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Sunday, August 17, 2014

Perilous Times

Introduction
            Russia has annexed Crimea. Russian separatists in the Ukraine have shot down a Malaysian airliner killing nearly 300 on board. Hamas has fired thousands of rockets into Israel and Israel has now invaded Gaza. Islamic radicals have seized large parts of Iraq and Syria and threaten to seize more. In the U.S. thousands of illegal men, women, and now children have entered in violation of U.S. law, and those who have been charged with enforcing the laws will not! Iran continues on its seemingly inexorable march toward obtaining nuclear weapons. Libya has become increasingly anti-American and the American Embassy has been closed. In America there is an exponential increase in immorality and ungodliness, and in some cases actual promotion of ungodliness. There is also blasphemy, disobedience of law, and even disobedience of parents, despisers of good, and promotion of sexual immorality, homosexuality, and violence. Many call evil good and good evil! The love of pleasure and rise of pleasure seeking even to the complete disobedience of God among those who actually know better has increased substantially. We live in perilous times!
            There are those who profess to be “leaders” in the Christian church, who deny Jesus is “the way, the truth, and the life”. They deny the great doctrine of substitutionary atonement. They deny that God created the heavens and the earth in six days and on the seventh day rested. They deny that God destroyed the world because of sin and saved Noah and Shem, Ham and Japheth and their wives. Such positions undermine the sublime authority of God’s Holy Word. The overwhelming weight of irresistible evidence supports the Biblical doctrine of Creation, substitutionary atonement, and salvation by faith as a sheer gift of God in the Lord Jesus Christ—Exclusively!
            The fossil record is not contrary to, but actually supports the Biblical doctrine of the global flood. The discovery of the DNA code supports the Biblical account of Creation and actually destroys the myth of Darwinian evolution. So—why aren’t more people coming to Christ? Because faith comes by hearing the Word of God, specifically it is the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ that is the “power of God unto salvation”. Moreover, no person can ­­come to Christ except the Father draw that person to Christ. The simple fact is that what keeps people from Jesus is neither a lack of truth nor a lack of reliable evidence – but a lack of willingness! Jesus said “you will not come unto me that you may have life” (John 5:24). Why will they not come? Because men (mankind) love darkness more then they love light (truth) because their deeds are evil! What are we to do? Is there anything we can do? Yes, resoundingly yes!
PREPARE YOURSELF
Before we can get the speck out of someone else’s eye, we must first get the beam out of our own eye. Here are some other things we can do:
Fourth—Confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead and you will be saved.
Don’t be discouraged by the events and circumstances of our day. A brief look at the Holy Scripture shows us clearly that all of these things will come to pass. Therefore, fear not, take heart, Christ will come again and receive us unto Himself. Is His return imminent? Only the Father knows. We want to be faithful, on the job, making disciples.
  1. PERILOUS TIMES
    Paul says:
    “But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come. For men will be lovers of themselves , lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure, rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!... But evil men and imposters will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them. And that from childhood you have known the Holy scriptures, which are able to make you wise unto salvation through Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Tim. 3;1-5 & 13-15)
     Avoid such people. Stay away from them. Pray for their salvation but do not be with them. Youmust continue in God’s Holy Scriptures which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. Remember, be diligent to study God’s Holy Word “to present yourself approved unto God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed [for you are] rightly dividing the word of truth.”
  2. Take Heed
    Jesus said to his disciples:  “Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying ‘I am Christ,’ and will deceive many. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.
                Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved.  And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come. (Matthews 24:4-14)
                “Notice that “Wars, earthquakes, persecutions, and false prophets are all signs of Jesus’ second coming, BUT THEY INDICATE ONLY THE CERTAINTY OF JUDGMENT, not it’s time. Such signs characterize the entire period between His resurrection and His coming in judgment. Knowing when he would return would lead His disciples to laziness and laxity in their watchfulness. Therefore, the ‘when’ that Jesus gives is task oriented: it is after the gospel has been preached to the nations.” [1]
    After telling the disciples of the “abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place” Jesus says “then there will be great tribulation…” Jesus continues His account of the sign of His coming and of the end of the Age. Notice that the question was “when will these things be” and what will be the sign of your coming?” Notice also that Jesus is the personification of TRUTH and it is He who is speaking. 
  3. The Coming of the Son of Man
                In Matthew Chapter 24, Jesus told the disciples beginning in verse 29, the following:
            “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken.” Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. (Matthew 24:29-31)
  • The Answer to the Disciples’ question is of WHEN
     Jesus said: 
                But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only. But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. (Matt 24:36-39)
      Notice first that Jesus (Who is The Truth) authenticates the Genesis account of the global flood! Jesus knows Noah! He says that while we will not know the day and hour of Christ’s return, we are to be “watching”. We are also told that we are to watch for the events and times that parallel the times of Noah. Did you know that Noah’s son Shem lived almost as long as Abraham and would have relayed the actual account of the flood? What was it like in Noah’s day? In Gen 6:5 we read:
                 “Then the lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.”  In verse 13 the authentic holy truth of God’s word reveals that… “the earth is filled with violence through them…” This is the authentic description by Jesus of Noah and his day. Jesus gives this description while pointing out to his disciples that only the Father knows the day and hour of the [second] coming of the Son of Man, so that they (&we) can “take Heed” that no one deceives them (&us)! Take Heed! How can one take heed if he does not believe that the Genesis account of the flood is true? Jesus says it is true! Who is that person who dares to argue with our creator, redeemer and teacher? Avoid those that tell you God’s Holy Word is not true, especially if they tell you that science has proved that the Word of God is not true, they will lie about other things also! 
