By Heather Walton
Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers, you have no need to have anything written to you. For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. (1 Thessalonians 5:1-3 ESV)
For many years, even centuries, people have been hypothesizing about the Lord’s return and other end times events. Some people living in the decades following Christ’s ascension had to be admonished to work and live their lives, rather than sitting on their roof tops, searching the skies for Jesus. But with recent world events, it’s natural to wonder if we truly are living in the last days.
No matter whether Christ returns in five minutes or 5 millennia, we should live as if his return is imminent, trying to win the lost and engaging in conduct worthy of the Gospel (Matthew 28:16-20; Philippians 1:27). In some ways, though, we should live as if he will not return in our lifetime: We need to contribute meaningfully to our families, communities, and society in whatever way he has gifted us (Romans 12:6-8; 1 Corinthians 12:7; 2 Thessalonians 3:6-15; Hebrews 6:11-12; 1 Peter 4:10-11). We need to expend all our energies for God’s glory and purpose with all the zeal and talent we possess, being alert for every opportunity to better the world, to win the lost, and disciple those in our sphere of influence, while also being cognizant that this world is not our home, and eager for our Lord to return and take us to our eternal residence (Colossians 4:2-6; Ephesians 5:15-17).
In 1 Thessalonians 5, we are told both that the Lord will return like a thief in the night, and that believers are not in darkness, and therefore that day should not overtake us like a thief. While we won’t know the day and the hour of Christ’s return, we should recognize the season (Matthew 24; 1 Thessalonians 5:4). Therefore, it is important to know what the Bible says about the end times. Scholars have debated various eschatological positions for centuries, and most of them were much smarter than me; however, I believe God has made Scripture understandable to the simple. Each Christian has the Holy Spirit living within, and therefore is fully equipped to understand God’s Word (John 14:26; John 16:7-11; 1 Corinthians 2:7-13).
I interpret Scripture literally, unless it is obviously figurative. For example, when Jesus said, “This is my body (Matthew 26:26; Luke 22:19),” or “I am the door (John 10:9),” I believe that to be figurative. When he said, “Nobody comes to the Father, except through me (John 14:6),” I believe that’s literal. So, while some Christians disagree, I believe in a premillennial interpretation of end-times events. My approach to answering the question, “Are we in the End Times?” is to examine current events in light of Biblical prophecy. I realize that we have the propensity to fit things in to fit our own preconceptions, so it is important both to recognize that and to seek out primary sources as often as possible.
“But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power.” (2 Timothy 3:1-5 ESV)
Without hesitation or qualification, I can say all of these things are true of our present culture. It is important to understand this idea of having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. I believe this is evidenced myriad ways in the world today, but likely the prominent manifestation is secular humanism, which has evolved from centuries past.
Humanism — an outlook or system of thought attaching prime importance to human rather than divine or supernatural matters. Humanist beliefs stress the potential value and goodness of human beings, emphasize common human needs, and seek solely rational ways of solving human problems.Oxford Dictionaries
Humanism, which the signers of the Humanist Manifesto I referred to as “religious humanism,” has some fine-sounding ideals and lofty goals, but denies the existence of God, and therefore has the appearance of godliness, while denying its power. Humanism puts us in God’s position, giving us the responsibility for our destiny and the glory for our accomplishments. Humanism has infiltrated every corner of our culture, including the church. We are so indoctrinated in it that we would be hard-pressed to recognize its pervasive influence on our minds.
There are various manifestations of humanism throughout the globe, including the agendas of a number of worldwide organizations, such as the United Nations, the World Health Organization, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the World Economic Forum, ID2020, the Global Preparedness Monitoring Board, Gavi (The Vaccine Alliance), UNICEF, the World Bank, and more. Each of these organizations has visions and missions that sound reasonable and desirable, yet they create and try to accomplish those goals without considering God. They have a form of godliness but deny its power.
There are more religious forms of humanism in the world today, such as Pope Francis’ interpretation of Catholic theology, which some Catholics fear is leading away from traditional Catholicism and toward one world religion. The pope seems to support much of the U.N.’s ideology, while being silent on theological issues long settled in the Catholic Church, such as abortion and contraception. The pope is a proponent of the Human Fraternity, a document “for world peace and living together,” which he co-signed with Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Ahmed el-Tayeb. Part of this collaboration includes the Abrahamic Family House, “a beacon of mutual understanding, harmonious coexistence and peace among people of faith and goodwill,” consisting of a mosque, synagogue, church, and an educational building.
