Eighteen hundred years ago, the Bible said that scoffers would say in the last days, “all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.” 2 Peter 3:4, last part. But actually, the greatest wars, the greatest pestilences and famines, the greatest earthquakes and other disasters, have marked our time, our generation. Scoffers, even today, continue to say that all things will be as they have been from the beginning; but all things, friends, do not continue as they have.
In addition to all these natural disasters and calamities and wars that are to occur in the last days, the Bible predicted, in both the Old and New Testaments, that there would be a great international peace movement. Micah 4:1–5 says, “Now it shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and peoples shall flow to it. Many nations shall come and say, ‘Come.’ ” Notice, the Lord does not say this, the nations of the world are making this call, “ ‘Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; He will teach us His ways, and we shall walk in His paths.’ For out of Zion the law shall go forth, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He shall judge between many peoples, and rebuke strong nations afar off; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore. But everyone shall sit under his vine and under his fig tree, and no one shall make them afraid; for the mouth of the Lord of hosts has spoken. For all people walk each in the name of his god … .”
In 1899, the World Court System was developed with the idea that war would be outlawed. But this world system did not stop wars from happening.
It’s likely that hardly anyone alive today remembers the Kellogg-Briand Peace Pact of 1928. Officially known as the General Treaty for Renunciation of War as an Instrument of National Policy, this international agreement committed the signatory states to not use war to resolve “disputes or conflicts of whatever nature or of whatever origin they may be, which may arise among them.” Wikipedia.com.
Thirty-one nations signed the agreement on August 27, 1928, and the Pact went into effect on July 24, 1929. Once in effect, 25 additional countries entered into the agreement. The Pact remains in force today, however, it did not stop World War II from happening, though declared wars became rare after the end of World War II in 1945.
We talk of peace all the time and the Bible says that in the last days people would be talking peace and safety, while at the same time, there would be war.
“Now it shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow to it. Many people shall come and say, ‘Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; He will teach us His ways, and we shall walk in His paths.’ For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He shall judge between the nations, and rebuke many people; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.” Isaiah 2:2–4
Notice, in both Micah 4 and Isaiah 2, the peace movement is phrased in terms of religion. The intent of this peace movement will be that we will learn to do what is right and to follow the Lord, and we will no longer war with one another. We will stop making weapons meant to harm and cause destruction. We will learn to live in peace. We have established a world court and entered into agreements. We have established the League of Nations and now the United Nations. But regardless of what the people of the world are saying and doing in the last days, what did the Lord say?
“Proclaim this among the nations: ‘Prepare for war! Wake up the mighty men, let all the men of war draw near, let them come up. Beat your plowshares into swords and your pruning hooks into spears; let the weak say, “I am strong.” ’ Assemble and come, all you nations, and gather together all around. Cause your mighty ones to go down there, O Lord. ‘Let the nations be wakened, and come up to the Valley of Jehoshaphat; for there I will sit to judge all the surrounding nations. Put in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe. Come, go down; for the winepress is full, the vats overflow—for their wickedness is great.’ Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision! For the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision.” Joel 3:9–14
An awesome scripture, the very opposite of what the nations are saying. Let all the mighty men come down. The Bible is very clear that at the end of time the whole world will be gathered for war. While we say we will have peace, there will be war, and multitudes will be in the valley of decision.
So who will we be listening to? “Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness?” Romans 6:16. Have you decided who you belong to and who you will obey?
Many people believe that they belong to the Lord and are obeying Him. They believe they are Christians, Christlike, but when Jesus comes, He will not acknowledge them as His own. They will say they have done all these marvelous things, miracles, healings, prophesies in His name, but Matthew 7:21–23 says that when Jesus comes, He won’t even know who they are. “I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!” Verse 23
“He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.” 1 John 3:8. You see, the one that you obey, is the one you belong to, and if you say that you are a Christian, but are living in sin, it is the devil who you really belong to. The Bible calls you the devil’s spiritual child, and it points out in this same chapter what sin is, “Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness.” Verse 4
Today there are multitudes in the valley of decision, trying to understand and make up their minds who they will serve. Some might believe that they will just serve themselves, but selfishness is the root of all sin. If you serve yourself, then you are sinning and, you are on the devil’s side.
