In the book of First Thessalonians, the apostle Paul exhorted the early Church about the day that is now coming upon us—the day of Christ\'s return. \"But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night\" (1 Thessalonians 5:1–2). The day of Christ\'s physical return to the earth will be preceded by the rapture—His coming to gather His Church to Him. In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, the dead in Christ are going to rise, and then we who are alive and remain shall be gathered together with them. Imagine how lost you would feel if you did not know Christ as Savior at that moment and suddenly all the believers disappeared!
"For when they say, \'Peace and safety!\' then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief\" (1 Thessalonians 5:3–5). Jesus Himself once said, \"If the man in charge of the house had been aware that a thief was in the neighborhood, he would not have allowed his house to be broken into\" (see Matthew 24:43). Likewise, if there was a thief in your neighborhood who was striking every night, wouldn\'t you do something to protect your house or your apartment? Wouldn\'t you examine the windows and the doors to make sure everything was secure?
Now, in the context of the last days, Paul said in 1 Corinthians 6:19, \"Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you?\" He put it more simply in 1 Corinthians 3:9: \"You are God\'s building.\" Therefore, which house is the thief trying to break into? You are the house! You are the temple of God—the place of God\'s dwelling. You are the one called to bring glory to the Lord because of the light and life that is inside of your earthen vessel. Meanwhile, the devil will do everything in his power to break in during this darkened hour in which we live. So what are some specific things we should be watching for?
THE END OF THE AGE
To help answer that question, let\'s see what happened when Jesus\' disciples asked Him, \"What will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?\" (Matthew 24:3). In other words, \"What will the spiritual temperature be? What will be happening?\" Jesus began His reply by saying, \"Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, \'I am the Christ,\' and will deceive many\" (24:4–5).
He was warning them that in the last days, the devil will do everything he can to \"break into\" the people of God. False messiahs will arise who will stand up and say, \"Yes, the Holy Spirit is leading me. If you look at my life, you will see what Jesus looks like.\" They will claim to have the words and the way to go forward into security, and they will deceive many.
So how do you discern the difference between what is being animated by the Spirit of God and what the devil is animating as an imitation of God? There are several references in the Old Testament to Satan and his ways of thinking. For instance, the prophet Isaiah said, \"How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, you who weakened the nations! For you have said in your heart: \'I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation on the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.\' Yet you shall be brought down to [hell], to the lowest depths of the Pit\" (Isaiah 14:12–15). Simply put, Satan\'s theology focuses on self. In contrast, the theology of Christ focuses on others. For example, you may be listening to a preacher who is telling you, \"You are not the tail, you are the head. You will sit in places of prominence in society. You will always be healthy and rich, and trouble will never come to your door. You will be known among people everywhere you travel, and you will be like the Most High\"—and that is all his message is. If this is true, it is inspired by darkness.
Of course, I understand there are moments when we have to say, \"God, I need this,\" or \"I need to be free.\" However, when we come to maturity in Christ, the focus shifts to, \"Not my will, but Yours, be done\" (Luke 22:42). In other words, \"God, use my life for the sake of those who do not know You—for those who are going into a Christless eternity.\" The focus of Christ is always about others. That is why Jesus said, \"If any man does not take up his cross, he cannot be My disciple\" (see Matthew 16:24). Any gospel that causes you to focus solely on yourself is from hell itself.
OTHER SIGNS OF HIS COMING
Jesus continued, \"You will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet\" (Matthew 24:6). In other words, there will be an increase of angry speech. Nations will start threatening other nations, ideologies will start threatening other ideologies. As a matter of fact, we are already seeing this in our own society here in America.
\"For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places\" (Matthew 24:7). In the last days, the world will not just speak about violence but will actually turn to violence. There will be famines, earthquakes, new diseases coming into the world. And here we are facing the coronavirus now in our own society.
