SIGNS OF THE TIMES
October 4th, 2020
Introduction: Mankind always wants to look into the future & there have always been the so-called prophets, without divine inspiration, who put forth their ideas but the only book that has a batting average of 1000 is the Word of God.
The next great event that we’re looking for is the return of our Lord & Savior Jesus Christ. The coming of Christ is a major doctrine in the Word of God & is mentioned no less than 1,200 times in the O.T. & 300 times in the N.T. God is telling us that this same Jesus who has come is coming again. Why do you think the disciples are showing Jesus the buildings of the temple?
He had seen the temple before. The temple was absolutely magnificent & was the center of the Jewish life, spiritually & socially & all of their hopes were based there in that temple. Why were they showing Him this? If you go back to Matt. 23:37-39 Jesus is coming down the Mount of Olives & He sees Jerusalem & the temple & says… They could not believe that this temple would ever be desolate but to make matters worse, Jesus said of this temple in Matt. 24:2, “Not one stone would be left upon another.”
They couldn’t believe this. If you have seen even the remnant of the temple, the great stones that have been tossed off into the valley, you see these massive stones & it didn’t make sense to these disciples at all. Jesus had just prophesied destruction & it didn’t seem reasonable.
The Romans were going to come & destroy Jerusalem & there was already rebellion against Roman rule & Jesus had prophesied that (LK. 21:20). 40 years after Jesus said that the Roman army under Titus came & they compassed Jerusalem with armies all the way around the city. They said, “We don’t need to waste any lives going in there, but we’ll just build a circle around the city & they won’t be able to come in or go out. They won’t be able to get any food.” Titus had given orders that the temple was to be left untouched, but somebody shot a flaming arrow, one of the mishaps of war, & those great cedars of Lebanon began to burn & this building went up in flames. You will not find one stone left upon another exactly as Jesus said. That ought to teach us something. We don’t live by reason but by revelation. Don’t try to explain away the prophecies of the Word of God.
The setting is they were questioning the subject of the prophecy. Look in Matt. 24:3, “And as He sat upon the Mount of Olives, His disciples came unto Him privately, saying, “Tell us… (1) “when shall these things be?”… (2)“What shall be the sign of your coming?”… (3) “What shall be the end of the world”. The disciples asked 3 questions as they thought they were coming to the end of an old age & the new Messianic age was about to begin. What Jesus does here as He looks down through the tunnel of time is give them the intervening days between the time that they existed & when Jesus Christ is going to come again. He lays down for them 7 markers.
1. The Deceptions of Counterfeit Christs in Matt. 24:4-5. Many people will be deceived as we saw in our study in 1 Jn. 4:1-3. Even then the spirit of antichrist was in the world. The antichrist comes against the true Christ & presents himself instead of Christ. There will be many false Christs & false messiahs & I am amazed today at what people will believe!
2. The Divisions of Continuing Conflict. You would think that in 2000 years man would have solved the problem of war to make the world safe, but Jesus said that will never happen. Matt. 24:6 reminds us that wars are growing in number & in intensity. Since World War I, at least every month there has been an attempt to take over a country & bring about political, economic, racial, or religious change. You think about what’s going on in our day. Think of the conflict in the Middle East & what is happening in Iraq & Iran & Afghanistan. Consider what is happening in North Korea & China, to name some places. In the 6,000-year recorded history of man it is estimated that 600 million people have been killed in war but half of those have died since 1900. Now we seem to find these things coming together in a climax. More wars have been seen by this generation than any other generation. Terrorism, hijackings, bombings, assassinations, sabotage, war & all of this seems to center ultimately in Jerusalem.
Does the Bible have anything to say about that? It does indeed as we see in Zech. 12:2-3…there will be continuing conflicts & divisions.
