In Matthew 24, Jesus delivered to his disciples his basic teaching on the end of the age. It involved wars and rumors of wars, nation against nation and kingdom against kingdom, famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in many different places.
He warned them that believers would be hated for His name’s sake, betrayed even by family and other so-called Christians. Because iniquity would abound the love of many shall grow cold. Into this atmosphere the Antichrist will be able to set up his systems of control and abomination.
Iniquity is a condition of being without law, more specifically without God’s law. That is certainly the situation in today’s world as Biblical morality is flouted, divorce and homosexuality are promoted, and the Biblical concept of justice and truth have ‘fallen in the streets’, as Isaiah lamented. We now have a president who regularly and openly speaks and enacts rules against Christianity and the courts outlaw public mention of Christ. Many Christians themselves flout God’s laws accepting social standards of the day rather than face the world’s attacks. New technology gives big government all the tools they need to control each of our lives and the ‘traditional church’ appears to have no answer to stem this tide of evil.
In the parallel passage of Luke 21, Jesus reveals that Israel will once again become a nation and that Jerusalem would once again be under Israel’s control thus ending the age of Gentile control of the world. This will be a signal to those who are watching that end is near just like the budding fig tree signals the beginning of summer. So we will know the kingdom of God is at hand.
In light of the teaching of Paul to Timothy about the crown of righteousness, we should desire to learn all we can about these end time days.
“Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.” – 2 Timothy 4:8
God always has a remnant of true believers and there is a true church in America and elsewhere which is preparing to stand and be faithful. In Matthew 24 and 25, Jesus gives us 7 strategies to be prepared for these times. I want to concentrate on them in this letter.
1. First is the problem with deception.
Jesus said “Take heed that no man deceives you.” There has always been deception. Satan deceived Eve in the Garden, but in the last days it will increase greatly. Many will be swayed by false doctrines, but remember this – people are open to deception because of their own rebellion. Our own sins set us up to be deceived. You don’t have to know all the false doctrines to be safe from them – you only have to know the truth. Then the false will be evident to you.
Paul writes that deception occurs because of “unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.” (2 Thes. 2:10). The way to be delivered from deception and its power is to surrender to the truth of God and live righteously before Him!
2. Second is being at peace.
Jesus said, “see that you are not troubled: for these things must come to pass, but the end
is not yet.” The Psalmist wrote, “Great peace have they which love Thy law: and nothing
shall offend them.” (Ps 119:165), and “The Lord will give strength to His people; the
Lord will bless His people with peace.” (Ps 29:11).
TV could be a blessing but it is mostly a curse to us because it is powered by advertising
which is aimed at making you dissatisfied and prime news is bad news. Like Chicken
Little, they delight in reporting the disasters and bad news! Jesus didn’t hide the bad
things that will happen in the last days, He just taught not to be disturbed by them
because He is in control – and in the end – we win!
No one lives long before they have to battle the unrest and stress that comes to us all, and that includes every age group. Whether it is peer pressure or bullying in school or sickness and financial pressures, no one is exempt. It is as the Bible teaches – “Yet man is born unto trouble, as the sparks fly upward (from smitten steel)”. – Job 5:7. But, Jesus has the answer to the problem –
“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” – John 14:27
Jesus never hid from us the problems that the end of the age will bring but He does promise to never leave or forsake those that trust in Him!
3. Third is endurance.
Jesus said, “he that shall endure to the end, the same shall be saved.” Many make a
beginning but when the going gets tough they fall away. As Jesus taught in the parable of the Sower, some have the seed stolen by the devil, some have no root and in time of temptation fall away and some are so taken up with the cares of this life or its riches that they bring forth no fruit to perfection. (Luke 8:11-15). Those that have a good and honest heart hear the word and keep it and they bring forth fruit with patience.
Paul likens our Christian walk to a marathon race and states that the crown is given to the one who finishes the race. Therefore we should lay aside every weight and temptation which might slow us down! This is so easy to say, but, so hard to do!
4. Fourth the Gospel of the Kingdom shall be preached in all the world for
a witness unto all nations.
Jesus didn’t say that all nations would become converted, but they shall be given a
witness of the gospel of the kingdom. He also said the Gospel of the kingdom shall be
preached! Communism couldn’t stop it, Hinduism can’t stop it, Buddhism can’t stop it, and Islam can’t stop it! This is not a gospel of sloppy-agape or greasy-grace, but of the kingdom! A kingdom has a Lord. This gospel is about the Lordship of Jesus Christ. It isn’t a gospel whose aim is to build big churches or ministries; it has one goal – to make Jesus Lord! The principle of God-given authority is primary in it.We are witnesses because we have the witness of the Holy Spirit within us.
