Has the End of the World Come Upon Us? (Part 8)

We have been looking at some of the specific signs which the Bible says will become increasingly evident in the behavior and lifestyle of people during the end times. In this series, we have looked at the following, all of which are mentioned in this passage:

end-of-the-world1. The increased selfishness of man.
2. The increased lawlessness of man.
3. The increased religiosity of man.
4. Increased blasphemy or rejection of God.
5. Increased ingratitude or unthankfulness among men.
6. An increase in unholy living.
7. A lack of natural affection among people for their family members, others, and even themselves.

Today, picking up where we left off in this passage, we are going to look at the word “trucebreakers” — another evidence of the perilous times that we live in and a sign that the return of Jesus Christ is ever closer. The Greek word translated “trucebreakers” literally means irreconcilable: those who are unwilling to be at peace with others, bitter haters, unyielding, covenant breakers, implacable, unforgiving, and not capable of being appeased. The Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary defines a trucebreaker as one who violates a truce, covenant, or engagement. The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition defines a truce as a temporary cessation or suspension of hostilities by agreement of the opposing sides; an armistice or a respite from a disagreeable state of affairs.

A person who is irreconcilable is one who refuses to lay aside division and disagreement even when a solution or resolution is being provided. These are people who are constantly at war with others. It is almost as if they cannot live without conflict.

People who break their promises, breach contracts in business, or break agreements in the political world fall into this category. Older people sometimes reminisce about the time when a man’s word was his bond, when he would tell you that he was going to do something, and the only assurance you got was a handshake. But, today, we are living in times where trucebreakers abound. Whenever you make a financial transaction or some other type of agreement, you have to read the fine print and sign on the dotted line today no matter how trustworthy you or the other party claims to be.

People even sign agreements regarding marriage. Some go into marriage promising to stay true to their spouse for life, yet they have already signed a prenuptial agreement stating how the couple will split money and property if they get a divorce. So before they have even said their vows, they are already thinking about breaking them. And we wonder why the divorce rate is so high. Dr. Bruce Hurt states, “The breaking of the marriage covenant between husband and wife and the consequent skyrocketing divorce rate is one good example of this sin [of trucebreaking or being irreconcilable], because in it’s ‘purest’ form, divorce is a resolute refusal to forgive the other party, producing an unforgiveness ‘set in cement.’ Both parties refuse to change, no matter how desperate their own situation becomes, and are determined to have their own way regardless of the consequences, even to the point of knowingly destroying their own lives and the lives of their families. They do not forgive and do not want to be forgiven. They are beyond reasoning and inevitably self-destructive. As far as they are concerned, there is no compromise, no reconciliation, no court of appeal.”

The sin of trucebreaking and being irreconcilable has wreaked havoc in families and across societies around the world down through history. We see several examples in the Bible from the very beginning of time: Cain and Abel, Lot and his children, Jacob and Esau, Joseph and his brothers, Saul and David, David and Absalom.

A recent popular History Channel miniseries was the “Hatfields & McCoys” — based on a true story of a family feud which ran for 25 years. In 1865, one member of the McCoy family joined the Union army and was branded as a traitor by others in the community. When he returned from the war, he was killed by one of the Hatfields, and from there the families and their allies got into a cycle of violence and retribution that ended with 12 people dead. There are some people who would live like that today — taking the law into their own hands when they feel they have been wronged — if it were not for the systems of government that we have in place today.

As we live in a world where many people break their promises, do not keep their word, and refuse to reconcile with others, we are reminded of Jesus’ words: “Blessed are the peacemakers.” Ask yourself: Are you a peacemaker in your home? In your family? On your job? In your church? In your community? Do you bring people together, or are you a source of division and enmity? Are you willing to forgive and reconcile with those whom you disagree? Do you keep your word?

In these last and evil days, Jesus Christ wants us to set an example before the world of being peacemakers as we await the return of the Prince of Peace.

Has the End of the World Come Upon Us? (Part 7)

TEXT: 2 Timothy 3:1-9

In recent days, following the deadly terror attack at the office of a newspaper in Paris this past week, world leaders have once again sounded the alarm over the threat that radical Islam poses to Western civilization. This is not the first time that we have heard words of warning which tell us that this extremism seeks to destroy the way of life of those nations which hold to the principles of freedom, democracy, and liberty. Yet, we must be reminded, that it is not only forces from outside which can destroy a nation, but forces from inside which can destroy it as well.