\"All these are the beginning of sorrows. Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name\'s sake\" (Matthew 24:8–9). This is already happening in China and various other places throughout the world. What started as a marginal tolerance of Christianity has now turned to intolerance and even violence in many places. Perhaps you have already been experiencing it in the workplace or in your community. It seems one cannot have a biblical opinion anymore without being vilified or deemed a hater and a divider.
\"And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another\" (Matthew 24:10). Paul also warned us that before the return of Christ, there would be a great falling away (see 2 Thessalonians 2:3). There will be people who will conclude, \"I did not sign up for this. When I came to Christ, I was told I was going to be healthy, happy and rich. I was going to have a big house, a nice car, the best spouse, a great family. I didn\'t sign up to be hated. I didn\'t sign up to be part of a religion that society does not endorse!\" And so many will be offended. \"And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold\" (Matthew 24:12). Mankind will descend into a depravity perhaps unseen in the history of the world. It will sweep the world in lawlessness and immorality.
A VICTORIOUS CHURCH
However, here is the good news: \"But he who endures to the end shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come\" (Matthew 24:13–14). There will be a victorious Church in the last days. There will be a people of God empowered by the Holy Spirit. They will be given supernatural ability to stand and there will be power in their speech. They will have a love that will cast out all fear.
Yes, multitudes will be descending into darkness. And, sadly, there will be multitudes of formerly professing believers who will be following them. But thank God, there will be a victorious Church as well as an incredible harvest of souls in these last days. God will empower His Church to continue loving when the love of many grows cold. She will be empowered to keep on giving when selfishness is abounding and countries are fighting over resources. While everyone else is pointing the finger, there will be people committed to pointing the way to eternal life. Their lamps will be filled with light to help those who are trying to escape the darkness. Lastly, God will have a Church empowered by the Holy Spirit to have hearts filled with praise even when the joy of the land is gone.
IS YOUR HOUSE READY?
And so the question I ask you today is: When the end comes, where will you be? Are you certain that you will you be part of this victorious last-days Church? I suggest that it is time for you to do a security evaluation of your house. Do you have the motion sensors working to detect prowlers? You cannot have them if you are not in the Word of God. You will not know when somebody who is not truly representing Christ has suddenly come to your ears—whether in a church service, on a podcast, or through some other means. Remember, if the message you hear is not leading you to a lifestyle of being yielded for the sake of others, then your motion sensors should go off. You might have a prowler outside your house.
Are your doors locked? Are you letting anything into your dwelling that should not be there? Is anybody sitting at the table who does not belong inside your house? Are you reading something that you should not be reading? King David once said, \"I will set nothing wicked before my eyes; I hate the work of those who fall away\" (Psalm 101:3). You need to make sure, for you cannot play games with this one. You cannot live in duplicity and assume you will suddenly have the strength to stand in the coming days. You do not know what tomorrow is going to bring; you do not know the severity of what is coming upon our world. In fact, you do not even know for sure if you will still be alive in a month.
And so, are you ready? Is your house ready? Have you trusted God for the strength, the power, and the giftings of God to live for His glory? Are you able to praise Him in the midst of your darkness? Are you looking every day for somebody, somewhere—some need that God can meet through you? We are living in the last days—Christ is coming! Let us pray, \"Lord, prepare me. Give me the character I need, and give me power. Give me everything I need of Your Spirit—not for myself, but for the sake of Your glory first and for the sake of others second. Pour out Your life through me and give me a song that this world cannot take away!\"
This newsletter is an edited version of \"WHEN THE END COMES, WHERE WILL YOU BE?,\" a sermon given on March 1, 2020 in the sanctuary of Times Square Church in New York City. Other sermons are available by visiting our website at tsc.nyc. You are welcome to make additional copies of this sermon for free distribution to friends. However, for all other forms of reproduction or electronic transmission existing copyright laws apply. This sermon cannot be posted on any website or webpage without permission from Times Square Church. Scripture taken from the New King James Version(®). Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Scripture taken from other versions are noted.