Sunday, September 20, 2015

The End of the Age or of Time as We Know It

As I was watching the news today, I saw that North Korea is rattling their sabers again, threatening to “nuke” anyone they don’t like. It brings to mind just how fragile our existence here on earth really is. The only thing that is keeping us from all being destroyed by nuclear fire is that God is in charge of the day and moment in time when things will end here for earth.

Christians do not need to fret or worry about the end of the age or of time, but we do need to care about those who have not yet come to know Christ as their Savior. For, when the world ends, if they have not repented of their sins and invited Christ into their heart, they will not go to Heaven. Our responsibility, then, is to make sure that people whom we know, and even those that we don’t know, have heard the Gospel message. For Jesus said: “There will be more joy in Heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.
– (Luke 15: 7. NASV).

Therefore we are to “Produce fruit in keeping with repentance.”
– (Matthew 3: 8. NIV).

Active Relational Christian Mentoring is just one way that women can share the Gospel message with other women and produce fruit for the Kingdom of God. But, whatever Kingdom service you choose to do for the Lord, just remember that time is indeed winding down, so we cannot take for granted that tomorrow will come. We have to make sure that we have done everything that we can to share Christ with others and that we have stepped forward in some manner or another in order to be there for those who are in need.

From the time that Christ started His ministry here on earth, Christ spoke of our need to repent of our sins and truly live for God. He told His followers of the Salvation and the eternal rest that God, through Him, would offer to all those who would repent of their sins and ask Christ into their heart. In fulfilling God’s plan of Salvation, Christ died on the cross taking upon Himself the sins of the world and then conquering eternal death by arising from the grave.

Jesus died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf.
– ( II Corinthians 5: 15 NASV).

Christ tried to prepare His followers for what was going to take place upon the cross. However, they did not really understand until it happened. At around the same time, Christ also told His disciples that He would then have to leave them for awhile to go back to Heaven. But Christ assured them, and us through His Word, that He would someday return at the end of the age. Consequently, from that moment on men and women have wondered when the end times will actually come. Then a few weeks after He arose from the grave, Christ indeed went back to Heaven to prepare a place for all those who will accept God’s offer of Salvation and ask Christ into their heart.

Throughout His ministry on earth, Christ Jesus told parables or stories in order to give His followers some insight into what Heaven would be like and what they could expect toward the end of the age. These parables helped to illuminate Christians’ responsibilities while we are here on earth. (See Matthew 20: 1-16; Matthew 25: 14-30; Luke 17: 7-10; and Luke 19: 11-27). Christ also told parables about Heaven, and through some of these parables He told us who would be able to enter into Heaven and who would not. (See Matthew 13: 3-8; Matthew 13: 34-30; Mark 4: 30-32; Luke 20: 20-21; Matthew 13: 44; Matthew 13: 45-46; Matthew 13: 47-50; and Mark 4: 26-29).

Whether it was through a parable or through an answer to a direct question, Christ told His followers what they could expect if they repented of their sins and asked Him into our heart. They would receive Salvation! He told them that among the many wonderful things that Salvation brings, like being able to lay their burdens upon Him, that their Salvation would bring an internal soul peace to those who asked Him into their heart, but in addition there would also be an eternal soul peace and rest when we get to Heaven.

 Then, Christ told the people what they could expect if they did not repent of their sins, and if they did not ask Him into their heart; they could expect eternal damnation or hell. Since the cross and Christ's resurrection, all people can choose one or the other: Heaven or Hell. Each person, then, has to make a choice about their life and choose for whom they will live their life. Are you going to choose to live for yourself and the world, or are you going to live for Christ? You do not want to put off making a choice to serve Christ for too long, or it may become too late for you to make a choice. For, when we take our last breath, there are no second chances. It is at that point that you will either go to Heaven or to Hell depending on the choice you have made. By the way, simply not making a choice to believe and accept Christ as your personal Savior is still a choice, for you have chosen to reject Him and have chosen Hell.

Throughout His ministry, Christ gave us a great deal of information about both Heaven and Hell, so there is certainly one thing that we cannot say. We cannot say that we have not been warned or that we have not been told of the consequences of our actions and inactions. For, as in all aspects of life there are consequences for how we live out our lives in the here and now, but there are also consequences that can lead to an eternal existence in either Heaven or Hell. Do you know where you will reside?

In preparing His disciples and followers to understand the importance of living their lives for God, Christ told them that there will also come a time when the earth will no longer exist as we know it. Although Christ is now in Heaven with the Father, there will come a time when Christ will return at the end of the age. It is at the end of the age that Christ will arrive to judge those who have chosen to not follow Him. At that time the earth will be in turmoil. People will have done more to hurt each other than ever before. Later, after Christ’s judgment of all people who have refused to honor God and turn to Him, the earth will be changed into a new and more beautiful earth for those who have chosen to accept God’s gift of Salvation. But, before there is a new earth, there will be a terrible time on this earth for all people living here.

The Signs of the End of the Age

Having heard Christ tell of the end of the age, many of Christ’s followers and especially His disciples wanted to know when He would return and when the last days of this earth would occur.

