On Easter weekend, we did a survey and compiled your most asked questions. Those questions are the roadmap for this series called You Asked For It.
This weekend, we took a look at what the Bible had to say about How the World Will End.
It’s a great question. How DOES the world end? It’s one of the questions that the disciples asked 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?'” Matthew 24:3 (NIV)
The disciples wanted to know “when” it will happen and the warning signs. For 51 verses in Matthew 24, Jesus lays out what is going to happen. He gives us the “what” and the warning signs, but He doesn’t give us the “when”.
“No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, not the Son, but only the Father.” Matthew 24:36 (NIV)
One of the most crucial signs that the end is near is found in a statement that Jesus makes:
“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 (NIV)
The Greek word for nations is the word ethnos which doesn’t mean a geographic boundary of a nation, but ethnicity or people group. There are more people groups than there are countries. The UN lists around 190 countries on the planet. But there are lots of ethnicities, distinct people groups all over the world.
We are the first generation in history that is about to take the gospel to every people group. We are on the verge of completing the Great Commission.
There are still a lot of small people groups in remote places that have not heard the Gospel. There are people groups that do not have a single believer, a Bible in their language or a church in their culture.
In the year 2000, there were 3,000 unengaged people groups. This year, there are 1,061 unengaged people groups. We are closing in on fulfilling the Great Commission.
“First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, ‘Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.’ But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and by water. By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.” 2 Peter 3:3-7 (NIV)
Verses 5-7 are referring to the creation account in Genesis where God picked a day and said, “Let there be…” and the heavens and the earth were created by God. It’s also referring to Noah, the ark and the flood. God picked another day and said, “I’ve had enough of these evil people.” And He destroyed the world and everyone and everything on it, except for Noah’s family and the animals they had in the Ark. By the same word, God is going to pick a day, that only He knows, and destroy the earth by fire.
“But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.” 2 Peter 3:8 (NIV)
Jewish scholars believe this verse is referring to what they call a Seven Day Earth. If a day equals a thousand years, and there were 7 days in creation, then the earth is going to last 7,000 years. There were 4,000 years from Adam to Christ, 2,000 years from Christ to the present, that would mean you’ve got another 1,000 years left.
So many things leave us feeling uncertain, but here is one thing we can be sure of,
“The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9 (NIV)
Picture it like this: God is sitting on His throne with Jesus at His right hand in heaven. God looks down at the earth and sees all the wicked things going on and He turns to Jesus and says, “Go get the church out of there.” Jesus jumps up because He is ready. The church is His bride this is His wedding day. Jesus gets on His white horse to come get us, the Church, and then God says, “Wait! Wait a minute. I see some more people we can reach, so let’s just wait.”
God is not in a hurry to judge people. He is patiently waiting for people to come to Him.
“But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare.” 2 Peter 3:10 (NIV)
What Will Lead Up to the World’s Destruction?
- People will be distracted with life.
We all need to ask ourselves, “How much of this world am I focused on? How much of heaven am I focused on?” Don’t get distracted with the things of this world to the point that you aren’t ready for the end of your life.
“As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away.” Matthew 24:37-39 (NIV)
People in Noah’s day were distracted with life. They weren’t paying attention to what was happening around them.
- People will forget God.
Today in China, over 35,000 people a day are coming to faith in Christ. The Gospel is surging in China.
The Gospel is surging in places where it has never been heard before. But in places that have had the Gospel for a long time, it’s declining.
“Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold.” Matthew 24:12 (NIV)
Because of this wickedness, you have to guard your heart, your marriage, your kids, your faith.
- People will not be ready.
“Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left. Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.” Matthew 24:40-42 (NIV)
“For you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.” 1 Thessalonians 5:2 (NIV)
The book of Revelation tells us what to look for in the end. People look at the book of Revelation and feel overwhelmed, but let’s break it down into 10 events.
Ten Events in the book of Revelation
1. The Church Age – Revelation 2-3
This age started with the birth of the Church in Acts chapter 2 and it continues into the end times.
2. The Rapture – Revelation 4:1
The Rapture is when God snatches all the Christians off of the earth.
3. The Rise of the Antichrist – Revelation 6
The Antichrist is the one who brokers a deal and signs a treaty with Israel to rebuild their temple. The Jews are ready to go. All they need is a signature on a treaty from the Antichrist.
4. The Tribulation – Revelation 6-19
Most of the book of Revelation is about the seven years of Tribulation. This is where the world falls apart with plagues, famines, wars and death. God will bring His judgement upon the earth. There will be people who believe in Jesus Christ during this time, but it’s going to be very hard for them.