Perhaps the greatest empire the world has ever known — the Roman Empire — met its demise not only at the hands of the barbarian tribes of Europe, but even more so by its own moral decline and descent into debauchery. Historians tell us that this decline in morals was evident even among the rich, the upper class, the emperors, and the politicians of Roman society. Promiscuous sexual behaviour was rampant. It is said that emperors such as Tiberius engaged in homosexuality; Nero had an incestuous relationship with a servant; Marcus Aurelius forced a woman who had taken a vow of chastity into marriage; and Commodus not only had a harem of concubines, but he enraged the Roman populace by sitting in the theatre dressed as a women. This decline in morals at the highest levels of society predictably affected the general population. Not only was sexual promiscuity rampant, but there was widespread gambling and drunkenness. And, of course, there were the bloodthirsty crowds always ready to be amused by gladiatorial combat in the Coliseum; and or the killing of Christians. Now don’t be shocked at the Romans, for the rich and powerful of today are at least being accused of doing the same things. Do these names ring a bell… Prince Andrew, President Bill Clinton, power lawyer Alan Dershowitz, and media mogul and America’s former father Bill Cosby, just to name a few.

In these dark days, we must consider whether the greatest threat to free and democratic nations is not simply Islamic extremism, but moral and spiritual decline from within. U.S. Ambassador Henry Grunwald said, “For freedom to be workable as a political system, there has to be strong inner controls; there has to be a powerful moral compass and sense of values.” As we study Scripture in light of what we see happening in our society today, we cannot help but think that our society is losing its moral compass and its sense of values. And, what we have been studying in Second Timothy over the past few weeks attests to that.

We have been looking at some of the specific signs which the Bible says will become increasingly evident in the behavior and lifestyle of men during the end times. We talked about those who are so proud they are “unthankful” to God for the life He has given them as well as those who lead “unholy” lifestyles.

Today, we are going to turn our attention to the phrase “without natural affection.” As you know, the Greeks had four different words to describe the four types of love. There was eros — erotic or romantic love or lust; phileo — the love one has for their friends; storge — the love one has for their family members; and agape — the selfless, sacrificial love. The Greek word used for “without natural affection” or “without natural love” is astorgos. The prefix “a” meaning without and “storgos” meaning natural love or affection.

Paul is saying that people will not even have natural, normal love for their own family members in the last days.

Many people have decried the reportedly 50% divorce rate in our society. Many people have decried the epidemic of fatherlessness in our society. If you’ve paid attention to the news over the past few years, it seems as if there has been an increase in the number of mothers who are trying to kill their children. Our justice system will tell us that they are mentally ill. The Bible says they do not have natural affection. But not only them: fathers who abandon their responsibilities do not have natural affection for their children either. Husbands and wives who divorce do not have natural affection for each other or for their children. Some young people don’t like the family they were born into; they don’t have natural affection. People don’t have natural affection, and we wonder why we have a crisis of family breakdown in our society.

Let’s take a closer look at the word “astorgos.” Scholars tell us that the word was also used to mean cold or heartless. It was used by the Greeks to describe a woman who committed adultery with multiple men because she was said to be incapable of loving one man as her husband. The word was also used to describe some species of animals who abandoned their young. We would use this word astorgos to refer to a man who is a cold-blooded killer — who can kill someone while they’re saying the Lord’s Prayer and have no remorse.

William Barclay notes that the age of the Roman Empire was “an age in which family love was dying. Never was the life of the child so precarious as at this time. Children were considered a misfortune. When a child was born, it was taken and laid at the father’s feet. If the father lifted it up that meant that he acknowledged it. If he turned away and left it, the child was literally thrown out. There was never a night when there were not thirty or forty abandoned children left in the Roman forum. Even Seneca, great soul as he was, could write: ‘We kill a mad dog; we slaughter a fierce ox; we plunge the knife into sickly cattle lest they taint the herb; children who are born weakly and deformed we drown.’ The natural bonds of human affection had been destroyed.”

The lack of natural love is what leads to abortion, parents abandoning their children, domestic violence, and estranged husbands and wives using their children to manipulate each other. This lack of natural affection is also what leads to suicide — people don’t even have a normal, healthy love of self.

