The world is becoming increasingly troubled. Life in so many parts of the world is increasingly fragile and uncertain. The Christchurch earthquake may not be the last crisis to hit our own shores. The Bible tells us that ‘...we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.’ Romans 8:22. It was true in Paul’s time, it is ever more so as we draw closer to the end. We need to be meditating on the words of Jesus, the prophets and the apostles more and more as we see these things happening with ever greater frequency and intensity. Many of these ‘signs’ are given in great detail –and there are many others besides war, earthquakes, pestilence and disease. Others are the increasing rise of false prophets, false teachers, deception and more. Matthew 24:4-13 is a good place to start...
‘Jesus answered them, Be careful that no one misleads you [deceiving you and leading you into error]. For many will come in (on the strength of) My name [appropriating the name which belongs to Me], saying, I am the Christ (the Messiah), and they will lead many astray. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars; see that you are not frightened or troubled, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in place after place; All this is but the beginning [the early pains] of the birth pangs [of the intolerable anguish]. Then they will hand you over to suffer affliction and tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for My name's sake. And then many will be offended and repelled and will begin to distrust and desert [Him Whom they ought to trust and obey] and will stumble and fall away and betray one another and pursue one another with hatred. And many false prophets will rise up and deceive and lead many into error. And the love of the great body of people will grow cold because of the multiplied lawlessness and iniquity, But he who endures to the end will be saved.’ Matthew 24:4-13 AMP
In verse 25 the Lord Jesus said, ‘See, I have warned you beforehand.’ The disciples saw the start in their life time when Jerusalem was destroyed in AD70 by the Roman general Titus. Now, in our age, we are seeing the huge bulk of end time prophecy falling into place with every tick of the clock. We have been warned beforehand. So, we must be like those the Lord Jesus spoke of in the parable of the thief. Jesus said, ‘But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.’ Matthew 24:43-44.
We’ve been warned. These things will come to pass. They will increase with frequency and intensity, just like birth pangs. We must ‘watch’ and ‘be ready’ so that we do not lose heart, lose focus, become distracted, deceived and be offended and give up. It will come –and at an hour when we do not expect. Be prepared.
‘Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.’ Luke 21:28.
Our focus needs to be on the return of Christ –yet, sadly, so many churches and denominations have their focus on this life, on pretty speeches and success and happiness in this life, when the Word of God is warning us to live moment by moment in the light of eternity.
I close with a quote from John MacArthur who often writes and says things I cannot help agreeing with. It is from an article entitled ‘Cultural Relevance – Essentially Irrelevant’. I have been saying for some time now that one of the key phrases and philosophies Satan is using to deceive believers today is the argument that to preach the gospel we must be ‘relevant’. This is a mantra that I argue is patently flawed and is, actually, totally contrary to the teachings of the Lord Jesus and the apostles. Here are John MacArthur’s words…
‘Pastors today face relentless pressure to do everything but preach the Word. They are encouraged to be storytellers, comedians, psychologists, or motivational speakers. They are warned to steer clear of topics that people find unpleasant. Many have given up biblical preaching in favor of shallow talks designed to make people feel good. Some have even replaced preaching with drama and other forms of staged entertainment.
But the pastor whose passion is biblical has only one option: “Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction” (2 Timothy 4:2).
When Paul wrote those words to Timothy, he added this prophetic warning: “The time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth” (2 Timothy 4:3-4).’
In this last reference Paul uses the words, ‘sound doctrine’. They occur frequently throughout the New Testament. We have a personal responsibility to ‘study the scriptures’ (2 Tim 2:15) more and more so that we can tell truth from error.
We are told to not forsake, ‘the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.’ Hebrews 10:25. The principle reason why we meet is not to be ‘preached’ at by a paid professional, but to ‘exhort one another’ in the light of the soon return of Christ. The obvious reason is so that we will stay true to the scriptures and encourage one another not to give up or quit or allow ourselves to be ‘led into error’ but to stick with it because ‘those that endure to the end shall be saved’. (Refer to our opening scripture from Matthew 24:4-13.)
To read John MacArthur’s entire article click this link: Cultural Relevance – Essentially Irrelevant (It will open as a PDF from Dropbox and you can then save it if you wish)