In chapter 24 of Matthew, the disciples ask for specific signs of the coming of the end of the age. “… What will be the sign of your coming and the end of the age?  -- (Matthew 24: 3. NIV). Jesus then gave them what is now known as the Olivet Discourse; called that because they were sitting on the Mount of Olives when Jesus explained many things to them including the signs of the last days.

Jesus said:
Nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these will be the beginning of birth pains.

Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations, because of Me. At that time, many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people.

Because of the increase of the wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. And this Gospel of the Kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations and then the end will come.
– (Matthew 24: 7-14. NIV).

The Gospel of Mark gives us further information about the signs for the last days. Again, Jesus is talking to the disciples about the last days when He says:

Brother will betray brother to death and a father his child. Children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death.”
– (Mark 13: 12. NIV).

We are beginning to see this type of rebellion in some of our children today, but someday that rebellion will be so great that children will actually have their parents put to death. We are already seeing hatred for those who profess to love Christ. Certainly, too, we are seeing an increase in wickedness and deceitfulness. Although, we are still free from religious persecution in our country, the Christians in the Middle East and other areas of the world are being persecuted, and some are being persecuted by their own children. In fact, right now in the Middle East many Christians are continuing to be beheaded or put to death in some other violent manner for just believing in Christ. The hate filled terrorist Muslims want to kill all Christians and Jews. However, they don’t just want to kill those living within their own their territory, for they want to kill Christians and Jews throughout the world. This means that they look forward to killing Americans in our own country when and if they can get here, or when they can send a bomb here.

It isn’t just in other countries, though, wherein there is an increase of hatred and wickedness. For, there is an increase in hatred, wickedness and deceitfulness here in our own country, as people no longer respect the Commandments of God or the Constitution of our nation, and young people kill, loot, and destroy other people’s property just because they can. People are feasting upon their hate of each other; our law enforcement or police are now under attack by lone haters and killers. There may even be organizations that are now promoting this type of hate.

Although we cannot know when the earth will end or when Christ will return, we can recognize the signs that Christ gave to His followers in the first century. For, in the last ten or more years there has been a dramatic increase in the earthquakes and famines, which have hit nearly every country in some manner or another. Terrible forest fires and floods, including Tsunamis, have killed many people and destroyed more property than ever recorded before now. These are the beginnings of some of the birth pangs or signs of the end of the age, which Christ gave to us long ago. Christ gave us these signs not to frighten us, but so that we could be on the alert, and so we could know that time is running out for us to reach the unbelievers. None of us, though, will know until Christ returns that the end of the age is here. In the meantime, we are not to be afraid, but we are to work for the Kingdom of God by producing fruit for the Kingdom and by helping those who could use our specific help.

In chapter 13 of the book of Mark, Jesus tells us that Heaven and Earth will indeed pass away (see Mark 13: 31). At the same time, Christ also tells us that His words will never pass away. In addition, Christ’s words have been recorded in the Bible so that we cannot say that we were not warned, even though:

“No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in Heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come.”
– (Mark 13: 32-33. NIV).

Being on Guard and Alert

But, what does it mean to be on guard and be alert? Well, it means that we must focus on doing our part for the Kingdom of Heaven. We should not go through life as if it will never end. Instead, we must put Christ’s return in the forefront of our minds so that we are constantly aware that we need to share the Gospel with others. We must focus on being “doers of the Word” and constantly working for the Lord.

Humans have a tendency to truly adhere to the old adage: “Out of sight, out of mind.” In fact, knowing that something might happen does not always mean that we are ready or prepared for when it does happen. For example, most couples work hard and look forward to the day they can retire together and spend their later years living for themselves rather than working for a job. Although, we are to work to bring in money for a roof over our heads, food and clothing, we should also be working and planning for our retirement. We should be putting money aside for the future, because realistically speaking we may not have the needed health to continue working past a certain age. Some couples would like to retire at an earlier age, though, where they can enjoy some of the fruits of their labors before they are too old to travel or do things together.

How many stories have you heard, though, about couples getting close to retirement when they suddenly realize that they are not financially ready for retirement. Over the years they were not alert to the financial needs that the retirement years can bring. They did not put away enough money to live comfortably, so now they either cannot retire, or they are will be scrimping to barely make it. Had they been on guard, they would have started putting money away for their retirement in their early thirties and all the way up through their fifties to insure that they had the money they would need when they actually retired. Obviously, there are a lot of variables that can influence how much money one can put away for retirement, but no matter how small the amount, couples should be on guard and alert to their future financial needs. They should be working to put away something.

In some respects, working for God, is no different. Christians have been given a job to do to share the Gospel message so that others can come to know Christ and go to Heaven with them. Christians have also been given the responsibility of making sure that we are there to help other people. Whether it is sharing our skills, talents, knowledge or specific information, we all have a responsibility to “love our neighbor as ourselves,” and in so doing help those who need help.

Working for the Lord then means that we are to be on guard and alert to the possibility that tomorrow could end at any moment. We must be concerned and realize that there are many people that we have not yet reached for the Lord. Those we have not reached may miss out on eternal Salvation and eternal rest, because we have not been more alert. We did not share the Gospel message with them. Or perhaps we did not show our love for others the way that God wanted us to do. Maybe we did not help or mentor others when they needed our specific help.