What can we do in a day and time when the family bond has weakened as it has? Christian families are not immune to the epidemic of natural affection growing cold. Those who are in the church seem to have just as many family problems as those in the world. Well, we as Christians, have something at our disposal that the world does not have. We have the power of the Holy Spirit living inside of us to guide us and direct us.

The Holy Spirit helps us do that which we cannot do on our own. When a lack of natural affection begins creeping into our hearts toward our spouse or toward our children or toward our parents, we can rely on the Holy Spirit’s power to help us choose to love our family members with God’s agape love. Remember, agape love is the selfless, sacrificial love unconditional. It is the kind of love that says, ‘This may not be what I want, but I choose to do it because it is the right thing to do for the sake of my family.’ When storge (family) love fails, you can always rely on agape love to pull you through

It was agape love that caused God to send Jesus to earth in the form of a man. It was agape love that caused Jesus to go to the cross despite the fact that He did not deserve to die and we did not deserve to live. Because God and Jesus showed agape love for us, we ought to show agape love to our family members and to others whom we come in contact with each day.

Even as the love of many grows cold in these perilous times, our love ought to grow hotter and hotter, not because of who we are or because of our feelings, but because of what God has done for us.

Has the End of the World Come Upon Us? (Part 6)

TEXT: 2 Timothy 3:1-9

At the beginning of this new year, many of us are naturally inclined to adopt a spirit of optimism regarding the future. The symbolism of an old year passing away and a new year coming into view gives us the ability to look at the world with fresh eyes and to give ourselves a clean slate. We can’t help but think that things will be better this year, that we won’t make the same mistakes, and that the world will learn from the failures of the past year. However, often, that is not the case. As the exuberance of New Year’s Day wears off, we look around and see that the world is still pretty much the same — or worse.

A recent Reuters news article stated the following: “From financial crisis in Russia to cyber warfare with North Korea, 2014 has generated new flashpoints right into its final days, setting 2015 up to be just as turbulent. Almost all of the major confrontations, such as the battle with Islamic State militants, the West’s stand-off with Russia over Ukraine and the fight against Ebola, will rumble on. Others could erupt at short notice.”

“A 2014 report by the Institute for Economics and Peace showed that world peace has been in decline for the seventh consecutive year since 2007…”

Despite this negative news, one good thing about the progress of time and the coming of the New Year is that, although we do not know the day or the hour when Jesus will return, we do know that today in 2015, we are closer to Jesus’ Second Coming than ever before. And, as we look around, we see signs in the behavior of human beings that point to that return, to the end of time, and to the end of the world.

One of those signs which we talked about last week is that people are becoming increasingly “unthankful” to God. We learned that this ingratitude is connected to pride because an ungrateful person is not willing to humble himself or herself and admit that they would not be where they are in life without God and others.

Next, Paul turns our attention to those who are “unholy.” The Greek word translated “unholy” is “anosios” — the prefix “a” meaning without, and “hosios” meaning holiness or righteousness. One of the commands we receive from God is “be ye holy for I am holy.” God is perfect and righteous, and we as Christians ought to be striving to emulate Him.

However, we live in a world that is not conducive to those who wish to be holy as God is holy. We do not live in a world that celebrates and encourages those who wish to live godly. In fact, later in this same chapter, Paul writes, “all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.”

When we look around at our society, we see that unholy living is often highlighted as something desirable or at least something that is approved of, permitted, applauded, and promoted. Ask yourself, what is celebrated on much of reality television and in much of the movie industry? Greed is celebrated and glorified as people are encouraged to pursue money and material riches. However, the Bible tells us that “the love of money is the root of all evil.” Violence and killing is highlighted in movies and video games. However, the Bible tells us that “the Lord…hates the wicked and the one who loves violence.” “Coming out” as a homosexual is celebrated and applauded by secular society and even governmental officials such as President Obama and Vice President Biden. However, the Bible tells us that such a lifestyle is an “abomination” in God’s sight. Our society views it as normal for two unmarried people to be sexually involved with each other and live together. However, the Bible tells us to “flee fornication.” We could go on and on with more examples that show how holy living is not the norm for most in our society.

