PART III – A GODLESS AGE
It’s not just some vague prescription of “wars and rumors of wars.” Scripture draws a pretty clear picture of what conditions will be like in the run-up to Christ’s return. We talked about the failing of the Church, the apostasy and coldness that would set in. In many sectors we’re living that today – right alongside the healthy remnants. As foretold in Revelation 3, we have both the lukewarm Church of Laodicea and the faithful Church of Philadelphia existing side by side. But if that’s a little vague, we looked at something else – the reestablishment of the nation of Israel and the return of the Jews from around the world. It was repeatedly foretold in the Old Testament. And we have watched it – and are continuing to watch it come to pass. Focusing in on an even narrower target, we see the status of Jerusalem become the focal point of world attention, just as the prophets said it would. In PART III we’ll begin to unpack the godless age we live in.
“But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power….always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (2Timothy 3:1-5)
A GODLESS AGE: RAMPANT IMMORALITY – The godlessness of the age we live in is highlighted by the enthronement of the SELF as the de facto personal deity. “Lovers of themselves!” That phrase takes in so much else that is in the above passage. Look at it. “Boasters, proud,” those are both self-aggrandizing behaviors. “Blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful,” again, arrogating to ourselves the prerogatives of God. “Unholy, unforgiving” – (because we see ourselves, in the first case as God’s equal – and – in the second, as deserving of the role of moral judge and jury.) This passage warns that men will be “despisers of good,” and we have seen that in the total flip in morality that has occurred over the last couple of decades. In the world, drugs are increasingly good, homosexuality and other deviancies are ‘very good’ – abortion is a celebration of individual morality. And then this one, “lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God.” Sex has become morally neutral – even in “Christian circles.”
Look at the explosion in pornography. Forty million Americans are regular visitors to porn sites. Pornography is a $13 billion industry. 28,000 people are viewing at any given moment – 1/3 of them women. And it accounts for 25% of all internet searches.[ii] My wife attended a recent seminar at which teenage students at a Christian school gave their testimonies of about they were delivered from porn addiction – only through the transformative power of Jesus Christ. The problem is everywhere. There are no age or gender barriers. We are all potential sinners / victims. And it comes with enormous costs. Forty percent of ‘sex addicts’ lose their spouses. One third lose their jobs and 58 % suffer significant financial losses. This sin has reared its ugly head even among pastors, with 63% saying they struggle with sexual addiction or compulsion.[iii]The sexual abuse scandal plaguing the Catholic Church may currently be the most visible manifestation of immorality run wild. And it is so much more than the abuse itself. The real scandal lies in the cover-up that has been wide ranging, systematic and thorough. Even as that scandal rocks the Roman Church, the resistance to full conviction and surrender and continues. A recent meeting of Catholic bishops in Baltimore was ordered by the Vatican to refrain from voting on reforms.[i] But it certainly is not the Catholic Church alone that suffers from morality deficit disorder.
But we’ve seen this godlessness manifest in other ways. The confirmation hearings of Justice Kavanaugh drew a picture of a commitment by a cross-section of society – to an agenda that ignored the truth in search of a ‘greater cause.’ Evidence was introduced without corroboration to destroy an individual regardless of the truth of the matter. That ethic is evidenced in the growth of Antifa and related violence against those who stand in the way of – primarily the Left’s – political agenda. It is the same for the Deep State machinations practiced among certain high-level members of the FBI, the DoJ and the Mueller investigative team.
And in all of this, Paul said that the rebels would demonstrate “a form of godliness but denying its power.” That’s because it would not be connected to the real truth of God’s Word – and His Will. We see today preachers of God’s Word who deny His deity, or His exclusivity. [There is only one way. (See John 14:6)] – or His resurrection or that He will come again. They will tell you that all paths lead to God. That all will be saved. That Hell is a myth. And in their denial of the divine they miss the power of God.
Matthew 7:21-23: “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’”
CHRIST’S WARNING FROM THE MOUNT OF OLIVES – (Think about today when you read Jesus warning of the conditions of the time that will precede His return.) Matthew 24:5-8 – “For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.” [Here I like the ESV better with its use of the term “birth pangs,” because it conveys the sense of conditions that will grow in both frequency and intensity.]
Matthew 24:9-14 – “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. BAnd ut he who endures to the end shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.”
