Are we living in the End Times as referred to by Jesus in Matthew 24&25?

Are we living in the End Times as referred to by Jesus in Matthew 24&25?

For nearly 2000 years, Christians have been asking this question. Each generation has read what Jesus said and wondered if the end was soon. Here’s what Matthew recorded in his account of the life and teaching of Jesus.

As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. “Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”

Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many. You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.”

Matthew 24:3-8

The sinful nature of man assures us that there will be wars. Famines and earthquakes are common occurrences on this planet, so while modern communications makes us more aware of them, one cannot use them to define End Times. What Jesus next describes have been constants for two millennia.

“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 wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.”

Matthew 24:9-13

Persecution of Christians has gotten worse in many parts of the world, most notably during the past century in China, Cambodia, Burma, North Korea, Cuba, and the Soviet Union. For generations, Christians have been persecuted in majority Muslim countries as well as in India, a predominantly Hindu nation. What Jesus says next refers to something that is definitely taking place in our time.

“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 24:14

Today, as never before, electronic communications and global travel have made it realistically possible for everyone on earth to learn of Jesus. In the next 28 verses, Jesus describes what the end will look like and issues a warning to be vigilent because no one knows when Jesus will return marking the end of the world as we know it.

“Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.”

Matthew 24:42

In Chapter 25, Jesus tells three parables to describe the End Times. So, are we living in the End Times? We can’t know for sure, but we are closer both in time and in fulfillment of prophecy with many signs that we must heed. More importantly, we can say with certainty that each of us is in our end times. We will either be alive when Jesus returns or we will be dead. Either way, we will have to answer for the decisions we make today. Will you be saved from eternal separation from God, or will you enjoy infinite peace and contentment beyond anything you can imagine? If you haven’t made a decision to follow Jesus, We encourage you to check out our post, How does one become a Christian? 

What is evil?

What is evil?

People use the word evil to describe all sorts of behavior. More often than not, evil is associated with people other than themselves or with actions with which they disagree. Politicians are labeled as evil when they take a position that is at odds with the person or group calling them evil. Some people argue that abortion is evil because it involves the taking of innocent lives. Others argue that opponents of abortion are evil because they want to force women to carry an unwanted baby to term. Some people argue that allowing people to own “weapons of war” is evil while others brand as evil, those who want to deny them the right to own those weapons.

It is interesting that some philosophers, ethicists and religious leaders have suggested that evil is just an illusion. That it is a condition of the mortal mind. Others have said it is a result of ignorance and superstitions and if you don’t think about it evil will go away.

Our life experiences argue otherwise. While we may not brand as evil those with whom we disagree, we nonetheless recognize that evil is all around us. We lock our cars and houses. We install security systems. We support laws against murder, rape, child abduction, lying under oath, etc. We recognize the manifestations of evil, and as Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart wrote in his concurring opinion in the 1964 Jacobellis v. Ohio case, with respect to identifying hard-core pornography, “I know it when I see it.”

We know evil when we see it because the creater God who made us, planted within us a recognition of right and wrong. It came about when Adam and Eve used their gift of free will to disobey God. There was only one commandment and they chose not to keep it. At that moment the human race and the earth began to experience the opposite of God’s goodness, evil.

Evil is the absence of God. We see it expressed in pain, suffering, discord, war and death. Unfortunately, many refuse to recognize evil because they believe that they know more than God knows. They don’t see that they are going down a dead-end road. All men are evil and are capable of doing evil things. When Jesus was teaching he reinforced what we think of as the Ten Commandments, pointing out that men and women are not capable of enjoying a right-relationship with God because of the evil that infests their thinking.

That’s why Jesus did more than teach, he willingly died on a cross to carry all the sins of the world to the grave, and then rose again to assure us that eternal life with God is possible. He only asks that each of us accept his free gift of atonement for our evil lives. That’s the ‘good news’ of Jesus’ triumph over evil. God reigns and one day all evil will be overthrown. All those who put their trust in him will live eternally where there is no pain, no suffering and no death.

If you would like to know how you can enjoy the assurance of forgiveness for your sins, we wncourage you to read our postHow does one become a Christian? 

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How do we know that Jesus was a real historical figure?

How do we know that Jesus was a real historical figure?

The historical writings of Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Paul and Peter are among the best preserved and attested to of all ancient writings. However, for those who seek additional corroboration of the historical Jesus, one of the best sources is Josephus. This Jewish historian, who was born in Jerusalem in AD 37 and died in Rome in AD 97, mentioned Jesus by name and made many allusions to him in the book, The Antiquities.

Concerning Jesus, Josephus wrote: “Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man; for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews and many of the Gentiles. He was the Christ. And when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men among us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him; for he appeared to them alive again on the third day; as the divine Prophets had foretold these and 10,000 other wonderful things concerning him. And the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day.” (Book 18, Chapter3)

Also paralleling the New Testament is a body of literature called the Apocrypha. While never included in either the Hebrew or Christian Bible, they echo similar evidences about Jesus and his times and his miracles at his teachings. Further there are the writings of Tacitus (ca. AD 56 – ca. 117) that also mention Christ, crucifixion by Pontius Pilate and other reports of the activities of Christians, followers of Jesus Christ. There is no doubt from the historical records that Jesus was a real person.

