In Revelations 2 John records a message to the church at Ephesus. Jesus tells John to write to the church and acknowledge that it has worked and persevered for His name’s sake, was intolerable of evil people, and that the church has weeded out false prophets.
However, Jesus holds something against the church. He says “I have this against you, that you have left your first love.” He tells the church to repent and “do the deeds you did at first”. What are these deeds that they stopped? Well, Love and acts of Love. They stopped loving each other and their neighbors.
The consequence of not repenting and refocusing on the deeds (acts of Love) of the past was that Jesus would come and remove the church’s “lampstand out of its place.” In Revelations 1 Jesus says that the seven “lampstands” are the seven churches. It makes sense to me that if the church’s “lampstand” is removed, it will no longer be accounted as a light that shines God’s love to the world. The church is supposed to shine the light of Christ to the world and if the church fails at the basic principle of Loving one another, then it should cease to exist. Jesus is the true light of this world. (John 1) If Jesus removes the “lampstand” from the church, then there will be nothing there but darkness and death.
Peter too had tough words for the churches he was writing to. In 1 Peter 4:7-8, Peter tells the churches “the end of all things is near”. He tells the churches to be diligent in prayer and to “above all” love one another. Then, he tells the people of the churches to use their strengths to help each other and to serve as if serving with “the strength which God supplies”.
1 Peter 4:17-19 NASB, “For it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And if it is with difficulty that the righteous is saved , what will become of the godless man and the sinner ? Therefore, those also who suffer according to the will of God shall entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right.”
There are too many verses to list here where we are commanded to love on another in the Bible. Take time to read the book of 1 John. Read the whole book, it’s only five chapters. Here are the highlights; Love each other, believe Jesus is the Son of God, and keep away from idols! Jesus tells us in Mark 12 that the greatest of the commandments is to love the Lord and to love your neighbor as yourself. Who is our neighbor? In Luke 10 Jesus tells us the story of the Good Samaritan, that story ends in verse 37 with us learning that our neighbor is anyone who we see that is in need of Love.
- Are you failing at loving your neighbor?
- Are you too busy worrying about the Confederate Flag to love your neighbor?
- Are you too busy worrying about somebody’s legal immigration status to love your neighbor?
- Are you too busy wondering if someone is getting a marriage document from the government to love your neighbor?
- Is your church failing at loving each other and your community?
Your church and your community will die spiritually if you are not sharing the LOVE of Christ and shining the light of life that is Jesus!
Peter tells us that the judgement of God starts first with the church. 1 Peter 4:17-19 NASB “For it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And if it is with difficulty that the righteous is saved , what will become of the godless man and the sinner ? Therefore, those also who suffer according to the will of God shall entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right.” If we, the church, can’t pass the judgement, as the church of Ephesus was judged, then how will the lost in our communities ever be Saved?
As for signs of the return of Christ, there is no shortage of topics to write about. On the contrary, the problem may be knowing where to start. Truly there are signs of the last days all around us.
If you don’t understand what I am referring to, you should pick up a good book to help point out all the “end times” prophecy in the Bible. You can follow me on GoodReads.com to see what I have read under username JSexton. I have read a few, but a good start for many would be to read “Are we Living in the End Times” by Dr. Tim Lahaye and Jerry B Jenkins. They lay out the prophecies in an easy to understand way. The book also points out how new technologies, world events, and the ways of man are all pointing to us living in the final “trimester” of the last days.
It may seem odd to use the reference of a pregnancy timescale value when discussing the overall timeline of the earth’s current existence. However, this is exactly the way Jesus describes the signs in His discourse on the subject. (Matthew 24) “For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes. But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs.” (Matthew 24:7-8 NASB)
Many Bible scholars believe that World War 1 was the initial sign that Christ’s return would be soon. Matthew 24:6 tells us; “You will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not frightened, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end.” Verse 7 then adds that “nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom”. Therefore because World War 1 is recognized by the majority of the world as the first worldwide war this is most likely the first sign of the last days. However, verse 6 tells us “but that is not yet the end” and verse 8 states “all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs”.
As we move through Matthew 24 and into verse 9 and 10 there is a move into the next phase of signs. Jesus tell the disciples that in the last days they will be hated b all nations because of the name of Christ. The verse also tells us that “many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another.” The disciples were Jewish and Christian. Surely over the last several decades we have seen how people have hated the Jewish people, but now that hatred is also pointed at anyone who holds true to Christian values.
Verses 11- 13 reminds us that not every religious leader is working in unison with the will of God. On the contrary, some have betrayed sound doctrine and ignored the teachings of the Bible. We must do our best to not be fooled by these “False Prophets”. Their teachings lead to “lawlessness” and because of this “most people’s love will grow cold.” Our job as Christians is to endure to the end so that we may be saved.
So, when will the rapture take place? No one knows for sure, it says so in the Bible. We do know this, that the gospel will have been preached to all the ethnic groups and nations of the world before the “end” will come. According to verse 14 after the gospel of the kingdom is preached in all the world, then the end will come. There is debate about if this verse means “the end” as the Rapture or the “Glorious Appearing” at the end of the tribulation. This is because verse 15 talks about an event that is thought to take place in the middle of the Tribulation as described in Daniel 9:27. This event at 3.5 years into the tribulation is when the antichrist will set himself up in the temple in Jerusalem. This event is called the “abomination of desolation.” So it is very possible that the Rapture may take place before the gospel is preached to every tribe and nation, but everyone must have heard the gospel before the “Glorious Appearing” of Christ with all the army of the saints at the end of the 7 years of tribulation. Those people who accept Christ during the tribulation will still be able to spend eternity with Christ after the “Glorious Appearing” and the judgement.
