But realize this, that in the last days, difficult times will come. (2 Timothy 3:1)
In Nebraska, where I grew-up, the storms almost always came from the west. I remember many warm summer afternoons watching the dark clouds approaching, seeing the lightning in the distance and hearing the thunder growing louder as the gathering storm approached. The Apostle Paul in his last letter to Timothy warned that in the last days, difficult times will come. We are in those last days and it looks like there is a gathering storm approaching.
Paul went on to characterize the increasing sinfulness of these last days; For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power. (2 Timothy 3:2-5) These sins have always characterized unbelievers, but maybe never as much as in this present generation.
The overwhelming emphasis today on the importance of self esteem (self-love) has become ridiculous. I recently read that one high school's graduating class no longer has just one valedictorian. In effort to enhance self-esteem, everyone who graduated with a "B" or higher average was deemed a valedictorian. I'm sure the standard will be lowered even further next year because we sure wouldn't want the rest of the graduates to feel like losers! Why not make everyone a valedictorian?
More than ever, men and women today are lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers and exhibit all of the other sinful characteristics Paul warned would be prevalent in the last days. All of these sinful characteristics are manifested because people are lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God. And we can't help but believe that all this is another sign that we are nearing the very last of the last days.
It is instructive that Paul, writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, says that these sinful people in the last days will be holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power. In other words, people will still embrace their religions and religious rituals, including even attending churches and synagogue. But they will deny the power of God which provides salvation through faith alone in the Lord Jesus Christ; And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved. (Acts 4:12)
Are we nearing the last of these prophesied last days? Will the rapture of the church happen in our generation? Is the coming of the Lord near? Jesus said; But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone. (Matthew 24:36) But Jesus also said; Now learn the parable from the fig tree: when its branch has already become tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near; so, you too, when you see all these things, recognize that He is near, right at the door. (Matthew 24:32-33) For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days or Noah. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away; so will be the coming of the Son of Man. (Matthew 24:38-39)
Look around... Do you too see the ominous signs of a large gathering storm? Difficult days are ahead! Are you ready? Maranatha!