3. The Disasters of Cataclysmic Consequence…Matt. 24:7-8. Jesus, looking down through time said there would be famine. You would think that perhaps man with increased agricultural skill & genetic engineering would be able to solve the problem of famine but the problem of famine in our world is really two-fold. There’s the failure of agriculture itself & there is the bottleneck of distribution. Even when we have the food, we cannot get the food to the people who need it. We don’t have granaries filled with food like we used to & with world population doubling twice in the past century, the world’s land is being worked so hard for food that one quarter of the soil is turning sterile & eroding away. Rev. 6:6 says we would pay about $100 for a quart of wheat which would make about two loaves of bread. A famine is coming here upon this earth. China which was once a net exporter of grains has become the number two importer of grains. But not only did Jesus speak of famines; he spoke of plagues.
You would have thought that in 2,000 years we would do something about plagues. I can remember when I was a kid, they said, “We’ve conquered polio,” & I thought it won’t be long before every disease like polio & smallpox & other diseases that we’ll know how to deal with them. Then along comes AIDS & SARS & Ebola & now COVID-19 & to cap all of that off, biological & chemical warfare is a reality that we face. Jesus said plagues are going to be a sign of the day in which we live & then He mentions earthquakes.
Well, that ought to tell us something. Did you know there has been a dramatic increase in earthquakes in the past decades? Seismologists speak of something called plate tectonics. That is, there are these great plates…70 miles of thick rock plates that float on the molten surface of the earth & these rock plates come together there at points where they meet & there is great pressure there & as these plates move just a little bit then we see what we call an earthquake. It’s like a breakup of ice on the Great Lakes or in Alaska. Seismology historians have calculated that megalithic earthquakes have increased over 2,000% since Columbus discovered the New World. As many have died in earthquakes in the last 40 years as had died in the previous 120 years. Jesus said that in the ensuing age before He comes there will be earthquakes. It seems that the Earth itself is heaving in pain.
4. The Defamation of Committed Christians. We’re going to be persecuted if we love the Lord Jesus as it says in Matt. 24:9-10. Jesus said that religious persecution will increase at the end of the age & it’s going to be centered on those who follow the Lord Jesus Christ. This world does not mind religion but it does resent Jesus. Did you know that more Christians have died for their faith in the past century than all of the other centuries since Jesus hung on the cross? It is estimated that more Christians were tortured & slain in twelve months of World War 2 than died under Rome in all of the early centuries. More people have died for Christ in our generation & some authorities claim that over 50 million Christians were slaughtered in Russia & China & other communist countries because they named the name of Christ. Since the ascension of Jesus Christ, no generation has seen such worldwide persecution as is now in progress. Open your eyes & look around & you will see Christian bashing has become the favorite sport in newspaper, radio, & television. Can you imagine this? It’s sad to see what is happening. I wonder how many Sunday morning benchwarmers will vacate themselves from Bible-believing churches as the persecution of believers intensifies? It’s going to separate those who are true believers from those who are cultural Christians for sure.
5. The Distortion of Christless Cults… Matt. 24:11. C.K. Chesterson has pointed out that, “When a man ceases to believe in the one true God, it doesn’t mean that he believes in nothing; it means that he will believe in anything.” When the Bible speaks of a prophet here, it doesn’t mean a person who is even religious but somebody who speaks with authority. It could be a philosopher or college professor or scientist or a statesman, but these are people today who want to shape & mold society into their way of thinking & they will deceive many. It’s like it was in the days of Noah when the Bible says in Gen. 6:5, “God saw the imaginations of men’s hearts was evil continually.” The word ‘imaginations’ there does not mean daydreams, but it speaks of carefully crafted philosophies. It’s a word that was used to describe the molding of a piece of pottery. These philosophers are trying to fit society into their mold & what all of this comes down to really is New Age humanism which takes the teaching of all the religions of the world & tries to synchronize them into its mystical system saying, “We honor the truth & beauty of all the world’s religions, believing that each has a seed of God, a kernel of the spirit that unites us.” The New Agers believe that God revealed Himself in Jesus, but He also revealed Himself in Buddha & Krishna & a host of other people.
