AND JESUS ANSWERED AND SAID UNTO THEM TAKE HEED THAT NO MAN DECEIVE YOU. FOR MANY SHALL COME IN MY NAME SAYING I AM CHRIST, AND SHALL DECEIVE MANY. (Matthew 24:4 – 5)
As Jesus sat on the Mount of Olives with his disciples, they had asked him when the temple and the buildings of the Temple would be torn down and what would be the sign of His coming and of the end of the world. Jesus warned them to take heed that no man deceive them. The same goes for us.
The essence of deceit is that the matter asserted by the deceiver always appears to be truthful. We have many untruthful people in positions of authority over us in the United States. We have many who are telling untruths when, in fact, the truth would be better! Jesus concludes His warnings and instructions to his disciples on the Mount of Olives with the words “… When you shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors." Jesus also told them that only the father knows the day and hour of the return of Christ.
Nevertheless, we are given some significant instructions concerning the times of the return of Christ. In Matthew 24, Jesus told his disciples, “as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man." (Matthew 24:37) In Genesis Chapter 6, the days of Noah are described in verse 5 of Genesis Chapter 6 as follows:" and God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually." Also, in verse 11 of Genesis Chapter 6 we read that “the earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and the earth was filled with violence. And God looked upon the earth and behold it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted their way upon the earth." (Genesis 6:11 and 12) In Matthew 24, Jesus concludes by telling his disciples, “watch for they do not know what hour their Lord will come.”
There certainly seems to be a lot of violence in the United States and violence is reported all around the world. There also seems to be a lot of deceit and untruth. Whether this is as it was in the days of Noah is not clear, however, the warnings and admonitions given by Jesus are certainly as appropriate for His people right now as ever. "Take heed that no man deceive you. Watch therefore for you know not what hour your Lord does come"
SIGNS OF THE LAST DAYS
The Apostle Paul in his 2nd letter to Timothy states the following:
“But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. [KJV: “perilous times shall come”] and continuing on, “for people will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. For among them are those who creep in the households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth. Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men corrupted in mind and disqualified regarding the faith. But they will not get very far, for their folly will be plain to all, as was that of those 2 men." (2 Timothy 3:1 –9 ESV)
As we see nightly on our television screens, the many groups who have allegedly been paid money to demonstrate, create anarchy, and destroy property and people, does not this description accurately fit what's going on in our nation? People are lovers of selves. They are lovers of money. They are proud, arrogant, abusive and, yes, disobedient to their parents. To say the least, they are ungrateful and clearly unholy.
In the last few weeks alone, there have been numerous attacks and some murders of police officers doing their work and protecting some of the very people who were attempting to hurt or kill them.
The Apostle Peter sets out substantially the same warnings regarding false teachers in the second chapter of his second Epistle. Additionally, Peter identifies “scoffers, walking after their own sinful desires, which shall come in the last days” (2 Peter 3:3-6) Peter concludes his second Epistle with the somber warning “beware lest you also being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own steadfastness." (2 Peter 3:17)
In 2 Peter 3:11-12 ESV, the Apostle states, “Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the Heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn!”
II. THE MILLENNIAL VIEWS AND THE TRIBULATION
There are multiple “millennial" views. Nevertheless, there are three primary millennial views and several variations of those views. This section will deal only with the identification and very brief description of the three primary views. The three primary millennial views are (1) the premillennial view; (2) the postmillennial view; and, (3) amillennial view.
The biblical reference to the millennium is found in the 20th Chapter of Revelation. It is the 1000 year reign of Christ, and it is spoken of only in the 20th Chapter of Revelation. The tribulation is generally the time of universal trouble that is coming on the earth where everyone will experience worldwide hardships. During that period of time there will be persecution of Christians and many will be put to death and tortured. There will be hatred of Christians, false prophets, and lawlessness will increase exponentially. (Generally Matthew 24:9 – 12 ESV)
While most commentators agree on the events that will take place during the tribulation. The controversy arises over whether Christians shall go through the tribulation. Most of the premillennialist commentators assert that Jesus will come again before the tribulation, and remove all Christians from the earth, and therefore they will not go through the tribulation. Most of these commentators base their position in large part on the letter of the Apostle Paul to the Church at Thessalonica. Particularly in 1 Thessalonians Chapter 4 verse 13 through 18. These verses describe what is generally called “the rapture". The return of Christ in the manner described is certain! It will occur! However, what is not set out in these passages of scripture is a question of when the rapture will occur. Indeed, in the 5th Chapter of 1 Thessalonians the Apostle Paul specifically disclaims any knowledge of the “times and seasons” i.e of the “when" of the rapture (1 Thessalonians 5:1-11 ESV) In fact, in his second letter to the Church at Thessalonica, Paul states without equivocation, that the day of the Lord will not occur until the rebellion, (or the falling away), occurs first. At that time the man of sin, or sometimes referred to as the man of the lawlessness will be revealed. He is also called the son of destruction. This lawless one is by the activity of Satan (2 Thessalonians 2:1-12 ESV)
The Day of the Lord is generally regarded as the period of time in which the rapture occurs. Thus, from these passages of scripture it appears that the rebellion\falling away and the revelation of the “man of lawlessness” occurs BEFORE the day of the Lord. Both postmillennialists and amillennialist see the rapture occurring following the 1000 year reign of Christ on the earth.
Finally, we are told by the Apostle Paul that “yea, and all that will live Godley in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. But evil men and seducers will wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. (2 Timothy 3:12 KJV) Therefore, it certainly appears that Christians, i.e. the elect, shall suffer persecution and go through the tribulation.
III. THE WRATH OF GOD
It is the wrath of God which will be poured out during the tribulation. It is God’s wrath that we need to flee from! Thus, the real and only way to flee the wrath to come (Romans 1:16 -32) is to have the righteousness of God which comes by hearing the Gospel of Christ and can only be received as a sheer gift by repentance toward God and saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Of course, that is what Jesus refers to as the second birth in the third Chapter of the Gospel of John. Indeed, however, that is just the beginning point. From that beginning, being born-again, not of corruptible seed but of incorruptible by the Word of God, we need “For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue,[a] and virtue with knowledge, 6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, 7 and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. (2 Peter 1:5 – 7 ESV) We are to do this in order to be great fruit bearers for Jesus said, “By this is My Father glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be My disciples.” (John 15:8) We have been ordained to walk in good works. We are told in Romans 1:17, “the just shall live by faith”. We are to “ live as becomes the Gospel of Christ”.
It certainly appears that we are living in perilous\difficult times and “He is near”! Pray that when He comes He will find us faithful and doing that which He has commanded to make disciples of all nations.
In Matthew Chapter 28:18-20, it is written as follows:
“And Jesus came and said to them “all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of The Father, and if the Son and of The Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold I am with you always to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20 ESV). Are you making disciples? Are we near the end of the age? Join me in praying that we will be obedient and faithful when the Lord returns, and in the meantime should He tarry. I appeal to you (and to me) to “contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints”. (Jude 3b ESV)
“Now unto Him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of His glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.” (Jude 24 & 25 ESV)
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