“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. … But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” – Acts 1:5-8
As the end of the age approaches, there will be a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit that will be greater than the first outpouring at Pentecost. The purpose of it will be to empower believers to bring in the final harvest. It is called in Scripture “the latter rain”.
“Be glad then, ye children of Zion, and rejoice in the LORD your God: for he hath given you the former rain moderately, and he will cause to come down for you the rain, the former rain, and the latter rain in the first month.” – Joel 2:23
“Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain.” – James 5:7
All who are waiting for the Lord’s return should begin asking the Lord for this latter rain as Zechariah wrote –
“Ask ye of the LORD rain in the time of the latter rain; so the LORD shall make bright clouds, and give them showers of rain, to every one grass in the field.” – Zechariah 10:1
5. Fifth is to be alert!
Jesus said, “when you see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors.” A
favorite theme of the New Testament is to watch and pray. Proverbs advises,
“A prudent man foresees the evil, and hides himself; but the simple pass on and are punished.”– Prov. 22:32.
God wants us to be prepared and He wants us to be wise. “A prudent man foresees” – there is nothing wrong with preparing ahead for trouble. Can you see that the food supply in America might be damaged – then prudently stock up an emergency supply. What will you do if money becomes worthless? How will you contact your loved ones and friends in an emergency? Jesus warned in Luke 21 that when they saw armies surrounding Jerusalem there were things they had to do.
The gifts of the Holy Spirit are not only given to build us up, but also to help us be alert
to danger. Nothing is hidden from God’s eyes and He can and will reveal evil and danger to us. This is one of the great benefits of prayer. I know this is why the devil fights so hard to keep us from praying! It is one of my greatest struggles! I feel like the disciple in the garden of Gethsemane when Jesus asked to watch and pray, and they went to sleep! Today, an easy way to lose half your church is to just ask them to fast and pray! But, for the end times, it is a critical strategy.
We have just experienced eight years of corruption, moral decay, racial tension, apostasy from God and His plans for our nation because 60% of so-called evangelical Christians helped vote the present President into office. This is a result of not being filled with the Holy Spirit as we aught. The result is, we are about to experience judgment on our nation. Rebellion and lukewarmness toward God results in serious consequences.
6. Sixth is to be faithful!
Jesus said, “Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of
Man cometh. Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his Lord has made ruler over
his household, to give them meat in due season? Blessed is that servant, whom his lord
when he cometh shall find so doing.”
Some think this scripture is just talking to pastors, but it includes the entire body of Christ. If you are a Christian, you have been baptized into the body of Christ. Some are ears, some are eyes, some are a mouth, some are feet, etc. All must function for the body to be healthy. All of us have been given some gift to minister to the body of Christ. We are responsible to use that gifting. We are responsible to be baptized in the Holy Ghost, so we can better minister to the body. The purpose of the Holy Spirit’s baptism is not to just give you a thrill, although it may, but to enable you to minister “meat in due season”! If we could see the body of Christ spiritually today, it would probably have a big but and a big belly! That’s because there are so many pew sitters and those who are always receiving but never give out.
Remember, when Jesus comes back, the only ones with Him will be those who are Called, Chosen, and Faithful. To be faithful means to be obedient and submitted to God’s authority.
7. Seventh is to minister to people!
Jesus taught, “Then shall the righteous answer Him saying, Lord when saw we thee hungered and fed thee? Or thirsty, and gave thee to drink? When saw we a stranger, and took thee in? or naked and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it
True ministry is usually small and common place. It is seldom done before great crowds but mostly on a one-on-one basis. You often will not get a lot of worldly recognition for it, but God sees it! The true church is a place of ministry. Those who need ministry are not always lovely or successful. They often are troubled by demons. They mostly are in trouble because of their bad choices. Notice Jesus doesn’t call us to be judges, but to be servants who minister to the hungry, thirsty, naked, sick, and prisoners. And many times these are spiritual conditions, not just physical. That is why we need to be filled with the Holy Spirit continually. We never know when the call to ministry will come, and we must be ready. Also, we must not forget to pray for “His brethren” – the Jews!
Pastor Charles Cooley