Pastor Donald J. Gettys
Do you think we're in the last days? I believe we are.
Some folk are calling the Sunshine State the Hurricane state (Florida). I read that, "Not since 1886 have so many hurricanes struck one American state in a single season....The frequency of weather disasters has tripled since the 1960's." Tripled! Does that ring a bell? I think we are living in the last days.
Isaiah 24:4 (KJV) says, "The earth.... fadeth away..." Matthew 24:22. If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened.
We would expect that the last days would heat up weather-wise. The heat, the temperatures would be more intense. Heat is often connected with the judgment day. In Daniel's day there was a lot of heat when his friends were in the fire and the judgment was about to come. In our day, and in the end of time there will be a warmer experience. (See 2 Peter 3:7). Revelation 16:8, 9. The fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and the sun was given power to scorch people with fire. They were seared by the intense heat and they cursed the name of God...
We would expect that in the last days the earth would indeed get hotter. Eventually it will really get hot. In the final day the burning of the earth will be called the "hell-fire." Well our planet is warming up! The Washington Post had an article last month that said something very interesting. It said, "Strange things are happening to the world's weather. For the first time in recorded history, a hurricane formed this past March in the waters off South America, more than a thousand miles South of the Equator." That's never happened in recorded history. This article goes on in the Washington Post, "The warmer the oceans get the more frequent and more vicious the hurricanes will be." And then it makes this final statement: " Scientists and leaders in every modern nation on earth are deeply alarmed..." Noted scientists have become "Deeply Alarmed." What is going on? Does this alarm you? It ought to wake us up. When noted scientists become deeply alarmed about something, Adventists ought to be wide awake. We ought to sit up and realize that the world might be coming an end quickly. I would urge you: Don't become dependant on a world that is going to be destroyed. Does that make sense?
Now, I want to go through another sign of Christ's coming. It's in Matthew 24:4,5. Jesus answered, "Watch out that no one deceives you. For many shall come in my name, claiming, 'I am the Christ;' and will deceive many. It says many are going to come, and they're going to say, "I am Christ." And they're going to deceive many.
Now, do we hear much on the news today about false Christ's? Can you name one person today that is claiming to be Christ? Most people can't. So, this Bible sign doesn't seem to fit. Is this sign going on? It is. Let me share something with you that you may or may not believe. But before you dismiss the verses that we just read, "may will come and says, 'I am Christ.'
Did you know that Mormons make this claim. Did you know that? I'm going to quote from Time magazine, and I don't want you to think that I says this. "Mormons also believe that men in a process known as deification and they may become God-like. As man is now, God once was. As God now is, man may become." They think that Jesus was the God of this world and that every Mormon man who is married in the temple has the potential to be the God of another world. He will be the Christ of the other world." Another Christ! Matthew 24:5 "For many will come in my name, claiming, I am Christ; and will deceive many." Now, they believe that each Latter Day Saint man that is married in the temple is in the process of deification, becoming a God, becoming another Christ. They teach this.
You might say, "Well, I don't know. Time magazine could be wrong. Well, I have a copy of one of the four Mormon Bibles here. You know, they have four Bibles. A Mormon gave me this Bible. It's called, "Doctrines and Covenants." Now, I want to read something to you from this book. This is their Bible. This is referring to Mormon men. " Then shall they be gods, because they have no end; therefore shall they be from everlasting to everlasting because they continue. Then shall they be above all because all things are subject to them. Then shall they be gods because they have all power and angels are subject unto them." They claim to be God. They really do! It's in their Bible.
It is not just Mormons that are claiming to be gods or another Christ. Have you ever heard of the New Age Movement? The New Age Movement teaches a similar thing. New Age, Neale Donald Walsch says: "You are already God. You simply don't know it. You are the Creator and the Created." That's what New Agers believe.
The New Age Movement teaches that you are one and the same with God. You are Christ. They teach that if you can imagine it you can do it. The human potential has no limit. One of their popular phrases is: "As above, so below" and "As below, so above". In other words, as God is in the Heavens above so you may become down below. You are God. You are Christ.
Friends, I would submit to you that millions and millions of people living in the world today, right now, believe and claim that they are Christ. They believe it. They are on the way to becoming God. False Christ's abound today by the blue millions. Right under our nose this prediction of Jesus in Matthew 24 is being fulfilled in a marked way. It's happening! We're living in the last days. We need to be wide awake.
But I have news for the New Agers. The very idea that we may be a God is not a new idea. Do you know where that idea first came from? Not the New Age Movement! Way back in Genesis 3, the first lie was told by the old deceiver in the garden of Eden and he said, as is recorded here in Genesis 3:5 < b>That's where that idea came from. It's from the devil.
You see, we are not God, we are sinners, in need of God. Only the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are eternally. Only They are God. Only They have existed from the very beginning, They exist now, and They always will exist. No human being can say or think that he or she is a God or can ever will be a God, or ever would be a Christ, or a Holy Spirit. Isaiah 55:9. "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts" can ever be, is what that means.
There is not a doubt in my mind that we are living in the last days. Those days are here. What should you do about it? How do we get ready for the approach of our God. Fortunately God has abundantly given clear instructions on how to prepare for the end of the world. Let's check out some of them:
* 1. KEEP YOUR EYES ON BIBLE PROPHECIES
Matthew 24:33. Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door. Matthew 24:42 "Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come." We need to be watching, don't we. Luke 21:36. "Be always on the watch."