  • WHAT ARE WE TO BE DOING?
    Paul’s instructions to Timothy      “Remember that Jesus Christ, of the seed of David, was raised from the dead according to my gospel, for which I suffer trouble as an evildoer, even to the point of chains, but the word of God is not chained. Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. For if we die with Him, we shall also live with Him. If we endure, we shall also reign with Him. If we deny Him, He will also deny us. If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny himself.  Remind them of these things, charging them before the Lord not to strive about words to no profit, to the ruin of the hearers.” (2 Tim 2:8-14)
  • APPLICATION OF MATTHEW TWENTY FOUR
    In May of 1979, Frank M. Barker, Jr, then senior pastor of Briarwood Presbyterian Church in Birmingham, Alabama said that Jesus clearly teaches that there are certain events that must be fulfilled before Christ returns. Being both watchful and expectant are not contradictory. Dr. Barker said the following: 
  • Believing and Being Watchful are not Contradictory:
                Believing that these events have to be fulfilled before Christ returns and, at the same time, being watchful are not contradictory. Jesus has spoken of certain events which must be fulfilled…such as the Gospel being preached to all the world, the tribulation and the  cosmological disturbances. Paul speaks of a number of other events which must take place before Christ returns. It is, as John Murray points out, Paul mentions the conversion of Israel (Rom. 11), as one thing that must take place prior to Christ’s return. Murray says, “The collective restoration of Israel does not require the conversion at a future date of all Jews any more than did the rejection mean the apostasy and reprobation of every Israelite. But it surely must imply the widespread acceptance of Jesus as Messiah and entrance into the church of Christ.” This must happen before Christ returns, so says Paul and Murray as he interprets Paul.
            The second precursor of Christ’s return is the revelation of the man of sin (2 Thess. 2:8-10). …the man of sin is a distinct personage who will appear on the scene of this world just prior to the advent of Christ.  This is indicated by his appellation, and by the fact that the Lord Jesus will consume him ‘by the breath of his mouth’, and destroy him ‘by the epiphany of his parousid:  ‘(That is, by the brightness of His coming.)’ These things must take place.  But, believing that certain things must take place is not incompatible with watchfulness.” Murray goes on to say, “On more than one occasion the impression is conveyed of a rather extended period of time. ‘The end is not yet’ (24:6); all these things are the beginning of sorrows’ (24:8); ‘this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole earth for a witness to all the nations’, and ‘Jerusalem shall be trodden down by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles will be fulfilled’ (Luke 21:24).  At the same time the disciples are exhorted in the strongest terms to watch and wait for the Lord’s coming (24:42,44,48,50; 25:13). This teaches us the compatibility of two things that might seem incompatible, and which to many are incompatible, namely, the conviction that well-defined events requiring the lapse of time for their fulfillment must take place before the Lord comes, and at the same time the watching by disciples for his advent. Too often it is maintained that to posit the necessity of preadventual events is inconsistent with the watching and expectancy the scripture enjoins. But this discourse, as well as other passages, show the opposite to be the case.”
  1. The certainty of the event and uncertainty of the time is a very helpful incentive in holy living:
The Westminister Confession of Faith (Chapter XXX111, iii), says, “ As Christ would have us to be certainly persuaded that there shall be a day of judgment, both to deter all men from sin; and for the greater consolation of the godly in their adversity: so will he have that day unknown to men, that they may shake off all carnal security, and be always watchful, because they know not  at what hour the Lord will come; and may ever be prepared to say, Come Lord Jesus, come quickly, Amen.”
            And, of course, apart from His coming, you never know when you are going to meet Him! You never know when death may take you – maybe as you leave this place today or even as you sit here.
            What is the thrust of this passage? The need for watchfulness and preparedness. Someone has said that the Christian’s motto ought to be:  “To Live as if Christ died yesterday; as if He rose this morning; as if He is coming tomorrow.” The Christian should have that attitude of heart.
            Another thing this passage says is that we are to examine our lives. Am I being watchful? Does my life evidence this fruit which is the indication of a real and genuine walk with the Lord? Is there any way in which I am secretly saying to myself, “My Lord delayeth His coming. Let me indulge myself a little”?  Finally, it raises the questions:  Have I made a genuine commitment to Jesus Christ? Have I really surrendered my will to Him in repentance? Have I really put my trust in Him? If you have not done that, why not right now commit your life to Jesus Christ?
[Just bow in prayer and] think through these matters. Have you been saying the Lord delays His coming? Have you been kidding yourself about your commitment being genuine? Have you been gambling with your soul thinking that later on you will get right with God? Why not, right now, turn your life over to Christ. Receive a Master. Trust a Savior. If you want Christ as your Lord and Master and you are willing for his will to be done in your life, pray in your heart this prayer:
Lord Jesus, what folly to gamble with my soul! Thank you for bringing it home to my heart. Lord, I am willing to have you for my Master. I know you are a good and loving Master. I surrender my will to you. I trust you to forgive my sins on the basis of your death and your resurrection. Come into my life. Amen.”
CONCLUSION
As you continue to think on these matters be diligently to take heed that you be not deceived. Purpose in your heart to be both a “hearer” and a “doer” of God’s holy word. Avoid those who try to tell you that any portion of God’s word is not true. Know and understand that Gods revelation in the “Old Testament” is foundational to God’s revelation in the “New Testament”. Purpose in your heart to obey God’s exhortation for “you to earnestly contend for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.”
            “Now unto Him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy. To God our savior, who alone is wise, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever Amen.”
Your Friend & Brother in Christ
Daniel (Bill Gray)