THE LAST DAYS
[1 Timothy:4:1-9]; [2 Timothy:3:1-7].
“This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come” (II Timothy 3:1).
Jesus taught His disciples that He is coming back to earth again. He said, “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” [John:14:2-3]). There is another promise of Jesus’ coming recorded in the Book of Acts. As Jesus was talking to the people, and “while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight” [Acts:1:9]). Jesus ascended into Heaven but as the people watched Him disappear, two men in white apparel came and said, “This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven” [Acts:1:11]).
The promises to Jesus’ coming have been the hope of all Christians. That hope causes them to watch and pray. The hope of Jesus’ coming inspires them to prepare for that day when Jesus shall come to catch away His waiting Bride.
In many places in the Bible the “last days” are mentioned, meaning the days just before Jesus comes. One time the disciples asked Jesus, “What shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” [Matthew:24:3]). Jesus told them many things that would take place: many people would be deceived by false prophets; there would be more love for sin; Christians would be hated for Jesus’ name’s sake; many would lose the love of God from their heart. Jesus mentioned many other signs of His coming but He added, ”But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved” [Matthew:24:13]).
No wonder Paul wrote to Timothy that there would be perilous times in the last days. He went on to say that the last days would be full of danger and risks. Timothy was a young minister and Paul wanted to help him as well as to help other Christians. It has been said that to be forewarned is to be forearmed -– to know ahead is to be given an opportunity to prepare. Paul did not say that he had an idea that certain things would happen during the last days, nor did he say that he thought these things would take place. Paul spoke definitely that the “Spirit speaketh” of these conditions of the last days. What is the Spirit? The Bible says, “It is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth” ([1 John:5:6]).
Paul was inspired by the Spirit to warn that Satan would come with seducing words -– tempting and deceiving words. It is good to know the Word of God so that one is not led into error. When one lives godly, he need have no fear of being led astray. “Godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.” Christians should practice godliness -– then they will have a guard against Satan’s deceit. Often Satan tempts one by saying that it is not necessary to live so good; it is not necessary to make wrong things right; it is not necessary to read the Bible each day or to pray so much. The enemy knows that a Christian’s strength comes from God through the Word and by praying in faith.
In the days of the Children of Israel, their king, Jeroboam, said, “It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem” [1 Kings:12:28]) to worship. Instead of worshiping in the place where God had told them, the king made new places, and new feasts “which he had devised of his own heart” “like unto the feast” that God demanded. It was sin, and God sent judgement to the king: his hand “dried up, so that he could not pull it in again to him.” He also sent judgement to the altar: it was “rent, and the ashes poured out from the altar” [1 Kings:13:4-5]).
The Children of Israel should have obeyed God instead of the king. Compare the words of men with the Bible, and if the words of men do not teach the same as the Bible, beware lest you are led away from God. There is a way that seems right to man but it leads to death [Proverbs:14:12]; [Proverbs:16:25]).
We are warned to turn away from those having “a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof.” There are many who have religion but do not have Jesus in their heart, so they cannot live like Him. In [John:1:12] we read: “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.” The Lord will give one power to live for Him and to live without sin. In [John:8:34] we read, “Whosoever commiteth sin is the servant of sin.” One who commits sin is not a son of God but is of the devil, because “whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin” ([1 John:3:8-9]).
In the last days “some shall depart from the faith” -- some of those who have loved the Lord and followed Him will not continue to do so. Jesus said, “Because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold” [Matthew:24:12]). One sin will separate a person from God, and unless that sin is confessed by man and forgiven by God, the person will remain a backslider from God. Satan usually tries to tell such a person to go on as he is, that no one will know, and that people will laugh at him if he admits he has done wrong. The last days are dangerous days. One must listen to the voice of God and stop his ears to the voice of Satan.
One who has “departed from the faith” has two choices. He can repent, forsake his ways, and return to God who will have mercy upon him and “abundantly pardon” [Isaiah:55:7]). Just as any other sinner, he can come to God. When he sinned, his righteousness was cancelled and eternal death hangs over him [Ezekiel:18:24]). In [Ezekiel:18:20] we read, “The soul that sinneth, it shall die”; but we read on and learn that God does not have any pleasure in the death of the wicked but wants him to “return from his ways, and live” [Ezekiel:18:23]).
The other choice is to go on in sin, away from God, without any hope or peace. His conscience will become hardened or seared to the voice of the Spirit. You know how your conscience tells you that you should pray, and if you fail to listen you will go on until you are no longer troubled for your failure and you forget to pray -– you become powerless and will yield to temptation. One must be careful lest his conscience become seared -– when he is no longer sorry for the wrong he has done, when he is no longer uncomfortable when God talks to him about disobedience, when he does not care if God is displeased with his life.
We know that we are living in the last days. Paul described the way in which many people would live in the last days. They would be selfish; and today that is the way most people live. They would be braggers; and today that is what we find. They would be traitors; and today one can scarcely trust some people, even if their promises are written. They would be disobedient to parents; and today it is a well-known fact that many children do not obey. They would be unthankful; and today we find few people who thank God or anyone else for blessings and favours. They would love worldly pleasures more than God; and today people are continually seeking pleasure instead of seeking God. They would be “ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.” Today there are more books and schools than ever before; people have the opportunity to learn but it seems that the more book learning some people have, the further they are from the knowledge of God.
The End Time
Jesus gave a number of signs of the last days, and all those have come to pass. He said: “Ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: . . . but the end is not yet” [Matthew:24:6]). He said: “There shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, . . . All these are the beginning of sorrows” [Matthew:24:7-8]). Jesus said: “This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come” [Matthew:24:14]). Every nation has had Christian missionaries to teach the Gospel to the people -– Tibet being the last nation to permit missionaries to enter. Many prophecies concerning the Jewish people have come to pass, too. “Then shall the end come.” The last days may be fearful for some people but they can be wonderful days to the Christian because he knows that Jesus is coming soon. Only a few more days to walk by faith! Only a few more days to work for Him! Only a few more days to prepare for His coming and to gain some sheaves to lay at His feet! Terrible days or glorious days? Are you looking for Jesus? In [Hebrews:9:28] we read: “Unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.”
1. Who wrote I and II Timothy?
2. Who was Timothy?
3. What is meant by “the last days”?
4. Give some Scriptures that tell of Jesus’ second coming.
5. Name several marks of the last days.
6. What did Jesus say about the end time?
7. What does it mean to “depart from the faith”?
8. How does one’s conscience become seared?
9. How can one know that he is a child of God?
10. Finish the sentence: “But he that shall endure unto the end, . . . “ [Matthew:24:13]).