However, if you ask believers how they know that Jesus was a real person, your answer is likely the chorus from a favorite Christian hymn, “You ask me how I know he lives. He lives within my heart.” The hundreds of millions of followers of Jesus over the centuries is more than enough evidence in itself that Jesus is for real. Is Jesus a real figure for you? Do you know him personally as your Lord and Savior? God wants you to know him. (John 3:16) If you would like to learn more, please check out the answer to the question: How does one become a Christian?

What are the glorious riches in Christ that Paul writes about?

What are the glorious riches in Christ that Paul writes about?

In writing to the church in the Greek city of Philippi, Paul commends the saints and thanks them for their support of his ministry. In closing, he assures them “my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19) That’s a pretty bold statement and yet many Christians never think about the blessings that Paul is referring to. If they did, they would be full of joy every moment of every day even in the trials that come their way. Here is a partial list of those riches:

• Redemption from sin–the separation from God
• Salvation from eternal damnation and a promise of an eternity in the presence of God where there is no sorrow, pain or death
• Wisdom and understanding to make right choices
• Objective moral standards that bring about right relationships with one another and a fair and just society
• Peace, love, joy, kindness, patience and hope
• Self-restraint and guidance for life decisions
• Endurance, loyalty, perseverance
• Grace, healing, mercy and forgiveness
• Meaning and purpose for life…and much more

 When one considers the riches of being a child of God, the fleeting worldly pleasures pale in comparison. Paul knew what he was writing about. While he experienced all manner of pain, suffering, rejection, and imprisonment, he found that God continually met all his needs. He embraced the abundant riches provided through the death and resurrection of Jesus the messiah and kept his eye on the prize of eternal life with his heavenly father.

Would you like to know more about how you can inherit God’s riches by becoming his child and hence his heir? Click now to read about how you can become a Christian.

 

 

 

What’s good about Good Friday?

What’s good about Good Friday?

There is nothing good about Good Friday until you see it from God’s perspective. Jesus didn’t have to give himself up to be crucified on a Roman cross. He didn’t have to die. However, he loved you and me so much that he chose to die in our place so that we would not have to suffer the punishment for our sins.

Throughout history, God sought to bring sinful mankind back into relationship with himself. That relationship had been broken by Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden when they disobeyed God and ate the forbidden fruit (Genesis 3:1-24). So God established a plan for restoration, a restoration that began with the setting apart of Abraham’s family and concluded with the death and resurrection of Jesus and the sending of the Holy Spirit.

To understand the restoration process, we need to understand the concept of a blood sacrifice as atonement for sin. That goes back to the time when man rebelled against God and the perfect creation he made for human beings. This sacrifice was codified by God when he set apart the Israelites and provided them with guidelines for living. That law included a system of sacrifices to atone for different sins. Among the sacrifices were those of animals without blemish, signifying perfection. (Leviticus 22:20) These sacrifices had to be repeated over and over since people kept sinning against God.

Through the death of Jesus, God provided a once-for-all way, for the sins of men and women to be atoned. In the New Testament, we read that John the Baptist recognized Jesus as “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29) This is a reference to the perfect, sacrificial lamb that was called for in the Old Testament law.

Another John, the disciple of Jesus, who wrote an eyewitness account of the three years he spent with Jesus, explained the ultimate sacrifice that was made by Jesus, the Messiah. “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” (John 3:17) This made Jesus the ultimate sacrifice —satisfying for all time the requirements of God’s justice.

The apostle Paul wrote that “Christ died for our sins, according to Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3) because “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). This simple statement of fact reminds us that our personal sin, our rebellion from God, has us heading to judgment and eternal separation from God.

However, we do not have to suffer throughout all eternity.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

John 3:16

The sacrifice of Jesus on the cross shows the depths of God’s love for us. (Romans 5:6-8) But it is through his resurrection that we can see God’s triumph over death. When we acknowledge that we are sinners deserving of death and accept the gift of Jesus’s sacrifice on our behalf, we can be set free of the condemnation of sin and begin a journey that will culminate in everlasting life in the presence of God. Read more in the answer to the question: How does one become a Christian?

Why am I afraid to share my Christian Faith?

Why am I afraid to share my Christian Faith?

Sharing your Christian faith involves risk and potential failure. Sometimes it could even be embarrassing. Yet there is an urgency about sharing your faith in Christ with those you care about because we don’t know who else might tell them. Without faith in Christ, if they die, they are condemned to eternal separation from God in a place where there is eternal pain and suffering.

The Bible is pretty clear:

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

John 14:6

If one is to remain silent and leave a person to his or her fate that doesn’t sound much like a friend. The better way is to ask God to give you the courage to take the bold step of communicating the gospel message of Christ in a loving and considerate manner. Remember, success is not dependent upon you. You have been commissioned to do the sharing and God’s Holy Spirit does the convicting and the saving. So, once you realize that you can’t do the saving, you’re more like the person tossing a life preserver to a drowning friend. That friend will be encouraged by the Holy Spirit to seize the ring, but ultimately the decision to take hold is the friend’s alone. Don’t feel as if you have to “make the sale.” all you have to do is start the conversation.

How Can I Share My Faith Without an Argument?’ is a free downloadable booklet in the RBC Ministries Discover Series that is a great resource for anyone wanting to let others in on the greatest news in the history of mankind.

When you recognize that you just have to be faithful and that the outcome is in God’s control the fear of failure is gone. God will give you the courage and the right words to share. The more often you share your story about how Jesus changed your life and how it will change others, you will discover that each time it becomes easier. Pray, trust and act. The world needs Jesus more than anything else.