by Walter Olsen
Knowing the Times
For this edition of The Sonshine, I would like to review some things I have spoken of earlier. They are things that are coming more and more into focus as the days pass. They are things Christians need to give attention to in order to properly represent the truth of the Bible and to find security for their own souls.They are things that, if we are wise, we will be aware of and do our best, when and where possible, to make some preparation for. These things are alarming, especially if one does not know the Lord as Savior. If one has studied the Bible, however, these things coming to pass today are not really a surprise. We know that eventually these things would come to fruition.
We need to make a distinction , though, before we begin to enumerate some of these things. If one is a believer, he or she may be acquainted with the promise of the Lord’s return. However, many are not familiar with the truth of the rapture of the church. Remember, the church includes all people saved between the beginning of the church at Pentecost and the time when the Lord comes in the air for His own, that is, the rapture or catching away of the church. This is the time when the Lord returns in the air to receive His own unto Himself. This truth is found in such places as Jn. 14:1-6; I Cor. 15:51-57; I Thess. 4:13-18; and II Thess. 2:1-12.
Following the rapture of the church is the time of tribulation upon the earth when there will be suffering such as never has been seen before and never will be seen again. The books of Daniel and Revelation speak much of this time. The time of the tribulation is seven years after which the Lord will return to the earth and reign as the rightful King for a period of 1,000 years. (See Rev. 20:1-6).
I write on this subject because it is so easy to kind of take everything for granted. We assume that everything will continue as before. Peter warned of the scoffers of the future when he said, “Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, and saying, ‘Where is the promise of His coming...’” (II Pet. 3:3-4). As believers, we should know something of what the Bible says about the future for our own benefit and to be a better witness to those who know not the Savior.
Let’s note, then, what we can expect as time moves forward from the present. While these things are in evidence today, they will be greatly heightened in the tribulation. Keep in mind that there are no signs for the rapture of the church. It is said to be imminent. It could be at any moment. However, there are signs for the return of the Lord to the earth to reign such as in Matt. 24. What we are talking about in this paper are some general things that are in evidence because of people being turned away from God unto idols. Remember, true salvation is man being, “...turned to God from idols to serve the true and living God” (I Thess. 1:9). The things we see taking place today seem to be a foreshadowing of what will take place in the tribulation.
So, what are some things Christians should be aware of today?
We will see more and more of the results of a society without God. God is being displaced in the public square, public education, and even in many churches. In many churches God is given only token recognition. His Word is not authoritative and is mostly replaced with the opinions of man.
Paul spoke of people, “Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof...Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (II Tim. 3:5, 7).
“But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of” (II Pet. 2:1-2).
The result is that we can expect the “church” to give approval to things specifically condemned in the Scripture. Human reason has and will continue to replace the revelation of God given in the Bible.
We will see more and more corruption of our culture. Many of the good things that have helped make our country great have been twisted and warped. Our music, for the most part, used to be uplifting and inspirational. Today, so much of it is degrading and promotes the corruption of those who listen to it.
Much of what passes for art is pornographic and makes a statement against Christianity. Art and music today reflect the influence of humanism. The influence of the Enlightenment and Renaissance are very evident in our society today. (These were times when the worship of God was replaced with the worship of man)
The diminishing of the significance of human life will continue to be in evidence. All human life is sacred because all human life is of God. Remember God’s word to Jeremiah,
“Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations” (Jer. 1:5). Also, remember that man is created in the image of God! “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness...” (Gen. 1:26).
Abortion, euthanasia, and the promotion of suicide harmonize with a Godless culture. Whenever God is displaced, the value of human life is diminished.
We will see more and more of moral perversity. Romans 1 is a statement of the corruption of morals. Many things that are condemned in the Bible are promoted as normal in today’s society. However, man’s approval does not suggest God’s approval!! Men do not approve of God’s standards until they are truly born again and are led of the Holy Spirit to His truth.
After enumerating some of the sins of the flesh, Paul concludes by saying,
“Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them” (Rom. 1:32).
This is an example of man living by reason rather than by revelation.
We will see more evidence of replacing good with evil. The Bible says the time would come when they would call evil good and good evil. Indeed, the Lord warned,
“Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter” (Isa. 5:20). This trend has been long with us, but is evermore increasing as people depart more and more from God.
It would seem we will see a greater trend toward a socialist, Marxist economy. This is a world wide trend and is now very strong in the United States. We see more and more governmental control of business and finances. The ultimate goal is a one world economy eventually to be headed up by the anti-christ. It is through such a system that the anti-christ will be able to control the economy of the world. It is thus that we read,
“He causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads, and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name” (Rev. 13:16-17).
America has been greatly blessed because it was founded on Biblical principles that encouraged self dependence and individual initiative. In recent years, such principles have been discarded by many and so we rush headlong into the Satanic trap of a one world economy that eventually will bring untold misery.