6. The Disposition of Carnal Coldness as people are going to be cold-hearted…Matt. 24:12. These false prophets take away the moral base & when you have no moral base it’s alright to kill babies & alright to perform homosexual marriages & alright to take away life from a person who has lost consciousness or euthanize the aged. When you have taken away the fixed standard of right & wrong you destroy the fire & glow of true love & substitute that with the false fire of lust. Theology turns to me-ology. The Bible says because the iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold & when you have a bounding iniquity you have a crime wave. Are you listening? What is happening even as this is preached? The word “iniquity” literally means lawlessness & that is what we do…we get unfriendly. You find yourself hardening your heart because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. Our society has replaced godly love with selfish protectionism & lust. The end result of carnal coldness is that NO lives matter!
7. The Discharge of Christ’s Commission. Before Jesus left this earth, He gave us the commission to take the Gospel to all of the world. Nowhere has the Bible ever taught that we were going to win everybody to Christ. The Gospel was not given to save civilization from wreckage but to save men from the wreckage of civilization. The Bible prophesies that there’s going to be the Master’s minority, that little flock that’s going to be saved but Jesus said we’re to take the Gospel to the whole world…Matt. 24:13-14, “But he that shall endure to the end, the same shall be saved. And this Gospel of the kingdom shall be,” doesn’t say ought to be, He says, “shall be preached in all the world for a witness to all nations; & then shall the end come.”
The Gospel has been preached in all of the world; not to every person, but into all the world, to all the ethnic by radio, by television, by books, by tapes, by leaflets & by crusades the world has heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Dr. Bill Bright, the founder of Campus Crusade for Christ said, “New Life 2000 has now been implemented in 220 countries, representing 98% of the world’s population. More than two billion people have been exposed to the Gospel.” Think of the Jesus film alone where more than 850 million people have viewed the film which has been dubbed into more than 400 languages making it the most widely translated film in history. Through the Internet, everybody on Earth has access if they have a computer & are hooked into the net to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Conclusion: Jesus says something very interesting in Matt. 24:8. What does He mean, “all these things are the beginning of sorrows.” That word “sorrows” is the word for “birth pangs”. All of these things are the beginning of birth pangs. We don’t have to wait on any sign for Jesus to come for He could come at any moment just as any mother could tell you.
Special Worship Service
With the Gideons
September 27th, 20202
Note: Today we are having a unique service and as a result will not have a sermon outline to post here. We are excited to hear from the Gideons this morning, mission updates, and share The Lord Supper together.
Check back next week for the sermon outline to be posted here.
God bless and walk in the light of Jesus’ grace!
Flesh vs Spirit (Part II)
September 20th, 20202
Introduction: This passage begins with a very emphatic statement: “Walk in the Spirit & you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh”. There is definitely a battle between the flesh & Spirit continually. Paul concludes the section in vss. 16-21 with, “Those who live like this WILL NOT inherit the Kingdom of God”. He is clear & without compromise & with no excuses that those who do such things should repent & come to Christ. Rom. 8:8 says “they that are in the flesh cannot please God”. Paul says in Rom. 7:18-19, “I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwells no good thing: for to will [the desire] is present with me; but how to perform [the ability] that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do”. Rom. 8:12-13 “Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. For if you live after the flesh, you shall die: but if you through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, you shall live”. Let’s briefly look at this list of evils: 1. Immorality…the Greek is “porneia” from which we get our word “pornography.” This may also include adultery & fornication or uncleanness.
1. Lewdness…debauchery & immorality without shame
2. Idolatry…anything we place before God
3. Sorcery… the Greek is “pharmakeia” from which we get our word pharmacy & means to dispense medicine, but in Paul’s day it took a negative meaning because it was closely associated with drugs used in occultic practices involving interaction with evil spirits. Yes, there were drugs & a drug problem even in Paul’s day. it was also closely associated with abortion. They knew what drugs would cause a woman to miscarriage
4. Enmities is another word for hatred
5. Contentions…strife & discord that is the result of hatred
6. Jealousies…bad feeling about others good fortune
7. Anger…outbursts of wrath. When a person is angry they are not in their right mind & that’s why the warning about sin that can happen when your angry