So what did we see in those last passages? We find deception, dissension (wars and rumors), devastation, disease – (just look at all the new diseases scientists are both finding and inventing), disasters – (the California fires, earthquakes like never before, volcanoes, storms of the century), betrayal & death (Christian persecution and anti-Semitism), delusion (false prophets and religion), and lawlessness on an unprecedented scale. And what does the modern world look like? But we also see the proclamation of the Gospel – and it is going forth and changing the face of the world. Despite persecution it is growing in China and Iran and Bangladesh and elsewhere.
And just a little later in his pronouncement, Jesus tells us that the generation that would see these signs – [and seemingly the reestablishment of Israel, because Israel was referred to as the fig tree in the Old Testament] – would also see the completion of God’s salvation plan with the return of Christ. Here are Jesus’ words. “Learn what the fig-tree can teach you. As soon as its branches grow full of sap and produce leaves you know that summer is near. So when you see all these things happening you may know that he is near, at your very door! Believe me, this generation will not disappear till all this has taken place. Earth and sky will pass away, but my words will never pass away!” (Matthew 24:32-34) (JB Phillips)
OTHER SIGNS OF THE END – There are other signs manifesting by which we can know that we are living on the cusp of the Last Days. Mark of the Beast technology is being developed in several areas of the globe. In China, we have the government there working with Google to develop a system by which every Chinese citizen will be tracked 24/7 and will be given a “Social Credit Score” which will give them access – or not – to the perks of living in Chinese society. They hope to have this total tracking system in place by 2020 – but it is already partially installed. The government rates you by your purchases and behaviors. Put a bottle of beer or some food deemed to be unhealthy in your shopping cart and you lose points. Express an opinion that questions or disagrees with official government policy – and you lose lots of points. People already have been punished by losing access to schooling for themselves or their children, travel privileges, even jobs. Then there is the increase in knowledge. When the Prophet Daniel was completing his work, he was given this message. “But you, Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book until the time of the end; many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase.” Certainly, travel has increased exponentially since ancient times. And knowledge is doubling now about every six months. Now the addition of Artificial Intelligence has created the conditions for the very transformation – and enslavement of mankind.
One World Religion is coming. Rome has been working toward this end for some time now. They’ve called dibs on Jerusalem – as an international city under the auspices of the Vatican and this pope – Francis – has made overtures to Muslims, even allowing Islamic prayers in the Vatican. [There is much more to this that we have not the room to discuss here, but suffice it to say that it involves even darker actions that link elements within that church to the pagan elements of Babel.] Another source of the global religious movement is the Parliament of World Religions which welcomes all religions – with the exception of biblical Christianity. But that should come as no surprise. Scripture tells us that during the Tribulation, all of the unsaved world will worship at the altar of the Antichrist and Satan who will be the source of his power. “And all the world marveled and followed the beast. So they worshiped the dragon who gave authority to the beast; and they worshiped the beast, saying, ‘Who is like the beast? Who is able to make war with him?’…. All who dwell on the earth will worship him, whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.”
(Revelation 13:3-4, 8) That false religious system is being prepared even today! Another sign reflected in world unity is the tearing down of the language barrier. Through instant online translations we have returned to a pre-Babel reality. That was a time when all the earth spoke with one tongue. It was in that that their power rested. Genesis 11 describes how men were uniting together to advance their own will and reputation. As God put it, “now nothing that they propose to do will be withheld from them.” (Genesis 11:6) So God confused their language. That is where we are today. Mankind is believing that through science, we can even reinvent ourselves – in the process redefining what it means to be human.
Finally, the redefinition of marriage. The Bible is clear on the fact that marriage is between a man and a woman. According to the Babylonian Talmud, rabbinic commentaries on the scriptures, the only time in history when homosexual marriage was legal was before the Flood, in the time of Noah.[iv] Why is that significant? Because of Jesus words. “But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.”
[i] Laurie Goodstein, Paralysis and Anguish, New York Times, November 16, 2018
[ii] The Stats on Internet Pornography, http://www.techaddiction.ca/files/porn-addiction-statistics.jpg, viewed November 27, 2019
[iii]How Many Pastors Are Addicted to Porn? The Stats are Surprising, Expastors.com, March 25, 2014
[iv] Janet Porter, How same-sex marriage points to end of the world, WND, May 20, 2008