The End of Time as We Know It

 When the world ends, as Christians, we will not have to be in the Great White Throne Judgment. But, those who have not accepted Christ as their Savior will, at this Judgment, be separated from those who have believed in Christ. However, all Christians will still have to give an accounting of the services that we have performed for the Lord. Then we will receive rewards based on what we have done for the Kingdom of God while here on earth.

At the end of the age, Jesus will come back to judge those on this earth. Jesus explained this judgment at the end time this way:

“When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, He will sit on His throne in Heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on His right and the goats on His left. Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by My Father; take your inheritance, the Kingdom prepared for you since the creation of Man.

For, I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave Me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited Me in, I needed clothes and you clothed Me, I was sick and you looked after Me, I was in prison and you came to see Me.

Then the righteous will answer, Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You something to drink? When did we see You a stranger and invite You in, or needing clothes and clothe You? When did we see You sick or in prison and go to visit You?

The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for Me.’
– (Matthew 25: 31-40. NIV).

Then Christ will say to those on His left:
“Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fires prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave Me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave Me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite Me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe Me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after Me.
– (Matthew 25: 41-43. NIV).

Then these people on the left will ask Christ when they neglected Him.
“He will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for Me.’ Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”
– (Matthew 25: 45-46. NIV).

Then, those that Christ has separated and put on His left, will be placed into the eternal fire of Hell. But, they have no one to blame but themselves. The choice they made while living here on earth was to not live for the Lord. They did not repent of their sins and ask Christ to come into their heart, and they did not help other people. They may not have been wicked as in being truly evil, but they did not have the love of Christ within their hearts, and they did not love others as they loved themselves. They did not serve the Lord, but served themselves.

Preparing for the End of Time

So, how can we be prepared for the end of the age? Well, we are not to be afraid. Fear is of the devil, and when we fear we take our focus off of the Lord who can take care of any situation. But, we are to be on guard and alert. We are to live our lives in such a manner that everyone that we see and meet will know that there is something different about us. They will see the light of Christ shining out of us and they will see that our actions match that light.

Jesus said:
“Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the Kingdom. … Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning, like men waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet, so that when he comes and knocks they can immediately open the door for him.”
– (Luke 12: 32, 35-36. NIV).

I don’t know about you, but I want to be dressed and ready for service. But, I also want to be engaged in a service. So, whatever service that God has given you to do for the Kingdom, do not neglect it or put it off until tomorrow. If you don’t have time to work with a large number of people, in our out of church, think about Active Relational Christian mentoring. It is a wonderful way to reach one person at time for the Lord. It is a wonderful way to help another person in their life walk for the Lord.

I will end with a Scripture about the coming day of the Lord and the end of the age that comes from the Apostle Peter. This is something to really think about. If you are reading this and are not “Saved” please know that time will not go on forever as we know it. There will come a time when you will be separated when you stand before Christ. On which side will you be asked to stand? Perhaps you should consider repenting of your sins and asking Christ into your heart, if you haven't done so already? You can do it? But you have to really mean it.

The Apostle Peter summed up very nicely what we can expect at the end of the age. He said:
“First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, “Where is this coming He promised? … But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The Heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare. Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives, as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with His promise we are looking forward to a new Heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness.

… make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with Him. Therefore, dear friends, … be on guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of lawless men and fall from your secure position. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.”

– (II Peter 3: 3-4, 8-14, 17-18. NIV).

Unless you are not "Saved" you do not have to be afraid of the end of the age. Instead, Christians are to look forward to Christ's return. Let's show Christ how much we love Him by not only obeying His Commandments, but by working for the Kingdom of God every day of our life. You can do it! You can help others through many different services or ministries. Choose one or two, perhaps even ARCM to give glory to God and the Son. If you are not "Saved", please take a moment to consider repenting of your sins and asking Christ into your heart. He stands at the door of your heart and knocks. He is just waiting for you to open the door so that He can come in and eat with you and you with Him. (See Revelation 3: 20).

1 comment:

  1. This posting is absolutely excellent from the title and scanning it...reading tomorrow with great enthusiasm!! We who believe in the One True Messiah, Jesus Christ- the Son of God- have no reason whatsoever to fear. The Lord does not want one person to fall short of the Kingdom of God, and so do His disciples- we want all people to ask Jesus Christ into their hearts as their Lord and Savior- believing in Him- that He died on the cross for our sins, arose and went to Heaven, where He sits at the right hand of God. The Holy Spirit came at that time, and He comes into your heart and life when you believe on and in God- the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. I pray this for our families, loved ones, friends, our nation, and each nation across the globe. God offers this Salvation to one and all- all you need do, and today is that day of salvation, is to ask forgiveness of your sins, believe in Jesus Christ, and ACCEPT His free gift (it was with a cost to Christ Himself), through grace, we are saved. I love you, Vicky...thank you so much. You are an amazing woman of the Lord and precious friend to me, always, with blessings!!