfield Hymn Sessions)
He is a former New York mobster with the Colombo crime family who was heavily involved in the gasoline tax rackets in the 1980s. In the mid-1980s, Fortune Magazine listed him as number 18 on its list of the “Fifty Most Wealthy and Powerful Mafia Bosses” According to a Federal report, he made more money for a crime family than anyone since Chicago boss Al Capone. As the former “Prince of the Mafia,” he faced dozens of grand jury appearances, three major racketeering indictments, five criminal trials, seven years in prison and a Mafia death sentence.
However, in 1987, while in prison, he made a decision to walk away from the Colombo family and organized crime. Crediting the prayers of his Christian wife, Cammy, her family, and her church, he left the world of crime and became a born again Christian. He said, “If it had not been for my wife’s prayers, I wouldn’t be alive. There’s no question that I’d either be dead or in prison for the rest of my life. And that’s not even a guess. That’s absolute.”
Today, he is a follower of Jesus Christ and a man on a mission. He often describes his very own Damascus Road experience, from his early days in the Mob and its rise to power to God leading him to do the unthinkable: quit the Mob and follow Jesus. Since his conversion, he has created a foundation called the Breaking Out Foundation to educate, empower, and equip youth to face life’s challenges.
He has become a motivational speaker to churches, corporate events, schools, and Christian conferences. And he shares his compelling story in two books, “Blood Covenant” and “The Good, the Bad, and the Forgiven”. His theme always hits home with audiences around the world: “You can’t escape the long arm of the law—and you sure can’t escape the longer arm of the Lord.” His name is Michael Franzese.