Be aware of last day events. Be aware of what's going on. It doesn't hurt to be aware of these things. We need to be aware of the. Watch the signs. But at the same time keep your eyes on Jesus. Watch Jesus. Focus on Jesus. Think on good noble things that will bring you closer to Jesus.
* 2. DON'T PARTY WITH WICKED PEOPLE
2 Timothy 3 says we should not party with wicked people. 2 Timothy 3:1-5. 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 having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them. Choose your friends wisely. You need to keep in mind that Friends will rub off on you like cat hair in shedding season. So Choose friends you want to become like. You can take a group of young Christian disciples and witness to unbelievers, but you may not develop a level one (Agape) friendship with them when they do their wicked behavior.
* 3. LIVE CAREFULLY
Luke 21:34. "Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation (feasting), drunkenness and the anxieties of life (worrying about worldly things), and that day will close on you unexpectedly like a trap. Luke 21:35 For it will come upon all those who live on the face of the whole earth.
* 4. STAND FIRM
Matthew 24:13. ...but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. You continue what you've got started. Develop it. And stand firm and don't give up your truth. We have the truth. Let's not give up on it. Luke 21:19. By standing firm you will gain life. Know what you believe. Stand unwaveringly for the truth. Don't quit. Patiently wait for Jesus.
* 5. BE INVOLVED IN OUTREACH SHARE JESUS
Matthew 24:14 says, 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. You b involved! Are you helping to preach Jesus Gospel. You ought to be. When I give my offering to Sabbath School I am helping to sponsor missionaries who are out there preaching to the lost. My tithe supports the Gospel ministry. Conference Advance supports Evangelism. My world budget goes for Missions.
But I must do more than give money. Every one must personally share Jesus with others. Your family, your neighbor, mailman or whoever.
* 6. PRAY
Pray for yourself, pray for your family, pray for others. Luke 21:36 Pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen..."
* 7. PURIFY YOURSELF
1 John 3:3 Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure. You need to win that battle with sin that you're struggling with. You need to win it! Don't just keep struggling and struggling with it. Win it! You could do that through Jesus Christ. "Through Him all things are possible." You will soon be walking on streets made of pure gold. Purify your life. Get ready for heaven. Romans 2:16 The day will surely come when God, by Jesus Christ, will judge everyone's secret life. Make all the things that you do in secret to be nice things that would make Jesus proud.
* 8. BE READY
Matthew 24:44. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him. He's going to cut it short. He's not going to wait until everything is totally fulfilled. He's going to cut it short. If you were to die today at 11PM would you be saved or lost? Get ready now. Stay ready. Get others ready. Be ready at all times.
* 9. BE FAITHFUL
Matthew 24:45,46. "Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household to give them their food at the proper time? It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing so when he returns. We need to be a faithful servant. You know, man measures success by numbers; God measures success by faithfulness. The world crowns success; God crowns faithfulness. Did you know that in the entire New Testament, Jesus never once mentions the word, "success." He spoke only of faithfulness. You don't read these writings to be successful, you read them to be faithful. Faithfulness is what God rewards.
* 10. TRUST IN JESUS
Luke 21:14. But make up you mind not to worry, Don't worry about things. Just trust in Jesus.
* 11. FOCUS ON ETERNAL THINGS...
I was reading in the Ninth volume of the Testimonies. It sasy, "The powers of Satan are at work to keep minds diverted from eternal realities." The devil does not want you to think abut eternity. We could add many things he uses to divert Adventist minds:
Debt - Don't be in debt. Get out of debt. Stop charging those things and those terrible bills won't keep coming.
Too much Stuff (Materialism)
Anything to takes up precious time
"We must turn away from a thousand topics that invite attention and we must focus on Jesus Christ." "Satan will if possible...so arrange affairs as to hedge up their way, entangle them with earthly treasures, cause them to carry a heavy wearisome burden that their hearts may be over charged with the cares of this life, and the day of trial may come upon them as a thief."GC 625, 626
Friends, we are living in the last days. This is the time of the great Latter Rain of the Holy Spirit. It is time for each individual to humble ourselves and pray and genuinely repent of sin. Repent of sins that have even been cherished as precious treasures. We must be completely crucified with Christ.
* 12. WAIT, DON'T GIVE UP
Habakkuk 2:2,3 Then the Lord replied: "Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald man may run with it. For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false, though it may linger; wait for it; it will certainly come and will not tarry. The fulfillment of Bible Prophecy might seem to linger and be delayed, but wait. Stick with it. Keep waiting. It's going to come. Never give up.
* 13. GET ON FIRE FOR GOD
2 Chronicles 7:14 If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. Those are the steps.
Revival and Reformation will only come, not as the pastor gets the Holy Spirit, but as the people individually, you, make your decision for Jesus Christ. We as Seventh-day Adventists say our spiritual suitcases are packed, don't we. Are they? Only god knows and maybe you have a good idea. But as time goes on, many of us lapse back into lukewarmness and unreadiness. Too often we have thrived on signs of His coming and sermons on last day events and prayer meeting series on the last days. Often we are more interested in talking about the crisis than we about the Christ. Actually we need to thrive on the Lord.
I would like to invite the deacons to come back to collect these cards. If you would pass your card in to the nearest isle faced down so the deacons can pick them up. I am very concerned that we love talking about the crisis more than Christ. What we need is not a relationship with the last days but a relationship with the Lord, with Jesus Christ Himself!