INTRO: A little-known fact from the life of Christopher Columbus is that he predicted the end of the world. He wrote a volume called The Book of Prophecies, in which he prophesied that the
world would end in the year 1656. He even stated very definitely that "there is no doubt that the world must end in one hundred fifty-five years."
-Well some 350 years later we’re still here. The Lord has not returned but we are closer now than we’ve ever been.
-Last time we looked at the Lord’s return—what many call the rapture, the blessed hope. : The Lord will return in the air, the dead in Christ shall rise.
: Three unique sounds will occur:
-The Lord’s shout
-Sound of a trumpet
-Voice of an archangel
: 5 word pictures:
-To catch away speedily -To seize by force
-To claim for one’s own self
-To move to a new place -To rescue from danger
-Today we’re going to talk about 4 elements that mark the last days. TITLE: Four Elements That Mark the Last Days
TEXT: Luke 17:26-30
-This is a graphic description of the days of Noah. It appears they lived in a culture where no thought was given to God or the consequences of one’s activity.
-There are forces in operation today similar to those that were active in the days of Noah.
TS: There are 4 elements active now that were active then.
I. An acceleration of sinfulness. In the days of Noah (Genesis 6:5), "The Lord saw how great man’s wickedness on earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time."
A. Lack of spiritual separation. One of Satan’s most successful devices is compromise.
1. If he can delude God’s people into abandoning their privileged position of separation from sin and communion with God, then he can easily lead us astray.
-"The swift wind of compromise is a lot more devastating than the sudden jolt of misfortune." –Chuck Swindoll.
2. What was Satan’s plan for defeating God’s people in Noah’s day? To entice the godly line of Seth (sons of God) to mix with the godly line of Cain (the daughters of men) and thus abandon their devotion to the Lord, according to Warren Wiersbe.
a. It’s the same that Christians face today
-To be friendly with the world (James 4:4) -To love the world (1 John 2:15-17) -To conform to the world (Romans 12:2)
-Rather than be separated from the world (2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1).
TS: Compromise always leads to
B. Lack of moral standards. It’s the idea that anything goes.
1. The Lord’s standards for our lives: Be holy because I am holy. -The Lord expects us to be holy, because he has given us his Spirit which gives us the power to do SO.
Example. Chuck Colson, Christianity Today, November 9, 1992 There was a time when most Americans respected the Bible, and could quote it with authority. In 1963, according to Gallup, 65% believed the Bible literally; today the number is only 32%. There was a time when most Americans were familiar with biblical doctrine. You could say, "Believe in Jesus," and at least they knew what you meant. But today most would be mystified. Newsweek
tells of a child who saw a crucifix and asked, "Mommy, what’s that man doing?" There was a time when most Americans accepted absolute standards. They might disagree on what those absolutes were, but they knew that some things are really right or wrong. Today (1992) 70% reject moral absolutes.
C. Lack of spiritual discernment.
1. Luke 17:26-27, "Just as in the days of Noah, so also will it be in the days of the Son of Man. People were eating, drinking, marrying and being given in marriage up to the day Noah entered the ark, then the flood came and destroyed them all."
2. People didn’t recognize the times. They were not aware of the judgment that was soon to overtake them.
-People mistake the patience of God as a license to sin.
Example. God’s still blessing me while I sin, it must not be that big of a deal. -This is a very dangerous attitude to have.
II. An approaching storm. Genesis 6:7, "So the Lord said, ’I will wipe mankind, whom I have created, from the face of the earth – men and animals, and creatures that move along the ground, and birds of the air – for I am grieved that I have made them.’"
A. A flood was coming and they were unprepared.
-The sad thing—Noah preached at them for a very long time and they still did not listen.
1. As long as the door to the ark was still open, there was a chance but no one took it.
2. Today the door is still open, but are people taking advantage of it as the great tribulation approaches (judgments of God).
-Are people seeking God? Many will be caught off guard and will be unprepared to meet God.
3. Matthew 24:44, "So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him."
Example. I remember when I was in college, just a new Christian living in the world as well as church. I remember rolling over the idea in my mind, Hey, I’m in college, I’ll get serious with God when I’m done with school and married and have a family. And this thought shattered through my selfishness and informed me if I don’t serve him now I never will.
-My opportunity was passing, and I’d better do something about it. There was an approaching storm, and I’d better get serious.
B. This world is headed toward judgment and it doesn’t realize the magnitude and force of the storm it faces.
1. There is a storm coming and people need to be warned.
-Problem with most today, they don’t think they need a savior because they don’t see the coming disaster.
TS: The good news.
III. An active savior. God provided a way of escape for those who would listen—A. A Savior in the midst of a crisis.
1. God always provides a way out, if we would only listen and do what he instructs. -Adam and Eve who sinned, in the midst of judgment a Savior was promised. -Noah spared from the judgment of a flood.
-Lot rescued from Sodom and Gomorrah.
-Jacob spared from his murderous brother Esau and corrupt uncle Laban.
-Joseph spared from a life in prison.
-Moses who was spared from a bloodthirsty ruler.
2. On and on I could go. The Lord is constantly trying to rescue us from the foolish decision, consequences of sin.
Example. This picture is brought to life in Jesus who came and died to rescue us and restore our relationship with our Heavenly Father, to provide a future.
-Isaiah 49:15-16, "Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See I have engraved you on the palms of my hands.
Summary: 4 elements active now that were active then:
1. An acceleration of sinfulness,
2. An approaching storm,
3. An active Savior,
IV. An able spokesman. In the days of the great flood, God had a spokesman. His name was Noah.
A. The Lord used Noah for 120 years to try to bring the ways of God, but to no avail. 1. Can you imagine preaching for 120 years and getting no converts,
-Living your life for God and putting up with the ridicule for 120 years and seeing no fruit? -It shows how hard people’s hearts had gotten.
B. Today God is looking for able spokesmen.
-To carry on the task of advancing the kingdom of God.
1. Maybe today you find yourself tired. You’ve been God’s spokesman, but you haven’t seen any results and you feel like giving up.
-I would say be a faithful spokesman for the king and in due season you shall receive your reward.
2. To others who have not been God’s spokesman because you’re afraid or embarrassed, you’re too worried about what others think.
-Step out and experience the power of God.
In Conclusion. Today we are closer to the return of Christ than we’ve ever been.
Realize there will be:
1. An acceleration of sin,
2. An approaching storm,
3. An active Savior,
4. Faithful spokesman.