It follows that we will see more of a welfare state making multitudes of people dependent upon the government for sustenance. It is under such a state that the government can control multitudes of people for its own ends. Remember, if the government can control the source of a country’s food they can very often control their actions and loyalties. It is thus that we are exhorted that if a man does not work, neither shall he eat.
There will be a continuing trend to the persecution of Christians and the removal of all Christian symbols. There has always been persecution of true believers, but this trend will continue. A godless society will approve anything except the reminder of the truth and reality of Jesus Christ. The New Age Movement is a conglomeration of anything and everything except the truth that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and that He died for the sins of man.
Akin to other politically correct trends, there will be an increasing tolerance of any religion that is not Christian. The New Age Movement, so common in our society today, promotes any and every religion except Biblical Christianity. The Apostle Paul warned of this when he said of those,
“Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away...They are, “Ever learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (II Tim. 3:5,7).
There will be an increase in the dissemination of humanistic philosophy. This is a philosophy that believes that man, not God, is in control of all things. Man himself has the solution to all of the problems of the day. The god they worship is the god within each of them. This philosophy is endorsed by many public institutions today.
There will be an increase in Satanic, demonic influence in society. This seems to be increasing every day but will come full bloom in the tribulation when the body of Christ, that is, the church, has been removed from the earth. Remember, “For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work: only He who now restrains will do so, until He is taken out of the way” (II Thess. 2:7).
Spiritual deception will be rampant. Again, this will come to fruition in the tribulation. Remember,
“The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness” (II Thess. 2:9-12).0
There will be more evidence of giving place to powerful but demonic leadership in many places. The history of nations demonstrates this, but this will be culminated in the person of the anti-christ who will be looked to in the hopes that he can “solve” the problems of the world. It is out of great chaos that the anti-christ will arise to power. He will seem to be successful for a period of time and most of the world will willingly follow him. It is not until the middle of the tribulation when he breaks his covenant with Israel that he will be seen for who he truly is, the one who opposes all that is of Jesus Christ Himself. He will indeed be Satan’s man on earth accomplishing his goals for humanity. Eventually, of course he will be cast into the lake of fire for all eternity.
Now, how is the believer to protect himself or herself from the onslaught of such godless corruption? Let’s consider a few very significant and helpful things.
Be sure of your own salvation. Know the truth of the Bible for yourself and don’t be satisfied with the popular views of salvation, usually including some form of good works. There is only one means of salvation and that is the sacrifice that Jesus made when He shed His blood on the cross for our sins. In speaking of Christ’s sacrifice, Paul said, “In whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sin, according to the riches of His grace” (Eph. 1:7). Salvation is by God’s grace through faith in His work on our behalf. Salvation is by believing and accepting for ourselves what Jesus did for us personally.
Know the truth of the Bible regarding the issues of the day. What does the Bible say about such things as moral perversity, the regard for human life, and the place of government in our lives? To be ignorant of these things is to be led easily into the deception of the day.
Guard your personal relationship with the Lord. At least two things are important here:
Build into your life the precious truths of God’s Word. You will not be able to resist the evil influences of the world if you are not regularly studying the Bible for yourself. It is through your study of the Bible that the Lord will be able to minister to your heart on a personal basis. We are reminded, “Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth...” (Eph. 6:14). Attendance at a Bible believing church and sitting under the preaching of the Word of God is crucial.
Don’t let things enter that will rob you of your peace and confidence in Him. It is a righteous life that pleases God and secures His blessing. Be sure to have on, ...“the breastplate of righteousness” (Eph. 6:14).
Know what it is to, “Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked [one], (Eph. 6:16). Faith is essential to God’s blessing and protection. Don’t leave home without it!
Give much time and place to earnest prayer. Indeed, we should be “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit...” (Eph. 6:18).
Spend time with other growing believers. Avoiding or ignoring time with other believers places one in a vulnerable position, spiritually speaking. A Bible believing local church is God’s plan for such fellowship.
Be looking for the Lord’s return! Paul exhorted believers to be, “Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ” (Titus 3:13).
Is there trouble, disturbance, and ungodliness abroad in the world today? Yes, but remember, “...greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world” (I Jn. 4:4). Let your confidence be in Him who loves you and promises to be your eternal Protector. Indeed, “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in Me” (Jn. 14:1).
So far in December we have had only a light dusting of snow. Who knows what the future will bring, though?! Now we know!! The blizzard of Dec. 23!
On December 11th, it was my privilege to conduct the funeral service for a long time friend, Colleen Ristau. It was held in the Woodside Church west of Baldwin.
We enjoyed two excellent Christmas programs in our local church, one put on by the children and the other by adults.
Things are very different in our country now, but we have been able to spend a little time with our family. How sweet heaven will be when and where there will be no more separations!!
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