God's truth for today's world

Signs of the Times Message Introduction

Currently, we are talking about “Understanding the End Times.” The term “end times” does not occur in the Bible, which generally uses the phrase “the last days.” I use the terms end times and last days interchangeably. Why would we want to study and understand the end times? Many people think that the end times are way off in the future and have no practical relevance for our lives today. However, in this message series, we have already established that according to the Bible, we are living in the last days. The last days spans the time from Jesus’ ascension into heaven until Jesus returns at His second coming. Therefore, a study of the last days is important to us today, because we are living in those last days. The instructions that God gives in His Word concerning the end times apply to us today.

The purpose of prophetic Scriptures is not for us to be able to figure out exactly when and how everything is going to unfold in the future. The purpose of prophetic Scripture is to help us to live for and obey God right now, in the year 2014 of the last days.

2 Peter 3:3-4 (NIV)  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.”

Since we’re living in the last days, we can expect to have to deal with scoffers. Scoffers are unbelievers who make fun of believers in the second coming of Jesus. They say that everything is going on today as it has from the beginning of time and there is no of God, nor of Jesus coming again. Scoffers say that God’s Word is just full of fairy tales. Have you heard any scoffers recently, scoffing at God and His Word? Yes, I’m sure that you have. Scoffers are increasingly bold and all around us. We’re going to look at the entire passage in 2 Peter 3 in an upcoming message, however, today, we want to understand the direction that history is moving in the last days. Everything is not going on as it has since the beginning.

The Bible speaks of many signs that are going to happen in the last days before the coming of Jesus.

Today, my message is entitled “Signs of the Times.”

Mark 13:1-2 (NIV)  As he was leaving the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher! What massive stones! What magnificent buildings!”  “Do you see all these great buildings?” replied Jesus. “Not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.”

Today, we’re going to look at Mark 13 and cover some of the most important points. The passage begins with Jesus’ disciples admiring the magnificent temple in Jerusalem. Jesus replies, that the temple they are admiring will soon be completely destroyed.

Mark 13:3-4 (NIV)  As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John and Andrew asked him privately,  “Tell us, when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that they are all about to be fulfilled?”

So, the disciples ask Jesus when the temple will be destroyed and what the sign that it would happen soon. The rest of Mark 13, is Jesus’ answer to their questions. He explained to them that the temple would be destroyed during the time that the current generation was alive. In fact, the temple was completely destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD. But Jesus’ answer to the disciples was about more than the destruction of the temple. Jesus’ answers in this chapter described the time of the destruction of the temple as a type of what was going to happen in the last days before the return of Jesus Christ. So, let’s see how Jesus’ words should affect our lives and view of the future, right now.

Don’t be deceived in the last days

Mark 13:5-6 (NIV)  Jesus said to them: “Watch out that no one deceives you.  Many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am he,’ and will deceive many.

One of the characteristics of the last days is that many will be deceived. In verse 22, Jesus says that false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform signs and miracles to deceive people into following them and their teaching. What type of deception is Jesus warning us about? It is being deceived regarding following a religion, a religious leader or religious teaching that is not true and based on God’s Word. As the last days continue, this type of deception will increase.

  • Many today believe that all religions worship the same God and provide a way to heaven. This is deception.
  • Many churches today proclaim to be Christian, but are not. This is deception.
  • Many Christian leaders today teach doctrine that is not in God’s Word. This also is deception.

How can we watch out so that no one deceives us? By immersing our lives in God’s Word, being committed to biblical church like Life Church and learning to hear the voice of God’s Spirit continually. In the last days …

Wars will continue

Mark 13:7 (NIV)  When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come.

Wars and rumors of wars must happen, they are part of the last days. Don’t be alarmed or disturbed by the violence of wars. War is sometimes necessary to protect even a godly nation against the evil ambitions of other nations. At other times, God uses war to bring judgment on ungodly nations. Wars are not outside of God’s control. However, wars will continue throughout the last days until the end. In the last days …

Birth pains will increase

Mark 13:8 (NIV)  Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places, and famines. These are the beginning of birth pains.

Besides wars and conflicts between nations and kingdoms, there will be upheavals in the natural order. Earthquakes and famines are examples cited by Jesus. All these terrible things that we have been talking about are the beginning of birth pains. If there are birth pains then something must be getting ready to be birthed. What is going to be birthed at the end of time? Romans 8:18f tells us. The entire creation is groaning in birth pains, waiting to be born into the glorious freedom of the children of God. In other words, the entire creation is waiting for the birth of the new heavens and new earth, where there will be no more curse. As believers, we are awaiting being born into our new resurrected and glorified bodies. The birthing process is going to be intense and violent, for all the forces of hell are poised to attempt to stop the birth.

Don’t be deceived, Jesus has told us what’s going on in the last days. Let’s think a bit more about how to escape deception in the end times. If many are going to be deceived, how many won’t be deceived? A few or the minority. Don’t follow the majority, you’ll end up being deceived. Invest time in studying God’s Word for yourself. Understand that many churches and religious leaders are deceiving people and this will continue to increase. Find out what your friends and relatives are listening to and reading and guide them to the truth of Jesus Christ and away from deception. This brings us to the next important command of Jesus for the end times.

