September 16, 2014

When and how will it all end?

Last night, our small group Bible study opened Revelation to begin a study of this perplexing yet fascinating book. We agreed that most Christians in North America have been influenced by only one view of how this book has been interpreted. However, no matter what the Second Coming of Christ will be like, we agreed that the world is filled with more bad news than good.

Moral decay abounds. Someone wrote, “What one generation allows in moderation, the next generation excuses in excess.” What was once frowned upon is now advertised on the side of buses.

A few people argue that it only seems like bad stuff is increasing because of media, but statistically, atrocities are on the increase. A quick Internet search for the numbers on crimes against humanity left me astonished, even feeling sick to my stomach. From genocide to violence against women, there is no good news. The numbers keep rising.

Some think education is the key, but statistics do not affirm that. Educated people groups have high crime rates too. Others put their hope in social programs, but those do not make a dent in the violence either.

For me, faith in Jesus Christ resulted in a transformation of violent sinful desires. I am so thankful. The Bible promises that genuine faith changes lives, and changed lives seem to be the only answer to the mess this world is in. People need to know Jesus, but depending on how they are counted and who is doing the counting, people groups that have not yet heard the gospel of Jesus Christ number from a few hundred to several thousand.

Sadly, in the nations that know the gospel, or have access to this good news from God are not exempt from moral decay either. Hearing the gospel is not enough. It must be believed and embraced to become a deep core of life, a foundation that stands against all temptation and opposition.

One day, Jesus sat on the Mount of Olives and the disciples came to him privately with a question. They said, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”

And Jesus answered them, “See that no one leads you astray. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, 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 various places. All these are but the beginning of the birth pains. “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” (Matthew 24:3–14)

Jesus did not paint a rosy picture. People would imitate Him and lead others astray. Wars would happen, as would natural disasters. Christians would be persecuted and put to death. Statistics vary, but the best sources say Christians die for their faith at a rate of 12-18 every hour, and that rate has been steadily increasing.

And many do fall away. Were they believers in the first place? Not likely for Jesus identifies those saved as those who endure to the end. True faith endures not only the hatred of those who persecute it, but also the bombardment of false teaching that pressures people away from the gospel and from the Savior, Jesus Christ.

As lawlessness increases, love is growing cold. Even mere respect for human life is disappearing as militants are killing innocent children along with those who refuse to renounce their faith in Christ. We live in violent times.

The words of Jesus are sobering. The last line touches my heart . . .  that the end of all this will not happen until the gospel is proclaimed to all nations. That word means ‘people groups’ and that means hundreds, maybe thousands of souls are waiting to hear some good news.

Christians, we have work to do.

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