The great controversy, the war between good and evil, has been raging since Eve ate of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Serving God or serving self is what this millennia-long controversy is all about. Will we do just as we please or will we be loyal to God’s government and His law? Because our natural nature is selfish, we will sin and be sinners until Jesus comes unless we make a choice. If we do not decide, then we will be lost for we will simply follow our natural inclination to sin.
In Noah’s day, all the world stood in the valley of decision, but ultimately their decisions were not to accept Noah’s message and go into the ark and be saved; and as a result, every person, except for eight, lost their life, and worse, their soul. When Jesus comes, the majority of the people alive in the world will be lost, all the while hoping and desiring to be saved, simply because they do not now choose to be Christians.
In a Roman dungeon, a short time before his death as a martyr, Paul wrote a letter to a young minister by the name of Timothy. In 2 Timothy 3:1–4 he said, “But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: for men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God.”
What an awful list of character traits for people to possess! Who would want to live with people like this? Yet, this is exactly why we will be unable to find peace in this world in the last days. No peace in an individual’s heart, in the family, between the races, between the nations. Without Jesus Christ in our hearts and in the world, there simply is no peace, because we all have the natural, selfish inclination to bear any or all of the character traits listed above.
But notice what Paul further says to Timothy. In the midst of the people of the world exhibiting these terrible traits of character, Paul describes the religious atmosphere as “having a form of godliness.” 2 Timothy 3:5. Outwardly the majority of the people seem to be godly, they make a profession of godliness, they go to church and claim to be Christians, but Paul says they have a “form of godliness, but [are] denying its power” and he tells Timothy to stay away from such people.
Do you know what the power of godliness is? When Jesus was here on earth, He told the Jews that “if you continue in My word … you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” They were quick to reply, having forgotten their slavery in Egypt and their current condition under the authority of Rome, that they had never been in bondage to anyone. But Jesus immediately replied that the one who commits sin is the servant of sin, and the servant does not remain in the house forever (John 8:31–35), meaning, the person who is living in sin will not have eternal life.
But in Verse 36 we find that “[I]f the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.” The gospel promises to set you free from sin, to enable you to live a righteous life. This can happen only as a result of being born of the Holy Spirit, experiencing what Jesus called the new birth. It is receiving from the Holy Spirit a new heart and a new mind, the implanting of a new principle of life within us so that we no longer live for ourselves, but we live to honor God and to help our fellow men.
Jesus said, unless this happens, unless the Son sets us free, then we are slaves. The slave to sin does not have eternal life, but the Son and those He sets free remain forever. That is the power of godliness, the power of divinity to set us free, not just from our guilt, because the Lord wants to do more than set us free from our guilt. He wants to set us free from the power of sin in our lives.
Since we are to turn away from those who simply have a form of godliness, but deny its power, we must be able to identify who they are. The apostle John tells us how we may know who is a follower of the Lord and who is not. “Little children, let no one deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous. He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil. Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God. In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother.” 1 John 3:7–10
Laodicea, the last-day church of Revelation 3, is described as lukewarm. Paul said that the people of this church would be listening to doctrines of devils while they claimed to be religious, “Now the Spirit expressly says that in the latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons.” 1 Timothy 4:1
Think about it, friends. Do we claim a form of godliness while denying the power of the Holy Spirit? Or have we allowed the Holy Spirit to work the miracle of transformation in our lives so that we are not simply making a claim of godliness, but actually living a life of godliness? Are we the people described by the Bible in Revelation 14:12 as the saints of God, the holy people who keep God’s commandments and have the faith of Jesus? Are we those of whom John wrote, “Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city”? Revelation 22:14
Today, we all have a decision to make. We must decide to be born again and to commit our lives to Jesus Christ. As promised, He will send the Holy Spirit to give us new hearts and new minds so that we will live new lives in Him, and then go home with Him when He comes.
Pastor John J. Grosboll is Director of Steps to Life and pastors the Prairie Meadows Church in Wichita, Kansas. He may be contacted by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org, or by telephone at: 316-788-5559.