We live in the best of times and the worst of times — even “perilous times,” as prophesied by the Apostle Paul concerning the last days, or the end of times.
That we live in the end of times is acknowledged by virtually all Christians, including in the title of my denomination of Christianity, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Indeed, we can see the fulfillment of Paul’s words to Timothy right before our eyes, from the rise of hedonism and atheism (“lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof”), the unparalleled prominence and acceptance of homosexual behaviors (“without natural affection”), and the persecution of Christians (“despisers of those that are good”), to the chilling indictment of secular learning which seeks to depose Almighty God (“ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.” 2 Timothy 3:1-7)
Obviously, no man knows the day nor the hour of Christ’s Second Coming, but as I look at the many signs foretold by prophets and the Lord Himself, one thing is for sure: it won’t be today.
I often say that when the climax of the end of times is finally upon us, we won’t wake up and say, “Well that was a tough couple of days.” If the perils of the last days will truly deceive the very elect, they must be far more persistent, poignant, and unrelenting than a mere matter of weeks, months, or even years of turmoil. There must be prolonged and pervasive suffering, hurting, and weeping, and through it all equally valiant enduring, enduring, enduring.
I was struck yesterday as I reread Christ’s words on this subject, both by the simple directness of His message as well as the chilling realization that although we are watching these events unfold, the fight is far from over:
3. And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?
4. And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you.
5. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.
6. And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars…
Not only have we seen great wars in just the last century, but we readily see rumours of war currently with Syria, Russia, North Korea, and others.
…see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.
In other words, they won’t be rumours for too long. Our fears will be realized, and even then it won’t be the end.
7. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.
8. All these are the beginning of sorrows.
Again, all this suffering shall come to pass, and not only will it still not be the end, but it will be just the beginning.
9. Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake.
The persecution of Christians both ideologically inside America and more violently without is on the rise. A new report shows that 1 in 12 Christians is persecuted worldwide, making Christianity the world’s most persecuted religion — a fact which even HuffPo acknowledges.
10. And then shall many be offended…
Like never before.
…and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.
11. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.
12. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.
We see this final warning in several forms that attack the sanctity of the family, including pornography, rising divorce rates, declining marriage rates, unsustainable declines in the number of children per household, various types of abuse, same-sex marriage and adoptions, removal of children from their Christian parents, and more. Add on the growing intensity of ideological divisions between family, friends, and neighbors, and we have successfully cultivated a culture that is more suspicious, more hateful, more isolated, and more cold than ever.
13. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.
Even here, this isn’t a promise that the end has arrived. Receive all this and keep enduring. Then, eventually, you will be saved.
14. And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations…
Christianity is still outlawed in many countries, and preaching the gospel is illegal in several others where the religion itself is technically permitted. So, this one will likely take a while.
…and then shall the end come.
That’s it. All of the suffering, all of the hatred, all of the wickedness, and then every nation will receive its witness(es), and then the end will come.
Again, neither I nor Christ Himself knows the day nor the hour of His coming, but He has provided us with signs so we can be prepared and thus not fear. Either way, we should be watchful and prayerful, for even the very elect will be deceived, and most importantly, our preparation may well come in handy earlier than expected; it’s far more likely, in my opinion, that you will meet Christ today due to your own death than due to His glorious return.
To borrow a phrase from the Apostle Peter, “Be ready always.” These are perilous times, and the end is nigh — but not yet. In the words of a song I grew up singing at church, “The Lord needs valiant servants to do His work in the latter days.” There is still so much to fight for — among them life, liberty, and the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God. Christian conservatives have a duty to fight for truth and virtue, and only those who fight on the side of the Savior will be saved.