However, the unholiness that Paul is writing about goes even deeper than just people breaking the laws of God. William Barclay states that “Men will refuse to recognize even the ultimate decencies of life… This unholiness does not so much mean that men will break the written laws; it means that they will offend against the unwritten laws which are part and parcel of the essence of life.” For a Greek living in Paul’s day, it was ‘unholy’ to refuse to bury a dead body or to commit incest. There didn’t have to be any laws written against such things; they were just wrong and everybody knew it.

The unholiness that is becoming more evident in the last days is the unholiness of men and women who sin not only against God and against their fellow human beings, but they sin against nature and against themselves. The person who lives an unholy lifestyle is driven by self-love to gratify his own lusts and passions with no thought to propriety, decency, or reputation. I hope none of us here today ever fall to such a level.

We should value holiness and righteous living just as God values it. We should avoid, at all costs, anything that would cause us to sin or displease God. James tells us that “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is… to keep ourselves unspotted from the world.”

In the forests of northern Europe and Asia lives a small animal called an ermine. The ermine is known for its snow-white fur in winter. It instinctively protects its white fur from anything that would soil it. Fur hunters take advantage of this unusual trait of the ermine. They don’t set a snare to catch him, but instead they find his home, which is usually a cleft in a rock or a hollow in an old tree. They smear the entrance and interior of the ermine’s home with grime and dirt. Then the hunters set their dogs loose to sniff out and chase the ermine. The frightened animal flees toward its home but it doesn’t enter because of the filth. Rather than get its white coat dirty, the ermine is trapped by the dogs and captured — however, its clean coat is preserved. For the ermine, purity is more precious than life.

Ask yourself if you are willing to go to great lengths to be holy and to live in a way that is pleasing to God. It may be tempting to turn our backs on righteous living and simply do as we please, but we are commanded to be holy in an unholy world, righteous in an unrighteous world, Godly in a world where many are rejecting God godliness, and light in a world of increasing darkness. The 19th century theologian John Brown said, “Holiness…consists in thinking as God thinks, and willing as God wills.”

In this world of increasing evil and peril, may we start thinking as God thinks, willing as God wills, and doing as God would have us to do.

Has the End of the World Come Upon Us? (Part 5)

TEXT: 2 Timothy 3:1-9

This past week, thousands of people in Indonesia marked the 10 year anniversary of one of the most devastating natural disasters in recorded history. On December 26, 2004, a 9.1 magnitude earthquake struck in the Indian Ocean triggering a powerful tsunami that smashed into the shorelines of 14 countries with over 100 foot waves, demolishing towns and killing more than a quarter of a million people around the region. A young lady who was working with the International Red Cross recalled landing in Indonesia two days after the tsunami struck. She said the words of the people who met them first when they arrived were simply, “Go back, go back, go back! This is hell. This is the end of the world.”

As we look around at the turmoil, unrest, war, persecution, violence, hatred, immorality, and animosity in our world, I feel that some of us would be inclined to describe our situation like those Indonesians did ten years ago — “This is hell. This is the end of the world.”

Well, the Bible tells us that it is certainly getting near to the end of the world. So far in this series, we have looked at three broad topics that indicate that we are nearing the end times: (1) Increased selfishness, (2) Increased lawlessness, and (3) Increased religiosity. In our last message, we talked about the increase of “blasphemers” — those who reject God, the laws of God, and the people of God.

The next sign that Paul talks about is that of those who are “unthankful.” The Greek word used here is “acharistoi” (A-KA-RIS-TOY), which literally means “without grace.” The prefix “a” means without and “charis” (KA-RIS) means grace. One of the things we all ought to be thankful or grateful for is the grace offered to us by God. The meaning of the word translated “grace” is to show favor or kindness to someone. God showed favor and kindness to humanity by sending His Son Jesus Christ to die on the cross for our sins so that we could have a home in Heaven.

However, Paul tells us that in the last days, people will be ungrateful or unthankful. They will despise the gift of God and the grace of God. They will turn their backs on it and reject it. This word tells us that there will be people who are utterly devoid of feelings of gratitude to God.

Last week, we talked about “blasphemers”, and included in their number are atheists who say there is no God. If they do not believe in God, they cannot and will not be thankful toward Him for the simple everyday blessings that they experience — blessings such as life, health, strength, food to eat, clothes to wear, and a place to stay. Since they reject God, they cannot be grateful for the greatest blessing — Jesus Christ himself.

