Are We Nearing The End?
"But the end of all things is at hand: be ye
therefore sober, and watch unto prayer." (1 Peter 4:7)
How do we know the end of all things is at hand? After all, Peter wrote these words back in the first century AD. He felt like the end was near even then, and more than two thousand years have gone by since then. Certainly there have many throughout every age that has felt the same: that we are living in the last days. So how do we know? What are the "signs of the times", that warn of the end of all things is near?
Jesus addressed this question in the 24th chapter of Matthew, verses 3-13. He said there would be wars and rumors of wars, famines, earthquakes and pestilances in various places around the world, but all these things would just be the beginning of manís sorrows; then there would be five more specific things by which we could tell the end is drawing near.
- A systematic persecution of believers;
- "Believers" becoming "offended" with each other, hating one another and betraying each other to be persecuted; (the word "offended" here, from Gr. "skandalizo", means being tripped up, entrapped, enticed to sin or apostacy.)
- The rising of many false prophets, who will deceive many, (both in and out of the church)
- Iniquity will abound, even within the church;
- The love of many believers will become cold. (ref. Rev. 2:4, when the church of Ephesus was told they had lost their first love, or their love had grown cold)
These things have been happening to some degree since the early church, but we see them happening more in our world today than ever before. Christians are being persecuted and killed for their faith all over the world. Even here in America, we are despised, depicted as bungling, bigoted idiots, placed on the same level as terrorists, mocked, and relentlessly criticized for our faith.
Every mention of our God's name, unless it is used as a curse word, is strictly forbidden anymore, and the symbols of our faith are forbidden in public displays. Everything we hold sacred is under attack. In fact, the ONLY religion that is NOT protected in America today is Christianity!
Many false prophets are already in the world today. In fact, there are two that have been in the news lately who claim to be Jesus Christ; each already has thousands of followers. One even claims to be both Christ and the antichrist! Now, how can such a thing be? The Bible says:
"And if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand." (Mark 3:25)
As far as iniquity abounding in the church, which will cause many believers to become cold, we only have to look at what is happening in churches across the country and around the world: Homosexuals are allowed to marry, and are even ordained to preach in some denominations. The Holy Bible, Godís own Word, has been re-written by some to make itís message less offensive, more tolerant. Feminists have tried to remove all gender-specific references from the Bible, replacing them with neutral-gender terms, or terms so ridiculous they make a mockery of Godís Holy Word.
When churches espouse such false doctrines, they can no longer be considered to be serving God; they are instead serving their own purposes and agendas. According to the Word of the Living God, Jehovah God Almighty, they are corrupted, and will bear evil fruit. Godís own Word says:
"A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit." (Mt†7:18)
Churches today are far more interested in being "seeker-friendly" or even "purpose-driven" than they are in preaching the message of repentance unto salvation. Their message is carefully softened, so people do not feel conviction for their sins, or even that they are sinners. Instead, they are made to feel good about themselves and their "purpose", without ever experiencing the convicting power of the Holy Spirit unto salvation!
Jesus was very clear when He told people they were either God's children, or the devil's; they could not be both.
Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me. Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word.
Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. (John 8:42-44)
These churches are the largest churches in America today, and are growing by leaps and bounds, BUT THEY ARE TEACHING FALSE DOCTRINES! This is not the way it should be! And it is NOT the way to salvation! Jesus himself told us:
"Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it." (Mt†7:13,14)
Sitting in a church, any church, doesnít make us a Christian, any more than sitting in a garage makes us a car. Claiming Godís promises without doing what He commands us to do to receive those promises is a false sense of security. His promises are only to those who are obedient to the truths of His Word! We must hear and obey, keeping His truths pure, not altering them in any manner.
"And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments." (1 John†2:3)
Itís often been said that actions speak louder than words; it is what we DO, in obedience to Godís Word, that shows the fruits of the Spirit within us:
"Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but HE THAT DOETH THE WILL OF MY FATHER (emphasis mine) which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. " (Matt.†7:20-23)
In the Old Testament, the "house of Judah" represented Godís chosen people, just as the "Church" represents Godís chosen people today. And when the house of Judah turned away from Godís eternal truths, and began doing evil, Godís judgment came upon them. His judgment upon their wickedness was to begin with His own people, in His own sanctuary:
"And the LORD said unto him, Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof. And to the others he said in mine hearing, Go ye after him through the city, and smite: let not your eye spare, neither have ye pity: Slay utterly old and young, both maids, and little children, and women: but come not near any man upon whom is the mark; and BEGIN AT MY SANCTUARY. (Eze.†9:4-6; emphasis mine)
God does not change. (see Mal. 3:6; James 1:17) If He judged His chosen people then for their wickedness, He will do the same to us today. It is time for all of us, as Christians, to stop "playing church" and start getting really serious about what the Bible has to say. We have allowed false doctrines and false prophets to creep into our churches, and they are "replacing the truth of God with a lie". It is time for us to develop a spirit of discernment, and begin to put the eternal truths of God back into those churches that have drifted away from the truth.
1 Peter†4:17 warns us very plainly:
"For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?"
Once we start compromising the truths of the Bible for our own purposes, once we are more concerned with people feeling comfortable than getting saved, we are of no use to the lost and dying world around us. Jesus himself warned:
Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. (Matt.†5:13)
It is true that all the signs are pointing to the end coming soon. We donít know the day or the hour, but this we do know: judgment will begin with us. Are we ready? We need to make sure we are preaching the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, not compromising, not altering, not watering down the Word of the Living God. If we do that, we have this promise, from Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior:
"But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved." (Matt.†24:13)