The End of The Age
The topic for today¡¦s Gospel Sunday sermon is ¡§Signs of the End of The Age¡¨. The disciples once asked Jesus what sign there would be of His Second Coming and of the end of the age. Jesus¡¦ reply was that in the days leading to the end, false Messiahs would appear to deceive people. There would be rumors of wars. Nation would rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There would be famines and earthquakes in various places. For the sake of the name of the Lord, Christians would be persecuted, put to death, and hated by all nations. (Matthew 24:10-12) The signs and symbols of the last days, besides tensions in the relationships of countries and peoples and the proliferation of natural disasters, will in particular be an increase in the transgressions of man and the extreme deterioration of morality.
The apostle Paul had the following penetrating description of society and human nature in the last days: ¡§But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God.¡¨ (2 Timothy 3:1-4) In the Bible, the last days refer to the period of time just before the Second Coming of Christ, generally known as the end of the age. Paul described it as terrible times. Here ¡§terrible¡¨ can also be translated as ¡§violent¡¨, meaning frightful, difficult and making one feel impotent. This term only appears twice in the New Testament, first in Matthew 8:28 to describe demon-possessed men coming from the tombs as being very ¡§violent¡¨. Things that happen in the last days truly generate shock and a gruesome feeling. Looking at the daily news reports, I¡¦m sure you will all agree with my viewpoint.
A recent news article came out of Taoyuan Municipality in Taiwan. A 3-year old boy was being foster-cared at a friend¡¦s house because his parents had been incarcerated for crimes. This child was tortured to death by the man who supposedly had custody. According to the coroner, the skin on the lower part of the boy¡¦s body was cankerous, his left arm was broken, and his thighs and head were inflamed and covered with bruises. The man, surnamed Chang, was nonchalant about the child¡¦s tormented death. He even had an elephant tattooed onto the boy¡¦s penis! Concerning this, his incredible response was, ¡§It¡¦s just for fun¡¨. How can such abominable acts be visited onto a weak, helpless 3-year old infant? This nauseating behaviour is nothing less than beastly. Yet, similarly violent episodes are regularly reported in the press, and appalling crimes that are still to be uncovered seem too numerous to imagine. Now, the moment has been reached when the inundation of iniquity and the utter depletion of man¡¦s good conscience are causes for panic and trepidation.
From Adam, the ancestor of man, we have inherited the sinful nature, and from our infancy carry evil thoughts in our hearts. Although internally, we have morality and good conscience as reminders and externally, there is the scrutiny of education and societal rules and laws against the latent potential of sin that lies within our nature, yet it is hard to rectify and ameliorate. When opportunity or temptation presents itself, man will sin. Before holy and glorious God, man is totally corrupted. If not for the mercy and indulgence of the Lord, we would all have been condemned and punished long ago. From the Bible we learned that Sodom was a city full of iniquity. After years of compassion and patience, God finally brought fire down from heaven to punish that city. In these last days of the world, man¡¦s sins and corruption are nothing if not more than that of the Sodomites. We can really see from all the trespasses during these times that the day when our Lord Jesus Christ comes to lay down His judgment is very near. Our Lord is seemingly standing just outside the door.
Christians must be vigilant, have patience to the end, trust and rely on Christ, and not give up mid way. If we hold firmly to the word that was preached, we will be saved by this Gospel. (1 Corinthians 15:2) On the other hand, if on this day you do not yet know the one true God, and do not understand that Jesus Christ is the redeemer of sinners, I sincerely urge you to take this opportunity, admit and repent your sins to God, and trust and rely on our Saviour Jesus Christ. For this is still the time when God indulges and accepts the sinner, and are still the days when He generously bestows His salvation.
¡§As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, O house of Israel?¡¨ (Ezekiel 33:11)
By: Daniel To