A person who is ungrateful refuses to recognize the debt they owe to God and others. This kind of ungratefulness is closely connected to pride. An ungrateful person feels that they have made it on their own, that everything they accomplished they accomplished without the help of others and the favor of God.

Imagine a child who is ungrateful. They wouldn’t be born without their parents. They wouldn’t have survived without their parents. Their parents fed them, clothed them, made sure they grew up healthy, facilitated their education, and so on. And, yet, the child refuses to say “thank you,” and he or she acts as if everything they have gained and accomplished they did on their own. Of course, no child in their right mind would have this kind of perspective. Simply put, they would not be alive without their parents. Yet, many people go through life acting as if they are completely responsible for their own success and achievements.

The words of King Lear remain true: “How sharper than a serpent’s tooth it is to have a thankless child!” As a parent, you wouldn’t appreciate such an attitude in a child. However, God has to put up with that kind of ingratitude from His creation every day. He has to put up with self-centered people who refuse to be grateful for their very lives.

John MacArthur said, “The person who elevates self above all others will feel he deserves everything good he receives and therefore feels no need of gratitude for it. Although he may not put it into words, the ungrateful person despises the very idea of grace, which denotes goodness received that is undeserved. This is a particularly noxious sin to God, whose wrath is revealed against sinners for being unthankful.”

Dear friend, you are alive even though you don’t deserve it. Most of us ate today even though we don’t deserve it. Most of us have some kind of clothes and shelter even though we don’t deserve. Many of us have reached several milestones in life even though we don’t deserve it. Most of all — whether we have taken advantage of it or not — God sent Jesus Christ to this world to save us from our sins, even though we don’t deserve it.

We can’t do much about the ingratitude of those who have rejected the grace of Jesus Christ. But everyday, we can make a choice to be grateful, thankful, and appreciative of the physical, material blessings that God has given to us as well as the most important blessing of life which is salvation through His Son, Jesus Christ.

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.

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

PART A 

PART B

 

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.

Movie Director Brad Silverman on Coming to Christ from a Jewish Background and Why his Faith is Now his Priority (Gospel Light Minute #176)

[audio https://www.buzzsprout.com/3192/225031-movie-director-brad-silverman-on-coming-to-christ-from-a-jewish-background-and-why-his-faith-is-now-his-priority-gospel-light-minute-176.mp3]
Brad Silverman
Brad Silverman

He is a writer and movie director. He is best known for the films, “Grace Unplugged”, “No Greater Love”, and “It Really Happened: The Flight of the Apollo 11”. He is staff writer/director and vice president of production for Coram Deo Studios, Inc.

In an interview with MOVIEGUIDE, he spoke of how he came to Jesus Christ and why he makes movies that glorify God. He said of his faith journey, “I was in my early to mid-20s. I’m of Jewish background. A dear friend just started dialoguing with me about, really at that time, the Jewish roots of the Scriptures, which, ironically, was very foreign to me. I really didn’t know the origins of the Scriptures were of such Jewish influence. Over the next three, four years, as our friendship grew, the Lord just broke me. Or I should say this: He allowed me to sort of achieve the effects of me running the show, and I just ran myself right into a brick wall. So, I came to faith in Christ, and just walked away from the entertainment industry for about a decade. My career was actually just starting to go somewhere as a writer/director and I walked away for about a decade. I wanted to go into full time ministry, and thought that’s where the Lord was taking me until about four or five years ago, when I felt Him calling me to start making movies again.”

When asked how God sustained him once he returned to the film industry, he said, “When I got back into the film business, I had nothing to lose. If you told me today, ‘You can never make movies again’ if it meant compromising what I believe to be honoring to God, the answer is no. I walk away. So we did a film a few years back, and then did “Grace Unplugged”, and it was sort of like I’d rather not make movies than make movies that I feel dishonor God and the Scriptures.”

He went further to say, “If I may speak boldly, [the Bible says] ‘seek first His kingdom and His righteousness and then all the other things will come.’ You can edit this out if you don’t like it, but my priority is the Lord, and everything transfers from that. Everything stems from that, and that’s my focus. I’m not ashamed of the Gospel, and I know that that may limit certain opportunities I have, but so be it. I just have to be true to who I am and who the Lord has made me to be.”

