Be On Guard

2 Timothy 3:1-9

Every generation it seems has at least one doomsday prophet or group. Some periods of history blessed with many. “The Late Great Planet Earth”. Y2K. The Mayan calendar just to name a few from recent history. Not anything new, though. A fellow in the 1840’s tried his hand at it, obviously was wrong but Seventh Day Adventists and JW’s both got their start from his movement. Y1K had its time in the limelight and so did 1666. People even in the first century had it all wrong; primary reason for Paul’s writing letters to Thessalonians.

Now, before you get all uppity, look down on those poor deluded souls, remember this: Jesus said repeatedly, “Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming.” Matt. 24:42 “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.” Matt. 25:13 “Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is.” Mark 13:33 Lots of people understood him to mean: sit and wait, watch the sky, Jesus will be back before you know it.

Better way to think of it would be this: be watchful, be alert, be on guard. Don’t slack off, don’t get lazy or complacent or careless. You need to be ready for the next big thing on God’s calendar. When it comes to starred days on God’s calendar, there aren’t too many. There’s Creation, probably the Flood, Jesus’ 30+ years on earth, then the Lord Jesus’ return and new heavens and earth. Since we can’t see God’s calendar, we must be on guard, alert so we understand what time it is in big scheme of things. Our text also tells us what to expect, what we will need to live pleasing to God, and what our ultimate hope is.

A. what time it is v.1a

the last days – it’s a Greek word we stole: ἔσχατος, eschatology, last things, end times

period of time we most often think of as “right before the beginning of the end”, can’t quite see the Second Coming but it’s probably around the next curve

another thing we do is limit the factors we consider to come up with our relative place on the timeline

since America is in decline, must be getting close to the end; remember this – for every person in United States, are 20 who live somewhere else

God is alive and well, so are his people in many other parts of the world; Christ’s church doing some amazing things in other places, don’t be too quick to ring the dismissal bell!

besides, need to consider what time the Bible says it is: turn to Heb 1:1-2

inspired author divides earth time into two periods: time past, these last days

time past: the days of the fathers – Abraham, Isaac, Jacob; more broadly, the list of faithful believers from chapter 11

these last days: the days of His Son, who has spoken to us from the pages of the Gospels and rest of NT

our calendar, then, is consistent with the Bible: past time, these days – BC, AD; page was turned when God in flesh appeared in Bethlehem

why last days?

think about the big, really BIG things that have happened when God dramatically changed course of history

Creation, judgment, redemption, what’s left? one thing, consummation, bringing this age to an end when Christ returns

Apostle John even went so far 1 John 2.18Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour.”

means we can legitimately refer to entire period from Pentecost to Second Coming as “these last days”

B. what to expect v.1b-5

difficult days

Jesus himself said, Matt. 24:12, that “lawlessness will be increased”

natural man rebels against external law, chafes under it, tries to avoid compliance whenever possible

more pervasive lawlessness is, more difficult it is just to survive – world is littered with wreckage of lawlessness

increased number of refugees largely due to absence of law and order, people trying to escape

difficult or perilous times, hard to bear, on many levels – all aspects of a culture affected, including the church

some would say – especially – the church, brothers and sisters around the world; every day, numerous reports of persecution against Christians

must particularly be on guard against those influences that would challenge the church from within

greatest threat is the one that successfully diminishes or dilutes or distorts the truth proclaimed by Christ’s church – “the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.” 1 Tim. 3:15

difficult people

going to read v.2-4 again slowly…. Paul was telling TImothy the kinds of people he would encounter, can you relate?

will consider a few categories here

lovers of themselves – a category that comes first because it includes all the rest

Facebook and other social media selfies; latest craze among teens: selfies at funerals

proud, disobedient to parents (not just school-age kids who have problem with this one), unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, brutal, traitors, haughty

lovers of money

protest to raise minimum wage at McDonald’s, Occupy movement; business decisions to maximize profits

unthankful – two out of three unsatisfied with their job; pay raises don’t help; good to hear Dana last week, thankful for 24 years with current employer

lovers of pleasure

2011: Americans spent 2x on arts/entertainment than education/agriculture combined, $1900 per person

2012 Super Bowl – 111 million viewers; more than 2x people in church on given Sunday

without self-control, despisers of good, headstrong – no fear, no boundaries, binge drinking, list is endless

a form of godliness

this is what can make people dangerous: “maintain the outward appearance of godliness”

denying its power, blasphemers, unholy – talk about God and the Bible on familiar basis, shine up good enough for church, life during the week at home / work is absolute opposite, go to church and hang out with Christians because it’s good for business

difficult choice – “from such people turn away”

but…. at same time: “lookin’ for love in all the wrong places”, hoping the wrong things will fill empty spaces

ones who desperately need the Gospel, to come to understand truth before they self-destruct

don’t miss an important point: all these behaviors and attitudes we can relate to were things Timothy could relate to in Ephesus – problems are not new to humanity

if 21st century problems are same as 1st century ones, 21st century solutions should be same as 1st century

from God’s perspective, from perspective of the Bible, the church does NOT need to reinvent itself

so what do we do? take opportunities to declare the truth, present the Gospel message, then in Jesus’ words

Matthew 10:14 “And whoever will not receive you nor hear your words, when you depart from that house or city, shake off the dust from your feet.”

C. what you’ll need v.6-7

good spiritual discernment – at times need to recognize them inside the church

will use all sorts of Bible-sounding arguments to make point

God wants you happy, healthy, wealthy….; God is love, love is the important thing, not gender; If you’re suffering here’s how to fix it…

the recommended how-to’s go beyond what Scripture requires

trust in God and send in your money; trust in God but make sure you have a prayer cloth; watch some of the stuff on TBN and other “Christian” channels (no don’t) but if you do, see if it doesn’t fit what Paul has described here

they take advantage of biblical illiteracy

statistics that will make you cringe

25 million copies of the Bible sold in US annually; more than 400 million copies distributed through Bible societies each year; 9 of 10 homes in the U.S. have a Bible.

but….only 16 percent of churchgoers read the Bible daily and 25 percent of churchgoers don’t read it at all

their victims function on level of feelings more than objective truth

on constant roller coaster, up and down, plagued with guilt, easy prey for unscrupulous intending to profit from religion

dependence on the Holy Spirit

need both discernment and dependence, all based on knowledge of God’s Word 1 Cor. 2:10-13

you wanna understand the Bible better? when you pick up to read, pray: “Lord God, help me by your Spirit understand your truth” – then read it!!

D. what’s our hope v.8-9

Christ wins

classic test of power: Egypt’s gods against true God – FAIL!

Jannes and Jambres had access to real power – demonic in origin – Deut. 32:17; 1 Cor. 10:20 same is true today for UPG we pray for each week

God draws the line – will progress no further, remember, we’re talking about thechurch!

Jesus said: “I will build my church” Matt. 16:18; “Christ loved the church and gave himself for her” Eph 5:25

he will not allow her to be overcome by devil and his agents; we’re in a war, a real war, the important terrorists are spiritual and we need spiritual weapons to overcome them

reminder each time we gather around Lord’s Table: Christ has had victory over sin and death; his return is guaranteed

truths proclaimed by word and element and action around the Table ones we need to hear regularly; people we rub shoulders with each day, who hear White Rock Junction, in UPG’s we pray for, in Irkutsk and Ust-Kut and our families and neighborhoods must hear same truths. They are only source of true hope and help in times like these.

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