Dr. James C. Denison
President, Center for Informed Faith, Dallas, TX
March 16, 2011
Are these the end times (Part three)
Fifty workers stand between the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant and apparent disaster. While they fight to prevent large amounts of radiation from leaking, their nation and the world watches their heroic sacrifice with awe and gratitude. Is this monumental disaster part of a series of events which constitute the “end times”?
We have been considering six “signs” which Jesus predicted would precede his Second Coming. First, heresy would escalate (Matthew 24:5). Second, we would “hear of wars and rumors of wars” (v. 6). Third, there would be “famines” (v. 7a). Fourth, we would see “earthquakes in various places” (v. 7b). Fifth, Christians would face severe persecution (v. 9). Each of these predictions was fulfilled on an unprecedented level in the 20th century.
The sixth sign: “this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come” (v. 14). According to David Barrett’s World Christian Encyclopedia, more than 82,000 people come to Christ every day, the largest number in history. God Is Back, a recent book by two Oxford scholars (one an atheist, the other a Catholic) suggests that the actual number is twice what Barrett documents. More Muslims are becoming Christians than ever before, many after witnessing dreams and visions of Jesus.
And technology is making it easier to share the gospel than ever before. Some experts predict that within a few years, telecommunication satellites will make the entire planet a “hot spot” or Wi-Fi zone. Ministries which utilize communication technology plan to give every person on earth multiple opportunities to trust in Jesus. For the first time in history, technology is making it possible for “the whole world” to hear the gospel.
Am I predicting that Jesus’ return is imminent? Yes and no. He was clear: “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father” (v. 36). No human should claim to know more than Jesus. The Lord could delay his return by a decade, a century, or a millennium. The reason he has waited this long is simple: “He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).
At the same time, Jesus taught us to be prepared for him to return today: “keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come” (Matthew 24:42). We are one day closer to eternity than ever before in human history.
So, are these the “end times”? We’ll finish our discussion tomorrow. For this morning, let’s pray and work for everyone we know to know Jesus. Our message is all that stands between eternal souls and eternal disaster. What will you do today to help the people you know be ready to meet God?