The Signs of the End and Jesus' Coming
Sunday, June 20, 2010
Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” 4 And Jesus answered and said to them: “Take heed that no one deceives you. 5 For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many. 6 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. 7 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. 8 All these are the beginning of sorrows. 9 “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. 10 And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. 11 Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. 12 And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. 13 But he who endures to the end shall be saved. 14 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.
Matthew 24:3-14 NKJV
When the disciples asked Jesus for the sign of His coming and the end of the age, the first thing Jesus warned them of was to “Watch out that no one deceives you.” You see, if you are always looking for “signs”, you will also be susceptible to deception. There always have been false prophets and other liars around – some of whom claim to be Jesus or an Old Testament prophet resurrected – and there are more that will rise up as we get closer to the end. False prophets don’t preach or personally live by the truth of the Gospel; but they say what people want to hear, even and especially when the people are not following God as they should. According to Jesus, many – even believers – will be deceived by the false prophets and their counterfeit powers. False teaching and loose morals tend to go together. Many people claim to love and serve God, but their drinking, immorality, covetousness and witchcraft tell the real story. They want heaven, but they also want to fulfill the lusts of their flesh.
The only way you can be sure to keep from being deceived is to keep your heart right with God and keep your eyes on Jesus and on the Word of God. Don’t look for special signs; don’t spend time looking at other people; look to Jesus. Many Christians are being deceived by false prophets even now, because they have downplayed the importance and essentialness of the Word of God in their lives. They don’t read or study it and they won’t submit to it. The Word of God is our only sure guide and light in this dark age of endless sinful choices and pressure to conform to the world’s standards. A true Christian is personally submitted to God and His Word. Make sure that the Word of God has a place of honor and respect in your life; make sure you are a DOER of the Word.
Jesus said that near the end there would be increased trouble and strife on the earth – wars and rumors of wars; nation rising against nation and kingdom against kingdom; famines, pestilences, and earthquakes all over the place. It sounds like our News today! He also said that His followers would be persecuted – some severely – by those who hate Him and what He stands for. Some of them would even be betrayed by fellow “Christians”, friends and family!
There are levels of persecution. Some persecution is just verbal – people belittling you – saying bad things to you or about you. Some of it is meant to humiliate you – people used to throw eggs or rotten tomatoes, or send a mule with a burr under his tail through the church. But some persecution is truly hateful – they want to shut you up even if they have to kill you. It is not just the Early Church who suffered persecution and death for their faith. In every generation, there have been those who lost their lives, their families and/or their possessions because of people motivated by Satan, who hate God and hate the Gospel. We need to remember to pray for our brothers and sisters around the world who are suffering today for their faith and keeping the Gospel flame alive despite terrible persecution.
The thing about persecution is that it has a tendency to sort out the true Christians from the fair-weather Christians. Those Christians who “play” church, who have pastors who “tickle” their ears, and who are not sold out to Jesus – will not be able to withstand the pressures of persecution. The vast majority of American Christians in America have never experienced anything more than mild persecution, if any, but Christians in other parts of the world have and still are suffering intense persecution. You have to ask yourself the hard questions: Am I sold out to Jesus? Would I still serve Him, and preach the Truth, if my life depended on it? Would I be prepared to give up my possessions, my relationships, my security and even my life, for the Gospel’s sake? Could I keep walking in love if a close friend betrayed me? You need to prepare your heart to withstand the pressure to conform and deny Jesus. Remember that other people died to preserve the truth of the Gospel and to pass it down the generations to reach you!
When you are pressured to give up and turn your back on Christ, don’t do it! When you are persecuted for the Gospel’s sake, don’t take it personally. God did not call us to give up nor to fight back in the flesh – He said that He would vindicate us. He just asks us to trust Him, obey Him, walk in love, and preach the Truth. Remember the benefits of staying strong. Jesus said that, “he who endures to the end shall be saved.” He also said that, “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.” We can be the Church who denies Jesus or the Church who stands strong and continues to fulfill the Great Commission no matter what it takes! Which Church are you?