8. Selfish ambitions…the results of a self-centered life
9. Dissensions & heresies,,,factions causing discord among ourselves
10. Envying…nothing more than covetousness & wanting want others have
12. Drunkenness & carousing…excessive alcohol & wild partying & things done while drunk.
This is not an all inclusive list for Paul adds: “and things like these.” We can obviously add to this list. There are those who will be quick to point out that this is “hate speech” in today’s culture. “How dare you say I am not going to heaven!” “Who are you to tell me what is right and wrong?” Do Christians fall into these sins? Yes but the question is, do they remain there? The key word here is “practice.” Are these the things a Christian practices…are their live characterized by these things? If the answer is yes, then we can legitimately question whether that person is really saved. Paul said a similar thing in 1 Cor. 6:9-10, “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God”.
These things are also the works of the flesh. Some will say, “doing what comes naturally.” As I have said before, many in today’s world would call this “hate speech.” But I’m just preaching the Word of God. If we look into it, we would truly call it “love speech” because God is giving warning to the world. God does not desire that any perish but that all comes to repentance (2 Peter 3:9). The problem with many in our world is that right & wrong is determined by human logic, by human reasoning, by human emotions & feelings, but not by the Word of God. Prov. 14:12 says, “There is a way which seems right to a man but its end is the way of death”. Look at the world around us & check out the news. We have a world that has given in to the flesh. A world & a culture that does whatever they feel like doing. Paul warns young Timothy about those in the world in 2 Tim. 3:1–5. This first list, then, is a list of actions we as children of God should not do & it is followed by a list of characteristics that those who belong to God should display. Paul calls them the fruit of the Spirit & he teaches that every one of the 9 is always produced in every believer no matter how faintly its various outward manifestations may be. If a bush or shrub is healthy it will produce good healthy edible fruit but if it is dead, it will not & the same is true with us in a spiritual sense. On the subject of Christian fruitfulness, we need to hear what Jesus says in Jn. 15:1-8. Jesus wants us to be fruitful. In Gal. 5:22–23, Paul lists 9 fruits or representative characteristics produced by the Holy Spirit in a believer’s life.
They are not produced by us through following a program of character formation or striving but are love gifts given by the only source of true love, God the Holy Spirit. The first 3, “love, joy, peace,” are inner qualities that reflect our Christian relationship to God. The next 3, “patience, kindness, goodness,” show themselves in the Christian’s attitude & actions toward his neighbor, The last 3, “faithfulness, gentleness & self-control” reflect how as Christians we should conduct ourselves in view of the duties, opportunities & obligations that arise in our daily lives. In every case, Jesus is the supreme example of each of these fruit or virtues & if we had time to look through the Gospels we would see from the life & actions of Christ how he exhibited each of them.
1. Love,,,the Greek word used being “agape” which can be translated as love, affection, charity or benevolence. This is the supreme virtue of Christian living according to 1 Cor. 13:13 & even more important for us to show than faith or hope. As Paul put it in Gal. 5:14, “the whole Law is fulfilled in the statement, You shall love your neighbor as yourself”. Agape love is the form of love that does not refer simply to pleasant emotions or good feelings but to willing, self-giving service & deep care for others. To display such love is a sure sign that one belongs to God. 1 Jn. 4:7 says ‘Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, & whoever loves has been born of God & knows God.’ Jesus did not say ‘by this people will know you are my disciples by your church attendance, or Bible knowledge, but by your love for each other’. If we do not love each other people outside the church will think we are hypocrites & will never want to join our church. For believers, love is not an option but a command. “Walk in love,” Paul declared, in Eph. 5:2 saying, “just as Christ also loved us & gave Himself up for us, as an offering & a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma”. But this command cannot be fulfilled apart from the Holy Spirit. It is not something that we can manufacture or develop for it is a gift of the Holy Spirit which we allow to grow & ripen in us or allow to rot. Love is the source of obedience to His Word & to His Spirit & to His voice.