Be a witness for Jesus

Mark 13:9 (NIV)  “You must be on your guard. You will be handed over to the local councils and flogged in the synagogues. On account of me you will stand before governors and kings as witnesses to them.

In the last days, every true believer will be persecuted because of their faith in Jesus Christ. The enemy will use the government and various political leaders to try to stop the spread of the gospel in the last days. Yet, we are called to be witnesses, even when we must stand before judges or councils. While we must be on our guard, we mustn’t cower in fear, but boldly bear witness to Jesus and the truth of God’s Word in our society. As we …

Spread the Gospel to all nations

Mark 13:10 (NIV)  And the gospel must first be preached to all nations.

What is God’s objective in the last days? That the gospel be preached to all nations, that everyone has an opportunity to repent of their sin and turn in faith to Jesus Christ. In fact, as we’ll see in another Sunday, the reason that Jesus has not come back yet is that He is being patient, giving lost people more time to repent and become believers. As you are witnesses ..

The Holy Spirit will guide you

Mark 13:11 (NIV)  Whenever you are arrested and brought to trial, do not worry beforehand about what to say. Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit.

Jesus promises that in the last days, He has not left us alone to face hardship and persecution. The Holy Spirit is with you and He will guide you, giving you the words to say, even as you may be arrested by the government or even worse.

These things are happening now to our Christian brothers and sisters across the world, especially at the hands of Muslims. Watch with me a video about a Christian in Syria, called Liena’a Prayer from Voice of the Martyrs.

Liena and her family are being witnesses for Jesus in very difficult times. Pray for them. Then ask yourself the question. Am I being faithful as a witness for Jesus right now, as Liena is? If not, ask God to help you do your part, while there still is religious freedom in America, to spread the Gospel.

Stand firm to the end

Mark 13:13 (NIV)  All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.

As the last days continue, the enemies of the cross will hate all true believers. The temptation will come to turn away from our love for Jesus or hide our beliefs so that others won’t hate us. But Jesus warns us, only those who stand firm in their belief and witness to the end will be saved. Those who renounce their faith, those who prefer the love of man to the love of God will be lost. Stand firm to the end of the last days. In the last days …

There will be days of great distress

Mark 13:19 (NIV)  because those will be days of distress unequaled from the beginning, when God created the world, until now–and never to be equaled again.

What happened during the destruction of the Jerusalem temple in 70 AD by the Romans was horrific. The Romans laid siege to the city for 6 months and most that did not die of starvation, were killed at the fall of the city by the Romans. The fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the temple were the judgment of God on the Jewish nation for not recognizing that Jesus was their Messiah. Those days of distress are a foretaste of the final judgment that will come on the world for refusing to believe in Jesus. The Bible speaks of days of great distress, a great tribulation, before the return of Jesus Christ. When Jesus comes, it won’t be a secret coming that only a select few notice.

Everyone will see Jesus’ return

Mark 13:26 (NIV)  “At that time men will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory.

The Son of Man is Jesus, who will come in the clouds with power and glory as a conquering king. He will come in judgment on sin and all evil. When Jesus returns, there will be no more opportunity to believe, as each person’s beliefs in life will determine their eternal destiny. When He returns …

Jesus will gather all believers

Mark 13:27 (NIV)  And he will send his angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of the heavens.

At the end of the last days, Jesus will return and gather all believers, both those who have died and those still alive to be with Him forever. In a future message, we’ll be talking more about the resurrection from the dead of believers at the second coming. The return of Jesus Christ will usher in a new heavens and new earth in which righteousness reigns. A place where all sin and evil has been removed. A place of paradise restored where all true believers, the church, the bride of Christ, will spend eternity with Jesus.

Jesus ends His teaching in verse 33 with a final exhortation.

Mark 13:33 (NIV)  Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come.

In other words, live as though Jesus were coming today, because He could come today. Prophecy is not meant to tell us when Jesus is coming back, it could be at any time. The Bible teaches the imminent return of Christ, which means that He could come back at any time. At some point in history, the Gospel will be proclaimed to all nations, and Jesus will return. With today’s technology, the means to reach the people of the world has never been greater. We must be alert, we must be on guard, Jesus is coming back.

Today, we’ve looked at Jesus’ teaching on the signs of the times from Mark 13. Here are the take home points from Jesus’ prophetic teaching. Don’t be deceived by false teaching or false leaders. The upheaval in the world around us is the birth pains of what Jesus will do when He returns. We must be faithful in our main task in the world, being a witness for Jesus. The Holy Spirit will empower and guide us. We will accomplish our mission, the Gospel will be preached to all nations before Jesus returns. Stand firm to the end, don’t be deceived, don’t be discouraged, don’t give up on your mission. Those who stand firm to the end will be saved and spend eternity with Jesus.

Message Audio, Outline & Study Guide

Understanding the End Times Message Series

Jesus Will Come Back (John 14)
Wrestling with Radical Evil (2 Thessalonians 2)
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