Let me do a little keyword clarification here for those who don’t understand the difference between the rapture and the “Glorious Appearing”. The rapture is the time when Christ will come quickly and gather those who believe in Him. Those taken will quickly be taken up to Heaven. This event will most likely happen before the tribulation begins. The start of the tribulation will begin when the Anti-Christ signs a 7 year treaty with Israel. The “Glorious Appearing” is the event that happens at the end of the 7 years of tribulation. At this event Christ will return and put on a show for the whole world to see. The raptured saints will also return as Christ’s army, even though Jesus won’t need any help defeating the anti-christ.
For those of us who believe that the rapture will take place before the tribulation, there are many world events happening now that makes us feel that Christ’s return must be soon. Let me point out a few things here that I see as harbingers:
- Growing antisemitism as well as hatred for Christians around the world, including the United States.
- The increasing deception of false teachings, even among some “mainline” denominations.
- A more deliberate move by the ultra wealthy to create a one world government. This includes a major religious leader. It seems as though they will use climate change and trade agreements to help make this happen.
- Technological advancements that will allow for the anti-christ to have access to the private information of all people.
- Our world becoming more like what was described in the days of Noah. (See Genesis 6)
What should we do as Christians as we move closer to the Christ’s return?
- Share and show Christ’s love with everyone.
- Spread the Gospel of the hope we have in Christ, without condemnation.
- Hold strong to Biblical truth and right doctrine, even in the face of those “religious” leaders who may be false prophets. These people should not be allowed to remain unchallenged.
- Don’t let yourself get bogged down in disputes over things that are not beneficial to the kingdom of God. Our right of religious freedom is under continual attack, and too many Christians are spending their time fighting against things that don’t really matter as much in the grand scheme of eternity.
Every day since Jesus rose into the heavens we have come one day closer to his return. This is an obvious statement I know, but I believe sometimes Christians seem to forget that. While we busy ourselves with work and church and service and children and all the worries of life, we forget that the Lord’s plan for this earth still carries on.
I have done a lot of reading lately about the prophecies of the end time. It has become quite obvious to me that up until the day Christ returns our life on earth as a Christian will become increasingly more challenging. When I say challenging I mean that many non-Christians will literally hate us.
This should not be a surprise to anyone who takes time to read the Bible and study the word. I am going to include a few verses in this post to highlight this, but I want you to study the subject on your own. Read through the books of the New Testament in the next two months. If it has been a while since you have read through these, I guarantee you will find this beneficial. Each time I read through these I get something new from it. One reason is your perspective changes as you grow older and see the world change.
1 Peter 4:12-19 Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. For it is time for judgment to begin with God’s household; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And, “If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?” So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.
Why should we keep doing good for a world that hates us?
1 Peter 2:15 For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people.
Why do the unbelievers hate us?
1 John 3:12-13 Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own actions were evil and his brother’s were righteous. Do not be surprised, my brothers and sisters, if the world hates you.
Jesus told the Disciples directly that the world would hate them because of His name.
John 15:18-23 If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the one who sent me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin. Whoever hates me hates my Father as well.
When Jesus was talking to the disciples about the end times, he told them not only about the trials that they would face but also the trials of His followers in the last days.
Luke 21:10-20 Then he said to them: “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven. “But before all this, they will seize you and persecute you. They will hand you over to synagogues and put you in prison, and you will be brought before kings and governors, and all on account of my name. And so you will bear testimony to me. But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves. For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict. You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers and sisters, relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death. Everyone will hate you because of me. But not a hair of your head will perish. Stand firm, and you will win life. “When you see Jerusalem being surrounded by armies, you will know that its desolation is near.
See also Matthew 24 and Mark 13
Are we ready for this crush? Are we ready to return love for hatred? As the pressure of the world’s push to force everyone to believe in the same thing increases, so will hatred of anyone who disagrees with those beliefs. If you don’t believe this, pull your head out of the sand, and scroll through the comments on news stories related to any contentious issue where religion might be involved. That will wake you up real quick.
Yet through all of this, the greatest of our responsibilities is to love. The love of Christ is the first thing that anyone should see from us, not condemnation, not accusation, but love.
http://bible.com/111/2co.5.13-15.niv If we are “out of our mind,” as some say, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.
Are you out of your mind? I’ve been thinking a lot today about the internal conflict I have between my nationalistic principles and Christ’s love that is supposed to be working within me.
I’m starting to think that the two may actually not be in conflict. There would be too much typing for me to explain how I came to that conclusion. But, just know that the largest generation in the history of our country is retiring.
Subsequent generations are much smaller due to families having less children. Our country has aborted three times as many people as have immigrated here (or more). So, like it or not, we need more tax payers to take care of this older generation and to staff a sizable volunteer military. Otherwise our nation will fail to be a powerful voice for democracy around the world and default on the massive debt that we have incurred.
What say you?