Sunday, October 12, 2014

The End of the World

"The End of the World" is a very popular topic.

Many people have claimed to know when the world is going to end, and many will still yet make the assertion.  Y2K, the Mayan Calendar ending in 2012;  Here lately we have lived through several "prophesied" apocalypses.  Even some that claim to be Christians will proclaim to know the date at which the end will come.  One preacher famously stated that the world would end in 2011, and another claimed that it would happen with the sign of the Blood Moon.  And yet even these believers have been proven wrong by our continued existence...

Personally, I'm hesitant to make light of the whole situation, even though I also haven't believed that any of these events were actually going to happen.  I don’t find the ignorance of the misguided to be funny and I don’t think God does either.

However, today I would like for us to study some about the end of the world.  I’d like to discuss when the end is going to occur, an account of surviving an apocalyptic situation, the importance of being prepared for the end, and how to be prepared.

When will the End come? 

The verse that I always think about when someone proclaims that they know when the end of the world is going to occur is Matthew 24:36, in which Jesus Himself says, But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only.”  

Basically, as Jesus clearly states here, nobody knows when the end of the world will occur but God.

I suppose we could just about end the lesson right here...

However, if we continue to read through this section of verses, we will find that there is more still to learn.

The Time of Noah

I believe that Bible is a road map for those seeking righteousness to follow and that it gives us instructions for pretty much any situation we would encounter in this life and the life to come.

2 Timothy 3:16 - All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.

Wouldn’t it be great if the Bible gave us an example of an apocalyptic situation and how to survive it?

Actually, if we turn back to Genesis we can find just that.  We recall the account of the Great Flood from Genesis, which is often referred to as an apocalyptic text.

Genesis 6:5-7 - Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.   And the LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart.  So the LORD said, “I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth, both man and beast, creeping thing and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them..."

Back in Matthew 24:37-38, Jesus goes on to say, “For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.”  

You can almost imagine this taking place during Noah’s time.  People were going about their normal business, completely oblivious to the fact that their doom was nearly at hand.  Perhaps they even mocked Noah as he prepared the Ark, much like unbelievers mock Christians today.

“Therefore, Keep Watch...”

Even though the world didn’t end during any of the preciously mentioned events, it doesn’t mean that it couldn’t end today, tomorrow, or whenever!

Matthew 24:42-44 Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect Him.

In this section of verses, Jesus explains that we should always be ready and prepared, because He will come at an unexpected time.  He compares His coming to that of a thief coming to steal.  A thief, as we know, does not loudly proclaim his coming.  If he did that, we would have locked the door, reinforced the windows, or do whatever else we felt was necessary to protect ourselves and our possessions.  Nowadays, most people feel prepared for theft, with their fancy locks and alarms.

Preparedness and security are highly valued in our society today.  But what about spiritual preparedness?

Surely this is more than a “Jesus is coming, look busy” situation! (That's a bad joke I’ve heard tossed around for years...)

How Do We Prepare For The End?

Well, how exactly do we prepare ourselves for the end?  Let’s look back once again to the example of Noah, one of the sole survivors of an apocalyptic situation.

Hebrews 11:7 - By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.

Noah, much like us today, was forewarned of the impending destruction of mankind by God (Noah was directly warned by God and we are warned today by God’s Word).  I think it’s important to notice that Noah took this warning from God seriously, which is something that not many do today.  But also, I think we should notice that Noah doesn’t just sit on this information from God and do nothing about it.  Noah not only listened to God but he obeyed and did as God commanded.

James 1:22 - But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.

The Importance of Baptism

So many downplay the importance of baptism in God’s plan for salvation (while others might say that I put too much emphasis on baptism; if that is the case, it's only because not enough teach baptism as necessary) and are reluctant to obey this simple command of God.  But as we have already seen, God cares about obedience just as much as faith.

1 Peter 3:20-21 - ...In the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water. There is also an antitype which now saves us—baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Our obedience in following God  is putting our faith in action.  Noah understood this in his days, Christians should understand it today.  Noah probably had no idea what an ark was when he started building it.  People may have even thought he was crazy as he was building it.  In the same way, Baptism seems like a “silly” way for salvation to take place, but it’s the way God chose for us.  If God commands it, is it really that silly?

“The Lord is not slack concerning His promise...”

There were so many people making fun of the group who thought the world was going to end at various times.  As I said earlier, I didn’t feel like joining in.  I feel sorry for how misguided they were and probably still are.

To make matters worse, when a misguided group calling themselves “Christians” does something like this, it gives the further misguided unbelievers more reason to not believe; True Christians lose credibility just a little bit more.  Paired with the hypocrisy of so many out there that also call themselves Christians, the unbelievers question their already wavering (or nonexistent faith) in God, because, once again, “Those crazy Christians predicted the end and it didn’t happen.  Let’s all go back to what we were doing to start with.”  Oftentimes, the unbelievers question God and everything that He offers because of the shortcomings of those calling themselves His followers.

But we know that God is real and that his promises are true.  Another reading concerning the end to consider:

2 Peter 3: 1-17  - Beloved, I now write to you this second epistle (in both of which I stir up your pure minds by way of reminder), that you may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us, the apostles of the Lord and Savior, knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.” For this they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water, by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water. But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.
But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.
But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up.  Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.  Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless; and consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation!

One comforting aspect to this whole talk about the end of the world is that God doesn’t want anyone to perish.  Delaying the apocalypse is giving humanity another chance at salvation!

Are You Prepared? 

All should be concerned about the end of the world, because eternity follows, and As far as our eternal destination is concerned, there are only two options: Eternal Life or Eternal Destruction.

Matthew 7:13-14 - Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it.  Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.

According to the Bible, the narrow gate, “the way which leads to life,” is a one-way street.

John 14:6 - Jesus answered, 'I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me..." 

While the religious world would tell us that there are many avenues going various that lead to the same destination, notice that Jesus explicitly states here that there is no other way to get to Heaven.  It's only through Jesus can we hope to attain eternal life.

But perhaps instead of being concerned with the end of the world, we should be concerned with end of ourselves, which is likely more immediate.

Hebrews 9:27 - ...It is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment...

Just as we don’t exactly know when the end of the world is going to take place (Today, tomorrow, or 1000's of years from now), but we also don’t know when our own personal time on earth will come to an end.

We are not guaranteed tomorrow.

James 4:13-14 - Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit”; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.

Many of us fully understand the fragility of life, from the loss of friends and loved ones.  I’m not trying to scare anyone here today, but we have to understand that the same could happen to us.

If your world was to end tomorrow and your own personal apocalypse was to occur... Would you be ready?

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