Organizations such as the Human Fraternity, the U.N., and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have an objective of world peace. While that is a noble-sounding goal, it’s important to define what they mean. The various organizations mentioned in this article have themes, including population control, climate control, vaccination, digital identification, elimination of poverty, equity, and unity. Again, these have the appearance of morality, and some of them are valid goals. However, the general perspective of the leaders of these organizations is humanistic, meaning they do not acknowledge God, but see humans as bearing total responsibility and possessing full power to carry out their self-made agendas.
In 1 Thessalonians 5:3, the Apostle Paul told us that when people say, “There is peace and security, then sudden destruction will come upon them … ” It is interesting to look at the objectives of these organizations in their own words. For example, the Document on Human Fraternity For World Peace and Living Together, penned by Pope Francis in February 2019, states the following:
The United Nations has a similar mission:
In 2015, the U.N. launched an initiative called Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development . This reads like a blueprint for the New World Order, a utopian society where there is no more poverty or inequality, where everyone’s needs are met, where there are no more wars, where the planet’s resources are perfectly used and cared for, and where the nations are interconnected. Of course this sounds wonderful, and who could argue against these goals? However, the Lord told us:
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.”Isaiah 55:8-9 (ESV)
The problem with the U.N.’s plans and the Pope’s plans is that they intend to reach these goals by humanistic means, rather than through an acknowledgement of God’s will and His power. They are trying to bring about things that God told us would not exist this side of heaven. Jesus told us that we would always have the poor with us (Matthew 26:11); therefore, though we should definitely work to alleviate poverty wherever we can, we know we cannot eradicate it. God told us that we would have wars and rumors of wars up until the end times, and that when we hear “peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come. Jesus told us that He is the only way to heaven (John 14:6; Acts 4:12; 1 Timothy 2:5-6) and that we are not to be unequally yoked with unbelievers (2 Corinthians 6:14-16), so joining together with them in an attempt to bring about world peace will not work.
People have been speculating for two millennia that Christ would be back soon, but now everything is in place for that to be fulfilled, and I believe we are in the very last days. I don’t presume to know the day or the hour, but we are told, as believers, we should recognize the season, that we should not be caught unaware. the Bible tells us of a day when two people will be together and one will suddenly be gone. This is often referred to as the Rapture of the Church, which many people believe precedes the Great Tribulation (Daniel 9; Daniel 12; Matthew 24; Revelation 13). Some interpret the Rapture as happening in the middle of the Great Tribulation. Either way, there appears to be no prophesy that remains to be fulfilled before the Rapture and the Tribulation take place, and the global powers seem to be working toward a manmade world peace as we speak. They have either manufactured or taken advantage of world events to bring about the perception of a need for us to unite against a common enemy. If that doesn’t work, they may have a backup plan of causing such strife that they need to institute martial law, and there may be other factors at play in the very near future.
There is much evil going on behind the scenes. We are told to expose the deeds of darkness (Ephesians 5:11). I have done a good deal of research about the world situation, and I intend to continue writing about it on this blog.
If you’re a believer, I encourage you not to be afraid. The Lord has wonderful things in store for His children.
But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”—1 Corinthians 2:9 ESV
God challenges us to share the Gospel, in season and out, as we see the day approaching, and we are to sober minded, fulfilling the ministry God has given us (2 Timothy 4:2-5). We are to serve God with everything in us, presenting our lives as an offering, and we will be rewarded when we enter His presence (2 Timothy 4:6-8).
If you’re not yet a believer, I urge you to repent, to put your trust in Christ alone, that you may have assurance of salvation through a relationship with the Living God. If you have never accepted Jesus as Lord, you can do that right now. This takes an honest and genuine acknowledgement that you are a sinner, that you can’t do enough good deeds to be right with God because He is holy and we are unholy, that you need Him to save you, and that you are willing to follow Him and allow Him to govern your life. Baptism is the outward expression of this inward decision and should be done publicly and by immersion, in an act of obedience, submission, and testimonial to others. You also should read the Bible, pray, gather with other believers, and obey God’s commands, not to be saved, but out of gratitude for salvation, a desire to grow in your relationship with God, and in hopes of winning others to the Lord.