5. The Second Coming of Christ – Revelation 19
Praise God! Jesus is going to come back and make everything right. He is going to defeat the enemies of God and win the victory!
6. The Marriage Supper of the Lamb – Revelation 19
At this point, Jesus is going to take Satan and the Antichrist and bury them in a bottomless grave. With them will go all addiction, depression, pornography, deceit, depression, confusion, anxiety, greed and destruction. Then Jesus is going to throw a party.
7. The Millennium – Revelation 20:6
This will be a thousand year reign of Christ on the earth. We’ll get to see what it’s like to live on earth with Jesus as Lord of all!
8. The Last Rebellion – Revelation 20:7-10
God will let Satan out of the bottomless pit to one more time test the earth so that people born during the Millennium will have their chance to choose or reject Jesus.
9. The Great White Throne Judgement– Revelation 20:11-15
If you’re a Christian, you won’t be a part of this. Your judgment happens at the Judgment Seat of Christ. This is where everyone living and dead who rejected Jesus will have their day in court.
10. New Heaven and New Earth – Revelation 21-22
The new heaven and new earth will be much like the garden of Eden. We will get to live there and work there and do incredible things.
The incredible things you will get to do in heaven, will depend on how you live your life on earth.
The real question when studying the end times is, “How does it change my life?” You can have the most accurate end times chart, but if it doesn’t affect your life, it’s worthless. Whenever the disciples wanted to talk about prophecy, Jesus would quickly switch the conversation to evangelism. He wants His follower’s primary focus to be on their mission in the world.
So What Should We Do?
First, we should think clearly in light of the end times.
“The end of all things is near therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray.” 1 Peter 4:7 (NIV)
Prayer is what helps you to stay clear minded. Prayer unleashes the fruit of the Spirit so you can be self-controlled. Why do I need to think clearly about my life?
“For I have told you often before, and I say it again with tears in my eyes, that there are many whose conduct shows they are really enemies of the cross of Christ. They are headed for destruction. Their god is their appetite, they brag about shameful things, and they think only about this life here on earth.
But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for Him to return as our Savior. He will take our weak mortal bodies and change them into glorious bodies like His own, using the same power with which he will bring everything under his control.” Philippians 3:18-21 (NLT)
Next, we should focus on relationships.
“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.” 1 Peter 4:8-9 (NIV)
We focus on relationships because people are the only thing you’re going to take with you to heaven. People are the only thing that will last through out eternity. Everything else is going to burn up with a fervent heat.
We should also focus on making a difference here on earth.
“Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ.” 1 Peter 4:10-11 (NIV)
You are gifted! When you became a believer, God gave you a spiritual gift that He wants you to use in the church and serve others. It’s not a self-serving gift, it’s a gift to serve others.
Your spiritual gift is the delivery system that God uses to get His grace to the world.
So God wants you to discover your spiritual gift. He wants you to develop and deploy your gift so that it benefits other people and builds up the church.
“If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ.” 1 Peter 4:10-11 (NIV)
Finally, we must receive God’s grace if we are to effectively make a difference with the days God has entrusted to us.
“Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.
So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him. Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him. He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.
Therefore, dear friends, since you have been forewarned, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of the lawless and fall from your secure position. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.” 2 Peter 3:11-18 NIV
Review what you talked about last week on the topic of navigating seasons of life.
What priorities did you adjust for the season of life you are in? How were you able to help others this past week with the season they are navigating?
To hear the sermon online, go to rockbrook.org/sermons or listen to our podcast on iTunes or Google Play Music.
Read 2 Peter 3:3-11
Living in the Last Days: With which of these dangers of the last days do you struggle?
1. People will be distracted with life. Matthew 24:37-39
2. People will forget God. Matthew 24:12
3. People will not be ready. Matthew 24:40-42 1 Thessalonians 5:2 Matthew 25:1-13
It is not by accident or oversight that the Bible does not define the “time” of the end. What it does describe in great detail is what our lives should be like when we live out our last days on this earth.
So What Should I Do?
1. I should think clearly. 1 Peter 4:7 Philippians 3:18-21
2. I should focus on relationships. 1 Peter 4:8-9
3. I should make a difference. 1 Peter 4:10-11
4. I should receive God’s grace. 2 Peter 3:11 Isaiah 55:6-7
What does it mean to be “eternally focused”?
What changes can we make in our lives to assure that we are investing our lives, not just spending them?
Have you received God’s grace for your last days?
Tell Someone Else
Who do you need to share this message with this week?
How can you be an effective dispenser of God’s grace in your relationships this week? Who could you point to Christ?
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