2. Joy…”chara (joy) is used some 70 times in the N.T. & always to signify the deep sense of well-being or blessedness that abides in the heart of the person who knows all is well between himself & the Lord. Chara can be translated as cheerfulness, calm, gladness or joyfulness. It is not an experience that comes from favorable circumstances or a human emotion that makes someone feel “happy” or “good”. It is one of God’s gift to believers. As Nehemiah declared, “The joy of the Lord is your strength” (Neh. 8:10). Christian joy is different from worldly joy such as winning a game or passing an exam; it is the result of knowing Jesus Christ as Savior & experiencing daily, in good times & bad, God’s continuing presence & grace. Joy not only does NOT come from favorable circumstances or events but is sometimes experienced greatest when those circumstances are the most painful & severe. Shortly before His arrest & crucifixion, hear what Jesus told His disciples in Jn. 16:20-22. Although joy is a gift of God through His Spirit to those who belong to Christ it is also commanded of us, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice!” in Phil. 4:4. Because joy comes as a gift from God, the command obviously is not for believers to manufacture or try to imitate. The command is to gratefully accept and revel in this great blessing that Christians already possess. “For the kingdom of God is not eating & drinking, but righteousness & peace & joy in the Holy Spirit” (Rom.14:17). Joy is the flower of holiness & service to the Lord as we live in one accord & pray in the Spirit.
3. Peace…the Greek word is “eirene” which can be translated as “quietness”, “rest” or “set at one again”. It refers to the tranquillity or serenity of mind & spirit that comes from having a relationship with God. The Greek word means everything is in place & as it ought to be & has no relationship to circumstances. A Christian can have peace, not because they are unaware or unfeeling about bad circumstances around them, but because they have confidence in God who “causes all things to work together for good to those who love God” (Rom. 8:28). Because Christians possess the fruit of peace or calmness there is absolutely no reason for them to be anxious or afraid no matter what test or trial they have to face. In Phil. 4:6-9 Paul wrote “do not be anxious about anything but in everything by prayer & supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God & the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts & your minds in Christ Jesus.” I hope that is OUR experience. When so many people around us are worried about so many things, such as their health, or their jobs, or the economic situation, we should be known as a people of peace & confident for the future because of our trust in God & His Word to guide us daily.
4. Long-suffering…the Greek word used in the text is “makrothumia” which can also be translated as tolerance & long-suffering or forbearance & means the ability to endure injuries inflicted by others & the calm willingness to accept situations & people that are irritating or painful. According to Ps 86:15 God Himself is “slow to anger” & He expects His children to be the same. It is because of God’s merciful patience that He holds Christ’s second coming & the accompanying judgment on unbelievers, “not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance” (2 Pet. 3:9). Paul exhorted believers to emulate the Lord’s patience in Eph. 4:1-3, “I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility & gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” Through the Holy Spirit, God’s grace has been given to each one of us so that we can maintain unity by bearing with one another, which is patience. Longsuffering is a partner of patience as we are patience with God when we pray & with family & with wrongs done to us.
5. Kindness …the Greek word “chrestotes” can be translated as “excellence of character”, “goodness”, “kindness” or “usefulness”. When the word is applied to people it means they are considered “decent”, “honest” & “helpful”. When a person is all that he or she is supposed to be, humane, decent, reliable, gentle, & kind, then they possess the Spiritual fruit called “kindness.” Spiritual kindness is not just a good personal quality that leads someone to help people in need, it goes way beyond that. Chrestotes was what Christ showed to the sinful woman who wept at his feet (Lk. 7:37), whereas others were unkind to her. Someone said, the ability not only to possess but to deploy the fruit of kindness, especially in the face of hostility, is the mark of a true Christian. Someone said that gentleness is the daughter of love which teaches us to be gentle with all dealings & in our decisions & in all our moves in the church.