His name is Brad Silverman. Continue reading “Movie Director Brad Silverman on Coming to Christ from a Jewish Background and Why his Faith is Now his Priority (Gospel Light Minute #176)”

GLMX #225: How to Be Set Free

[audio https://www.buzzsprout.com/3192/225024-glmx-225-how-to-be-set-free.mp3]

set-freeJeffrey Fowle, a city worker from Moraine, Oklahoma, who was arrested after leaving a Bible in a nightclub in North Korea, came home on October 21st after being held for six months. Kenneth Bae, a Korean-American missionary, was released on November 8 after being held for nearly a year. And Matthew Todd Miller, an English teacher from California, was also released on November 8th after being held for seven months. Each of these men faced long sentences of hard labor in North Korean prison camps.

As you can imagine, the families of these men were ecstatic with joy and relief when their loved ones came home after being held for so long by a government that is not known for its kindness toward outsiders. The men, themselves, also must have felt good knowing that family members and friends from their home country had been praying for them and working hard for their release.

As I think about the human condition, I would like to point out a parallel in the stories of these three men released from bondage in a hostile country and the broader story of mankind. You see, the Bible speaks of us humans as being in bondage to our sins and wrongdoings. Jesus Christ said in John 8:34, “Verily, verily (truly, truly), I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin.” Acts 8:23 speaks of people as being “in the bondage of iniquity.” This slavery to sin is the cause of our decay and the cause of our eventual death.

Have you ever felt as if you couldn’t help but lie or steal or lust or do something you knew was wrong? That is what it means to be in bondage to sin or to be a slave to sin. So, if we are in bondage to sin, it is natural to wonder how we can be freed from that bondage. Thankfully, Scripture provides us the answer to this question. Continue reading “GLMX #225: How to Be Set Free”

Has the End of the World Come Upon Us? (Part 1)

[audio https://www.buzzsprout.com/3192/224789-has-the-end-of-the-world-come-upon-us-part-1.mp3]

TEXT: 2 Timothy 3:1-9

end-of-the-worldIn 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.

Clint Dempsey: Soccer Star says his ‘Faith in Christ’ Gives him ‘Confidence for the Future’ (Gospel Light Minute #153)

Clint Dempsey
Clint Dempsey

He is an American soccer player who plays for the Seattle Sounders in Major League Soccer. He is the captain of the United States national team. As a teenager, he played for one of the top youth soccer clubs in the state, the Dallas Texans, before playing for Furman University’s men’s soccer team. In 2004, he was drafted by Major League Soccer club New England Revolution. Between 2007 and 2012, he played for Premier League team Fulham and is the club’s highest Premier League goal scorer of all time. He also became the first American player to score a hat-trick in the English Premier League, in the 5–2 win over Newcastle United in January 2012.

He first represented the United States at the 2003 FIFA World Youth Championship in the United Arab Emirates. And in the 2006 FIFA World Cup, he scored the team’s only goal of the tournament. In the 2010 FIFA World Cup, he scored against England, becoming only the second American to score goals in multiple World Cup tournaments. In the 2014 FIFA World Cup, he beat his previous record, making the fifth fastest goal in World Cup history. He and his team are currently playing in the World Cup in Brazil.

In an interview with Christian Today, he said that his faith did not become active and real to him until after his sister died from a brain aneurysm. He said, “Her death triggered all kinds of questions about why some things happen and what role God played in it all. For a number of years, I struggled and put distance between God and me. But He was faithful and patient and provided gradual healing and strength.” When he went to college and got into Bible study, his faith became more real to him. He said, “God’s Word brought me peace and a desire for a relationship with Him. I found that questioning Him and searching for answers through Scripture helped me grow and gave me direction. Now my faith in Christ is what gives me confidence for the future. I know that through both good times and bad, He is faithful and will watch over me.”

When two of his college teammates died in a car crash on their way to a concert that he only pulled out of because he didn’t have the money to go, it gave him a gratitude for life and a desire to make sure his life is for God more than anything else. He said, “Today, I pray for strength to walk the road before me. I play to the best of my abilities and am thankful for the many opportunities and amazing success He has given me. Through it all, I want to do right, not make mistakes, and live a life that is pleasing to Him.”

His name is Clint Dempsey. Continue reading “Clint Dempsey: Soccer Star says his ‘Faith in Christ’ Gives him ‘Confidence for the Future’ (Gospel Light Minute #153)”