The Herald Weekly Vol XVI : 15

Warnings of the Last Days

The Apostle Paul expresses much in his letter to young pastor Timothy, mentioning his concern for the believers. Paul refers to difficult times in “the last days,” (2 Tim 3:1-9).

Paul warns Timothy to watch out for certain people: Those who are lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless; those who cannot be appeased, who indulge in slandering others, have no self-control, wicked ones who do not love good things; treacherous, reckless, full of conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, appearing to be godly, but do not have the power which comes with godliness.

That is a whole lot of warnings given to a young pastor.

But what exactly do “the last days” refer to? Jesus mentions to His disciples that the Father will “raise him up on the last day…” (Jn 6:39, 40). He also refers to the resurrection of the just and the judgement of the wicked (vv. 50, 54). In John 12:48, He speaks of the judgement occurring on the last day.

In Peter’s message on Pentecost Day, he mentions that “in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams,” (Acts 2:17).

The last days seem to have started with the outpouring of the Spirit of God at Pentecost. Other writers in the New Testament also made reference to the last days. James wrote about how the riches of the wealthy will rot and their garments will be eaten by moths (Jms 5:1-6). He warns of punishment of the rich who exploit and bully the poor, who underpay their workers. He warns the wickedly rich of impending judgement in the last days for cheating those who work for them.

Peter warns of “the day of judgement and destruction of the ungodly,” (2 Pet 3:1-7). As for Paul, he talks about the apostate church; of believers departing from the faith, devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons; those who tell lies because of seared consciences, and cause others to abstain from marriage or food which God created for us, and for us to receive with thanksgiving, (1 Tim 4:1-3).

Last Days In The Church

Many pastors and preachers have also preached about “the last days”. They have made observations and have talked about the many characteristics of “the last days” manifesting in the Church itself:

  • Displaying the marks of evangelicalism but is spiritually dead
  • Emphasizing on external religion, but denying God’s Word
  • Pretending to worship God but their minds are elsewhere
  • Refusal to open their mouths to praise God
  • Refusal to worship God, preferring to worship the world’s ideas and idols
  • Turning their ears away from God’s Word, preferring fables and jokes
  • Preferring modern teachings of self- esteem
  • Preference for songs which promote self and human nature, than God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit
  • Lovers of self rather than lovers of God

We should not be shocked when we hear of such things. These were warnings given even from the time of the Pentecost. Paul warns Timothy of such in the church, and to avoid those who are self-confident of their own spirituality; those who are shallow and cannot be depended on. It is sad to hear that there are too many who are so preoccupied with self and self- centred desires that they have no time for spiritual things. They become ungrateful towards the church and its leaders, towards teachers who had taught them God’s Word and talk about leaving the church because their ears itch prefer to listen to more pleasant things.

Some churches have decided to rebuke the wayward ones openly, sometimes upsetting the status quo. Others may keep quiet about private sin in order not to stir up the majority. But those who love the weak will continue to pray for the Holy Spirit to convict the hearts of those who have grown cold and indifferent in their walk with God. We will continue to persuade and speak the truth in love. But we ourselves must persevere in the faith and in the teaching of God’s Word.

Paul does not just give warnings to Timothy of what will happen in “the last days.” He advises him on what to do in the church that Timothy was pastoring. Instead of just dwelling on the negatives, Paul gives good advice to ensure that the church continues to grow. He tells Timothy to:

a) commit to faithful men who are able to teach others also, (2 Tim 2:2);
b) persevere and endure hardness like a soldier (2 Tim 2:3);
c) continue in what you have learned and firmly believed as a child (2 Tim 3:14).

In the rest of his letters to Timothy, Paul tells him to remind the young believers to be

a) exemplary in their lives,
b) to be submissive to authority,
c) to be obedient,
d) to be ready for good work,
e) to speak evil of no one,
f) to avoid quarrelling, and
g) to be gentle and courteous

And we are to do all these because we were once lost in sin too. By the grace and mercies of God, we were redeemed through the blood of Christ shed on Calvary’s cross.

Let us be mindful of what is happening around us, in and outside the church. Let us be watchful and prayerful. Let us be the faithful ones who will ensure that God’s Word is faithfully taught through-out the generations to come. Let us continue to pray that God will revive our hearts and renew our faith in Him . . . even when others begin to wax cold and fall away in the last days.

Pastor Bob Phee

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