6. Goodness…the Greek word used is “agathosune” which can be translated as “virtue” & has to do with moral & spiritual excellence. We might also call it “godliness”. God is the Ultimate in goodness. It means doing good to others & practicing what we preach. The primary idea is generosity, especially the kind of generosity God exercises towards sinners. We exercise it when we give someone something they could never have earned & display goodness by our zeal for excellence & truth, even if it entails rebuking, correcting & chastising like when Christ drove the buyers & sellers from the temple. Jesus did not do this out of anger but out of respect for His Father’s temple & would have been a sin to NOT do something. Goodness is not only about doing nice things but standing up against bad things. We do not show goodness so that we may be regarded as good people but so that the grace of God may be seen in our lives & He would receive the praise & glory & not us. Possessing these fruits, with God’s help, we will be good, kind, patient & long-suffering & we will be kind & gentle, even with the most offensive, not rendering evil for evil as sinners do, but sowing goodness where others sow evil. In other words, being Christ-like. We cannot do this on our own; but with the help of the Holy Spirit we can. Goodness is the activity of grace which is a gift of our Lord that we can’t earn or buy. It is God’s greatest gift to man & the only way to heaven.
7. Faithfulness…the Greek word used in the text is “pistis” which can also be translated as “belief”, “assurance”, “firm persuasion” or “conviction”. The inward & outward manifestation of this fruit of the Holy Spirit is loyalty to God & trustworthiness towards our fellow men. In Lam. 3:22 Jeremiah declared that “the Lord’s loving-kindnesses never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Thy faithfulness”. In Rev. 2:10 it says “Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, & for 10 days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death & I will give you the crown of life”. That is the kind of faithfulness the Holy Spirit puts in us. Faith is the faithfulness of courage which is what we stand on each day we live & what we must have in the eye of the storm when we stand face to face with troubles. It is courage to stand for & with the Lord.
8. Gentleness…the Greek word used in the text is “prautes” which does not consist in a person’s outward behavior only nor in his relations to his fellow-men but rather is grace of the soul exercised o first & foremost towards God. It is that temper of spirit in which we accept His dealings with us as good & therefore without disputing or resisting. The fruit of gentleness that we have from the Holy Spirit has been described as a humble & gentle attitude, one of obedience to His will & with a determination to be patiently submissive in spite of every offence & free of any desire for revenge or retribution. Gentleness also means forgiving others as the Lord has forgiven us (Col.3:13). This is the trait of Christ who was meek as a lamb. We should meek & humble & gentle for it shows the love of Christ in us & helps others see Christ in us.
9. Self control…the Greek word used in the text ‘enkrateia’ refers to the ability to restrain passions & appetites. In other words, strength of character or temperance. Adam and Eve gave in when Satan tempted them instead of relying on the self-control that God gave them when He created them. When Jesus resisted the temptations of the devil in the wilderness after his baptism, he DID exercise the self-control that his heavenly Father had endowed him with. God has given us enkrateia so if we give in to temptation it is not God’s fault, or even the devil’s, but because of our weakness. As Paul put it “the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak”. This is no excuse for we know better. Temperance or self control is the mastery of faith for the more our faith grows the more humble we become & the stronger we grow & the more we act like Christ.
Conclusion: From the negative side could someone be a true Christian if they were completely lacking in love; always unhappy & miserable, always racked by worries & fears, always impatient, always unkind, completely dishonest, completely untrustworthy & disloyal, who is aggressive & known for his or her bullying, who is unstable & completely lacking in self-control? I think the answer must be no, but such we would be without the grace of God & the presence of the Holy Spirit within us. May our lives, our talk, & even our thoughts all bear witness to the Holy Spirit who dwells in us & who has given us all His fruit. The Holy Spirit gives every Christian these 9 Fruits of the Spirit, but it is up to us whether we develop them or let them wither on the vine. The fruit of the Holy Spirit are good Christian virtues. They are what God gives us & what God wants us to display in our lives. By displaying these attitudes & actions we show that we conform to God’s holy will & as people put it… “we practice what we preach”! They see Christ in us.