- From the Cedar Street Times, Pacific Grove
What does God say about these last days?
Two thousand years ago Jesus became the perfect lamb and was sacrificed for our sins, 1 Pet 1:18-20, “Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you,” and He will return to claim His eternal family, Jn 14:1-3, “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” The Bible calls this period between His two visits “the last days,” Heb 1:1-2, “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;” This final period, where God finishes the creation of His eternal family, is marked by the bookend appearances of His son Jesus. Jesus is the central theme separating the last days from the rest of time.
Only after His first coming could people have the opportunity to accept Him as their savior. During Old Testament times, people were waiting for the Messiah to arrive, even though they did not understand that His first coming would be in the form of a Lamb, not the Lion of Judah they were expecting, Job 19:25-26, “For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God:” Job knew he would be resurrected and would see his savior, his redeemer, on the last day. He didn’t know Jesus would come first as a sacrifice, and then some two thousand years later return for that last day. This is why many did not recognize Him, Matt 16:2-3, “He answered and said unto them, When it is evening, ye say, It will be fair weather: for the sky is red. And in the morning, It will be foul weather to day: for the sky is red and lowering. O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times?” They should have known, He told them He came to fulfill all the prophecies, Matt 5:17, “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil” which meant He had to come first as a Lamb to die for our sins, Is 53:8, “He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken.” When He returns, He will be the Lion of Judah and our King. This is the mystery that was hidden from those in Old Testament times, Col 1:26-28, “Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints: To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory: Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus:”
When Jesus’ disciples asked Him how they would know the time of the end of this world, He told them about the beginning of sorrows, a list of events the world could watch to monitor the progress toward the end of time, Matt 24:8, “All these are the beginning of sorrows.” The “beginning of sorrows” parallels the birthing process, as described in chapter 13 of Isaiah. As these last days progress, both the frequency and severity of these events will increase. But, even in the beginning of the birthing process there is pain, as the disciples would personally experience. So we can mark that early period as the beginning of sorrows.
The book of Revelations lists seven church periods, which divide these last days. We are now living in the last of these church periods, the “Church in Laodicea.” This church period ends with the second coming of Jesus, and God tells us about this church, Rev 3:15-16, “I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.” This church period has settled into a comfortable place. There is no longer a fire for the Lord. The overwhelming feeling is one of satisfaction with life as it is, nothing is needed, but God does not agree. He is telling this church that He loves it and rebukes it, for it has fallen into a state of apathy; it has become lukewarm. He wants this church to return to the study of His Word, to reason beyond the surface layers, to become white-hot for the Truth that lies beneath, to peel back the layers to the core and to return to the richness of the Truth brought to light by the Luther’s of this world.
It is the opening of our eyes that allows us to see those deeper layers within the Bible, Acts 16:18, “To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.” We cannot stay in our comfortable condition, naked in our sins, without the works that effortlessly flow from true faith, and without the white-hot zeal for God’s Truth, for God is telling us He will spue us out of His mouth. What would have happened if the people of Peter Waldo’s day had not been white-hot for God’s Word? They would not have devoted their lives to the work of translating God’s Word into different languages, which would have left many blinded by false teachings. God is troubled by how our church period has wasted the light He has given it, the light that could have been used to draw many to the Truth, like moths. The closer to the light we get, the warmer we feel, until the white-hot flame at the center, burns our souls into action.
This church’s lukewarm nature is selfish. It does not take into account the loss of those who will miss the message and the opportunity to find Jesus, 2 Tim 3:5, “Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.” For who will be drawn to follow those they perceive as hypocrites. God tells us that everyone should turn away from those denying the power. It is not surprising that many of us refuse to listen to today’s preachers? But, if we have found Jesus, we cannot settle into a comfortable place; we must then be motivated to introduce Him to as many as we can, either in evangelistic work or by our example. Too many today cite the hypocrites they see in our society, claiming to be Christians, as their basis for not reasoning with God. They will not reason with God because they cannot see God’s light shining through those whom they perceive as hypocrites. We believers cannot hide in the comfort of our hypocrisy any longer. People will see God’s light shining through us when we are living the fruit of the Spirit, Gal 5:22-23, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.” Jesus’ love for us demands we pass it on to others, Matt 22:39, “And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.”
Rev 14:12, “Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.” This is the key to living in these last days; we keep the commandments of God. We keep them because the world needs to see faithful people who love God and keep His commandments, Jn 14:21, “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.” The world does not need hypocrites who pretend faith but have no works to validate that faith. Our patience will draw others to Jesus when they are able to see that we truly love Jesus enough to follow Him, to put up our treasures in heaven rather than this world. They do not need to see us sporting our flashy bling, jet setting across the globe, living in big homes, driving the best cars and dressed in the best clothes, they need to see us living the life God calls us to live, Matt 6:19-21, “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”
This is not to say we must be poor, for God has told us we cannot out give Him. He told us He loved David when David was the wealthiest person on the planet. God saw that David would come to understand that his relationship with God was more valuable than all the wealth he had accumulated. We are to give generously and focus on those who need our help, not on spending to make this life comfortable, alone. But, God has told us we can have both if we first focus on doing His will, Matt 6:31-34, “Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.” God’s message is clear, when we care about others, He will take care of us, and that is one of the main principles we are called to follow in these last days.
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